Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 2 May 1935

Vol. 56 No. 2

In Committee on Finance. - Vote 32—Office of the Minister for Justice.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £22,757 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1936, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Dlí agus Cirt.

That a sum not exceeding £22,757 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1936, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice.

The Estimate for this Vote is practically the same as that for last year. There is a reduction of £574 in salaries of headquarters staff which is due mainly to the filling of vacancies by officers at lower salaries. Against this the sum of £100 has been provided as a rough estimate of the cost of professional assistance in drafting Rules of Court under the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1934. There is the regular increase to cover increments of salary. Ministerial control of the various services of the Department of Justice, including police, prisons, court officers and so forth, is exercised through the staff for which provision is made in this Vote. The District Court branch, which is shown separately, controls the work of District Court clerks throughout the country and checks the receipts of fines paid in the District Courts, the Circuits Courts and High Courts. These amounted to about £9,000 last year. In addition, a sum of approximately £1,485 was transferred to the Exchequer in respect of fees received in cash from the Dublin Metropolitan District Court.

The Accounts Branch, also shown separately in the Estimate, is responsible for the payment of salaries and expenses of the Gárda Síochána, the prisons, District and Circuit Court staffs, Land Registry and Registry of Deeds and the Supreme Court and High Court of Justice. All the accounts work connected with the activities of the Department is performed by this branch. The only staff provided for outside Dublin is in the immigration office at Cobh. A fulltime officer is required there to carry out the provisions of the Aliens Order, 1925, made under the Aliens (Restriction) Acts, 1914 to 1919. He is assisted by a part-time assistant with an inclusive allowance of £100 per annum in addition to the salary he receives from Vote 35 as District Court clerk.

In addition to the provision of £1,627 under sub-head A (2) for the Film Censor's Office, expenditure in connection with this service is estimated to amount to £508, as shown in note (n) on page 110 of the Estimate. Fees received in stamps, that is, the fees charged for film censorship, are, however, estimated to amount to £2,500, so that allowing for overhead charges, such as the time of staffs of various departments occupied with film censorship and the provision for insurance of films and machinery and consequential damage and so forth, the service is, in fact, self-supporting. It has not been found necessary to increase the scale of fees since the introduction of machinery for the censorship of sound films.

The items of expenditure provided for in sub-heads (b), (c) and (d) are self explanatory and do not call for any comment, except the increase of £97 in sub-head D which is due to the increase in a number of extensions in Government buildings, and particularly of the Gárda Síochána Accounts Branch.

I move:—

That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.

We discussed a Supplementary Estimate for the Gárda Síochána on 13th March last. A number of matters that mark the unsatisfactory administration of the Gárda Síochána were dealt with then and it was suggested that the matter would be dealt with at greater length when the Estimate for the Department was being dealt with here. The Minister tells us that there is practically no increase in the Gárda Estimate this year as compared with last year.

May I correct the Deputy? I said in the office of the Minister for Justice. I did not refer to the Gárda Síochána.

I take it we are discussing the Gárda Síochána generally——

That has been the practice, I understand.

——and the reason I move that the Minister's Estimate be referred back is that the moneys estimated for the Gárda Síochána are mounting every year and that, nevertheless, we seem to have nothing but increased turmoil in the country, an increasing number of undetected crimes, and particularly crimes where arms are concerned, and no attempt made by the Ministry to pursue this question of arms or to recover arms unauthorisedly held in the country, although they were very systematic and determined and sweeping, a couple of years ago, in taking up arms from people who had had certificates from the police authorising them to have arms.

I drew the attention of the House, when we were dealing with the Supplementary Estimate, to the fact that the many spokesman of the Fianna Fáil Party, before they came into office, had pointed out the very high cost of the Army and of the Gárda Síochána, and indicated time after time that it would be possible to bring about a substantial reduction in the cost of both these forces. I just gave one sample of these statements as epitomising the whole Fianna Fáil outlook. That was the statement of the President at Ennis, as reported in the Clare Champion of 26th December, 1931, when, after dealing with the Army, he said:

"The cost of the Army could be reduced by £500,000, and the police, a lot of whose work was of a political character at present, could also be reduced and another £500,000 saved."

