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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 18 Apr 1929

Vol. 29 No. 5

Private Business. - Superannuation and Pensions Bill, 1929—Report Stage.

I move:—

In page 2, before Section 3, to insert a new section as follows:—

"After the passing of this Act the powers conferred on the Minister and the Minister for Justice by virtue of the provisions of Section 5 (1) of the Principal Act, as amended by this Act shall be exercisable on the recommendations of a Committee consisting of three persons, two of whom shall be nominated by the Minister and one of whom shall be nominated by the organisation known as the ‘Dismissed and Resigned R.I.C. Organisation.'

Of the two members of the Committee to be nominated by the Minister one shall be a Barrister of at least five years' standing. The Minister shall have power to make regulations for the conduct of its business by the Committee constituted in accordance with this section."

When the Third Stage of this Bill was reached all that could have been said on this amendment was said and I pointed out at the time that it was necessary that a Committee of a judicial character should be set up to inquire into the many claims which have not been dealt with and into others which have either been postponed or, as the Minister said, not considered at all owing to the activities at the time or to the political affiliations of applicants. A Committee was originally set up to deal with cases of resigned or dismissed members of the R.I.C. and I assume that it was intended to deal with all cases that might come within the terms of the previous Act. As admitted by the Minister, many people who might have been entitled to apply did not do so and many cases were turned down and were not given that impartial consideration to which they were entitled owing to the atmosphere that prevailed at that particular time. It seems to me, and I think it would seem to anybody, to be an eminently reasonable proposition that a judicial Committee should be set up to go into the whole question. The Minister seems to have the impression that there are only very few cases to be considered but my impression is that there is a large number. As indicated by the correspondence sent to Deputies relative to this matter, it can be said, without prejudicing the hearing of such cases beforehand, that many of them appear to be deserving of investigation. The solution offered by the Minister to the effect that he will allow inspection of the files or will go into some particular cases with Deputies is not, in my view, a satisfactory way of dealing with the matter.

In my opinion the most satisfactory method would be the establishment of a committee of a judicial or semi-judicial character for the purpose of inquiring into these cases and to have all the relevant facts before them, submitted either by affidavit or otherwise. After all, these men are in the position of being able to say that there was a definite promise made to them that when they resigned they would be treated not less generously than those who remained in the R.I.C. That is a promise that there should be no haggling in carrying out. The impression should not be left on anybody's mind that cases have been turned down without full investigation. It will be suggested— I have suggested it to the Minister myself—that Departmental officials may not have given the cases the consideration which they deserve, and, perhaps, that there is still an atmosphere prevailing among Departments, or among officials, which is not altogether removed from that which prevailed when similar cases were considered by the committee. My amendment leaves it to the Minister to nominate two persons in addition to another person who is to be a barrister of not less than five years' standing. That is a committee that would be satisfactory to everybody, and which would convince the public that the cases were properly and fairly dealt with. It is for these reasons that I urge upon the Minister to set up a committee. I do not want to trespass on the patience of the House by going into details of the numerous cases that have been brought to my notice and by reading the correspondence and statements made by various people, many of them supporters of the Government. Other Deputies may mention such cases, but I do not want, at this stage, to enter into such details. There is, for instance, the case of a man named Thomas Carney, of Kiltimagh, which is somewhat similar to that of Mr. McElligott, though not so prominent. There are several other cases which I could go into if I desired to read the correspondence. I think that the setting up of the committee would be the most satisfactory and fairest way of dealing with the matter and would show that the spirit of the promise made to these men that they would be generously treated has been fulfilled.

In view of Deputy Ruttledge's speech, I desire to raise my point of order. When the Bill was last before the House I mentioned the point of order, and as you, sir, were, I think, of a different opinion in regard to the intentions of Deputy Ruttledge's amendment from that which now seems to be the correct view, I was not inclined to press the point. I think that Deputy Ruttledge's speech now makes it quite plain not merely what the effect of the amendment is as drafted, but what the actual intention is. It seems to me that the intention of the amendment is to oblige cases which could now be given pensions without going before the Committee to go before that Committee. It affects the right or privileges of people who are not proposed to be touched by this amending Bill. Consequently I contend now, understanding Deputy Ruttledge's intention which I was not clear about before and which, I think, you also were not clear about, that the amendment is out of order and outside the scope of the Bill.

