When the adjournment was moved last night I was endeavouring to elicit from some member of the Government what is there inherent in this measure that makes it more easy to detect crime or to apprehend criminals: what is there in this measure that they have not in other measures? Up to the time when I started speaking last night no member of the Government had given any information upon that point. In the absence of any such information I can only assume that it is an attempt to strike terror, and if it is an attempt to strike terror at criminals it might be a very good idea, if we were not conscious of the fact that attempts to strike terror on all other occasions have had the opposite effect. If this attempt to strike terror is going to have the desired effect, well and good; but our experience is that in cases of this kind, dealing with people whom we are told we have to deal with under this measure, the effect would be the very opposite. Of course, some Deputies told us we must give power to the Executive Council to deal with this menace. First of all, I am not convinced that there is a menace consonant with the powers that the Executive are seeking. There may be a menace but the powers they are seeking are entirely greater than required and these powers are not necessary in order to deal with the menace that we are told confronts us. I am not conscious of any very serious menace in the country——
PUBLIC BUSINESS. - PUBLIC SAFETY BILL, 1927—SECOND STAGE (RESUMED).
—I am saying what I know from experience and I must say that I was not convinced from any public statement made by the Ministry that there was any serious menace in the country.
Everything is all right?
That there is any serious menace in the country I repeat —any menace consonant with the powers that the Executive Council are seeking in this Bill.
What does that mean?
I thought there was no menace?
There is no good in trying to make me say things that I do not want to say. I have said definitely that there is no menace in the country that demands the powers that the Ministers are seeking.
Then there is no power?
Debate, not cross-examination, please.
I would like to ask those Deputies who say they are willing to give unlimited power to the Executive Council are they prepared to give that power seeing that the Executive Council is handing over that power to two or three military men, to a military court? We all know what the atmosphere of a military court is, and I was surprised to hear Deputy Redmond ask yesterday whether that court would be public. Who wants to have a military court public? Who will go to a military court with armed sentries outside, barbed wire, steel shutters, and machine-gun practice that has to be stopped so that the witnesses may be heard? Is that an atmosphere that is congenial with justice, or is it an atmosphere in which justice is likely to be dealt out fairly? Has it the same advantages for the public that a civil court has? Further, there is no appeal from a military court. The order is: arrest, trial and probable execution.
We were in the habit of pointing out to other people when they were in this country that they were the embodiment of everything that was tyrannical. Yet, did they take upon themselves to give to a military court that power? Was there any appeal from a military court under the English régime? One instance will prove that there was an appeal from a military court when set up by the English Government in this country. That is in the case of Egan, who was sentenced to death. An order forHabeas Corpus was got from the courts, and when General Macready failed to produce the body an order was issued for the arrest of General Macready. And yet this Government, which is supposed to speak nationally and for the people's liberties, proposes not to allow that appeal, proposes to supplant Runnymede by Leinster Lawn, and have the barons sitting on the front bench of the Executive Council.
Then we come to the statement of the Vice-President. There is a good deal of cynicism in what the Vice-President said about giving a passport to men who were ordered to get off the earth, because that is what it amounts to. He said he saw no reason why they should not get passports on payment of a fee. And yet, in the case of citizens who are suspected of being a danger and a menace to this country, it is seriously suggested by a responsible Minister of this Government that they are to get passports to enter another country. What are the terms of these passports? These are the terms of the passports that the Vice-President suggests might be given to any citizen who is suspected of being a danger to the State:—
"We, Timothy Healy, Esquire, one of His Majesty's Counsel and Governor-General of the Irish Free State, request and require in the name of his Britannic Majesty all those whom it may concern, to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford him every assistance and protection of which he may stand in need."
Yes, to afford him every protection. He is a national of this country, and we presume he is a danger to this country. We send him out of this country, and we ask other countries to afford him protection. Could absurdity go any further? This order to get off the earth is, surely, something that wants revision.
The Minister for Agriculture told us yesterday that we have gone through a revolution and a civil war. He did not tell us that we had also gone through a general election, and that the main fault that the Press of this country had with the general election was that it was so quite and calm. There was not even a drunken row to introduce any hilarity or anything that might make "copy" for them. The main statement was that the general election was conducted in a calm, quiet, and peaceful atmosphere. And yet, all this thing was underground at the time, and we are told, after five years with no manifestation of it, that there is a menace to the State, and we must suspend the ordinary law.
There is, we are told, a standing criminal population in London of 50,000. Yet, I do not see that the English Government are bringing in any drastic legislation to deal with that 50,000. We are not facing this issue fairly, and we are not facing it in a fashion that shows that we are not driven by panic. The brutal truth of the whole matter is that we want to drive the people to adopt measures which they are not anxious to adopt, and we want to create an atmosphere for that. The truth is that there is in the body politic of this country foreign matter, and that foreign matter is creating a fermentation and a fever. The people will always essay to get rid of that, but we are endeavouring to keep up that festering sore. The Executive Council might adopt a much better Public Safety Bill, and take another direction than the direction they have thought fit to take now.
I listened, yesterday evening, to a number of attacks from different parts of the House upon this measure. There is a statement made repeatedly that it was necessary that some measure of this nature should be introduced. There seemed to be a general agreement that something was required at the present crisis in our national history. But those Deputies who made these statements that something of this nature was required, but thought this Bill went too far, pointed out the things they objected to in this Bill. I did not hear any constructive speeches from them at all. I did not hear from the Benches from which this measure was criticised a single statement of a clause in this Bill of which they were in favour and which they were willing to support. I found, on the other hand, a sort of general wild criticism as it appears to me. I heard people speculate as to how these powers which are to be conferred by this Bill upon the Executive Council, might be abused. I hear people straining their imaginations as to the fashion in which Ministers anxious to hurt the country might, under the terms of this Bill, and under the powers conferred upon them by this Bill, hurt the country. I heard Deputy Johnson, for example, state that under the terms of this Bill any public man could be deported. Does Deputy Johnson think that under the terms of this Bill, administered by the Executive Council, any public man is likely to be deported solely because he is a public man and obnoxious to the Government?
There may be other Executive Councils.
Does he think that there is any likelihood of such a thing happening?
If they approach it in a state of rage, is there any difficulty?
If who approaches what in a state of rage?
One of the Ministers stated yesterday——
Perhaps Deputy Lawlor would sit down. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney is entitled to make a speech, and he must be allowed to make his speech without interruption.
Does Deputy Johnson think that this Bill will be so administered by the present Executive Council that any public man will be in danger of being deported?
What is it for, then?
I heard Deputy O'Connell state yesterday that not only had the Executive Council not used with too great extremeness and force the powers that they they already possessed but he complained that these powers had not been used with sufficient force. Are the Executive Council now supposed to have changed their entire characteristics, so that they will live and act in a fashion different from the fashion in which they have lived and acted up to the present? I heard suggestions, indeed, that the powers would be all right in the hands of the present Executive Council, but that other people might succeed them, and in the hands of other people these powers might not be carefully or safely used. But who is to succeed them? Whom in this Dáil are you afraid to give these powers to? Supposing the present Executive Council goes out of office, who is to succeed them? I look around this Chamber and see the leaders of Parties in it. I would not be the slightest bit afraid of giving the powers contained in this Bill to any Executive Council formed from the Opposition Parties in the House. I believe that in their hands these powers would be fairly, honestly and correctly used.
But it may be said that other Parties may come into the House who might misuse these powers. It is the Parties in this House who choose the President, and he chooses the Executive Council. I am not afraid of the Irish people at any time electing to the Dáil a body of Deputies who will not select a fair and honourable Executive Council. I am not afraid in the least bit of entrusting to any Government which this Dáil may select the powers which will be conferred upon it by this Bill, and I am not going to speculate as to what wild things might be done; I am not going to speculate, as Deputy Rice speculated yesterday, on the possibility that Deputy Hewson might himself become an unlawful association, and might be attacked by the Government because he quashed the Limerick rates. Does anybody visualise that as a possibility? Does anybody think that the present Executive Council, or any Executive Council likely to be selected by this Chamber, will use their powers in such a fashion?
But I pass from these general criticisms and come down to the specific criticisms that have been brought against this measure. I will not deal with all, but with a few. The first section that Deputy Johnson attacked, and the one which gave a certain amount of misgiving also to Deputy Baxter, is Section 15, which enables a member of the Civic Guard to stop a person upon the road and search him for documents. Is that a terrible power to entrust to the Civic Guard? Put yourself in the position of a man stopped on the road by a Civic Guard.
Or by anybody else.
Nobody else under this Bill gets power to stop without a warrant.
The person stopped will not know.
