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.