Táim ag cuidiú leis an mBille seo. Ba mhaith liom a rá, ar an gcéad dul síos, go mba cheart an mhóid seo do bhaint amach as an Acht mar gheall ar an diobháil a rinne sí don Gheadhilg. Gan caint ar rud ar bith eile, ba leór sin. Cuireadh isteach ar scéimeanna ranganna Gaedhilge i gcúig no sé contaethe agus briseadh suas cuid mhaith acu—go h-áithrid i gContae Mhuigeo, i gContae na Gaillimhe agus i gContae Bhaile Atha Cliath —mar gheall ar an mhóid seo. I gContae Mhuigheo bhi na múinteóirí ag obair ar feadh sé mí, no mar sin, nuair a cuireadh an t-Alt seo den Acht i bhfeidhm. Dhiúltaigh na múinteóirí glaca leis an mhóid agus briseadh suas na ranganna. Ba é an cás céanna é ag muinteóirí na Gaillimhe. Cuireadh deire leis na ranganna nuair do dhiúltaigh na múinteóirí dul fé mhóid. Rud ba mheasa ná san, cuireadh ruaig ar Gaedhil a bhí ag obair go dúrachtach ar feadh na mbliánta ar son na tíre— daoine a rinne troid ar son na h-Eireann seachtmhain na Cásga. B'eigin dóibh dul thar sáile.
Rinne an t-Aire Tailte agus Talmhaíochta tágairt do'n cheist seo iné. Bhí sé ag caitheamh droch-mheasa ar thír-ghrádh na ndaoine agus ar na feara so atá ar thaobh nea-spléachas na h-Eireann. Ba mhaith liom a chur i n-iúl don Aire go raibh duine amháin. ar a laighead, 'na chontae féin a thuig céard ba tír-grá ann agus b'éigean do'n fhear seo imtheacht as an tír. Colm O Gaora ab'ea an fear go raibh iachall air dul thar sáile mar gheall ar an Alt sin. I mBaile Atha Cliath bhí cúigear múinteoirí ag obair go cruaidh agus na ranganna a bhí fén a gcúram, bhí siad ag dul ar aghaidh go maith. Bhí na ranganna san briste suas agus an t-Alt seo ba chionntach le sin. Anois níl an obair á dhéanamh chor ar bith. Bhí na múinteóirí ag saothrú an méid airgid a bhí ag dul dóibh. Bhí Colm O Gaora—agus na daoine eile cosúil leis—sásta leanúint den obair a bhí idir lámhaibh aca ar an méid airgid a tugadh dóibh. Nuair a bhíonn duine sásta obair do dhéanamh, nuair a bhíonn sé ag saothrú a thuarastal, nuair a bhíonn sé i n-ann an obair do dhéanamh i gceart, nuair a bhíonn sé foghluimthe agus céim aige do réir an phuist a bhíonn aige, ní ceart aon rud eile d'iarraidh air. Briseann rud mar sin isteach ar shíocháin aigne agus ar shaoirse aigne duine. Is cuma má thagann an phágh as chiste Puiblí nó as chiste príomháideach—sí an t-aon cheist amháin, an bhfuil sé ábalta ar a chuid oibre do dhéanamh agus an bhfuil sé sásta í do dhéanamh. Ní cóir don Rialtas nó do dhuine ar bith eile ceisteanna eile do chur air.
Is aisteach an rud é go bhfuil dlí mar seo i bhfeidhm sna sé contaethe. Sul a bhfaigheann duine, pé Gael no Gall é, post ón Rialtas sna sé contaethe caithfidh sé móid do thabhairt no fuirm do shighniú go mbeidh sé dílis do Rialtas Craig. Is aisteach an rud é sin agus ní aontuíonn na Teachtaí annso leis. Támuid ag síul go dtiocfaidh an t-am nuair nach mbeidh sa tír seo ach aon rialtas amhain. Ach má éilionn Rialtas Craig ar daoine móid do ghlaca bheith dílis dóibh agus ma fágtar an mhóid seo 'san Acht annso, ce'n chaoi a cuirfear deire le sgoilt na tíre? Caithfidh duine a admhail nach bhfuil mórán maitheasa i Stát gur éigin dó rud mar seo do dhéanamh. Tá seanfhocál ann—"Ní feidir fuil a bhaint as turnip." Muna bhfuil dílseacht do Rialtas i gcroidhe na ndaoine, ní féidir é a chur ionta le móid no le páipéar do shíghniú. Muna bhfuil daoine fén Rialtas ullamh seirbhís dhílis do thabhairt don Rialtas ní thiocfaidh aon atharú aigne ortha mar gheall ar páipéar do shighniú. Deirim gur fearr don Rialtas an mhóid seo do chur i leath-taoibh. Ní árduionn sí meas na ndaoine ortha féin no ar an Stat. Déanann sé sclabhuithe desna daoine in áit saoranaí agus is feárr saoránaí saora do bheith ann ná saor-sclabhuithe.
