The Deputy who has just sat down put, a little more grossly, perhaps, than his leader, the fundamental case for this Bill and showed the confusion on which it rests. He equated this amendment of the Constitution to several other amendments of the Constitution. I think he mentioned seventeen. He put them all on the same footing. Everybody who has listened to this debate, or who has taken an interest in this question so far as it affects the country, knows perfectly well that it is not because this Bill proposes to amend the Constitution that it is being opposed. It is being opposed because, as an amendment to the Constitution, it breaks the Treaty.
There are any number of clauses in the Constitution that have no reference, directly or indirectly, to the Treaty that can be changed, altered, and dropped without affecting the Treaty one way or another. But, when we see removed from the Constitution an Article of the Treaty, then I suggest that is a matter on an entirely different footing. We may be thankful, at least, and the members of all the Parties may be thankful, that the subtlety of the President did not induce him to entitle this Bill "a Bill for the Confirmation of the Treaty." That would be in keeping with a great deal of the argument that was put forward. Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy O'Hanlon put the question very clearly: that leaving the legal technicalities aside, is there any sane man, is there any court of international law, that could decide that the Article of the Treaty that practically caused the breakdown of the negotiations in London when the Treaty was being negotiated, that was the cause, or one of the alleged causes, of civil war in this country, an Article of the Treaty which those who signed the Treaty on both sides and those who opposed the Treaty even by force of arms in this country, held to be mandatory, was not mandatory? Are we to be seriously told that all that trouble and all that opposition was for the form of an oath which nobody need take?
I know the other argument. The argument is: no matter what was there in 1921, it is not there now. Listening to the President yesterday, it was exceedingly difficult to tell on which particular foot he was standing. If we have given away, as the last speaker suggested, such a great deal of Irish freedom in the last ten years, how is it possible now to advance without a single obstacle and without a single fear of any ill consequences by peaceful means to a republic? If we have given away such a lot, if during our term as the Government of this country there has not been such a tremendous advance in our position, an advance that was never, during those ten years recognised, how is it that it can be claimed to-day that we can have a peaceful advance to a republic? Then we are told that, in virtue of the position that we are in now, and of the status that we now hold, we can repudiate this Article of the Treaty without a breach of the Treaty. This Bill is meant to do it, or, at least, to be quite accurate, to remove the necessity of this Oath being taken by members elected to this Dáil and by members elected to the Seanad without violating the Treaty. That, at least, is acknowledged to be the purpose of the Bill. This is not anything that is by implication in the Treaty. It is down in black and white. It is a separate Article in the Treaty, and everybody knows that it was one of the Articles on which there was the biggest difference of opinion between ehe signatories to the Treaty on both sides until a final conclusion was come to.
I ask have Deputies given thought to the extraordinary lengths to which the argument of the President would lead? It does not affect merely this Oath. If the President's argument is true, and if this Bill is implemented, as it can be henceforth in other ways without reference to the Treaty, then not merely this particular Article can go without violating the Treaty, but also other changes can be made that will remove the King as being a member of the Oireachtas and the power of the Governor-General so far as the signing of Bills is concerned. All that could certainly be done, and are we still to be told that it would not be a violation of the Treaty? That is quite on a par with, and has as much validity as, the argument that we listened to yesterday. We are told now, because that is the force of the argument, that from the instrument whose main purpose was to see how means could be found by which we could co-operate with the other Dominions, with the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, every connecting link can be removed, and yet the Treaty stands. I suggest that is not common sense, nor would it commend itself to lawyers who are not committed one way or another, nor could it stand for a moment in any international court of law.
The argument was put up to us, I think, by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, can we deny that we have the power to pass this Bill? We have never questioned the power of this Parliament to pass this or any other Bill, or to repudiate the Treaty if it wishes, but I suggest that it is no argument to say that because we have that power you can do it and leave the Treaty intact. You can do it. You can violate the Treaty by passing this Bill, and that is the particular objection that we have to it. The Treaty may be changed certainly, but we suggest that the proper way to bring about a change is the means suggested in the amendment: that is by negotiation. It is certainly a new conception of international relations that when there is a solemn agreement of this kind entered into, when there is a deliberate effort made to remove one Article—one of the most important Articles apparently, as it was at the time, of that particular agreement—to say that it can be removed without any reference to the other side, and yet that the Treaty stands.
