Estimates for Public Services. - Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Bill, 1936—Second Stage.

Tairgim go léighfear an Bille an dara uair. Do réir an Bhille seo, beidh cúiteamh le fáil ag na baill sin den Chéad Chath de sna Connaught Rangers, a bhí páirteach sa Cheannairc sna h-Indiacha sa bhliain, míle naoi gcéad is fiche, agus a daoradh, dá dheascaibh sin, chun báis, chun pian-tseirbhíse nó chun príosúntachta ar feadh dhá mhí dhéag ar a laighead. Thosnuigh an Cheannairc ag Jullundur an t-ochtú lá fichead de Mheitheamh, míle naoi gcéad is fiche, agus ag Solon an triochadadh lá den mhí chéadna. Labhair na fir i gcoinnibh na drochoibre bhí á dhéanamh in Eirinn an uair sin, agus dheimhnigheadar go seasóchaidís le Sinn Féin agus go dtaisbeánfaidís leis an gCeannaire sin, gur ghráin leo na mí-ghníomhartha bhí a ndéanamh ag saighdiúirí Shasana in Éirinn. D'iarradar go dtabharfaí na saighdiúirí sin as Éirinn agus dhiúltuigheadar a thuille saighdiúireachta dhéanamh go dtí go ndéanfaí san. Chuireadar brat Sinn Féin in áirde san dá áit, Jullundur agus Solon.

Ní raibh gach éinne bhain leis na h-aonaid de sna Connaught Rangers a bhís ar stáisiún ag Jullundur agus Solon páirteach sa Cheannairc. Bhí cuid acu ná gheobhadh leis an gCeannaire, agus cuid eile acu a bhí, béidir, i bhfábhar na Ceannairce ach nár thógadar páirt innte. Go dtí go ndéanfaí an dá dhream do dheighilt óna chéile agus Arm-Chúirt do bhunú chun na fir a bhí páirteach sa Cheannaire do thriail, cuireadh fé choinneáil na fír a bhain leis na h-Aonaid de sna Connaught Rangers a bhí ar stáisiún ag Jullundur agus Solon. Tháinig an Arm-Chúirt le chéile ag Dagshai an tríomhadh lá ficeadh de Lughnasa, míle naoí gcéad is fiche, agus cuireadh nócha ball de sna Connaught Rangers ar a dtriail. Seo iad na breitheanna tugadh ortha:—

(a) Do daoradh chun báis. (Cuireadh an bhreith seo i bhfeidhm).—1 (duine amháin).

(b) Do daoradh chun báis ach do h-athruigheadh go dtí piantseirbhís saoghail.—13 (trí dhuine dhéag).

(c) Do daoradh chun bliain is fiche pian-tseirbhíse.—6 (seisear).

(d) Do daoradh chun cúig bliana dhéag pian-tseirbhíse.—5 (cúigear).

(e) Do daoradh chun tréimhsí deifriúla ó bhliain go dtí deich mbliana.—36 (sé dhuine triochad).

(f) Cheal fiadhnaise, níor tugadh breith ar bith.—29 (naoi nduine fichead).

90 (nócha duine go léir).

Is inmheasta go raibh an duine is trí fichid dá dtagartar ag na litreacha (a) go (e) thuas páirteach sa Cheannaire. 'Na theannta san, marbhadh beirt de sna Rangers le linn na Ceannairce, agus fágann san go raibh trí dhuine seascad ar fad sa Cheannairc. Tar éis na Ceannairce, cuireadh dian-smacht i bhfeidhm san Aonad agus gearrtaí pionoisí troma mar gheall ar chiontaí na deintí aon ró-bhrí dhíobh roimhe sin toisc iad a bheith coitianta i ngnáthshaoghal gach Catha.

Meastar, dá bhrí sin, go mbéidir go mbéadh roinnt mhaith daoine ná raibh páirteach sa Cheannairc á rádh gur fhuilingeadar cruadhtan nó leathtrom nó gur cuireadh i bpríosún iad de dheascaibh na Ceannairce; agus mar gheall air sin, adeirtear i Mír 2 (c) den Bhille gurb é a tuigfear le "duine cáilithe" ná duine daoradh chun dhá mhí dhéag ar a laighead i bpríosún mar gheall ar ghabháil leis an gCeannairc.

