The Minister, in his general remarks, referred to the great increase in the amount of the Vote of the Gárda Síochána—£70,460— and said, very truly, that no one in the House will get any pleasure from considering that increase. He said that the reasons for the increase were fully explained on previous occasions, and on a recent Supplementary Estimate. Surely, the Minister will admit that there are few items in the Estimates that, as a matter of general policy, from the point of view of public confidence, could better, or had better, be lingered over in an explanation by him than the great increase in the amount of money voted for the police force. I suggest that the reason the Minister slurs over the increase in the Police Vote is that the Minister does not care to turn around and discuss it, because it would be too unpleasant and too unpalatable a matter for him to discuss, and, perhaps, too difficult. I propose to draw the attention of the House to certain things in connection with the Minister's Department and the administration of the police, for the purpose of seeing if we can find out where there is located, either in the Ministry or in the general headquarters of the police, the centre that must exist there of spite, insolence and incompetency, that shows itself in the working of the police force in certain ways throughout the country. I will read the House here an affidavit relating to an incident in Cork. The affidavit reads as follows:—
"I, John Murray, of 109 Dillon's Cross, Cork, aged 21 years and upwards, make oath and say as follows:—
"(1) In the month of January, 1934, three men, two named Curtin and one named Aherne, came to my parents' house where I reside, at night, and committed an armed raid, and endeavoured to murder me. They were charged before Constitution (Special Powers) Tribunal, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment.
"(2) In the same month James Kendillon, Stephen Walsh and John Condon came to my said residence and fired shots at the house and into the house, and wounded a man inside named Robert Peglar, who was a friend of mine. The said men were charged and convicted before the said Tribunal and sentenced to imprisonment.
"(3) After the events set out in paragraph (1) hereof, the police authorities placed a guard of police, which included two uniformed men and one member of the special branch lately recruited. The surname of the member of the special branch was Flaherty.
"(4) Since the events up to the night of the 7th April, 1934, hereinafter deposed to, the house has been guarded whilst I am at home.
"(5) On the night of the 7th April, 1934, or morning of the 8th April, 1934, I retired to bed about 1.45 a.m., leaving two members of the special branch in plain clothes and two uniformed men on guard. The names of those two members of the special branch are Lawlor and Sullivan. I did not lock the hall door of the house, so as to allow the police an opportunity of entering the house if they wished. When I was about ten minutes in bed, I heard the hall door being opened, and then heard an argument between the two members of the special branch, Lawlor and Sullivan (whose voices I recognised) about a revolver. I heard Lawlor say: ‘I'll go up and shoot him,' and I heard Sullivan try to stop him from coming up to me. Lawlor kept on insisting that he would come up and shoot me. I heard them come up the stairs and could see from my bed on to the stairs. Sullivan had a hold on Lawlor and was endeavouring to keep him back, and Lawlor kept on saying ‘I'll shoot him and put an end to him, and you can give evidence against me then.' This time Lawlor had a revolver in his hand pointing upwards towards my room. I then saw Guard Seán Kelly try to hold him and prevent him from coming up, and reasoning with him, and finally Lawlor put the revolver into his pocket and said: ‘If I go down without shooting him it will break my heart.' He went down and went out with some Civic Guard. I dressed and left by the back door of the house and went down to McCurtain Street Barracks, where I complained to the orderly there, and told him what had happened. In my presence he rang Union Quay Barracks and asked for the special branch, and told them what had happened. The orderly also sent a guard to Inspector Diggins' house to report the matter to him. Inspector Diggins came to the barrack about an hour afterwards. I was still there, and spoke to him and told him about what happened and the threatened shooting, and stated I wanted Guard Lawlor taken off my guard. Whilst I was in MacCurtain Street Barracks Detective Sergeant Moore of the Civic Guard came from Union Quay Barracks, and I told him the facts, and then made a full statement thereof to Sergeant McWeeney, and I told him the facts.
"(6) I am a member of the political organisation known as Fine Gael, and I believe that it is because of my membership of the said organisation that the attempts on my life hereinbefore deposed to were made.
"Sworn at 62 Dame Street, in the City of Dublin, the 13th day of April, 1934, before me, a Commissioner to administer Oaths for the High Court of Justice in Saorstát Eireann, and I know deponent.
"JOHN J. BEATTY."
Here you have the case of a man murderously attacked in his home on two occasions. On the second of these occasions he was under police protection when he was attacked. He was still under police protection after the second attack. Leaving the door of his house open at night, so that if the police wished they could enter the house and, if necessary, keep themselves warm at the kitchen fire, he finds one of his guards proposing to come up and shoot him—that it would break his heart if he did not shoot him. What on earth is the position among the Civic Guards in Cork or at police headquarters here when in the case of a man, whose life is threatened by his political opponents, Guards are selected to guard him who are political opponents of his; who are so much his political opponents and so utterly unfit, apparently, to be members of any police force, that his life is actually in danger from one of them, and that he would have been murdered that night but for the fact that a second Guard came into the kitchen with him?