I cannot argue on this amendment and cannot take up the position that I can go outside the scope of the Bill. The amendment is referable back to the Bill, and I cannot go to the extent of making it apply outside it.

As I said before, if Deputy Ruttledge's intention is that a Committee should be set up and that the Minister should exercise the additional powers conferred on him by this Bill when it becomes an Act, the idea certainly is in order, but no more than that can be moved in regard to this particular Bill. It is not possible to bring up cases which are not dealt with at all under the Bill. If the amendment were altered in this way it would bring it completely in order, namely:—"After the passing of this Act the additional powers conferred on the Minister and the Minister for Justice by virtue of the provisions of Section 5 (1) of the Principal Act as amended by this Act shall be exercisable." That would make it clear that it refers only to powers conferred on the Minister by this Bill and that it does not refer to cases under the Principal Act.

That meets my point.

It will also meet my point of order.

Then we will take the amendment in the altered form.

If the Deputy agrees to amending the amendment in this way, most of the remarks he has made have no reference whatever to it, because the only people affected, leaving out the case of widows, are some 21 persons whose claims have been already considered and passed by the Committee. The effect of the Deputy's amendment, if passed in the form now suggested, is that a new committee would have to be set up to report on those 21 cases before the Minister could act under the powers conferred on him by Section 5. All the Deputy's remarks, however, had reference to the large number of cases which have been brought to his notice and have no relation whatever to the new amendment.

I am not concerned with the argument of the Deputy, but, on the point of order, the Deputy is in a position to deal with cases arising under the amending Bill. He is also entitled to make his position clear as to how many cases he thinks will arise. However, that is a matter of argument. I am accepting the amendment in the altered form, and I am leaving the matter open to argument.

Am I to take it that the word "additional" is inserted in the amendment before the word "powers"?

I will just deal with the point of the remarks, which the Deputy made in proposing the amendment in its original form. In the first place, it seems to me to be an entirely superfluous and even a ridiculous proceeding, to set up a new committee with a barrister as chairman, and all that sort of thing, to consider 21 cases that have been already considered. As a matter of fact, I think the setting up of such a committee would hinder the investigation of cases, because while we have had from at least one doctor, an admission that the certificate he gave originally and which enabled the man to get a gratuity, was a certificate that was not well founded, it will be difficult to get such an admission, I should say, from other doctors, but probably we will get expressions of opinion which would be very nearly equivalent to such admissions. I doubt in such a matter you would get anything at all from a doctor if he had to give his opinion before such a committee. For that reason, and for the reasons that there are no grounds at all on which we could recognise these people as entitled to pensions, and, further, that the machinery for investigating their cases may be different from the machinery that has investigated all other cases, I am opposed to the amendment.

With regard to the argument which the Deputy used in supporting the amendment in its original form, I have, since the matter was last before the Dáil, looked at the figures of the cases which had been considered and dealt with. The original committee, which consisted amongst others of representatives of the resigned and dismissed men, had before it 1,136 cases. It reported favourably on 631 cases and unfavourably on 505 cases. Of the 631 cases which were favourably reported on, pensions have been awarded in 531, 100 less than the number reported upon. Of those which have not been dealt with there are 21 which will be dealt with when this Bill becomes an Act. There are 27 who had less than four years' service. We decided as a general principle that no pensions would be given where the service was less than four years. There are others; some have been pensioned already and there were some perhaps that were not given pensions for various reasons. Then there were some which have not yet been considered, what I might call the political cases. There were 11 of those, of which 2 have already been given pensions and some have been rejected. Some are still under consideration but of those that were recommended by the Committee there were finally only 26 absolutely rejected. I think that when they first came up for consideration Departmentally a great many more—and I speak from my own experience in the matter—than 26 were rejected, but some sort of additional evidence was found in various cases and in other cases it was decided that the doubt was so great and that the cases were so similar to cases in which pensions had been granted, that they had to be allowed through. Finally, the position is, that of those recommended by the Committee only 26, leaving out the cases where there was only 4 years' service or less, were definitely rejected. After the Committee had ceased its operations 164 new cases came in and those cases were considered Departmentally. The Committee was not reassembled to deal with them. Of the 164 new cases, pensions were granted in 11. There were 37 cases that were found outside the scope of the Act in various ways. There were 36 who had short service and in 80 cases the applications were rejected after examination and on the merits.

