In Committee on Finance. - Vote 33.—Gárda Síochána.

I move:

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £1,100,365 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1933, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí an Ghárda Síochána (Uimh. 7 de 1925).

That a sum not exceeding £1,100,365 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1933, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Gárda Síochána (No. 7 of 1925).

As regards this Estimate it will be observed by Deputies that it shows a net increase of £73,939 on that of the previous year. The increase is mainly due to increases under sub-heads A and B and to a decrease in the estimated amount of appropriations-in-aid of the Vote. If the Supplementary Estimate for 1931-32 be taken into account the net increase is £44,759. As regards sub-head A— Salaries, Wages and Pay—I have some figures here relating, as the analogous figures related in the previous Estimate, to slight discrepancies under this sub-head.

Similarly I have some figures as regards sub-head B, and also as regards sub-heads C and D—subsistence allowances, and locomotion expenses. Notwithstanding all that was said to me in regard to the previous Estimate, I still think that even a cursory study of the sub-heads by Deputies interested will reveal to them practically everything that I can tell them in the way of reconciliation of these differences and what would appear to be discrepancies. Similarly in regard to sub-head E—clothing and equipment. I shall have a word to say in regard to that as part of a helpful statement which I propose to make to the House. As regards furniture, barrack bedding and bedsteads, there is an increase of £1,262 in this sub-head, accounted for in a very routine way, namely, by the necessity of providing for the replacing of an increased number of worn blankets, sheets, bedsteads and so on. That possibly will be effected by the observations which I propose to make as regards the impending gradual reduction of the strength of the Civic Guard, and the consequent inevitable decrease in the number of Civic Guard stations. Sub-head H, regarding transport and carriage, and sub-head L, as regards telegrams and telephones, I feel justified in passing over, subject to any observation that I may hear from any Deputy, who speaks on the subject of this Estimate.

The appropriations-in-aid may also be dealt with by me very shortly. As Deputies will see, the estimated amount to be received as appropriations-in-aid of the Vote shows a decrease of £7,194. Though relative to the Vote a small figure, that in itself is a fairly substantial figure, and that is my justification for offering a few words by way of explanation of that decrease in the appropriations-in-aid. The automatic reduction of the police rate in Dublin from twopence to one penny in the £ for the coming year, accounts for a fall in the estimated receipts of approximately £6,500. Deputies are aware that there has been going on for some time a gradual, automatic decrease in the police rate in Dublin. The police rate was originally 8d. in the £. It is reduced each year by one penny in the £ under the provisions of the Police Forces (Amalgamation) Act, 1925. Needless to say, it will disappear after this year. This year we are enjoying the last penny of the rate and it will disappear altogether next year. There are some slight changes owing to the Estimates for the sale of cast-off uniforms and so on not being entirely realised, but they are trivial and may be passed over. What is of substantial importance is this: that the Government hope to effect a saving of over £25,000 on the Estimates, mainly by stopping recruiting. In answer to some of the inquiries made in connection with the last Estimate, I explained that recruiting had been suspended. As I pointed out at the time, the inquiries made by Deputies would, perhaps, have been more relevant to the present Estimate than to the last. However, Deputies did make the inquiries and I answered them. I dealt with this matter of the suspension of recruiting when dealing with the previous Vote and I shall not go over it again, unless, perchance, there was some Deputy interested who was absent when I was concluding the debate on the last Estimate. If there is and if he will mention the matter, I will again deal with this question of the suspension of recruiting.

It is also intended, indeed steps have been taken, to reduce the number of men belonging to the Civic Guard in receipt of special allowances for detective work. These allowances were of a very special character, and we are able to bring them to an end. Really we are able to refrain from reintroducing them, because that is what it comes to, without in any way detracting from the efficiency of the detective branch of the Civic Guard force. The intended changes in that respect would, no doubt, interest many Deputies. What one might refer to as the normal establishment of the detective branch of the Guards is a total of 256. That is the 1930 figure, I think. Treating the 1930 figure as a normal figure for the moment, we have 256. The strength of the detective branch up to a couple of weeks ago was 414. It is found that there is a surplus of at least 158 in the detective branch, and accordingly 158, or approximately that number—all these figures, of course, are liable to slight adjustment when being dealt with by the police authorities—will be placed in uniform. That is not a very great change, because I should say that the vast majority of them, I would not like to say all of them, have already been uniformed Guards. They are merely being returned to the ranks that they formerly filled.