A person would not like to be stopped on the road by a Civic Guard. If I were stopped, I should dislike it, and dislike it very much. But we live in a particular period of the history of this country. We may have to put up with some small inconvenience, but I know this, that I would prefer to be stopped and be searched at every street corner by every Civic Guard I met than to see a crime occur such as that which was committed a few weeks ago. Granted it would be an unpleasant thing to be stopped, but can no one rise to a height of patriotism sufficient to endure the small indignity of being searched and having his papers looked at by a Civic Guard? Is that too much?
Searched, the papers detained by the Civic Guard, and the man allowed to go on.
And the papers detained by the Civic Guard if they consider that these papers are of a criminal nature.
How will you know that the man is a Civic Guard?
Under the Bill no one will get power to search you except a Civic Guard. Anybody who stops you declaring that he is a Civic Guard, might equally stop you to-morrow. Powers for the Civic Guard to search existed before this. Were you not all—at least I was— after the Four Courts fighting stopped from time to time in the city of Dublin? How many times was that done by unauthorised persons? Was my pocket ever picked? Never. Were your pockets picked? Never.
Yes, by uniformed men.
If the Deputy addresses his questions to me, he will not be interrupted so frequently.
Perhaps Deputy Johnson would on some other occasion state what was the uniform of the men who picked his pockets, and whether that uniform was put on by men who were not entitled to wear it. It has been suggested, too, that the Civic Guard might abuse their powers. I confess that I did not like to hear suggestions coming from any quarter of the House which could by any possibility be construed as an attack upon the Civic Guard.
Who made them?
I believe that the Civic Guard are a very admirable force. I have had great experience of the Civic Guard. I have seen the Civic Guard from a different angle from that which most Deputies can see them; I have seen the Civic Guard acting in cases where I have been defending prisoners. I have seen their attitude, and I am a complete believer, not only in the integrity but in the ability of the Civic Guard.
That is commonly agreed.
I am glad, because it seemed to me that there were suggestions made yesterday that the Civic Guards might abuse their power.
Not at all.
Well, if my remarks are absolutely unnecessary, and if the entire House is in agreement with them, I am delighted that I have got that expression of opinion from the whole House.
Only in so far as the Civic Guard's integrity is concerned.
What are the other powers given by this Bill that are attacked? There is this question of deportation. One would think that deportation had been heard of now for the first time in the world's history. I do not suppose there is a country in the world which at some time or other has not had to use deportation as a weapon of defence. There are times, and there must be times, when there are persons in a country likely or almost certain—I might even put it stronger, certain—to do mischief. There may be people who, you know, though you cannot prove it, are inciting to crime. Is it not to the benefit of the country, to the benefit of the persons they might incite to crime, and to the benefit of these men themselves, that they should be sent out of the country? In my judgment it most certainly is.
The main attack brought against this Bill was directed to Part IV., which sets up the special courts. I wonder if the Deputies who attacked this part of the Bill had read the Bill before they attacked it? Are they aware that these special courts cannot be set up without a proclamation being issued by the Executive Council? The proclamation comes into force at once, but are they not aware that the Oireachtas must be summoned to consider it, and that it remains in force then for three months. If there is no need shown for it, if another terrible crime does not take place, and if it is found that juries are not being intimidated, then Part IV. of the Bill will never come into force. If, on the other hand, it is found in the opinion of the Executive Council that there is danger of the administration of the law being interfered with by terrorists, then the Executive Council can issue their proclamation and call the House together. They will have to make their case here and elsewhere.
It may be said, and it was said yesterday, that this House might be led away, and might slavishly follow—I am not quoting the exact words that were used, but this was the argument—the Executive Council. Did the Deputies who put forward an argument such as that read this Bill at all? Do they know what sub-section (4) of Section 20 of the Bill says? This sub-section reads:
"Every proclamation made under this section shall be forthwith published in theIris Oifigiúil, and shall also be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made, and if either such House shall, within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat, pass a resolution revoking such proclamation, such proclamation shall forthwith expire, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under such proclamation.”
That means to say that it is not only in the power of this Chamber, but it is also in the power of the Seanad by its vote, to revoke such a proclamation. Do the Deputies who mistrust this Dáil also mistrust the Seanad? Do they think that if the Executive Council makes its proclamation, and that the Oireachtas assembles, that the situation will not be weighed, and weighed most carefully by both Houses?
Three weeks afterwards.
But it may be said why not leave Part IV. of the Bill alone until such an occasion arises. My answer to that is this: Legislation of this kind takes a considerable amount of time to get through. The need which may arise may be very urgent, and moreover the existence of Part IV. of the Bill is, in my humble opinion at any rate, one of the great safeguards that that part of the Bill will never be called upon. I believe that Part IV. will so affect the minds of persons meditating crime, knowing that if they do commit a crime that they will not have any safeguards by terrorising juries, that in itself it will be a very strong deterrent to prevent them from committing crime. These are the main sections which have been attacked. I personally shall vote for this Bill, because I know that it has not been conceived in a moment of panic. I feel no panic, and I do not think that any member of this House feels panic. I do not think that any member of the House who votes for this measure will vote for it out of hatred to any of his fellow-countrymen. I personally know that I can look within myself and see no trace of hatred towards any fellow-countryman, and I believe the same is true of every other Deputy in the House. That is not the motive which has instigated it. It is not haste or panic or hatred that has led to the bringing in of this Bill. It is a deliberately conceived Bill, and it has been conceived and thought out to meet the present situation. I believe that the Bill, far from shaking or disturbing the public confidence, as it has been suggested the Bill would do, will restore public confidence now shaken. I believe that the law-abiding people of this country, who consider the measure, will know that their Executive is fully armed to deal with any crime that may happen, and moreover is fully armed to prevent, as far as humanly it is preventable, the commission of political murder in the future. I believe that the Bill will re-establish public confidence in this House, public confidence in the administration of the law of this country, and public confidence in the future of this country.
If I had not been already an opponent of the Bill nothing would have convinced me more of the justification for opposition to the Bill than the exhibition we had from the Government Benches yesterday. We have had a little of the veneer and the polish scratched from the Ministers. We saw them in passion and in hatred, and these same Ministers ask us to-day to abrogate the constitutional law and to hand over to them, to their tender mercies, their political opponents. After that exhibition yesterday I would think twice before I would hand a dog over to their tender mercies, let alone political opponents. Let us take the bitter attack made on Deputy Johnson. It is not my intention to defend the attitude of Deputy Johnson. We all know and appreciate his capabilities of looking after himself. Again, we have had the statement made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in his references to the postponement of this Bill for two weeks. If he had been a new member of this Dáil, one would have made certain allowances for that interpretation, but we give him credit for being sufficiently intelligent and conversant with Parliamentary procedure to understand the meaning of this amendment. This amendment has a two-fold purpose. It gave an opportunity to Deputies of voicing their disapproval of this measure. It at the same time gave the Government an opportunity of sizing up that opposition, of withdrawing with grace, and introducing a milder Bill, but it seems that they are not prepared to recognise the courtesies of Parliamentary usage.
Again, we have references made to us, to Deputy Johnson and to other Deputies, that we were not prepared to shoulder our responsibilities as Deputies and as citizens of the State. We were told we had not learned the difference between sitting in the stand and taking a stance in the arena. The Minister for Industry and Commerce referred to the opening Session of this Dáil and it might be well in the short time at our disposal again to review what happened on that day. We saw then, reading the Press of this country, that we had an atmosphere prepared in order that the Executive would get a gesture of unanimous approval from this House. We opposed the nomination of the President of the Executive Council on that day, and if a majority of the members of the Dáil had supported our motion, we would not have shirked accepting the results and the responsibility that would have ensued. If we had the executive power and had the confidence of the majority of the House, we would have shouldered the responsibilities of piloting the State and maintaining order in the State. I want to assure the members of this House that at any time we are not afraid and we are not inclined to shirk our responsibilities either as Deputies or as citizens of the State.
The President in his opening speech yesterday made some attempt to create an atmosphere that would have secured the passage of this measure. He read out to us a list of what he informed us were captured documents—documents giving details of organisations. He told us also that this was only a remnant of the organisation that was responsible for the Civil War. Well with that knowledge he had the audacity to come to this House and tell us that the fact that these documents came into his possession was a justification for bringing a measure of this kind into being. He gave us some instances of breaches of the law which we on those Benches deprecate but if he takes into consideration that we are a nation that has not only survived a war against an outside Power but has even come out of a fratricidal strife of brother against brother and son against father, or if he had even compared the crimes that have occurred in this country for the past four years with those which have occurred in other countries in Europe and America, he would have found from that comparison that we are unquestionably a peaceful country.
