Damage to Property (Compensation) (Amendment) Bill, 1933—Second Stage (Resumed).

While speaking on this Bill on 5th May I was explaining the claims which were ruled out, and detailing the reasons why it was not deemed possible to include them in the Bill. I had intended to show how the claims which would properly be made under the Bill would be disposed of. It will be appreciated that the difficulties that existed under previous legislation, dealing with such claims as were made then, have been greatly accentuated by the passage of years. Whereas formerly it might have been easy to secure reliable evidence which would enable claims to be sifted and investigated, now, ten, and in some cases, 14 years later, it would be very difficult to do so.

A number of claims, under previous Acts, were dealt with departmentally, and, notably, those in regard to damage done by the National Army, and also claims which were made under the Indemnity Act. We have come to the conclusion, however, with the possibility now of having exaggerated and bogus claims made that really, from the point of view of the State and, also, as I shall explain later, from the point of view of the applicant, the only satisfactory method of having these claims examined is to have them investigated and proved in open court. Accordingly, in this Bill, it is provided that the application shall be heard by the Circuit Court. This court hearing will inevitably and in general take place in the area where loss in respect of the claims made was sustained. That will have, from the point of view of the State, this advantage: that being made in open court the Press will be present and the evidence will be taken only upon oath which will tend to eliminate fraudulent claims and to reduce exaggerated ones.

On the other hand, from the point of view of the applicant, a legal hearing will have this advantage that such I.R.A. officers, as may be available, can come to court to support just claims and, we hope, to refute unjust ones. The cost of the proceedings, both to the State and to the applicants will, we believe, also by this means, be reduced to a minimum. We have very carefully considered the matter and we cannot see any alternative to this proposal. If a commission were set up to deal specifically with the claims that arise under this Bill, there would be considerable delay in dealing with them. The commission would have to go from county to county and from place to place if it were to meet the convenience of the applicants. That would involve the State in undue expense and it would not relieve the applicants of expense to any greater extent than will the machinery proposed in the Bill. The mere fact that one commission would have to investigate all the claims would mean that some applicants in favoured districts would get a great priority over applicants in more remote districts. Before the whole procedure would be wound up and all the claims made under the Act disposed of, a very considerable period would have elapsed. On the other hand, if we avail of the Circuit Courts, we can have what will be the equivalent of a number of commissions sitting simultaneously. In every court district, applications will be examined at the same time and claims will be heard and disposed of. Under that procedure, one great advantage to the State and to the applicant will be that a great deal of very valuable time— valuable to the State and to the applicant—will be saved. Perhaps that time is more valuable to the applicant than to the State, because the applicants complain that justice has so long been deferred.

As to the manner of payment, it is proposed that decrees up to £300 and awards in consequence of reports of less than £50 shall be paid in cash. Decrees exceeding £300 and awards on reports of £50 and over will be paid in 3½ per cent. stock, save for odd balances of less than £50. As under the preceding Acts recovery may be effected from decrees or awards on reports of debts due to State Departments and local authorities in respect of income-tax and rates. This was the procedure followed under the 1923 Act and, in justice to the State and to the local authorities, we could not depart from it now.

A minor matter dealt with in the Bill, which does not properly arise out of the disqualifications imposed upon certain applicants under preceding legislation, is that advantage will be taken of this measure to terminate on 30th September, 1934, the liabilities of the Exchequer in respect of outstanding awards made under previous legislation. The main object of this provision is to dispose of a number of awards made subject to a reinstatement condition. The most recent of these awards was made over six years ago and the beneficiaries have had time in the interval to make up their minds as to rebuilding. We cannot allow the present position to continue indefinitely and, accordingly, we are now going to compel the beneficiaries definitely to make up their minds as to whether they will reinstate or not. If they are not going to reinstate, then we hold that they should forfeit their awards. The last provision in the Bill is one whereby if a person has received compensation in respect of property lost and such property is subsequently recovered, it shall, on recovery, become the property of the Minister for Finance and shall be used for the benefit of the Exchequer unless the original owner desires to buy it back.

