Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 29 Nov 1939

Vol. 78 No. 4

Private Deputies' Business. - Farming Dispute: Motion to Revoke Orders.

I move:—

That the Dáil disapproves of the action of the Government in making an Order under Section 36 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, declaring scheduled offences for the purpose of creating jurisdiction in the Special Criminal Court established under Part 5 of the said Act to deal with matters arising or alleged to arise from recent action of the farming community, and calls on the Government to revoke such Orders and to establish independent arbitration or conciliation machinery with a view to adjusting in a manner just and equitable to the interests of the farmers, the consumers and the taxpayers the matters giving rise to such action.

In proposing this motion standing in the names of Deputies O'Donovan, Jeremiah Ryan and myself, I am aware of the fact that I am moving a motion of a very delicate type in a particularly grave situation, and that, in moving this motion and discussing it, there is at least the possibility that a particularly bad situation might be worsened. I am conscious of the fact that when there is a struggle on, any exhibition of partisan feeling one way or the other is only possibly having the effect of provoking the opposite side to greater depths of determination and of, perhaps, considerably worsening the position. This motion asks for two things, and two things only. It is divisible into two sections.

I think I am interpreting the feelings of the House fairly when I say that every single Deputy here and every Party here deplores the unfortunate situation that has arisen, where the most important section of the producers of this country have been driven to withhold their produce. As a result of that situation existing for a week or ten days, as far as the man in the street or the Deputy in the Dáil is concerned, the only answer of the Government and the only effort of the Government in that deplorable state of affairs, to ease the situation and bring about a termination of that appalling position, is to brand those people as criminals and bring them before the Military Tribunal. I, for one, regard that action as a recklessly provocative action that can have no other result than to turn a strike that is a strike for economic reasons into quite possibly a strike of desperation. There is nothing that I can picture more dangerous and more damaging than a widespread strike when it becomes a strike of desperation.

That particular half of the motion, asking the Government to try these people, if they commit offences, through the ordinary laws of this land, will find a re-echo in the heart and mind of every single Deputy. These people are as democratic as any one of us here; they are our own brothers, our own fathers, our own cousins; they have the same State responsibility, the same civic outlook, as any one of us. Some may hold that they are misguided in their efforts; some may hold that they are unjustified in their efforts; but none will agree that these men should be branded as armed conspirators or as traitors to the State. Has the machinery of the law broken down? Have these men entered into a desperate and dangerous conspiracy of a desperate and armed kind? Is there any evidence at the disposal of the Government that these people have organised themselves to intimidate jurors at the point of the gun?

Every one of us remembers the case that was made for such awful powers as are in that section of the Offences Against the State Act. It was to meet insurrection and armed rebellion. Are these unfortunate poor farmers, who interfere with somebody sending cows to the market, criminals, outlaws, or armed conspirators? At the time the Government was asking the Dáil for such powers, we had all kinds of cooing from the Government Benches, we had all kinds of soft speeches, we had all kinds of reassuring statements that such powers would not be used except in the very last ditch. Yet, in the first week of an agricultural strike, we have an order made that these people will be brought before a military tribunal. I do not know which Minister was responsible for the order, or which Ministers were responsible for the advice, but I do know this: that the most reckless thing that was done by any party associated with this trouble—and many reckless things of a minor kind were done—the most deliberately provocative and reckless action was the invocation of these special powers against the farming community of this country. That is one portion of the motion: asking the Minister to withdraw that Order, in the despairing hope that even at this stage there may be talks in a committee room.

Definitely and well the Minister knows that there can never be talks in any room, if people have to walk into that room, or crawl into that room on their knees, under the shadow of a baton. That Order definitely postpones the day when talks begin, and the trouble cannot begin to end until conversations commence.

The second part of the motion asks the Government to establish some arbitration tribunal, or some machinery directed towards conciliation, so as to bring about, or to expedite, the termination of this dispute. Let this dispute carry on for days, or for weeks, until one side are battered to their knees. Let us assume that the Government, armed with all the powers of a State at war, beat the farmers to their knees and that the losses under which the farmers are suffering at the moment continue day after day for another three weeks, is there any Deputy, sitting behind or opposite a Government, who is going to regard that as a victory? Is there any Deputy with any sense of responsibility who is not going to regard that as a definitely damaging situation for the State? Is there any Deputy, with a responsibility towards either revenue or local rates, who is going to think that anything is achieved by bankrupting completely a certain large number of farmers in every county? On the other hand, if the other side succeed in completely withholding supplies, and if the public, the poor, the sick and the children of the city, are completely deprived of food, is there any farmer throughout the length and breadth of the land who is going to regard that as a victory?

Is it not one of those situations when every one of us must refrain from taking sides, when every one of us must refrain from doing harm by discussing the merits of the dispute and when every one of us must try to do good by merely realising there is a dispute on, that the situation is involved and that the quicker a really deplorable situation is ended the better. Every one of us has been on one side or another in disputes in our time; every one of us has been associated with strikes and tussles of one kind or another; and if the big stick is waved against us, does not the backbone of every one of us stiffen, no matter how hopeless the outlook? The use of this particular big stick at this particularly early stage can only have the result of stiffening the back of the other side, and of provoking, in the direction of recklessness, an organisation that might have been held behind sensible and firm leadership. If any one of us is branded with a label which we do not deserve, and remember that there is the same blood in the veins of every one of us, we will very quickly live up to the label. Irish history should have taught each one of us something. There was no organisation ever outlawed or branded too early that did not live up to the brand and if these people are to be brought like criminals before a military tribunal, just as if they had intimidated juries, just as if they had challenged the services of the State, you are provoking the younger and wilder elements amongst them to live up to the label you are giving them. But is there any Minister, or any Deputy speaking from the Government side, who is going to argue that anything helpful can be achieved by such tactics, who is going to argue that you are bringing nearer to an end the present unfortunate situation?

You may say that the demands are unreasonable, but nothing is being demanded that was not backed by the most influential leaders of the Government Front Bench at a time when it suited themselves. I will keep off that line because I do not want, at this juncture, either to start or to participate in a debate that will go into the particular merits of one side or the other. I put down this motion merely with the idea of suggesting that all Parties in the House deplore the situation which exists at the moment, that they can see nothing but harm and damage for every day this state of affairs lasts, that the longer it lasts the worse for all, and the fewer provocative speeches and provocative actions by one side or another, the quicker the whole thing will be brought to an end. There have got to be conversations and there have got to be meetings between the Government, on the one hand, and the farmers, on the other. The use of the censorship, the suppression of news and views, is driving people to ferocity in certain counties. The first weapon used against them was the weapon of censorship; the second was the weapon of military courts; and the third was the Government right to seize goods at any price fixed. If even at this stage, even within the next 24 hours, these special powers could be held in abeyance, and the Minister would say, without prejudice to anybody's claims or anybody's stance, that he was prepared to open conversations with a view to ending the deadlock and to let everybody meet, not as bosses on one side and escaped criminals on the other, but as leaders of one and the other side, with a sense of responsibility, I believe the termination would be very speedy and the result very satisfactory to all.

Therefore, I am proposing that the Dáil ask the Government to revoke the Order containing the special powers which they are using against the farming community at the moment, giving them the right to bring these people before the criminal courts, and, secondly, to establish some form or any form of arbitration and conciliation. When they have reopened conversations and have got people together, one side to advance their claim and the other side to reply to that claim, if the Dáil is satisfied that moderation, patience, toleration and justice have been shown by one side and that recklessness, irresponsibility and lack of reason have been shown by the other, then it will be time enough to use all these extraordinary powers that are being used at the moment.

I beg to second the motion. Whilst I live a long distance from the scene of this strike in the Dublin area, I believe that the milk producers in that area have a grievance. I must protest also against the inaction of the Minister for Agriculture and the Government in this crisis, and a crisis it is. According to the figures which I have before me, the producer gets 1/4 per gallon, and I understand there is a penny deducted from that for collection, leaving the net price 1/3. The distributor, on the other hand, gets 2/4 per gallon. If those who have to be out in the early hours of the morning, in all sorts of weather, have to deliver their milk in Dublin to the distributors at 1/4 a gallon, whilst the distributor who is sheltered away from wind and weather is allowed a profit of 1/- per gallon, I am wondering which of them owns the cows or is entitled to a price for the milk. The distributors in any case have the lion's share. If the producers have a case, as I think they have, it is the Minister's duty to intervene at once to tackle the problem, and not to allow the dislocation of services to continue any longer. The producers may have demanded more than they are really entitled to. I am not in a position to judge of that. I live too far away from the scene of the strife, and I am not competent to judge. If they have demanded too much, again the Minister should have intervened and, as we all do when we have anything to buy ourselves at a fair or market, try to arrive at a fair price. Bargaining would settle the whole thing, and this crisis would have been avoided. It is certainly unfair to all parties to the dispute, to allow it to continue any longer. If it is allowed to develop, I think the responsibility for far more serious results which may follow will fall on the Minister.

This motion is a very simple one. It first suggests that those who have been arrested be brought before the ordinary courts. These men are not criminals. I think the farmer in this country is the most law-abiding citizen in the State. He always has been and always will be. I hope the Government are not going to repeat what they did not so very long ago in the case of law-abiding, decent, respectable, hardworking farmers. If these farmers have committed an offence, the ordinary courts of the State should be sufficient to bring them to book. If you are going to brand them as criminals, the reactions will fall on the Government, the people responsible for bringing them before these special courts.

There is no reason why the second portion of the motion, suggesting the establishment of an arbitration board, should not be acceded to. I do not see any reason why it should not be established within 24 hours. Strikes, no matter how long they may go on, are usually settled by arbitration. All strikes are bad, and I doubt if any party who ever went into a strike gained anything as a result of it. There is too much lost on both sides. I cannot see why the Minister could not select an arbitration board from amongst the members of the Agricultural Council he has set up. I know that I myself could pick three men from amongst them who could settle this dispute within 24 hours. In that way, we would get rid of all the difficulties and troubles that are facing us. There is no question but that the Minister has power to set up this arbitration board. We suggest that that should be done, and done immediately to settle this strike. That, I think, would be a much more satisfactory solution than to be requisitioning milk from creamery societies 200 or 230 miles away from Dublin.

As regards the requisitioning of milk, whilst I, as a member of a co-operative society, from the humanitarian point of view, would not like to see the citizens of Dublin deprived of milk, I do not think it fair that the Minister should requisition milk from the back end of West Cork. I believe the quantity of milk requisitioned from West Cork is about 1,200 gallons for every working day of the creamery. That is requisitioned under a threat, a dire threat, that if they refuse to supply the milk for the first day, they will be fined £100, and for every subsequent day's refusal, £10. They are also threatened with a withdrawal of all subsidies to the creameries, and finally they are threatened that if they still persist in their refusal, they will be brought before the special courts I protest against that. I think it unfair to our people in West Cork, who are hardworking, industrious, law-abiding people, who have put their money into the creameries, and the majority of whom, although small suppliers, are big feeders—feeders of pigs, principally young pigs, who want every pint of separated milk they can get from the creameries. In fact, every pint of milk is worth gold to them at the moment, owing to the scarcity of other feeding-stuffs. I think it unfair that they should be compelled to send milk to Dublin, whilst the Milk in the border counties, to which the Minister gave a monopoly of the Dublin trade, is going waste. I suppose it is going down with the flood.

I think it would be a good thing if the Minister, if he is so fond of requisitioning things, requisitioned the Volunteer force in the Curragh and formed them into a mobile squad, to go out and milk all the cows in the area of supply around Dublin, instead of sending down to West Cork for supplies. He would be much wiser and better employed in doing so than in sending down to the poor unfortunate farmers of West Cork for milk they want so badly at home. The societies which have supplied milk under these threats have an interest in their own special work. They built up these creameries and made a success of them. Of course, the Minister can exercise any power he wants, but I do not know why he should threaten to withhold their subsidies and fine them if they do not supply milk, when there are other avenues to be explored, and other ways of getting milk. The simplest and easiest way, the way that any people with commonsense would adopt, would be to set up an arbitration board as suggested in the motion, and get it to function immediately. Three or four men of commonsense would settle the strike within 24 hours, and all our troubles would then be over.

The Government, with their idea of coercion—they are full of it— threats, and all the rest of it, do not want to adopt the commonsense method. I want to refer to the reason given as to why the farmers should not strike, and the Minister's speech in Rathdrum on Sunday last. The Minister quoted the increased prices which farmers are getting as compared with what they were receiving in September last. I have here the increases that he quoted. I admit that there was a substantial rise in cattle prices in the month of September, but that rise did not continue. Speaking from my own experience at fairs in West Cork, I can say that September was a good month for cattle, but in October and November prices were down and trade was dragging, so that it was almost impossible for people to sell cattle in these months. It is not necessary for me to go into the increases that the Minister quoted. He said that these increases would counterbalance any increase in the price of feeding stuffs. I have my doubts about that. I know that on the 1st September I could buy maize or meal in West Cork at about 9/- per half-sack of ten stone. To-day the price is 15/-. The same thing has happened with regard to the milk producers here. I am certain that, whatever price they were paying for feeding stuffs in September last, that price has since increased as much as, or perhaps more than, the price that I have quoted for meal in West Cork has. I think that the milk producers had a just cause and a reasonable cause for strike: in looking for, demanding and asking a living wage.

