I want to intimate that I do not propose to move amendment No. 126 or the remaining amendments now. I propose to move them on the Report Stage.
Committee on Finance. - Bunreacht na hEireann (Dréacht)—Coiste (d'ath-thógaint).
Did you move amendment No. 126 last night?
No, I did not use the word "move" at all up to 10.30 p.m.
The Deputy moved to report progress last night.
On behalf of Deputy Mrs. Redmond I move amendment No. 127:
In Section 2, sub-section 1º, lines 1 and 2, to delete the words "by her life within the home".
I should like to know the President's attitude on this question.
I see no reason whatever for deleting these words.
Of course not.
It is perfectly obvious to anybody who takes the trouble of reading the section what its intention is. This is dealing with the family and states: "In particular, the State recognises that, by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved". I should like to know if anybody will controvert that. Then it goes on: "The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home." Surely that is a praiseworthy object for the State to set before itself—that mothers, whose work is essential for the common good, should not be compelled by economic necessity to abandon that fundamentally important work and be forced to undertake duties which would compel them to neglect their duties in the home.
I have not been able, from the start, to understand why there should be any antagonism of any kind to that section. I do not understand the attitude of any woman who objects to it. There is no suggestion in that that a woman should not be free to take up any avocation she chooses; no suggestion that a woman should not exercise her liberty of marrying or not marrying. What is stated here is, if women choose to marry and found a home, that they should not be compelled by modern conditions, which very often force mothers to engage in outside labour, to do that, and that it should be the duty of the State to endeavour to see that that shall not happen. How the State may endeavour to see that is quite another question. We leave the methods completely and absolutely open, as it is right that we should.
For example, to indicate my own mind in regard to the attitude the community should have towards men and women in that particular matter in regard to the home, I would say this, that if work and the means of livelihood are not available for the father of a family, the State should itself, if it cannot be found in ordinary industry, in ordinary commerce and in the economic life, endeavour to provide that work somehow. If the State is unable to do that, it is only then that the obligation of maintenance would fall upon the community as a whole. But, if I were able so to organise it, I certainly would try to get for the community as a whole some immediate return from a man who is getting assistance in that particular way. In other words, I should try so to organise it that work of public utility, something of value to the community as a whole, should result from the assistance which the community had to give in that particular matter. I think the man ought to render back to the community in the way of some work something for the assistance he is given.
But, if it were a woman, I take quite the other attitude. I say a woman, by her duties in the home, is, in fact, performing for the community as a whole a fundamental service. I would say that she, by doing that work, was rendering invaluable service to the State and I would not require of a mother, under these circumstances, any other form of return, such as I would be inclined to demand in the case of a man. That makes quite clear what our attitude is in regard to woman's position in the home. She is rendering in the home a fundamental and indispensable service to the State. The greatest service she can render is to perform her duties in the due manner and anything that would compel her to neglect these duties would be, in my opinion, a loss to the State as a whole.
I suggest that we should have a quorum to listen to this sermon.
Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted, and 20 Deputies being present,
As I said, this seems to me to be a clause to which no reasonable person can object. There is nothing in the clause, so far as I can see, and nothing that can be deduced by way of supposed implication in the clause, which should cause any resentment on the part of any citizen in the State. Particularly, I cannot understand why there should appear to be resentment on the part of some women. Surely it cannot be that there is objection to this, because I mentioned the home, or because I mentioned one section of womankind. We are not supposed in this document to take every section and to deal with life as a whole. We are dealing with a very important matter in this section, namely that modern conditions are forcing women, through economic necessity, to neglect their duties in the home, not that they want to do it.
There is no suggestion in this Article of interfering with the free-will of any woman. The problem is to endeavour to provide some remedy for a great modern evil. I am at a loss to understand the Deputy's point of view. I should like to hear what anybody has to say on it, and to understand what is the basis of the criticism of this Article?
The President said that the purpose of this Article was to provide a remedy for a great modern evil. This section of Article 41 is his conception of providing a remedy for a great modern evil. It provides nothing. There was one part of a sentence in which I agreed with the President. He started a sentence in which he said "there is nothing in this Article..." If the President had stopped there the Opposition would agree with him. There is nothing in the Article. There is a great deal of pretence about the President and about everything he does, but this Article means nothing legislatively. The President himself says there is nothing in the Article, and with that part of his sentence I agree. That is what the Article means—nothing. It may, as a piece of guidance, have some effect. What the President aims at may be an excellent aim. There is nothing in this Article nor in this phrase "by her life within the home," which makes any more difference than if it were not there. The Article accomplishes nothing in the direction of achieving what the President tells us was the purpose of this Article. It compels the State to do nothing. It is exactly like Article 45. All one can gather from the President's speech is that it can do nothing and that it compels the State to do nothing.
How it is to be implemented is a matter for the future. That is one of those vague things about which we hear so much. One time we hear that the Article cannot bind us. The President says we cannot tie the House as to future legislation. But it is the business of a Constitution to bind the hands of future Legislatures. That is one of the purposes of a written Constitution. I was weary listening to the President last night saying "we cannot bind the hands of the future." Whether you can now bind them depends not on what is written down here, but on some vague things that are at the back of the President's mind. What he says about the great modern evil is excellent. Nobody denies that. But it does not help the House. It is a well-known principle of legislation that when you mention any particular thing you exclude other things. There is in this section the implication that "by her life within the home" the State is not to recognise other implications.
The President does not and cannot understand the mentality of anybody else. That is why he is by nature so dictatorial. This Constitution is dictatorial——
Not dictatorial enough.
Oh, yes; this is like what we hear in Germany, "whatever the Leader says is right." I quite understand that that is Deputy Donnelly's point of view. We had a speech yesterday from another Minister as to what he wants in this Draft Constitution. Now undoubtedly woman's most important service is within the home. But to what does this commit you? How does it bind any future Legislature from refraining from doing or from doing certain things? This is the Draft Constitution. It is fundamental law, not the expression of the extremely vague desires of the President. The President tells us what he would like to do. I will give him an instance—does he intend to provide sufficient pensions for the subsistence of a widow with, say, seven or eight children so as to make it unnecessary for her to work at all except to look after the home; and will the pension be big enough to see that she will be able to bring up her children in comfort and with proper educational facilities? Suppose you take the case of a woman who has to work because her husband will not work? Is the President to compel such a man to work? What will be the position of the wife, or will the President deal with it? He does not like to deal with these things. He tells us that he is allowing the future Legislature to do it. That method is a method of washing his hands of the matter. That will not do. There is too much of this business of throwing the responsibility on someone else.
This section compels the State to do nothing and it prevents future Legislatures from doing nothing. But these Articles and the President's speeches do imply certain things—perhaps the word "imply" is too definite a word to use in the case of the President. At all events they seem, to a large number of women in this country, to imply certain things. The President has referred to these as women of advanced views. That is the phrase he used and that phrase shows the mentality of the President—these women are women of advanced views. That is what he says about the people who have given attention to this subject. We witnessed the President yesterday rejecting an amendment from Deputy Mrs. Redmond because, as he said, the word "class" was so hard to define. That was the objection to the amendment—the word was too difficult to define. Before we came to Article 41 at all I noticed that the second last word in the previous Article is "class," a word that is so hard to define. It is a word that is very difficult to define when Deputy Mrs. Redmond uses it, but not difficult to define when the President uses it.
Had I been here I would have called attention to that word myself.
And the President would have defined it. The word is incapable of definition where Deputy Mrs. Redmond is concerned and because it was moved from these benches. There we have the gospel; the Leader is always right. His word is always law. He does not understand what the Opposition want or what women want. He does not understand what anybody who suggests a modification of this Constitution puts forward. The continual burden of his speeches is: "I cannot understand." The word is impossible of being defined when it comes from these benches. It is impossible to define the word "class." But the word "class" is the second last word in Article 40 of the sacred text itself. There is no doubt that the President's whole attitude is a bias against women seeking work.
Not true; absolutely false.
Oh, well, that is my view, and that is the President's difficulty. He means certain things. I am taking the Articles as they stand; I do not care what the President means by them or what is in his mind. We are not yet legislating about what is in the President's mind. We are legislating about what is in these Articles. That is our difficulty. We have to know what the words will mean legally, not what the President thinks they will mean or what he thinks is their purport. That is why women object to these words. Is the President aware that these women, many of his own followers amongst them, are perturbed because of these words "by her life within the home" in Article 41?
Is it not because they recognised the implication? Who is responsible for that? If there is such lack of clarity that it obscures their vision, the vision of even some of his supporters, it is not due to Party bias. Why is that so? Why cannot they understand what the President is driving at? It is obvious the Articles themselves do not convey what the President intends, if he intends anything definite.
So far as every word that the President said is concerned, he indicated excellent things for the State to aim at, but we must remember that this is legislation. How is it to be administered? If the State fails to do these things, if a future Legislature fails to do these things, is there any remedy? This is a fundamental Constitution that must be honoured by a legislative body. If that body fails, is there any remedy? Surely nobody could appeal to that Article— I am referring to Article 2—to compel the Legislature to do anything? Taking them all together, there is one purpose in them, one drift in them.
I would regard these clauses as entirely harmless if there had never been any movement in this and other countries to shut out women from competition with men. But there have been such movements. Even during the last few years I have seen fairly numerous letters to newspapers advocating that certain restrictions should be imposed to prevent women competing, shall we say, with fathers of families, for jobs. And it is because there has been a certain amount of that sort of agitation that women have been rendered nervous by these Articles in the Constitution. I think it is reasonable to expect that they would be rendered nervous about them.
Personally, I am convinced of the President's good faith in this matter. I do not think he or his Party have any policy in their minds of shutting out women from gainful occupations. But I do know that what Deputy O'Sullivan said is quite true—that great uneasiness has been excited in the minds of women, not merely women who have some political interest in opposing the Fianna Fáil Party—because I have met women myself with no political bias whatever who have been exceedingly alarmed by the insertion of these Articles—for the reason that there has been a certain agitation which crops up from time to time and which these Articles tend to foster.
How? Could the Deputy point that out?
I do not say that it logically follows from these Articles that that agitation is right, not for a moment. If you take these Articles, analyse them, parse them and treat them in a perfectly abstract spirit, there is nothing in them to object to; there is not a single word in them that I consider wrong; I think every word is right as they stand. But you have to think of possible effects as well, and if there has been an undesirable kind of agitation against women you have to consider whether some colour may not be given to that agitation and whether the Articles cannot be thus interpreted by nervous women.
Read the Article and see how you can interpret it.
I merely say there has been an impression created that these Articles favour the view that a woman's proper place is in the home and that where she is not in the home there is an anomaly that legislation ought to strive to correct. That is the notion that has spread abroad, that these Articles can be so read as to favour that view. I am not imagining these movements and agitations. I remember a speech made two years ago by one of the leaders of the Opposition, Deputy Dillon, in County Louth or County Meath, where he advocated that pensions should be given to all women—10/- a week, I think it was—and that, simultaneously, gainful occupations should be closed to them. I am sure he would not advocate that now, but he did throw that out in a moment of expansiveness, and in doing so he was not doing something that was entirely disconnected with certain feelings and agitations that did exist in the country. I have had, and I dare say other Deputies have had, letters from constituents urging that something should be done to prevent women from competing with heads of families.
Was that the object of Deputy Dillon's suggestion about pensions?
I do not remember the particulars. I remember that, in general, pensions were suggested so as to provide more employment for men, as I understood it at the time. But there is nothing singular in that. Lots of people from time to time have suggested that women should not be allowed to compete freely with fathers of families. The danger of these Articles in the minds of women is that they seem to give support to a theory of that kind.
The President keeps saying to me, "How?" but I am merely telling him the fact that that has been the impression created in the women's minds This Constitution has in many parts of it been so drawn as to expose the largest possible surface to attack. You cannot behave as if every human being were strictly logical. Human beings are not strictly logical, and when they read something that seems to them to give a sort of indirect support to an attack on their bread and butter they get exceedingly alarmed, and I would suggest that it ought not to be beyond the powers of the President to add something making it quite explicit that the State will not discriminate against women in the matter of opportunities for earning their livelihood. If he would put in something of that type he would allay the fears which I know to exist very widely among people who honestly have no political bias against the Party in power.
I would like to direct the attention of the President and the House to the fact that we are dealing with a particular amendment the effect of which is to delete the words "by her life within the home." The President's entire observations were addressed to sub-clause (2) of Section 2 of the Article, whereas these words occur in the preceding sub-clause. Speaking relevantly to the amendment before the House, and leaving aside other matters until we come to the next amendment, I would like to point out that the objection to the words we propose to delete, "by her life within the home," is that the insertion of those words has led, and reasonably led, to the belief that into that particular clause may be read some sort of slight, if I may put it that way, on either married women who do work not merely inside their homes but outside their homes, or unmarried women, whether they work inside or outside their homes. The amendment seeks to delete these words because they are capable of that meaning.