Of the total number of cases that came in, 1,300 in all, 505 were rejected. Of the 505 rejected by the Committee a certain number applied for reconsideration and supplied fresh evidence. I know that a large number of these 505 are the people who are besieging Deputy Ruttledge and others. They besieged the Deputies of other parties consistently until the Fianna Fáil Party came into the House and they have now turned their attention to them. Of these 505 cases, only 9 were granted, and in these 9 cases further evidence came in, sufficient to satisfy the Minister for Justice and myself that the Committee was not right in rejecting them; twenty-six were rejected by the Minister for Finance and by the Minister for Justice after having been passed by the Committee, and eighty, who applied after the Committee had ceased its operations, and whose applications were considered Departmentally, were also rejected. Now, it would be utterly absurd, I think, to set up what Deputy Ruttledge really asked for in his speech, although his amendment has since been narrowed down—a committee to go into these cases again. We have almost passed the time when fresh evidence could be relied on. People's memories of events have got much less accurate and sure; there has been plenty of time, and a good deal of pressure has been put on all sorts of people to remember things that they could not have remembered, and, generally, to have any reconsideration by a committee now would only be to invite the submission of false evidence. I think that there is nothing at all to be said for it. I do not think that any of the cases which have been considered time and again are likely now to be able to get further evidence that would be of any value. It might happen that it would be in one or two cases, or in a very small number. I would like to say this, in reference to the cases that have got pensions, that in spite of the fact that we had to give them, and that there was good evidence, as evidence goes, in favour of them, I am satisfied that there are plenty of people who got out of the police, not on account of their national sympathies but in order to be safe. But we cannot, with all the care in the world, distinguish them, and I believe that if we opened the matter again now we would simply be letting in a large number of such people.

I do not know exactly how the Minister arrives at the figure of twenty-one as the number of cases to be reconsidered. I have listened very carefully to all the figures—about 1,136 and 164, and rejections and reconsiderations— but I do not know anything about the figure twenty-one, and I am not satisfied that there are not more cases that should be considered.

This Bill deals only with the cases which were passed by the Committee but ruled out afterwards as outside the scope of the Bill because they had received medical gratuities. That is the point.

The widows, of course ——

There is really nothing to investigate there that requires a committee.

This is not the place to sift all the evidence, or to go through all the cases, but, like Deputy Ruttledge, I have got voluminous correspondence on this. I do not say that all the testimonials were genuine, and it is quite possible that there is truth in what the Minister stated—that some men have got pensions who did not really deserve them. But there are a few cases where men, who certainly did not resign in order to save their skins, have not got pensions. I would like to refer to three of them as briefly as possible.

I am always willing to see the Deputy and to discuss cases with him. I have no objection to him reading the names here, but, on the other hand, I do not think it would be any particular help. First, I have not the evidence on the other side. If I had it probably it would be unfair for me, and prejudicial to the man, if I gave the evidence against him. There were, for instance, cases where men were chronic drunkards and all sorts of things. I want to say this before Deputy Fahy mentions any names. If Deputy Fahy produces a name and produces evidence to show that the man resigned because of his national sympathies, and had not to go out because of drink, I would simply have to let it go; I could not tell the House the reason, because it might be prejudicial to the man, and consequently individual cases cannot fairly and reasonably be debated here. I have no objection to arranging to meet the Deputy, or any other Deputy, after a week or so and to discuss any case with him.

Without mentioning names, might I refer to the fact that there is one applicant whom I know personally who resigned from the R.I.C. and who joined the I.R.A. in 1921. To the knowledge of Deputies on both sides of the House that man served in the I.R.A. and actually fought. What happened afterwards I will not discuss now. There is another case vouched for in a similar fashion by a man who is now a superintendent in the Guards, by the late Michael Collins, by two Senators, and by three T.D.'s on the Government side of the House, all of whom can testify that he actually did fight. When I come across cases like that I find it very hard to believe that such men resigned to save their skins.