The way out of that situation is for the Minister to do what is suggested in this motion. Farmers want a living wage as well as anybody else. In my opinion, the milk producer here is justified in demanding an increased price for his milk in view of the price that he has to pay for feeding stuffs and for cattle. That is a point that I want to stress. He has to pay £25, £26, £27 or £30 for a springer. I live in West Cork and I am sending my milk to the creamery, milk which is now coming up to Dublin, but I could not afford to pay anything like that price for a springer. If, therefore, the milk producers here have to pay that price for springers as well as increased prices for feeding stuffs, they are entitled to an increase in the price paid for their product. The sooner the Minister sets up an arbitration board, as has been suggested, and settles the strike, the better it will be for all concerned.

I attended a meeting of my creamery committee in West Cork last night. The members of that committee are very anxious to help to see that there will be no continuance of this strike. I was asked specially by my committee to meet the Minister and discuss the situation with him, as we have it in West Cork. I hope he will give me an opportunity to do that either to-night or early to-morrow. We are anxious to look after, as far as possible, the interests of our own people. Our hope is that this motion will be accepted by the Government, and that there will be no further requisitioning of milk from our creamery. I hope the Minister will withdraw the Order that has been made against the hardworking, industrious farmers in the counties adjoining Dublin, that he will accept the motion that has been brought before the House, and thereby save further trouble, confusion and annoyance.

This Order was made because the Government was satisfied that the ordinary courts were not suitable to deal with the situation that exists. Everybody who reads the newspapers must admit that a serious state of disturbance was occurring in the neighbourhood of Dublin, and that it was extending through the country. If it was only a question of farmers advising their neighbours not to bring their stuff to the markets or fairs, no action would have been taken, but it is quite clear to everybody that that is not what was done. Advice may have been given in the first instance. If the advice was not taken, threats were used, and then we had acts of violence which were growing at such a rate that, if allowed to continue, we would have had a situation that I do not like to contemplate. Now, there is no intention, and never was any intention, of taking any action against hard-working, industrious farmers. All that we are doing here is scheduling offences that already exist, and thereby making them triable by a special court. We are making no new crime. Surely, if farmers want to bring their produce, whether it be milk or farm produce, to Dublin, they should be allowed to do so without having that produce stopped on the road, as has happened. Cases have happened, everybody knows of them, where farmers have been held up—farmers who wanted to come to Dublin or to other markets with their produce. The produce was scattered around the road. We had cases where milk was spilled, and of potatoes and cabbage being scattered on the road. Pigs were taken out of lorries and driven away. If things like that were allowed to continue we know what the result would be. You will have people who will resent it. Blows will be struck and shots may be fired. We know already that firearms have been used, but luckily no one was shot. We are all glad that no one has been injured. That is a situation in which a very serious state of affairs could rapidly develop if not dealt with promptly. I have a list of those outrages here. I would like to know how any Deputy could expect the ordinary courts to deal with these cases, especially as the number of them is multiplying so rapidly. As regards the machinery of the courts breaking down—Deputy O'Higgins mentioned this—I want the House to know that this has happened; that in some cases P.C.s have refused to act.

Mr. Boland

In one area, two.

Mr. Boland

Two is something to go on with. We do not know how many more may refuse to act. Anyhow, this is essentially the type of action which this court was really set up to deal with.

Would the Minister say if any district justice has refused to act?

Two swallows make a bad winter.

Mr. Boland

This thing has to be dealt with promptly. If people are to be allowed out as they are being at present while this thing is happening, well, that is not the way to deal with it. If it is allowed to grow, where is it going to stop?

The Minister has got to the length of two peace commissioners retiring.

Mr. Boland

I have mentioned that two peace commissioners have already retired and——

Mr. Boland

I will go on. The Deputy is not going to put me off what I am going to say. I am quite capable of making my own speech. This is the type of action which, if allowed to continue, is going to lead to a state of disorder in the country such as we had a few years ago; but we are not going to allow it to continue.

The Minister is encouraging it, I am afraid.

Mr. Boland

It is being encouraged by this motion.

This is the motion that is going to remedy it.

Mr. Boland

What the speakers on the other side have been referring to is the milk strike, but one other thing has not been mentioned by any of the speakers. They are ignoring the fact that there is another organisation working side by side with the milk strikers, and this organisation is insisting on having demands conceded now which were before the country at the last two general elections and which were turned down by the country. These demands have been debated in this House time and again. This organisation has said that they will allow no fairs to be held and no produce to reach Dublin City until their demands are granted. These are: first, a moratorium; secondly, fixity of tenure; and thirdly, derating. The small farmers in the country, the labourers and the general dwellers in our towns are going to be forced by strike action to pay the rates for the big farmers. That is what that amounts to. Now, that demand was decided both in this House and in the country. Having been beaten in a constitutional way, they are now seeking to gain their ends by force. No Government could stand for that. That side of the question has been kept in the background by the two speakers who have given their views to the House. Well, I hope that is because they do not stand for such things. I really hope it is. Now, as for the milk strike I know that Dr. Ryan, the Minister for Agriculture, and the Department of Agriculture are anxious to effect a settlement. I believe the machinery is there for settling it.

Then why was not that machinery put in motion?

Mr. Boland

What the Government is going to do and what the Government is determined to do is, not to allow these matters to be forced on the people. These questions were before the country at two General Elections, and they were decided upon. The Government is determined that they are not going to allow them to be settled by force. That is really what it amounts to. I do not want to prejudice the case against any of the farmers. I wish to say that if these violent acts cease, and if there is no more spilling of milk and no more holds-up of farm produce, then there will be no necessity to bring these people before the tribunal. But if what has been going on since this strike started were allowed to continue this country would not be fit to live in. The Government will not tolerate it. We are not going to allow any body of men to prevent the people of the country doing what they have a legal right to do. It is the duty of the Government to assert the rights of the people; to see that the citizen can go about his ordinary avocation, and that he can attend at any fair or market he wishes without being interfered with. It is on that we are insisting—that the people will have that right. It is because we feel that the ordinary courts would not be able to deal with a situation like that——

Mr. Boland

Because the number would be so great that they could not be dealt with promptly. That is the first reason. The other reason is that it is not fair to the ordinary peace commissioners and others to be asked to deal with cases of that kind when we are up against intimidation of such a kind that two peace commissioners have already resigned——

And the Minister says two more may go out.

Mr. Boland

Maybe 20 more.

That would be desperate.

Mr. Boland

There is only one way in which to deal with these cases of violence, and I say that neither Deputy O'Higgins nor Deputy O'Donovan has the right to say what they have been saying. They have no right to say that we are doing anything against the honest farmers. We have taken no action against honest farmers, but we are trying to protect the honest farmers in bringing their produce to the market.

The Minister is depriving us of our sustenance.

Mr. Boland

Deputy O'Donovan has a big grievance because the Cork farmers have the chance of getting 1/4 for their milk instead of the 7d. they are getting at present! That is a grievance that the Cork farmers will get over.

Judas got over it too.

Mr. Boland

Judas is a long time dead. Let the dead rest. I have a list here of outrages reported in connection with the milk strike in the Dublin area: On the 13th November a number of men arrived at Kingsbridge railway station and proceeded to spill 12 churns of milk. On the 22nd November, two horse-drawn loads of cabbage were held up and the cabbage scattered on the road. I hope they were not Deputy Belton's loads of cabbage.

And they promptly reported it to the Irish Press for publicity against Deputy Belton.

Mr. Boland

November 24th, a lorry laden with cabbage proceeding to Dublin market was upset. In the Kildare-Offaly area, on the 18th November, a railway lorry containing ten gallons of milk was held up in the Naas district area. The milk was spilled on the roadway. On the 19th November, a lorry containing 60 gallons of milk was held up in Naas district, and the milk spilled on the roadway by men who arrived in eight motor cars. These are "the poor farmers". On the 20th November, a lorry, containing 35 gallons of milk, was held up in Naas district. It was held up with the aid of a motor car drawn across the roadway. This would remind one of the things that happened 20 years ago. On 24th November, a motor van laden with eggs, value £16, was held up in Naas district and the eggs destroyed.

They should have been kept for the general election.

Now, the Minister must be listened to.

Mr. Boland

I am giving instances of the type of crime that we cannot allow to continue. On the 25th November two cocks of hay containing 30 tons, value £100, were maliciously burned in Naas district. The owner of the hay had sent cattle to the Dublin market the previous day, and the burning of the hay is believed to have been a reprisal. On 24th November, in Naas district, a farmer slaughtered a beast value £18. The carcase of the beast was strewn with Jeyes fluid in its purity. It was the farmer's purpose to have the carcase consigned to Dublin. On 23rd November a lorry containing rabbits for Dublin was stopped by a picket. The driver drove through, and his wind-screen was smashed by the stroke of a stick. In Louth-Meath area, on the 20th November, near Drogheda, 42 gallons of milk were spilled in a dairy yard. The culprits took away the milk cans. On 22nd November a farmer's wife was working in her yard when a number of men approached. She seized a shotgun and fired a shot over their heads. They then scattered and fled. Next day a number of shots were fired at the dwelling-house of this woman. Examination revealed that a window was broken in the kitchen, apparently by a bullet. The local police found three 45 revolver bullet cases in the vicinity. Most of the hard-working farmers I know have not got so many motor cars. This is the type of thing with which we are dealing.

Is this not the only case of firearms?

Mr. Boland

Is not one enough? How many does the Deputy want?

Was it the strikers who used the firearms?

Mr. Boland

Not at first. The shot was fired over their heads. Next day the shots were fired at her dwellinghouse. That is the beginning. And I am sure nobody over there on the Opposition side wants that to continue. On the 23rd November a lorry containing 34 bags of potatoes was held up. The potatoes were scattered around the road. On the 24th November in the Navan district a party of Gárdaí was convoying motor vehicles containing farm produce to Dublin. When passing a picket of farmers, sticks and stones were thrown at the lorry which was in the convoy. The windscreen was broken and the owner suffered some injury to his head.

In the Drogheda district on 20th November 28 gallons of milk were spilled in a farmyard. On the 19th November telephone wires were cut in the Navan district. On 20th November, in the Navan district, a party of men called to a house, and while some argued with the owner the others forced the dairy and spilled 35 gallons of milk. In the Navan area on 22nd November the Gárdaí were escorting a milk lorry, which had been turned back by a picket, when about 50 men rushed the lorry, knocked the Gárdaí to the ground and spilled four cans of milk. On 22nd November a lorry containing 26 pigs for Dublin was stopped on the road. The pigs were taken out and driven into a field.

In the Dublin-Wicklow area: on 19th November, in the Howth area, eight men arrived at a dairy yard in a motor-car and spilled 21 gallons of milk. On 23rd November, in the Howth area, a motor-car containing 28 gallons of milk was held up, and the milk was spilled on the road. On 21st November a party of men entered a dairy yard and spilled 80 gallons of milk. The milk was locked in the dairy, the door of which was forced open by the culprits. On 21st November telephone wires were cut in the Howth area. On 23rd November, two churns containing 50 gallons of milk were spilled by four unknown men, who arrived in the dairy yard by motor-car. On 24th November, in the Dundrum area, 12 gallons of milk were spilled in a dairy yard. On 24th November, in Dundrum area, a horse-drawn vehicle containing 24 gallons of milk were stopped by men who arrived in four motor-cars. The milk was spilled on the roadway. On 21st November, in the Howth area, 40 gallons of milk were spilled in a farmer's yard, the entrance lock of which was forced. On 21st November, also in the Howth area, 24 gallons of milk were spilled in a farmyard. On 21st November, in the Balbriggan area, a lorry laden with vegetables for the Dublin market was stored in a shed, and during the night the vegetables were strewn about the yard. On 21st November, in the Howth area, a lorry load of potatoes was held up by a party of men, who opened the sacks, about 80 in all, and scattered the potatoes on the road.

Would the Minister say how many arrests were made in connection with the list of offences which he has read out?

Mr. Boland

About 80 arrests. A number of fairs have been stopped. I have a long list of fairs which have been stopped. As far as we can understand, it was not a question of the farmers—any large number of them in any case—not wanting to go to fairs, but they simply have been prevented from going. I think everybody will admit that that should not happen.

Some of the Minister's own supporters are doing that in my area.

Mr. Boland

I do not care whose supporters they are.

The Minister's supporters are at the head of it everywhere.