I should say that the economies effected by the reversion of these detective officers to their former positions will roughly amount to between £6,000 and £7,000. That is, of course, quite a substantial amount. All that is being done, as I have already stated, without in any way imperilling the police force that is required for the needs of the country. Probably the number in the detective branch is still too large for the ordinary needs of the country, the ordinary detection of crime, the ordinary duties of detectives. Some Deputies may, perhaps, think that my pace has not been rapid enough. I do not propose, unless some pertinent comment or very pertinent question demands it, to go further into that aspect of it. I am satisfied at the moment on the professional advice at my disposal that 158 members of the detective branch can be put into uniform and used for the ordinary police purposes of the uniformed branch of the Gárda without detriment. What further economies may be possible in the future, and the very near future, I am not at the moment in a position to indicate with any degree of accuracy. I think I have now dealt with everything of any real importance with regard to this Estimate.

I have practically no criticism to offer on this Estimate. Indeed it does not substantially differ in policy from the policy we had adopted. The policy of stopping recruiting in the Guards was a policy we had put in force for some considerable time. It was only when things became very bad last summer that it was necessary to strengthen the "S" branch by removing uniform men into the "S" branch, which necessitated the reopening of recruiting. The passage of the Constitution Amendment Act and the working of it had brought complete peace to the country, and if that state of peace continues then the policy adopted by the Minister is a perfectly sound and correct policy.

The wastage of the Guards as far as my recollection goes is roughly about 200 a year. The Minister will correct me if that is not the normal wastage and the reduction by that number of Guards can be borne, provided always that the present conditions of peace resulting as I think from the passing of the Constitution Amendment Act, together with the fact that the effect of the repeal of the proclamation putting the Act into practice has not yet shown itself. The Minister thinks it springs from another cause. If he finds that he is wrong it will be open to him in the course of the year, to come to the House with a supplementary Estimate for strengthening the force of the Guards and bringing it up to what is adequate for the preservation of the peace of the country. In consequence I have no criticism to offer upon the Estimate.

The Minister divided his speech into two parts. As he himself mentioned in the course of his speech on the last Estimate, he referred to matters which should have been more pertinently discussed upon this Estimate. I shall just follow his example and deal very shortly with the matter he dealt with at the end of his speech on the last Estimate. I must thank the Minister very sincerely for the careful and attentive way in which he has been studying my speeches. He has already told us that he based his speech upon the last Estimate both as to its length and form upon my previous speech. Of course my speeches had been made in different circumstances which he overlooked. But I am obliged to him for that. I also see that he has been very carefully studying other speeches of mine, and the statement I made again and again that if anybody had got a grievance against the Guards and wished to bring action against them, the appropriate place to ventilate them was in the courts, and not by making charges in this House. I am very glad to hear the Minister rebuke a member of his Party for adopting another policy. I hope the Minister's appeal that people will not make wild and unfounded charges against the Civic Guards will be very carefully observed by every member of his Party.

There are a few matters I would like to touch upon in connection with this Vote. I suggest to the Minister that in addition to stopping recruiting he should also start a policy of weeding-out. We want to see the Civic Guard force a decent force for the preservation of law and order in this country. I suggest to the Minister that you cannot have that while you have amongst them even one per cent. of undoubtedly black sheep, and black sheep in more senses than one. Practically every week during the last four years we had Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney making apologies and most extraordinary statements as excuses for the conduct of some of the Guards. We had him for instance suggesting that an unfortunate man who was beaten down the country was kicked by a cow.

Knocked down by a cow.

Your kicking cow will be always famous.

I suggest to the Minister that he should exercise a weeding-out policy in regard to the force. I also suggest there is a field for enormous economies in view of the present transport facilities available in the country. Unfortunately when the Civic Guard was established, everywhere there had been an old R.I.C. barracks a Civic Guard barracks was established. We have them every three or four miles in rural areas where there is no necessity for them whatever. In another Estimate there is provided a very large amount of money for the Department of Justice for the building of new Civic Guard stations in the country. I suggest to the Minister that he should very carefully look into each of these items. He will find 90 per cent. of them are absolutely unnecessary and a waste of public money. He will also find a very extraordinary condition of affairs in connection with them. For instance, in one part of my constituency in Ballynoe there is a two-storey house occupied by Civic Guards for the last seven or eight years. It is a perfectly good house and has every facility that is required. Here in this Estimate we find a sum of £1,800 for building a new barracks. I suggest that that barracks is unnecessary and uncalled for. There was a move made by the ex-Minister a few years ago to get rid of a lot of those barracks. The local Unionists in each case had influence enough, apparently, to cause the Minister to withdraw the applications for the closing. I suggest to the Minister now is the time to get rid of these extra barracks and to effect economies. There is no occasion for them. If you have a barracks every seven or eight miles, with the present transport, it is no trouble to the men in the station to travel four miles on either side of them. We have one barrack in Glounthane, another three miles away in Carrigtohill, and another three miles further in Glanmire. I think every Deputy will admit that economies are necessary, and here economies could be effected. I would suggest to the Minister that he should go carefully into the proposal for the building of the new barracks with a view to eliminating a greater proportion of them.