What is the objection to the deletion of those words? Many women, both married and unmarried, give very valuable work to the community in the way of social services and otherwise, outside the home. Many women who work for their daily bread give valuable service to the State although they do not work within the home, and perhaps, in addition to doing that, they do carry out their ordinary work within the home. It is because of the fact that for some reason that is not quite apparent, the kind of service given by women in the home is picked out here to the exclusion of everything else that objection has been taken and fears aroused. That is the amendment we are dealing with at the moment. I want to know what is the objection to leaving out the words "by her life within the home." Deputy O'Sullivan has referred to the maxim to which I drew the President's attention last evening. I gave the Latin version—expressio unius—and I do not want to go over it again, but if you set down certain matters, impliedly you leave out other matters.
The President may say that it is nonsense and he may believe that it is nonsense.
Of course, it is.
The mere fact that the President says "of course, it is" does not make it nonsense. That has been the attitude of the President throughout this entire debate on every suggestion we put up. Because he thinks the suggestions we make are either without ground or nonsense, they are, therefore, in fact, groundless or nonsense. We have directed attention in the course of the debate on this and on other sections to certain very fundamental objections to this Constitution. We have not been met in one single instance. We have ensured this at all events, that nobody can say that we did not carry out our duty in directing attention to it. We are doing it now on this clause and we are speaking solely on this clause now. That expression "by her life within the home" has given cause for uneasiness, if not cause for offence, to a number of women, both married and single, who do good work in the State. Married women are giving very great social service in child welfare work and unmarried women are doing the same. Married and unmarried women help in the ladies' association of charity attached to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. They are left out here and one thing is picked out for special reference. The fact that that is picked out is capable of being interpreted as being inserted for some particular reason and, consequently, has reasonably, as I say, given cause for uneasiness. If that particular expression is left out, I cannot see what objection there can be to the clause as it will then stand.
I propose to repeat very shortly what I said yesterday afternoon about the assertion of general principles and the following of that assertion by some particular instance, the effect of which is to cut away from the statement of general principles. When we find in Article 41 of clauses 1 and 2 the State guaranteeing to protect a family, does that not cover everything? If the State undertakes to do its duty in protecting the family and in seeing that it is the natural, primary and fundamental unit group of society, does that not cover the next sub-clause of clause 2, that the State shall endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home? In order to cut down the discussion to the smallest amount of time, compatible with the asserting of principle, may I say again that the President, by putting in that sub-clause (2) of clause 2, again offends against the rule of construction to which I have referred. The State is to endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to work.
What is wrong with that?
If the Deputy will wait I will tell him. If the State is to endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to work, is it not an indication from that that the State is to take no notice of anything else that may cause mothers to have to work? Economic necessity is the only thing they are to deal with. If the father is drunken, if he is lazy and will not go to the trouble of getting work, that is not economic necessity.
The State is not to take any notice of that. It is not economic necessity of the class which the State is to look after, and if a man is lazy, drunken, will not work or will not keep his work when he gets it, the State is to take no notice of it. You cannot, by merely inserting a principle which everybody agrees with and putting it down on paper, pretend that you have carried out in practice some laudable purpose which we all would wish to see achieved. Merely writing down high principles in this Constitution is not going to see that these things are, in fact, achieved in practice. There is a lot of theory in this Constitution. I deal in practice and I want to see how in practice this is going to be achieved and I direct attention, merely on technical grounds to the fact, as illustrating the point I am making, that by referring merely to economic necessity, a whole field of other matters is, by implication, left out. There is nothing here about the duty of a father to protect the family; there is nothing here about the duty of the State to see that he carries out his duty. We hear a lot about the rights of this, that and the other, but there should be more insistence on the duty of the people rather than on their rights. Here we have the family looked after, but there is nothing in this Article, if I may again give an example, to impose duties on people who are responsible for keeping the family, for maintaining the family institution, to do their duty.
I think it would be well if some clear exposition were given by the President as to what line he has pursued in drafting this document. He said parenthetically yesterday that this document was not intended to be entombed in dusty law reports.
I did not say anything of the kind.
Let me correct that. He created the impression on reasonable men listening to him that he intended to convey that he did not want this Constitution entombed in dusty law reports. Doubtless he did not say that, but that was the impression he conveyed to some people who heard him— that it was intended to inform the plain people of the country of what the meaning of the Constitution was. That, I believe, is the dilemma into which the President has fallen. As I understand it, this Constitution should really be addressed to those who will be called on to interpret it on behalf of the people whose rights it is designed to defend, and when I desire to defend my constitutional rights as guaranteed by this document, it is not to the people on the hustings I will go, but to the courts of law. The courts of law will interpret that document, and unless the President is prepared to take cognisance of the well-established principles of judicial interpretation of such documents, the result of what he writes or of what this House puts into the Constitution, in the country may be entirely different from what he intends.
I twice yesterday directed the President's attention in respect of another Article to the danger of qualifications, because sometimes a qualification, when it comes to be judicially interpreted, assumes much more importance than the positive assertion of the fundamental right. Sometimes, as Deputy Costello has pointed out, if you put in one particular qualification, the assumption is that you mean no other; alternatively, if you put in a qualification desiring to convey nothing more than that particular qualification, it may, in the process of interpretation, carry a far more pregnant meaning when read in conjunction with the assertion of the fundamental principle. I urge on the President, without losing patience, calmly to tell us whether he has borne in mind, or intends to bear in mind, the well-established rules of judicial interpretation when dealing with this document, or whether he is resolved to address this document to the lay people who know nothing of judicial interpretation and care very little about it until such time as the vindication of their constitutional rights may arise.
Deputy MacDermot has referred to the fact that I was heard to advocate on one occasion the giving of 10/- a week to all women to abstain from gainful employment. I cannot remember whether I ever advocated that in public or not. I feel sure that I have often discussed it with the Deputy and I may very possibly have mentioned it in public in his hearing, but let me make my position clear in regard to it. I have always regarded it as the fundamental groundwork of our social outlook that our ideal should be to ensure that every human creature had enough before anybody was allowed to enjoy a surplus.
That has always been my idea of it, and my only difficulty has been to find anywhere any scheme which would achieve that ideal and which would work. There are thousands of schemes —economic nostrums—which, we are told, would achieve that but, when they are put into operation, they calamitously fail and bring in their train far greater evils than existed before they were attempted at all. I have discussed a hundred proposals for redistribution of wealth and I have always had in my mind the difficulty that, if you try to give everybody enough before anybody enjoys a surplus, one of the results may be to destroy the initiative and energy which make the capitalist system, founded on individual liberty, function. If you make life too easy for every able-bodied person, you may damp down the initiative which makes the system work and which draws from the natural resources with which God Almighty provided us the maximum return.
I have often seen an agricultural labourer contemplating marriage, and the difficulty was that he had 30/- a week and that he hesitated to accept family responsibility on that slender income. If he knew that, far from putting additional burdens on himself by the marrying of a wife, he would bring a small additional income into his home and that, even though earning 30/- a week himself, he would, as a married man, have £2 a week, it might give him courage to face family responsibility and facilitate marriage for poorer people. Furthermore, many women who at present go out and take work to help out the family budget would, if they had 10/- per week, be able to give that help within the family without going out to work at all. That particular matter has been partially recognised in this House. We have given—and rightly given—pensions to widows, but an elderly spinster can very often be a much more pitiable figure than a widow——
The Deputy is within his right in replying to points made against him in debate, but I suggest that he has had sufficient scope in which to explain his position.
I accept your ruling, but the debate on this amendment has strayed into the entire Article. If you take the express words of the amendment, I agree that I have travelled beyond it.
I took it that the Deputy was replying to some remarks attributed to him by Deputy MacDermot.
I shall not delay, but I want to make, clear that proposals of that kind, which have been in my mind, are similar to many others the ultimate end of which has always been to attain the ideal that every human creature would have enough before any human creature would be allowed to enjoy a surplus. Subject to this overriding principle, which is strictly relevant to the matter we are considering, in this day and age, the liberty of a woman to earn her living, if she desires to do so, should not be restricted. You have got to protect her against exploitation, and I freely confess that it would be easy for us, if we wanted to do so, to trip the President up by suggesting that any kind of restriction on the exploitation of women was an interference with the fundamental liberties of women. I do not think that there is any desire on our side to attempt that subterfuge. Liberty for women to earn their living does not mean that the State should stand idly by while poor women were induced to go down half-naked in a coal mine and drag up coal tubs, as they did at one time in the North of England. But, subject to the social restrictions that are necessary to prevent the exploitation of men, women and children, we feel that, in this day and age, the right of a woman to earn her living, if she wants to earn it, should be held sacrosanct. I, personally, hold that anything we here could do to spare a mother the necessity of having to work to live ought to be done. I, perhaps, would go further and say that, if we wanted effectively to redistribute wealth, having provided for the aged and infirm, I should like to consider with experts the question of whether the redistribution of wealth might not, in part in any case, be achieved by easing the lives of women. If it were proposed that a lump sum to ease the lives of all should be provided—if that were practicable, I should like first to make adequate provision to spare women the necessity for servile work of any kind before I would relieve any able-bodied man of the necessity of servile work in order to live. I do not want to elaborate that fully, but one is so liable to misrepresentation that one is tempted to guard against every possible attempt to misrepresent one's views hereafter.
I think I have made my position pretty clear, and I now turn with a specific question to the President: Does he intend to recognise the well-known principles of judicial interpretation to which Deputy Costello has referred, or is he addressing this document to lay people who have no knowledge whatever of judicial interpretation, and leaving to chance the results that may accrue from its judicial interpretation.
Is there any understanding as to whether the next amendment is to be taken in conjunction with this amendment?
If the Deputy desires to have a separate decision on the next amendment, I shall so put the question on this amendment as to permit of that.
I merely wanted to know whether the next amendment was being discussed in conjunction with this amendment.
I think the next amendment has been discussed in conjunction with this amendment.
I was not in the House during the discussion, and I thought these two amendments were being discussed together. The Deputy may discuss the next amendment when this amendment is disposed of.
I am indifferent in the matter.
One can sympathise with Deputy O'Sullivan and the other members of that Party on the difficulty in which they have found themselves when face to face with words, and when they had to defend a certain attitude. Of course, one would expect, in these circumstances, that all we could have would be trifling with the matter. Anybody who fairly reads the remarks of Deputy O'Sullivan in the papers to-morrow or who will read them in the Official Report, will agree that he was merely trifling, and nothing else. He did not address himself at all to the words here, or attempt to show us in what way the words of this Article could give rise to the apprehensions which he said were rife, that an attack was being made somehow on women's liberties and rights.
He says with one breath that this means nothing: that it cannot bind. It does mean something. It means that, when the people have adopted this Constitution, they will have agreed with a common mind and purpose to try to see that the State, which will represent them, should ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home. This is a directive, a strong directive, to the Legislature with the backing of the people as a whole that this is a purpose which ought to be given effect to and ought to be pursued. It does mean something, and well the Deputy knows it.
Then we had Deputy Costello falling back again on his old friend the canon of interpretation which has, of course, a limited application always, and is not a thing to be applied everywhere. If we are dealing with any particular subject, the fact that we are not dealing with other subjects is not to suggest that these things are not matters of importance, so that when a person takes special canons of interpretation for legal documents in a certain way, and tries to apply them in a way in which no lawyer would attempt to apply them in court, I can only call that trifling also. The Deputy must too clearly understand what is the meaning and purpose of this section. The attempt to suggest that, because other women are not mentioned in this section, there is a definite intention to put them in a lower status or anything of that kind, has no foundation whatever. This is a section dealing with the family. The words immediately preceding it are to the effect that the family is the basis of social order and is indispensable to the welfare of the nation. If the family's welfare is to be preserved, who is going to deny that it is necessary for the woman to be free to perform her motherly duties in the home? It is a bad system of society in which the mother is forced to go out and labour to the neglect of her duties in the home. I can conceive of no higher purpose that we could have here in this community of ours than to see to it that economic necessity will not force mothers to abandon their duties in the home.