That was in December, 1931. The figures provided in the Estimates this year show that the actual expenditure on the Gárda for the year 1931-32 was £1,630,672. In spite of the opinion expressed by the President and other members of the Party that that Vote could be reduced by £500,000, there was nevertheless an additional £32,000 spent in the first year of the Minister's office. The next year there was a sum of £75,000 more spent. The amount of the Estimates for 1934-35 over the expenditure for 1931-32 was £146,000 and, this year, the Estimate is £217,000 over the 1931-32 figure. We have this increase year after year, jumping this year by £70,000, as the performances of the Ministry as compared with its promises and, as I say, we have nothing but increased turmoil and untraced crime from one end of the country to the other. It is due to the country as a whole that the Minister should go more explicitly and in more detail into some explanation of the manifestations of police failure that exists throughout the country.

The Minister says the police have a difficult job and that they are trying to do it impartially. I have no doubt at all that the very vast bulk of the rank and file and of the officers of the Gárda Síochána are endeavouring to do their work, but the force has been interfered with in all kinds of ways, and the force does not seem to be getting a chance. Take the position we have here in the City of Dublin. On Easter Sunday, what the Government Party considered was a big national commemoration, was arranged. The President attended in state at Portobello Barracks. He arranged to travel in state from Portobello Barracks to the General Post Office where he was to unveil a monument to the 1916 men. Arranging to travel in state from Portobello Barracks to the General Post Office for that purpose, he travelled by an unannounced route and, you might say, from the back gate of Portobello Barracks through all the back streets he could find, off the main thoroughfares of the city, down to the General Post Office.

We are entitled to know from the Minister for Justice what was responsible for the President, on a formal and an official occasion, and travelling with all the entourage of State from an official ceremony in one of our principal barracks to a big national gesture, in the heart of the city—what are the circumstances which brought about the fact that he travelled by an unannounced route through the back streets of the City of Dublin.

The back streets were duly announced in the Press days before he ever travelled on them.

He was preceded by two armoured cars; he was preceded by his Ministers, sandwiched in between car loads of detectives, and then the President followed. Is it that the police force in the City of Dublin has broken down and cannot prevail that the Presidential party, travelling in state, cannot proceed in an orderly and dignified way through the streets of the city?

He can go anywhere he chooses in the city.

It is the Minister's explanation we want. He ought to be able to go anywhere he chooses in this city.

And in the country, too.

The people of the country have set up institutions here which would warrant that the President of the Executive Council would be able to travel in the capital through any street in which he wanted to go. Those who are anxious for the dignity, the peace and the standing of our people and our country are entitled to know what are the reasons which prevented the President of the country travelling through the main streets of the city in a proper and dignified way when he was carrying out a high State function. I want to know is the police force of the City of Dublin, the rank and file, in such a condition that they cannot assure to the President a dignified passage through our principal streets. I doubt whether the Minister for Justice can say that is so. If we know anything of the police in the city, they can and could secure that. Was it the high police authorities of the city who, for one reason or another, advised the Minister that the President should travel through the back streets, or was it the Executive Council, the Minister for Justice or his colleagues, who decided to pursue that undignified course? Will he tell the House why there seems to have been a disgraceful and a lamentable failure on the part of the Executive Council to realise their responsibilities on Sunday last? I am sure that otherwise they would not have allowed such an action to take place.

The Minister must be aware that such forces of disorder as there are in the city can be nothing but encouraged to pursue aggression and to pursue disorderly lines when the President of the State and the police and the Army have to move out of their way and to pass through the back streets. Will the Minister say who was responsible for that performance on Sunday and, if he was advised by the higher police authorities, on police intelligence, that there were reasons why the President should not pass through the principal streets of the city, will he tell us what these reasons were? If such a condition of affairs from the point of view of disorderly bodies exists in this city that the President cannot pass in a dignified and orderly fashion through the principal streets, then the citizens ought to be made aware of their danger. If there is no danger, will the Minister tell us what other explanation there is, because the pursuit of conduct like that on the part of the President and his Ministers can bring nothing but disorder and destruction some time later on here in the city. There was supposed to be a big national commemoration at the General Post Office. The citizens of the city were not allowed into the precincts of the General Post Office on Sunday. There was a march past of military outside the General Post Office.

You were invited there yourself.