I want to raise, on this Estimate, the question of the threatened reduction in the remuneration of the Civic Guards. I observe from the Estimates that the scale of wages provided for the Guards is the same as last year. I hope that the new Ministry, through the Minister for Justice, will give us to-night a definite and explicit assurance that they are not going to reduce the wages of the Civic Guards. Everybody in this House, and every responsible person throughout the country, realises the excellent work which the Gárda Síochána have performed on behalf of the whole community. We all know their magnificent contribution to bringing about peaceful and stable conditions in this country. I suggest to the Minister for Justice, and to the new Government, that it is very unwise economy indeed to attack the already low remuneration of the Gárda Síochána, to reduce their standard of living, to pauperise them and to subject them to the temptations which everybody in receipt of low wages is subject to. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us an assurance, so far as he is personally concerned, that he is opposed to any attack on the already low standard of living of the Civic Guard, and that so far as he is concerned he will do his best to resist any attack on their low standard of living.

I rise to support the plea made by Deputy Norton, the leader of the Labour Party, in so far as it relates to the contemplated cut in the Guards' wages or salaries. As he has rightly said, they have been instrumental in bringing about a state of law and order in this country, and it would be unwise at this juncture, and for that matter for many years to come, either to reduce very considerably the number of Guards or to reduce their wages or salaries. We are all aware that a disgruntled or dissatisfied force, whether it be a body of civil servants or a body like the Gárda Síochána, a dissatisfied body of that character, especially men who are entrusted with the preservation of the peace in this country, would be a very dangerous thing indeed, because when they are dissatisfied no great loyalty can be expected from them.

The chief reason I stood up was to support Deputy Norton's appeal so far as it related to the wages and salaries of the Gárda Síochána. Deputy Corry, a moment ago, appealed to the Minister for Justice to weed out certain persons in the Civic Guards or C.I.D. whom he designated as "black sheep." I want to know who is to be the judge of the black sheep. Is it Deputy Corry who is to tell us who are the black sheep, or is it the Minister or the Chief Commissioner of the Police? If we are going to Americanise our institutions, let us do so right away. Let every single member of the Gárda Síochána, from the Chief Commissioner down, be dismissed, and let us put in their places the members of this Army that is supposed not to exist. Will that satisfy Deputy Corry, or those who want to sacrifice the men who have done their duty fearlessly and well throughout a very stormy and stirring period in this country? If there is anything calculated to cause dissatisfaction or unrest in a police force it is suggestions of that character. Who knows but that this Government may be supplanted by another Government within the next 12 months; and is it because a member of that force would have done his duty fearlessly and well, throughout the lifetime of this Government, that a new Government should regard him as a black sheep? Because, boiled down, that is what it amounts to. To the person in this country who has criminal tendencies every member of the police force is a black sheep.

Again, it has been suggested here that 90 per cent. of the barracks are not necessary. So said Deputy Corry. He also said that appeals have been made from time to time to the ex-Minister for Justice to reduce the number of those institutions. I would ask the ex-Minister for Justice to bear witness to what I say, that when attempts were made to close down barracks prominent members of the Fianna Fáil Party came to him to appeal to him not to close them down. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that there are isolated hamlets and villages in this country where, were it not for the existence of the Civic Guard barracks, there would be a very strong system of intimidation, not alone in the everyday life of the people, but particularly in times of political excitement.

I would make this appeal to the Minister, whilst agreeing that economies are necessary, not to have those economies at the expense of the Gárda Síochána. They are already underpaid. No doubt there are peaceful areas where they have, perhaps, not so much to do as they have to perform in other areas, but perhaps on some other estimate I might indicate to the Minister where good use might be made of the Gárda Síochana. There are many uses to which their services could be put. We know that there are many dangerous corners where, maybe, because of a certain shortness in the personnel, responsible officers are not able to put men on point duty. Now that the means of transport has developed so rapidly, we find that there are many serious accidents, and many of these accidents might be obviated if men were on point duty.