There is no doubt that the assassination of the Vice-President would give a little justification for the anxiety of the rest of the Ministers but again we have had through this debate the inference that we do not appreciate in full that awful crime which was enacted on that Sunday a couple of weeks ago. I can assure the House that there are no Deputies in the House or no citizens outside the House who deprecate more than we do the cruel murder that lost this House one of its most brilliant members. We regret that loss not only because the late Minister was a member of the Executive Council, not only because he was a member of this House, but because he was a fellow-Irishman and he was slain by his fellow-Irishmen. We deprecate it the more because this House not only lost a brilliant member but it lost a steadying force inside the Executive Council. The Executive has lost its rudder and his colleagues now instead of being inspired by the last few moments of Kevin O'Higgins's life, in which he forgave his enemies, are like mariners who have lost their rudder and who are sailing out on a sea of passion seeking for blood and revenge. I am afraid from their examples yesterday they are even prepared to endanger the destinies of this State in order to satisfy that revenge.
The Deputy who has just spoken has told us that it would be impossible to bring these courts into operation without a meeting of the Oireachtas but there is one important factor that the Deputy has lost sight of, that before any meeting of the Oireachtas can be held the first two sections of this Bill will be in force. We cannot isolate this Bill from the other two Bills on the Order Paper and in view of those facts we have to take their effects into consideration and to consider them jointly. In fact, it was made very clear here by several of the Ministers yesterday that the other Bills were directed against their political opponents outside this House. We on those Benches do not agree with the attitude of members outside this House. We believe that they should be here but the measures that the Government have placed before us to-day are not going to bring them here. We must take into consideration the fact that these Deputies represent a very vital and huge force in the life of this nation and we ought to think twice before we do anything that will further alienate that national force from its service to the nation.
Ministers talk about the State, but I am afraid that some of them are beginning to think that they are the State. They are not the State. They are only a section of the State. The State comprises every man, woman and child in the State and the potentialities of the State, even children that are not yet born. In viewing this measure, we have to view it as to whether its ultimate end and its ultimate use would be for the good or the benefit of the State. We have got to face facts. There is no doubt that in this State to-day there are men and women and children who are badly housed, badly clad and badly fed. Some of them do not know where their meals are to come from. We must realise that this State is not in a good way, and instead of further alienating national forces the Government ought to do something in order to induce those people outside the House to realise the responsibilities that they owe to their constitutents and to the rest of the people. I submit that if we are going to bring this country out of the economic morass it is in to-day, we will require the service of every citizen who loves Ireland. All who have confidence in the future of the country should pull their weight in her service. We cannot afford to carry any passengers, let alone obstructionists in this effort. It is up to the Government, then, to accept responsibility for directing this State, and to see that no further obstacles are placed in the way of human and social progress. There is no doubt that there is an alternative to the measure before us, and that it is possible even yet at this late hour to induce all the Deputies elected to this Dáil to take their proper and rightful place here. We want the members of the Executive Council to be imbued with the spirit of Kevin O'Higgins. When he was going to the judgment seat of his Creator he said: "I forgive them." Let us make up our minds to let the dead past bury its dead. Even yet it is not too late to begin over again. As Deputy Belton said yesterday, we had our differences and bitter fights with the British, and yet we came to an arrangement with them. Surely it is not more difficult to come to an arrangement with our own people. We in this House seem to be going out of our way further to antagonise and ostracise them. We are closing the two avenues open to them to use constitutional means in order to establish the elementary right of elected Deputies to take their seats in the Dáil, and the only alternative left to the Party is that they have to quit or fight. That is the position in which one-third of the electorate are to be placed. What we ought to do is to tell those people to shoulder their responsibilities, and even go a little out of our way to assist them in shouldering those responsibilities. If we have a feeling of love of country, of love of those things that really count, if we are imbued with those ideals instead of hatred, there will be much more hope for the future. Even yet it is not too late for a gesture on the part of the Government; in fact, Deputy Johnson's motion provides them with that opportunity if only they have the courage and the humanity to accept it. Let us examine some of the provisions of the Bill. We talk about expulsions. Some of the Deputies asked, "Do not other countries expel people from their shores?" I ask members on the Government Benches what country or Government or State expels its nationals from outside its own jurisdiction? I do not believe there is any such, but we are never too old to learn, and I will learn something in international law and international usage if such a thing does happen. This Bill is going to bring turmoil undoubtedly. We have had too much turmoil, too much blood-letting, too much depredation and destruction, and instead of having any more of such things we ought to try and make the country for which we have accepted responsibility a little better than it was when we found it.
This legislation we have been discussing has been described as panic legislation. Again and again the question has been put "Who is in a panic?" The Government? That Government was in power in 1922/23 and its personnel has continued with some changes up to the present day. Has it ever met a situation by panic legislation? Has it ever shown panic in the face of menace to the public safety?
When it murdered men it had in its control for five months. Let us be honest with ourselves or we cannot be honest with other people.
Let us be calm as well as honest.
Yes, and they boasted of it on public platforms.
It is talk like that that is largely responsible for the event that has led to the proposals now before us—talk like that, and talk like I heard from Deputy Hogan yesterday, when he accused one Minister, unpopular with the Labour Party, with being guilty of blood-lust. What did that mean? Safety perhaps for Deputy Hogan, but what did it mean for the Deputy he accused? Another follower to the grave of Kevin O'Higgins? It meant that and nothing else, and I waited for a repudiation from the leader of the Labour Party. Blood-lust and rage! These are the epithets flung at Ministers who are trying to save the country. This is the atmosphere of calm we are asked to talk things in. Apparently there is only one person or thing there can be treason against to-day, and that is Deputy Johnson. No one can criticise him. That is high treason. The Ministers cannot answer criticism against them. That is allowable to others but not to Ministers. Anything Ministers do to protect the State is wrong. Their only office is to stand criticism, gibes and taunts such as we have heard from the Deputy from Galway and from Deputy Hogan yesterday. Then we are asked to consider forgiveness, to consider this in a calm atmosphere. Splendid, high-sounding phrases have come from the Benches opposite, but I cannot help feeling they are trying to make the biggest political capital they can out of the event that occurred on last Sunday fortnight.
It is a lie. Withdraw.
Deputies on this side of the House must have discovered by now, even from short experience, that the limits of Parliamentary language are very wide indeed. Similar statements have been made already, but perhaps not so explicitly. Charges dealing with political matters may have their defects, but they are quite in order, and Deputies will have to realise that when one side goes to extremes in a speech the other side may go to any extreme it chooses outside personal abuse. The Minister for Education may withdraw if he pleases but his comment is not out of order.
We insist on that being withdrawn. We are not going to be blamed here for the murder of the Vice-President. That is what the implication is.
I ask the Minister not to withdraw.
We will insist on it being withdrawn.
Let us be clear as to what has been said. What has been said was that Deputies are trying to make political capital out of a particular event, out of the murder of the Vice-President. There is nobody being accused of having murdered the Vice-President. It is, however, no harm that Deputies should learn that you cannot have extreme speeches made on one side without having answers from the other side. What the Minister for Education has said, in so far as I am concerned with Parliamentary order, is not out of order. It is a political charge.
It is an untrue one, a lie.
Fortunately, I am not concerned with its truth. It may be completely untrue. That is not for me, but political charges of the gravest possible kind have been bandied across the House. Deputy Lynch, for instance, a few minutes ago, spoke of murders committed by the Government. That is more than a political charge. He was not called to order because we have got so used to these kind of charges.
We are not dealing with the question of order; it is quite beyond that. The Minister said that we are attempting to make political capital out of the murder of the Vice-President; that is what we are asking to have withdrawn.
Exactly the same charge, as the Ceann Comhairle pointed out, has been made against the Government.
Is the Minister going to withdraw?
Then you will not proceed.
I want to say that we feel the murder of the late Vice-President as much as the Minister. I, personally, and every member of this Party feel that charge more than any other Party. We certainly are prepared to stand criticism, but we are not going to lie down under falsehoods of that kind. It is unworthy of any Minister and especially of a Minister like Professor O'Sullivan.
I am not denying that the members opposite feel the murder of the Vice-President. What I am saying is that, in the discussion of this Bill and the attitude taken up, the charge has been made against us that we were using that murder to make political capital for our party.
That is not the statement.
I answered that, as far as I could make out, the members of the opposite bench were actually making political capital out of that event. They may disagree with me or not. That is a matter for them ——
I think the Minister should withdraw.
That is what I felt when listening to their speeches.
Did you listen to the speech of your colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, yesterday?
Yes, and I listened to your colleague, Deputy Hogan, who sought to felon-set and attribute blood-lust to the Minister for Industry and Commerce.
I felon-set nobody, and I take it as a direct attack upon me.
I withdraw the words "felon-set." What he did accuse the Minister for Industry and Commerce and other members of was of being animated by blood-lust. Those are precisely the words used.
Is not the Minister putting Deputy Hogan in as much danger as the Minister alleges the Deputy put the Minister for Industry and Commerce in?
He can put me in what danger he likes.
You are showing a good headline and making a good protest.