With regard to the sections of the Bill, Section 1 is the definition section. Section 2 defines the classes of cases that come within the Bill. As I have already indicated, these are claims for injury to property where no claim was made to the Compensation (Ireland) Commission in pre-Truce cases or to the court in post-Truce cases or, if made to the court, were dismissed on political grounds. Claims may also be made under this section for goods taken by Volunteers or Republican forces where no claim was made to the Indemnity Act Committee or to the court or, if made to the latter, was dismissed on political grounds. Section 3 indicates the procedure to be followed by applicants in lodging claims, and limits the time for lodgment to three months after the passing of the Act. Section 4 applies the provisions of the 1923 Act, modified or amended where necessary, including the deletion of the penal provisions of Sections 9 and 15 or that Act. It also provides for the hearing of claims by the Circuit Court, and in cases of injury to buildings it provides that compensation shall be assessed on the market value and not on the full restoration basis of the building. Section 5 specifies the items in respect of which compensation will not be granted. As I have already pointed out, the principal of these is consequential loss. No claims will be entertained for consequential loss, for billeting or for cash taken or expended. Section 6 empowers the Minister for Finance to pay compensation on foot of reports made under the 1923 Act, which were refused by the former Minister on political grounds. Section 7 prescribes the method of payment and re-enacts the provisions of the Act of 1923 enabling recovery to be made from a decree or report for any debt due to a Government department or local authority in respect of arrears of rates or taxes. Section 8 provides that the 10 per cent. addition which, under the amending Act of 1926, was made to awards under the 1923 Act shall not apply to awards made under this Bill. Section 9 embodies the provision I have already referred to— that after 30th September, 1934, no payment shall be made out of public funds on foot of any awards made under existing legislation in respect of property losses during the pre-Truce or post-Truce period. Section 10 provides that chattels in respect of which compensation has been paid from public funds shall become the property of the Minister for Finance and, where recovered, that the Minister may sell them or otherwise dispose of them for the benefit of the Exchequer.

It is not possible to estimate at this stage, with any great degree of accuracy, what the total cost of this Bill will be to the Exchequer. Claims received between the 1st March, 1932, and 28th February, 1933, number 1,280 and amount to £118,000. In addition, there are report cases under the Act of 1923 aggregating £52,000, payment of which has been withheld.

I have no doubt many new claims will be made as a result of this measure. I am certain that not all of them will be valid and that not all of them will be sustained. I should say that the total cost of this measure, when it becomes law, will probably be in the neighbourhood of £350,000. It is a very large sum. I do not wish to disguise that fact, or withhold it from the House; but it is a sum which, I think, in justice must be paid.

As I have already indicated, the necessity for introducing this Bill arose entirely out of the discriminatory provision included in the original Act. It is only just that there should be no discrimination between one section of the community and another in regard to matters of this kind. I think it would have been a graceful act if our predecessors, when they had the power and when they felt themselves secure in office, had done what we are doing now. They could not see their way to do it. I hope the fact that they could not see their way to make that gesture at that time will not impel them now to oppose what is merely an act of justice long deferred.

I am sure all of us want, as soon as we can, to heal wounds that were left by the civil war. None of us wants the bitterness which that civil war engendered to remain. One of the things that would keep the old wounds rankling and festering would be an indication on the part of those who took part in that war an either side not to give justice and compensation where justice and compensation have been long withheld.

When the Minister was speaking on the introduction of this measure on the 5th May he said that the 1923 Act contained "penal provisions" (column 717, Parliamentary Debates, 5th May) that were "a manifest injustice" (column 716) "on good citizens merely because of their political opinions" (column 715). In Section 9 the Act describes the type of persons who were, according to the Minister, prejudiced. They were persons who connived at or assisted in or actively facilitated the committal of the injury. That meant that persons could not apply for compensation in respect of property which had been destroyed if they connived at or assisted in or actively facilitated the committal of the injury. The Minister proposes, under the present Bill, to make this class eligible for compensation. The second class of persons prejudiced under the 1923 Act were persons who were associated with or combined or were in league with the person or persons by whom the injury was committed for the committal of the injury or for the committal of similar injuries to property. The Minister's Bill provides that that particular class shall now be eligible to receive compensation for the damage said to have been committed in respect of their property. The third class prejudiced, as the Minister would complain, under the 1923 Act, was any person who was a member or a helper of or an active sympathiser with any organisation engaged in armed opposition to the Provisional Government of Ireland or the Government of Saorstát Eireann. The Minister's Bill proposes to make persons of that class eligible to receive compensation for injuries to their property during the time when they were active against the Provisional Government or the Government of Saorstát Eireann.