When the Minister revises the whole position he will find that he cannot reduce the Gárda Síochána by any appreciable number. I would suggest that in any process of reduction he will not have regard to the suggestion made to him now that he should weed out black sheep. Let us have those words defined. If there are men in the Gárda Síochána who have brought discredit on the force by any act of theirs, by all means get rid of them. No Deputy in this House will stand for scoundrelly action of any kind, whether by a uniformed man or otherwise. I would suggest, when talking in this House, Deputies should have regard to the facts. We are told that there are 90 per cent. more barracks in this country than are required. In certain areas there may be barracks every few miles. I hold that reasons have been given for the establishment of these barracks, and if you remove barracks from certain districts you will have very great cause to regret it. I would suggest to the Minister that he should not pay much regard to the suggestion made to abolish 90 per cent. of the Gárda Síochána barracks.

I have stated on this Vote on previous occasions, and now that there has been a change of Government I would like to repeat the statement, that the Gárda forces in this country will always be regarded as a living memorial to the late Minister for Justice who was responsible for their establishment. They are a credit to the country that gave them birth and they enjoy the confidence of all law-abiding people in the country. It is very regrettable that during the period the last Government was in office so much of the time of the House was taken up by the foul, lying charges that in most cases were brought against them. I am glad from this side of the House to be able to congratulate the new Minister for Justice who is going to do the same thing as the ex-Minister for Justice did, to stand up against those charges. If nobody can substantiate these charges or prove them I feel confident that the Minister will not hesitate to say so. Deputy Corry is very anxious to reduce the number of Guards and stations. I hope the Minister will take serious notice of the possibility that it might be a very expensive matter for this country if the number of Guards were reduced. The money that is voted for the Guards here is an insurance that law and order will be continued in this country. I am saying that at a period when we all know that the conditions of the country are difficult and when economies are necessary. I repeat that economies by reducing that great force would be very false and foolish.

I support Deputy Norton and Deputy Anthony in the plea that there should be no reduction in the pay of the Guards because they were given a guarantee in this House that the last word had been said previously in connection with their position. A large number of them are men of ability and standing who could find much better positions and obtain very much more remuneration than they are getting to-day. I congratulate the Minister on his statement that he is not going to allow the men who are sitting beside him who have come along and calumniated the Guards here during the life-time of the late Government to continue to do so.

They are not done yet.

Ninety per cent. of the charges were foul lies because these Deputies do not like the Guards. The Minister has made a fair statement and I think every member of the House will stand behind him in seeing that law and order will be enforced in this country. There can be no hope for the future prosperity of the country or for the better times that we all look forward to unless law and order are enforced impartially and fairly. I congratulate the Minister on standing up against the people who want to take the law into their own hands. Whatever policy is going to be adopted, let it be done in this House, and I hope the Minister will stand up against the intimidation and the threats which were in evidence during the last election and which appear to be growing again. I believe from the statement the Minister made to-day he will stand up against them. If he does he will get the support of all sides of the House.

On a point of order, the statement I made was that 90 per cent. of the new barracks that are now suggested are not necessary, not that 90 per cent. of the existing barracks are unnecessary.

Whilst I have every sympathy with every effort made by the Minister to economise, I think he should be very careful before he reduces the strength of a body of men who compare very favourably with the other police force that had been in this country previously. I think we would be taking a wrong step also in curtailing the present number of barracks. I would like to point out to the Minister that rural areas at night time are exposed to elements which might not perhaps have very much regard for the rights of property. These men are guarding our property at times when we are not present ourselves, and I think it would be a most unwise and retrograde step if they were reduced in numbers. There has already been a number of reductions in Civic Guard barracks. A barrack at Ballymacoda has been done away with, and I believe a number of other reductions have been carried out by the ex-Minister for Justice. We must bear in mind that the Guards' duties are greatly increased as compared with the duties carried out by the police force previously in this country. They have also duties that may not be known to the man in the street, and they are carrying them out efficiently and well. They are carrying out unpleasant duties, perhaps, with all the tact and discretion that an educated and thoroughly moral body of men are capable of. I for one have no hesitation in giving the highest meed of praise to a body of men to whom we look for protection and the safety of our property.

I wish to associate myself with the remarks passed by Deputy Anthony in relation to the remarks previously passed by Deputy Corry on this Vote. The statements that Deputy Corry made with regard to the percentage of barracks, old or new, that could be done without, or the vast field of economy opened up by tremendous reductions in the personnel of the Civic Guard, are as remote from fact as his remarks about black sheep are remote from decency or remote from any sort of proper understanding of what a reasoned administration would require. They are so remote from fact and from decency that one can only conjecture as to why Deputy Corry must always walk this line. I suggest that it is for the reason that he is not himself devoid of personal experience of what the operation of weeding out in connection with a police force is. The Civic Guard deserve all the commendation that has been passed about them from time to time. There is an old lilt "constabulary duty's to be done, to be done, a policeman's life is not a happy one." When I introduce the phrase "to be done," it is not to imply any option on the part of the police when work has to be done. It is obligatory. I go on to make the point that the police force find it possible to do unpleasant duties pleasantly and dangerous duties courageously, if they are called upon to act in either of these ways.