We know perfectly well that the position of this country can be advanced. We claim that we have done that to a large extent in the last ten years, but we have not done so by the use of the particular method of the Government and if we had tried this particular method it would have failed.
So far as our people are concerned we have brought them farther along the road towards real freedom from the position of 1922 than anything in this Bill can do, but we have done it by negotiation. We have done it with the goodwill of the people with whom we were negotiating. We have done it with the respect and the goodwill of the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We did not go cap in hand which seems to be the President's method of what negotiations involve. I have often heard regret expressed that the President did not go over to negotiate the Treaty. If that is his idea of how negotiations are entered I cannot share that regret. We were able to bring forward this country so that in the last ten years even the very formal trappings of anything like subordination have disappeared. In 1922 there were some evidences of that formal subordination, but as many at the time pointed out that these were not real dangers, and everything that has occurred in the last ten years has shown that the fears then expressed by those opposed to the Treaty were entirely unfounded. The position in which the President is to-day and the arguments which he used yesterday are absolute proof of the truth of those who said the fears expressed in 1922 were groundless.
We, as I say, advanced taking away any trappings, any traces of any subordination that were still left, but there is still the Treaty standing and that Treaty is not in any sense now a question of subordination. We are bound by it until we repudiate it. England is equally bound by it, and I put it to you, sir, and through you to the people, if England attempted anything even approaching this in the last ten years, if she attempted anything that went one quarter the way towards repudiation of portion of the Treaty as we are proposing to do now what would have been the attitude of every Party in this country? We know perfectly well that we have always denied her right to interfere with that Treaty. Are we now going to claim the right to change it unilaterally? Repudiate it we can. That is the position. But let us be quite clear that it is repudiation of the Treaty that we are up against now.
That is so far as that particular argument is concerned. The President yesterday mentioned other things. Why is the Bill cast in the particular form in which it is cast? Why as I think Deputy Dillon asked yesterday, is there this to the people of Ireland rather sudden inclusion in the Bill of Sections 2 and 3? Is not the answer perfectly plain? Every opportunity was to be denied to the people of Ireland—I am not saying anything about the people of England—of testing in the highest court in this country whether the Oath is still an effective portion of the Treaty. That was the reason for the insertion of Sections 2 and 3.
The President put forward another reason yesterday, when he said he wanted to bring this Treaty into the position of other Treaties. Why has he not done that? If that was the primary intention of introducing Sections 2 and 3, why has he not done it? Why is the Treaty still scheduled as Schedule 2 in the Constitution Act? Why, if that was the motive of the President, is it still given that privileged position? It is not in the position of any other Treaty—it has, at least, the honour of being scheduled in the Constitution. It is merely made inoperative, so far as our law is concerned. We have never denied the fullest competence of this Oireachtas to make breaches in the Treaty; to violate the Treaty; to repudiate the Treaty, if it wills, but we suggest that the Oireachtas ought to face up to the fact, and do it openly and squarely. These particular Clauses 2 and 3 enable you not merely to repudiate Article 4 in the Treaty, but it enables you, as you would say, "legally" to do away, also, with every other Article; in the morning, to set up your Republic here. If the people of Ireland wish that, certainly, you can, but do not pretend that you can legally set up a Republic here and that the Treaty with Great Britain still stands.