When we were dealing with the Army Pensions Bill I put an historical background, by way of documents, to the relationship between this House and the people in respect of whom Army pensions were being provided. The same background refers in the same way to the proposals in the Minister's measure for giving compensation in respect of property to persons who either carried out that destruction themselves or were responsible indirectly for that destruction. The Minister told us the other day that £52,000 is already claimed by persons of that class on reported cases. In reply to a question by Deputy McGilligan, the Minister told us the other day that the amount of money he was proposing to take this year from civil servants by way of cuts was £57,000. The civil servants are to be cut this year to the extent of £57,000 to give compensation to the extent of £52,000 to the class of person I have mentioned. The remainder of the £350,000 will be got in some other way—from the Guards, national school teachers and other people like that.

When winding up my statement on the Army Pensions Bill I drew attention to certain important facts. Incidentally, it is worth recalling, particularly when we consider that civil servants are to contribute £57,000 in order to provide £52,000 in respect of the reported cases, some remarks I made on the 20th October, 1932. I drew attention there to the people who were to be shot at sight, and these included officials employed at the headquarters of Ministries. They were to be shot at sight by the persons for whom they are now providing £52,000. Their residences were to be destroyed too, but I am sure that was a minor matter. Winding up my remarks on the Army Pensions Bill in October, 1932, I said:

Now we are asked in days when the tail of that military organisation, when the present President and the present Minister for Defence and the present Minister for Lands and Fisheries and the present Minister for Education, threw a cloak of authority around the attack, in days when the tail of that military organisation still exists in the country, still holds arms, still organises, still trains, still declares that this institution has to be wiped out, this House is asked to provide pensions for the persons who have made that attack on this as a State institution and who are continuing that attack.

I say again that this House is being asked to provide from moneys collected from civil servants, national school teachers, members of the Guards and the Army £280,000, and someone else is going to be asked to provide £70,000 for persons, some of whom are still active in the very way I say.

Advertisements are in the Press to-day recruiting for the I.R.A. They are going to go into camp for the summer, apparently. Turning to the economic side, some of them with their rifles to-day had a cattle drive in Tipperary, some of them surrounded and knocked men on the heads in Tipperary. The Ministry is asking this House to vote these moneys. It is asking this House for authority to collect these moneys off the servants of the State, and it has not yet made up its mind whether it is going to let the tail continue that work or not. I asked on the Pensions Bill whether the people who are still carrying on in that particular way are to receive pensions. I ask the Minister whether the Bill is intended to provide moneys for persons who are still carrying on that class of organisation and that class of training.

Deputy Davin asked to-day in connection with local government elections in rural areas whether they were being postponed until November, and said that in the City of Dublin they were being held in June. The period between June and November does not make so much difference. But in the City of Dublin we have the Shannon scheme fairly well organised. It does make a difference in the country, and I would like to ask the Minister whether he can assure us that none of this money which is being here provided as compensation is going to be used for keeping these camps running with a view to assisting in the local government elections in the dark nights?

That surely is an exaggeration.

We are used to many exaggerations here now. We are asked in this Bill to provide £52,000 in "reported" cases alone, and to provide a total of £350,000.

I would advise the Deputy not to discuss that matter. If he brings it into discussion there will be other matters which will not be to the credit of the Deputy.

He wants the Civil War fought over again.

Did he not give five million pounds to the British?

I want the Labour Party and the Labour Members who are here to know that civil servants are asked to provide £57,000 in order to provide £52,000 for these "reported" cases, and further contributions for pensions. They are to provide £52,000 for these "reported" cases.

To which the judge found they were properly entitled.

This £52,000 is to be provided by officials employed in the headquarters of the Ministry who were to be shot at sight by those who are now to get these pensions. These are some of the questions to which I should like the Minister to address himself, and I would ask him to develop further the suggestion that penal provisions in the past have inflicted manifest injustice on good citizens for holding purely political opinions.