It is to be hoped that the political propaganda that used to be carried on against this force, propaganda which the back benchers who support the present Government thought it was good politics to carry on, will now be dropped. Let us at any rate recognise as one of the advantages that we have got that those people who used to feel it incumbent on them to make Party capital out of attacks upon a State force, as if they were really attacking a Party force, will now cease those attacks and will not feel themselves under an obligation to indulge in misrepresentations of the vile type that used to be indulged in.

With that I will leave the Gárda Síochána problem. A question was asked to-day with regard to the reestablishment of a bottle factory at Ringsend. From the answer that was given I inferred that it is still the policy of the Government to keep alive a particular industry. There is a second side to that industry—a second method of protection was given to that industry arising out of an Order made called the Standard Bottles Order which falls to be administered—

What connection has that with this Estimate?

The Standard Bottles Order falls to be administered by the police and comes under this Estimate. We have had reference to certain receipts which are got in from the stamping of the bottles. I want to ask the Minister for Justice if I am right in assuming that it is still the policy of the Government to continue this secondary method of protection for this industry, and if he will tell me if any approaches have been made to him with regard to the fees that are charged by the police appointed to this duty, and if he is aware of the complaints that are made on this matter by the Bottlers' Association as to the very heavy burden they find themselves charged with, and if the Minister could tell me, further, what number of sergeants of the Gárda Síochána have been trained for this work; what number are at present occupied upon it; what is supposed to be the cost to the State of the work they do in connection with this particular operation, what fees come into them; and how are these receipts disbursed. After telling me that will he then add whether or not he has any policy on the matter to which I have previously referred, that is to say the reduction in the fees, a burden which is very definitely complained of by the bottlers at the moment.

I just rise to refer to a few remarks made by Deputy McGilligan. In his usual manner the Deputy tries to twist around from the back of our benches to the front certain remarks as being the policy of a Party or the policy of the Government. I want to repudiate emphatically that the Fianna Fáil Party as an Opposition ever attacked the Gárda Síochána as such. They always indicated that there was a political arm of that force which was being developed under circumstances that existed then, and to which they had great objection. If Deputy McGilligan would take the trouble to read the speeches made on these occasions—he was very rarely in the House—he would find that the uniformed force was always dissociated from any attacks made on the political arm of that force. Deputy McGilligan might read his own speeches because he has indulged now in criticism which was indulged in by this Party when it was on the other side of the House. The Deputy always referred to this criticism as the class of stuff which was fit for political speeches at street corners. I am glad that he himself finds now that he has to indulge in the same class of criticism when he is in opposition.

Nothing of the sort.

The Deputy will find that he did. I presume he will get answers to the questions put to the Minister as regards the standard bottles. The ex-Minister probably knows the answer to the questions himself. The Deputy himself probably was associated with the particular Department in getting the arrangements made and he knows very well that the information can be got but that no Minister can have it in his head at a moment's notice.

Let the Minister say that.

Yes, but I am getting up to say that I am enjoying Deputy McGilligan's attempts, now when he is no longer a Minister, to be effective in the front bench of the Opposition. I hope he will continue in that for some considerable time, that he will continue to ask questions about his own Department and about certain things he framed himself as if he knew nothing about them and as if he were an innocent Opposition Deputy in from the outside without any previous knowledge of administration or any previous experience.

In reference to the Gárda Síochána and to the attacks made on them by the Fianna Fáil Benches I would like to remind Deputy Briscoe that not only were they attacked because of political motives but I remember occasions in this House when Fianna Fáil Deputies attacked the Gárda on other grounds. I remember, on one occasion, a body of Gárda visited our Holy Father in Rome. About 300 members of the Gárda Síochána with their officers went to pay their respects to the Holy Father. They were attacked in this way—that they took time which they were not entitled to take; that they were there at a time when they should be on duty. In addition to that the charge was made that the funds used were the funds borrowed from the Widows and Orphans' Fund. I would like to remind Deputy Briscoe of attacks of that kind. There was not any political bias in that. That attack was made only out of pure enmity, and because the Fianna Fáil Party could not say a good word for the Gárda Síochána. Now I am pleased to see a different outlook. Like other Deputies I would like to co-operate with the Gárda in helping to maintain law and order.

What Deputy on these benches attacked the Gárda? When was the attack made, and where?

In this House. I could not exactly give the date but I know the attack was made by Deputy Boland.

An attack on the Gárda?

The statement I have made.

We will find out if that occurred.