I suggest that there was a great deal in what some of the Deputies said here, that this was not straight dealing not only with England, but with the Irish people, and not honourable. We object to the whole method. We think that this method of removing what many find an objectionable Clause in the Treaty, what many people belonging to every party in the country, may find an objectionable Clause, because it is calculated to bring us the maximum amount of trouble and dishonour and the minimum amount of good, we hold that this particular method of dealing with this subject is not fair dealing with the people of Ireland. We think that it is treating the people of Ireland with the minimum of respect, and the suggestion made from various quarters, that the full implications and consequences of this Act should not be debated, should not be put before the people of Ireland, is unworthy in a deliberative Assembly, and is a course that could not for a moment be entertained by any Party or by any Deputy who has a sense of duty to his constituents, and to the people of Ireland. Every effort was made to leave the people of Ireland in complete doubt as to where they stand at the present moment. It has been asked if we are still members of the Commonwealth of Nations, once this Act is passed, and I say that if we are, it does not depend on us whether we are or not. We will have taken a step that violates the Treaty that makes us a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It may be that the settled policy of the people of this country is to get out of that Commonwealth. They are perfectly entitled to do so, but let them do it openly and squarely.
We have been asked to keep silence and not to embarrass the Government. We have not embarrassed them. We have practically been silent. We have not objected to this Government trying to get the Oath removed, but we do object to the method of trying to do it, and we object to their involving this country in what the country was not asked to face up to, in the recent or the two previous elections. The Irish people were assured that no trouble was anticipated from Great Britain. That may be so, but there is certainly objection that we are abandoning the normal practice, either to face up, as I say, to repudiating your Treaty, or else enter into negotiation with the other side. I suggest there is no midway. We are trying really to repudiate, and not to accept the responsibility of repudiation.
Furthermore, in this Bill before us, this Dáil and the people of the country are asked to take a step which, to my mind, is almost an irrevocable step. There is no going back; I greatly fear that there can be no going back, even if the country wants it. There is very little chance of going back from the position now proposed, and I suggest that that was not before the people when the recent election took place. Everybody who was through that election knows perfectly well what was the main victory-winning cry of Fianna Fáil. Their slogan was "Give Fianna Fáil a chance!" Examine that and see what it means, what it meant to any ordinary voter in the country. It meant this: "That Government is in power for ten years; they say so and so and they say they cannot do so and so. Give us a chance and we will see whether we can do it." I suggest that when the people were asked to do that, there was always the implication that if, at any time, the people were convinced of the unwisdom of that policy, they could go back on it. But there is very little chance of going back on this, if the people of Ireland, by experience or otherwise, should decide that this particular Act is unwise and unworthy and to the worst interests of the nation, nationally, spiritually and materially. There is no chance. What does "Give Fianna Fáil a chance" mean?—a chance for what? It meant a chance to bring through their programme; a chance to get out of paying the Land Annuities; a chance to put into operation immediately their plan for giving work to every man, woman and child in the country; their plan for wholesale derating.
They got their chance for these things, and the removal of the Oath is one of them, but it was only one of the considerations, and when we, and other speakers, tried to bring to the minds of the people of the country, that there was a serious risk, so far as the Treaty position was concerned, we were told that we were dragging a red herring across the tracks, and wanted to revive old memories about the Treaty, which, we were told, was no longer in question. We were told that we were only trying to shut the people's eyes to the real economic problems they had to face, and yet, to-day, we are faced with this Bill, and this country is faced with the decision which that Party opposite, with their majority—I think the President said that he had a majority in this House, and I do not dispute it, because little incidents such as that which happened at the beginning of yesterday's Dáil, may happen, but not in serious matters—can force through. I quite admit that they can do so, but once it is forced through, there is no going back. "Give Fianna Fáil a chance" now means, not a chance to the people to reverse their policy, and I suggest that that was not the way the people read that great and victorious slogan. You are playing with fire here, at home, and abroad, and especially at home. I am not at all going to question the competency of the majority of this House to pass this Bill. They can pass it, and I do not wish to raise any question even on the so-called mandate. In a modern election, I find it extremely difficult to know how anybody can arrive at what the mandate is. What I do know is, that the people who voted, mistakenly or not, for Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party—I put them both in the same box again—took a risk, and now the risk is proving true. I do not think there was a mandate. I do not think that what we are engaged in now was ever really put before the people—a real breach of that international agreement, reached in 1921.
Whom does this satisfy? We are told it will bring internal peace; but will it do anything of the kind? Quite characteristically, I admit, coming from those benches, from the Party which has always attached more importance to symbols than to realities, it is quite logical that here, now, they attach more importance to the symbol of a symbol, than they do to the symbol itself.