Toisc a fhaid a bhí cuid de sna ceannaircigh san Arm mBriotáineach nuair a thárla an Cheannairc, ba thuigthe ceart a bheith acu chun pinsin fhad-sheirbhíse, agus fén mBille seo molfar dóibh pinsean a bheidh cómh maith is a gheobhaidís dá bhfanaidís san Arm mBriotáineach go mbéad bliain is fiche de sheirbhís sásúil tugtha acu agus dá mbéadh acu le linn a scurtha, an céim céadna bhí acu le linn na Ceannairce. Nuair a bheidh seirbhís na bhfear so á h-aireamh, ní dearmhadfar an tréimhse chaitheadar i bpríosún nó fé choinneáil ag feitheamh le na dtriail ná an tréimhse thugadar i bpríosún de bhárr na breithe tugadh ortha ag an Arm-Chuirt Ghenerálta do thriail iad. Éinne bheidh ag fáil luach saothair, pinsin nó liúntais as airgead puiblí (seachas pinsean créachta a bheidh iníoctha fén mBille seo) cuirfear a Phinsean Seirbhíse ar fiunraoi. Chífear sa tríomhadh Sceideal cad é an méid de'n Phinsean a cuirfear ar fiunraoi mar sin.

Maidir le ceannaircigh ná fuil ceart den tsórt san acu chun Arm-Phinsin Bhriotáinigh de bhárr fad-sheirbhíse, molfar dóibh fén mBille seo aisce sheirbhíse ná rachaidh thar chéad go leith púnt. Fén mBille so, freisin, beidh deontas breise le fáil ag éilitheoirí go bhfaghaidh Bord na nArm-Phinsean, ar iad do go bhfuilid fé mhí-ábaltacht de dheascaibh na Ceannairce, no de dheascaibh cúrsaí d'éirigh as an gCeannairc, ach an mhí-ábaltacht san a bheith có-ionann le fiche fén gcéad nó níos mó de mhí-ábaltacht iomláin, más mí-ábaltacht ó chréacht é, nó có-ionann le h-ochtó fén gcéad nó níos mó, más mí-ábaltacht ó ghalar é. Mar seo bheidh an deontas breise:

I gcás duine bheidh ag fáil pinsin sheirbhíse—pinsean eile de dheich scillinge sa tseachtmhain, má bhíonn an mhí-ábaltacht có-ionánn le céad fén gcéad agus suim níos ísle ná san, do réir méid na mí-ábaltachta, má bhíonn an mhí-ábaltacht níos lugha ná céad fén gcéad.

I gcás duine ná beidh ag fáil pinsin sheirbhíse ach a bheidh ag fáil aisce seirbhíse—pinsean de fiche scilling sa tseachtmhain, má bhíonn an mí-ábaltacht có-ionann le céad fén gcéad agus níos lugha ná san, do réir méid na mí-abaltachta, má bhíonn an mhí-ábaltacht níos lugha ná céad fén gcéad. Má bhíonn an mhí-ábaltacht ó chréacht nó ó dhíoghbháil níos lugha ná fiche fén gcéad, íocfar aisce chréachta nách mó ná triocha púnt. Déanfar fén mBille seo, leis, liúntaisí do dheonadh do bhaintreacha agus do chloinn cheannairceach a marbhadh le linn na Ceannairce nó gur créachta nó galar de dheascaibh na Ceannairce ba thrúig le n-a mbás má deineadh an pósadh an triochadadh lá de Mheitheamh, míle naoi gcéad is fiche, nó roimhe sin.

Seo mar bheidh na liúntaisí sin:

Baintreach — deich scillinge sa tseachtmhain.

Leanbhaí fé bhun sé bliana dhéag d'aois:

An chéad leanbh—cúig scillinge sa tseachtmhain.

Gach leanbh eile—trí scillinge sa tseachtmhain.

On gcéad lá de Dheireadh Fhóghmhair, míle naoi gcéad a ceathair triochad anuas, a h-íocfar pinsin agus liúntaisí fén mBille.

This is a curious Bill. I do not rise for the purpose of opposing it, but I think it is just as well that some comments should be made on the Bill and the philosophy behind it.

It would be late in the day now to raise objections to the rewards that have been given to practically everybody connected with the Sinn Féin revolution. Everyone who has had what is called a "national record" in connection with that revolution has, by this time, if he has lived to tell the tale, cashed in on it to a greater or lesser degree. I could have no complaint to make of that if I were sure that all those who think that this State is good enough to take a pension from would also take the view that this State is good enough to be loyal to and that they would accept its laws. I think it is time that people who are getting pensions from this State should, all of them, realise that it is inconsistent with that to belong to any sort of organisation which seeks to disregard the laws of this State and to overthrow it by force.