I rise to pay my contribution to the Gárda Síochána on this Estimate. I do not agree altogether with Deputy Anthony as to adopting American methods, scrapping the whole force and starting anew. I do not think that is essential. That is what Deputy Anthony said, I believe, despite what the Minister has stated, that it would be a very good job for the peace of this country, and it would be a thing that a lot of people expect, particularly in view of the action of the political arm of the Gárda Síochána, prior to, and during the last election, if the C.I.D. were scrapped. Some of us have a distinct recollection of the way these people discharged their duties. They are now 158 over strength, numbering 400 odd, and it is proposed that these gentlemen should be put back into the uniformed force again. Although I am now on the side of the Government, I still hold the same views that I held, when I was over there, in regard to some of these gentlemen, and I consider that it is very poor consolation for the people of this island, in view of the way some of them were treated by C.I.D. men.

They deserve something else, instead of being put back into the uniformed force, and given a clean sheet, for some of the actions they committed when in the C.I.D. Some of us will be sadly disappointed if that is the way they are going to be treated. We told the electorate that these people would be treated not in that fashion but that it was expected they would be disbanded because they were not a credit to the country. I hold, with others, that the uniformed Gárda Síochána in the main were and are a credit to this country. I never said anything else about them even when I was in opposition to the late Government. They are as creditable a force as any country could expect to have. I repeat that the C.I.D. as they were constituted and as they acted prior to and during the last election were not creditable to the country and the uniformed Gárda were ashamed to be seen in the same town with some of the C.I.D., because of the way they acted towards some of the people.

If these men are going to be left in the force, I, and I am voicing the opinions of a good many of the electors, am sadly disappointed. They do not deserve to be left in the force. They should be disbanded, and they should never be given any employment in this country. The country could do well without them. When the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, at the election, by way of a sop for the people, said they were going to effect economies, and they intended to start at the Civic Guards, some of our people had the pluck to say that it was not there economies should be effected. They pointed out that when the people enjoying bigger salaries had been dealt with, it would be then time enough to reduce the pay of the Gárda Síochána.

I hope the Department will not entertain the idea of reducing the pay of the ordinary Gárda until economies are effected amongst the higher paid officials. After some time, when the economies we hope to effect will take place, and when the cost of living will be lower, automatically the pay of the Gárda can be reduced, but until such time as that occurs and I do not care what capital may be made out of it, I would not stand for a reduction in the pay of the ordinary Gárda. It is not fair to the people of the country, considering the way certain members of the C.I.D. have acted, that those men should now be left in the force. Their services should be dispensed with, because the people do not want them.

I did not intend to intervene in this debate were it not for the speech made just now by Deputy Jordan. He has charged the detective force of the Gárda Síochána as being unfitted to be retained either in the detective section or in the uniformed branch. He has stated that members of the force have been guilty of such blackguardism——

I never used that word. I said some of them were guilty of infamous conduct.

I accept the Deputy's correction. I think the Deputy must have had something even stronger than blackguardism in his mind when he said that not only should those men be driven out of the force but out of Ireland. The Deputy said that not only should they not get any employment in the force but they should not get any employment in Ireland.

And I stand by it.

I hope the Minister will pay no attention to those appeals for victimisation of members of the uniformed or ununiformed branches of the Gárda Síochána unless the Deputies making charges are prepared to put evidence before him which will show that members of the force have been guilty of misconduct to such an extent as would warrant dismissal from the force. If Deputy Jordan, Deputy Corry or any member of the public can bring before the Minister evidence which will satisfy him that any member of the force has so misconducted himself as to be unfit to remain in it, I say he should be dismissed immediately. I think it is unfair that charges should be hurled in this general way against members of a police force whom we all know had to carry out their duties under very unfavourable conditions, to say the least of it. I wonder if those demands which are being made for the weeding out of the black sheep, as they are called, has any relation to the expectations of many of the followers and supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party that when the Party came into power most of the force would be disbanded and they would get their positions?

Where did the Deputy hear that?

It is well known in every village or parish in the Free State. I hope those demands have no relation to those expectations. I am satisfied that many Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches are in a rather uncomfortable position now, and they have to put the best face they can on the fact that the Gárda Síochána has not been disbanded and a new force has not been set up. I think it is known to most Deputies that many of the young supporters and workers in the interests of Fianna Fáil were hoping that some day they would be rewarded for their labours, and I am sure they were perfectly satisfied in their own minds that they could perform police duties in a manner that would not incur the displeasure of either Deputies Corry or Jordan.

I would like to ask the Deputy if he is insinuating that I want the force disbanded in order to get some of my own friends into the job?

I can assure the Deputy that I did not mean any such thing. If I said anything which conveyed that impression, I gladly withdraw it.