What, then, is the justification for the attack that is made here? We are dealing with the home, with mothers in the home, and with the duties of mothers in the home, and if we are not dealing with women who are in other occupations outside the home, who is going to suggest that that is a reflection upon them? This is a just recognition of the important part that mothers play in society as a whole in their homes. That does not mean to say that women are not playing important parts elsewhere. Does it mean that men, the fathers of families, are not playing important parts both in the home and out of it? It does not, because that particular aspect did not demand attention from us. Here we are dealing with mothers. We are trying to deal with a great modern evil, as I have already said. All that is done here is to try to get people to agree, as part of their fundamental law, that it should be the purpose of the State to try to secure that mothers will not be forced to neglect their duties in the home by economic necessity compelling them to labour outside. Personally, I can have no patience with the attacks which have been made on this Article. I think they are altogether unjustified.
Deputy MacDermot tells me that I would have been wiser if I had proceeded in another way. Of course I could. I need not have put in the word "home" there, but because the word "home" is mentioned, it brings back to the minds of certain people the fact that there was a very cheap gibe at women who were not able to be in the home either through inclination or the economic necessity which compelled them to work elsewhere—the cheap gibe that their place was in the home. I am not responsible for that gibe, and I am not going to leave the word "home" out of its proper context because there is a gibe associated in some people's minds with it. It is a strange position that the sacred word "home" should be omitted. Well, I am not going to omit it anyhow. As far as I can get any support, it is going to remain, but there is no implication and no suggestion of inferiority as regards other women. There is a just recognition here of the special part that is played by mothers in the home, and there is, further, the indicated intention of the community, through its Legislature, to endeavour to secure that that work, which is so vital to the State, shall not be hindered by economic conditions which force women to work outside.
I have only to say, then, to Deputy MacDermot that this was not drawn from a propagandist point of view. It is true that every Constitution gives a very broad surface for attack. It must, because it covers the whole of our political life. It covers our political life in the broad sense, and covers all our social and economic life, and everybody would like to see future Legislatures tied down here so that any particular privileges which they may have will be preserved. We had from Deputy Norton last night an extraordinary exhibition. He wanted us tied in one direction and loose in another. The position of a Legislature, as I said last night, for the future as in the present must be that it will be free to co-ordinate the public good, the individual good and the individual right. That is its prime, main duty. I repeat that here there is no suggestion of any kind that women who are not in the home are not playing an important part. There is no suggestion of any kind in this that there should be any discrimination against women in regard to earning a livelihood.
The suggestion which I resent very strongly is that I have some reactionary views about women. It is not true. I have never shown it either in public or in private. I believe that the culture and the progress of a community can very well be estimated by the status and the position which women occupy in it. I have always held that. I do not compare men and women at all in the sense in which some people want to compare them. I do not think that the words "equality and inequality" can properly be applied to them. Each has its own particular and important part to play, just like a back or a forward in a football team. Men and women are complementary of each other in society, working out in their own particular spheres the parts for which they are best fitted. Individuals with special aptitudes may go outside that sphere to the good of society as a whole. I am not accepting the amendment to delete, and I am not going to accept the suggestion "for," because I am dealing with mothers and the work which they do within the home in regard to the upbringing of children.
Women, not mothers.
I am talking about mothers here. I am talking, in general here, about mothers.
Where is the reference?
We are talking here about this sub-section, which says: "The State recognises that, by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved."
But that is not "mothers." Put in the word "mothers" and there is no objection to the paragraph at all.
There are mothers and wives too, and not all wives happen to be mothers. I am not going to say anything that is not here now. I have made up my mind that this is accurate and I am not going to put in anything else. I am not going to put in what is not here now.
But that is ridiculous. The President has been arguing here for a quarter of an hour about this, and now, when it is pointed out to him, he looks at the document and he finds that the word "mothers" is not there. Put in "mothers" and it will be all right.
As I have said, there are wives who are not mothers, and wives also, by their lives within the home, give to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved. I think that that is quite all right, and, as I said, I am not going to accept either the amendment to delete these words or to accept the phrase "for the home."
I just want to make this point, Sir. The President says that he gets impatient because people make arguments that do not appeal to him. But the President himself argues for a quarter of an hour here, very trenchantly, for the insertion of the words "mothers and wives," and he then looks at the document and discovers the word "woman."
I did not discover it.
Put in the words "mothers and wives" and our objections fall to the ground.
Will the Deputy read the next sub-clause?
Just wait a minute. The President argued very trenchantly for the inclusion of the words "mothers and wives." Very well, put in these words and you get rid of a great deal of the objection that has been raised. The President, however, looked down at the document and discovered that neither is there, and that the word there is "woman" It is because of that, that we have demurred, lest there be any misunderstanding.
Let the Deputy read Clause 2, or shall I read it for him?
I ask the President to keep his seat. The amendment here is perfectly clear. If there is any very heated feeling about it, I do not give a fiddle-dee-dee what is in the Bunreacht—I do not think it matters two straws what is in it—but the President asked us to come in here and give him our assistance and discuss the matter with him. We had the President getting up here and talking for a quarter of an hour and, by implication, he admitted our objection, then he looked down at the document and discovered that there is no reference to mothers and wives in the paragraph we are referring to. We object to the word "woman" in that part because, to put in the word "mothers" there would make the Article more clear to the President, to the House and to the country. As I say, I do not give a fiddle-dee-dee if you do not want it, but there is no need for impatience on the President's part. If he does not agree to it, well, that is well and good.
You did not move an amendment to that.
Of course we did.
The Deputy did not read it, and the President did not read it— well, pardon me, probably the President did read it, but he spoke under a complete misapprehension of it, because I think our argument had carried some force to his mind, and he saw that the Article would read more cogently, and that the meaning of it would be much more obvious if he spoke of mothers and wives, and that to use the word "woman" in that case left it open to misapprehension. That is our case. If you do not agree with it, then let us agree to differ, but let there be no suggestion from the President that representations from these benches were made from a purely obstructive and hypercritical attitude. At any rate, they were sufficient to make him speak for a quarter of an hour. We spoke because we believed there was an amendment of substance to be made.
That is mere trifling. That would be quite all right if there was not clearly set out—that is, in the first part—a recognition, and then the conclusion: "The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home." I was talking about economic necessity, practically the whole time, as forcing mothers to get out and work outside. The first part is more general.
Let me repeat, Sir, that I object to the word "trifling." There has been no trifling going on here. I do not give a fiddle-dee-dee what is going into this Constitution, but the President asked for our assistance, and anything that we have put in has been suggested with a view to giving that assistance.
I am afraid, Sir, that we strayed into a discussion of sub-section 2º as well as of sub-section 1º I must confess that the remarks I, personally, have made about 20 minutes ago, were rather directed to sub-section 2º than to sub-section 1º. To get back, however, to this particular amendment in the name of Deputy Mrs. Redmond, I must say that it seems to me to make no sense, because, if we are to make a statement here at all about woman, it must be in connection with the family, and it would be entirely out of place to have that sub-section stand with the words, "by her life within the home," left out.
Read it, leaving out these words, and see if you would have any objection to it then.
It would then read: "In particular, the State recognises that woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved."
Anything wrong with that?
There is nothing wrong with it, but it is wholly irrelevant to the subject of the family.
What about the Deputy's own new canon of interpretation of documents?
Not my canon.
Certainly, I regard it as irrelevant to the subject of the family. It did occur to me, during the last few minutes, that perhaps it might be an improvement in that sub-section to put the word "married" before the word "woman," but on second thoughts I did not even feel that that would do, because a woman who is sometimes performing the duties of a mother and a wife may be a sister, or something of that sort. Accordingly, I confess that this first sub-section seems to me to be wholly unobjectionable. I think that any alarm created would arise more naturally from the second sub-section, about which I shall speak in a moment.
I should like to say a few words, Sir, on this. I will not reach the heights of oratory which the President has reached, and I will just speak from the point of view of the plain man in the street—the point of view of a person who always thought well of the home and who thought that the responsibility always rested on the members of the family to support the parents. It seems to me that the President has never read that old proverb, "Man shall earn his bread by the sweat of his brow." It also seems to me that the President is setting out, in this Constitution, to make a paradise of this world. He seems to forget that, after all, this is only a vale of tears. He seems also to give the impression that he, above all men, is the only man that ever thought about the home and had any respect for the heads of the home.
Let me state here and now that there is hardly any man in this House or in the members of his Party who has done more to disrupt the homes of this country than he and the members of his Party have done in the last few years. Of course, the members of the Party opposite do not like plain facts. They go down the country with very nice platitudes about preventing the people from starving and preventing the women from having to go out to earn their living.
We did well for Dundalk, at any rate.
The fact is that, with my knowledge of a lot of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, I think that if you went through the books of the St. Vincent de Paul Society you would not get the names of one of them on the books for a "bob."
The Deputy might come to the matter before the House.
My chief objection to all the President's speech here to-day is that, as an Irishman who is always fond of a home and who always worked to keep up the home, I say: "Hands off the home." The President's whole policy here means nothing more or less than nationalisation. His policy, in effect, means a policy symbolic of that which at the moment obtains in Soviet Russia. Take charge of the families, take charge of the mothers, and with that done, of course, to use the words of the President, this little country of ours is going to be a paradise. I totally object to any section of this sort being put into the Constitution. Personally, I have the utmost contempt for Constitutions.
My constitution is that little book we used to call at school "The Penny Catechism." Perhaps some of the Deputies opposite have not read that. The President says that mothers should not be allowed to go out and work.
I did not say that.
What has the President said? That the State shall, as far as possible, take steps to ensure that through economic necessity mothers— although the word does not appear in the section at all—shall not be obliged to go out to work.
It does appear in the section.
What is the whole trend of the President's remarks? After all, the best tribute to me is to hear Deputy Donnelly laugh. Of course, he laughed the other day, too, on his own amendment to the Constitution in regard to the North of Ireland, and afterwards he voted for this Constitution. That is the consistency that is so characteristic of the Fianna Fáil Party. In the same way, in regard to this section, the President will go down to private meetings of his supporters, where men only are present, and will say to them: "In this section we are protecting you against women. We are seeing that no woman will go out and take a man's job." Later he will go to a meeting at which women only are present, a meeting at which the attendance will probably include Deputy Mrs. Concannon and Deputy Miss Pearse, and say: "Oh, we do not mean that at all. Women can still earn their living." At the back of all that, he has these qualifications to every section in the Constitution. He legislates first and qualifies afterwards. There is no use in the President trying to get away with this whole business of pretending that he, of all men, is the only one who is anxious for the welfare of the home. Let me tell him again, and let me emphasise the fact—I want no help from his Party nor do thousands of the women of Ireland either. They are able to earn an honest living in this country. There are fathers and mothers in this country who have reared families of 14 and more, and they were never known to go out and look for any help from anybody. The Fianna Fáil Party and the President are out to degrade the men and the women of this country who suffered hardships and who reared their families—and they were not small families either. That is my chief objection to the policy enunciated by the President.
Let Deputy Donnelly or any member of his Party come down to Louth at the next election and I shall say there what I am saying here, because I know the men and women of that county. You want to degrade and pauperise the fathers and mothers of this country while you pretend that, were it not for Fianna Fáil, the mothers of this country would have to go out and make their living and that you are out to make a paradise of this country. I ask the President again what steps is he going to take to put this section in operation or to make it effective? Let him leave out the platitudes. I could argue that the steps taken by the President might be the means of putting far more mothers out of work as they might mean jeopardising the position of these women's husbands in industry—probably as a result of higher taxation—if I wanted to go deeply into the whole subject. You know as well as I do that steps may be taken to cure evils in certain directions and that these steps may create evils in other directions. This, of course, is a source of laughter to Deputy Donnelly and other members of the Fianna Fáil Party. We, on this side of the House, have no sympathy whatever for the mothers of this country! Let me tell the President and the members of his Party that we had sympathy with mothers and advised children to obey their parents when the Party opposite were telling them to disregard parental control. Now we have the sneers of the Fianna Fáil Party in regard to this section. I am speaking the honest sentiments of my mind.
I should like to hear the Deputy on the amendment.
I say we should not interfere with the position of the home. Let the mothers and women of Ireland have the same opportunity they always had of earning their living and we can do with less qualifications and platitudes expressed by the President on this occasion.
Amendment put and declared defeated.
I move amendment No. 128:
In Section 2, sub-section 1º, to delete the word "within" and substitute the word "for".
I am a little embarrassed in moving this amendment by the fact that before hearing anything that is to be said for it the President has declared his opposition to it. I had hoped that there was not much in this amendment which would be in opposition to the President's views. There is nothing in it that is in opposition to any of the views which he has expressed to-day on this matter, so I feel somewhat embarrassed by his declared opposition before he has heard any of the arguments bearing on the matter. I do not object to the expressed words——
As the family is so important perhaps we should have a House to listen to the discussion.
Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted, and 20 Deputies being present,
I was about to say that I have no objection to the express statement laid down in this sub-section, but I think that, standing by itself, it is too limited and that it is likely to lead to misunderstanding and probably to misapplication in future. It is true, and I think we all agree, that by her life within the home woman gives to the State a support without which the common good could not be achieved. We all realise the immense importance of "the woman of the house" to the home and the nation. We have no difference, I think, on what the President has said on that topic, but I suggest to him that woman—even the mother of the family, "the woman of the house" to use the common expression here—has duties to the home, for the home, which are not exclusively exercised within the home, and it is with the hope of obtaining the assent of the President and his Party to that view that I put down this amendment.
As the sub-section stands, it suggests that the entire life of the woman is within the home, that her whole activity, her whole influence on society, is exercised and should be exercised within the home. I am not questioning that the influence of the mother in the home, as mistress of the house, as instructress of her children, is the most important influence she can exercise on society. But I do suggest that she has wider influence, and that the phrasing of this sub-section seems to suggest that her entire influence is within the home, instead of, as I should like to put it "for the home". It is not good for the mother of the house to be exclusively occupied with the domestic concerns of her own house, within the home. A certain degree of such occupation is necessary, but her work within the home will be all the better for her having interests outside the home, and I would suggest that this sub-section tends to limit the tendency towards her having such outside interests.
Again, the President declared—and I entirely accept his declaration—that this clause was not drawn from a propagandist point of view. I do not at all question the sincerity of that statement, but what seems to create a certain danger in regard to this section, as in regard to other parts of the Constitution, is that the President is optimistic enough to assume that future generations will interpret the Constitution in exactly the same spirit as he has framed it. Being confident of his own good intentions he assumes that the intentions will be the same in the minds of his successors. But that is an assumption which is not justified by our knowledge of the world. I think that, in consequence of that optimistic point of view, he has taken risks in this sub-section, and in other subsections of the Constitution, in regard to the direction in which he intends to travel. He used the word "directive" himself to-day in regard to this clause. He said it was intended to be directive. If so, the direction is hardly precise enough. It may very easily lead in the wrong direction; it may lead to a limitation of the influence of the mistress of the house, instead of increased emphasis being laid on that influence.
During the President's speech I ventured to interject the remark that "woman" and "mother" were different terms. Up to that point his speech had been entirely about the mother. I do not bring this point up again simply to emphasise what appeared to me a lack of clarity for the moment in the President's mind as to what we were concerned with, but in order to point out that where this word "woman" is used here in sub-section 1º it has a much wider meaning than the word "mother" as used in the next sub-section, and I do not think the President will suggest that the main sub-section 1º is to be controlled or interpreted by the word in sub-section 2º. One takes it in the ordinary way that the first general statement laid down is the ruling statement, and that the other is an application of it, if not a clarification of it —in this case an application of it to a particular instance. Again, I think we are all with the President in regard to the actual terms of sub-section 2º, although not perhaps agreeing that it will always be interpreted wisely in future. Woman in the house is something more than mother in the house in numbers, and she is something more than wife in the house. There are many women in many houses in addition to the wife and mother, and this clause seems to me to stand in the way or may be applied in the future to stand in the way of these women exercising their activity outside the four walls of the home.
It is, of course, common knowledge that not all the daughters, in the modern society of this country as in every other country, will be content to remain in the home where there is not ample work for them, where there is nothing to do but assist the mother in the management of a small house. Not only in this country but in other countries these girls have independence, and look for work useful to themselves, useful to society, and useful to the home. They are bringing their earnings in to maintain the home. They are getting a wider outlook on the world. They are getting greater opportunities for a suitable choice in marriage, and in every way their services for the home are useful not only to the home but to society. I suggest that if the President were to reconsider his rather anticipatory condemnation of this amendment he might see that he is not weakening the doctrine he is laying down by accepting the term "for the home" instead of "within the home", but that in using the words "within the home" he is indirectly casting a certain slur on the many women, the majority of women, who have to undertake some occupation other than that which they may actually practise inside the four walls of the home, although that occupation is for the home. Girls who go out as governesses, nurses, shop assistants, and so on, are working for the home, and their work is just as important or more important than if they remained at home tied to the mother's apron strings, where they would be unnecessary and would be almost completely idle.
The principle of this amendment is, of course, quite different from that of the amendment which was disposed of a few moments ago. It illuminates what seems to me the underlying groundwork of the President's theory, which I accept, as to the importance of woman in the home, but I think it applies to the principle in a broader way, in a way that is more useful and more applicable both to the state of society as it is at the moment and to the state of society which we are bound to have in the future. We here cannot hope to follow Herr Hitler's example in sending girls back to the home, confining their activities there, and doing nothing else but knit and sew in the home. That will not be adopted in this country nor, I am sure, will it be adopted for long in Herr Hitler's country either.
I am sure the Deputy does not suggest that there is anything in this section which says that women should be sent back, as he said Herr Hitler had sent them—I do not know to what extent he has—to remain in the home. This is closely-knit reasoning. We are putting upon the State an obligation in future to endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in work outside to the neglect of their duties at home.
Would the President mind dealing with the section to which the amendment applies?
I say it is closely-knit reasoning. Because of the fact that there is an obligation, we want to give a reason for it, and the reason we have given in this connection is that the work that is done by woman in the home—as the home-maker, in the care of her children, in the rearing of her children, in the care of the home—is indispensable to the welfare of the nation as a whole, and because it is indispensable we say, further indicating the extent, that we recognise that she gives to the State a support without which the common good could not be achieved. That is repeating in another form the words of a previous phrase.
The object in putting in the first clause is not merely to recognise what part woman plays but as a groundwork for the conclusion. Fathers of families who earn the wherewithal to maintain the family are doing work for the home. This is not intended to be a catalogue of all the people who serve the home or who serve the State. It is intended as a preliminary, to point to a conclusion, and the conclusion is that work in the home is such that mothers ought not to be forced by economic necessity to leave these duties. The first part is closely knit up with the second part.
That is why I dealt with the second part. I cannot see in any suggestion that they do otherwise than serve the home. This is a particular kind of service, and of such importance, that the State should make it its special purpose to see that it should not be interfered with. I am dealing with that particular part of woman's life within the home. If you take this away completely from the context here and try to make it mean something other than what was intended, or if you put in "for the home," it would not lead up to the second part. The difficulty is that mothers are forced to leave their proper duties, and I want to see it accepted as the purpose of the nation as a whole that we should endeavour to see that that necessity would no longer exist.
Take the case of a daughter who is forced to emigrate and who sends the wherewithal to maintain the home. She is working for the home. I am not thinking of that case, or of women who go out to work at all. I am thinking of the particular aspect of woman's life connected with her duties in the home, as woman of the house, to use the Deputy's phrase, which covers exactly what I am dealing with. I tried to deal with that as best I could. I must say that the criticism made it hard to keep an open mind. I am trying to interpret this as an ordinary person would interpret it. I know that there are certain people anxious to drag it away from the clear and obvious meaning. I am very anxious that no person could misinterpret the context, or read into it the idea that there is some reflection on woman whose work is not of this character or even that part of woman's work which is not of this character. As the Deputy stated, very often you have women, who not only perform their duties in the home but are able to do a great deal of good work outside as well. I am not against that. I think the very definite answer of the State is that every citizen should contribute to the common good in whatever way that citizen is best fitted.
Where I feel the Deputy's amendment fails is that it would change the whole context and take away the closeness of the reasoning in the clause. It would also raise many other matters. My mind was running rather upon whether there was some possible suggestion that "by her life within the home" it should necessarily be spent within the home. There is no suggestion of that in the clause as it stands. If I were disposed to amend it at all, it would be to try to make it certain that nobody was going reasonably to read into it by the words "by her life within the home" that there was some suggestion that woman's life was to be confined absolutely within the home. I am only dealing with one aspect of woman's life. I am forced to reject the amendment, because I think it would change the whole meaning of the clause. I am prepared to consider whether in the words "by her life within the home" there is not a suggestion that people would condemn her, so to speak, to live entirely in the home. I think that would be absurd in our state of society.
Possibly if the word "function" was substituted for "life" it would meet the case.
I tried reasonably to read into it the meaning I stated.
The President said he would consider the matter again, though not in the direction I suggested. As things stand the argument is weak owing to the fact that there is no common term between the two phrases. The President would really strengthen his argument in support of the next sub-section if he adopted a suggestion which was made earlier, that he should put the term "mother" in sub-section 1º as well as in sub-section 2º. Then his argument would be perfectly clear, and, as Deputy Dillon stated, no one would object to a recognition of the mother in the home, whereas "woman" includes too much. I hope the President will think the matter over before dealing with the section again.
I would point out that it is the particular aspect of woman's life within the home that leads up to the term "mother". It is clear that "by her life within the home" qualifies the term "woman". I will have the matter looked into again to see if there is anything reasonable in the objections.
As this discussion has practically ranged over the topic dealt with in the next amendment, I am not moving it.
At the risk of being told that it is foolish and trifling, I wish to draw attention to a difficulty arising out of the clauses dealing with the dissolution of marriage. Clause 2 provides:—
No law shall be enacted providing for the grant of a dissolution of marriage.
I think that clause is too wide. Clause 3 provides:—
No person whose marriage has been dissolved under the civil law of any other State shall be capable of contracting in Eire a valid marriage during the lifetime of the other party to the marriage so dissolved.
In my view, that is also entirely too wide. It is well known that the Catholic Church does not recognise marriage in a registry office or other than through the method and form laid down by the Catholic Church. A case came under my personal experience where an Irish girl, a Catholic, married a Scotchman of a different religion in a registry office. Of course, that marriage was not in accordance with the views of the Catholic Church, was invalid and no marriage at all. It was a marriage merely under the civil law of Great Britain. In fact, the marriage was never consummated, because the parties separated at the door of the registry office and never saw each other again. The girl came back to Ireland and desired to marry. According to the view of the Catholic Church she was entitled to marry. The case was submitted to me when I was Attorney-General with a view to prosecution for bigamy. I need hardly say that I did not prosecute.
Sub-clause 3º of clause 3 provides that no person whose marriage has been dissolved in another State shall be capable of contracting marriage here. If a Catholic is married in a registry office in England to a Protestant, or even to a Catholic, that is an invalid marriage according to the law of the Catholic Church, and according to the civil law here and the civil law in England it is valid. That marriage is dissolved. Then it is no marriage in Great Britain and it is not a marriage according to the Catholic Church. But, according to this clause, either of these persons cannot be married here afterwards. Will the President say if that is a foolish interjection or is it of some assistance to him?
The Deputy can always be sure that when he addresses himself to matters in the way he has now, nobody is going to accuse him of anything foolish. It is quite a different matter, and I think it is obvious to everybody, when there is a case being argued that is really only being argued because the person happens to feel that he has to say something on the Opposition Benches. I think this is something quite different. Anyone can see that there are genuine difficulties to be dealt with there. I am not a lawyer, but I think there is a difference between dissolution and a declaration of nullity.
I am dealing with the case of a marriage which has been dissolved by the English law—the case of divorce in the accepted sense in England.
I thought the Deputy said it was declared invalid.
I am only a layman, but I understood there was a difference——
There is a difference between nullity of a marriage, which is no marriage, which never was a marriage, and a marriage which was a marriage in law and which is dissolved. The case I am putting is the concrete instance where a marriage is perfectly valid in accordance with the English law, and possibly consummated, a marriage celebrated, if you can use that expression, in a registry office. Subsequently, by the law of divorce in England, it is dissolved, and one of the parties comes over here and wants to get married. It is no marriage, according to the Catholic Church. It is not a marriage, according to the law, because it has been dissolved in England, and this Article prevents either of the parties getting married here.
I thought the Deputy said it would be declared invalid and that it had been no marriage at all. If it is dissolved, of course it is clearly coming under this, and there is a difficulty which will have to be met. I can only promise to look into that matter. The matter has been raised already, and I do not see that there is any definite solution for it. The main thing we want to see is that there shall not be granted a dissolution of a valid marriage in our own State. We have the old difficulty, that if you try to make room for all the possible exceptions that may occur, then you may get away altogether from the fundamental purpose.
Could not sub-section 3º be left out altogether?
I do not think it could; not if we want to have that in its general terms. We do not want to permit a person who has been validly married in another country and whose marriage has been dissolved by the civil law of another country to come here and get married here. I promise to have the matter examined to see if we can possibly deal with it. But, as I said, the matter has come up and I have come to the conclusion that it would be almost impossible to deal with it without opening the door in such a way as to cause undesirable results in another direction.