Now the men who are affected by this particular Bill have got certain definite and respectable claims upon our sympathy. They did in fact suffer for their action and some of them are in need and in poverty at this moment. Those two things do give them a real claim upon our sympathy, a claim that was not possessed by some of those who in the past received pensions. Moreover they have this negative claim upon us that they committed no assassinations themselves and they did not betray any of their comrades to the bullet of the assassin. But at the same time it does strike one as curious that people who of their own free will went into the British Army, not as conscripts or even in answer to the appeal of John Redmond, the Irish national leader, to join up and take part in the European War for the purpose of saving civilisation and for the purpose of drawing the different sections of Irishmen closer together; it does strike one as curious that men who went into the British Army for neither of these reasons, who went in because they chose to, themselves, and who took the oath of allegiance to the King and entered an ancient, historic and glorious regiment and by so doing took its traditions into their keeping— should be given a reward which is denied to persons whose patriotism prevented them from going into the British Army at all. It is a case apparently of there being more joy over the sinner who finds repentance than over the 99 who did not need it. I am not objecting to it or opposing it, only I do think that one wants to put in a caveat, that one does not want public opinion to take the view that what these men did was something entirely praiseworthy. Quite candidly I do not think it was praiseworthy.

I will say why I do not think so. It is because I have not got quite to the point of accepting the view that an oath can be regarded as an empty formula. That is my reason in the first place, and in the second place I do not like the instability that their action displays. There have always been two different points of view that might be quite honestly taken by Irish Nationalists. There was the Irish Nationalist who considered that no sort of terms should be made with the British Empire and that we should devote ourselves to revolution. There was the other sort of Irish Nationalist who took the view that the best way to work towards getting self-government was to accept the Crown and the Empire and to develop within that framework. Obviously if these men were Nationalists, as I presume they were, as well all are, they took the second view. They went into the British Army of their own free will, took the oath of allegiance of their own free will, took upon themselves the obligation of maintaining the splendid traditions of the Connaught Rangers, and yet in spite of that they mutinied while in the service of the Crown.

What reasons did they give for their mutinying?

Well, I fully admit that the actions of the Black and Tans in Ireland were enough to exasperate them and to expasperate all of us, and did in fact exasperate us all.

While in India were they to tolerate their own kith and kin being destroyed by the Tans?

The action of the Black and Tans did exasperate, but it does not follow that that exasperation justifies going back on the oath they had taken. Moreover, that was not given as the reason for the mutiny. According to the speech we have heard from the Minister, their objection was not confined to the Black and Tans. According to his speech they demanded that the British forces should be withdrawn from Ireland altogether—the best disciplined as well as the worst, the Regular Army as well as the Black and Tans. According to the speech of the Minister, and according to the statements that they themselves have made, statements that have appeared in the Irish Press, they flew the flag of the republic and declared themselves as being in favour of the republic.

I confess that it does not seem to me wholly admirable that people fly from one extreme to another. I can conceive even very moderate Nationalists having been unwilling to go into the British Army before the war. I can conceive still more easily their being unwilling to do so after the war, after the Rising of 1916 had taken place, after the great anti-conscription movement, and after Sinn Féin had become the dominating factor in Irish politics. But if people were willing, after all these things, to go into the British Army, it does not seem praiseworthy that they should be so unstable as to turn completely round in a year or two. It is true that fearful brutalities were committed by the Black and Tans. It is equally true that fearful brutalities were committed by Sinn Féin, and moreover that Sinn Féin began it. Obviously there was more excuse for those trying to free their country than there was for those who were trying to keep the country in subjection. Still, as far as brutality is concerned, it has always been our experience in Irish history that it has been the extremists who have brought the brutality down upon us, active brutality as opposed to steady repression.

Instability has been a strikingly frequent characteristic of Irish extremists. We all know that the republican Wolfe Tone applied to the British Government for employment over and over again in the course of his career. We know that Roger Casement spent most of his life in the employment of the British Government and that he accepted a title from the British Government.

Until he found them out.