The electorate I represent in the city would not be allowed to put their feet on the side walks of O'Connell Street opposite the General Post Office. I would like to hear Deputy Donnelly on that.

You probably will.

What dictated that the citizens of Dublin could not take their places on the side walks of O'Connell Street, say, from Abbey Street to Earl Street? What were the reasons for it? That is a thing on which we would like to have an explanation. If we are paying increasing moneys yearly for the upkeep of a police force here we want to know, as the people whose money is being spent, what all this means. On the other hand, as people who tried to set up a State here and to make it a State worthy of the Irish people and capable of protecting them against dangers internal and external, we want to see its institutions administered in a way that will not invite destruction and disorder.

There have been other incidents in the City of Dublin that indicate that there are these forces of disorder. To what extent the police are responsible for that, we do not know. We do know that the Ministry of Justice was advised by certain cinema proprietors that they had been threatened by certain people in the city and told that they were not to show the cinema picture of the Royal wedding recently, and that in spite of the fact that the Minister had been forewarned it was possible for a crowd of disorderly people to enter the Savoy Theatre here and wreck a considerable amount of property and prevent the showing of the picture. I believe that the police could have prevented that. I would like to ask the Minister, when we are providing money for the police force, whether it was the police force that failed on that occasion, the rank and file of the police, whether it was high police officers in the city, or whether it was his Department. We have seen that police officers on duty on a recent Saturday night could be shot at in Grafton Street, could be shot at outside the offices of the Irish Press, within ear-shot of armed detectives, and no one could ever be traced or charged in any way with these offences except people who were not there at all.

At any rate we know that there are forces of disorder in the State. We know that the police have failed to deal with them. We know in some cases it was the fault of the police but in other cases we can hardly blame the police without further information. But what we are convinced about is that there are sufficient forces of disorder in this country armed or unarmed to prevent the President of this State and his Minister going about their official duties in the most dignified and orderly way. We ask the Minister for Justice, who is asking us to pass this Vote of nearly £2,000,000 for the Gárda, to say that the police are responsible for that. I do not believe that they are. I believe that either on the high police officers or the Executive Council itself lies responsibility for this state of affairs. There is no doubt a certain amount of demoralisation has set in amongst the police. We saw a certain class of demoralisation ourselves when the police were British forces here. There was the type of policeman who when he saw very prominent Irish activists passing around the street would say "Good morning boys." That was understandable.

There was the type of demoralisation that came later when the scum of the English cities and towns were sent in amongst the police in the guise of Black and Tans. We have that type of demoralisation amongst the police in some parts of this country for the reason that the police force within the last year or two was diluted by the introduction into the force of people who were not of the kind that ought to be in the police force. They were put into the force nearly two years ago on the excuse and by reason of the scare that this institution here was to be attacked by Blueshirts. There was a fire started in the engine room here and that was the germ of the bright idea that enabled the Ministry to dilute the police force with a certain class of person that they thought would be useful. It is commonly stated now that the Minister is clearing out some of these persons, but their presence in the force since they were brought into it has shaken the morale of the Gárda.

We have had also another type taken into the force, a type that is used in a provocative sort of way. I have had occasion to complain of the presence at a sale of seized farmers' cattle in Tipperary of a person in the garb of a detective who was a Fianna Fáil candidate for Parliamentary honours in the very county in which the unfortunate farmer whose cattle were being seized was residing. If it were necessary in pursuit of the law or in the carrying out of the administration to make seizures from farmers in the County Waterford who, for one reason or another, had not paid their land annuities or who had not paid their rates, it was a most disorderly and provocative act on the part of the police authorities to put prominently on duty in the sale of these cattle the man who a few months before had promised these same farmers, to say the least of it, very substantial increases in their income if he were returned.

But you have another type of demoralisation brought about amongst the police force and that is the demoralisation brought about by political interference by the Minister at the dictation of Fianna Fáil clubs. There are parishes in different parts of the country where sergeants have been changed simply because they were carrying out their duty in an impartial and strictly fair police way. The Minister said when I referred to these matters that he did not know to what I was referring. That was on a previous occasion when I spoke of the superintendent being taken away from Longford at the dictation of the Fianna Fáil clubs in that area. The Minister knows well that as a result of such dictation by member of the Fianna Fáil clubs he removed from Longford a police officer who, if he had been left there, might have prevented the development of a situation which has resulted in the murder of Mr. More-O'Ferrall.

