During the previous discussions on this Bill the Taoiseach, the Minister for Defence and other spokesmen from the Government benches hurled a number of unfounded allegations across the floor of the House at the Labour Party, and alleged that the members of the Labour Party were opposing the passage of this Bill because they were supposed to be in sympathy with outside organisations of a military character that had decided to overthrow this Government. Now, such allegations have no foundation whatever. The Taoiseach, in referring to that matter, said that.
"the Labour Party ought to consider the wider aspect of it"
—the Offences Against the State Bill—
"and, as members of this House, they ought to try to support its authority."
The Minister for Defence unfortunately went much further. I do not know whether he used these words quite deliberately, or had evidence that words had been used by some member of this Party to justify his allegation, when he said:
"From certain phrases used by the Labour Party here, it will be taken that they favour a certain armed organisation continuing."
I would invite the Minister for Defence, if he speaks again, to endeavour to justify that allegation by evidence at his disposal, or by words used at any time by any member of the Labour Party in this House. Further on, the same Minister proceeded to deal with the Labour Party and to ventilate his views concerning their attitude. He said:—
"I hope the Labour Party, as they are concerned or should be particularly concerned with the people who are the worst off in the country, the people who are in greatest need of assistance, will not, by anything they say throughout the country, create a situation that would help to fritter away our national energy."
Is it to be understood from that further statement of the Minister that, from information at his disposal, it is the intention of the Labour Party to go outside this House and encourage some armed body of citizens to proceed to overthrow the authority of this Government? I say that no Labour Deputy who ever sat in these benches suggested anything of the kind, inside or outside the House.
When I came into this House in 1922 to the Constituent Assembly with a number of colleagues, we came on the instructions of the governing body of the Labour Party to give effect to the majority decision of Dáil Eireann at the time and help to the best of our ability to frame a Constitution in accordance with the decision of Dáil Eireann in connection with international negotiations. We came into this House in spite of threats of assassination, dictated probably and directed to us by some of the people who are now making these allegations against us. I say the allegations contained in the words of the Minister for Defence should be withdrawn if the Minister cannot produce evidence to substantiate them. Whatever we may think about one another, we should not, at any rate, hurl allegations of this kind from one side of the House to the other; we should not allege that people elected here, a constitutional Party as the Labour Party is, are going to deceive the people to the extent that we will collogue, to use the word used by another Minister, with people outside the House for the purpose of overthrowing the Government elected by the majority of the people. The allegation is that we are engaged in colloguing. We would not be worthy of being members of this House if we were in collusion or engaged in colloguing with such people. There is no foundation whatsoever for any such allegation and I am sure the intelligent, sensible people of the country are not going to swallow political and unfounded allegations of that kind.
We are opposing the passage of this measure because the Offences Against the State Bill, or 30 sections of it, propose to take over all the repressive powers contained in what is known as Article 2A. They propose to take further dictatorial powers in addition to what they have and to make this new legislation part of the normal law of this country. Whatever might have been said—and a good deal was said from the Labour Benches at the time— against the necessity for the introduction of the powers contained in Article 2A, there is one thing to be said for it, at any rate, and that is that the powers contained in that article, in that particular type of legislation, could not be put into operation without the issue of a proclamation, and it had to be suspended in the same way by the issue of a proclamation by the Executive Council. The people who vote for this Bill are going to hand powers to the Executive to make this the normal law and they will give them further dictatorial powers such as were never given before to any Executive by any previous Dáil.
Speaking on the previous measure in this House, the Minister for Finance who is no doubt an authority on democracy, said that "no democratic Assembly and no national Legislature can afford to give uncontrolled powers to the Executive." In opposition in this House at the time was Deputy Lemass who, speaking on the powers sought by Deputy Cosgrave's Party in connection with the legislation I have referred to, defined the rights of the people as the right of free speech, the right of free assembly, the freedom of the Press and the right to be allowed to go at liberty until a charge can be brought and proved. In addition to the powers contained in Article 2A, this legislation that is now introduced, if it is passed, will take from the people every right which Deputy Lemass at the time described as the right of a free people.
The Taoiseach, speaking in this House also, suggested that when they brought down Article 2A he thought the Labour Party supported them. This is actually what the Taoiseach said: "When we brought down Article 2A, I think the Labour Party supported us.... I think they did support us. My recollection is that we were supported and, I think, rightly supported, by the Labour Party at that time, but what I want to point out to the Labour Party is that they ought not, in dealing with these matters, keep the Party aspect, the political aspect of this question in mind." That is not a correct picture of the position which the Taoiseach and the Government presented to this House in 1933 when they decided to make use of the powers in their possession, namely, the powers contained in Article 2A. Everybody who wants to remember—and I daresay it would be good for everybody to forget—what happened in 1933 will recollect quite clearly that we had a state of armed revolt in this country. You had a body in this country who were going round encouraging people not to pay annuities and who were cutting telegraph poles.