[The Labour Deputies proceeded to leave the Chamber.]
That is the way you are washing your hands out of it.
We are not washing our hands out of it.
We stood up to assassination when the party who are trying to assassinate you now tried to assassinate us.
What about the Panel Election, when you sent military officers, with guns in their hands, to get us to stand down?
You are getting out of it nicely.
[Several Deputies then withdrew from the Chamber.]
My position is quite clear. The criticism that has been levelled against the Government is unfair, and it is unfair that the Government should not be allowed to answer that criticism. It is being said that the measure we are discussing is only appropriate to a state of civil war. That is the difficulty of the situation, if I may say so, that we are not technically in a state of civil war, and, therefore, the measure we now propose is necessary. Measures that, in the ordinary sense, might have been sufficient to cope with civil war will not meet the present situation. We have not a state of civil war. If we had a state of civil war the measures already on the Statute Book would enable the Government to deal with it. We are not in that position. We have not a state of civil war or a normal state of affairs, and, therefore, neither legislation fit for dealing with the state of civil war nor legislation on the Statute Book to deal with normal times fits the situation that presents itself to us to-day. That is the necessity and the excuse for the legislation now before us.
This legislation has been described as vindictive. In what sense is it vindictive, and against whom? That question was asked, and was not answered. We waited in vain for an answer to that as to several other questions. As far as this Bill is concerned, we are not looking to the past but to the future safety of this country, and that is the reason we make our proposals. There is a grave responsibility in the present crisis on the Government and also on the Dáil as to how we face up to this particular crisis. Let us look at the situation. Every Bill of this kind that has been brought forward in a state of public emergency has been opposed. It has been said that it is not necessary; it has been said it is likely to do more harm than good, and that it will aggravate the condition of affairs that it hopes to alleviate. That has been said practically of every public safety measure that the Government has introduced from 1922 down to the present time. The Government has, always in this Dáil, had to do the unpleasant thing. Others give sympathy. Others can be merciful. They can plead and ask the Government to be lenient about every phase of administration of the law. On the Government alone has always lain the very unpleasant task of having to administer the law, and to court unpopularity in seeing that the will of the people of this country is made effective. What we have to deal with is not the safety of individual Ministers; what we have to deal with is the safety of the State and the State alone. It is not protection for Ministers we demand, and we do not look on the crime committed some Sundays ago as a crime against an individual. It was murder in that sense of the word, but it was more than that. It was an attempt to assassinate the State. That was the purpose of it, and it is because we feel that was the purpose of that particular crime that we have this particular act of legislation. If one looked upon that as a private murder, this particular Bill would not be necessary.
What is the good of speaking of ordinary criminals and making comparisons between the number of criminals in this country and those in other countries? This is a criminal consipracy, not against an individual, not against private property, but a conspiracy against the State as a whole. It is because such a conspiracy has arisen we have to deal with it in these particular measures. It is no good asking us to remember the quiet times we had at the elections. I have listened to the speeches and I could not help wondering whether the event of a few weeks ago took place. Some speeches were delivered as if that event did not occur. It is the duty of the Government to take measures which it thinks necessary to protect the State. If it does not ask for these measures from the Dáil, the Government is not performing its duties. The Dáil, on the other hand, has also its duty, which is to say whether it thinks the Government is making a reasonable claim in asking for these powers. If it thinks it is and if it thinks that the Executive should be entrusted with the future Government of the country, I suggest that there is nothing for the Dáil to do, if it faces the situation, but to follow the attitude taken up in some of the speeches yesterday, like that of the leader of the Farmers' Party in which it was stated that they could not take the responsibility of refusing these powers to the Government. If that responsibility is taken there is only one logical attitude and that is to get rid of the Government.
If the Government asks for measures and it is found that these measures are not satisfactory, then the Government are not fit to be entrusted with the affairs of the country. In that event, put out the Government and ask somebody else to carry on. The Dáil has been given every opportunity. When it met after the general election to elect the President and Vice-President it had its opportunity of electing another Government. In the last speech which he made in this House, the late Vice-President definitely put it before Deputies in all sincerity— he was not capable of doing anything that was not sincere—that it was for them to elect another Government if they were not satisfied with the present one. Was there any suggestion made that others were ready to take office? It is true that the Government was opposed. From the speech of Deputy Lynch I now gather for the first time that there was another party ready to take over the Government. They were challenged from these and other Benches to say whether they had an alternative Government and to say what their plan was. On the motion to elect Deputy Cosgrave as head of the Government, they were asked, if that proposition was defeated, what their alternative was. Did they give a single hint or say what their alternative was? No. I say that the matter is clear so far as this House is concerned. It can either trust this Government with the government of the country or get another to take its place. That was put before the House yesterday by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I can assure Deputy Belton that he had no intention of establishing a military dictatorship. His meaning was that if the House had not confidence in the Government it should replace it.
Can you not go some way to peace instead of all this rage? It is not a matter for laughing.
We were told in the speeches which we listened to that the assassination was not going to bring down the State, that it was a complete misunderstanding of the mentality of the people to think that the assassination of the Vice-President would bring down the State, that in fact the only real effect of his murder, or the murder of other Ministers, would be to rally the people, all right-minded people, to the support of the Government. It seems to me that there is only one conclusion to be drawn from that and that is, that if you want to make the Government stable and strong you have only to assassinate Ministers. We were asked to ignore these murders, to treat them as not having occurred, and it was said that all right-minded people would rally to the Government. That is merely a pious hope. When I was doing very juvenile theology, I remember, when learning the Catechism, that that would be called presumption. We were looking for a certain thing but we were not taking the means to obtain it. That is the most extraordinary statement I ever listened to, that the best way to face this menace to the State is to ignore what occurred, to pass it by. I saw several efforts made to pass by that particular event, to treat it as if it had not occurred, to forget it more or less.
The speeches of many Deputies who spoke against this Bill could have been delivered in normal times in a country that had for a long time enjoyed a settled state of government. Is it not, however, absurd, even though a great deal has been done in the way of restoring law and order, to suggest that we are in that position? The Government is twitted because it boasted that it had restored law and order. Is it denied that it had done a tremendous amount in that direction? Is that a fact or is it not? On the other hand, is there not evidence, as is evident by the event of the 10th July, that we are still in the presence of what Deputy Belton described as a crisis? The two things are compatible. The Government has done great work in restoring law and order, but more work has to be done, and the work that has been done has to be preserved. We are a country which is just emerging from revolution. It is no good ignoring that. The remnants of that, and I may say of several revolutions, are still there and the menace that comes from them will be faced by Ministers and the country. It was said that our Constitution gives no excuse for political assassins. What is the good of that when it does not do away with political assassination? In the same way it may be said—I am now using a phrase which has almost become consecrated in Irish history—that there is a constitutional means of settling our differences. Of course there is. There was such means in 1922, but that did not prevent the civil war. The mere fact that these things are so, that we have constitutional means of settling our differences, does not prevent outbreaks of disorder which the Dáil, as supporting the Government, has to deal with. Loss of confidence! Where is the loss of confidence?
I remember the speeches made here on the lamentable occasion of the death of the Vice-President. I am absolutely sincere when I say that I fully believe that everybody who spoke in the Dáil and the people who spoke outside were perfectly sincere when they repudiated with horror that particular crime. But are we not even ourselves already forgetting that particular crime and what it meant? Then the situation was that that crime had shaken the confidence of the country. Who is shaking the confidence of the country now? Is it any longer the people who shot Kevin O'Higgins? No, it is the iniquitous Government who are now shaking the confidence of the country! It is not the murder that is shaking the confidence of the people of the country, it is apparently the adoption of measures that are necessary for the safety of the country. That is the new doctrine preached a very short time after the sad event that has occurred.
Deputies have asked: how will this Bill make easier the detection of crime, how will this Bill make easier the apprehension of criminals? That is not the purpose of the Bill. The purpose of the Bill is not so much to seek the criminal after the crime, but to see that the crime does not take place. The Bill is preventive. That is why the Bill is there. It could not satisfy, because it was never meant to satisfy, some of the requirements which have been demanded of this particular Bill. It was not intended to find a better means of detecting crime and apprehending the criminals—that is a matter for the Criminal Investigation Department. It was meant if possible to limit crimes of the type I mentioned, and to prevent them. The President made that quite clear in introducing the Bill.
It is absurd to say that the purpose of the Bill was not made quite clear. It was. The President said:—
"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."
That is the purpose of the Bill. The Bill is preventive in its purpose. It is not a Bill for the better detection of crime. I am quite aware that the murder of the late Vice-President called forth an almost unparalleled expression of sympathy in this country. It was a sympathy that was widespread, and that undoubtedly gave great solace —if such a thing could at all be given —to his colleagues in the Government. But, though that sympathy was widespread, was it universal? I ask Deputies from different parts of the country was the sympathy universal? Were there not people through the country, in different places, who actually did not conceal, I might almost say, their joy at that particular event?