Mr. Boland

It is not a question of whose supporters they are. It is a question of whether they are to be allowed to interfere with people who are going about their legitimate business. We are making no distinctions. It does not matter who they are. The police will stop anybody who is interfering with his neighbours, or trying to prevent them from doing what they are justified in doing. In a matter of that kind we should get the co-operation of every member of this House.

Have you not got it?

Mr. Boland

The Minister for Agriculture will deal with the merits of the dispute, if that is relevant, but I take it that the principal idea behind this motion is an objection to having a special court trying those cases. From the way in which this thing has been developing, everyone can see the danger there is of very serious disturbance, and perhaps loss of life. Although Deputy McGilligan thinks the resignation of two P.C.'s. is nothing, still it is an indication of the position. In the circumstances, the Government had no alternative. This has nothing to do with the merits of the milk strike. I do not see what conferences could be held in connection with matters which have been decided at two general elections, if not three, and which have been decided in this House several times, that is the question of a moratorium and security of tenure. Security of tenure is there. Those are things which were decided several times in the House, as well as at the general elections, and there is no question of any conference on matters of that kind. On the question of the milk strike, I am quite sure that the Minister for Agriculture is quite willing at any time to discuss it.

Will he agree to a conference on the basis suggested by the county council?

Will the Minister give us the date on which he issued his Order bringing Section 36 into force?

Mr. Boland

On the 25th of this month.

It was on the 24th.

As one of the persons whose names are to this motion, I should like to say that I think there is nothing to apologise for in putting down the motion, but I think the Minister for Justice might apologise to this House for the litany of trivial offences which he has read out. It would appear to anybody that the Civic Guards do not exist at all in this country. The Minister talks about threats, and about danger to the State, but he has never questioned the Minister for Agriculture about his threats. In the very early stages, before the country knew one word about this thing taking place, the Minister for Agriculture, through his inspectors, made threats of every kind to the creameries—any kind of threat that would induce them to send milk to Dublin. This was before things took a serious turn. Since then, the Minister has sent down a notice to the creameries—I was one of the people in this House who wanted him to discriminate—threatening them with withdrawal of certain subsidies if they refused to send milk to Dublin. He never thought for a moment about discriminating; he just took them haphazard. From what I can learn in the country the impression was that the Minister made every effort to get one group of farmers at the others' throats to try and break the strike. I think that was a terrible thing for any Minister or any Government to do, especially in view of the situation we are in.

This Emergency Powers Act was passed in this House. No matter what we thought, we all agreed to that Act. If I had thought that this Emergency Powers Act was to be used in this way, I for one would never have voted for it, no matter what the emergency was. We were led to believe that a situation existed in which it was necessary. It has been used perhaps to some extent to deal with that situation, but when a few petty offences are committed because of a farmers' strike that Emergency Powers Act is invoked. Under the conditions which existed, I think it was certainly the Minister's duty to try to set up some conciliatory machinery. I do not hold with the strike, nor do I hold against it, but I do hold that Dublin must get milk; I hold that the poor of Dublin must get milk, and I hold that it was the duty of the Minister to try to set up conciliatory machinery to provide some way of getting milk, instead of going down the country and getting it through threats from his inspectors or himself and then invoking this Emergency Powers Act.

As I said already, I think that was a terrible thing to do, and I also think that the Minister should have discriminated as to the creameries from which he got that milk. The peculiar position is that the milk is being taken from creameries which are not registered dairies; they have no right to supply milk. I hold that they have no more right to supply it to the Minister than they have to supply it to the poor persons who are hungry in the country. The Minister made that order; he saw to it that the poor persons in the village would not get a pint of milk. He saw to it that nobody could supply them except a registered dairy holder. He saw to it that the creamery would not supply them. But when it comes to breaking the strike, he breaks that law himself. He goes down and threatens the creameries: "I will revoke your registration," or "I will take away your bounty on home produce," and they had to supply the milk. Why does the Minister bring the milk from these creameries if he will not allow them to deliver a pint of milk in a bottle in a village? That is a pertinent question, and I think the Minister should answer it. If he breaks the law, surely the farmers are entitled to break the law? I do not hold that they are doing so, and I do not want to say they should.

The Minister ought to find some other means of settling this dispute besides invoking the Emergency Powers Act. We have had revolutions in this country, perhaps too many of them, and God alone knows who was responsible. The Ministers over there are, perhaps, just as responsible as anybody else. What are they doing now? They are trying to drive decent young men towards revolution. You cannot deal with a matter like this in the manner in which the Government propose to deal with it; you cannot deal with decent fellows, farmers' sons, in this fashion without driving them towards revolution. That is what you are doing. You are out to smash the strike in this way. I believe you can do it but, if you do, you will be doing a bad day's work. You will be driving decent young fellows, who are good citizens, no matter what anybody may say, and who will be good citizens, to desperation and disloyalty if you enforce the Emergency Powers Act.

I am glad that the Taoiseach is here. I would like to give you a little advice. The Emergency Powers Act was applied to the I.R.A. not so long since. You have now applied it to the farmers. Why do you not continue applying it? Why do you close your eyes to certain things that are happening? There are certain organisations in this country and some people are inclined to think that they are sacrosanct. They can broadcast on a wave length of 25.4 with your knowledge. I consider it is a terrible thing to try to bring farmers' sons, decent, ordinary loyal citizens, before an Emergency Act Tribunal. You are trying to terrorise them. If another churn of milk is spilled you may bring one or two of them before the special court, in order to terrorise them. Why not bring them before the ordinary courts? There is no district justice who will fail to deal with them. They will send them to jail if you want them to. The district justices always did their duty; they never failed in their duty, and why cast them aside? Deal fairly and squarely with all sections. If you do, you will not apply the Emergency Powers Act.

I am sure the Minister could set up some kind of conciliatory machinery to settle this dispute. This motion has nothing to do with derating. It is dealing solely with the milk business. Derating has nothing to do with it. I am not concerned at the moment with derating, and I am sure nobody on this side of the House has anything to do with derating at the moment. We want the milk strike settled, and I believe the Minister can do a lot by setting up conciliatory machinery. In the Press day after day we can see that there is only a slight difference, something like a penny or twopence. Are we to have turmoil over that? Is the Minister so desirous of turmoil, or what does he want? Human nature is human nature, and you cannot blame one farmer for helping another. The Minister is the head of a big Department with a lot of civil servants. It is up to him to revoke whatever Orders he has made, and set up conciliatory machinery. The milk was 1/4½ last year, and the producers have a good excuse when they claim that it should be a little more this year. There should be machinery set up to settle the price this year, and it should be a little higher. There is plenty of room between 1/4 and 2/4, and the Minister can easily bring about a settlement. There is a difference of 1/- between the producers and the distributors. Surely some arrangement can be arrived at without allowing this dispute to reach a more dangerous stage?

We take the view that this is a rather unfortunately-worded motion. Evidently those responsible for the motion have realised that. The motion opens with what is quite a legitimate and desirable thing, namely, condemning the application of the Offences Against the State Act to this dispute, in so far as it relates to the milk dispute; but it goes on to ask for a revocation of the Orders and the establishment of conciliation machinery and independent arbitration, with a view to adjusting in a manner just and equitable to the interests of the farmers, the consumers and the taxpayers, the matters giving rise to such action. If the sole cause of this dispute was the price of milk, it was surely much easier for the proposers of the motion to delete the last seven words and substitute three simple words such as "the milk strike"? The omission of a reference such as "the milk strike" in this motion clearly indicates that those responsible for the motion have in mind the application of conciliation and arbitration machinery to something other than the milk strike.

I think it was quite good tactics and wise tactics, politically, for those who proposed and spoke to the motion, to make no reference whatever to any other matters but the milk strike; but it is not just by accident that the phrase, "the matters giving rise to such action", was inserted in the motion. I think the object of the proposers originally was to bring within the ambit of conciliation machinery and independent arbitration a much wider list of matters than the milk dispute. In so far as the milk strike is concerned, we are prepared to support any motion which has for its object the establishment of conciliation and arbitration machinery for the settlement of that dispute. But there are other matters which cannot be referred to arbitration, because they are not economic or industrial matters, because they do not relate to the price of this or that commodity. They are, instead, not merely public questions, but highly controversial political questions, and it does not seem to us to be possible to refer to arbitration and conciliation highly contentious political questions which have formed the subject of keen debates in our political life for the last ten years.

Mr. Brennan

Would you like to see them settled?

Some of them I do not want to see settled.

I will agree.

I am just in the precise position now in respect of one of them, derating, as Deputy Brennan's Party was in ten years ago. Then they were opposed to derating.

Mr. Brennan

You do not want to see the row settled? I am not asking you now about derating.

If the Deputy will only allow me to make my speech, I will answer him in due course. I am willing to refer the milk dispute to arbitration, because it is a matter which should be the subject of arbitration, and which could be settled by arbitration. It is not an unusual thing to refer a matter of that kind for settlement by an arbitration tribunal. But the phrase, "the matters giving rise to such action", in this resolution is intended to bring within the ambit of arbitration a number of matters which I say cannot effectively be arbitrated upon. There is at least one of them which I do not want to see arbitrated upon, that is the subject of derating. The Fine Gael Party, when in office, opposed derating. I think that was a sensible line to take. The Fianna Fáil Party then used to back derating.

Mr. Boland


The Minister for Justice says "no." I had the unfortunate experience in a bye-election of listening to Fianna Fáil Deputies say that every vote that was given to a particular candidate in that election was a vote for no rates and no annuities and I believe I could produce a local paper, and perhaps two, with a statement of that kind in it. We had the spectacle of the Fine Gael Party at one time being opposed to derating, when Fianna Fáil was in favour of it. Now the wheel has run its full circle. The opposite is the case. Fianna Fáil are now opposed to derating and the people who could have applied derating for ten years are now in favour of it. That is the precise position. And it is gymnastic and trapeze-artist tricks of that kind that are causing the farmer in this country to believe—I think he is only believing it temporarily—that he has for the time the support of Fine Gael in the matter of derating, just as he believed at another time, that he had the support of Fianna Fáil for derating. I do not want to see derating arbitrated upon. I would oppose derating because derating is a scheme which will help the big farmer at the expense of the small farmer. Derating is, in the long run, a scheme by which those who have most money in this country will get the most relief and those who have least money will have to pay that relief.

Obviously, you cannot allow a big economic issue of that kind, with widespread ramifications on our whole agricultural and financial structure, to be the subject of arbitration. Obviously, that is a public question and a highly contentious political question. The only way in which you can settle a dispute of that kind is by a political Party establishing itself to advocate it as its sole political objective or by an existing Party embodying a proposal of that kind in its programme, getting a majority of electors to vote for them at any general election, coming into office, and applying derating. That is the one way in which you can get it done. That is the proper way, if it is to be done at all. I, personally, will try to persuade people to oppose that policy. The way in which you cannot get it done is to allow three arbitrators to sit down and calmly decide whether there is to be complete derating of agricultural land in this country, irrespective of the consequences on the small farmer and the people who do not own a rood of land in the country—three people, by the way, who are not fortified with a single vote from any section of the people in the country and who probably in their parish council election would not get a quota. That is what this Resolution is suggesting. It is going to refer to arbitration highly contentious matters of that kind.

The opinion in the country in regard to fixity of tenure, if it is questioned or challenged at all, is that the big ranches get too much fixity of tenure. Deputy Gorey will not believe that. It is perfectly true. In my view, there is no necessity at all for fixity of tenure in this country, but if we are to have fixity of tenure the way to do it is by legislation in this House. The way to do it is by some political Party getting a majority to strengthen whatever weakness there may be in fixation of tenure in this country.

These are matters, therefore, which I think cannot properly be referred to arbitration, and the nation ought not to take the consequences of referring highly political questions to arbitration boards which are intended solely for the settlement of such minor matters as disputes in relation to such things as the price of milk or which, perhaps, might decide a matter of wages in a national industry or in any particular industry. We are opposed to a motion, therefore, which seeks to make arbitrable highly contentious political questions, and for that reason we cannot see our way to vote for a motion of this kind.

At the same time, I think the Government have acted very unwisely in applying the Offences Against the State Act to a strike of this kind in so far as it has been applied to the milk strike. The Minister read out a list of offences this evening, the majority of which consisted of heads of cabbage being scattered on the roadside, milk being spilt and potatoes being thrown about. With, perhaps, the exception of one instance, the firing of shots somewhere in Louth, the catalogue of cases consisted of the spilling of milk, and scattering cabbages and potatoes. I suppose the potatoes and cabbages could be picked up again and no great damage would be done. The most damage that was done was probably the spilling of the milk. But that was not nearly as harmful or as destructive or as wasteful as the deliberate burning of boots in Galway last week. At least, one was done in hot blood and the other was premeditated insanity. There is no justification for a litany of minor offences of that kind being made the excuse for the application of the Offences Against the State Act to this particular dispute. I do not think the Minister gave a very convincing explanation of his action in this regard. The statute obliges the Minister to say that the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order. All the Minister quoted for us as constituting interference with the legal administrative machine was the resignation of two peace commissioners. There would be no great harm if another 102 peace commissioners resigned. We have probably twice as many now as we had ten years ago. The creation of peace commissioners is the one growing industry in the country.