We know that at the time of the South African War, instead of being a pro-Boer, like most of us were, Roger Casement was not only in favour of the war, but actually criticised the British Government and the British generals because they were not brutal enough with the Boers. We know that John Mitchel, that friend of the oppressed, and ardent Irish patriot, as he was, was yet an ardent supporter——

On a point of order, Sir. Has this got anything to do with the Bill before us?

No. I was just going to remind the Deputy that going back to John Mitchel was going back a bit too far.

I was merely illustrating, Sir, the tendency of extremists in this country to instability. I think that there is much more to be accomplished by taking a moderate line and holding steadily to that. These poor men took action in which, I am sure, they felt they were justified, but I do not admit that they were heroes, and I do not want them to be held up as heroes or as an example to be followed. Truth has many facets. If a man embarks on a particular course and allies himself with particular comrades, as long as he is not called upon to do anything that is against natural justice——

Did these men take no risk?

——as long as he is not called upon to do anything against natural justice, I maintain that he should hold to a steady course.

I am not going to oppose this Bill, but I thought it desirable to make these observations, because I think it is very easy for the moral sense of the community to be led astray by the sort of language that is used in connection with achievements of the kind that are rewarded by this Bill. What the State is doing for these men I regard as an act of grace. I do not regard these pensions as something that they have a right to demand. The thing, however, that affects me most is that these men, in fact, have suffered for what they did and that many of them are in actual need. The Minister, perhaps, has told us less than he might have told us. For instance, he gave us a list of the terms of imprisonment to which these men were sentenced, but I should like the Minister to tell us what portion of the sentences they did in fact serve. I presume that they did not serve the full term of the heavy sentences mentioned here. Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to inform the House on this point.

I hope that this Bill will serve the general cause of conciliation and goodwill. Certainly, any observations I have made upon what I conceived to be the principles behind the Bill are not intended to have an effect contrary to the spirit of conciliation and goodwill. I feel no hostility to the people affected, but I have noticed a tendency, in what has appeared in the Press on their behalf, to hold them up as heroes and as entitled to claim from the State a good deal more than is contained in this Bill. In these claims I cannot see my way to concur.

A Leas Chinn-Chomhairle, an Teachta atá tréis labhairt linn, thug sé léigheacht dúinn ar mhórán rudaí, rudaí ná raibh baint ná páirt acu leis an mBille seo atá ó's ár gcomhair. Dhein sé a lán cainnte idtaobh mí-sheasamhachta. Ní dóigh liom, a Leas Chinn-Chomh- airle, go bhfuil sompla níos fearr ar dhuine mí-sheasamhach le fághail ná é féin ó tháinig sé annso 'nár measc. Tháinig sé annso idtosach ag labhairt ar son dream éigin feirimeoirí annso, cheangail sé é féin ar feadh tamaill le Fine Gaedheal agus tá sé anois scartha leo súd agus é n-a chadain aonraic. An fear bocht, bhéadh truagh ag aoinne dó. Ní thuigeann sé scéal na tíre seo ar ao' chor agus measam ná tuigfidh go bráth. Creidim go bhfuil sé macánta díreach do réir a thuairimí féin ach ní thuigfidh sé muinntir na tíre seo go deo. An Bille atá ó's ár gcomhair anois, tugann sé ár smaointe siar go dtí an t-am go raibh cogadh na saoirse ar siubhal annso, tráth a bhí cor ar bolg agus géir leanhamhaint a dhéanamh ar mhuinntir na h-Eireann ag amhusaibh Gall.

An gníomh chródha mhosneamhail a rinne na fír a bhfuil trácht ortha sa Bille seo, ní raibh ann ach ghlaodhach an chine. Cuimhnigh ar na fearaibh a eirigh amach an uair úd ins na h-Indiacha, iad a bhfad ó n-a dtír agus ó n-a gcáirde, iad ar buille mar gheall ar an bhfóir-éigean agus ar an dtíorántacht a bhí á imirt ag saighdúirí agus ag amhuraibh Gall ar a ngaoltaibh agus ar a gcáirdibh agus ar a gcomharsanaibh ag baile. Measam gur éachtach an misneach a thaisbeánadar nuair eirigheadar amach ar son na h-Éireann fé mar a rinneadar.

Tá sé ceart ag muinntir na tíre seo a ngníomh dílseachta d'aithint agus dá bhrigh sin, failtighim roimh an Bhille seo agus tá súil agam go nglachfaidh an Dáil leis d'aon-ghuth. Tá téarmaí an Bhille seo ar aon dul, dár liom, le dlighthe eile dá shórt a cuireadh i bhfeidhm annso ó am go h-am maidir le Sean-Óglaigh na h-Éireann.