There is no doubt but that at this period one would expect that we would have been spared the effort made by Deputy Mulcahy to-day. One would think that those people had suffered long enough.

The people of Tipperary are not being spared to-day.

The people to whom you have paid pensions here for the last seven years, gentlemen who pulled girls out of their beds in Kerry and whipped them around the road, and of which they had been convicted as a result of your own court-martial, and to whom you are still paying pensions, and that being the case you should say very little——

Deputies will have to be addressed in the third person. I have stated that already, and I now warn Deputies who transgress that if they transgress again they will be reminded of it in a very drastic fashion.

Deputy Mulcahy has alluded to people concerned in this Bill and what their actions were. He has read out to us penal clauses of an Act of which he took advantage to prevent his political opponents from getting what the judges' decrees gave them. He has read out these clauses. I would ask the Deputy to say what was the exact amount paid in pensions to those highly placed officers in the National Army who were tried by court-martial and found guilty of pulling two young girls out of their beds and beating them with Sam Browne belts, which they were wearing in the guise of officers and gentlemen. I would like to know exactly the amounts paid to those officers for the last ten years out of public funds.

The Deputy has the official records.

This Bill wipes out a very grave injustice. I know people down in my constituency and I am sure every Deputy here knows people to whom these moneys are due and who had no connection with the Army. I know that Deputies here will admit this much that it will be very hard to decide where the responsibility on the part of the Provisional Government ceased and where the responsibility on our side commenced. I have personal reasons for knowing it. The Provisional Government paid me for milk supplied to the army in occupation in Cobh. I have very good reason to know when they stopped and when the payment ceased. These are matters which the ordinary shopkeeper of a country town could not know. He could not know the particular period at which Deputy Mulcahy and those associated with him changed over from the I.R.A. to be soldiers of the Provisional Government. Ordinary shopkeepers did not know that. These people went before the courts and they got these decrees from the courts but they were never paid since because the Secret Service paid by Deputy Mulcahy's Government pointed out that those people were supporters of the I.R.A. But they had given their goods in all good faith. They were never paid and they suffered for the last ten years. I know men who got these reports from the judges. One of them is at present in receipt of home assistance. He has a wife and five children to support. That man has a decree for £115 due to him for the last ten years and he has never been able to get it. That was just because Deputy Mulcahy's Executive decided at that time that that man happened to be a supporter not of the Free State Army but of the Republican Army. Just because he happened to be a supporter of the wrong army in Deputy Mulcahy's view, he should not be paid for goods he delivered in good faith. We have several cases of that description all over the country of shopkeepers who supplied goods and, although they got their decrees, of payment being refused. The same thing occurred even in Shaw Commission cases. I have carefully preserved a letter received from the Deputy's Department when he was Minister by a solicitor in Cork in one case asking the solicitor was he aware that the individual concerned was a notorious Irregular. Although the "Black and Tans" destroyed his property, yet because he was a notorious Irregular the State could keep the money they received from the British Government for his compensation and he should not get it. These letters are still in existence and will probably be produced in evidence as proof of the shameful and spiteful attitude adopted by the late Executive Council towards those who were previously their comrades in arms.

I should like to see this Bill amended so as to give compensation to those whose property was destroyed in 1916. There are not very many cases of that kind. There is one outstanding case in Cork County which the Bill should be amended to deal with. Members of that family suffered and died for Ireland when very few were prepared to do it and the fact that they got no compensation for their property which was destroyed at that time is a lasting blot on any national government. In my opinion, the Bill should be amended in order to cover the cases of those whose property was destroyed in 1916. Deputy Mulcahy dealt with the cuts in civil servants' salaries. I do not want to go into that matter at present as we shall have an opportunity of debating it fully later on. But the fact that certain individuals, on account of their political opinions, had positions made for them and that the question was not what a particular man's services were worth in a job but what salary would be adequate compensation for him for turning his coat, places a very heavy burden on this State, a burden that is too heavy for the people to bear.