It is the political V.C.

No harm at all is done by two peace commissioners resigning. It would not matter if 102 resigned. But the fact that two peace commissioners resigned—I do not know what Government appointed them— rather than hear a case as to whether particular prisoners should be remanded for trial is not a reason for the application of the special criminal court to offences of this minor kind. The Minister at least ought to have brought a substantial number of these people before the ordinary courts, if they are guilty of an offence; an effort should be made to try them there; they could have been tried by a jury there. If the Minister felt that he could not get a fair trial for them in provincial centres it would not be impossible for him to secure a trial for them in Dublin and he probably could not say that the jury would suffer from the same intimidation in Dublin as they might if the court were held in a provincial town or city. But, without any trial by the ordinary courts whatever, the Minister decides to take up the big stick and to apply the Offences Against the State Act in a dispute of this kind. I think that is a most tyrannical action on the part of the Minister. I do not think he has the slightest justification for it whatever. The only result I can see accruing from it is to further inflame feelings of passion. An effort ought to be made to try to prevent the importation of unnecessary heat into this dispute.

Deputy O'Higgins ought to realise at this stage that he gave his approbation to the Offences Against the State Bill when it was going through this House against warning that it could be used in this and every other circumstance. It would not surprise me at all, with the mentality behind this particular No. 2 Order, that an effort might not be made at some later date even to apply it to industrial disputes. That is the danger of a Bill of this kind; that is the power you give to an Executive Government when you support a Bill of this kind. The support which the Government has got in its Offences Against the State Bill—an unnecessary and tyrannical Bill, creating a whole lot of offences unknown in any democratically controlled country—is probably encouraging them to apply the provisions of that Act to a dispute of this kind.

I think at this stage the Minister would be well advised to revoke that Order in respect of the application of the Offences Against the State Act to this dispute. There is no necessity for it in the whole list of trivial offences put together and, multiplied by ten, it does not justify the trial of these people by the special criminal courts when our ordinary courts are functioning.

Everybody would like to see the milk strike settled. So far as the people of Dublin are concerned, they are paying a very heavy price for its continuance. What is described as milk is being sent into Dublin and a high price charged for it, though everybody who takes the trouble to examine what is sent here knows perfectly well that it is much inferior to the quality of milk which formerly came to Dublin. The ordinary people of Dublin, particularly delicate children, are being compelled to drink this milk, and they might as well be drinking water. The sooner the dispute is settled, therefore, the better, because the community is being asked to consume a very inferior quality of milk at the moment.

I do not want to go into the merits of the dispute, as to whether the producers are entitled to more money for their milk, or whether they should get that price at the expense of the consumer or at the expense of the wholesaler. All that is a matter which could be settled around the conference table. I should like the Minister for Agriculture in the course of his reply to indicate that if the parties to this dispute —I mean only the milk dispute, and not the other dispute—consent to refer the matter to arbitration, he is prepared to constitute an arbitration court in order to hear and decide on the merits of the dispute, and let all parties to it accept the verdict of the independent arbitrator.

Deputy Ryan told us the object ought to be to deal fairly and squarely with the community. I think that is what caused this motion—that we had dealt fairly and squarely with the community. The Minister for Justice read out a litany of offences which I do not think any community would tolerate for a moment. These, of course, are all amenable to the ordinary law, but it was necessary that further steps should be taken in that direction. I am not so concerned with these particular offences. I am concerned with the peculiar situation that has arisen. Many people believed, and a whole lot of people yet believe, that this is a milk strike. Deputy O'Higgins seemed to think that. I think Deputy O'Donovan had not the slightest doubt about it. There is no use in looking at these things with coloured spectacles.

I do not think I referred to the milk or any other issue.

Because you could not exactly tell which was which.

I kept a mile away from it.

You could not tell which was which. I could not either. As I say, there are numerous people all over the country who yet believe that this is a milk strike. I may tell you quite honestly and fairly that I am concerned with this milk strike, and the reason I am concerned with it is because, when the producers were getting a very low price, I did all I could to get them a better price. An organisation was started, a fairly good organisation, and they got facilities. The organisation was non-political. The Government listened with a sympathetic ear. What did the Government do? After having protected the whole of the milk producers by a tariff on foreign milk products, we protected this organisation by practically putting an embargo on the milk produced in other parts of the country. We went a lot further than that. If I am wrong, the Minister for Agriculture will correct me. A milk board was set up, and that board had on it representatives of all concerned. It was their business to regulate the price, and the price was a minimum price. The price is still a minimum price, and these milk producers can get anything they like above that minimum price if the market will stand it. That is a matter for themselves to consider. I am not going to make any statement on the position, or what may happen to the milk producers, because, so far as these producers are concerned, if they can disentangle themselves from the unfortunate company into which they have got, I am sure it will be possible to protect them and fix them up in some way.

Why was not that done at first?

I do not know. I could not do anything for them, because I was unable to disentangle them. One man told me it was a milk strike, but when I came along the road and saw pigs being attacked, I could not connect pigs with milk. On the next day eggs were thrown on the road, and I could not connect eggs with milk. Unfortunate people from County Cavan with families to support had their eggs thrown on the road.

By your own supporters.

Question! I will answer that.

I could not tell you whether it was or not, but I have a very fair idea as to who they were. I am not going to say that I know them, but I could not say that I do not know them. There is no use in being misled on this question. People in County Cavan, having families to rear, who did not know anything about this, had their lorries broken and their produce smashed, while perhaps there were hungry children waiting for the return of the money in order to get food. People are still complaining to me that they are afraid to bring their eggs to Dublin. There is no connection at all between eggs and milk. A farmer in North Meath no later than this afternoon complained to me that farmers could not sell their cattle. It was necessary for them to take their cattle to the fairs as they had no grass for them and very little hay. But they were stopped and turned back and that evening the cattle were purchased by some people.

By the graziers.

That is a thing I am not going to stand for whether the Government stands for it or not. That is the reason I say to the milk producers that they should disentangle themselves from that company and then we can look at them with a clear vision; we would know them then. Personally I should like to help them and I have informed them of that. I do not believe the Minister is in any way hostile to these people. I believe he would help them if he could, because he was once their best friend; but for him they would not be where they are to-day, and let them not forget that. I do not know whether these unfortunate people went on strike in the ordinary course of events and the other crowd came in when they saw the door open and said, "Come along, we will make these fellows lead us; there is an excuse now." That is the position we have to face.

I agree with Deputy Norton that the other matter could not be arbitrated on. It was beaten at a general election. If it is to be done, it must be done by constitutional means and there must be an election upon it. I think that at this particular period it is a calamity and an awful misfortune that here in the Dáil we should encourage that thing by the slightest whisper. I do not think that we in this Dáil should encourage that situation in the light of events to-day. Men with a large number of cattle can get all their cattle away. But the small farmers, who in this miserable weather have very little "keep" for animals and who want to dispose of them in order to meet their land annuities and other debts, cannot dispose of them.

None of us is so foolish as not to know what is happening in this terrible war that is going on, but we do not know at what moment business will be completely held up. What will become of these unfortunate people then? What the Minister for Justice did was perfectly right. He went out, not alone to protect the hungry children in the City of Dublin, but to protect the very men who are on strike. I do not deny that others would have taken the law into their own hands if he had not acted. That is the position.

I should like to bring this discussion back to the range of relevance, and into some relation with the terms, scope, and objects of the motion. I feel that when Deputy Norton read and considered the motion, he must have felt a certain amount of glee at spelling something into its terms which was not there, but which could be imported into it by some sort of special pleading. He was enabled to put himself into the position that is so dearly loved by him and by the Labour Party, of being able to criticise, on the one hand, Fianna Fáil and, on the other hand, Fine Gael. If it were a fact that this motion was intended to call on the Government to deal with questions of a highly controversial nature, such as derating and fixity of tenure, that situation could be easily met by the Government. If they said they would exclude from the purview of any machinery set up, in order to settle the disturbance that exists at the moment, those matters of a highly controversial character, they would be immediately met by the movers and supporters on this side saying there was no intention of going into any matters of the highly controversial nature referred to by Deputy Norton. Deputy Norton made an election speech on the sins of Fianna Fáil and the peccadilloes of Fine Gael. It gave him an opportunity of washing his hands of the motion and, if he is going into the Lobby against it, let there be no doubt about it, the Labour Party are going into the Lobby in favour of the action of the Government in bringing into operation the very drastic provisions of the Offences Against the State Act, in circumstances for which there is no justification.

Deputy Norton said to-night that we approved of that Act. We did approve of that particular Act. If it were before the House, we would again vote for it, and again say the same thing that we said at that time. We would give any Government, whether Fianna Fáil or Labour, or Fine Gael the power to deal with matters affecting the vital interests of the State, and the life of the State, which are the matters supposed to come within the scope and purview of Part V of the Act. It is not by setting up a smokescreen, such as Deputy Norton endeavoured to set up, in respect of fundamental principles which are endeavoured to be protected by the motion, and by its framers and supporters, that Deputy Norton and the Labour Party will get away from the real principles.

We are interested in three things arising out of the motion. As the Minister stated—and I agree with him in this respect—the principal matter at the back of the motion is disapproval of the action of the Government in making an Order on the 24th November, 1939, scheduling certain offences as offences triable by the Military Tribunal, or special court, as it is called, for the purpose of meeting a situation which, it now appears, subsists only by virtue of the strike of the farming community. There is no getting away from that issue by Deputy Norton or by anyone else. That is what is at the back of the motion. As far as I am concerned, I speak as the representative of a purely urban constituency with poor people, with people on the border-line of poverty, with people on the border-line of comfort and with very few rich people. It is a constituency the representation of which is shared with the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Deputy Benson. In no part of that constituency are there any farmers, nor is there any interest in farming.

It is purely a consumers' constituency, a taxpayers' constituency, a workers' constituency, and, speaking on their behalf here, I protest against the action of the Government, in the words enshrined in the motion in declaring these scheduled offences, even in the circumstances, outlined by the Minister. I do so because I think action of this kind involves a matter of grave fundamental importance in connection with the administration of justice in this State. I have not the slightest intention of going into the merits of the matter or of referring to the people engaged in this particular action which is causing the Minister and his Department a certain amount of trouble. It is not because I have a desire to burk the issues that I decline in this discussion to enter into any controversy or any examination as to the merits or demerits of the farming community, or what they are engaged in, or the objects they are endeavouring to pursue. That is a matter that can be examined some other time and in some other place.

Speaking here as a member for a purely urban constituency, I am interested in matters of fundamental principle, and I find, arising out of the situation, that powers have been invoked under the Offences Against the State Act, in circumstances in which it was never contemplated that these powers would be invoked, or the jurisdiction of the Military Tribunal brought into operation. I say, so far from the Minister having made any case whatever to-night for bringing into operation the scheduled offences, and the jurisdiction of the Military Tribunal, his speech is a condemnation of his own Department and himself and is not an improvement in the administration of the law. I wonder what is wrong with the machinery of justice, and what is wrong with the ordinary courts, that they were not able to bear the slight strain of a situation such as exists when two peace commissioners resign, some rabbits get out of a lorry, and milk is strewn around the fair green in Dun-shaughlin.

The law on unlawful assembly was brought to its final pitch by the riots that occurred in England. We have taken over that law. Serious riots occurred, the Gordon riots and the Chartist riots. The law of unlawful assembly was brought to its present scientific state during that time in England. The ordinary machinery of the law was sufficient to deal even with such serious and tumultuous scenes in Great Britain as the Chartist riots. We can read that in the text books. Why is it that machinery that was so efficacious then is not sufficient here? In the Preamble of this Order, which has brought into operation the jurisdiction of the Military Tribunal, as it is popularly called, to deal with a farm strike, we have the relevant section of the statute recited. I want to draw the attention of Deputies, and of the public outside to what the Minister said to-night in justification of this particular action of the Government, in bringing into operation the drastic provisions of the Act in connection with the scheduled offences, and the specific provisions of the statute itself. I quote from the recital of the Order:—

"The Government is satisfied that the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order in relation to the offences specified in the Appendix hereto."

How did the Minister show in his speech in justification to-night that the ordinary courts were inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice? What did he say? He said that the ordinary courts were not suitable places for the trial of these offences. That is no justification for the bringing into force of Part 5 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939. This House and the country are entitled to know the specific offences and to be told what acts have been committed which justified the Government in coming to the conclusion that they, apparently, did. Otherwise, this order is ultra vires.

Has it been shown that the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice? So far as I could follow the Minister to-night, the only justification he gave was contained in two sentences. He says that the ordinary courts are not suitable to meet the situation that exists. That is not what the statute says. The ordinary courts may not be suitable, but what evidence has the Minister adduced to show that they are "inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace?"