Cheered and shouted.
Is there any place in the country in which that did not take place? I do not say they were the majority—far from it—in any place. I do not say they represented all the people opposed to our Constitution—far from it. But there are people, large numbers of people, of that particular type and mentality. What is the good of telling us that the healthy-minded people will rally to the support of the Government. What about the unhealthy-minded people? If they band themselves together in order to bring about the destruction of the State, and if measures are not taken against them, what is to prevent even a minority of that kind from bringing about the destruction of the State?
You must put the assassination of the Vice-President in its setting. You must take not merely the event itself, but the various things that, in one way or another, be it moral support or otherwise, contributed to and led up to it. It has been said that the elections were quiet. They were. But what was the language used at some of the election meetings. Was the Government of this country—which is, after all, the legitimate Government, the lawful Government of the country—treated with respect? Not with the respect that I was always taught was due to legitimate rulers; no, but with contumely—denounced as robbers, murderers, assassins, traitors, a revolutionary junta. Can language of that kind be used in front of the impressionable youth of the country, and deplorable consequences not follow? Is there no moral guilt so far as the use of language of that kind is concerned? That was the language used from one platform after another.
Remember we are being told that a certain Party has now adopted constitutional measures. Very good. Let us remember that the head of that same Party told us in 1921 that there was a constitutional method of settling our differences. The leader of that party, a couple of years later at Cavan, said that if the men who signed the Treaty had been treated as traitors, a lot might have been saved to this country. What does that mean? In the late election campaign the following speech was made by another speaker:—
"If these men were in Germany, and were Germans, they would be treated as traitors and shot. If they were Frenchmen and in France, they would be treated as traitors, and shot, and now that they are in Ireland, and Irishmen, why should they not be treated in the same way?"
That is the most extreme example of the language if you like, but every type of abuse down to incitement of that kind took place during the elections. It is absurd, therefore, to separate the crime itself from the whole atmosphere that was favourable to the crime, and that created it. I do not say that the people who used language of that kind knew precisely the meaning of their words, but I do suggest that it is criminal in a public man not to follow the meaning of his words.
Apparently we cannot attack the Fianna Fáil Party in this assembly because it is said that they have adopted constitutional methods. I do not pretend to follow the differences between the various branches of the people who refuse to accept our Constitution. I know in my own native county there were two of those parties up and, after the election was over, the agent returning thanks on behalf of one group referred to the return of the whole four as if they belonged to one party. That is just a matter of detail.
I refuse, so far as this Bill is concerned, to sacrifice the State to the shibboleths of late Victorian Radicalism. I think the State is above shibboleths of that particular kind. Any rights of the kind, such as the freedom of the Press, referred to yesterday, here, and any right such as trial by jury referred to, if they are rights of individuals and citizens of the State, come from the Constitution and in no other way. I say these rights given by the Constitution are there only for the better government and progress of the State. If the safety of the State, which is prior to the Constitution itself, demands it, then these rights in our Constitution must, for the time being, and so long as necessary, be abrogated. That is nothing revolutionary; it is simply plain commonsense. These rights can come only from the Constitution; there is no other right apart from the Constitution that the people have, so far as these matters are concerned. Trial by jury is a right given by the Constitution, and only by the Constitution; similarly with the freedom of the Press; and both can be limited if the safety of the State demands it.
Let us bear in mind that we intend, and, probably, the House will agree, to bring in a Bill dealing with evil literature. We have a report from a Committee which embraced representatives of different parties upon a certain type of literature. A Bill will be introduced to deal with that particular type of literature. We expect that Bill will get the approval of the House. It is an interference with the liberty of the Press, but it is necessary for the moral welfare of the nation. In this particular Bill we demand that very right of interference, where it is necessary, not merely to the general welfare of the country, necessary not merely to prevent the gradual undermining of the State, but to prevent, so to speak, the sudden death of the State. The Government would certainly be remiss in its duty if it refused to ask for the right of interference of that kind.
The freedom of the Press is undoubtedly a thing we are all keen on. And the Press, remember, may often do things that the Government feel are hostile and bad for the State, but that will not be sufficient reason for interference by the Government. Because it is only the gravest reason that will allow us to interfere with the general maxim that there must be as little interference as possible with freedom of the expression of opinion. It is when a certain crisis comes about, when certain facts and matters demand it, that the Press will be interfered with. Even if we think that certain articles, and certain lines pursued by different newspapers, may be hurtful to the State, that would be no excuse for interfering with, or abrogating the good sound maxim of the liberty of the Press. It will only be when the life of the State is threatened that we must be allowed to interfere with that particular liberty. There is, so far as that is concerned, the safety of the Judges of the High Court.
We have heard a great deal of the rights of the individual. The individual has his rights; so also has the State, and remember, if it means inconvenience for the individual and possible suffering for the individual, that may be necessary, he must bear it if it is essential for the safety of the State. Apparently when the Government elected by this Dáil does anything, they are always wrong. If they asked something else they would get it. The difficulty is that when they begin to ask something else they find they would not get that either. Everything done should be done in a different way. Apparently the mere fact that the Government does it is a sufficient reason for its being wrong. We are told they are traitors to the nation. People who attack the nation attack the Government, and attack the assembly set up by the nation. These particular people have been applauded; they are more or less looked upon as heroes and men of high principle.
Amongst those who laid the foundations of the State was one of the biggest Irishmen of our time. Because he believed in his country and because he believed the country was free and was capable of carving out its own destiny, was he applauded? What was his reward? We all know what his reward was. We all know the kind of abuse hurled at him in his lifetime. It is the other side that gets all the sympathy and the flowers and the bouquets. The Government who are trying to save the country, as a rule, get nothing but abuse in return.
We are told that further evidence is necessary for this Bill. What kind of evidence is necessary? What further evidence is necessary beyond what the President gave in his opening statement, and the very lamentable event of the 10th July added to that, and all it portends for the future of this country? Let people be quite clear about that. Surely the further evidence is not a repetition of the kind we had an example of some Sundays ago. Let us remember, so far as the other thing is concerned, that we are dealing with secret societies. Are we to wait until they strike, then hurriedly summon the Dáil and put the position before it and try to get through the necessary legislation? I think the President and the Government have given sufficient reason for the powers they are asking for and which are the minimum they consider necessary for the salvation of the State. With these powers diminished they feel that they ought not any longer to be entrusted with the Government of the State. That is the position that the Dáil has to face. Remember that if the Government has a duty so also have the various parties that sit in this House. We have to deal with a very definite menace and in order the better to deal with that we ask for these particular powers. It is in the option of every man and it is in his power to deny us these facilities that we are asking for. However, the responsibility is as much his as it is ours. Our responsibility is to ask for the powers that we consider necessary and the Dáil's responsibility will be shown in the answer given.
The fact that a Party has left this House has left me without much to say. I did intend to make a long speech, but I shall content myself now with making a few observations. One thing I rose specially to refer to was the fact that whisperings and reports had been circulated round the country by individuals and statements made from platforms which I think needs attention. Perhaps to a certain extent some of the items I am going to quote will be the explanation of the absence of the Labour Party from the House. I have here a report of a meeting held at Arklow at which Deputy Everett said: "They offered their sympathy to Mr. O'Higgins's relatives and condemned the party responsible, but there was no justification for the murder of other innocent people." He said this after saying they were opposing the Bill. "There was no justification for the murder of other innocent people." That meant, of course, that the Bill was introduced for the purpose of murdering other people. And further down he said "there was no justification for the Government bringing in a Bill and depriving political opponents of any rights they had under the Constitution and then not the slightest excuse having courts-martial, further executions and further sorrow." Another gentleman on the same platform said later:—
Two wrongs never made a right. The new Bills would hit the working classes and the working classes only. If the Government wanted the murderers of Kevin O'Higgins, they could get them in 24 hours.
The last quotation is not from Deputy Everett?
No. The man I am quoting is Mr. E. Doyle, who spoke from the same platform and, I take it, in Deputy Everett's presence.
What is the Deputy quoting from?
The "Irish Independent."
Of what date?
Of yesterday's date. I have heard what I consider to be deliberately circulated rumours of the description I have quoted. Men have come to me and have asked me in whispers: "Is so and so a fact; I heard it was so." I think there is a deliberate campaign for the circulation of rumours of that description. Whether individuals or Parties are responsible for this campaign, it shows a very unhealthy public attitude. No decent man would engage in such a campaign and no decent country would tolerate it. I think that the fact that the Labour Party left their benches under the circumstances which they did to-day has justified to the hilt the statement of the Minister for Education, that political capital was being made out of the introduction of this Bill. I think there was a deliberate misunderstanding of the words of the Minister when his reference was attributed to the death of the Vice-President. What the Minister for Education stated was that political capital was being made out of the introduction of this Bill, arising out of the death of the Vice-President.