The Minister states that this £70,000 is a symptom of things that certainly are very bad and very undesirable and very much regretted by every person in this House. A reason why that sum was required is that there are people in this country whose lives are threatened, whose liberties are threatened, and whose right to go about their business in an ordinary decent way is threatened. Surely in circumstances like these the Gárda authorities should have very definite principles of thought and action; there should be a definite demand for discipline; there should be some consideration by the responsible Gárda authorities as to the type of persons put on such protection duty and some consideration in that matter for the feelings and the position of the people whom the Civic Guards are forced to place under police protection. Here you have one sample in Cork that illuminates to my mind the whole position there. Quite a number of other matters happening in County Cork and neighbourhood give evidence of the fact that the whole thing is carried on in a cynical and almost in a brutal way. I think it discloses such a state of affairs in Cork that the Minister ought to treat this House to some very serious explanation of it and tell us what change has taken place in the situation in Cork as far as Murray is concerned and, particularly, what steps have been taken to enquire from the police authorities in Cork how it was possible to have a set of circumstances like that. The Cork people may not be to blame. The difficulty that you find amongst the police at present is that they do not know what is expected of them and that brings us to the position with regard to the Minister himself and the Ministry and the position with regard to the Gárda Síochána general headquarters here, and that I think can best be discussed on certain matters connected with myself personally.
At the present moment I have what I understand the Minister and the Gárda authorities would call police protection. At least nine members of the Gárda Síochána and two motor drivers give me full-time attention. Deputy Cosgrave is in a similar position. I probably get the attention of a greater number of men than he does for the reason that on the night on which President de Valera made his famous charge that I was in Glasgow seeing a British Minister, arranging for armed help from Great Britain against some of our own people here, although there was a military guard on my house who, probably, had two revolvers and a machine gun between them, a policeman was turned out of the Rathmines police station at 11.30 p.m. with a revolver in his pocket, and every hour of the 24 hours of the day since, about 250 yards of the pathway outside my house has been patrolled by a plain clothes policeman in the most ostentatious way. He was no very great addition in the matter of protection. As a matter of fact, what he was intended to do then and since is to protect the President's political reputation while, at the same time, creating as much unnecessary unpleasantness as he could for myself personally. For that reason, I may have at the present moment an addition of three more men—that is for the whole 24 hours one man more than Deputy Cosgrave has. Both of us are suffering the same type of insolence and intrusion into our privacy and the same kind of general personal inconvenience. I deal with the details of my own case because less research is involved.
Let us take just another affidavit which is as follows:
"I, Michael O'Connor, of Number two New Road, Inchicore, in the City of Dublin, labourer, aged 21 years, and upwards, make oath and say as follows:—
"(1) On the night of 17th April, 1934, at about 11 o'clock, I was standing in the vestibule of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. The performance at the theatre had ended. A man entered the vestibule and addressed me, and asked me if everyone had left. I said: ‘Yes,' and he then said: ‘Is Mulcahy gone?' I pointed to where General Mulcahy was and said: ‘No, he is talking over there.' He then said: ‘Can I get cigarettes here?' to which I replied: ‘Yes, in the café.' I learned that the man who spoke to me was Guard Maguire, one of General Mulcahy's escort.
"(2) I watched Guard Maguire. General Mulcahy was standing at the entrance to the café, and Guard Maguire walked about the vestibule, went outside the door, almost immediately returned to the vestibule and again asked me about getting cigarettes. I again told him he could get them in the café. He then said to me: ‘Will you get them for me, because we're scorching this f—— up,' referring to General Mulcahy.
"(3) I got the cigarettes and gave them to Guard Maguire. I then told General Mulcahy what had happened, and what the man (Guard Maguire) had said.
"(4) On the following Friday, 20th April, 1934, at about 9 p.m., I was again standing in the vestibule of the same theatre, when Maguire came in and approached me, apparently being very friendly, and suggested to me that he had not said anything of General Mulcahy. I told him that I would not make any statement to him. He then invited me out of the theatre for a drink, which I refused. After passing a few general remarks, he went away.
"I make this affidavit from personal knowledge save where otherwise may appear.
"Sworn at 12 Dame Street, in the City of Dublin, this 23rd day of April, 1934, before me, a Commissioner to administer Oaths, and I know the Deponent.