What is this Oath? A symbol of our connection with the British Commonwealth of Nations, a symbol of our acknowledging the Crown as the connecting link, as it was put at one of the Imperial Conferences, the symbol of their free unity in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Oath is but a symbol of that symbol. The symbol of the symbol must go, but the symbol itself remains. The President himself was very careful to avoid a pronouncement in that respect. He anticipates, of course, no trouble. But can he speak with any authority? Does he tell the House seriously that the extreme element in this country, that the element that has refused to acknowledge our institutions, because they were, as they put it in their loose fashion, Imperialistic, I suppose they would call it—are they now going to be satisfied with this because the symbol of the symbol is removed? Will they accept the symbol itself? The President is going to have an election after this to what he calls a free assembly that all can enter because this Oath is removed, an assembly called together by the representative of the King. He is asking those who, because of their Republican principles, stood out and would not enter this Dáil because of the symbol of the symbol—he is asking them to acknowledge the symbol itself. Are they going to accept this Oireachtas called together by the representative of the King, an Oireachtas of which the King himself is a member? Is this for them if they are honest in their protestations—and I take it for granted they are—is this for them a free assembly? Merely because the acknowledgement in words is removed, they can swallow the reality of the symbol. That is certainly a strange doctrine. Has the President consulted any of these people? We know, as has been pointed out to the House, that certain of those people, those apparently for whom this Bill is catering, have stated that they will have nothing to do with such an assembly, Oath or no Oath. But apparently the President has other information. It may be that there are members of some of these institutions, or individuals who will go up for election to this Oireachtas once the Oath is removed. But I am taking the organisations as a whole. What authority has the President to speak for them? How can be claim that this assembly is any more a free assembly, in the sense of the word in which he speaks, than the present assembly which is now sitting? Is there any reality in it at all?
Yesterday Deputy MacDermot confessed his disappointment with the answer of the President to his amendment. At least we ought to have learned one thing in this assembly: the President can be clear on occasions. But answering a question in this assembly is not the occasion on which he is clearest. A direct question of that kind does not bring a direct and clear answer from the President. You need only read the public Press. He may refuse to give his policy to the Dáil, but he does not refuse to give it to the people of other countries. He does not refuse to broadcast it. He does not refuse even to give it to Mr. Thomas, so far as we can read his implications.
We know perfectly well that the removal of the Oath is only the first step. It is an irrevocable step in many ways. It is an irrevocable step in this sense that there will be no opportunity for the Irish people to go back on it. It is also a step that will lead us to others more serious still. Will the pretence be kept up that we are not breaking the Treaty? What are the other demands that are going to be put before the country? Is it going to be a Republic for the Twenty-Six Counties or for the Thirty-Two Counties? Surely the people of Ireland, before they take such an important step as this, are entitled to know that. Is he going before the country with the policy that a Republic for the Thirty-Two Counties is going to be declared, involving the annexation of the six that are in the northeast?
But you are asked to wait and see. That particular method of solving difficulties was tried before. I wonder whether it was a great success or whether it will be any more a success now than it was then. This is the first big step. Deputy MacDermot need have no doubt that that policy means and is conceived to mean the breaking off of any kind of connection with the British Commonwealth of Nations. That may or may not be the desire of the people of Ireland, but it is idle to shut our eyes to the fact that that is the significance of the step we are now taking. We have had the cry of domestic peace here. We have been told that we had peace in the last six or seven weeks. Why should anybody object who is an extremist, who wants by force of arms to upset this settled Constitution in this country—why should anybody object to the present regime? May I make a slight analogy? A man who has £100 a year can live at the rate of £5,000 a year for a week and if he is clever a little longer. But it is not always looked on as good finance to adopt that particular policy. Is not that what we are doing so far as the peace of this country is concerned? At the present moment we have peace; the future is in the realm of prophecy.