There is, I think, a harder case than that mentioned by Deputy Costello. There may be a case where a seeming marriage has been annulled by the authorities of the Catholic Church, but the parties might not be able to get an annulment in civil law in another country, and in order to make the separation effective they might have to proceed through the ordinary law of divorce. It might happen that the marriage was annulled at Rome on grounds which would not carry under the law in England and, in order to make the separation effective, these parties might have to proceed by the ordinary law of divorce in England. Having had the marriage dissolved, let us say, in England, if they came over here they could not contract a valid marriage, although in the opinion of the majority of the people in this country there never had been a marriage. I think that is a case which is worthy of consideration, and that it can occur.
I should like to make one or two observations on this Article in general. I have been told—I am not sure whether it is so or not—that when the President was speaking on the Second Reading he stated that this section was not put in as based on any theological convictions held by the majority of the people of this country, but that it was put in purely from social considerations. That would leave the matter, of course, much easier to discuss. It would be impertinent in both senses of the word for me to discuss the discipline of the Church to which the majority of the people of this country willingly submit themselves, or to suggest that they shall not consider themselves bound by the discipline of that Church. But it is another matter if they think it their duty to enforce the discipline of one Church on the consciences of people who do not submit themselves to such discipline. Therefore, I think that, if the section were based on such a ground, there would be reasonable ground for complaint on the part of, admittedly, a small number of people in this country.
However, I am assuming that the President did make the statement which I am told he made—that he was not affected by the theological opinions of himself or others in bringing in the section, or some phrase to that effect. The question then comes back to the pure question of social considerations, as to the advantage or disadvantage of permitting divorce in any circumstances in the country, and providing against it in the Constitution. It seems to me that it might be discussed here at a considerable length without readily arriving at a conclusion. I am not going to discuss it at any length. But I should like to say this, that while I do not think anybody in the country wishes to have divorce made easy, or that marriage and the dissolution of marriage should be made such light things that they could be undertaken without responsibility, undoubtedly anyone of experience in the world knows that there are many cases in which marriages have been quite definitely a failure, in which through faults of one sort or another, there is no hope that the continuance of such a marriage will be of use to society, and that giving freedom to these people, restoring them to the status they had before marriage, would conceivably give an opportunity for establishing a happy home which would be useful to society.
I am not going to proceed further along that line. I think it is a matter which could be discussed at great length, and discussed either usefully or uselessly, according to the manner of it. But one meets these cases. Anyone with experience of the world, any clergyman, any doctor, will meet many such cases in which he cannot but believe that a divorce would have led to a happier life and a more moral life on the part of those concerned. I will make no further observations on the Article, but I wish to draw the President's attention to the particular case I mentioned when I got up.
I will have to look into it. My feeling is that if you try to meet certain very specialised cases you will have to go into quite another field altogether. However, as the Deputy thinks it is an important matter, I will have it further examined. With regard to the question of divorce in general, there is no doubt that sometimes there are unhappy marriages, but from the social point of view, without considering any other point of view, the obvious evil would be so great, and it has been proved to be so great in other countries, that I do not think any person would have any difficulty—at least I would not—in making a choice on this matter. I do not think any useful purpose could be served by such a discussion as the Deputy has indicated. If we were to open out into a broad discussion on the matter it would, as I understand it, only lead to one result and it would not be useful to enter into it. With regard to the cases mentioned by Deputy Costello and Deputy Rowlette, I will have them examined to see if we could modify this Article to meet these cases.
There is one question I would like to put to the President: what is the meaning of sub-section 2º of Section 1: "The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the family in its constitution and authority..." What does "authority" mean? Does it mean the authority of the head of the family over the family? If it does not mean that, what alternative meaning is there?
It is the authority of the heads of the family over their children, their right to look after their education and not to be interfered with by another authority in the State except for reasons that would be mentioned; that is to say where there was failure or neglect on their part to provide for the children, or, from the social point of view, failure to see that the children received a proper education. The family have rights antecedent to and superior to all positive law, and any interference with the authority of the head of the family will have to be justified on certain grounds. That is the authority that is referred to there.
The President has indicated not merely that the family does possess certain inalienable and imprescriptible rights in addition to education——
Does the Deputy want me to enter into a full discussion on the inalienable and imprescriptible rights of the family? We have been talking about the rights of individuals; where we specified the rights of individuals we dealt with them. Is the Deputy going to take me over the whole field of individual rights?
We are legislating.
What we say here is that "the State recognises the family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights." The very fact that I mentioned one of them should be sufficient; ought it not?
Because you fail to guarantee to them the rights you do not mention them.
My mentioning the rights does not do it. This will be construed altogether apart from my words.
By the courts.
That is all I want to know. The court will then be in the position of deciding what "inalienable and imprescriptible rights" are, apart from the family.
The courts will have that power.
Very soon. The Deputy will have an opportunity of going into that matter shortly.
I am sorry to see that the President is so pessimistic about the future prospects of his Party.
No, I am referring to the Deputy's new sphere of activity, getting back to the sciences again.
If the President kept away from them it would be much better for the State.
The Deputy did not give us much help. He was trifling about this matter. The inalienable and imprescriptible rights are the rights to look after the maintenance and control of the children. I do not propose to go into the full category now. It is not necessary.
The President could not do it.
Would the Deputy do it, or would anybody here go into the laws of individual rights either? We are dealing here with the main things. We want to stress the fact that these inalienable and imprescriptible rights cannot be invaded by the State.
Article 41 put and agreed to.
I move amendment No. 133:—
In Section 1, to delete sub-section 2º.
It will be within the recollection of the President, I am sure, that in an article in the Irish Independent Professor Berriedale Keith singled out the particular provision of sub-section 2º of Section 1 of this Article as the thing in the Constitution which most offended against the idea of the unity of Ireland. It was, he said, a thing that was likely to create misunderstandings and objections in the minds of persons in the North of Ireland. My feeling about it is that the sub-section in question is entirely useless. It really means nothing. It does not establish the Catholic Church in a privileged position. It does not offend in any way against the principle of equal treatment of people of different religions. It seems to serve no purpose except to create misunderstandings. That being the case, unless some reason for it can be brought forward that has not yet occurred to me, I suggest that it would be better to leave out this sub-section.
I do not agree with the Deputy. The recognition of an obvious fact is there, and that fact must have considerable influence in the life of the State. It is bound to have There are 93 per cent. of the people in this part of Ireland and 75 per cent. of the people of Ireland as a whole who belong to the Catholic Church, who believe in its teachings, and whose whole philosophy of life is the philosophy that comes from its teachings. Consequently it is very important that in our Constitution that fact should be recognised. A short time ago Deputy Rowlette spoke about the question of divorce, apart altogether from the question of what views an individual might have on divorce from a social point of view. That is the point of view we approached it from here. There is no doubt one would have to bear in mind what were the views and the feelings and the attitude of mind of the vast majority of the people. If we are going to have a democratic State, if we are going to be ruled by the representatives of the people, it is clear their whole philosophy of life is going to affect that, and that has to be borne in mind and the recognition of it is important in that sense.
The reason for the other paragraph is to indicate that these Churches are recognised too, that their existence in our midst is recognised. The fact is that there has been no objection taken. It might be said that this does not go, from the Catholic point of view, the distance that would be desired by a number, but no objection has been taken by the Churches to this. The other parts are very important, because it is necessary to indicate that, notwithstanding that the vast majority of our people belong to one faith, nevertheless the State recognises the liberty of every citizen to practise his religion and to adore the Almighty in public and private.
The other Articles are largely a rewriting, in the form in which this whole Constitution has been written, of Articles already in the old Constitution. It was obvious in a matter of this sort that, to allay any possible apprehensions, it was desirable to keep as far as possible along the old lines. In places the Articles of the old Constitution are preserved as a whole. It was considered desirable not to change the old Constitution so that there might be no anxieties held by any sections of the people as to the continuance of the guarantees of freedom to practise their religion which were in the old Constitution.
The President said, absolutely correctly, that the words of this section are the recognition of an obvious fact, and he went on to say that that fact is bound to have its influence on legislation in this country and the deliberations of a Legislature. These things are perfectly true; nobody could question them or object to them in any way. He went on to say that, if they were so, it would be advisable to have this in the Constitution. I suggest that the fact is so obvious and the deductions to be made from it are so very obvious, that there is no need to have this in the Constitution. In so far as that is a statement of fact, anybody can agree with it or give assent to it; but, in so far as there may be a suggestion in it, possibly in the future, that it gives any position of special privilege to one Church, even where that Church is the Church of the great majority of the people, a certain anxiety undoubtedly will arise.
Deputy MacDermot referred to the opposition that the mere statement of that fact may create in Northern Ireland. I do not excuse the timorousness in Northern Ireland or the opposition it may give rise to; but I suggest, with considerable reluctance, that the statement here going into the Constitution is unnecessary and it may give rise to a suggestion in the future that the Catholic Church, having been specially recognised, is in a position of special privilege as regards giving advice to the State, and so on. The President rightly said that religious opinions and the attitude towards religious philosophy of the members of the Legislature will be reflected in the legislation. That is, of course, true; but I suggest that that is the way in which the special influence of the Catholic Church will make itself felt legitimately and properly, and any possible stretching of that in the future is to be avoided by anything that will look in the Constitution as a direct recognition.
I am not afraid of this clause at all as it stands; I am not afraid of anything happening in my lifetime that will interfere with the liberty of those who differ in religion from the majority of the people; but I see a possibility, perhaps a distant one, of difficulties arising in the future.
I need not tell the Deputy that I gave this matter very careful consideration before I decided to put the Articles in the form in which they stand. They are the result of serious deliberation and careful thought, understanding the position rather well and recognising the difficulties that would arise if the matter was not put on a proper foundation. First of all, with regard to the criticism of Professor Berriedale Keith, or anybody else, we can only take these things as they come. I think it was Deputy MacDermot who said to-day that in this Constitution, and by its nature in any Constitution, you expose a very wide surface to attack. The whole of life has to be dealt with. Here you have also a most important fact. There is no question that anybody who has a religious belief at all will admit that it is the most important thing in life. You have to deal with it, and I think it is dealt with here in a way which has not aroused any antagonism. In fact, it was put down here only after careful consideration and, I might add, testing, as to whether there was anything that was going to cause reasonable objection in any quarter. In the form in which it is, I think we can let it remain without any qualms or fears.
I still think we got on very well with the old Constitution without such a provision as this and that, on the whole, nothing is gained by putting it in. Certain dangers will arise by putting it in, especially in connection with Partition. However, I will withdraw the amendment.
Amendment No. 135 deals with rather a different point, but I will confess that when I put down that amendment I had overlooked the fact that sub-section 5º, to which it refers, is taken bodily from the old Constitution, so that no change is being enacted. Had not that been so, I would have questioned the wisdom of putting religious property on a different basis from other property. I would have been as eager as anyone to guarantee rights of property to a religious institution the same as to any citizen, but I would have questioned the wisdom of making a distinction between religious institutions and individual citizens in relation to rights of property. This portion of the Constitution adds nothing new and I propose to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment No. 136 not moved?
Is Deputy Norton not moving this amendment?
The Deputy gave notice that he did not propose to move it.
What is the procedure in case I can meet it to a certain extent?
He can reintroduce it.
Deputy Mrs. Redmond in an amendment, proposed earlier in the debate, asked for the insertion of a certain provision in another Article. She sought to have put in the words "without distinction of sex, religion or class." The President said he would consider it again when we came to this Article 44. He referred to Section 2 2º of Article 44, which says:
The State guarantees not to endow any religion, and shall not impose any disabilities or make any discrimination on the ground of religious profession, belief or status.
That gives a very considerable amount of protection but it is not quite the same as declaring that there is no distinction in the rights of citizens on the grounds of religion. It might read as if it were simply a declaration of toleration and not a declaration of rights.
I have to confess that at this stage I am not ready to deal with that. We shall have to make sure to deal with it on Report. The question I was considering was whether the whole clause had some suggestion in connection with endowment. I had read it as if the clause were by itself without any reference to endowing any religion—"that the State shall not impose any disabilities or make any discrimination on the ground of religious profession, belief or status." I think that would be sufficiently wide to cover everything. The only question is whether, in the context of endowment, it might narrow what I thought was the completely general statement. I will have the matter looked into. I may say that in regard to citizenship, the line we are trying to go on is to get some general classification of citizens and, if necessary, to mention in that classification this question of religion and sex so as to cover the whole thing. I dislike bringing in this sub-clause "without distinction of sex and religion" and that sort of thing every time you mention the word "citizens."
It was because the President said he would discuss it on this Article that I reminded him of it.
I move amendment No. 137:—
In Section 4 to delete sub-section 2º and substitute a new sub-section as follows:—
The State recognises the right of all citizens to work and obtain work, and that in this respect the rights of men and women are equal. But the State shall endeavour to ensure that the strength and health of workers and the tender age of children shall not be abused and that no citizen or child shall be forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their sex, age or strength.