I see no attack on Constitutionalism in this Bill. I want to deal specially with this Bill and with no other. So long as an organisation is constitutional, there is no attack upon it. But when people are constitutionalists to-day and talk about resorting to physical force to-morrow, it is quite a different matter. A man cannot be one thing to-day and another to-morrow. We had the statement made some time ago that a certain Party in this country had adopted the constitutional platform. We had, then, Mr. Lemass and others from public platforms stating recently that, if constitutional means failed, they would adopt other methods. When are we to believe them? We have had declarations from Mr. de Valera, time and again, one flatly contradicting the other. In what frame of mind are we to regard them? If Mr. de Valera and his Party or anybody else adopt constitutional methods, they have nothing to fear. But if they launch out into other directions, then the law will apply to them as it will apply to any other man who defies the State.
Comparison has been made between the position now and the position which obtained in 1922. It has been said that excesses were committed in 1922, presumably by the Gárda Síochána and the soldiers. Will comparison be made between the Gárda Síochána of that date and the Gárda Síochána of to-day and will comparison be made between the soldier of 1922 and the soldier of to-day? If some indiscretions were committed, if some hardships were inflicted on the individual in 1922, will it be alleged that those irregularities or discourtesies, which are alleged, could take place in 1927? Will any Party or any sensible man make that assertion? Tribute has been paid to our soldiers and to our Guards. The people who paid those tributes must feel that they are well grounded. How can people, in face of those tributes, feel apprehensive of abuses in 1927?
The word "panic" has been mentioned here. I notice that it has been mentioned principally by new Deputies. I do not know that the word has been used by any old Deputy. I do not think it would be used by an old Deputy. Any Deputy who was here in the years 1922 and 1923 had an opportunity of judging the mettle of the men who composed the Dáil then. Not for a moment was there the least panic. There was no panic then in a very much graver situation and there is no panic now. I know that the Party who sit on these benches are as calm in their discussion of this Bill as if they were reading in their own drawing-rooms. If there is panic, the panic is not on these Benches.
There is no use in shutting one's eyes to the fact that a certain section of the people—let us assume a small section—are of a certain frame of mind. No matter how small they are in numbers, laws must be enacted and methods devised of dealing with them. While a living can be got out of revolution, while money can be paid to individuals to carry on those practices, we will have attempts at revolution and we will have attempts at assassination and murder. While money can be got in America or elsewhere, and while men can be paid by organisations for the doing of these things, they will be done here as in any other country. We must realise that we are no better and no worse than other peoples. We have our degradations like other people. But we have just as good elements here as there are in other countries. We have, however, too much make-believe here. We have too much amateur theatricals. We have young people acting as soldiers and ladies acting as Red Cross nurses. We have people indulging in these hectic methods of diversion in this country when, in any other country, they would be a laughing stock. The sooner we have a state of mind which will make impossible that aping of soldiers and aping of Red Cross nurses the better. The seed was sown, and sown deliberately within the last three or four years. The public platforms furnish evidence of that, as was pointed out by the Minister for Education. That seed was sown by a certain type in this country, and sown broadcast. If it was not intended to raise a crop from that seed, why was it sown? We cannot assume that the people who engaged in this work did so because they were merely foolish or that they did it for amusement. It was done with a deliberate purpose. The seed was sown to bring forth a certain crop, and that crop, if it were not to be revolution, could only be murder and assassination. I say, "sterilise that seed," or, rather, prevent its being sown. It is the duty of the Government to do that. We do not want the youth of the country poisoned. We do not want our impressionable boys of from 13 to 15 years of age to have their minds poisoned by this foul stuff which they are given to read, free in many cases.
A lot of play has been made here about the abuses which might follow the passage of this Bill. There are a considerable number of people in this country who want to be assured and to be protected, and who cry out that the State must be protected. Those people are a majority—a vast majority. A Government, while it must be mindful of the rights of a minority, must likewise be mindful of the rights of a majority. While being mindful of the rights of the citizen who is wrong or semi-wrong, a Government must be mindful as well of the citizen with a healthy civic spirit. A Government which is unmindful of that duty does not deserve the responsibility of Government. It would be better for a Government which neglected that duty to relinquish office.
We have been told that there is a growing sense of civic responsibility. That is so amongst a section of the people, but, as the Minister for Education said, it is not universal. I regret to have to say that on the night of the 10th July scandalous scenes took place in many places throughout the country. I read where they were referred to by public men. One cannot shut one's eyes to the fact that scenes did take place. That proves that a certain class exists in the country, whether in small or large numbers, that needs the attention of the law. It is all very well to say that there will be a disavowal of the crime that occurred recently. That is all very well, but it is only a pious hope. Will nothing else happen, will no other pillar of the State be struck down? When it is stated that this Bill is not to protect the individual but to protect the State, that is the truth. I say that the proper way to deal with such methods is prevention. We do not want to have another tragedy; we simply want methods of prevention. This Bill aims at prevention, and, to my mind, it is a simple and a moderate method of dealing with the situation. The Minister for Education stated that political advantage was being taken of the situation that exists. I fear that is so, and in more directions than in one, but I will not refer to them now.
Deputy McMenamin described the Bill as being too drastic. He stated that he was prepared to give the Executive Council any powers they required. The Executive Council have now stated the powers they require, but Deputy McMenamin has opposed the granting of them. What powers would Deputy McMenamin give the Government? Evidently they would not be the powers they require, but the powers he thinks they should require. Who are the best judges of the powers that are required? Who is to take the responsibility? Is it Deputy McMenamin or the Executive Council? If the Executive Council are to take responsibility for the life of the State, then they are the best judges of the powers they need. There should be no quibbling about giving them such powers. Deputy McMenamin stated that some measures were necessary. We all agree about that, and the measures necessary are nothing more nor nothing less than those asked for in this Bill. The Deputy stated that no distinction was made in the Bill between the various sections in the country. Deputy McMenamin is a lawyer, and if he thinks that a distinction could be made in any Bill between the different sections of people who are out against the Government, I question his outlook on legal matters. A distinction could not be made in the Bill. This is a Bill to deal with persons who are out against the State and who are not going to adopt constitutional methods. On public platforms many speakers have pointed the finger at the Executive Council. They pointed at the Minister who was struck down. That was done in Monaghan. We know that. The public Press was ringing with it.
What I have to say with regard to Deputy Johnson's attitude was stated by previous speakers. In 1922 Deputy Johnson made practically the same speech as he did yesterday. I think that he even went further then. He has improved since 1922. My sympathy goes out to Deputy Johnson, as I think he has been made to say things that he would not say, were it not for the frame of mind of those on the benches behind him. We had strong terms from Deputy Johnson on a former occasion, "out-Heroding Herod," and others that are still fresh in our minds. Under this Bill the Dáil is asked to do nothing but recognise that a certain state of affairs exists and to act accordingly. Whether this organisation has a backing that is influential or not, large or small, all the Dáil is asked to do is to recognise that it exists and that it must be dealt with. Because it is a small organisation and because its methods are out of sight, the methods to deal with it will need to be drastic. If the organisation was on the surface so that it could be seen the methods need not be so drastic. It is not the numbers that we have to deal with but the quality. On Sunday July 10th we had a sample of the quality of this organisation, a sample of vindictiveness and hatred, a sample of brutality unequalled in the history of any country. The quality showed itself there. We had better recognise that the organisation is none the less dangerous because it is small. Because the organisation is small these measures are not the less necessary. We know that the organisation exists.
Advice was given in 1922 and 1923 but it was not taken. Other methods were adopted. Which did the country most good? Did the country appreciate that advice? What was the result of the elections in 1923? If the Government resigned to-morrow what would be the result of an election? Circumstances might be very easily brought about in which the Government would have to resign within the next week and let the people responsible for bringing about such circumstances abide by the result. Sections 14 and 15 of the Bill have been referred to. I have read them carefully and I see nothing to object to in them. The only objection that could be made would be one based on the assumption that this Government had abused its powers in the past and is likely to do so in the future. Is there any ground for that assumption? There is no ground for it whatever; there is no ground for assuming that this Government, having come through the ordeal of 1922 and 1923, having had these men in their custody and not having harmed a hair of their heads, are going to do it now when the civil war is over and when men's heads are cooler. What could happen in 1923 cannot happen to-day.