I suggest that it is the business of any responsible Government to face up to the issues that are likely to occur and to make the proper provision. What we are anxious to know in that connection, as it is put forward as one of the arguments in favour of this Bill that it will secure peace immediately, is how long will it secure that peace, how long is the I.R.A. going to allow the majority of the ordinary people of this country to decide the future of this country? To that, we have no answer. Why should any organisation that is given a free hand to develop as it likes for the next six months or twelve months—I do not know how long the period is that they are going to have a free hand—take steps against a Government of that kind when they know that the mere flow of time will give the whole thing into their hands? Domestic peace! Why is it that the interests of the majority of the people of this country must always be sacrificed to the determination—not the interests—of a small minority—not even represented apparently by that particular Party—with guns in their hands? I suggest that it is not internal peace and that this Bill is not going to secure it—it is at best a short armed truce. As I said before, the people for whom this Bill is professedly made to cater have made their attitude perfectly clear. To them the removal of the Oath means practically nothing. I think there is one thing, at all events, and the form of the Bill makes it quite clear what is aimed at. If the Bill had been as Deputy Dillon suggested yesterday limited merely to the removal of a clause in the Constitution dust might have been thrown in the eyes of the people. There were a large number of people in this country as there will be in other countries, anxious to solace themselves that no trouble was coming, no breach of the Treaty. If they were anxious to believe that, I question whether there are many people who having read this Bill and seeing what is involved in it are under any delusion at the present moment as to what the purpose is. It is to "put the Treaty where it ought to be put." We know where the President thinks it ought to be put. We know perfectly well, and I will grant him that it does to a large extent put the Treaty where he thinks it ought to be put. But that was not what was put before the people of this country, or what the President pretended in the speech by which he introduced this Bill. It is a Bill certainly that did not require much drafting—four clauses, all delete, delete. Why is the Treaty itself not deleted? For no other purpose except to throw dust in the eyes of the people of Ireland. It was felt that it would be too great a shock if that were done and if the real issues were put more clearly before the people. The purpose must be perfectly clear to anybody and it is idle to pretend that the Treaty is stillintacta so to speak. I think that the people of Ireland deserve better treatment than this from a Party that claims to have the majority of the votes in this House. They certainly can make that particular claim and with justice the people should be told where they are going and whither all this is tending. Not a word of that! On the contrary, every effort is made to obscure the real issues.
Reference has been made to the Statute of Westminster. There is nothing that this House can do to-day that it could not have done three years ago. The Statute of Westminster gives us no power which we ever acknowledged to do anything that we could not do before. On this side of the House—I cannot speak for those on the other side—we never pretended that the authority of this Oireachtas was derived from any Act in Westminster. We held that it was derived from the decision of the people of this country —the people of this country included in that the Treaty. The Statute of Westminster may have effect as far as the other Dominions are concerned. We never claimed that any Act of any British Parliament was the basis of the liberties of the people of this country and of the liberties that we are now enjoying. We refused it on national grounds. We have never acknowledged that and it is a very dangerous principle for any party to base its policy upon. If an Act of the Westminster Parliament is to be looked upon as in any way the foundation of our liberties, it is an Act, of course, of the Westminster Parliament and it can be repealed as well as passed. Our attitude has always been that that does not affect us. Our position is based on the Acts of this Parliament. We are bound by a Treaty. So are various other countries. We think that Treaty has either to be honoured or repudiated, but you cannot honour and repudiate it in the same mouthful. That issue has been put by various speakers who spoke from this Party, and I think from every other Party who spoke yesterday except the Fianna Fáil Party. One Party has been singularly silent. It may have no views. It may have its mandate to do what it is going to do. It is a matter for itself, but I do not think it interests anybody in the country whether they vote for or against this Bill except as regards the fate of the Bill.