Ma tá duine sásta an obair do dhéanamh, ní ceart éileamh air móid do glaca. Deirim-se nach ar mhaithease do'n Stát é. Nior cuireadh isteach an mhóid sa chaoi go mbeadh meas agus ard-mheas ag na saoranaí. Cuireadh isteach é mar rud beag, suarach, nimhneach. Duine le aigne nimhneach nea-Ghaelach a chuir isteach i. Gidh na bhfuil móran measa agam ar an Rialtas, is oth liom gur cuireadh isteach an airtiogol so mar is comhra é go bhfuil soisgeal Craig agus na Sasanai acu. Sé seo an rud is mó a thaithneann le daoine cosamhail leis an Teachta J.J. Byrne, an Teachta Jasper Wolfe agus le muinntir na bPoppies. Is chun iad do shasú a chuireadh isteach í.
Ach ni hé sin an taon chuis amhain. B'fheidir go bhfuil raisiún eile ann. Tá intinn an-chumhang ag daoine airithe agus ma flúichann duine a bhróga ba mhaith leis, na daoine eile do dhéunamh amhlaidh. Tá eagla orm ná bhfuil coinsías an Aire socair agus tá faitchíos air go dtiocfaidh an lá nuair ná bheidh morán measa ar na daoine a thug an mhóid seo isteach, mar gheall ar a ndearn sé in-aghaidh na tíre. Ba mhaith leis na daoine seo a bheith in ann a rá, nuair a thiocfas an t-am so, go raibh gach uile duine eile có h-olc leo féin. Ní ceart do'n Rialtas a rá gur acu san atá an ceart agus go bhfuil gach uile duine eile mí-cheart. Is rud beag suarach é seo nach féidir le duine é do chur isteach ach amhain duine ag a bhfuil intinn beag suarach. Táthar a rá gur in agaidh Tréasúin an tAlt seo. Ní creidim é sin. Ní tuigtear céard is Treasún ann. Tá muinntear na tíre níos táchtaí ná an roinn seo den tír. Tá daoine in Eirinn—agus beidh, le congnamh Dé—nach mbeidh sásta a bheith dílis do roinnt de'n tír. Tá daoine in Eirann d'foghluim náisiúntacht ó shoisgéal an Phíorsaigh. D'foghluim siad céard is tír-ghrá agus céard is saoirse ann agus chuir siad rómpa a bheith dílis don tír—don tír ar fad agus ní don dhá leath di.
Iarraim ar an Aire agus ar na daoine ar an taoibh eile den Tigh—má tá siad dáiríribh in a n-abrann siad—gan an rud suarach seo do fhágail san Acht. Tá an Rialtas ag iarraidh guthanna na bhfurmóir agus d'iarrfainn ortha anois, nuair a bheidh Vótáil ar an mBille seo, cead do thabhairt do sna Teachtaí a nguthanna do thabhairt do reír a mbarúil féin. D'iarrfainn ar an Rialtas gan iarraidh ar an Aodhaire iachall do chur ar na Teachtai dul i gcoinne an Bhille. Beiridís cead a gcinn agus cead a gcos do sna Teachtaí agus táim cinnte go bhfuil Gaedhil ar an dtaobh eile atá sásta in a gcroidhe agus in a n-aigne nach cheart a nguthanna do thabhairt in agaidh aon dhuine atá sásta a chuid oibre do dhéanamh agus atá in-ann é do dhéanamh chó maith.
Nuair do dhiúltuigh múinteoirí an mhóid do glaca, tugadh isteach in a n-áit daoine nach raibh i-nánn an obair do dhéanamh chó maith leo. Thárla go raibh teastas dhá-theangach ag na múinteoirí a bhi ag obair agus cuireadh in a n-aiteanna daoine nach raibh acu ach an gnáth-theastas, daoine gur theip ortha teastas dhá theangach d'fháil. Act tá siad san maith go leór chó fada agus a chuaidh siad síos ar a nglúnaibh ós cóir an Rialtais.