I consider that this Bill is long overdue, as it remedies a crying injustice. I personally regret, for the sake of good feeling amongst all classes of the community, that such a Bill was not introduced in 1927 or 1928. It would have been a gracious act on the part of those who then formed the Government, and an act which would have healed sores that were too long running. I regret the attitude that Deputy Mulcahy has taken up to-day. It is an attitude that is unworthy of any man who at any period soldiered with those whom he has victimised for the past ten years, and whom he is still apparently anxious to victimise. There are unfortunate people who found themselves more or less obliged when we were in occupation of different towns, to give food, clothing or anything else that was requisitioned. There was practically no way out for them. It is about time that they should be paid. I do not want to go into the question of who was right or who was wrong at that period. We think we were right, and I suppose those on the opposite benches think they were right. I say this much, however, that the action of the late Executive Council in refusing to pay those cases in which reports were given was unworthy of any national government. There are not so many of them. I know several shopkeepers in different towns, and the fact that they were not paid for goods which they had delivered in good faith, and that the payment of decrees was refused by the Minister for Finance at the time, actually brought about their bankruptcy. No payment would compensate these people now for what they lost at that period. I think the statement made by Deputy Mulcahy to-day was one which we might very well have been spared. I do not want to go into the other moneys that were paid during the last ten years for which there was no justification such as there is in these cases. There were, for instance, the particular cases I alluded to to-day of officers being paid pensions for the last nine or ten years, because they——

There is not a word about pensions in this Bill.

Deputy Mulcahy dealt with cases and gave instances.

Deputy Mulcahy confined himself to matters dealing with compensation. I was particularly careful of that.

I bow to your ruling. All I have to say is that as far as we are concerned we consider that the sooner the curtain is drawn over these things the sooner we can settle down to work. I consider with the Minister for Finance that these open sores tend to keep the bitterness of the Civil War too long alive amongst us. In conclusion, I hope that the Minister will amend the Bill so as to include those whose property was destroyed in 1916 or immediately afterwards.

There is a very large section of citizens who, as Deputy Corry said in his closing remarks, are anxious that the leaders of the two principal Parties in the House should forget the history surrounding the Civil War period, and I should like to suggest that it would be a good thing for the leaders, who sometimes are calling for national unity or the closing of the ranks of our nationalist population, to give a good example in that direction. Many people in the country would regard it as a generous gesture from Deputy Mulcahy if he would endeavour to blot out of his memory the history of that unfortunate period. One of the ways in which that can be done is to accept the contents of a measure such as this, and by doing so make provision for the payment of compensation to people who, to my own knowledge in some cases, submitted their claims and whose claims were, in my opinion, turned down owing to political prejudice. It may be possible that, as a result of the passage of a measure of this kind, some few individuals who did things with which I disagreed very much at a particular period may get compensation. It would pay the State as a whole to close the history of that period by making proper provision for the innocent sufferers in that period at any rate.

By cutting the Civil Service salaries?

I can assure Deputy General Mulcahy, as one who was a member of the first Public Accounts Committee set up by this House, as a member of that Committee which investigated many matters reported by the Comptroller and Auditor-General concerning the administration of the Army at that time, and payments made by people who served under him, that he would be well advised not to rehearse the history of that period.

I face the facts of each period, and the facts of this period are that the Civil Service are being cut in order to give compensation to those people.

As a member of the Public Accounts Committee of the House that had to inquire into the matters reported to them I say that it would be just as well if many of the things for which the Deputy had responsibility were forgotten, as well as many things for which people on the other side of the House were responsible. I know that if the members of this House were asked to give their previous sanction to many payments made during that period the payments would not have been so heavy, and would not have cost this State so much as they did.

Some of them would not have been made at all.

I quite agree.

The Deputy might have been a more efficient head of an army no doubt.

I would not take the risk or have the cheek to compare my courage in matters of that kind with that of Deputy General Mulcahy.

I am not talking about courage. I am talking about finance.

I want to make it quite clear that there is a claim upon me at any rate to vote for the passage of this measure, knowing as I do that many genuine claims of innocent sufferers have been turned down by the previous administration, for reasons which I certainly dispute and would challenge.