Reference has been made on other benches as to what happened in 1922 to meet certain circumstances. The circumstances then surrounded the slaying of another member of the Dáil—Seán Hales. Methods had to be adopted to stop that terrorism, that well-thought-out programme that was just starting, and that was to slay every man opposed to them. Circumstances demanded that these people should be spoken to in a certain language. They were spoken to. We backed the Government; I backed them and I do not regret having done it, and if the necessity arose to-day I would do it again. I did so then because the necessity demanded it; every other man who supported it did so because the necessity demanded it. It was not a case of hatred. The terms "hate" and "revenge" have been used across the floor here. During my time in the Dáil, I have never seen any evidence of revenge or hatred; it was the other way about. When charges are made across the floor relating to revenge and hatred, I say that a deliberate attempt is being made to take political advantage of the present circumstances.
It has been stated we ought to continue ignoring those people. I agree we ought to continue ignoring them as politicians. As politicians I think the country recognises them as a joke. But when it comes down to murder, I think we ought to take notice. They deserve our attention and I think that attention will be forthcoming.
There is a lot of criticism in the public Press and outside it, some coming from the editors and some from the people who write letters. We had a more difficult time in 1922 and 1923, and we had very little help from the editors and, indeed, very little assistance from the writers of letters. They were almost afraid to think at the time, let alone to act, and certainly they were afraid to speak. I think the Executive Council are better judges of what is required than the editors of the newspapers or the writers of the letters. This measure is all the more necessary because of the hidden and underground nature of the conspiracy that exists. I hope there will be no faltering of any member of this Dáil who has any respect for his constituents and for the trust that the electors repose in him.
One very important feature has seemed to me to be greatly overlooked, one that it is well the House should bear in mind, not only on the Second Reading but also on the Committee Stage. It was referred to by the Minister for Education. This Bill, as I understand it, is aimed not at any political party, not at ordinary crime, but it is aimed at that hateful vice which has been too prevalent among our people, the vice of secret conspiracy, having for its instrument the weapon of murder.
One of my most vivid recollections is being awakened as a child with the news of the assassination of the Chief Secretary and the Under Secretary in the Phoenix Park. I can better understand the feelings of the President and of his colleagues on the Executive Council over the dreadful event of over a fortnight ago since I have before me the vision of my father's face that morning when the news had been brought in of the murder of a dear friend and the ruin of many hopes that they had cherished together for the appeasement of the country. In 1882, as now, the country seemed to be returning to the normal course; then, as now, a little band of assassins, breaking loose even from the leaders whom they professed to follow, ruined and killed the reviving hope of the country. That being so, one has got to look at this thing very broadly and very deeply.
People ask why the assassins have not been brought to justice. Little more than a fortnight has elapsed since the murder of the late Vice-President. I have a clear recollection of that other murder of which I spoke, which occurred in the May of 1882, and unless my memory entirely misleads me, it was not until the autumn of the following year that the Government of that day, with its well-trained police force, its detective force, its unlimited funds for secret service, finally tracked down the Invincible conspiracy.
There are really only two questions, as it seems to me, which we need trouble to answer in our minds when we come to vote on the Second Reading. The first is, does there exist a conspiracy having for its object the destruction of the State and operating through murder gangs? Secondly, can we trust the Government with the powers which they ask for? I sweep aside the pretence, for it is nothing more, of course, than a pretence, that all that is asked for is delay. Deputy Johnson—if he were here I would, of course, address my remarks more particularly to him—knows, of course, what everybody knows, that a motion to defer the Second Reading either for a fortnight or three months is really a motion for rejection, and nothing else, and must be treated as such. I ask myself those two questions: Does sufficient evidence exist, and can we trust the Government? It follows in the nature of the case that what is really being struck at are dangerous secret societies. It follows from the nature of the case that evidence in the ordinary legal sense cannot be forthcoming, and no prudent and reasonable man would ask of the Government that it should publish even such evidence as it may have, for to do that might obviously help criminals to escape and make more difficult the prevention of similar crimes.
The only other question is: can the Government be trusted? I do not think we can have any doubt in our own minds that they can be trusted. They have already, as the last speaker reminded us, dealt in previous years with a more dangerous and certainly more widespread conspiracy than anything we have any reason to suppose is in existence to-day. I know it is suggested that the fact that they come here to ask for exceptional powers is itself a disproof of their claim to have restored order and to have established civilised life in this country. That is surely a mere quibbling with words. Is it nothing that treason and sedition should at least have been driven underground? Is it nothing that rebellion no longer stalks openly through the length and breadth of the land? If they were able by their courage, their moral and physical courage, which has gained the respect and admiration of many men like myself who, at the start, perhaps, had no very great love for them; if they were able to do that, and if they were able to carry out a greater task, can we not trust them to fulfil loyally, carefully and prudently the lesser task that the House is now about to throw upon them?
Amendment put and declared negatived.
The last speaker, to a very large extent, has expressed what was in my mind regarding what should be said on the concluding stages of the Second Reading of this Bill. I think it would be just as well to refer briefly to some statements which were made here yesterday and to-day concerning this measure. Deputy Johnson stated that those who were acting with him were quite ready and prepared to give to the Executive Council whatever powers are necessary for the prevention of crime, for the suppression of criminal activities, and for the arrest and punishment of criminals. As regards the latter two, we have already pretty considerable powers. As regards the previous two, he saved himself the trouble of developing the point, and of explaining to the House what he considered would be the reasonable powers necessary for the prevention of crime, and for the suppression of criminal activities. We have stated in this measure what, in our view, are the measures which are essential for the purpose of removing from this State the last vestige of criminal conspiracies which have been and which are a menace to it at the moment.
Later on in his statement Deputy Johnson went on to say that all the damage that I professed 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 I made yesterday. If there is one thing more than another which I am particularly anxious about during the course of my administration it is that the public should know exactly what the situation that confronts them is, and when I told the people during the recent General Election that we had established peace, real peace, through the country, and that we had secured the maximum of liberty and the maximum of privileges which any citizenship derives from its Government in any country, I told the truth and the whole truth.
The fact that there is this conspiracy left. a remnant of the conspiracy which we had to meet and defeat in 1922 and 1923, is perhaps the best evidence that I was telling them the truth at the time. I have no qualms of conscience now in exposing to the public the fact that there is a conspiracy here which has still to be met and still to be crushed, and which we, if we live long enough, will crush.
For a long time it was more than likely that this conspiracy was little more than bluff. And amongst those who discounted to some extent the evil tendencies of a conspiracy such as this was the late Vice-President. In his efforts to promote that peace and goodwill, and to promote prosperity and confidence in this country, every effort was made to bring home to the citizens the great advantages which they derived under the Constitution of this State. The Constitution which we have here is not the only instrument which guarantees citizens their liberties, privileges and rights. The institutions of the State, the arms of the State, the Gárda Síochána, the Army and the various other institutions ensure the liberties, the rights and the privileges; and those are the institutions which we have had to man from our party here. Those who say that we are endeavouring to make political capital out of this measure here and out of the other two Bills know very little about politics. For what do we want to fill up this Dáil? For what do we want 152 Deputies other than the Ceann Comhairle here? To place upon the shoulders of every elected representative in this country the responsibility of his office; to bring home to the people of the country the fact that when they are voting it is not that a vote should be cast merely, but that we must select representatives of this nation prepared to accept responsibilities, to bear the onerous duties of office that the people elect them to, and to see that they will come here and elect or nominate from this Dáil a Government which must be respected throughout the land and which will have the support and the confidence of the Deputies.
This play-acting which is going on outside the people abstaining from accepting the responsibilities of their office here is going to stop. I am not going to carry Mr. de Valera's political baby for him. If it is going to be carried he must carry it himself. If the time comes when somebody has got to negotiate on behalf of this country with Great Britain for an alteration in the Treaty of accommodation which we have made with them, then the person who is going to do that is the person who occupies my office, not endeavouring to escape the responsibilities of that office, as Mr. de Valera did in 1921, but going over and delivering the goods back to those people, having negotiated for them.
If I were interested in keeping alive my Party and in keeping alive the Ministry that is in office in this State, I would welcome occasional victories of Mr. de Valera outside, knowing that there are people who would look to us here to see that the State was on sure foundations, and to see that there would be people here in this Ministry not afraid to attack conspiracies. They would want men who are not afraid to bring down the strong arm of the State upon every person who threatens its security and stability, not afraid to stand before the people and to answer for every act of administration that has taken place during their time. I am not going to do that any longer. I am going to ensure for the future that the people who stand for election in the State will come in here and take their seats here and accept responsibility for whatever acts are done here in this State. We are going to see that Pontius Pilate will not be rehearsed in this country any longer. The policy of the Government, Deputy Johnson states, seems to have been that having had a blow by the assassin, it is the rightful, necessary action of the State to respond by one hundred times a severer blow at nothing—to make a shot at something, at the air. What is all the pother about? What were all the denunciatory speeches for, that this is a hundred times a severer blow for the one that was given at the State, if this is at nothing? What is all this posturing stuff? What is the meaning of all the denunciatory speeches that we have heard? What was the necessity to expose to our people the slave mind, as we heard it this evening from Deputy Hogan, when he rehearsed for us the attitude of the people of this country, during his lifetime and before, against the British Government when they were responsible for legislation and for administration here? There is no parallel, and if the Deputy considered for a moment he would know full well that there is no parallel. At that time an alien Government was passing and administering laws for this country. Here and now the people's representatives have complete responsibility for all laws, for every act of the administration, and they act for the people. We are not people who want to appear before the public and say that the Constitution which we passed five years ago would not ever, in any circumstances, be altered; that, no matter what blows were struck against the State, we were going to continue to act under that Constitution. That is not my interpretation of it. My interpretation of the Constitution is that its main purpose is to secure the foundations of the State, that if they are secured, the maximum liberty will be afforded to the citizens of the State.