Will Deputy Mulcahy support me in asking for a public investigation into that?

I will support the Deputy in asking for any inquiry he wishes into the administration of the police force in Longford for the last year or two.

And in Dundalk too.

I will be satisfied to start with Longford, because it would be worth having an inquiry into the administration of the police force in that area. The Minister did not understand the references that were being made in regard to the change of the Superintendent in Longford. The Minister knows that the man whom Fianna Fáil dictation drove out of that area might have prevented the culmination of the Edgeworthstown crime, and he knows that that man who was removed from Longford had to be brought back to help in the solution of the problem of that crime. I put that case up to the Minister. This is only a sample of the type of interference that has demoralised the police force in different parts of the country. The Minister makes a brave show here to say that they are carrying out a particular policy and that the police are acting in an impartial way. But I suppose there is hardly a police area in the country that would not give the lie to the Minister in that. The Minister may be changing now under pressure of the situation that he brought upon himself and that he has brought upon the country. His action as Minister is amongst the things that have brought about that particular matter. This state of affairs had been brought about because the Minister pursued the policy with which he started, the policy which he announced himself when he asked his followers to get "that accursed crowd out of his way." That is, to get the political opponents of the Government out of his way.

There is another aspect of police administration and of the administration of justice that might be referred to. On Easter Sunday the Minister allowed a collection to be carried out here in the streets of Dublin and in different parts of the country without the permit required by the police. He allowed that collection to be carried out for a purpose which at any rate his own Party organ has stated was partly for purchasing arms for an illegal body in this country. That illegal body claims the right to use arms. Will the Minister explain to us why he asks this House to vote year after year money for the support of the police force in this country and why he has allowed money to be solicited publicly in the streets of Dublin and other parts of the country for the purchase of arms which the Minister knows and which the Minister's Party organ, in cold print, admitted is going partly to be devoted to the purchase of arms which are to be be kept in an illegal way and to be used against this State? Will the Minister further say why his Department, or at any rate the Executive Council, who keep such an eye on the Press, allows the Fianna Fáil Party organ to publish an advertisement, illustrated in the most modern way, soliciting funds for that organisation— funds which are to be used partly for the purchase of arms to be held illegally and to be used illegally——

Was that in the advertisement?

It was in the editorial in the Irish Press and that editorial was written the day before the advertisement was put in. If Deputy Donnelly is serious as regards his duty as a member of this House he will join me in asking the Minister whether it is the Minister for Justice himself or whether it is the police who are the delinquents in not following up that very grave breach of the law. Men are charged before the Military Tribunal with sedition and with not answering questions and the Ministerial Press prints advertisements of a collection for the purpose of purchasing arms for their organisation. The Minister surely must know that toleration of that kind of conduct by the police or by the Minister and his colleagues is breeding forces of disorder, and armed forces of disorder, in this country.

The Minister is failing in another way. As I say, there are cases being dealt with before the Military Tribunal at present and the charges are that the men did not answer questions or that they were guilty of sedition four months ago. But charges dealing with the most important thing that affects the peace and order of this country are being completely ignored—that they are openly proclaiming that they are purchasing and keeping arms and are training and are prepared to use arms against a Government in this country. That may be a charge leviable against the Attorney-General but I do not care to direct it against him. If the Attorney-General is the person responsible for not pursuing charges of that kind, I blame the Minister for Justice for not having him sacked. I ask the Minister for Justice whether he is the person responsible for pursuing trivial charges against certain people when graver charges lie to be pursued or whether it is the police who are failing to take the action that falls upon them when they ignore serious crimes.

The Minister has been questioned here from time to time with regard to various offences committed from one end of the country to another by armed and masked men mostly at night. We will take the Co. Kerry. Replying some time in February to certain questions, the Minister told us that an armed and masked raid on a Volunteer's house in Beaufort, Killarney, which took place on the 15th January last, had not been so followed up by the police that they were able to find who was responsible for it; that an armed and masked raid took place on a Cork Examiner van at Caherlaheen in September, and that the police have not been able to follow up that successfully; that an armed and masked robbery at Lyreacrompane Post Office in November had not been pursued by the police; that the exploding of bombs on the 14th December at Ballymullan Barracks, Tralee, had not been pursued by the police successfully; that an armed and masked raid on Mr. Murphy's house at Bedford, Listowel, in July last had not been successfully pursued by the police; that a number of houses were raided in Listowel area in June last by armed and masked men, and that that had not been successfully pursued by the police. All these took place in County Kerry.