That is the type of person who is on full duty to look after me and my home, and to keep closely in touch with us the whole day long. Let us see what the position is. If I go out of my house at 6.30 or 6.45 a.m., there is a Ford car with its nose just beside my gate, so that its occupants can see up the passage to the house and keep the house well under view. There are probably two detectives in it and a driver, all armed. They have the whole road to themselves. They do not have a placard out—"protection on here"—but, as I say, they have the whole road to themselves. If I go out, they follow me. If I go down town, at a quarter past nine, and, if I walk, the car noses after me down along the road. If I go to my office, the car parks outside the house. If I visit a friend's house, the car parks outside the house. If I go out at night, it is there at 9.15 to 10.15 and at 11.15. p.m. There are three armed men and, as I have said, there is probably a fourth.
After the late Kevin O'Higgins was murdered, guards were put on Ministers. Military guards were put on them, because it was found that police guards were unsuitable. That continued from August, 1927. When the present Party came into office, a situation was gradually brought about in which guards were left on just two ex-Ministers, Deputy Cosgrave and myself. In June last year, the officer in charge of the guards came to me and said that police were being put on duty in future. He introduced one guard and one driver, and said that these were taking over from the military party. I met the guard; I asked him was he armed and he said, yes. I asked had he any instructions and he said, no. I asked the driver was he armed—yes; any instructions—no. I addressed a letter to the President stating that I did not think that, considering the precautions the Executive Council had been taking up to then for my safety, and without any explanation whatever, the change gave a guard inadequate for the situation as it seemed to me they envisaged it. Up to that time, I had had a car placed at my disposal. It was considered that I should travel as far as possible by car. There was an armed driver, and there were two armed guards. If I went down the country, there was a third armed guard attached, together with a machine gun, and there was a machine gun at night. It sounds rather elaborate—a very difficult thing to live with, but there were conveniences about the house that made it tolerable for the men themselves, and not quite intolerable for me.
In June, as I say, two armed police and an armed police driver were to be put on. The protection was to be handed over to the police. In relation to what was provided for before, I did not think the arrangement, without some explanation, quite adequate, and I asked to be informed what were the instructions given to the driver, and what were the instructions given to the guards; what particular type of danger I was being protected against, and under what circumstances it was considered that the men who were being sent with me might be expected to have to use firearms. Neither the President nor anyone else was apparently prepared to answer these questions, and I got an answer, more or less by return, stating that the military guard was being restored, and I lived with the military guard for a while longer. True, in August of that year, I was asked to hand up my revolver, for when I came home from the famous Glasgow visit, I was told that a policeman had called to collect my revolver. My time for a permit was up, and I went to the police station in Rathmines to renew it. It could not be renewed there. I phoned Donnybrook station to say that I was sending on the fee, but that it was not convenient for me to call across. I was told that they would be sending a man to collect it from me. I went to Donnybrook police station, and it was confirmed there that the instructions were to take up revolvers, and that they could consider applications afterwards. I said what was the fact, that, if I had a military party likely or liable in any way to incur any risks because of their defence of me, I was going to be in that defence, and that if I was not allowed to have the wherewith, they could take the whole caboosh. However, Donnybrook's instructions were that they were to take up the guns.
I went to the Castle and the instructions of the Superintendent in the Castle were that they were to take up the guns. I went to the Gárda Síochána headquarters and I told the Commissioner that there was a particular type of protection party outside his gate there, more or less on his advice, protecting me and that if I had not the wherewith to protect them if they got into any difficulty because of me, he could take the whole lot. I showed him by taking my gun from my pocket that I was looking for a certificate for a gun which I had and which, if necessary, I was prepared to use. That was all they wanted, he said. A rather interesting sidelight on police administration.
However, time passed and we then had, as I say, the additional plain clothes police put ostentatiously on duty every hour of the day and night outside my house after the President had made his famous Glasgow charge. Then we come to 27th March last. I was having a game of golf and suddenly the place around rather crowded up a bit. There were unexpected and additional people around. What had happened? The usual two members of my military protection party were about the place but two plain clothes policemen, men who had been on my protection party and had been transferred to the police, came out. They came out to take over charge of me from the military. The military had no information about it. They stayed where they were, and we had a joint military and police party for about 14 or 15 holes. Then we came back to the club. What had happened? There had been sent out from police headquarters a uniformed policeman, and two men who had previously been on my military protection party, and who had been transferred to the police. These had been sent out to bring me home. I wished to have nothing to do with them. I told them if they were police I had no instructions about them, and that if they wished to enter my home they had no permission from me to do so. I went home. Ten days passed. During those ten days I had those police and others with me everywhere I went. Night, noon and morning, they were outside the gate, nosing around the place after me. I had no approach from the Army that the Army men were going. I had no approach from the police that the police were coming. Ten days passed, and I had a ring from a police inspector that he wanted to see me. He came down and told me that he was to be in charge of my protection from the following day. He said he should like to know the day beforehand where I would be going the next day, so that I would be splendidly protected. I asked him "If I am walking down Grafton Street what protection will I have?" He answered. "Three men.""Will they be armed?" I asked. "I do not know," he said. I said, "Do you mean to tell me that you—a responsible police officer coming to tell me that I require protection, that you are responsible for giving it to me, and that you are going to give me three men— do not know whether they will be armed or not?" They would be armed, he thought then. When asked what they would be armed with, he did not know; what they would be armed against—he did not know; under what circumstances would they be required to use arms—he did not know. There would at any rate be three of them for the 24 hours of the day, as well as a few motor drivers!