I do not maintain that they did so in all cases.

It is a strange thing that, of the four cases I have in mind, three of them took the side against the Government in the civil war, and my belief is that that did influence the consideration of their cases. That is the reason why I would support the setting up of a committee which would not be influenced as others might be—not consciously, perhaps, but unconsciously the prejudice would be there—and I believe that an independent committee might give a more just decision in the case of such men. As the Minister has asked that I should not mention names I shall not do so, but I will send him particulars of these cases.

Both in his reply today, and previously, the Minister gave information to the House regarding the composition of the Committee which inquired into the cases of the resigned and dismissed R.I.C. Might I ask him at this stage whether the men who were nominated by the organisation catering for the resigned and dismissed R.I.C. actually served during the whole of the proceedings of the inquiry into the cases that were sent to that Committee?

My impression is that they did.

Is the Minister quite certain of that?

If the Deputy casts any doubt on it I will have to look it up, but I have never heard that the Committee fell to pieces before completing its work, and I would surely have heard that if it were the case.

I was informed that one of the men who was appointed by the resigned and dismissed R.I.C. men's organisation secured a position in the Government service shortly after the Committee was set up, and that he, at any rate, did not continue to sit and act on this Committee.

I will look that up.

The files of the Minister's Department will bear that out. I certainly agree with the Minister that it is not in the interests of those who have good cases that the Minister should be pressed to give reasons, certainly in some small number of cases which he can justify. I know two or three cases in which I believe the Minister could give information which would prove to the satisfaction of Deputy Ruttledge and everybody else that certain people who made claims were justly refused pensions for certain reasons, but by giving those reasons he would spoil the chances of those who have good claims. For that reason I would not press to have cases quoted in the House. While speaking on this amendment on the Committee Stage I stated that I believed that the atmosphere surrounding the whole proceedings of the Committee of Inquiry was a bit unreal, that because the Committee was sitting during the civil war period; and on into 1924, a large number of the cases did not get the consideration which claims sent in under the Military Service Pensions Act got from the board set up under that Act. I think if the Minister does not agree with the wording of the amendment, or with the constitution of the Committee that is suggested in the amendment by Deputy Ruttledge, he could set up a departmental committee to inquire into the cases that were sent in—the 164 cases, for instance—and also to inquire as to whether there is any good ground why any one of the 505 cases which were reported on unfavourably by the Committee should not be reconsidered.

The Minister has admitted that pensions have been paid to nine individuals whose cases were turned down by the original Committee. That in itself is a justification for the suggestion put forward by Deputy Ruttledge in the amendment. The Minister cannot be expected to read the files, although I believe he has done so in many cases, and I believe that in the case of the 164 he has really acted on the information supplied by departmental officials, and I believe that the scope of the inquiry should go far beyond that. He should go at least some way to meet the case put forward by Deputy Ruttledge in connection with the cases already turned down.

If the Minister will accept the suggestion of Deputy Davin and set up a departmental inquiry of some sort, I will be satisfied. Probably the Minister is correct. I have no idea what the figures are, but they appear to me to be much greater in number than he indicated. If the Minister would accept the principle of the amendment and set up a departmental committee I would be satisfied.

I want to do what is absolutely fair in these cases, but I do not see, for the moment, any need for a departmental committee. If I did see the need, and if the Deputy could bring some individual cases to me that would show me that there was a need for some sort of investigation other than that which these cases have been getting, I would be anxious to set up a committee to do it, but I would really need to have some further information. Of all the cases that are supposed to exist, only 164 have applied—and they have applied, perhaps, up to within the last week—since the Committee ceased its operations, so that the problem there seems to be definitely limited. It means that all the genuine cases, with the exception of 20 or 30, were before the Committee. That political influences did not operate to a very great extent was shown by the fact that the Committee passed cases of people who were well-known to have been in arms against the State at the time. Those cases were not examined departmentally; they were simply left there, and they have been taken up lately.