I would not be suitable as a Civic Guard myself, though I might be acceptable as a detective.

Mr. Brodrick

The friends are there already.

The wife's people. That is more than you can say, my joker.

Deputy Corry has stated that in addition to the suspension of recruiting, a process which he describes as weeding out would be very desirable in the Gárda Síochána. Deputy Jordan has, I think, almost entirely associated himself with the sentiments expressed by Deputy Corry.

I have repeated myself very often to-day. May I repeat again that if there is any member of the Civic Guard force of any branch against whom any Deputy or any citizen has any charge to make, whether it be a charge of breach of the disciplinary code of the Guards or of the ordinary law of the land, not merely will I welcome it but I invite details of it. Deputy Corry and Deputy Jordan spoke as if one could deal with these complaints not singly but in battalions. I think a little reflection will convince both Deputy Corry and Deputy Jordan that one cannot deal in a wholesale fashion with charges of this kind. Deputy Jordan feels that it would be a good thing if what he calls the entire C.I.D. force were disbanded. If I had the power, I think I would have no hesitation in allowing Deputy Jordan to deal with the matter himself. I feel that once he thought about it for a while Deputy Jordan would realise the fundamental injustice of dealing with a body of men, not by name, not by designation, but in a group in that way.

I will endeavour here to make clear what my view is in regard to the matter. It is this, that every single member of the Civic Guard, no matter to what branch he belongs, is entitled to stand apart. He is entitled, if a complaint is made against him, to have that complaint, more or less, precisely formulated. He is entitled to have it established. Deputies may get it into their heads now that I came here with all sorts of cast-iron ideas about administration of justice and so on, and that all this is highly technical. Let them not take that view of it. It is ordinary fundamental justice that a precise charge should be made against the man, that he should have some opportunity of answering it, and that it should be supported by evidence. If there is reasonable proof that within a reasonable time any member of the Guards has done anything that is disgraceful or discreditable I would like to receive that proof. I will not apply to it the absolute strict rigour of the law of evidence, provided that it would carry conviction to the mind of an ordinary reasonable man, careful in the examination of testimony. I will seriously consider that, but I will not seriously consider a suggestion that a group of men should be dealt with in a nameless fashion, and in a wholesale fashion, such as Deputy Jordan's unconsidered words might lead one to think he seriously advocated.

I agree with Deputy Corry that the improvement in modern conditions of transport has rendered feasible a reduction in the number of Civic Guard stations. During the six weeks that have intervened, certain stations have been closed and the closing of other stations is being considered. It is a troublesome matter to deal with. If it is to be dealt with properly, it has to be done very slowly. At first sight, one is attracted by the idea of having a barracks or station every seven or eight miles—take any distance you like. It seems easy to get a map and compass and proceed to deal with it. Really you cannot deal with it in that easy fashion. There may be something in the configuration of the countryside, there may be a range of mountains, a stream or something like that, and consequently it is necessary carefully to consider the position of every single barracks before you can proceed with any scheme to reduce the number of stations.

I have stated that I welcome any definite accusation, supported by reasonable proof, against any member of the Civic Guard for any offence alleged against him. May I say that I also welcome any suggestion from any Deputy, no matter where he sits in this House, in regard to the proposed closing of a Civic Guard station. I would like to hear any reasons he can advance why it could be closed. Deputies can assist very much in that connection by telling me of local conditions of which I could not possibly be otherwise aware. Similarly I am not wedded to any percentage reduction of Civic Guard stations. The only test I propose to apply is the test of efficiency and the needs of the country. Consequently I will equally welcome any reasoned argument for the retention of any Civic Guard barracks that any Deputy feels is likely to be closed down. Deputies can assist me from both directions if they are so minded.