I should like to ask the Minister whether the order that the President of the Executive Council referred to some months ago that dumps of arms held by certain classes in this country were not to be sought out or searched for still exists, and does that apply to arms held by persons who are suspected of being, say, in comparatively recent months, Fianna Fáil supporters; whether the order applies to arms held by these men even though they have been used in connection with crimes, because the large number of occasions upon which armed and masked raids have been made, and persons injured and property destroyed, indicates that it is hardly entirely police failure to follow up these that is responsible. We do know that the President has enunciated that that was the policy of the Fianna Fáil Government and that they were pursuing that policy for definite reasons. Does that policy still hold, and if it holds with regard to dumps, does it hold with regard to arms held by different people here and there in nearly every county? If it does, what is the meaning of the policy being pursued by the Minister in bringing certain classes of people before the Military Tribunal on petty charges?

I also have to complain of the partiality of the police in certain districts in pursuing offenders of one kind or another. It was possible in January last for a young fellow to be found with a revolver at the fairgreen, Midleton, to be taken to the Gárda barracks and, because he was the son of a Fianna Fáil supporter, the local superintendent passed over the charge and took no notice of it. It was possible for a telegraph pole to be cut in the Ballylanders area and Blueshirts interrogated about the cutting of it. It was possible, after all that, for all interrogations to be dropped when it was found that a Fianna Fáil supporter was responsible for it. On the other hand, in a case I brought to the Minister's notice of the Carrolls of Bruree, a funeral of a member of the family was invaded and these persons were arrested in the grounds of the church and taken away from the funeral, although know to be persons of exemplary character. The funeral had to proceed without them while they were detained at the local barracks and a phone message sent to Limerick. Then they were released on the understanding that they should report to Limerick that night. They were detained there for 24 hours, although the police must have known that they could have nothing to do with the cutting of certain wires. As I said before, all the local information was that it was supporters of the Minister locally who cut the wires that these men were said to be suspected of cutting; and they were cut by the Minister's supporters for the purpose of blackening the reputation of the political opponents of the Minister in that area.

They are black enough already.

At any rate they are as black as the Minister or the Deputies could make them. The Deputy was one of the persons who, on his own doorstep, as it were, was exhorted by the Minister in the early flush of his official office, to get the accursed crowd out of the way; and nothing has been left undone by the Deputy's supporters, or by such of their supporters as they have been able to squeeze into the police, so to blacken the reputation of their political opponents, that they might be tempted to hide their blackened faces. It would take more than the lying attacks, either of the followers of the Deputy or the Minister, or the more subtle insinuations that it is possible for the Minister to operate against political opponents, through some members of the force, to get the political opponents of the policy pursued in this country to hide their faces. Their faces are too used to the breeze. In connection with the Kilfinane area, I ask the Minister again, why it was possible for a whole string of events to take place in that area, and no endeavour to protect the unfortunate people from being subjected to these attacks. On the 13th March, as reported in the Parliamentary Debates, column 708, I said:—

"I asked the Minister on the 27th of February whether he was aware that on the 30th of September last a body of armed men opened fire on the hall at Kilfinane during the progress of a dance; that on the 1st November last Patrick Creed's house was fired into; that on the 20th of January a body of men drilled publicly at Ballinlina, Kilfinane, carrying arms and firing rifle shots; that recently the houses of Mrs. Condon, Ballinanama; Miss Hayes, Ardpatrick; the Ardpatrick co-operative creamery and the Darragh creamery were broken into and robbed, and if it were a fact that in none of these cases had the persons guilty of the offence been charged by the police. The Minister for Agriculture, speaking for the Minister for Justice, said that in all these cases in which an offence had been committed in that area, he was satisfied that the police had done, and would continue to do, everything possible to make the culprits amenable. In reply to a supplementary question, the Minister excused the police by saying that they were having a difficult time, that they were not idle, and that they had arrested 40 members of the League of Youth. The Minister is driven to that type of statement to excuse the failure of the police to do their duty."