If it is suggested that amongst the 505 cases rejected by the Committee there were cases which were not fairly considered because of political circumstances, then I would be quite willing to have an interdepartmental committee or something of that sort to go over these cases again. I have read a great number of the files in these cases, and it is clear that the files I read referred to cases that about which I was told there was some doubt. Where I got a recommendation from the Committee, where my departmental officials backed up that recommendation, I glanced over the file but I did not read it with the care that I read a file in another case, where either my officials had disagreed with the Departmental Committee or where the case had not been before the Committee at all but was recommended by the officials. I did not read the files in the 505 cases at all. In cases where the officials were afterwards convinced that the Committee had made a mistake I read the files. Of the 505 cases I suppose I have not seen the files in thirty cases—perhaps not even in twenty cases—and I do not profess to know a great deal about them. If the Deputy would give me grounds for believing that a considerable number of the 505 rejections were wrong, then, so far as I am concerned, a new position would be created.

Is it not a fact that in some of the cases included in the 505 reported on unfavourably by the Committee that report was due to the fact that the names of the I.R.A. officers who could certify as to the national sympathy or activity of the individual subsequent to resignation could not be got at that particular period; therefore, the cases, to that extent, fell to the ground, or were reported on unfavourably?

That may have happened in some cases. Of course there has been a good interval since then during which evidence could be brought forward. Where clear evidence of that sort came forward from someone who should know, these cases were considered. There might be two classes of persons concerned there; where the applicant himself was with the Irregular forces, his case might not yet be considered, but is being considered, and where the applicant was not with the Irregular forces but failed to get evidence, because the people who could give evidence were with the Irregular forces and would not give it, if it has come to hand since it has been considered. When both were with the Irregular forces those cases are still being looked into. If there are any of them where the evidence is clear, and where they seem to be cases for re-consideration, if Deputy Fahy, for instance, would give me notice and would afterwards see me, when I have the files available, the air would be greatly cleared.

If the Minister considers that we present sufficient cases to him afterwards and he would set up a departmental committee, I would be satisfied.

If there seems to be a case for it, I am quite willing to do it. I am not promising the Deputy to set it up. I promised, if a case exists, that I am quite willing to set up such a committee.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

At this stage I would like to ask the Minister a question with regard to the position of the Connaught Rangers. This question was raised during the debate on the Second Reading and the Minister promised to make a statement at a later stage. He stated then:

With regard to the Connaught Rangers, I rather forget what was the general effect of the report made on those cases by the Committee set up to consider them some years ago. I remember it was unfavourable, and I think the view was that, in the case of their mutiny, patriotism was an afterthought and that they had no claim. I am prepared to look into the matter again.

Later on, the Minister said:

I will look that up and communicate it to the Dáil at a later stage. I would not be prepared to consent to anything in the case of the Connaught Rangers without a good deal of further investigation. If, on looking at that report, I saw any reasons to doubt that it was correct, I would think it was a case for another committee ...

I would like to ask the Minister to give us some particulars of the Committee which inquired into the case of the Connaught Rangers. As far as I can ascertain, that Committee was a departmental or a private committee, and the terms of reference were not announced.

As far as I can ascertain from correspondence the only representations they received were in writing from the men concerned. They did not hear any of the men, and I do not know what evidence they had before them. I should like to know what evidence they had which would give rise to the suggestion made by the Minister, that the mutiny arose out of certain grievances which the Connaught Rangers had against their treatment, and that patriotism was an afterthought. I consider that is a very important matter from the point of view of these men, and certainly the position should be made clear. As far as that point is concerned I have certain extracts from the summary of evidence in connection with the trial by general courtmartial of Private J. Daly and others at Dagshai, August 23rd, 1920. The witnesses whose evidence was given in this summary may be definitely regarded as disinterested parties. The first one was Major W. N. Alexander, who, in the course of his evidence, states:

"I pointed out that their action in not parading, which they stated was a protest against the employment of British troops in Ireland, would not have the slightest effect on the policy of the British Government, and I also pointed out to them the serious results which this action would entail upon themselves."

Another witness, Captain L. C. Badham, in the course of his evidence states:

"I saw a Sinn Fein flag stuck in the ground outside the company bungalow."

And again:

"Private Feeley said to me, ‘you are not going to shoot down any more innocent unarmed Irishmen,' or words to that effect."

I have several extracts of this nature and they all go to prove that when the mutiny took place the men concerned were definitely making a protest against the situation in Ireland. This particular evidence absolutely contradicts the statement made by the Minister on Second Reading. I should like the Minister, in justice to the Connaught Rangers, to clear the matter up.

I am glad that Deputy Kerlin has raised this point, as my recollection was wrong on the matter. While some members of the committee thought that patriotism was not the reason for the mutiny, the majority of the committee thought it was. The majority reported that the Connaught Rangers took their action from national motives, but they also took the view that they had no claim to any financial compensation, that no promises or inducements were held out to them and that their action was purely voluntary, such as was taken by many civilian Irishmen who took equal risks and put forward no claim for compensation. I had really in mind a document which was not the report of the committee when I spoke at that time.

Does not the Minister consider that cases of that kind, where the action was purely voluntary, are really stronger, as there was no inducement? I consider that they are, at any rate. Furthermore, I may state that the Minister's statement has had a very grave effect on these men. It was a cruel statement to make—that these men did not act on national grounds. I ask the Minister to reconsider these cases. I know several in my constituency, at any rate, who have a very serious grievance, and I think their cases should be inquired into. If we are going to pay pensions to ex-Black and Tans, surely we ought to pay pensions to these men.

As the Minister states, their action, of course, was voluntary, as no inducements were held out to them, but I suggest that pensions might be granted to the amount of pension they would be entitled to had they not mutinied, and the men would be satisfied even if these pensions only dated from now and were not made retrospective.

There is a case which was referred to here before— the mother of Private Daly, who was executed. Mrs. Daly was given either a grant or a present. Deputy Shaw, at some meeting in Mullingar, said it was a present of £15 from President Cosgrave. Whether that was a Government grant or a present I do not know. She is, I believe, in very bad circumstances, and there should be some consideration for dependents of persons like that, without prejudice to the applications of the others.

I do not know what the Minister means when he says that many civilians took action which was as dangerous and as patriotic. I cannot conceive of any set of circumstances so dangerous. In a foreign country, where they were surrounded by the arms of Ireland's enemies, they actually took their lives in their hands with no hope of escape. There were certainly many acts here that were heroic, but I cannot conceive any set of circumstances demanding so much personal heroism and high patriotism as these men displayed in a foreign country when they were actually in the hands of Ireland's enemies, knowing what they were going to get. I think the statement is not in accordance with what we should expect.

I desire to support Deputy Fahy's suggestion, which I hope the Minister will take into consideration. Many of these men had long service in the British Army, and had they not national aspirations, which some Deputies appear to doubt, they would now be drawing pensions from the British Government. They mutinied in India, and, as Deputy Hogan points out, it was one of the greatest acts of heroism that could have been performed during that period by any section of men. The Minister points out that it was a purely voluntary sacrifice on their part. So it was; but when sacrifices of that nature were compensated in this country by the granting of pensions and gratuities, surely this supposedly first native Government we have here is not going to turn a deaf ear to these men, who, in their own way, made sacrifices and took greater risks, in my opinion, than any section of people here. I think it is a very bad action on the part of the Government, and that it shows very little conception of gratitude. If the Minister does not do something in these cases, it will be one of the greatest of the many blots on his administration.

I should like to ask whether the Minister will be prepared to make further investigations into the cases. There are some very bad cases. Particulars have been given in the House before in connection with the case of Mrs. Daly. There is another case of a Mr. Smith, whose son was shot dead during the mutiny at Ceylon. That man's son had many years' service in the Army at the time. The father is now advanced in years, being nearly 70, and has no means of livelihood. He has to exist upon the little help he obtains from one daughter, who is in service. That is just one instance of the distress which has resulted from the mutiny. As Deputy Mullins pointed out, a number of these men had given long service, and when they were thrown on the labour market they were not in a position to earn a living in the same way as an ordinary individual. Therefore, their cases should receive further consideration.

