I move that this Bill be now read a Second Time. I would like to take the minds of Deputies back to the position here last November when I brought forward a Bill to give the rural community the same facilities as are enjoyed by the people in the cities with regard to the opening of licensed premises on Sundays. The Dáil, in its wisdom or lunacy, turned down that measure.
The Constitution of this State guarantees equal rights for all citizens. I endeavoured to get equal rights for the rural community by affording them the same facilities as are being afforded the people in the cities. That was beaten in this House by 106 votes to 23. The reasons given were undoubtedly honest and were largely influenced by the pressure and propaganda that were brought to bear on Deputies by temperance associations and others in this country. At that time I guaranteed that I would bring in a measure to remove this blot under our Constitution and to secure equal rights for all our citizens, if not by giving facilities to those who had not got them, then at least by withdrawing the facilities from those who had them.
I was tempted to bring in this Bill by the letters I have received from temperance associations referring to the horrible temptation facing a country boy going along the road on a Sunday and walking past a public-house which would have its doors open —the temptation there would be to him to go in. I have got a large number of letters—about 168 altogether— and I will give the House one just as an instance. I give it because it bears on this Bill. It states:
"The detrimental effect which the existing facilities for the consumption of intoxicating liquor are having on the people of Dublin City and Cork City is very plainly evident, particularly at week-ends, and the council consider that to extend these facilities throughout the entire country could only result in the widespread loosening of the moral fibre of the population, with consequent unhappy results involving violation of the laws of Church and State."
That was from one of the temperance associations. I got others on the same lines.
When the 1942 Intoxicating Liquor Act was introduced here the then Minister for Justice told us of various abuses that were at that time going on here, particularly around the City of Dublin. He said:
"I know that from the time I went to the Department of Justice complaints have been made by the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána of the growing public scandal created by abuses in connection with the bona fide traffic. The Guards complained that they were not able to prove that the people who had been causing these abuses were not entitled to be on licensed premises drinking during hours when they would not be entitled to get drink in licensed premises in their own areas.”
That was borne out by Deputy Dr. O'Higgins who said:
"It is within the knowledge of every one of us that there are houses —not many, but certain houses within a rifle shot of the City of Dublin —which have abused the licences they hold."
Those abuses are not ended and they were not ended by the Intoxicating Liquor Act of 1942. As a matter of fact, they have spread and the condition of affairs that prevailed then has been enlarged by the change in the transport system since. For instance, the Minister said here:—
"As the words bona fide connote, the exemption was meant to provide purely and simply for genuine travellers and not for people who could get on a bicycle and ride out into an area where, by doing so, they could get drink.”
They are not riding on bicycles now— those days are gone. They are going out in motor cars and, if I am to believe what I hear, no man's life is safe on any Dublin road on a Sunday night with these fellows coming back from the public-houses. A lot of them have other attractions, with their arms around their necks in the cars and not having sufficient control of the wheel, being in a more or less drunken condition.
That is the present condition of affairs, if I am to believe the 168 people who wrote to me about this terrible vice, as they put it, and the danger that would come on the rural community if for the unfortunate rural labourer the pubs were open for a couple of hours on Sunday. As regards the unfortunate countryman who would pass the public-house going to Mass and going home again, if there is to be a grave temptation for him in having public-houses open two, or two and a half miles away from him on a Sunday, what is the temptation to the unfortunate city man who comes out of his house on Sunday and, walking along a street, finds 15 or 30 pubs with their doors open? I hold that if 106 Deputies consider that there is a danger and that it is wrong to open public-houses on Sunday for the rural population, then that 106 should be swelled to practically all the Deputies in the House so as to put an end to an awful temptation that is at least 50 times greater in the city than in the country.
The ex-Minister for Justice, when he was introducing this Bill in 1942, said that he was abolishing all the abuses. But did he? At that time I gave here an account of the condition of affairs as I knew them in Cork City and, judging by what I have heard, the condition of affairs in the City of Dublin is ten times worse than it is in Cork. People in the City of Dublin and the other cities have no work to do on Sunday. They walk out of their homes at 1 o'clock and stay in the local public-house from 1 o'clock until 3 o'clock. At 3 o'clock they can adjourn to the "Independent Club," or the "Grocer's Club" or, as it is known in Cork, the "Tubs of Blood". They can drink in these places from 3 o'clock until 5 o'clock. A benevolent Government then opens again the local public-houses from 5 o'clock until 7 o'clock. At 7 o'clock they can go back again to the "Grocer's Club" and the "Independent Club" or the "Tubs of Blood" and drink away in these places from that time onwards. That is the law. The people acting in that fashion are within the law. That is the condition of affairs as it prevails at the moment. I would not consider that position so bad because these people do not at any rate do much harm out in the country. But I can see no equity in the position where gentlemen with motor cars can load up those cars with other gentlemen and ladies on Sunday and start out from the city at 1 o'clock for the rural districts where they can get all the drink they require or can consume while, at the same time, the ordinary local inhabitant in the rural district is prevented by the laws of this State from having so much as one drink. Those people in their motor cars can go out at 1 o'clock and continue to drink in the rural public-houses from then until 8 o'clock without let or hindrance. God help the unfortunate labourer who is travelling along the country road when these people are coming home.