I was in 5 Parnell Square on the night of the 9th April. I was holding a meeting there. Stones came in through the window. The protection party was outside—the whole lot of them, car and all—but the windows could be broken with perfect impunity. On the other hand, I went with General O'Duffy and Deputy Cosgrave to pay my condolences at the American Legation, and was followed right up to his hall-door by a police car with three detectives in it. I went from that to pay my respects to the Nuncio, and they followed me right up to his hall-door, but the windows of our offices may be broken with the most perfect impunity. Now I want to know from the Minister, if he does consider that protection is required, say for myself, what is wrong or what is difficult about the protection that had been provided so successfully since August, 1927? It was provided because experience of police showed that this was not fair work to have them on, and that whatever inconveniences were run, either by the members of the protection party themselves or by the persons who had to endure it, would be less —they certainly would be less for me —with the military protection party than with the police party. It was the same with any other person who had anything to do with them. If a change must take place, what kind of mentality brings about the change in the way in which the change was brought about—the change to plain clothes police with a uniformed driver? What kind of co-operation could be expected in a difficult and delicate matter like that when the administration is such that the unfortunate police inspector who comes to discuss the matter with me does not know whether his superior authority wants him to say whether the men who are going to be with me will be armed or not? What kind of protection is it that can allow the windows of the house in which you are sitting to be broken with complete impunity? I would tell the Minister that I walked out of my own house, with my wife, without their seeing me. You cannot have men sticking in a car or hanging around the streets from one end of the day to the other without their minds getting obfuscated in some way or another. They cannot always keep their eyes open. It is a most unfair position to put any police officer in. It is particularly unfair—because the Gárda Síochána have been trained as an unarmed force—to put a police officer into a position where as far as I know, at any rate up to a day or two ago, two 45 revolvers and a machine gun were thought to be necessary.
I spoke of a particular man about whom I made an affidavit. He and another were with my military protection party. There was quite a large number of men on military protection duties with various Ministers in their time. Those men remained until some months ago. I was then able to be told from Press connections that it was proposed to change some of the men on my military party, and to add a person who was going to be a spy on my movements. I did not pay any attention to that, but the change was made. I then went to the officer in charge of the party, told him what I had heard, and asked him about it. I was told that the man who was being added to the party was an ex-officer; that he was an Irish-speaker; that he was in poor family circumstances, and that it would be a charity to allow him to be in any position in which he could get a few little additional emoluments. I had nothing to say. By that statement I was prevented from making any objections, even if I wished to do so. A second man was put on, and I asked to be assured that he was not a man who had fought with the Irregulars. I was told most politely and officially from the Chief of Staff that I could get no official particulars with regard to the men who were on the party. The Minister has now a statement of fact in regard to the type of person that was put on that duty, the type of person that was transferred to the police for the purpose of acting as the spear-heads, the guides and trainers-in of this new police party. Either the Minister or the Commissioner of Police has, in this matter, shown himself to be brutal-minded and insolent, without any consideration—good, bad or indifferent— for the feelings or the position of persons in public life, or for their families. There has been an enormous amount of incompetence shown somewhere.
If it was not done deliberately, then it was scandalous incompetence, and I think that at the present moment, the full time and attention of about eleven members of the police force is directed to my movements, and to the goings on in my home. I have sufficient appreciation of what Irish liberty is to tell the Minister that I am not going to have that. The Minister may take the police that are hanging around me and send them to find the murderers of O'Reilly, of Daly, and the perpetrators of the Dundalk outrage. If he thinks that any particular person in this country does run a danger of any kind, then he ought to have police with some sympathy for that person. Even if there was no particular connection with the past of himself or his colleagues in connection with the matter, any person who runs any type of danger ought to have a certain amount of sympathy from the police. If they have any opinions as to what private life ought to be, or what liberty ought to be, they ought to try to make the burden of protection as light as they possibly can for those who may have to have it. I would like to hear some explanation from the Minister as to the attitude that has been taken up in this case. I speak of my own case, because it is one I know personally. I think it is a very illuminating case. When you put the Dublin side of things with the Cork side of things, as shown by the Murray case, this House ought to know what the Minister and the police mean, when they talk about protection, when they offer you an extra bill for £70,000, for the purpose of enabling them to give it to people that they say want it. I move the amendment: "That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration."