I notice the usual emigration. It is the custom of members on the opposite side of the House, especially on the Front Bench, to attack individual Deputies in their absence, and to clear out, as readily as possible, when they are attacked by Deputies in their presence. It has been their custom to attack members on this side of the House when they could not be followed and carefully to avoid attacking them when they could be followed. I would be very glad indeed—enthusiastically glad—if we could put this debate to-day upon lines of co-operation between men recognising the real difficulty of the position, recognising the fact that right does not mean that the solution of the problem will be upon your side, but upon the basis of those who recognise that, however, right their cause may be that the other man has a horse-shoe in his glove for luck. I would be glad to put it on the basis of recognising that it is a stupid and wrong thing that this country and Great Britain should now, at this late date, follow the example of the criminal lunacy of the world in the last 17 years, by which the whole brains and activity of the Governments of the world have been used for breaking the channels of trade and cultural connection, one with another. I would be very glad indeed to do that. We on this side of the House would be glad to co-operate on these lines. But how can we? I put it to any fair-minded and honest man, how can we assume that that co-operation will be given, and sincerely carried out, in view of the statement of Deputy Blythe that if negotiations of any kind which are now taking place, break down, it will be the fault of the Free State? I want you to face that issue. I want you to face the facts that in the name of the Party opposite an undertaking has been sent to the world that, before the verdict is given, before these critical and difficult negotiations—because though they are entered into to come to a solution, they will be very difficult—were entered into they are saying to the world that unless we come to a satisfactory solution the fault is ours.
Who is going to take the responsibility of saying that that is not a criminal utterance? You cut the heart out of it. Now what is the position of England in a matter of that kind? There is no man in this House who is less prejudiced against England than I am. There is no man who is more willing to recognise that while she has her point of view, in these and other matters, as she is entitled to have, there is no man more willing to recognise her physical and material and financial strength. They will be all thrown into the contest. Brennus threw the sword into the scale in Rome, in the old days, and these people will throw the sword, and the banks and their money and the whole of their political influence and political affiliations, all over the world, into the scale against us. I recognise the difference. What we do need is to go into such a contest with all our power, with our armour upon us. And above all do we need to go into that contest with the knowledge that our own people are sound behind us, and as advocates of our own people, united. What sort of a position is ours if we go into court knowing that there is an organised party here in this country, backed by the whole of the old garrison with their control of the economic avenues in this country, prepared to say, and having said, in this Dáil, that if the negotiations break down the Free State was wrongab initio? What is to be the position if we go into these negotiations bound to come to a settlement, or in other words to admit that we are the people responsible for having failed? What they are asking us to recognise is that they have behind them, in this country, people who are going to compel us to come to a settlement, at any price, or who will go out into the country and organise by every means in their power the destruction of those who refuse to come to a solution unless it is a reasonable and proper one. I do, deliberately put on record again, even at this eleventh hour for the repudiation of the whole of Cumann na nGaedheal, that statement of Ernest Blythe, that statement that cut to the heart of our position, that statement which would be fatal to our position if it were not a fact that Deputy Blythe and that small section of his own Party or of his organisation, for which he speaks, no longer represents anything behind it which could regiment the will and the purpose of the Irish people.
You had a very different statement, a statement which I willingly welcome and it does not come from someone in favour of whom I can be accused of having any personal prejudice, nor does it come from one from whom I have ever received any courtesy in this or any other debate. It comes from Deputy Hogan of Galway. Deputy Hogan of Galway said that we were in a position to make a good settlement. What did he mean by that? I want him to tell us. Remember that the first position was that no single penny of these annuities belong to us. That was the original position of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, that not merely did they not belong to us but that the attempt to get a legal decision as to whom they did belong was embezzlement. Now we are told that a good settlement can be made by us. What does he mean? Does he mean that a very large proportion of the total amount which has already ille-gally passed over to the hands of the British Government can be restored to us? Does he mean that while we might have to throw that portion of thirty millions over the windmill, it is possible for us to get a solution by which the present and the future product of the land annuities will remain with us? Is that what he means? Is that what he is prepared to help to do? If it is, he has made a statement which will help to wipe out the shame and the degradation of Blythe's statement before. I want to develop that position a little.