Deputy Norton has asked me to give an assurance that the Government will not reduce the pay of the Civic Guards. Several other Deputies have echoed that request. I think Deputy Norton stated that all he expected was my personal view as to the Civic Guard pay. All I can say in regard to that is that the present state of my mind is that the pay is reasonable. But I am not vain enough to think that I am fully informed in regard to the matter. I may have to consider various facts of which I am at present unaware. I have not yet approached this matter as to the adequacy or inadequacy of the pay of the Civic Guards. So far as my general knowledge goes, I have the feeling which I have already stated. But this matter has not been approached at all, and the only promise I can give is that I will do everything in my power to see that the Civic Guards are treated reasonably and fairly in regard to their pay. I think I can speak for all my colleagues in the same phrase. Of course it may be said that that is not quite definite. I quite agree with that but I am not in a position at the present time to say definitely that the pay of the Civic Guards will not be reduced. I have no reason to think it will. Further than that I cannot go. Deputy Anthony spoke about other uses being found for the Guards. That is something that has occurred to me as a justification for a certain strength of the Guards which might seem to be out of proportion to the population and the needs of the country and a justification for a particular standard of pay. There are various other purposes that the Guards could fulfil. I have not given the matter enough consideration to feel justified at the moment in stating certain other duties that the Guards might possibly perform, and perhaps enable a standard of pay and a standard of numbers to be maintained. All I can say is that when I come to make these suggestions I hope Deputy Anthony will consider them without any prejudices or any class views, that he will consider them on their merits. Possibly the reduction of the strength of the Guards may have an effect on the Guards' pay. We will pay them as much as we can reasonably afford. Everyone agrees with the most eulogistic statement made here to-day about the services of the Guards. I suppose if we had a much smaller force we would be able to pay them more. We think that, even as things are at present, the force can be reduced. We know that there is comparatively little danger to property in this country. Everyone who has had experience of the trial of any case, even remotely concerning property, by a jury of small or medium-sized farmers at a court of quarter sessions, or in the Circuit Court, knows the ease with which a verdict of guilty is brought in, and realises that the whole sentiment of the small farmers is in favour of the protection of property. There is very little danger in that connection. A good deal could be done to help towards the reduction of the number of Guards if responsible people inside this House, and outside it—speakers and writers—would carefully weigh their words before they would say or write anything calculated to make the flesh of people creep. So long as you have the hair of people standing on end, or their flesh made creep, by reason of speeches of a bogey nature, there may be need for maintaining a larger number of Guards. Similarly, the reduction of the number of Guards would be greatly helped if there was an elimination of personal bitterness simply because people differ politically. We have had an example of that in this House. We have that repeated all over the country. Deputy McGilligan, simply because he differs in politics from Deputy Corry, indulges in the most vile personal abuse of Deputy Corry, even in this House. You have that reflected all through the country. You have ill-feeling engendered and perpetuated by speeches of the type we have just listened to from Deputy McGilligan. If you drop that sort of thing and refrain from personal abuse and vituperation, because of political differences, it will help to justify a reduction of the Gárda force. I think I have gone through every point that was raised except one matter referred to by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney himself, by Deputy Shaw, and, I think, by some other Deputy. Two of the Deputies, particularly, heartily congratulated me on modelling myself upon the late Minister for Justice. I would ask Deputies opposite not to ruin me by making speeches of that sort, because if I were to model myself, without reserve, on Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, I feel that I would be heading for disaster. I try to free myself from prejudices, and in certain respects I shall be glad to imitate Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney—where I think he was right. I felt that he was quite right last year in the manner in which he introduced the Estimate for the Office of the Minister for Justice. I modelled myself upon him in that respect, but for so doing I have been savaged and butchered by Deputies on the front and back benches opposite.

You have apologised enough.

That will leave me more cautious still in my imitation of Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. Far be it from me to say that Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has not done some things worthy of imitation. He has uttered certain sentiments which are worthy of being put into practice.

Deputy McGilligan inquired—I hope the Deputy will tell me if I have got the inquiry rightly—if I had received any complaint about the fees payable for stamping bottles. Personally, I have not received any complaints, and I was not aware of the existence of any such feeling as that to which he referred. I received no complaints since I came into office on the 9th March. In the few minutes that have intervened since the Deputy spoke, I have made as full inquiry as I could from my Department and I find that, at all events, since the 9th March, and for quite a long time, indeed, no such complaint has been made to my Department.

And no suggestion about a decrease?

Certainly, not to me.

Everybody in this House knows that when a Minister is defending an Estimate, and is put a question, the convention is that the Deputy concerned speaks of the Minister as representing the Department. When I ask a question of that type I mean, has the Department, to the Minister's best information, received any suggestion as to the cutting down of these fees?

Since the question has been asked, the whole House is interested in the answer. It is obvious to every Deputy that I could not possibly have anticipated an inquiry of this sort. Accordingly, I wish to tell the House that, so far as I am personally aware, nothing of the kind to which Deputy McGilligan has referred has occurred. I have added that in the very short interval which has occurred I have made hurried inquiry from my Department and, apparently, I can give the same answer for the Department. What Deputy McGilligan has inquired about lends itself, I think, to inquiry by letter or memorandum. If Deputy McGilligan cares to send me any memorandum on the subject I shall have the fullest inquiries made and give all available information.

Surely it can be raised again on the Appropriation Bill, and the Deputy can expect an answer by that time?

Yes. I shall try to inform myself by that time of all the relevant facts connected with this matter of the stamping of bottles.

Vote put and agreed to.