I want to bring to the notice of the Minister one or two cases—I am not going to go into the cases—which cannot, I think, be dealt with under the Bill as now drafted, but which should be carefully considered by the Minister and the necessary amendments made in Committee, so as to make provision for payment of compensation to people of this kind. There are a few—and only a few—cases of citizens of Saorstát Eireann who, as a result of action taken by the Craigavon Government, suffered serious loss during the period referred to in this Bill. I am not suggesting that it is the responsibility of the taxpayers of this State to make provision for the payment of compensation to citizens of the Six Counties, but I think there is a genuine obligation upon those of us who are acquainted with certain facts to see that citizens of this State who suffered loss or injury to property as a result of their activities during a particular period are compensated, if at all possible, under the terms of this measure. Section 2 of the Bill makes it quite clear that the loss or damage should have occurred in Saorstát Eireann. I suggest to the Minister—and he has, I think, some details of a few cases; the cases I have in mind are very few— that it should be made possible, by alternation in the wording of Section 2, to cover cases where a few citizens of this State, as a result of what are called by the Northern Government their illegal activities, suffered loss— not to a very large amount—and that the Bill should be amended, so as to make provision for the payment of compensation in the very few cases, not exceeding six, which I have in mind.

I would ask the Minister, if he can see his way, to deal with the point raised by Deputy Davin. I myself am aware of certain cases. Of course, it might leave the door too wide open if there were an amendment introduced into the Bill. With regard to the drafting of the Bill, I think the Minister will have to make a drastic amendment in Section 2, because it is in contradiction of Section 10. Section 2 states that "this Act does not apply to any injury to property or any injurious act or any loss or damage in respect of which any payment of compensation has been made by any Department of State or the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland." Section 10 says just the opposite. It is only a question of drafting, but I know it is a matter which lawyers would be very anxious to make play with, and it could be held that Section 2 overrides Section 10 in the matters to which the Act applies.

With regard to Section 10 I do not know if the Minister can state whether there are many cases in mind for the introduction of this section. There is only one case to my knowledge, and it somewhat affects me personally. It is a case which is still before the courts. I imagine this section is introduced in order to forestall the decision of the court in the matter. There are certain provisions in connection with Section 10 which might be open to question. For instance, when valuables or property have been recovered from the ruin the Minister can offer them for sale at a prohibitive price and so retain them in his possession, because it says that a price will be fixed which in the opinion of the Minister is equal to the amount of compensation which was not specified in the original grant. Furthermore, it states in the fifth sub-section of Section 10 that this property may be disposed of by the Minister, by sale or otherwise, for the benefit of the Exchequer. There is certain property which might be of historical interest and which the Minister might retain for national collections or otherwise instead of putting it up for sale. He would, I think, be prohibited from achieving this object by the terms of the Act as it stands, because he must dispose of it for the benefit of the Exchequer. Those are a few items which, perhaps, on the Report Stage the Minister might consider.

If I were in the frame of mind in which I was when Deputy General Mulcahy was speaking I should probably be saying now many things which I think would be better left unsaid. I am not going to traverse the ground over which Deputy Mulcahy has travelled with such futility, because I, and most people listening to him on many occasions in this House when events that had but a remote connection with the unhappy periods of 1922 and 1923 have been before us, have come to this conclusion, that the Deputy is possessed of an obsession to justify to his own conscience, and to himself, the part he has taken in the unhappy civil war. I do not think we should pander to that obsession. I do not think that I, or any other Minister speaking from the Government Bench, should again take the trouble even to endeavour to disabuse the country of the false impressions which Deputy Mulcahy endeavours to convey as to what happened then, and as to the reasons which motived the Government of which he was a member during that period. I hope that this Bill, and possibly another measure hereafter which may have to come before the House, dealing with personal injuries, may help us to forget the past and may help to heal the wounds inflicted upon the common body of the Irish nation. I have only to say, as I said at the outset, this is a measure of justice long deferred.

The Deputy referred to the £52,000 to which the citizens of the State were justly entitled ten years ago which was impounded by my predecessor and withheld. We propose to pay and not to cut civil servants one penny for this money, for it will be found, in the same way as it was found under the Acts for which my predecessor was responsible, by borrowing. That will not inflict any hardship upon any officials of the State, and if we did I am sure those officials and the taxpayers would endure it in order to ensure, at least, that justice should be done.