This is another of the series of amendments drafted by various Deputies, including myself, to endeavour to allay the fears of many of the women citizens of the State that some of these sections might be misread so as to put some bar in the way of the freedom of action of women in their work and not merely in regard to political standing. The President has said that the political equality of women was recognised throughout the whole Constitution, or that it would be by the time he had done with the Constitution, and had put in some amendments he had promised, but what women are afraid of is not so much any deprivation of their political equality, but some deprivation of their economic equality, and this amendment has been drafted in order to make explicit that they shall have equal rights of work with men. It is intended as a substitution for the last paragraph of the Article. I do not think anybody has any quarrel with the actual words of that paragraph but there is the fear that, taken in conjunction with other Articles, it may be used to interfere with the activity of women in cases other than those where their strength might be endangered by the nature of the avocation.
I touched on this in discussing another amendment a day or two ago, and I do not want to weary the House by going over the same ground, but I would suggest that the President might be willing to accept the amendment which, in its first clause, pledges itself definitely to give equal rights as regards the right to work and to look for work to men and women. That first sentence of the amendment: "The State recognises the right of all its citizens to work and obtain work, and that, in this respect the rights of men and women are equal," would to women be a charter of economic freedom embedded in the Constitution which would, I think, allay a great deal of the anxiety at present existing. It is said that this anxiety is quite unnecessary. That may be so, but it does not do away with the fact that there is anxiety. One has learned from personal communication, from communications in the newspapers and from various resolutions passed by women's societies, that this anxiety is felt. It is not being expressed by irresponsible people, but by many of the most responsible women's associations in the country. I have been very much impressed by the names attached to some of these communications. Some of the leading women professors at the universities and other women who have taken a leading and very important part in public life for years past are amongst them. They do fear that this Article, taken in conjunction with others, may be used in the future to limit their activities, and many of them asked that particularly this first sentence of my amendment should be pressed on the House.
The rest of the amendment accepts, almost word for word, the clause which appears in the Draft already, but instead of having special reference to women, it applies in the broadest sense to all workers, which is important. Surely workers of every sex, men and women, require protection as regards their strength and health, and our laws provide for some control in that respect and that employers are not to be at liberty to overwork their workers to a gross degree. Only in the last year or two, the Government introduced and the House busied itself in passing a measure of considerable protection for the health and strength of workers. I take it there is no objection to that being embodied in the Constitution, and I would suggest that instead of pointing to women as requiring protection, it should point to all workers, including women, as requiring protection. The only other point that is altered in the Draft is that, instead of women or children, as set out in the clause, the amendment suggests it should refer to "no citizen or child" and should read: "... and that no citizen or child shall be forced by economic necessity..."
I think that that is the wish of all of us—that no citizen, adult man or woman, should have to enter an avocation unsuited to their age, strength or sex. There are avocations suitable to women and it would be deplorable if men were to enter such avocations. Many of them are forced to do so at present by virtue of the fact that they cannot obtain any other kind of work. However, that is beside the question. I ask the President and the Dáil to give very close attention to this paragraph of the Draft. The right of women should be set out as equal to men in regard to working and seeking for work, and the special reference to women in the second part should be dropped out and words referring broadly to workers and citizens should be substituted. I do not think that there is anything controversial in this amendment.
Again, the two paragraphs must be read closely together— paragraphs 1º and 2º. In the first paragraph, it is stated that the State pledges itself to guard with special care the weaker sections of the community— the sections most likely to be exploited or whose powers might be abused. There is no doubt that there is a tendency to exploit women labour. The State is pledging itself generally to guard with special care the economic interests of the weaker sections of the community, mentioning special classes —the infirm, the widow, the orphan and the aged. We go on in the second part to ensure that the inadequate strength of women or of children shall not be abused. It is, perhaps, true that in modern times the abuse is not on the strength of women in the sense that would occur to one if you took the example given to-day of a woman going down a mine and moving heavy loads about or the example, as I saw some time ago, in a picture, of women loading coal on steamers in China. That is not now so much the danger and, perhaps, the term "inadequate strength" is not the most appropriate. In general, I have no objection to the amendment. I shall have it examined carefully. I think that the Deputy did not intend to go as far as is set out in the amendment. There are two propositions involved. I take it that the intention was to stress the equality of right. There is however, the further proposition—the right to work and obtain work. Is not that so?
Yes. The word "seek" would be better than "obtain."
Leaving that question over, I do not know whether we shall get agreement as to the right of all people to get a means of livelihood. It is very difficult to secure that, but in modern society— the word "enmeshed" was used here to-day—the right to a means of livelihood exists, and it ought to be the endeavour of society to see that the right is given effect by trying to make the means available. However, this is a definite commitment and we ought to see our way a little ahead before we adopt it. If I can get the whole proposition generally accepted, I shall do so, but I shall do it with the necessary qualification that it should be an endeavour, because we cannot promise any more than a sincere endeavour at the moment. So far as the equality of right to a means of livelihood is concerned, there is no doubt that that applies to the woman as well as to the man and, so far as that goes, I do not think there will be any difficulty in getting acceptance. I shall consider whether the other proposition is contained in that and I shall go as far as I can to meet it.
I am not quite sure to what the President has committed himself. I gathered from Deputy Rowlette's amendment that the second portion was largely a restatement.
Applying to a wider class.
Roughly speaking, a restatement. That the President is willing to accept, more or less. That is largely a rewording of what is on the paper. On the other portion of the amendment, I am not quite clear as to what his attitude is. However, we shall see on Report Stage.
There are two propositions in it.
That is what I am saying. I have made that quite clear even to the President. You accept the second half——
Of which proposition?
Will the President observe the ordinary rules of debate and let me, at least, finish my sentence?
The Deputy is "enmeshed" now.
The ordinary Deputy cannot interrupt the President and the President must show the same courtesy to other members. In the proposition I was pointing out there are two portions. To one portion the President has, on the whole, no great objection. There is no great change in it. When we come to the first portion, there are also two parts in it. I am not quite sure as to what the attitude of the President is on the second part. He promised to table an amendment. There will be some opportunity of finding out what he proposes to put into the legislation when we see that amendment Until then we cannot express any view as to the President's intentions.
You, Sir, asked me whether I was moving the next amendment. Basing my action on the conduct of the President throughout this Bill, particularly on the attitude he has taken up in connection with the rights of women; trying, as I did, to follow what his standpoint was, and being unable to do so, being unable to find reasonableness or reason in the line he took up——
Cut the cackle and come to the point.
I do not see much use in moving this amendment at this stage. Therefore I propose to postpone it. I am fortified in that by the belief that there is to be a redrafting of this section. When we see the draft of this particular section we may then be in a position to decide what will happen, but at the moment, with the thing in a state of flux, if that is not too definite a word to apply to anything coming from the President, we are not in a position to do that. As I say, every amendment that has been proposed by the Opposition, and every criticism that has been offered on this Constitution from these benches, or in the country, has been regarded almost as high treason by the President. Now, we cannot be put into the position of simply legislating not on what is here before us on paper, but legislating some alleged thing that is in the President's mind. It is not the President's word that we are enacting, and it is not the President who will have the interpretation of this Constitution, and therefore we can only deal with the documents before us. We have been met so unreasonably, and have had to listen to such a lot of confused and absurd argument on the part of the President, that it would be wasting our own time and the time of the House if we were to go into this matter now.
I move amendment No. 140:—
In Section 2, line 6, after the word "Referendum" to insert the words "where, however, such a Bill has been passed unanimously by both Houses of the Oireachtas it shall become law without a Referendum unless the President in his personal discretion shall consider a Referendum desirable."
My fear is that the section as it stands is unduly rigid: that emergencies might occur when there would be complete unanimity of feeling in the Oireachtas. There might be an emergency in constitutional matters as in other matters, and if these had a unanimous vote of both the Dáil and the Seanad it cannot be said that there is a fear of something being done behind the backs of the people. There are also matters in the Constitution that might be considered of insufficient importance to warrant putting the country to the expense of a Referendum. If there were some such trivial matters that both Houses were unanimous in wishing to dispose of, I think they ought to be allowed to do it.
The only difference is that you go to the trouble of getting the people as a whole to sanction the Constitution, and then you allow, or propose to allow, the Legislature to change it. I will admit that the fact that you had got unanimity in both the Dáil and Seanad would seem to imply that, if the matter in question were submitted to the country under such circumstances, the people would accept. The only objection I have is that that seems to weaken the fundamental sanction, because in the one case you have definitely to prove that, while in the other it is only, so to speak, by a process of deduction, having the unanimity which is called for here, you could fairly assume that if the matter had been put to the people it would have been accepted.
I am inclined to accept the amendment, but I would like to have time to go into it fully and see what can be done. One of the things in favour of it is that there might be an emergency of so compelling a character that it was only the element of time that mattered most, and that that would be appreciated to such an extent that you would get Deputies and members of the Seanad to agree that it should be done, or the matter might be of such a trifling character that the expense of going to the people would hardly seem to be justified. That is an argument in favour of accepting the amendment. The only thing against it is the general principle that once the Constitution is adopted by the people as a whole it ought to be changed only by their direct and immediate will.
I submit that this is a case where common sense ought to be the primary consideration.
I move amendment No. 141:—
To delete Sections 1 and 2 and substitute a new section as follows:—
In every Referendum voting shall be compulsory. Failure to vote shall cause disenfranchisement at the next succeeding general election together with such fine as may be imposed by law.
My point is this, that it has been found in practice in countries where the Referendum exists, that any stipulation as to the proportion of people that must vote in order to make the Referendum effective has very grave dangers for this reason: that it has been found that the easiest way to defeat a particular proposal is not to bring out your voters to vote against it but to deter them from voting at all. It is a very easy form of intimidation, because it is easy to ascertain whether or not a man has, in fact, gone to vote. I have put in an amendment suggesting that voting should be compulsory in a Referendum, but that is not the real pith of my criticism. I am not particularly keen to have voting made compulsory. I shall be quite satisfied if there is no stipulation as to a certain proportion of the electorate having to vote before a Referendum is effective.
With regard to compulsory voting, we have discussed that already and there is no need to go back on it. The Deputy, I am sure, realises the peculiar way in which this is cast. This is negative in form. In other words, the theory behind it is that the legislation shall pass unless it is vetoed, the assumption being that, unless the people opposed to it were sufficiently interested to come out and vote against it, it has their approval—in other words, silence gives consent. The people's House of Representatives, at least, have passed it, and their will shall be effective unless the people actively show that they do not approve.
If the people, then, do not show that they are actively opposed to it by coming out in such numbers as would make sure of its defeat, I think it can be taken that it has their approval. I think that we might take that number of people as, roughly, one-half of what we would expect at a reasonably well-contested election. I put the figure there at 35 per cent., because I think you will find that at a reasonably well-contested election you will have about 70 per cent. of the register polled. Therefore, the basis on which this is laid is that, if this is a measure to which a majority of the people object, then when there is a vote taken on it, you will get that majority by having at least 35 per cent. In other words, you are putting the responsibility on those who object to come out and vote against the measure and that is why you have the number there.
I admit that there may be some question of intimidation. I do not think it would amount to very much. However, that particular aspect of it did not occur to me, and I admit that there may be some question of intimidation. The aspect that I had in my mind was that it was necessary to make sure that a measure should not be defeated by the inertia of people who did not care what it was about, and that as many people would come out to vote against the measure to which they objected as would be sufficient to give you a majority in an ordinary well-contested election.
Of course, compulsory voting would answer the objection about inertia.
It would, but I think we would be getting into another field altogether if we were to go into the question of compulsory voting. After all, if you take the number on the register and subtract those who cannot come—very often, you will find that a number of people have died in the meantime, and so on—I do not think that the number that do turn out in an ordinary well-contested election is so very small in this country. I think our people are sufficiently interested to come out and vote. I have not seen a close analysis of any one constituency to find out how many, of the 100 per cent. on the register, would, in fact, under a compulsory system of voting, be in that vote. I know that compulsory voting in other countries has got up to 95 per cent., or well over 90 per cent., at any rate. Consequently, it is possible that you would increase the percentage somewhat if you had compulsory voting. On the other hand, there are evils in connection with compulsory voting which were adverted to here when we were discussing this matter before. Of course, it could be brought in. There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent, at any time, a law being passed making it obligatory on voters to go to the polls, or on those who are on the register to go to the polls. Accordingly, we are not closing the door on that possibility, but I should not like to bring it in here.