That is the position under the law for certain favoured individuals. I was induced to bring in this Bill because of the support I got from Deputies Fitzpatrick, Corish and Larkin on the 17th November, 1948. At column 75 of Volume 113, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government, Deputy Corish, said:
"I have a certain sympathy with Deputy Corry, but I am totally opposed to the Bill. If Deputy Corry had set out, in the first instance, to tell us that the only thing that prompted him to introduce the Bill was his disgust with the facilities which the drinking public in Dublin, Cork and Waterford have, he would have got much more support. I am in agreement with him that there should not be these drinking facilities for the people in these three cities."
Deputy Corish saw the evil in the existing situation. Being a member of the Government he could not, apparently, put down a Bill. I came to his help. I am prepared to give him all the assistance in my power by putting down this Bill and putting it through this House. He can have the easier job of walking around the Lobby unless he wishes to say a few words in favour of it now.
Again, at column 77 of the debate on the 17th November, 1948—you all remember it, it is only a few short months ago—Deputy Corish said:
"Deputy Corry has possibly done the House and the country a great service by focussing attention on the fact that there is a terrific abuse."
At column 78, Deputy Larkin made the following statement:
"I am opposed to this Bill and will support a Bill to stop the opening of public-houses on Sundays in the large cities."
I hope that Deputy Larkin will remember those words this evening. At column 79 he further stated:
"If Deputy Corry wants to come in to-morrow with a Bill to control what he thinks is an abuse in favour of this in the city I am quite prepared to take that stand, as I take it to-night."
I shall now deal with Deputy Fitzpatrick. At column 93 he said:
"If Deputy Corry, as he threatened, brings in a more drastic Bill that public-houses should be closed altogether on Sunday and if nobody seconds him... if I am in the House I will second it and support it."
I am gathering in the clans now. I am not going to confine this matter to those Deputies who actually spoke here against the giving of these facilities to the rural community. If any Deputy in this House thinks that it would be wrong for him to vote against giving these facilities to the rural community, then he is bound to vote in equity in favour of taking away these facilities from the people in the urban areas.
Let there be one law for all. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. That is the basis on which I am bringing in this Bill. As I have pointed out, there are ten times as many temptations in the way of the city man with nothing to do on Sunday. If he goes out for a walk on Sunday, he has to pass ten or 15 public-houses in every street with the doors wide open and a "come-hither" smile on the face of every doorman. That is why in this Bill I have set out:
"Notwithstanding anything contained in the Licensing Acts, 1833 to 1943, or the Registration of Clubs Acts, 1904 to 1927, or any other enactment, it shall not be lawful at any time on any Sunday after the 1st day of January, 1949, for any person to sell or expose for sale any intoxicating liquor or to open or keep open any premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor or to permit any intoxicating liquor to be consumed on licensed premises."
I do that to embrace the scandal of the clubs and the so-called hotels. I put these things in in order to make every man equal, and in order that there will not be any special facilities available for the gentleman who has a motor car, who is swanky looking enough to go into a hotel or who, because he pays a "bob" registration fee, can become a member of the Independent Club, the Grocers' Club or "The Tubs of Blood."
I want to end all that. If this Dáil three months ago, in its wisdom, decided that the decent countryman, who has to go out on Sunday morning and milk and feed cattle in order to provide the city drones with supplies of food, is not entitled to have a drink in his own parish on Sunday, I am entitled to ask the Dáil to decide that these drones will not have the facilities which are refused to that worker. Fair play is fine play and that is the basis on which I bring in this Bill. I have no intention of delaying the House in the matter. I think the House is already converted and I doubt if there is any Deputy who is prepared to make the enormous somersault, as between November and February, which would be necessary for him to make, if he were to vote against this Bill.