Má tá an Rialtas chó chinnte go bhfuil furmhór na ndaoine ar thaoibh na móide seo, iarraim ortha cead a thabhairt dos na Teachtaí guthanna do thabhairt mar is maith leo. Má dhéanam siad sin, b'féidír go bhfeicfeadh siad nach bhfuil gach ball de Chumann na nGaedheal ar aon intinn lén rud beag suarach seo.
Ba mhaith liom a chur in iúl do sna Teachtaí agus do sna hAirí nach bhfuil aon mhaitheas 'sa rud seo. Muna bhfuil dílseacht don Rialtas agus meas ortha i gcroidhe na ndaoine, ni chuirfidh páipéar do shigniú aon leigheas air. B'fhearr do shíocháin na tire an t-alt seo d'fhágailt amach. Eireódh mórtas Gaedhil dá bhfeicfeadh siad aon chomhartha ón taoibh eile go raibh siad chun na sean-rudaí nimhneacha atá ag roinnt na ndaoine do chur ar leathtaoibh—da dtabharfadh an Rialtas gesture, mar adéarfa. Muna ndeannann siad sin agus muna nglacann siad leis an mBille seo, ná ceapaidís nach mbeidh aon chur isteach ortha agus gur féidir leo suidhe go socair, ná ceapaidís nach dtiocfaidh an lá nuair a eireoidh na Gaedhil chun a ndicheall do dhéanamh ar son saoirse na tire. Ní chuirfidh páipéar do shígniú cosc le sin. 'Sa bhlian 1916, do throid daoine ag a raibh páipéar sighnithe do Rí Shasama, do throid siad ar son na h-Eireann. Níor chuir sin aon bhac ortha agus ní chuirfidh an rud beag suarach seo aon bhac ar Ghaedhil an lae iniu. Muna scuabfar amach an rud suarach nimhneach seo déanfidh na Gaedhil féin é.
I would like, for the information of very few perhaps of the Deputies who are here, to remind them that it is my belief, and that I think it is their own belief, that in enforcing this declaration on public servants and on the servants of the State, they are not in any way benefiting the State or acting in the best interests of the State. I say that because if a person does not give allegiance voluntarily he certainly will not give it because of having been forced to sign a paper. When a person is forced to do that, it certainly is not going to make him give the State allegiance. Deputies on the Government benches will know that if a man is forced to sign a declaration of allegiance, as hunger has forced many an Irishman to sign such a declaration, that will not prevent these men afterwords from doing all in their power to advance this country beyond its present status. Deputies here perhaps do not agree that everybody in Northern Ireland, in every public position, should be forced to give allegiance to the Government of the Six Counties. If they were to agree to that then they should agree that the Six Counties should always remain under a Six County Government. I can very well understand Deputies being in favour of this declaration if they agree that this country is to remain as it is, if the Saorstát is to remain as it is, a Twenty-Six County Government within the British Empire. I can very well understand Deputies who think like that being in favour of forcing public servants to sign this declaration but if they want the Gaels of this country to unite North and South and when it is feasible to make some advance nationally then, I do not see any reason for asking for such a declaration as this.
Anyway if the signing of this declaration is forced on every individual in the State through stress of circumstances, that is not going to change the position as far as some of us see it. We believe that in spite of all the declarations that may be forced on the citizens of the State the time must come when an advance must be made by this State. When I was speaking here before, the President said that we on those benches (or rather I) were rattling the sabre. I tell the Minister now that by enforcing this declaration on the citizens of this State he and his Government are rattling the sabre. They are throwing down a challenge which is equivalent to rattling the sabre and if through force of circumstances, people may accept that now, it may not always happen in the same way. The Minister for Agriculture last evening tried to rally to his side the weak men on the Government benches who believe that there is no necessity for a miserable thing of this kind in any Act. There are men on the Government benches who do not think it necessary in the case of servants who are capable of doing their work. Very few of them who do not agree that it is sufficient to ask any servant of the State to do his work capably and well and that nothing more should be asked of him. The Minister of Agriculture tried to rally those on other lines. He talked about violence and treason and all that kind of thing. He defined treason, of course, in his own way. I remember reading at one time somebody's definition of treason. He said: "Treason never prospers; what is the reason? For if it prospers none dare call it treason."