It is very difficult to meet all the claims that might be made on the State. What we have done so far is to meet the claims which had not merely the basis of some service done, but also the basis of some pledges given. If we set out to give pensions to everybody who became in some way impoverished because of actions taken during the national struggle, it would be very difficult to see any limits to that expenditure. It is hard to see why people should be compensated because they were in India or elsewhere and took a particular action, which, after all, was no more dangerous actually than many actions taken by people at home, who have got no reward. After all, the number of casualties was probably some fair measure of the amount of danger. I do not at all subscribe to the idea that this was very much more heroic than anything that was ever done at home. These were simply men who carried out a certain demonstration in India, and who after serving certain imprisonment, were released. Apart even from that, I have no idea of how many of them would have been afterwards pensioned. Some of them, I know, would not. How many would have got pensions I do not know.

In any case the question of drawing the line must arise. The police were clearly a different case. There was a big national movement carried on to get the police to resign. It was felt that the resignation of the police would give results that were essential here and, undoubtedly, inducements were held out to the police. Promises became specific, I think, at a very late stage. They were rather vague in general at the beginning. At any rate, the police came out in response to a definite national call and their case is different from people who took action that was not in response to any definite national call, and which, in fact, was a sort of action that was neither going to be followed to any great extent nor likely to produce any great national results. However, that is a matter which the individuals concerned could hardly be expected to see, and they may have expected great results from it. But assuming they expected really to do something effective they simply, as Irishmen on their own, took some line of action that they thought would be good for their country. There were a great many people who did that and made sacrifices of one kind or another arising out of action taken, and who have not been compensated in any way in consequence of the sacrifices —monetary sacrifices—and whom it is not proposed to compensate. It seems to me, therefore, that we would be going further than we should go if we accept the case of the Connaught Rangers.

The Minister for Finance, I think, is taking up rather a petty attitude in this matter. Considering that this Party was not in the House when the question of pensions was discussed, I think the very least that ought to be done is to give them an opportunity of having the cases in which they are interested raised. The fact that the Minister has asked Deputies to come round to his office, and that they have done so, as I have done myself on those occasions, to discuss cases is not sufficient. If it is the feeling of the House that this Party should have an opportunity of getting arrangements made to reconsider these cases in some detail, I think the Minister should give way to it. If he has his Party behind him in taking up this rather narrow attitude I am sorry, because I believe it will not do any good. Every attitude and gesture in the other direction is all for the good.

The attitude which the Minister has taken up is all to the detriment of the general advancement of accord. I fail to see, in the case of the Connaught Rangers, how he makes out they did not respond to a national call. As a matter of fact, if the Irish Regiments were left in this country during the war, is there any Deputy here present who does not think that they would not have answered the call in a much larger measure than the members of the R.I.C., but they were shifted out of the country. Before that they were marching in the ranks of the Volunteers, singing our national songs, and then they were sent away to the four quarters of the globe under foreign officers. I say these men in India did answer the national call in a very outstanding manner. It is certainly a pity, and not at all to the credit of this assembly that their case should be dealt with in the manner in which the Minister for Finance has dealt with it.

There are one or two points that apply in these cases that may not apply in other cases to which the Minister should give attention. An important point raised by Deputy Kerlin was that a considerable number of these men had long terms of service and therefore, when they came out of prison they were unable, from the very fact that they had not been in civilian employment for so long a period, to find any means of livelihood. I think that is a sacrifice which few people made. A number of people made sacrifices, some in a monetary fashion, some in a physical fashion, some lost their health and others suffered imprisonment. But there were very few people who, actually coming to the end of their days, were deprived of their special means of livelihood. If these long-service men remained in the army they would now be drawing pensions that would be sufficient for their needs. I think that is an aspect of the question that the Minister ought to give consideration to.

There is another point which is a point of expediency. It does not seem equitable to the ordinary man who contrasts the position of these men who did these things which after all were very heroic. It might not have been of great utility. On the other hand, it might have been the spark that might have set the heather ablaze and might have had great consequences for this country. And who knows, if we were familiar with the inner minds of the British Cabinet at the time, whether it had not great consequencs. This thing, as I say, was very heroic. We may not be actually able to evaluate the results but it was heroic. But the point I am coming to is: Here are men who did this heroic deed and most of them are now starving and they have to contrast themselves with other men who did not do a heroic thing but served their full period in the British army and are now drawing pensions. The men who stood for Ireland are starving and the men who were against Ireland are at least secured from starvation. I put it to the Minister on the ground of expediency that it is not a good thing for this country that that position should remain. On these lines he ought to reconsider the case of the Connaught Rangers.