I do not know what mandate they sought from the country, but from a perusal of their speeches and election literature, I thought they were in favour of the removal of the Oath by negotiation. I thought that was their line. I may be wrong. If that was their line, I do not expect them to support our amendment. So far as the exchanges of views between the two Governments are concerned, the President said that he did not anticipate any trouble so far as England was concerned. I think he made a statement of that kind, not in the Dáil but to the Press, to the country, to the world. If he wanted to fail in a peaceful settlement of the question, he could not have gone about it better than he did. He insured that he would exclude the possibility of a peaceful settlement. Not being anxious to deny the ability of the Cabinet or the President, I take it for granted that they wanted to fail. I take it for granted they wanted no peaceful settlement of the question. They adopted a particular action and they wanted only one result—failure. I at least pay this tribute to their ability, that they did not want to succeed. When there is not in the instrument any power that one side can change the instrument, if the instrument can only be changed in honour by agreements between the two sides, I take it for granted they wanted failure.
Nationally, economically, spiritually or politically, Ireland has nothing to gain by this Bill or this procedure. The removal of the Oath is one thing. The method adopted here is calculated to bring us the biggest amount of disadvantage, even so far as the procedure for the removal of the Oath is concerned. There are countries in Europe much less free than we are. Time and again certain people in this country have expressed their willingness to enter into binding relations with other countries and with Great Britain. I say if there is a relation of that kind, I know of no relation that is so little oppressive, no bond that binds less or can bind us less than that of the Crown as the symbol of the mere unity. I admit there is a strong sentimental objection to it in this country and every respect must be paid to that sentimental objection. Quite true, but looking at it from the point of view of the hard realities, it is the vaguest possible bond and the loosest bond we can have consequent on any kind of connection whatever. Do away with it and make other arrangements and you will have to put in its place something much more definite, much more binding.
I cannot expect that to appeal to the people opposite. There are political considerations of which they have shown no conception. That Party have never shown the slightest appreciation of that kind, any real knowledge of being constitutional. If they can tell me a looser bond than the bond that connects the Dominions of England, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand, the loosest of all bonds, the acknowledgment of the Crown as a symbol of that unity, I would like to be told it. There is no looser bond, and there can be no looser bond, even if there was a Republic in the morning and you had to make another kind of Treaty, as on one occasion, efforts were made to make one. It would be much more binding on you, and cause much more interference with our policy, than under the present situation. Never since the putting into force of this Constitution that is now being changed, in a way that is tampering with the Treaty, has England even given a hint as to what her wishes were, so far as our policy was concerned. Not merely has she acted in this way, but she has, I would say, interfered in this country much less than she has in most other countries in Europe. She has not interfered at all here. Anybody who knows anything about the Continent of Europe knows perfectly well that there is no nation, small or middle-sized, in Europe whose policy is not continually interfered with by the Great Powers in Europe, England, France or Italy, especially England or France. That is so; it is a day-to-day and month-to-month occurrence. Never once since this Constitution came into force has there been any hint on the part of England as to what our policy should be in this country or outside this country.
Deputy MacDermot referred to the consequences that are likely to follow this Bill; also Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy O'Hanlon. Deputy O'Hanlon pointed out that even if the British Government did not act, the British people, by the very method pursued, would be bound to act. Instead of treating them as an independent nation, leaving aside the fact that they are a strong nation, or as anybody would expect one nation to treat another, we have adopted this particular line of practically giving them a kick —out you go. That is the method. People on the other side need not pretend that they are shocked at that method. They know perfectly well that I have expressed their sentiments, anyway, if not their words. Deputy O'Hanlon in a reasoned and powerfully argued speech, pointed out that there is that danger. Other people pointed out that there is that danger. I am not going to use that particular argument for this reason: What most of us might look forward to as a serious disaster for this country, as putting serious economic burdens on this country, which the country at the present moment will not be able to bear, will not deter the President of the Executive Council. I am not so sure that it is not an additional attraction of this particular Bill. What Deputy O'Hanlon referred to as the disposal of our surplus trade may be important to him and those who want to represent their constituency, but does anyone believe that a consideration of that kind will have the slightest effect on the President? I, for one, do not. I think it is, for him, an additional attraction in this Bill, in this whole procedure, and in this whole policy. After all, he can say to himself, "That, instead of having gradually to face up to the situation I wanted you to face up to, of a completely self-reliant and self-contained country, cut off from other countries, you will have to face up to it immediately, not in ten or fifteen years. The people will have to face up to it whether they like it or not. Thus we shall be able to set up here an entirely self-contained Ireland, cut off from the rest of the world." That is the ideal of the President. I see him bringing in a Bill that brings that ideal nearer to realisation. Once again, I must suppose that he means to adopt that particular policy and that what we would look upon as a disaster, is looked upon by him as the principal attraction, so far as this Bill is concerned.