My mind goes back to the years following the murder of Kevin O'Higgins down to the passing by this House of Article 2A, and the steps taken to meet the situation that existed at that time. Time would not permit me to go into the details of the steps taken by the last Government to meet the cruel situation that faced them at that time when the administration of justice was clogged by unconstitutional action, backed by murder, backed by every weapon of the assassin, the thug, the thief, the robber and the intimidator. Every step that human and legal ingenuity could devise to meet that situation by way of the ordinary courts was taken before Article 2A was brought into legislative effect. When Article 2A was proposed by the then President of the Executive Council— the present Leader of the Opposition— he justified his action to the House and to the country and his justification is to be found in the records of this House. He almost produced in this House the dead bodies of the people murdered—the people who had been shot throughout the length and breadth of the country. He produced evidence of intimidation, of Communism and of sabotage. He produced evidence that the administration of justice, although given every trial from the time of the murder of Kevin O'Higgins in 1927 up to 1931, had broken down under the gun of the assassin and the machinery of murder which extended throughout the country.

It was to meet a situation of that kind that Article 2A was brought in. The Offences Against the State Act is the lineal successor to Article 2A. It is an improved copy of Article 2A, with the holes in Article 2A more or less stopped. It was only to meet a situation intended to be met, and which was met, by the provisions of Article 2A of the old Constitution that Part V of the Offences Against the State Act was introduced. My mind cannot help going back to the years 1934, 1935 and 1936 when the provisions of Article 2A were operated against farmers and Blueshirts, although it was brought into force ostensibly against the I.R.A. —against the action of bodies around the country who were contending that this House and the Government were not the lawful Parliament or Government of this country. Ostensibly, it was brought in to put down these particular organisations, as a species of smoke-screen, but the Act was more effectively operated against farmers and Blueshirts than it ever was operated against the I.R.A.

Does the Deputy desire to reopen these controversies?

I am drawing an analogy which, I submit, I am entitled to do. I am drawing an analogy betwen the present circumstances and the circumstances when Article 2A was last brought into operation. When Part V was to be brought into operation against the I.R.A., we gave the Government our support. But what do we find? We find that it is again brought into operation against the farmers, with no justification. That is the meaning of this motion—that we object to this particular instrument, forged for one purpose—the preservation of the State in times of danger—being used for another purpose. It was forged for the protection of the State when the very foundations of the State were being menaced. It was thought that the Government of the country— whatever Government was in power— should have in its hands or within its grasp power, and effective power, to meet such a menace. That is the real motive behind Part V of the Act of 1939. That is why we supported Part V of the Act of 1939. We object to its being brought into operation in the present circumstances because, in the first place, no case has been made for it and, in the second place, Part V should not unnecessarily be used, even though provocation be given to the Government, and even though its use may ease the difficulties of the Government. We say that Part V should not be used except as a last resort, until the machinery of the ordinary law has been tried out to its last link and its last movement, and until there is not another cog left in that machine. Until it has been tried out, Part V should not be brought into operation. That is the reason we have put down this motion, as a matter of principle.

Part V should be only sparingly used. If it is unnecessarily used, even under provocation—and the Government have, in present circumstances, some provocation—then, when Part V is intended to be used as an effective instrument, it will break in the hands of a Government that sorely needs it when, perhaps, the very foundations of the State are menaced. It is the old cry of "Wolf, wolf!" If those people who are scattering pigs at Dunshaughlin or scattering milk or rabbits from off lorries——

Why not be candid and face up to the fact that officers who were in the uniform of the State have been knocked off lorries?

It is assumed that the Minister for Justice had an opportunity of making the case that the Minister is now making. He made no case that officers of justice had been in any way seriously maltreated. If officers of this State have been maltreated, what are the district justices doing? Why have not these people who are alleged to be guilty of these offences been brought before the district justices? The Minister for Justice made a justification which was his own condemnation. He was only able to say that two peace commissioners had resigned. The fact that only two have resigned is a condemnation of the Minister's case and of the Minister himself. If two peace commissioners have resigned, what are the district justices doing? He says that there are so many cases it would be unfair to bring them before the ordinary courts.

But there is only one military tribunal—one special court. Are you going to set up a whole series of these or is that only a smoke-screen brought across the realities of this picture? There are any number of district justices and there is power to appoint more. If the situation is such as to require more district justices, if the ordinary justices are not sufficient to deal with any situation of lawlessness, so far as we can do it, we will give you the power to deal with it, but we will not allow you to use unnecessarily the powers under Part V, because we think it is a situation in which they ought not to be used and that their use will bring the administration of the ordinary law into disrepute. What will my constituents in Dublin get into their heads but that the ordinary law is no use except as a facade, and that it is not able to bear the burdens put upon it by any little disturbance that may arise out of the ordinary course?

I want to know if there has been a single case in which these alleged lawbreakers have been brought before a district justice. Is there any case in which a jury of the City of Dublin or anywhere else has refused to bring in a verdict? Is there any menace such as there was from 1927 to 1931 when jurors were intimidated and prevented by armed bodies, and by unarmed political bodies behind these armed bodies, from doing their duty and carrying out the ordinary administration of justice? Where is the evidence that has been produced, or rather what kind of evidence has been produced, by the Minister here to-night? It was really comic—that is, if it had not been so tragic it would have been comic—to hear the Minister reading out his list of offences to-night which, even though he read the list very rapidly, were only concerned with this matter of milk and rabbits. Even with the help of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, all the Minister could do was to show that these cases concerned assaults on a few police officers. Now, I do not suppose a week passes without a few police officers being assaulted either here, in the city, or in the country. We know that the juries have been doing their duty in the Circuit Court and the other courts in connection with these ordinary cases, and what evidence is there that they will not do their duty in other cases where the law is broken? I do not say that the law has been broken in this connection. I do not know whether or not it has been broken, nor do I know where the merits of this dispute lie, because the Minister has refused to allow me, or the constituents whom I represent, to know what this dispute is about.

Deputy Norton spoke here tonight about derating—running away, both he and his Party, in full cry, from the real issue. I did not know—and I say it here publicly—that this so called strike of farmers throughout the country had anything whatever to do with derating, fixity of tenure, and so on. All I knew was that there was a milk strike; and I am speaking now for people who have spoken to me in connection with this Motion that has been put down. It may be perfectly clear to some Deputies here that some organisation or another, or some part of the farmers' organisation, want to bring in derating, fixity of tenure, and so on, in connection with this dispute, but, so far as my constituents in the City of Dublin know anything about this matter, the only thing they know is that there is a milk strike on, and the only thing that they want is not to have to pay more for their milk and not to have their taxes increased. That was the reason why this Motion was framed. It was framed so as to ensure that, if any dispute with the farmers were to be settled, it would be settled in a way that would have regard to the consumer and the taxpayer, and to ensure that the Government, in connection with this strike, would not take the method that they have taken in every single such instance up to this, of paying off the strikers with the taxpayers' money. The farmers, as well as various other sections of the community, as we all know, have been bought off by the taxpayers' money in connection with similar disputes, and we want, by this Motion, to see that, whatever may be the merits of this strike, they should be examined independently and, if they are examined independently that the rights of the consumers, for whom I am speaking, and the rights of the taxpayers, whom I represent in my constituency, will not be jeopardised by the Government buying off the farmers for the purpose of getting their votes for the next general election.

That is the real principle involved in this particular Motion that is here before us to-night. I stress the point again, that Part V. of this Act can be an effective instrument in a time of stress and trouble for a Government charged with the duty of preserving law and order in this State, but if these powers are abused by any Government, or used when there is no necessity, or if they are made a mockery of, as they will be in connection with the present strike, then the use, or rather the abuse, of these powers will bring the administration of the law into disrepute in this country and make it firmly fixed in the minds of the citizens that the ordinary courts of this country, in which they have confidence, and in which they, justifiably, have confidence, are not capable of bearing even the slightest strain.

I think that the Government ought to have learned a lesson from their recent experiences in connection with Article 2A of the Constitution. I think that they ought to have learned from their experiences, that the bringing of certain people before this tribunal has tended to make heroes instead of criminals out of these people. Deputy O'Higgins referred to-night to these people, and it is my personal view that, whatever may be the view of the Government with regard to the merits of this strike, the bringing of these farmers before this special court that has been set up under Part V of the Act will have the effect of making heroes of these people—and this at a time when confidence in our courts may be sadly and seriously required. I am afraid that it will also mean putting into the minds of the people of this country the thought that Part V of the Act will only be used for political purposes and against political parties, and that it will not be used seriously against the people against whom it is meant to be used, and for the purpose of strictly preserving the lives of the citizens of this country and the institutions of the State.

There is one other principle involved in this motion, to which I shall refer very shortly. In the Schedule or Appendix to this order, certain offences are set out. The first offence is unlawful assembly. As I have said before, that has been, and can be, dealt with by the ordinary courts of this country. It can be dealt with effectively by the Guards. One baton charge would be more effective in dealing with a case of unlawful assembly than four sittings of this special court in connection with unlawful assembly of the type that is likely to arise in connection with the present dispute. The second offence that is mentioned is, "any offence against the Malicious Damage Act, 1861". Now, I had the curiosity to look up that Act. I think it is well known to all junior practitioners of the law in this country as the foundation of their income—offences under the head of malicious damage are a considerable aid to the incomes of junior practitioners. Really, however, to suggest that the present action by certain sections of the farming community covers such things as riotous and tumultuous assembly for the purpose of destroying or burning churches, houses, warehouses, yachts, harbours and farmhouses, or intimidating tenants or burning their holdings, is too ludicrous. It would be too ludicrous, if the matter were not so serious. Yet, that is what the Malicious Damage Act, 1861, covers. It is things of that sort that come within the scope of that Act.

The next offence that is scheduled here is an offence under Section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, which can be tried summarily; and the last scheduled offence is No. 4, an offence under Section 5 of the Emergency Powers Act, 1939, and that is the one which really raises the question of principle. Now, so far as my information or knowledge goes of the incidents that have occurred in connection with this dispute or so-called strike, there is nothing in the list of offences that the Minister has read out that could not be adequately dealt with by a district justice binding over the person concerned to keep the peace for 12 months. There is nothing that has arisen so far, in connection with this dispute, or nothing that is likely to arise in connection with it, that could not be dealt with by that very elastic power that is in the hands of every district justice in this country, of binding over the people concerned to keep the peace for a certain period. We have, however, in No. 4 in the Appendix to this Order, something which does raise a question of vital principle, and that is the question of offences under the Emergency Powers Act of 1939. When that Act was passing through this House, we, on this side of the House, drew attention to the fact that, under its provisions, as introduced, the conscription of wealth and man-power was possible, and we got an assurance from the Government—and we believed that the Government's assurances were genuine— that the conscription of wealth and man-power was not intended to be enforced, even under the drastic and very wide powers that were going to be obtained, and that subsequently were obtained, under the Emergency Powers Act of 1939.

The insertion of this item 4 in the appendix is nothing else, in my view and in the view of a good many others, than an effort at conscription of the goods of the farmer, and an interference with the Constitutional right of the farmer to his private property and with his right to dispose of his goods as he wishes. We have heard the Prime Minister here this afternoon speaking on the directive principles that are enshrined in the Constitution. One of the fundamental rights is that to private property; one of the fundamental rights of each citizen of this country is the right to dispose of the produce of his soil and the produce of his toil in any way he wishes.

And there is his right to sell.

I hope that Deputies on the opposite benches who would go into the Lobby in support of this Order will agree with me, and perhaps when they consider this, they will change their minds and for once revolt from the Party Whip in a matter of vital interest to this country. Orders of this kind bring within the scope of No. 4 in the appendix the taking and requisitioning referred to by Deputy O'Donovan of West Cork. Farmers are ordered to deliver up to the Government, to the agents of the Government, the produce of their soil and the produce of their toil.

Say "Hear, hear" now.

Is not that conscription of wealth? Is not that interference with the Constitutional rights of the farmer——

There is interference with the right to sell.

——to dispose of property as he likes?

What about intimidators?

The Minister for Industry and Commerce loves to sit and sheepishly insert irrelevant interruptions, but he has never endeavoured to back them.

What about intimidation?

I have already told the Minister, if he were listening to me, that that intimidation could have been dealt with under Section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act. It could have been dealt with even in the courts. It was so dealt with here by resident magistrates in the British régime and subsequently by district justices. These are offences that are triable summarily, by binding to the peace; and, if the Minister for Industry and Commerce would devote the time that he devotes to irrelevant interruptions to making himself more acquainted with facts having some sort of substance, he would perhaps contribute a little more seriously to this debate. This motion raises the question of fundamental principles; it is this question of fundamental principles that is enshrined in this motion.