Here we have a vicious series of attacks made on people and property in that neighbourhood, and the Minister for Agriculture glibly answering, in the absence of the Minister for Justice, says that he was quite sure the police had done everything; that they were very busy, and had arrested 40 members of the League of Youth. I asked the Minister with regard to another case that happened on the 27th of November last. I said that at 2 o'clock in the morning the house of Mr. Barry in West Cork was "knocked-up"; that when the woman of the house went to the window a revolver was pointed at her, and a demand made that the door should be opened or that she would be shot. The door was not opened. The raiders entered through a window and went to the bedroom, where they threatened to shoot the man. They took him outside, threatened to shoot him, and then allowed him back to the house. The following morning information were sworn against the parties who carried out that outrage. Informations were sworn against two persons definitely, and further information was given with regard to others. Did anything happen? Nothing happened for six weeks. Then there was an identification parade and three other persons were identified. Did anything happen then? Nothing happened for another six weeks. I do not know what happened since. I do not believe anything has happened since. The last thing I saw about it was that the case was before the District Court and was not gone on with at that court. Whoever was dealing with the case—the Attorney-General or the police—asked to have it adjourned. Will the Minister say if it was the police were responsible for the delay during the first six weeks, or for the delay during the second six weeks? If not, what instructions from the Minister existed that made it possible for nothing to happen regarding an occurrence that took place on 27th November last, about which the police had sworn information against two persons the following day? Is it not an astounding state of affairs that a Ministry which was to reduce the police force, instead of reducing it, has increased it every year since they came into office.

There was a charge brought later in February on the Supplementary Estimate to which there was no answer. At that time the Attorney-General seemed to suggest that there was. I do not know what answer the Minister for Justice has to it. Is it the police were responsible? If so, what has happened to the police who were responsible? What are the instructions that the police got to enable a happening like that to pass? The Minister seemed to suggest in the reply he gave on the Supplementary Estimate, that the reason for the increase in the Gárda Síochána Estimate is that the campaign against the payment of land annuities had not yet ceased. As an ordinary person who reads the newspapers there are three things that may make it necessary for the Minister for Justice to have an increased police force. Take the people he is most found of blaming—(1) the League of Youth, (2) the indignant farmers, and (3) the I.R.A., in which we can include Communists and every other category. Will the Minister tell the House if he thinks these are the three bodies that make it necessary for him to inflate the police force? Will he give the House an account, from his point of view, of the developments that have taken place on the League of Youth side; on the indignant farmers' side, and on the I.R.A. side, that have made these increased demands necessary? We could very easily take up these headings to examine whether the Minister would be right or not in apportioning the blame for increased expenditure under one or all of them. The Minister should do so. He should have done it when introducing the Estimate. We deny that the development of the League of Youth is in any way a cause for increased police activities. The Minister's own policy developed the necessity for a spirit to arise amongst young and old in this country that they would show they were going to exercise their constitutional rights to meet in public, and to discuss public affairs in an orderly way. It was the Minister's own policy and the policy of Deputy Cleary and others that made it necessary for the people of this country to show that they had that spirit in them. The spirit is what matters. I was present when we saw one of the first examples of that spirit. The President and the Fianna Fáil Minister can proceed to their meetings with horsemen and marching men——

Quite right.