Is maith liom gur in Ghaedhilg a chuir an t-Aire an Bille seo ó's ár gcomhair. Molaim go mór é. Nuair a labhair sé Gaedhilg annso cheana agus é ag mínú meastacháin a Roinne do'n Dáil, do masluigheadh annso é agus do masluigheadh i bpáipéirí áirithe é mar gheall ar Gaedhilg a labhairt, rud ná raibh ceart ná cóir. Tá an ceart céadna ag Gaedhilgeoirí Gaedhilg a labhairt sa Dáil is atá ag Béarloírí sinn do báthadh i duille mhóir an Bhéarla. Molaim dísleacht an Aire do'n nGaedhilg. Molaim é i dtaobh an Bhille seo a chur ó's ár gcomhair. Tá súil agam go gcuirfear i bhfeidhm go luath é agus ná beidh Teachta i n-ár measc a chuirfidh n-a choinnibh.

I must say that, when I heard Deputy MacDermot talking about instability, I felt inclined to give Deputy MacDermot the same rub that Deputy Donnchadh O Briain gave him.

Can the Minister give any example of my instability?

Deputy O Briain has done it.

Can he give any example of any change of view or of principle on my part?

They are too numerous.

Speaking about the allusions to the instability of the Connaught Rangers by Deputy MacDermot, I think that he justified their change by one allusion. He said that if men take up a certain position and, after a lapse of time, find that they are being forced to do something which is manifestly against the laws of justice, they have the right to withdraw from the position. Personally, I agree with Deputy MacDermot this far, that in ordinary circumstances, and even in extraordinary circumstances, if men have given a pledge of loyalty that they should withdraw from it without mutiny. I grant that. I myself was in the same position at one time as the Connaught Rangers found themselves in India. I went as far as I could to withdraw openly and without mutiny. But men sometimes find themselves in the position that they get orders which are against the laws of justice that they cannot obey. A number of these Connaught Rangers had joined up at John Redmond's request to fight for small nations. After the war they were given inducements to stay on in the British Army and were transferred to India. When they were serving in India they found that the Empire which asked them to fight for small nations had started to crush their own small nation.

When did that start?

Some time in 1919.

Not in 1172?

The real crushing started here some time in the spring of 1919 during the Black and Tan war. We are talking about one particular phase. These men continued in the army after the war and they were sent to India. In 1920, after Lloyd George had scoured England for a lot of ruffians to send over here, this mutiny took place. I think that their action was altogether praiseworthy and that if Deputy MacDermot thought a little bit deeper about it than he has done he would admit it was praiseworthy.

I put it to the Minister that these men were not themselves called upon to perform any act of injustice and, so far as our grievances against Great Britain are concerned, those grievances are of very old standing. To my mind, more excuse could be found for what Great Britain was doing in 1919 than could be found for what she was doing, say, in 1913 at the time of the Curragh mutiny and the Ulster Volunteers.

I do not want to argue too long with the Deputy. He can keep his own opinion. My opinion is that in the circumstances the Connaught Rangers were altogether praiseworthy in doing what they did. The British, who had originally invited a number of Irishmen to fight for small nations, at the end of the war, when it suited their purpose, started in here to crush this small nation and used methods that even the Germans did not use against the Belgians.

I made a statement just now that is perhaps open to misconstruction. If the Minister would allow me I should like to make it plain. I, personally, found the Curragh mutiny more infuriating, and I found the toleration of the Ulster Volunteers more infuriating, than anything that the British did after the war, because before the war they had no sort of provocation, but after the war they had the provocation of the Sinn Féin revolution.

I am sure that there are a number of people who agree with Deputy MacDermot in that. If the Ceann Comhairle would allow us to discuss the Curragh mutiny from the point of view of any man who supported the Empire, I would say the Curragh mutiny was altogether unjustifiable and the British Government were betraying their trust to the British people when they allowed it to occur. But the fact of the matter is that it was not the Connaught Rangers who joined up to fight for small nations, who turned completely around. It was their masters.

They rejoined after the war.

They did. Deputy MacDermot asked how long these men served in prison. They were released in January, 1923, so they served about 2½ years.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage to be taken on Wednesday, 6th May.