Nothing that the Labour Party can say, by their efforts to turn it on to derating and fixity of tenure and by stating that the motion is one that only brings within its scope matters of a highly controversial nature, can get away from that fact. Nothing can get away from the fact that we are not here advocating—whatever our personal views may be—the rights or wrongs of the people taking part in this strike, as it is called. We are not entering into the merits of that, but we are standing here to protest against a misuse of the drastic provisions of Part V, and we say that that section is bringing into disrepute the administration of the law in this country. It is bringing into the minds of the citizens the idea that the ordinary courts are ineffective to deal with what really are ordinary crimes—if crimes they be. We are protesting finally—I repeat it—against the use of these very drastic powers in Part V of the Act, in circumstances in which there is no justification for their use. Above all, we are protesting because, by the fact that they are used in such ridiculous and trivial circumstances, when these powers are really and seriously required by some Government to resist a threat against the State, these powers—which ought to be effective against any such threat —will break in the hands of the Government that has the misfortune to have to use them.

I suppose I may take it that every Party in this House would agree that no section of farmers or any other part of the community should be permitted to achieve a political objective either by intimidation or by violence. If I had said that in the Dáil previously, I have no doubt whatever that it would have had general acceptance; but, after some of the speeches made by Deputies opposite and after some of the scoffings which we have heard, I am doubtful about that principle being accepted. However, I suppose I may expect, at any rate, that the leaders beyond—even though they may have laughed at certain crimes that were committed—will accept that principle, that a political objective must be achieved by ordinary means.

We welcome your conversion to that doctrine.

I welcome the conversion of some of the Deputies opposite.

On a point of order, might I ask——

Deputy Dillon has contributed nothing to that conversion.

When you were shooting with a revolver from behind ditches in Cavan; the whole lot of you——

Might I ask for a direction?

Is Deputy Coburn going to be permitted to say——

Is the Minister or any Deputy entitled, within the rules of this House, to refer to anything as a crime before judgment has been passed by the courts?

I do not think it is in accordance with procedure to refer to anything as a crime in a specific way; a Deputy might refer to general actions as criminal.

A Deputy of this House has referred to members of this House, from the Taoiseach down, as murderers—Deputy Coburn did.

Yes, I am here. You have sent four decent men from my constituency, who are better than you or the Taoiseach, before the Military Tribunal, and I am here to defend them before the whole Fianna Fáil Party. Come down here now—any half dozen of you—for three minutes.

They were four decent men from my constituency. They were brought before the Military Tribunal to-day. I am one who never committed a crime in my life, but I am out for fair play and justice. I would die for justice. No surrender to any man; there never was by anyone belonging to me.

The Deputy must withdraw his statement.

I will not. I can give proof of it.

The Deputy must leave the House.

I will never withdraw to any man, and will never turn my back to any man, from the Taoiseach down. You can smile now when you have betrayed the country.

Deputy Coburn then withdrew.

I second every word the Deputy said.

Deputy Giles will please withdrawn from the House.

Deputy Giles then withdrew.

I raised a point of order, and I would like to have a ruling on it. Is any member of the House entitled to refer to any action as a crime before judgment is passed by some court?

I have no recollection of anyone referring to specific instances as crimes. There were references in a general way.

I suppose, in order to please Deputy O'Higgins and Deputies opposite, I must refer to the gentlemanly action of the farmers.

The Minister—if I may interrupt—need not be careful of my susceptibilities at all. I do not want anything done to make the atmosphere outside this House worse than it is. When I was speaking myself, I took care of that.

I must be careful in this debate when talking about certain actions—the spilling of milk, the burning of hay, the cutting of tyres, and the scattering of pigs over the country— not to refer to them as crimes.

Not until they are found so.

It is a great pity, I think, that Deputy O'Higgins or any other responsible Deputy should appear to condone these actions, by not allowing us even to refer to them as crimes, and by referring to them—to use his own words—as actions to which the farmers were driven.

Does the Minister remember that when certain things were referred to as crimes, we were made to swallow the words on the ground that men were only wounded?

And murder was referred to as an incident.

These were incidents to which the farmers were driven, and those incidents, or actions, or whatever you like to call them, are regarded with the greatest levity by Deputies opposite.

Levity is behind the Minister.

When the Minister for Justice mentioned certain things which happened, like the spilling of milk, we had nothing but guffaws and laughter from the front bench of the Opposition, from Deputy McGilligan, from Deputy Gorey and from others.

I never laughed at one of them.

The Deputy does not laugh very much, I admit, but he did laugh to-day.

I did not. I laughed at the allegation that the cutting of a tyre was a proper matter to be brought before a military tribunal.

It was all a laughing matter.

No, that was the one thing.

And the unfortunate rabbits.

When the Minister for Justice was speaking of these actions of the Farmers' Federation, they were regarded on the opposite side as matters to be laughed at and brushed aside.

Mr. Brennan

That is not true.

It is true, and I say that it is a pity that a responsible Deputy like Deputy O'Higgins should bring in a motion of this kind, which we now find is badly drafted, in order to condone or to give encouragement to the actions of that association. We heard from Deputy Costello that the motion was not drafted to mean, as any ordinary person would read it, that the question of derating, moratorium or fixity of tenure were matters that should be referred to arbitration. We regard this action by the Farmers Federation as a very serious affair, and if Deputies opposite were not in such a funny mood to-night, they might themselves regard it as rather serious that the smaller, poorer farmers in the districts around Dublin should be prevented from bringing their eggs and butter to the market or their few cattle and pigs to the fair. But these are not matters that should be taken seriously by the Deputies opposite. The only matter to be taken seriously by them is that the big farmers of County Meath and County Kildare and County Wicklow should get arbitration on the matter of derating because they have gone out on strike. It is no concern of theirs that the small farmer in the hills of Wicklow should be prevented——

That is wrong. The big farmers have nothing to do with it, and Deputy O'Reilly's speech proves it. The big farmers sold, and can sell, their stuff, and the small farmers are the men who are afraid because they are all in it. It is the small farmers are running it.

I have reports on several cases and they can be produced when the time comes.

They are lies; they are all wrong.

I have reports of bigger farmers sending cattle to be shipped and then going out as pickets next day to stop the smaller men from taking their stock to the market.

It is your own supporters, the smaller men.

The Minister is making a statement and must be allowed——

Why can he not tell the truth? The man does not know what is happening in the country, nor does anyone of his back benchers.

Whatever the Minister says must be listened to.

It is the small farmers who are driven by necessity, as a result of the policy of that rotten Government, to do this. It is not a question of any organisation, or anything else. It is pure necessity.



I do not agree with this strike because I think they got wrong advice, but the whole thing arises from pure desperation.

Is that what is driving Deputy Gilpin?

They are straight and honest, and not what you are, you dishonest crowd. You were rightly called murderers. You put good, decent men in this country to their graves for your policy, your self-sufficiency.

Deputy Fagan must withdraw those remarks.

I will listen to no more. I will leave the House. You are a lot of murderers and nothing else.

Deputy Fagan then left the Chamber.

Would it not be advisable if the Minister did not provoke the House by trying to put different types of farmers against each other?

Would it not also be advisable if the Minister advised his corps of "yappers" to sit quiet?

These expressions are altogether unparliamentary, and should not be used. The Minister must be allowed to make his statement, and if there is anything said which the other side would like to rebut, there will be plenty of opportunities for doing so. The debate must be carried on, however, in an orderly way, with properly restrained feelings.

If the Minister thinks that his "yappers" are going to keep order, he is making a hell of a mistake.

If Deputy Gorey does not conduct himself, he will have to leave the House, too.

We want order from the Government side.

What about the Government Party? Can they not keep quiet and not be looking for trouble?

Might I appeal to the Deputies opposite that if there are going to be any more of these dramatic leavings of the House, they ought to take place at the same time, so that we can get on with the work? I want to impress on the Deputies opposite that we look on this matter as very serious from the point of view of the small farmer who lives in the Wicklow hills, or in any other hills, or even on the plains of Kildare or Meath, who was prevented from going into the fair to sell his few cattle or pigs and, very often, I repeat, by men who the previous day sent their cattle to be shipped. That is the issue we are up against.

Can the Minister give an instance of that?

Yes, dozens.

There are any amount that can be got.

I met them to-day on the Dublin road.

Deputy Costello spoke about the right of the producer to dispose of the produce of his toil and of his soil as he thought fit. That is what we stand for. We stand for the principle in this order—and I will come to the justification of this order soon—that the small producer has as good a right to market his few cattle and pigs in the fair as the bigger farmer. This big farmer has, in some cases, sent his cattle off to be shipped and, in other cases, worse still, when the fair was coming to a close, and when the smallholders wanted their money for their few cattle badly these leaders of the pickets tried to buy these cattle at small prices.

That is a lie.

It is the truth.

It is the truth, and can be proved.

I can prove it, and I am a farmer.

The Minister will settle it by that kind of language.

There is no settlement of this strike. Does the Deputy think that we are going to meet those people——

It is no wonder there is a strike.

——who went on strike and used violence and intimidation to get derating and moratoriums? There is no settling of that strike, and the Party opposite should stand with us in that.

Who raised derating first? Look to your right.

The motion.

Look to your right— Mr. de Valera, in the town of Athy.

We will come to that, too.

And you carried an election on it.

I want to make myself perfectly clear. The Minister, for Justice said that I would be very glad to see the end of this milk strike. I would.

By surrender?

Not necessarily by surrender. I sent word to these people who had not come near me, in September. They got a message through Senator Byrne that I was prepared to consider the price for 1940 in the month of December.

But that you would not sanction any increase.

I did not say that. I said that I would not sanction it at that time, because the cost of production had not increased at that time. Every Deputy knows that men who had their cows on grass in September, and who were paying the same wages, the same rent and rates, had no case whatever for an increase in the price in September.

A higher price for cows to replenish the stock.

They were getting a higher price for cows and for calves, but I said to them at that time that if a case could be made in December for the 1940 price, that case would be considered. The next thing I got was an ultimatum.

We are very near a settlement now after that statement.

In issuing this order, we did not create any new offence. We merely said, in issuing the order, that the Government were satisfied that the ordinary courts were inadequate to deal with offences of this kind that might be committed. We were perfectly justified in making that statement, and in making that order. As Deputy Costello stated, you had offences such as unlawful assembly which were tried by the ordinary courts. You had other matters such as offences under Section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, which were always tried by the ordinary courts.

What about the lastmentioned one?

With regard to the requisitioning of food?

An offence under Section 5 of the Emergency Powers Act.

That was never tried before an ordinary court.

It is a new offence.

I maintain—and I think Deputies opposite if they were on these benches would make the same case—that it is not likely that justice could be done in the ordinary courts in cases of this kind. Does not every Deputy know that if a case of this kind came to be tried before a district justice there would be a demonstration outside the courthouse?

Are they not being tried by them now?

They are not being tried.

They are being remanded; and is there a solitary instance where intimidation has been used?

Everybody in this country knows—although Deputies may try to make light of the situation, they, too, know it very well—that if one of these cases were to be tried before a district justice in any of the towns round Dublin where the strike is taking place, there would be a demonstration outside the court.

It has not happened yet.

It is hardly fair to expect these district justices to try these cases, even though they may be very serious. Some of these cases may go for trial before a jury. Is any Deputy going to tell me that you can get a fair trial by jury for these farmers in any one of these counties? Do we not know well that there are some men in these counties would be inclined to hang them for these offences, while there are others who would be inclined to let them off? Surely you are not going to get a fair trial where they would be biassed one way or another?

Will the jury be all big farmers?

I say that they would be biassed one way or the other.

I thought that all the small farmers were all against this business?

No, some of them would be against it and some of them for it. I say that we were perfectly entitled, as a Government, to say that we were satisfied that the ordinary courts were not adequate to deal with these alleged offences. We were satisfied of that because these men who were capable of coming together in eight motor cars to spill the contents of a lorry of potatoes around the road, were equally capable of coming to demonstrate outside a courthouse where a district justice might be trying one of these cases. Deputy Costello said that we could deal with these offences by having the defendants bound over for 12 months by a district justice. Deputy Costello should have a fair idea of how a district justice would be inclined to deal with cases of this kind at the present time, and of the intimidation that is likely to take place. Does Deputy Costello think that binding them over for 12 months is going to have the slightest effect? Many of them may be honourable men and probably would keep their bonds but there would be others to take their place. There would be several ready to take their place if they thought that the maximum penalty for going into the fight on behalf of the Federation was that they might be brought before a district justice and bound over for 12 months. That is not going to be a deterrent.

The special court to which these cases can be sent under this order is not subject to intimidation. It is not subject in any way to any influence of that kind and the Leaders opposite have said on many occasions—and we have said so, too—that those who go before that court will get a fair trial. What more do they want? They get a fair trial. I do not see that we have done anything that should be condemned in this House, when we make sure, as far as we can, that people whom we accuse—I put it that way to please Deputy O'Higgins—of committing certain crimes will be brought before a court where they are sure to get justice. That is all we have done.

Is it a crime to refuse to send milk to Dublin, if they are requested to do so by you?