I quite admit that the President is quite sincere in his desire so far as his economic ideals are concerned. Do the people of Ireland want them? If the people of Ireland knew his ideals were to be forced on them in that way, as there is a chance they may be under this Bill, will the people of Ireland enthusiastically give him their support? He may think that the people need schooling in that direction. I have not the slightest doubt that he has at least the will. Whether he will have the power to school them in that direction, I do not know.
Great advances have been made by us since 1922. They were made on the method suggested in this amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition. So great are they that the men who held in 1921 and 1922 that the Treaty was an instrument that bound the people of Ireland in a cast-iron grip, as a result of these advances, made in the way suggested, now claim that there is full freedom to do what we like; to proclaim a Republic in the morning without a shot fired. We achieved these things, not by the method put forward in this Bill, but by the method suggested in the amendment. Many of these things, I suggest, were of much more importance from the Irish point of view than the amendment we are now discussing, but not perhaps from the English point of view. They are two different points of view. For them, that acknowledgment of the Crown is the symbol of whatever unity remains. It may for them be the outstanding consideration. For us, the advances that we made since 1922 are much more important. I shall only mention one: The fact that the Governor-General is no longer in any sense a representative of the English Government. When the Oath was objected to in 1922, what was feared? The fear was that the King stood not merely for the symbol, but also for the British Government, and that the bringing in of the King and the Governor-General into our Constitution meant not the symbol, but the reality of Governmental interference. One thing has been achieved during the last ten years, and that is to prove the futility of these particular fears. Even in form, the claim that the Governor General is, in any sense, a representative of the British Government has disappeared.
Many people through the country and elsewhere think that we are back to 1921. We are not. It will require a little more mishandling of the situation by the present Government, a great deal more mishandling of the situation than they have done up to the present, to bring us back to the position of 1921. The British troops have gone out of the country as a result of the Volunteer movement, as a result of the struggle, plus the acceptance of the Treaty. The President is now the unquestioned head of a Government that nobody in this State disputes, except a minority for whom he caters. He is the unquestioned head of that Government as a result of the Volunteer movement, plus the acceptance of the Treaty. As I say, it will require very much more mishandling of the situation to bring us back to the other aspects of 1921. This is only in the realm of conjecture, but I think it would require almost superhuman effort on their part to bring us back to the more unpleasant aspects of 1921. I do not, however, put it beyond them, but I think they will be hardly able to accomplish that.
If it is not dishonourable now to break this Treaty, what was all the pother about? The dishonour that will be involved was referred to in 1921 and 1922, in the debates upon the Treaty. Once this is signed, once the country has accepted it, the dishonour of breaking it! Now, no dishonour! As I said at the beginning, we are almost convinced by the case put before us by the President, the very subtle case, that we are almost implementing the Articles of the Treaty. This is not the first time in Irish history that that was done. Since 1922, we have built up a State here on the basis of the Treaty. We have organised institutions of Government responsible to the people of this country, and only to the people of this country, and to nobody outside, and under the complete control of the Irish people. By means of friendly negotiations and discussions, we have removed even the formal trappings of anything like subordination that might be present and have hurt the sensitive mind of some in the original instrument of 1921. The Government is responsible to this Dáil and this Dáil alone and to nobody else. We claim we have won a position in these ten years in which we certainly have gained the respect of every country and every State and we have gained the envy of a great many. If this Bill passes, I, for one, cannot but regret the passing of this State which in ten years has been built up to a position of this kind. We regret extremely the wilful destruction of the magnificent constructive work done during the past ten years and the wilful destruction at the behest of people who did not do a single bit towards that reconstruction work, but who tried in every way by plots and otherwise to hamper that work. I think it is an ill-day's work that the Dáil is being asked to do.