And when he gets down to a good old town with sound Republican traditions, like Enniscorthy, he can be driven to his meeting in an open carriage, with footmen wearing tall hats. He can have all that. I was present when some other people of the country thought they could march to a meeting, but they were approached by the Superintendent of the police, who said he did not think it would be advisable. It was obvious that there was a big hostile crowd of about 250 marching around the place, anxious to get into conflict with some other body like it. I quite agreed with the Superintendent that what we wanted was a meeting, and that there was no necessity to form fours, stick out our chests and march to the meeting. All we wanted was to have our meeting there. We did not march to the meeting; we went to our meeting, but the followers of the Deputies on the far side were not going to be baulked of their prey, and they marched down on the meeting. If the handful of police had not been assisted they would have got as rough and brutal a treatment as some of the members of the meeting would have got. That, you might say, was the beginning of the Minister's downright antagonism to what we now call the League of Youth. It is the spirit that matters. That spirit is there, and if it is a source of disorder in this country that the people of the country have the spirit that they are going to stand on the platforms which they fought to free, and that they are going to talk there about the things of which they ought to talk, then there is something wrong with the Minister. However, I should like him to tell us in what way the number one class about which I have spoken—the League of Youth—is responsible for the increase in the Police Estimate. I should like him to tell us again in what way the inflamed farmers of the country are responsible for it, and to tell us again in what way the body which is calling itself the I.R.A., and all the other various satellite bodies that hang on to it as a tail or float around it, are responsible. In asking us to pass here an Estimate which has gone up by leaps and bounds, contrary to what the Minister for Justice thought should be the case and to what he promised the country would be the case, a discussion of those particular matters is due to the House. For those various reasons, I move that this Estimate be referred back for reconsideration. I do not think that the House should pass the Estimate in any case; nevertheless, I think the House is entitled to hear from the Minister an explanation of this great increase in the cost.

I second this motion to refer back the Estimate. About three or four weeks ago a series of arrests was made in this country— arrests of members of a body which the President of the Executive Council described as an avowedly militaristic body. One morning the detectives set out to arrest one member of this avowedly militaristic body, armed with the usual paraphernalia of a warrant, to search at least for arms if not also for treasonable documents. They were getting after the members of an avowedly militaristic body, and the repercussions of the discoveries that were made with regard to some of those arrests were shown in the entourage which surrounded the President at the Easter celebrations. They went out to arrest a prominent member of this avowedly militaristic body. On a search warrant procured on the oath of a detective officer, sworn before a district justice, they go to the house of an ordinary harmless citizen in this city, miles away from the residence of the wild Irregular whom they are going to arrest. They come to that man's house at two o'clock in the morning. He is roused from his sleep, and he asks what is the matter. He is told they are a body of police to raid his house. He asks if the search warrant can be read to him, and they state that it will be read to him when they get inside the house. He knows that the damage will have been done by that time, and reminds them that the guise of Civic Guards has been used previously in criminal activity in the country. He asks them again to read the search warrant outside his house, or to state their authority. At a certain point his wife takes up the negotiations with those people outside the house, while he goes to an upper window, opens the top such and blows several blasts on an ordinary police whistle. What is the result? Before the astonished eyes of his wife the police officers, who have come with a search warrant, break and run. Of course, they think they are on the track of a wild Irregular. They, presumably, think the police whistle is a signal for an ambush. At any rate, they break and run. Consider the feelings of the harmless citizen of this State, who sees that on any sign being made to the neighbourhood of trouble in their vicinity the crowd outside breaks and runs.

It must have been a good weapon.

It was such a weapon as made the members of the Civic Guard, for whom we are voting money, run away. Let the laughter subside for a moment. Does Deputy Donnelly think that a crowd of people should come to a citizen's house at 2 o'clock in the morning, refuse to give information as to their authority, and indicate that type of timidity when very simple notice is given to the neighbourhood that there is something wrong at his house? In the end I think it was somewhere about 4 o'clock in the morning that they got into his house. Meantime they had gathered together again when they found that this man was not so full of guile and harm as the whistle seemed to indicate. He is taken to the Bridewell, and within half an hour it is realised that the search warrant obtained on the oath of some member of the Detective Division has placed the wrong man, and that he is a harmless citizen. When that man writes to the Minister for Justice he gets an apology. Will the Minister tell us if anything has happened to the people who blundered? The Minister, in his letter, admitted that they had blundered. Will the Minister tell us whether there was a disciplinary inquiry? Was there anybody sacked, or is this House being asked to vote money for the upkeep of people who can go out and swear before a District Justice that they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that there are arms and treasonable documents in a certain house; can mistake the house of a notorious Irregular; go blundering miles away from the proper house to an altogether different district of the city, and put a law-abiding citizen through the tremors which he must have been put through on that night when this gang assembled outside, because from the manner in which they behaved they cannot be described as anything other than a gang? They may be good officers in their own way, but, if a mistake like that can occur, surely it is time for the Minister to tell us that some disciplinary action has been taken against the people responsible.

Progress reported. The Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 3rd May.