It is a crime.

That is a new offence.

Yes, under the Emergency Powers Act. Deputy O'Donovan said that the producers of milk had a case. I do not know whether they have or not but if they have, they have the most perfect form of arbitration machinery under the Act passed by this House setting up the Dublin and District Milk Board. The board which was set up was composed of representatives of the producers, the wholesalers and the retailers with a chairman. They were to discuss amongst themselves the price to be paid to producers. If they could agree, that could be looked upon as an arbitration. If they did not agree, the chairman sent me a report together with a statement of the views of the different sections of the board and his own views. It is not correct to say that I determined the price to be paid to the producers.

Did you not get that report and did you not reply to the milk producers that you would not consider any alteration in price?

I shall tell you that in a moment. On the 14th April of this year —this is the last letter I got from the milk producers—I received a communication from them saying that a price had been fixed by the board for May, June and July. They were willing to agree to the May and June price but they thought that the July price should be revised. They have said that I refused to see them. Here is the letter which my secretary wrote to them in reply to their letter. He said:

"With further reference to your letter, dated 14th instant, I am directed by the Minister for Agriculture to state that as pointed out in my letter to you of 14th March, 1938, alteration in milk prices can only be effected through the medium of a determination by the Dublin District Milk Board submitted for the Minister's consideration. The Minister will, of course, be prepared to consider any such determination referred to him by the board. In the circumstances, it is considered that the reception of the proposed deputation would serve no useful purpose."

What is the date of that letter?

The 22nd April. Since that I have got no request to receive them.

No letter passed one way or another since?

No. I have said in that letter that there was no use in receiving them unless the board first made a recommendation. Any Minister would have done the same thing. The next letter I got from the association was on the 3rd November, saying that unless I gave my sanction to 1/10 a gallon they would take other action. That is all.

What was the reaction to that demand?

Mr. Brennan

Was that letter the result of the findings of the board?

No. The board, I think, considered the matter. I am not clear on the point. It is not that I want to evade it. I shall answer any questions I am asked about it. The board considered the matter in or about September and refused to agree—that is, all the members refused to agree—to an increased price.

Did the chairman communicate with the Minister in the ordinary course?

I do not think so. However, I am not sure of that.

But was it not his duty to do so under the constitution of the board?

If there was a formal consideration of prices, certainly, but I do not think there was such a thing.

I have official information from the producers that there was a consideration.

Well, I can deal with the facts if I am asked a question, but, as far as I am concerned, the last letter that I got from the association after the 14th April was this letter of the 3rd November, that unless they got 1/10 they would take action.

I want to assure the Minister that my questions are intended to elicit information and not to interrupt.

That is what I am looking for, too.

I say that I regret this milk strike for this reason: that it was necessary to see that milk was supplied to Dublin. It was necessary to get certain creameries to supply that milk, and it will be necessary to allow those creameries to continue to supply milk to Dublin if they so think fit. Therefore, when this strike ends——

Milk not fit for human consumption?

I can deal with that later. When this strike ends, producers in the five counties will not all be able to supply milk to Dublin again. That will be the position. I am not saying it in any bitter way. I regret it.

Are the creameries that refused to supply milk to Dublin going to be penalised by you and by the Government if they refuse to supply?

Yes. These creameries are sending good milk to Dublin.

Why was the Milk and Dairies Act of 1935 passed if the creameries are sending good milk to Dublin?

That Act permitted certain creameries to send milk to Dublin. I come now to another matter. It may be thought that those people have a good case. Deputy O'Donovan, and other Deputies opposite, take it for granted that they have a good case. They say they believe they have a good case. I have not been in a position to get costings for the production of milk for this area. They are very difficult things to get. I have here a report made by a professor or a lecturer, I am not sure which, in Oxford University. He took quite a long time in trying to get the costings of milk production and distribution. He did not produce anything very definite in the end and admitted that he could not.

The only thing, therefore, that I can do is to look around and see what are the prices paid elsewhere. I quoted here before—many Deputies know them—the prices paid to creameries down the country. They are not more than half what are being paid here in Dublin. It is true to say that the members of the Milk Producers' Association who live in these counties surrounding Dublin have greater expenses to meet than the creamery supplier, but what that figure would amount to I do not know. If we take the case of the supplier in Northern Ireland and Great Britain who is supplying liquid milk under the same conditions as the producers here, what is the position? In England, the October price was 1/1½, less the cost of collection. For November and December the supplier is getting ½d. more. Our price here is 1/4 less cost of collection.

What is the cost of feeding stuffs? I am surprised that the Minister should make such a comparison.

I will come to that later. In the North of Ireland last winter, at this time, the price paid was 1/3. I believe they have said that they are going to pay 3d. more this winter. That will bring the price to 1/6, less 1¾d. levy made by the Northern Government which leaves the price 1/4¼, less cost of collection. That is definitely higher than it is here.

What was the price paid here last year?

And it is a ¼d. less this year?

Yes, at this particular time. That may be some consolation to the Deputy.

No, it is not. It is information we want.

These are the only comparisons that I could get as to what producers are getting in Great Britain, in Northern Ireland or our own creamery producers. Compared with any of these, the producers here are not being badly treated. Deputy Belton asked what about the cost of feeding stuffs. I would like to tell him that the plea made by those men to me, when I first brought in the Act, was that they were men who deserved support because they were self-sufficient farmers: that they produced their own milk, their own grass and their own crops and that they were self-sufficient in every way.

I say, whether that is true or not, that the man, whether he is in these five counties, or in some other county outside the five counties, who is prepared to produce milk on a mixed farm: the man who produces his own hay, roots and grain, is a greater asset to this country than the man who fills his houses with cows and buys all his feeding-stuffs.

Would the Minister tell us why milk must be cheaper now than it was last year, when they were getting 1/4½?

All I can say to the Deputy is that it may have been too dear last year. I want to say this: that I was asked the day the milk strike started if I would have arbitration on the question as to how much more it cost to produce milk this year than it did at this time last year. I said: "No. I will have arbitration on the point: how much does it cost to produce milk this year." I do not know, but I may have sanctioned too much last year. I am prepared at any time to have the cost of the production of milk coming in here, allowing a reasonable profit, examined. In that case the producers would, in my opinion, run the risk of having their prices come down. That would be just as likely as that they would go up.

Would the Minister give us the wholesalers' prices in England, Belfast and here, as well as the prices paid by the consumers?

I have some tables here. Let us take the winter period from October to April. Milk is 1/4 a gallon delivered to the wholesaler in Dublin. Milk delivered to consumers' houses is 2/4 a gallon. For milk taken at the shops they get 2½d. on 3d. a pint, mostly 3d. That is 2/-.

I am talking about the Belfast price and the English price.

These are the retail prices in Dublin. The retail prices in England are as follows:—In London, all the year round, milk is 2/4 a gallon. In other centres, with a population of over 25,000, the price is also 2/4 a gallon all the year round except in May and June.

But it is 2/4 for the rest of the year?

In London it is 2/4 the whole year round, and, in certain of the larger towns in England, it is also 2/4 throughout the year except during the months of May and June. Now you go down until you reach 2/- in the smaller villages. As I have already said that milk is sold by the producer at an average of 1/0½d. per gallon for the year. The distribution costs in London are very large.

What is the Belfast price?

I am afraid I have not got the cost of distribution there.

That would be somewhat comparable with Dublin.

Is the distributor in England getting 1/3?

There are certain levies and so on. I think they would amount to 3d. These are levies for the pool so as to bring up the price at other times.

So they have about 1/- a gallon?

Yes, about the same as here. Before I sit down I want to refer to two or three other points. A question was raised about derating. Evidently we have to repeat our facts on this issue every time the matter is raised here, before Deputies will see that we more than carried out our guarantees with regard to derating. It is true that when in Opposition we were in favour of derating. And the Government who sat on these benches was then against it. But when we came into power we felt that halving the annuities was a better proposition for the farmers than giving them derating. The rates are levied on the poor law valuation according to the value of the land rated.

The Minister offered them both.

No, I did not.

I have it here. I have the Minister's speech on that matter offering both.

No, we did not. On the other hand, we have the position that some people pay a very high rent for their land and others pay a low rent. By giving half the annuities we were conferring more benefit on the men who were paying a high rent than if we gave them derating. Let us take the figure for the rates which, as the Opposition tell us, have gone up so much. The rates on land have increased by £724,000 but against that we have given the farmers half the annuities which amount to £2,200,000, so that the advantage there is very considerable. There is one other set of figures which I would like to give and that is the Agricultural Prices Index figure. Statements have been made here by the Opposition on this aspect of the question. I have been asked what was the price of cattle, sheep and so on for the year 1931. In 1931 the Agricultural Prices Index was 111. In the year 1938 that had risen to 118 and the figure this year is 126.

The 1931 prices were gold prices.

What difference does that make to us? What difference does it make when we did not get gold?

That is an intelligent remark from the Minister.

I want to go back to where I started, and to impress on Deputies opposite—though there is no use at this stage in asking them not to proceed with this motion—the danger of the course on which they are embarking. The Opposition are doing a dangerous thing in giving the support of so many Deputies here to those outside who have adopted the weapon of violence or intimidation in order to get support for derating or anything else of that sort. In that action they are doing a great disservice to this country. They ought to realise the evil of that course before they proceed with this motion. The people behind this strike are war-minded. They have issued their war bulletins. They have adopted war methods, the methods of violence and intimidation. I would regret exceedingly if any considerable number of Deputies on the Opposition side of the House or anywhere else go into the Opposition Lobbies in support of this sort of thing.

I regret I had not the honour of listening to the Minister for Justice when he spoke this evening here. It strikes me that he could have improved upon the speech to which we have just listened. That speech is characteristic of the policy under which the country has groaned for the past eight years. Let us take the last statement as an example of it. It is quite clear from what he has said that the Minister wants the country to understand that the Government in this case is acting as administrator and not as a partisan, whereas there has been running through his speech, from one end to the other, the most partisan and incompetent series of statements that could be given utterance to by any Minister in any Government. He says the Agricultural Prices Index figure for the year 1931 was 111, that the figure for 1938 was 118, and that it is now 126. Did he really mean to mislead the House and the people when he made that statement? Could he not have said that any person who sold agricultural goods up to a certain date which included 1938, got 118 as against 111 for 1931, and that he is now going to get 126? Let us examine this a step further. It is clear that 126 is in respect of all items. But every farmer is not in all items. Some are purchasing some of their items at 126; they sold at 118. If there is one thing that is fallacious and that has been since the Party opposite cursed this country by coming into public life, it is their treatment of figures.

They never reversed them any way.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce did worse. He put plus where there should be minus. Practically the whole speech of the Minister for Agriculture was in connection with the merits of this dispute. We are not dealing with them. We are dealing with one thing alone and that is good order and good government in this country. We had given an example of administration in that respect which this Government would be glad to have to their credit. This motion runs:—

"That the Dáil disapproves of the action of the Government in making an order under Section 36 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939."

That is not the whole of the motion. Read on.

The Minister can go home and read it.

Deputy Cosgrave is now acting the heavy father.

If the Minister for Industry and Commerce got proper treatment by a heavy father he would not in his old age be as bad as he is now.

Is it from that Deputy McGilligan is suffering now?

The Minister for Agriculture made a statement that the leaders of the Opposition had laughed at several crimes, and he said:—

"The Government were perfectly satisfied that the ordinary courts were inadequate to deal with offences of this kind..."

There you have the Minister's contribution to this debate. Is that his idea of evidence? Where is his evidence? Where is the evidence for the statement that justice could not be done in the ordinary courts in cases of this kind? He says everybody knows it. That is his evidence and it is the evidence on which the Government acts. In what court would that be accepted?

I think Deputy Cosgrave will find that I spent a quarter of an hour on that point.

That is the sum and substance of the Minister's case.

I dealt with it before the Deputy came into the House.

Has anybody told the Minister that jurymen will not act impartially in these cases in any rural district?

Oh, I said that all right.

What does the Minister mean by that?

That jurors would not be impartial.

In other words that a juryman will go into the box and take an oath to return a true verdict and that in a matter of this sort, which is not really a national question but a social question, he will refuse to do his duty? Would it not be only fair, before one would make a pronouncement like that, that at least one jury should get an opportunity of showing it was not going to do its duty in one particular case? One case would not be convincing to me, but at any rate the House would have been entitled to a single case of that sort. The Minister will recollect that I produced a case here where jurymen were shot at, one being killed and one wounded, and the Minister at that time would not take the suggestion we made for dealing with that particular form of intimidation.

Irish jurymen were only once called perjurers in the British Parliament. We have an Irish Minister charging them with it to-night.

You have not.

That they would not do their duty.

You have not.

When they go into a jury box, and they know that certain people are charged with certain offences, does the Minister really mean to tell us here that they will not try them fairly? The Minister went on to say that the district justice would be intimidated. We have no case of that sort—none whatever.

And never had.