There are two special difficulties with regard to voting in a referendum. One is that the proportion of voters apt to turn out, until a country becomes accustomed to the referendum system, is generally very low. They turn out and vote in much higher numbers in a general election where more personal interests enter in and where they are called upon to choose between one party and another, and where they are voting about something of a popular nature and about which they have a clear opinion. When it comes to a question of a single law, however, the tendency is that the proportion of people who take the trouble to come out and vote will be very small, at least until a country gets accustomed to a referendum system. Where they are accustomed to a referendum system, it is different. For example, in Switzerland the proportion of those who turn out in a referendum has increased until now, I understand, the proportion in that country is very high. Largely as a result of the referendum system the ordinary Swiss people are about the most politically educated people in the world. As a matter of fact, it is amazing to find how politically educated the humblest class of people in Switzerland are.
However, as I said, we must be prepared, when the first referendum comes along, to find a low percentage turning out. I think it will be found, unless the referendum is concerned with some very sensational subject, that the proportion of voters who turn out will be very much lower than in a general election. That is one reason why one ought to be very careful about setting any minimum such as is provided here. The other is the one I have mentioned: that it has been found, in the case of a referendum, that much the easiest way of intimidation is to prevent people from going there at all and causing the referendum to fail, in the sense in which they desire it to fail, by that method.
I agree with a lot of what the Deputy has said, but one remark of his made me doubtful whether he fully appreciated the fact that the legislation goes through on this 35 per cent.——
Yes, I understand that.
——and that, therefore, the minimum here is in the right direction.
Well, it all depends. There could be intimidation in favour of legislation as well as against it.
I quite appreciate that.
I move amendment No. 142:—
In Section 2, sub-section 1º, line 6, to delete the words "such majority" and substitute the words "if the votes so cast against its enactment into law."
I would really ask the President to accept amendments Nos. 142 and 143 because they just diminish a little bit the stringency of the conditions he is imposing, which, I think, are dangerous conditions in view of what I have just been saying. As regards amendment No. 142, I put that down because the words used seemed to me to be slightly ambiguous. Amendment No. 142 refers to Section 2, sub-section 1º, line 6, which says: "Every Bill and every proposal, other than a proposal to amend the Constitution, which is submitted by Referendum to the decision of the people, shall be held to have been votoed by the people if a majority of the votes cast at such Referendum shall have been cast against its enactment into law and such majority," and so on. Now, what does the word "majority" mean there?
What it meant in the other one.
No, I do not think it does. It seems to me that the second "majority" differs in meaning from the first "majority." The words are "if a majority of the votes cast at such Referendum shall have been cast against its enactment into law and such majority shall have amounted to." That means the amount by which the successful votes exceeded the unsuccessful votes.
I would not take that meaning out of it. However, we can examine it.
It seems to me to be ambiguous and wrong. I think that, if the words I suggest were put there instead, it would make the meaning clear beyond all doubt. It would then read: "if the votes so cast against its enactment into law shall have amounted to not less than," and so on. Perhaps the President will consider it?
As a matter of fact, I think we are prepared to accept it. We can go into it, but perhaps we will accept it in the precise terms. I think, however, that the ground for it is not quite justifiable. I mean, that the deletion of the words "such majority" there can hardly be justified, and that the word "majority" cannot mean a different thing in the second place from what it means in the first place. However, in case there is any doubt about it, we are quite prepared to accept it.
Is the President accepting amendment No. 142?
Yes. If necessary, an amendment could be put in on the Report Stage.
Would it not be better for Deputy MacDermot to withdraw it?
It is all the same to me. I am prepared to accept it.
I move amendment No. 143:—
In Section 2, sub-section 1º, line 7, to delete the word "thirty-five" and substitute the word "thirty".
This amendment proposes to reduce the minimum from 35 per cent. to 30 per cent. In view of what I have said about the lowness of the vote in referendums in countries where the people are not yet accustomed to them, I feel that the amendment should be accepted. After all, 30 per cent. on one side means 30 per cent. of the voters on the Register on one side. You might have 29 per cent. on the other side so that you would really have a very high vote, even with the minimum I suggest. I would appeal to the President to accept the amendment because in practice I think it will be found that 30 per cent. of the voters on the Register means a very high vote.
The moment you accept amendments of this kind you run into all sorts of dangers. If we are using the word "vetoed", then the responsibility for getting the measure "vetoed" is to be cast definitely on those who oppose it. It might be a serious matter for the people who did not go to the poll. You would not have compulsory voting and there might be a general feeling that there was only a small number opposed to the measure and some people might say: "We will not go to the poll at all." You might then find that you would be defeating the will of the House of Representatives because, I take it, it is only where a measure has been deemed to be passed and where there is a difference of opinion between the House of Representatives and the Seanad, that a measure like this would go to the people. I want to provide that if it is vetoed, it will only be vetoed by an actual majority of the people opposed to it. I am afraid that a lower proportion than 35 per cent. would not be very safe because 70 per cent. is not a very high vote in a well-contested election.
I should think it is abnormally high in a referendum.
It might and it might not. We are more or less in the dark in this matter. You could certainly, in a well-contested election, get very much more than 70 per cent. of a vote. I shall try to meet the Deputy's wishes, but this is a matter which has been carefully considered and discussed. I think that the will of the Legislature, the House of Representatives, should not be vetoed or upset unless it is clear that it is being vetoed by a majority of the people. It should not be left to mere chance as to whether some people do their duty or not. This proportion of 35 per cent. has been an agreed number, so to speak, and I have not the same opportunity of meeting the Deputy as I have in other matters. I shall try if I can to get it down to 33? per cent.
I would point out that you might have a referendum where 34 per cent. of the electorate would vote on one side and 33 on the other—a total of 67 per cent. of the electorate, a very fine vote. The result of that referendum might be rendered entirely nugatory by this provision. Of course, you might hold that the Legislature, plus 33 per cent. of the electorate should prevail over 34 per cent. of the electorate, but that is against the principle of a referendum. On every referendum, of course, the figures might not be so close. You might have 30 per cent. on the one side and 34 per cent. on the other, which would still be an extremely high vote, as referendums go. I do not think that the decision of the people should be rendered nugatory by a rigid provision of this kind. I think that 30 per cent. of the voters on the register would represent a very high proportion, and I certainly appeal to the President that it should not be made any higher.
An idea has occurred to me while the Deputy was speaking, but I do not know whether it would be feasible. We might have some corrective by providing that the total vote cast should reach a certain percentage. That would meet a case where you had a really good vote. You could provide that there should be 35 per cent. of the voters on the register in favour of vetoing the measure, unless there was more than a certain percentage of the votes cast. If the number of votes cast exceeded that percentage you could provide for a lower percentage than 35 per cent., otherwise there would have to be 35 per cent. in favour of the veto. I do not want to complicate the matter too much if we could get out of it in any other way.
I think in other countries where a minimum is imposed the custom is to apply it to the total number voting. It is provided, for instance, that the Referendum should not take effect unless 40 per cent. of the voters voted—without any limitation as to the side on which they voted.
I shall consider the idea put forward by the Deputy.
Meanwhile I withdraw the amendment.
I move amendment No. 144:—
To insert after the word "Constitution" where it secondly occurs the words "and the Constitution of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) Act, 1922, in so far as that Act or any provision thereof is then in force"; and to delete in line 3, the word "is" and insert in lieu thereof the word "are".
The object of the amendment is to repeal as much of the Act referred to as remains. We are repealing the Constitution of 1922, and we are repealing also the Act itself in which it is contained.
I propose to repeat amendment No. 148, standing in my name, at the proper stage.
What does that mean?
When we are dealing with the Irish text, I take it.
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of Eire.
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,
And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,
Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.
I move amendment No. 149:—
In line 4 to delete the word "Eire" and substitute the words "Irish Free State."
Is this one of the places where the President is prepared to put in the word "Ireland" instead of "Eire"?
That whole question is extremely difficult. We want to make it clear that here we have an affirmation "on behalf of." We would have to change this considerably if we were to bring in the word "Ireland" there. If we put in some general term at the beginning, and suggest that the equivalent name in English is "Ireland," I think that is what the Deputy wanted to get at.
What I really wanted to get at is whether in the Preamble we are talking about ourselves as the people of Ireland or as the people of the Irish Free State, because my next amendment is affected by that. If the President is putting in the word "Eire," I just want to know whether he is using the word "Eire" as meaning "Ireland" or "The Irish Free State"?
I am using "Eire" for the State.
For the Irish Free State?
For the name of the State.
That puts us in an extraordinary position. The President speaks of the "State." What State? A State of 32 Counties?
If the Deputy will look at this he will see that we are talking about the nation, which claims its national territory and, without prejudice to the claim that the Parliament which is being set up here should exercise jurisdiction, we are taking cognisance of the obvious fact that our jurisdiction, the jurisdiction of the Parliament and the Government set up by the State, cannot effectively extend to certain parts of the country at the present moment. Therefore, when we are talking about the people of Eire, it is obvious that it must be only the part which we can effectively control.
Why obvious? I do not see the obviousness of it.
I think it is If we in a part of this document say that, pending reintegration, the laws of the Parliament and the Government set up here cannot effectively operate in a certain part of the national territory, it is quite obvious that the people in that part of the national territory are unable to participate in this declaration, and therefore, the declaration on behalf of the whole nation, on behalf of the State, can only be by the people in that part of it whose voice can effectively be heard or made to be heard.
Surely when, at the beginning of Article 1 for example, we say "the Irish Nation hereby affirms," we mean the Irish Nation?
I indicated that the greater part of it can be taken as affirming it.
It is not in the Constitution.
"The Irish Nation hereby affirms"; this affirmation is being made by the majority of the people on behalf of the whole.
Where does it state that?
On behalf of the whole? That is all I wanted to get at. It is on behalf of the whole?
I should like to ask for an elucidation of that point. The President refers to Article 1 in which it appears that a certain thing is being done by certain people. Those things are affirmed in the form of a Bill here, that is to say proposed but not having legal effect. In Article 3 there is an admission that we cannot legislate for the area in which, in Article 1, we purport to be legislating for. Then we come to the Preamble, and I do want some clarity on this question of "Eire." The President tells us it is quite clear. There is a reference to the State. There is a heading "The Nation" and a heading "The State." Article 4 says "The name of the State is Eire." There is nothing in this document defining for us what is meant by "Eire" and what is "the State." The Preamble, as it is at the moment, says—I am giving only the effective sentence—"We, the people of Eire, do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution." I do not want to advert to the Irish text, but we do notice that "The people of Eire" is in the Irish text "muinntear na hEireann."
The President in another Article— Article 6 I think it was—actually pointed out that the people are referred to there in the form of "pobal", "on pobal" and "ag an bpobal". Here we have it in the form of "muinntear na hEireann.""Muinntear na hEireann" can only mean the people of Ireland. We really must know where we stand. In the English text we have "The people of Eire," and they say "We do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution." You have the subject, "We," and then they perform a certain act. They give. They give to whom? They give "to ourselves." Who are "We" and who are "ourselves"? The President has stated time and again that in this document he is endeavouring to put the thing in a clear and lucid way so that everyone can understand it. I would defy anybody to tell us what is meant here. There is "We" and there is "ourselves." Are the "We" and the "ourselves" actually identical, or is it a fact that the people in one part of Ireland operate to give this Constitution to themselves and to other people?
Time and time again I have asked the President to answer me, but I defy anyone to get hold of those words and point to a clear statement as to what this Preamble says. "We, the people of Eire"; somebody, some plurality, I think, claims to itself the law-making power in this country. To my mind there is only one law-making power in this country, and that is this Dáil. Here, some other people come along and tell us that they are enacting. Now, I admit that this Dáil, exercising its law-making power, can provide and actually has provided as to how a proposal shall become the law, and, in a certain instance, using its sovereign power, it says that one of the conditions for a proposal to become law will be that there must be a vote taken in the country.
What are we to understand is going to happen? We understand that the people in a certain portion of Ireland, a certain number of them over 21 who do not suffer from any disability, are to be invited to go and vote, and if a bare majority of those who vote, which it may be taken as practically certain is not going to be the majority in the area, then somehow this multitude of people, which presumably will be the minority of the adult people in the Free State for some reason claim the power to make law not only for those like myself who will vote against them, but for other people in the North of Ireland who have no right whatever to vote. I asked the President time and again is he affirming something that is natural law or stating that this Government in the Free State is to exercise sovereign power to legislate and to lay down certain conditions for a majority of the people on the register. If this Dáil passes a Bill through its various stages it shall only become law because there is a majority of the voters in the area. I have to put it rather carefully as it will be actually a minority. There are certain people over 21 years of age on the register, and I suggest that a certain portion presumably will vote. If the major part of those vote for the document, then we, by our legislation, are enacting that they have no sovereign power whatever and no law-making power. We are merely allow ing them to perform a certain act and saying that unless it is done in a certain way a certain Bill will become law. We want clarity.
