Deputy MacDermot has asked for leave to make a personal explanation. I am permitting him to do so.
On the last sitting of this House, sir, on the 16th November, the President made some statements which I regard as reflecting on my personal honour, and with regard to which you have given me leave to make a statement to-day. I refer to column 335, Vol. 50, No. 1 of the Official Debates. Deputy McGilligan had raised a question on the Adjournment arising out of a speech made by the President at Dundalk. In reply to Deputy McGilligan's speech the President made the following remarks:—
"I spoke of this campaign, this alleged campaign against the payment of rates
"I spoke of the activities of the people who were engaged in it as evidenced in various ways, just as I would speak of any other general campaign of crime or criminal activity which I thought it was in the public interest to advert to and to call public attention to. I believe that my calling attention to it had one good result anyhow. The gentlemen on the opposite side who were giving assistance to that campaign have been much more careful of doing it since.
"A Deputy: Name!
"The President: There were on the opposite side people who, on more than one occasion, gave help to that campaign. We had here in the Dáil a speech by the former leader of that particular Party with so many `ifs' in it—`if a person is not able to pay then he will not pay.‘ Who is going to judge whether he is able to pay or not?
"Mr. MacDermot: Will the President please quote from the speeches?
"The President: I am referring to the speech which the Deputy made but I have not got the quotation. Everyone remembers it."
Now the particular speech to which the President was there referring was obviously one that he had referred to on a former occasion in somewhat similar terms, and it was a speech made here in the Dáil not before his Dundalk speech, but a month after his Dundalk speech. It was a speech made on the particular point of showing that whatever activities farmers might have indulged in with reference to rates were of considerable less importance from the point of view of law and order than the matters of intimidation which we had been raising in that debate on the adjournment. I am, therefore, not concerned with the President's allusions to that speech because that speech was made, as I say, a month after his Dundalk speech. What I am concerned with is his renewed implication that I was connected with a campaign of a criminal character before his Dundalk speech. I have explicitly denied that several times, and I hope that my denial to-day is going to close the matter.
In point of fact, extending over the period ever since the economic war began, I have had, if I may use the expression, to take my political life in my hands on numerous occasions on this particular matter. It is no secret that a great many of the farming community were attracted to the idea of not paying these obligations on account of what was happening to them, and I had to take a very strong and a very definite line about the matter with my supporters, and I did that over and over again. I resisted any such campaign and I defeated any such campaign being sponsored by our Party. I want to state that quite definitely, and if the President is still in any doubt about my line of action, my line of policy, and my line of speech on that matter, I am perfectly prepared to submit, and would welcome the opportunity of submitting, my conduct in that respect to a Parliamentary inquiry.
A Chinn Comhairle——
There can be no debate on a matter of personal explanation. No. 2 on the Order Paper.
Can I not ask a question?
No questions and no debate can arise from a personal explanation.