The Minister said the special court would not be subject to intimidation. I know that quite well, but is there not one thing obvious to any person who has had experience of this sort of internal disturbance in a country, in this country and over in England, that the courts in considering those cases endeavour to make the situation easier between the parties; that there are cases in which, if there is a serious internal situation of that kind, the judge will postpone sentence with a view to seeing whether or not it is possible to compose the differences that there are between the people? This special court is set up to deal with this, directed I have no doubt in some form or other by some intimation that the Government wishes to put it down. Who is to administer justice in this country? Is it the Government or is it the courts? If it be the courts, it is not enough to tell us that they are inadequate to deal with that situation, or that the district justice is fearsome of doing his duty, or that there are so many cases in which he cannot do it.

I am not satisfied that this special court which the Government has set up, and which is the one we set up when we were in office, is the appropriate court to deal with a matter of this sort at all. People who are accustomed to courtsmartial are not the people who are the best adapted to deal with an internal situation of this character. It is not a conspiracy that is going to affect the existence of the State or the security of the State. The Minister went at great length into the merits of this case. He presumably is the judge, and he proceeds to pronounce his opinions, even at a time when one would expect that he would be impartial in his views. I am not concerned with the merits of this case at all in connection with this motion. I am concerned entirely with the question of law and order, and respect for law and order in this State. Those farmers have not been taught that respect for law and order by the very Government that is now speaking of it.

Mr. Boland

When did the Deputy become respectable? Let us be on the level. There is only a question of a year in the difference. Go back to 1921, when we were all the same. We became estranged in 1922.

We took part in a revolution——

Mr. Boland

So did we

——and having taken part in it we put to the people certain things and we got their decision.

In a very shady way.

We were their instruments in carrying out their decision. You proceeded to do much worse than this, and you complained and you whinged when you met with stronger force than you were able to exercise. We taught you law and order.

Mr. Boland

With the British Army at your back.

There was not a single British soldier at our back, and you had more guns from the British than we had.

Mr. Boland

We can all speak of 1922 if the Deputy wishes. We will not run away from it.

We will come down to 1939.

Mr. Boland

Keep the Deputy to it.

There is one thing certain, we did not run, but the gentlemen opposite showed great form at that particular kind of activity.

We saw your heels.

Mr. Boland

You never saw our heels.

We are dealing with this motion.

I think in fairness to the people and to the country we should deal with the matter before us.

Mr. Boland

Exactly. Keep the Deputy to it.

The Minister himself first talked of 1921 to-night. I think he is sorry for it now.

Let us confine ourselves to 1939, and to the motion before the House.

We have said and we repeat that we stand for ordered conditions in this State, and have done so for a long time; it is not only to-day or yesterday. We say that it is an abuse of the power of Government to introduce this particular method of dealing with a matter of this kind. It is not an offence against the State. It is a mere internal disturbance. The most that can be said in respect of it is that there is a scattering of property, a destruction of milk. I deprecate the destruction of milk or of any property. I deprecate the burning of boots and of other things of that sort. I deprecate a Minister who will not give a man authority to sell a pig in this country for the highest price he can get for it.

The Oireachtas will not let me.

Do you not move the Oireachtas? Is it not your own law?

I do not always move the Deputy.

He is ashamed of it now.

When we were speaking of getting the best value for the people of this country, the Minister put himself up as the judge. But the people do not regard you as a judge; they regard you as a mere politician, and your Government as a mere collection of politicians who have given no evidence of statesmanship, and that is what has landed us into this position. In connection with this resolution we gave you a further opportunity of resolving this question, taking no hand, act or part in favour of any person engaged in it, by saying that there should be set up——


——independent arbitration or conciliation machinery.

For what?

With a view to adjusting, in a manner just and equitable in the interests of the farmers, the consumers and the taxpayers, the matters giving rise to such action.

What are the matters?

The matters in dispute.

The censor will not let the public know.

What are they? There are handbills here.

The Minister has the advantage of me if he has handbills. He objects, if I understand it correctly, to this farmers' body, or whatever it is called, putting down as one of its conditions a condition to which he subscribed at a certain time. I sat over there listening to Deputy Ryan, as he then was, telling us of the difficulties of the farmers throughout the country, and how they were unable to pay their way. He had the right to do that here when he was in Opposition, but when he is in the Government he denies the right to some person who puts up that as a proposal.

I do not deny the right to any Deputy to speak. That is all the right I got.

I heard him here like a cry-baby making a case for the farmers. They were never as well off since as they were at that time. The Minister's own statement to-night is an indication of it. He told us that the index figure was 111 in 1931. What was it since? He did not tell us when it was 90 or when it was 85 or when it was 82.

The farmers told you what it was in 1933, and 1937 and 1938.

They made a mistake and they realise it. They found the Minister out. That is the position. The Government has made a mess of this whole business. They have put the farmers in the position in which they are at the present moment. We are offering them the first lesson in how to administer the laws in the courts of this country. We are offering them, secondly, an opportunity to get out of this difficulty that they have got into. I advise them to accept it.

As a mere politician, following so seasoned a statesman as Deputy Cosgrave——

I understood there was a time-table decided upon.

I merely wanted to draw the attention of the House to this fact, that the issues raised by the farmers in this leaflet have been three times referred to the electors of this country. They are the arbitration tribunal, and the only tribunal which can settle these issues. They have given their decision and, if there is to be any appeal from that decision, they are the only tribunal to which that appeal can be carried. We have no right to overthrow the Constitution by asking, as this motion now asks us to do, to set up a tribunal which is going to reverse, if necessary to override, at any rate, a decision which was given by the people of this country on this question of derating, on the question of the land purchase policy of these people and on the question of a moratorium. The people on three occasions have turned these things down and this House is not entitled to reject the verdict of the people on that matter.

I do not know sufficient about deep-sea fishing to know whether herrings are described as moving in a swarm or a flock, but I never witnessed so many red herrings in a pack as have been deliberately introduced across the trail of this motion by Ministers who were afraid to stand up against the motion. We have them in yellow, in green, in white and in red, white and blue—documents transmitted secretly from the Censor's Office to the political Front Bench; documents that were suppressed from the ordinary Deputy of Dáil Eireann and from the ordinary member of the public.

Given to the Government?

We have newspapers in this State controlled, bossed and suppressed for the last 14 days at the beck of the Censor, in the interests of the Government, who are in strife with the most responsible and most important members of the community, and then you come in, having suppressed one side of the case, and jeer at Deputies on this side because they do not know all the little details of the petty squabble. Your actions for the past fortnight are typical of your recklessness in big and little things for the past seven years. You have deliberately provoked a tragic and deplorable state of affairs in this country. It is a tragedy when the peasant farmers of Ireland are in revolt against any Irish Government. It is not a situation in which either the Government or the Opposition can feel comfortable. It is not a situation about which any of us can feel proud.

There was no speech made from the Government Front Bench this evening that was not calculated to make a bad situation worse. We had jeers and jibes of a snivelling, political kind against the audacity of the Irish farmer to demand the derating of his land. Who were the people who first raised that standard in the country, and on what issue did that Government first get into power? It was on the issue that is a despicable issue to-day. Remember, it is the farmers who are in revolt, and if they are engaging in what the Minister for Agriculture presumes to call crimes, it is because they, like many others, are rapidly losing faith and confidence in the democratic institutions of this State. You cannot roll together a mass of support with responsible men, or men holding responsible positions, deluding the public with false promises and then, when they have succeeded, repudiating those promises. We warned you down through the years that the seed that was being sown then would be reaped in turmoil and trouble when you disillusioned those people. If the farmers are inclined to take the unconstitutional path, who blazed the trail, who undermined their confidence, who sapped their faith in Parliamentary institutions?

We had a Minister getting up on one occasion, a colleague of the leader, telling us in this House that when one of our institutions, such as the Military Tribunal, had to be used, it was time for the Government to quit; it was time to quit when any Government had to rely on such instruments. Remember, that was at a time when the Government, having gone through months of armed conspiracy, and having marched behind the coffins of many young and old Irish people, finally came to the House for special powers. But, even in those circumstances, the powers were branded as unjustifiable, undemocratic, and the Government that asked for those powers were told they were a Government of failures. We have these same successful politicians, but broken statesmen, coming in here this evening to apply such drastic powers against a group of poor Irish farmers who presumed to revolt, or presumed to defy, in an economic way, the all-mighty Government of politicians who got in here by scrambling on their shoulders.

We are told that all the courts of Ireland have failed, that the Government are forced to the conclusion that the courts of an Irish State are inadequate to deal with ordinary Irish offences. We are told by the same Minister in the same breath that they came to that conclusion after nine days of agrarian activity; that they came to that appallingly grave decision before they had found even one man guilty before any court. And, in the determined desire not to mend the situation, but to wound their opponents; in the vindictive desire to do untold damage provided they wounded an Irish farmer, we have an Irish Minister in an Irish Parliament getting up to level a charge at our brothers and cousins in this country that even die-hard Unionists revolted at in an English Parliament, when one indiscreet person charged Irish people with being perjurers. Decent Englishmen, decent Scotsmen and decent Welshmen repudiated the person who hurled that charge. And now, because there is a bit of trouble over disillusioned, down-trodden depressed Irish farmers because they presumed to challenge the judicial knowledge of a politician opposite, we are told that Irish jurymen are only a pack of perjurers. The Government have asked powers of this kind to deal with the present situation and surely such a Government should quit office when they show such irresponsibility as has been shown over there to-night?

The situation is bad and the longer it lasts the worse it will get. I said at the beginning that I would not presume to go into the merits of this dispute. Sufficiently bad is it that there is a dispute. If you let this strike go on for one week and two weeks, armed with all the powers you got under false pretences to deal either with a foreign enemy or with armed insurrection, undoubtedly you will beat the Irish farmers to their knees; you will roll them in the dirt; you will bend the strongest and break the weakest. Is that a national victory? Is that any "crow" for this Parliament? Is that anything to make this State prouder—that a Government, armed with war powers, beat the peasant population of the country to their knees? If that does not happen, if this struggle goes the other way, if by more intense organisation the people of the City of Dublin are starved and the farmers are victorious over Government, is that a comforting thought? Is it a thing that any of us could be proud of? It would be a tremendous national humiliation. But you will carry on, armed with the baton, until one or other result is achieved and we are political tricksters to ask you to stay your hand, to stop and think, in the interests of all. Cannot you withdraw this provocative measure and give one hour's talk to the people on the other side and give one minute's consideration to the people who have still some national pride and sympathy in their hearts?

This is too grave a matter for anybody on this side to take sides. There was nothing in the motion to indicate that we were taking sides. It was merely a distortion of the motion and a twisting of our statements to even imply that we had indicated sympathy one way or the other. We said: "If the Government is not conscious of its responsibilities let us in Opposition be conscious of ours. Let us ignore—let us despise—the tempting political bait of taking sides and embarrassing a Government." The Minister for Agriculture grins.

And why would I not? It is a political motion.

If he would do less grinning and more thinking we would not have a strike at this moment. We came and we asked you to stop abusing powers you got to deal with armed conspiracy, to give these men a chance to talk around a table. We refused to take sides. The Minister came in with his sneers and his jeers. We put ourselves in the position of being jeered at from that side because we gave you those powers on the eve of war. We gave them under the assurance that you would never use them on this kind of occasion or that you would never use them, at least, until you had tried the ordinary courts.

We have never stood for lawnessness and we are not standing for it now. If property is being destroyed, if people are interfered with in their ordinary trade, then, we say, bring the offenders before the court, imprison them, fine them. Give them the ordinary law that you and I have got to stand by. They will not squeal. They will take their medicine. If another fills the breach, do the same with him. The Minister says, we have too many to do that. You have hundreds and hundreds of ordinary courts; you have only one Military Tribunal. Was that a fair argument—that one tribunal can do more than hundreds of courts?

This is a vindictive, political measure, true to form, true to your form all the time—to use any weapon to crush opposition, no matter how justified or how reasonable. Proceed if you like; defy that motion. I do not doubt your capacity, with all the forces behind you, to crush the opposition of the Irish farmers, but I would not be happy to be in the seat of any one of you the day after you did it.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 62.

  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George C.
  • Benson, Ernest E.
  • Brasier, Brooke.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, William J.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Burke, Thomas.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, Alfred (Junior).
  • Cole, John J.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Gorey, Denis J.
  • Hannigan, Joseph.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Sullivan, John.
  • Redmond, Bridget M.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Rogers, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, Jeremiah.


  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Do Valera, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Friel, John.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Francis.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McCann, John.
  • McDevitt, Henry A.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Meaney, Cornelius.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Mullen, Thomas.
  • Munnelly, John.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Loghlen, Peter J.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Rice, Brigid M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Doyle and Bennett; Níl, Deputies Smith and S. Brady.
Motion declared lost.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.35 p.m. until 3 p.m. on to-morrow, Thursday, 30th November, 1939.