Here we are going to have presumably a minority of the people with the right to vote in this area claiming power to legislate not only for themselves, and not only for people who vote against them, but also for people in another part of Ireland. I cannot say that for certain, because the President carefully has in the ambiguous words "in Eire" in order to create ambiguity and to pretend that this is something it is not. I cannot see any other reason.
We are told that it is the people in Eire are intended, and that we are giving a Constitution to the same people. They are described as "ourselves." I want a straight answer. Who are the people of Eire? Are they the people in the Free State who are in favour of this Constitution, or the whole people of the Free State unified by the law-making power of the Government? The Government have decreed that when a majority votes a certain way it becomes law. Are they giving a Constitution to themselves, and purporting also to give it to the people in another area, for which we already recognise in Article 3 we have no power to make law? The President says it is so patently clear that we have no power to make law for the Six Counties, that that is sufficient as a definition for what is meant by "State" when referred to here. I am asking a straight question. What is the Eire referred to in the Preamble? Who are the people in it, and in the last lines indicating that they claim the law-making power? For whom are they making that law? Are they making it for the Twenty-Six Counties or for the 32 Counties? In other words, are "we" and "ourselves" identical?
I am afraid I must despair of making it clear to Deputies that Eire in this document is the name of the State.
The State that will have functions when this Constitution is passed. The name of that State is Eire. In Irish, if the Deputy wanted to speak of the people of Eire, he would have only one obvious way of expressing it, "muinntear na hEireann." As I stated previously, we claim the same right as the remainder of France to call itself France, even though portion of its territory was taken away. For obvious reasons, it contained a greater part of the nation, and hoped for the reunion of the part that was taken away. Here we are asserting a right to have the home of the nation unified, and to have the portion that was taken away against the will of the majority restored.
The claim is that the nation and the State should coincide, and that the territory and the effective jurisdiction of the nation ought to extend to the whole of the national home. Patently the nation is divided at the moment, and a law passed by the Legislature in the greater part of the nation is not able to be put into execution. But that does not prevent us making definitely the claim on behalf of the nation, so that there would be no ambiguity. The name of the State is set down as Eire. In English, if you wanted to say it was Ireland, there would be a certain amount of confusion between the area "Ireland" and the nation or State, "Ireland."
If France had been an island, with a better defined boundary than it had, and if what was obviously a portion of France outside was kept out of the territory, there would be a certain amount of confusion between the State, France, and the territory called France. As an island we have such well-defined boundaries that the people of the nation and the people of Eire are pretty well confused, and sometimes not kept separate at all. The reason I did not propose to use definitely the name "Ireland" in the name of the State was to bring out the difference between the State and the national territory and the national home of the whole island. It is easy to make the distinction in Irish. In Irish you can take Stát na hEireann or Oileán na hEireann or Tír na hEireann. In the same way, in English, if you want to distinguish between "State" and "Island," you could talk of the Island of Ireland and of the State of Ireland. If we were to accept Ireland as the equivalent of Eire in this document, wherever the name occurs, unless otherwise stated it would have to refer to the State and not to the territory. This is a document about a State. We only mentioned territory in Articles 2 and 3. Throughout the whole document we are talking of the State. Whenever the word Eire occurs, it refers to the State unless otherwise indicated by some explicit word to the contrary.
When we say "We, the people of Ireland," surely that means the people of the State, ‘and can only mean the people of the State effectively able to make themselves heard. In the Preamble "We, the people of Eire," means "We, the people of the State," the effective part of the State talking, because no other part of the State will have its views heard. Similarly, in the claim indicated in the text, we say that we would have the moral right to exercise jurisdiction but that we are prevented at the moment from doing so. I do not see anything confusing about this, bearing in mind that this document is about the State and that "territory" does not occur except in Articles 1 and 2. When you define the name of the State as Eire or as Ireland every time it occurs in this document, except when put otherwise, it refers to the State. The Deputy talked about plurality, about "We," the law-making power, and about the people having no law-making power. That is topsyturvydom absolutely. Who designated and gave us the right? Who indicated that individuals sitting on these benches were to exercise authority? Who indicated that we are the particular individuals to do it? Clearly the people, and the people are capable of doing so unless they set up some other authority to do it. They are capable, and have authority to frame a Constitution, and to indicate the form of the State, as well as the particular individuals who shall exercise authority.
I do not care what theory you have, the donation theory or the designation theory, but in either case we individuals have been selected by the people—not selected directly as if this power came directly from Almighty God; but the same class of people, the voters, not the whole community, are selecting us, designating us as the people who shall have this authority for making legislation. The very same people who designate us are themselves this time, primarily and directly and immediately, as is their right, going to enact this Constitution. I cannot see how the Deputy is getting confused in his mind about this matter, about the meaning of Eire as it occurs in this text. In this document, if Eire ever occurs and means anything other than the State, if it means the territory, the island, to save ambiguity you would have Oiléan Eireann or Tír na hEireann or something of that sort. Oiléan Eireann would probably be better, as Tír na hEireann would possibly mean the territory of the State. You will have to put in some word to indicate it. Without any further qualification in it, it means the State. Where we say "the people of Eire," we mean "we, the people of the State." As regards the second matter, it is a confusion I cannot understand.
We may have got it a little clearer. The President says: "How do we come to be here; who put us here?" Because the Government got a majority of the votes cast, and because the positive law of this country says that under these conditions power goes to such a body of men. There is no eternal law, no natural law, which says that that minority in this country which voted for Fianna Fáil, automatically or necessary, by natural law, conveys authority to them. That is only the framework of our positive law. Anyway what I want to get clear is this. I do not want to go into the Irish text, but I think it is a pity the President did not explain the situation to his Irish translators. He says that everywhere the word Eire appears in this text it means what he calls the State. But in the Irish text I find Muinntear na hEireann. Why did not the President make it clear to his Irish translators that the word Eire did not mean the geographical entity?
It does not say there that it means it.
It says here Muinntear na hEireann.
How do you say the people of the State of Ireland?
The President says the difference between the State and the nation is made clear here. If you take Eire as the Twenty-Six Counties, the Irish Free State, and if you also, in the same document, refer to the whole area of Ireland as Eire——
Eire is ainm dom Stát. There is a difference between the nominative and the genitive case. Is e oileán na hEireann go hiomlán ... an chríoch náisiúnta. There you have the word Eire, or Ireland, if you like, meaning the whole area of Ireland. In the same legal document you have the same word referring to a different entity.
I cannot follow the Deputy. Will he point out where he is reading from?
The President will agree that Eire, or any other case form, is the same word.
It is the same thing.
"Is e oileán na hEireann go hiomlán." That is the nation—all that geographical area that we call Ireland.
There is no question of geography in the Irish nation.
You have Oileán na hEireann, and then in the Preamble you have Muinntear na hEireann. We are told that, somehow or other, it should be obvious that the people, Muinntear na hEireann there refers to a different entity from Oileán na hEireann in Article 2. The President marvels at my lack of clarity. He cannot see why anybody can make any statement about what is so patent and obvious. He also says here: "We, the people of Eire, ... adopt and give to ourselves".
The President talked about the claim being made to the right to legislate for any part of the country. But what is proposed here is that the people in that area known as the Irish Free State are now claiming to legislate and to give themselves, that is, to themselves in the area of the Irish Free State, a Constitution. There is not one man here, barring the President, who would have the effrontery to say that, reading that Preamble, you necessarily and automatically know that the word Eire means the Twenty-Six Counties and the people referred to as ourselves in the last line necessarily excludes the people of the Six Counties. The thing is so ambiguous that even the President's explanation leaves it ambiguous.
As the President uses the argument about silence giving consent, I will say that, if this House agrees and understands that what the Preamble says is that, for a certain portion of Ireland, to be arbitrarily and more or less by convention referred to as Ireland or Eire in this document, they propose giving to themselves, that is to say, the people of that area, by a convention for the moment being called Ireland, are giving to themselves this Constitution, I think it is all-important to have that clear. I cannot even say now that the President has made it clear. I merely ask if I am wrong in saying that we, the people of Eire, the people of what is called the Irish Free State, give to ourselves, that is to us, the people of what is now called the Irish Free State, this Constitution. That is what I understand by it, and I ask the President to say yes or no.
The Deputy must think I am quite an innocent person. I have stated that Eire in this document refers to the State, and that State is not a geographical notion. The territory of the State is one thing, the territory of the nation is another thing; the State is one thing and the nation is another thing. There are four things. You can have the territory of the State and the territory of the nation—the home of the nation; the home of the nation being the whole of Ireland. But when you speak of Muinntear na hEireann, somebody may say there is a division, because up to the present that meant the people of the island of Ireland. But in this document, where Eire is defined as a State notion, Muinntear na hEireann must mean the people of the State, unless it is otherwise made clear. Wherever there is anything mentioned in this—and we will have to go over it carefully to make sure that it is so—where Eire would mean anything but the State, we must make it quite clear that it means something other than the State. The State until reintegration had taken place would not be co-terminous, as far as its effective jurisdiction is concerned, with the island.
Therefore, the territory of the State, that is the effective part of the territory, would not be the same as the Island; and if you say Oilean na h-Eireann before the integration takes place, the portion left is not Oilean na h-Eireann at all. Therefore, there could be no ambiguity about it. Muintir na h-Eireann could have ambiguity about it. As Eire formerly meant the whole Island, it might possibly now mean, apart from this definition, the people of Ireland. Consequently it is necessary to bear in mind that Eire is defined here as the State.
If anybody asked me whether in this document you will find a definition stating that Eire means that portion of the country which is now the Free State, I will be very pleased because I cannot find it.
It is stated that whenever "Eire" is used it is the State.
But what is the State? We are told that the State is Eire and Eire is the State. It happens that a part of France, a place called Llivia in the North of Spain and which once belonged to Spain is now part of France. If you look to the North of the Pyrenees you will find this little place called Llivia. When the Government of France refer to France they do not refer to France including Llivia. Here in this Draft the President is making "Eire" mean one thing one time and another thing another time. We read in the Preamble "We the people of Eire" give to ourselves this Constitution. To whom are we giving the Constitution? I asked the President what was "Eire" and what was the "State" and he read out a long involved statement that was meant as "yes." Now if I say the President meant "yes" in that reply I will be accused by him later of having misrepresented him.
The President would have saved himself a lot of confusion if he had stuck to the Irish Free State instead of Eire and avoided some rigmaroles and refining. As I presume he is wedded to the expression "Eire," I withdraw amendment No. 149.
I move amendment No. 150:
In line 10, after the word "Nation," to insert the following:
"Remembering, too, that nearly one-quarter of our people are united by ties of blood, tradition and sentiment with Great Britain; remembering the part played by our forefathers both of Gaelic and of British stock in founding and developing the British Commonwealth, and by our kith and kin to-day in guiding its destinies; remembering the security given by membership of that Commonwealth against attacks upon our independence from any quarter; remembering the long agony of Irish history due not solely to foreign oppression, but also to conflict of ideals and loyalties among Irishmen; and earnestly desiring to enable our country to grow to its full stature by conciliating our various traditions and aspirations so as to fuse them into one national consciousness and to attain that measure of unity in heart and mind which makes a nation."
In relation to this amendment, I was anxious to ascertain whether "we, the people of Eire," speak merely for the Irish Free State or for the whole country. The President has told us that we speak on behalf of the whole nation. That fact makes still more appropriate the insertion of the words that I desire to see added to the Preamble.
Deputies will notice that there is an attempt made in the Preamble to recite the considerations which should be predominant in our minds when framing a Constitution like this. My contention is that the draftsman of the Preamble left out some of the most important. Therefore, I propose, in addition to what is stated in the Preamble: "Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our nation", to add the words in the amendment.
If those words were in the Preamble this Constitution would really be a step on the road to doing away with Partition. In that case I venture to say that nobody who meant what he said in the Preamble would reject the other amendment I proposed, declaring ourselves free and equal members of the Commonwealth of Nations and acknowledging King George VI as King of Ireland, so long as we remain members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
I maintain that it is a mockery to produce a statement of the motives that are in our minds at the head of this document which claims to be a milestone of the utmost importance on the road to national unity and to leave out the considerations that are included in my amendment. I hope the President will accept it.
Deputy MacDermot is an optimist.
Deputy MacDermot should be satisfied now that he has got that off his chest.
Is the amendment withdrawn?
No; I would like a division; whether I can have one is another thing. I think a certain number of people must claim it.
There must be five members calling for it.
Amendment put and negatived.
Preamble put and agreed to.