We are not interfering in this measure with the liberty of a single peace-loving citizen. We are not interfering with any reasonable political activity conducted by any citizen of this State, but we are going to throttle, by means of this measure, every person who conspires to bring down the State, who conspires to injure the State by violent means. "To cast aside obedience and by popular violence to incite to revolt is treason, not against man only but against God." That is my answer to the conspirators, and they are going to be treated with all the severity, all the determination, and all the sternness that we can command. "The Ministers, "Deputy Johnson said, "ask us to trust them, and that they will only use these powers for the suppression of physical force organisations." I have no recollection whatever of having stated that. It was implied in my speech and it is inherent in the Executive Council of the State that they should get the trust and confidence of the Oireachtas. How can we expect confidence from the people if it is denied to us in the Dáil?
I make the statement without a desire to be in any way offensive, that there was brought home to me very clearly during the last two days the fact that most of the speeches against this measure came from people who were unaccustomed to the exercise of authority. I believe it would have been a good thing for this country if, during the last four or five years, an alternative to the present Government could have been possible, that people other than us had an opportunity of realising something about the exercise of authority, and consequently feeling a little more confidence in their successors and a little more charity towards their predecessors on occasions such as this. Occasions such as this demand of every citizen the maximum support he can give the Executive. Give them the fullest possible support that can be given, or put them out, but rally round to whoever you have got in a time of crisis and give them whatever they want. Do not expect them to bring order out of chaos unless that maximum support is given.
Deputy Johnson said: "I wonder if there has been any compact with Sir W. Joynson Hicks in regard to this deportation." There has not been. I am a very charitably-minded individual, as a rule, but I am not concerned with what happens to anybody upon whom a deportation order is served after this Bill has become law. That is not our business; the man upon whom the deportation order is served has got to look out for himself; I am not concerned with him. Deputy Johnson went on to say: "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." That point has been sufficiently dealt with by other Deputies, and it is so clear on the face of the Bill as not to warrant any observations from me.
Under Section 20 a proclamation bringing Part 4 of the Act into force must be made. Sub-section (4) of Section 20 states that every proclamation made under this section "shall be forthwith published in the `Iris Oifigiúil' and shall also be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made, and if either such House shall, within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which the House has sat, pass a resolution revoking such proclamation, such proclamation shall forthwith expire." Under sub-section (3) of the same section the Dáil is to be called together when a proclamation is made, and it is open to members of the Dáil, open to members of the Seanad where the Government has not got a majority, to pass a resolution annulling that proclamation. Deputy Johnson said in another part of his speech: "Now we have Guards in large numbers throughout the country, many of whom have not had a great deal of experience," and so on, and that "there was a danger of abuse by the Guards in detaining a person and searching him for seditious documents," and so forth. That statement has been made by a Deputy, who knows as well as any other person in this State that the peace which we enjoy at the present moment is largely attributable to the Gárda Síochána. Their success throughout the country is admitted by all sections of the community. If they are young, they have remedied whatever is lacking in the matter of youth by remarkable assiduity and the great efforts they have made—efforts which have succeeded in bringing from other people commendation and tributes towards their efficiency. I dismiss entirely from consideration the statement that was made that any inconvenient public man is to be deported. That is the statement of a person who never had the exercise of authority and who does not realise what a shocking thing it would be to prostitute such powers as are given here for such a purpose. I ask the Deputies, in considering this Bill, not to confound the immunity of the conspirator with the liberty of the citizen. The Constitution, as it stands, provides extraordinary liberties for dangerous persons. No man who engages to overthrow the State by violence, or who promotes assassination, is entitled to the full rights of the ordinary peaceful citizen.
Criticism has been levelled at that section of the Bill which, when it comes into operation, takes from a prisoner the right of trial by jury. I have before me a copy of an extract from the "Irish Times" of the 10th December, 1926. Three women were sentenced. What was the charge? "Three women were put forward for trial. They made no reply to the charge against them of endeavouring to induce jurors summoned to the Central Criminal Court to disregard their oaths and of publishing and circulating documents calculated to intimidate and influence jurors." Now, have not things come to a nice pass in this country when three women—as far as I know one of them, at any rate, is an educated woman— attempt to prostitute justice and to pollute the fountains of justice. "The women were sentenced to three months imprisonment in the Second Division, and to an additional two months in default of finding bail to keep the peace for a period of two years." Is that how the freedom of Ireland is going to be achieved? The first step, women to intimidate jurors; the second step, the gunman, and the third step to close all the courts. We are not going to allow the courts to be closed. This measure is designed to keep the courts open. It is the last step and the last stand to preserve for this country the right of trial by judge and jury. Deny that right to people who are going to attempt to bring down this State, and they will not succeed. Only those engaged in criminal conspiracies, engaged in attempting to bring about chaos and disorder and anarchy are going to be denied the right of trial by jury. Why? Because they may attempt to interfere with it. But they are not going to do it while we have any responsibility for the administration of the country.
AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE
The question is: That this Bill be now read a second time.
I want to say a word on the main question.
AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE
The President has concluded on the main question.
Am I not entitled to speak on the main question?
AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE
Not when the President has concluded.
The amendment was put, and I was called upon to conclude.
I am aware that the amendment was put, but I understand that the main question is now being put—that the Bill be read a second time?
AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE
The Leas-Cheann Comhairle called upon me to conclude, and I have done so.
AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE
And I am now putting the main question.
Then I ask for leave of the House to make a statement on the Second Reading.
AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE
I could not give the leave now. The Deputy was not in his place when I called upon the President to conclude. The President has concluded, and I must now put the main question.
On a point of order, may I ask whether it is your ruling that if a Deputy asks for leave to make a statement and the leave is granted, he would not be entitled to do so?
AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE
I could not give that leave now. The Deputy was not in his place when I called upon the President to conclude on the main question. The President having concluded, I could only allow a Deputy to ask a question by way of explanation, but I could not allow him to make a statement.
I have no alternative then but to vote against the Bill.
took the Chair.
- Earnán Altún.
- Patrick F. Baxter.
- J. Walter Beckett.
- George Cecil Bennett.
- Earnán de Blaghd.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Seán Brodrick.
- Séamus de Búrca.
- John Joseph Byrne.
- Bryan R. Cooper.
- Sir James Craig.
- Michael Davis.
- Michael Doyle.
- James Dwyer.
- Barry M. Egan.
- Seán de Faoite.
- James Fitzgerald-Kenney.
- Hugh Garahan.
- John Good.
- Denis J. Gorey.
- Seán Hasaide.
- Alexander Haslett.
- Michael R. Heffernan.
- John Hennigan.
- Mark C. Henry.
- Patrick Hogan (Galway).
- Patrick M. Kelly.
- Myles Keogh.
- Hugh A. Law.
- Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
- Martin McDonogh.
- P. McGilligan.
- Micheál Og Mac Pháidín.
- James E. Murphy.
- James Sproule Myles.
- Martin M. Nally.
- Mícheál O hAonghusa.
- Máirtín O Conalláin.
- Partholán O Conchubhar.
- Séamus O Cruadhlaoidh.
- Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
- Uí Dhrisceóil.
- Eoghan O Dachartaigh.
- Séamus N. O Dóláin.
- Timothy J. O'Donovan.
- P. S. O Dubhghaill.
- E. S. O Dúgáin.
- David Leo O'Gorman.
- John F. O'Hanlon.
- Fionán O Loingsigh.
- Dermot Gun O'Mahony.
- Risteárd O Maolchatha.
- John J. O'Reilly.
- Máirtín O Rodaigh.
- Seán O Súilleabháin.
- Vincent Rice.
- Patrick W. Shaw.
- Timothy Sheehy.
- William E. Thrift.
- Vincent J. White.
- George Wolfe.
- Patrick Belton.
- Alfred Byrne.
- James Coburn.
- John Jinks.
- John Keating.
- Daniel McMenamin.
- William Duffy.
- Gilbert Hewson.
- John Horgan.
- Micheál O Braonáin.
- William Archer Redmond.