The Ministers should well understand that, for many of the Irish people hold that they were the first men in this country, and they were the only men, to commit treason; but because their treason prospered by the force of English arms, their treason has turned out now not to be treason. Their definitions of treason are not going to be accepted by the Irish people in that way. If this section were put in by the Ministers because they wanted to please Deputy Cooper or because they wanted to be more English than the English themselves, as Craig wanted from his servants, that is not the view of the Irish people. The Ministers may take up that attitude; they may want to be more English than Craig. We can understand that position. But the Ministers should realise that no matter what declaration they force on the Irish people, it will not prevent the people from thinking right nationally and from making an advance nationally. If the majority of the Irish people, or at least always the good minority, think they can advance nationally, they will first think of the national advance and they will not think of any declaration of this kind that is forced on them in their hunger.
It is because this declaration is no good, and because it will prevent nobody from taking up arms against the State at any time, that I think it should be removed. It will not prevent a man from taking up arms if he thinks he ought to do so. Does the Minister for Local Government think because a man signs this declaration it will prevent him from taking arms against the State? I think if he believes that, he has not looked at the situation properly. I realise that it will not. If I signed a declaration yesterday and if, to-day, I was prompted by some motive to take up arms against the State, I would do so. I would not think of that declaration if I believed that my decision of to-day to take up arms was right. It would not prevent me going against the State. The only thing that this declaration will prevent is a certain unity amongst the best elements in this country. It will make the people feel that while there are those bull-dog methods being carried on by the Government, there is no hope for Gaelicising this country.
The Minister for Local Government should be the last man to force a declaration of this kind in any public service. Ministers have experienced the futility of this declaration. They have talked very much about the majority will and about the freedom of the people and the great status to which we have advanced. I would ask them to allow a free vote of the House on this matter. Let them take off their Whips and give a chance to the men on their benches who are Gaels and who believe that the only thing to be required of a man in a position is that he is capable of doing the work and that he does the work. I have spoken to members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party individually and I know what their views are. If the Whips are taken off, I believe that a majority in this House would be got to vote for this Bill.
On the introduction of this Bill some Government Deputies, who, I believe, have not changed their opinion, voted against it. Deputy Esmonde is one of these. Others whom I have spoken to opposed it, because it is a mean thing to put in between Irishmen. Of course, if they do not take off their Whips I realise that we will probably lose on the vote. It is unfortunate that we all, on both sides of the House, have come to realise that you have on the Government Benches the same old rusty machine that you have had for the past five years. They will all vote against this Bill if the Whips are not taken off. If a chance is given, some of them, I think, will vote differently. But simply because somebody on their benches says that this is the right thing to do, the machine will twist its wheel automatically. It is a ridiculous thing, when men are sent here to work in the best interests of the people, that they are always going to answer to the whistle of the machine. When the Public Safety Act was under discussion it was voted by the Government members because it was required for five years. President Cosgrave said, "We want this for five years," and they all said "righto." Shortly afterwards he said, "We only want this for two years," and the machine said "righto." Only about a quarter of an hour afterwards he said, "We only want this for one year," and they said, "That is just the very thing—righto," and the machine voted again automatically. Many of these promised their constituents that they would not be part of the cogs of that machinery, that they would think freely in the best interests of the people, and I wonder what their supporters will think when they see all the wonders of that machine, the wonderful slavish authority that is being maintained by that machine. I ask the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Finance—they at least were supposed to have at one time, and they probably have yet, a special interest in matters of this kind—to realise the difficulties and the harm that has been caused already to the language by this thing. In opposing this Bill I ask them to remember that they are not advancing nationally; that instead of doing what they first promised, to remove when they could the obstacles in the road to full freedom, they are now putting on the road to freedom every obstacle they can. This is not imposed by England, it is imposed by themselves. They put this in to tie down Irishmen; to make slaves of them all; to say, "Because you work for me you must be a slave for me." We are living in the twentieth century, and the Irish people and the whole world should have advanced a little more, and be able to think more freely. Because a man is getting a miserable salary, he should not be a slave to the big man who holds a stick over his head. All those who were either dismissed or forced to resign because of this clause were prepared to give a declaration to work conscientiously. They had qualifications to do the work they were appointed to do, and when a declaration of that kind can be got from any official, I think the best thing for the State is to let a man of these principles work for the State in order to prevent bitterness between people.