Deputy Corry referred to property destroyed in 1916. I am afraid it will not be possible for us to go back over that period. Preceding legislation did not deal with it. The Deputy, I think, said there was only one case, but I am afraid it is only one of many, because property was destroyed elsewhere than in Cork during that period. Many people think that they have claims arising out of destruction of their property that have gone unsatisfied. I am afraid if we were to go back to 1916 we would have to deal with 1918 and other periods prior to 1919.

The guiding principle in this Bill is that we can only accept responsibility from the day that the Dáil began to function as thede jure Government in this country. It is the principle upon which this Bill is based. We had to take some definite starting point and there is no one more suitable than that. Apart from the consideration that arises, at any rate as to the date in respect to which compensation might be properly paid, I fear the burden that would be imposed upon the Exchequer would be very much greater than Deputy Corry thinks, and that the difficulty of investigating such claims would be very much greater than he visualises; and while I am prepared to listen to any representation he might make to me I am afraid there is very little prospect that I would be able to do anything. The same, I think, applies to the cases to which Deputy Davin has referred. So far as I have any knowledge of them, the greater part of those claims would be for consequential damage arising out of the fact that Irishmen and Irishwomen were driven out of part of Ireland, and for that reason were not able to attend to their ordinary business concerns there. If we were to concede the right of any particular citizen to secure compensation merely because he was compelled to leave one part of Ireland and reside in another, we should have to concede the right to every such man or woman to claim for consequential damage. Any of us familiar with the circumstances that existed from 1916 to 1925 would see that if we were to concede that we would have to consider all the circumstances that existed over that period, and the multitudinous claims that might be made in regard to consequential damages. We would have to concede the claim of every man arrested at his work by my predecessor in office. We should have to concede the claim of any man who, during the Black and Tan war, was on the run, not because he might be in actual danger, but because his fears were so great that he thought to preserve his person by not sleeping in his own house.

The range of claims that could be made would be so great, once we conceded the principle of consequential damage, and would be so wide that I cannot concede even in the most limited way, the right of any person to make a claim of that sort. Accordingly, although in the case of Deputy Corry I am prepared to consider any representation made to me, I should make it clear, at the outset, that if claims are for damages of a consequential kind I shall not be able to meet them, any more than my predecessors were able to meet them, or any Government responsible to the people would be able to meet them.

The case I have in mind is one of actual damage done to property—not consequential damage—but actual damage done to property in 1916 by British Forces.

I quite appreciate the difference between the class of case Deputy Corry has in mind and the class of case to which Deputy Davin referred. As I said, I am prepared to consider it, but we have to bear in mind when considering this matter—it is an old maxim that hard cases make bad laws—the consequences that would flow from the acceptance of that principle and that the Government have responsibility to the taxpayers, not merely the present taxpayers, but in view of the fact that we are borrowing for this purpose, we have to bear the taxpayers of the future in mind as well. It was of the consequences that would flow from them that prevented us from doing everything our hearts would dictate, and I would like it to be understood that it was a harder struggle for the Government to exclude these cases than to include them in the Bill.

With regard to the reference made by Deputy Esmonde to Section 10, I think the Deputy has not quite correctly apprehended the purport of the section. First of all, I think no one would controvert the justice of this, that where compensation has been paid for property lost, if that property is recovered subsequently it should be the property, not of the original owner, but of the Minister for Finance who compensated the original owner for the loss. That is the basis of the section. Arising out of that the right of the Minister for Finance to retain the property and dispose of it is qualified. It is subject to the reservation that where the property is recovered the Minister must offer it to the original owner for purchase at the amount of the compensation the original owner received for it. There could not be anything more just than that.

Though no fixed sum is given for the original article.

As the Minister so far proceeds in accordance with the principle of strict justice you must assume he will continue to tread the path of virtue, and that where an agreed amount of compensation had not been definitely allocated to each particular item of property, in determining what is the fair price the Minister will have some consideration (1) for the total amount of compensation paid, and (2) the proportion which the recovered property bears to the property originally lost. I am perfectly certain that if Deputy Esmonde thinks over the section he will see that there is no intention on the part of the Ministry of Finance in any Government to do any injustice to private citizens in matters like this.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 71; Níl, 41.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Davin, William.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Doherty, Joseph.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).

Níl

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Little and Traynor; Níl: Deputies P. S. Doyle and Bennett.
Motion declared carried.
Bill read a Second Time.
Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday, May 24.