I desire to support the demand put forward, for the second time, by Deputy Kerlin. I listened in the House to the statement made by the present Minister for Defence when in a discussion on the activities in pre-truce attempts he expressed the very definite opinion that the number of men who could be said to be actively associated with the pre-truce activities would not exceed 3,000. We have in the Estimates for this year a demand for a sum of money to make provision for pensions under the Military Service Pensions Act for 3,224 men. That leaves out of consideration and does not provide for many men who gave active service in pre-truce times but who did not join the National Army and because they did not join the National Army are precluded from pensions under the Military Service Act.

Many people were sent to foreign lands in pre-truce times to advertise by speeches and other activities the position and the condition in which this country found itself in that particular period. They were sent to America, Australia, and elsewhere. But I think the eight or twelve men who went to India and who were in the British Army at the time and, as the Minister admits now, did this for a good motive, served a much more useful purpose in a country where there was a likelihood of getting very great sympathy for this country at the time than any man who went to America or Australia or anywhere else. They helped to advertise the conditions that existed in Ireland at the period when they mutinied in India. As Deputy MacEntee has pointed out, these were men who had long service in the British Army. They sacrificed that, and the manner in which they made the sacrifice and the advertisement which they got for this country, I think, justifies them in getting, as a minimum, the same treatment as is given to the 3,224 men in the Estimates in the present year.

I desire to add my voice to the appeal that has been made on behalf of the Connaught Rangers. I maintain that these men certainly made a great fight in India at a time when we were looking to the ends of the earth for support in our fight for independence. Some of these men, it is to be regretted, are now in needy circumstances as a result of the stand they took at that time, and I think that in equity and in justice this State should come to their assistance.

I should like to say that I very frankly welcome the intervention of Deputy Hennessy on this matter. This is a question that ought not to be left to one side of the House or the other. I am sure that the line of division in this matter is not the line which divides the House on one side or another. These men have apparently remained under a slur for nine years and have had to wait nine years for the vindication which they have received. I frankly, cordially and gratefully acknowledge the vindication which they received to-day from the Minister for Finance. I think that this is a matter in which the common conscience of the House is involved rather than a question which should be pressed upon the Minister by parties on one side or on the other. Again, I desire to say that I welcome very cordially the fact that Deputy Hennessy has expressed his view on the matter, the view of an ordinary backbencher of his own Party.

I suggest that the onus of pressing this matter should be taken off the Opposition. The Minister for Finance frankly withdrew a statement which undoubtedly was very wrong, and in the same way I suggest the Minister should now take the initiative by responding to what is an expression of the conscience of this House in this matter. I am one who does not want to see the ambit of compensation in these matters widely increased, but this does seem to be an exceptional case in which the feelings and ideals of the House would not be represented by division but rather, I think, by unity. I think that I am entitled to appeal to the Minister to treat this matter in that way: as an act of reparation and an act of acknowledgment from the whole House to men who, in very difficult and very dangerous circumstances, very specially tried to serve Ireland.

To me the attitude taken up by the Minister for Finance on this question is altogether unintelligible. I think that these men should be the first to receive consideration from him. I know some of them, and I also know some people who are getting pensions, people who are supposed to have left the R.I.C. from patriotic motives. I would not compare the latter at all with these other men.

This is a matter which has not really been considered for some years now. I have not considered the matter since that time. On the last occasion that there was a discussion here I got the report of the Committee looked up to see whether my recollection of its terms was correct or not. I saw that they were not correct, and had intended mentioning the matter to the House, but I forgot to do so until it was raised here this evening. I know that a Committee was set up to inquire whether or not these men should be given pensions or other financial compensation. The Committee reported that they had not a claim, and that view was taken at the time. I do not know any more at the moment. It is not a matter that arises directly on this Bill, and naturally I did not give it any detailed consideration. Consequently, I am not able now to say any more than I have said already.

Question put and agreed to.
Fifth Stage ordered for tomorrow.