Is é céad ghnó na Dála ná Taoiseach d'ainmniú.
The first business of the Dáil is the nomination of Taoiseach.
Vol. 146 No. 1
Is é céad ghnó na Dála ná Taoiseach d'ainmniú.
The first business of the Dáil is the nomination of Taoiseach.
That Éamon de Valera be nominated as Taoiseach.
Cuidim leis an dtairscint sin.
Go nglacfar leis an Teachta Seán Ua Coisdealbha mar Thaoiseach.
Tá fhios ag gach aoinne sa Tigh seo gurb é an aidhm is mó atá ina chroí agus ina aigne i gcúrsai polaitíochta na hÉireann ná neart na tire, neart na ndaoine, do mhéadú agus uaisleacht agus aontacht do thabhairt ina measc chun gnóthaí na tíre a chur chun cinn agus cabhair a thabhairt do na daoine chun gnóthaí na tíre seo a chur ar aghaidh Tá fhios againn gurb iad sin na rudaí is mó atá ina aigne agus ina chroí, agus má tá an aidhm san ina aigne, tá feidhm intleachtúil aige chun na hábhair sin a chur chun criche. Dá bhrí sin, iarraim ar an Dáil é a thoghadh ina Thaoiseach.
I ask the Dáil to select Deputy John A. Costello as Taoiseach. We in our days, being called into polities as young men, were fortunate in that we had minds like that of Griffith, with a purity of outlook and a purity of pen and characters of steel like Pearse and Connolly and Clarke to guide us along the road and to give us the help we wanted. The work we are continuing to-day is the work of the same nation, the work of the same people, and the young people who to-day have the institutions of Parliament which unity in action gave us freedom to have require the same leadership, the same guidance and the same inspiration to enable them, inside the Parliament here, to do the work for which the Parliament was set up.
I say that we had Griffith to inspire our minds and our faith and I may quote from the first issue of Nationality in June, 1915, the faith which he declared for himself, a declaration of faith that was in our people's minds and hearts at that time. We were inspired by words such as these:—
"We believe Ireland to be one of the finest countries in the world. We believe the Irish who have survived 700 years of atrocities that are not fiction and kept their ideals through it all to be, in essence, one of the greatest peoples who have appeared on the earth. We believe that such a people restored to political and national liberty must become torches and exemplars to mankind. We believe, in short, that Ireland will be again one of these days what it was in a former day, the light of the world, and that the chief business of every Irishman is to hasten that day."
There is not a single one of our people and not a single Deputy here who does not subscribe to Griffith's declaration of faith. We picked up the spirit of that faith in our days and when political circumstances here brought us to days in which our freedom had to be fought for by the making of sacrifices that even involved the giving of lives, we were inspired to follow men like Pearse and Connolly and Clarke and MacDermott who, in an action of faith, broke through the political difficulties of that time, not caring what might happen to them and caring only that the spirit of the race would be unified and strengthened and kept alive to meet whatever difficulties the country might face at that time, and difficulties it faced. Guided by that faith and that example, we set up here this Dáil, the first Dáil, and we have continued it now to the 15th. In the passage of that time, younger generations have grown up and to-day, just as 40 years ago we faced our work, the young generations or the younger generations are facing their work and they have to help them in that work the parliamentary institutions which were established by the strength and unity and ability of our people so inspired.
I congratulate the younger generations of to-day who have the work of taking the institutions that were set up here and using them for the development of our resources, for the building up of our people's strength of mind and character in using these resources. I congratulate them that they have men like Deputy John A. Costello to lead them in the same spirit here and to gather in the same spirit the unity and the strength of our political Parties and their leaders, so that the people of this country, of every Party, creed and class, young and old, may be inspired and helped in that work they have to do in this free Ireland by a leadership on top which understands where our strength comes from.
In February, 1948, Deputy John A. Costello was asked to make up his mind inside 24 hours whether he would leave all that his life meant to him by way of profession and the ordinary course of the life he had been used to. He had been with us here, and he had stood before British courts-martial to demand the rights and liberties that were those of Irishmen. He had stood for the civic rights of our people in difficult political circumstances here, and he knew something of the political world, but he could hardly have imagined that some day or another he would be asked to leave the quiet of his personal family circumstances, to turn his back on his profession and all it meant from the point of view of his practice, his life and his income and in 24 hours he did it.
Now, the people of the country might imagine that at that particular time a sense of duty and an inspiration of the moment might tempt him along the path to that sacrifice, but he gave three years of work with comrades, the leaders of the Labour Party, the National Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan, and in those three years, very many people in the country will admit, there was a very considerable lightening of the political atmosphere and very great political achievement. Then a general election came and a change of Government followed. We have had three years of a different Government and, at the end of these three years of a different Government, he is again invited to turn his back on a profession into which he has, with much struggle and anxiety, worked his way back. He is asked to leave the life which is his normal life, to leave and to sacrifice the home circumstances which are his normal circumstances.
He has got more than 24 hours in which to make up his mind to do it, and, in accepting the invitation to be again the Taoiseach of a Government that will bind Parties together in a spirit of unity and bring again a spirit of co-operation and of unity to dealing with our country's political and economic problems, he is not carried away by the enthusiasm of a moment, and he is not carried away merely by a hope that he will be able to face a new form of life with satisfaction and achievement. He has had time to assess all the difficulties and all the sacrifices, and I salute him as a person who is making sacrifices in the same spirit as those who gave away the whole of their lives so that we might have free institutions here.
I praise and I declaim as fortunate the young generations of to-day who have a person in our political life so prepared to make sacrifices for the spirit which is the strength of our country, sacrifices which will enable him again to have an opportunity of bringing into an Irish Council Chamber for the direction of our parliamentary work that spirit of close unity, of all-devoting unity which came in 1916 and in subsequent years.
It is in that spirit that I ask the various political Parties in this House to support the appointment of Deputy Costello as Taoiseach so that we can bring back into our political life, whatever our struggles and difficulties may be, that great spirit of strength that came of the unity of our people in the past. That is the fundamental secret to the solving of all our problems. I ask that we appoint Deputy J.A. Costello as our Taoiseach.
I do not think it will be challenged that the people desired a change of Government because the recent election results have made that fact outstandingly clear and the nomination of Deputy Costello as Taoiseach to-day is for the purpose of giving effect to the people's wishes and the decision of the people as made known in the recent general election.
The policy of the groups constituting the inter-Party Government has been stated in unmistakable terms, and it will be the aim of an inter-Party Government to achieve these objectives by zeal and enthusiasm in the people's service. The inter-Party Government will strive to raise the status and the stature of the nation both at home and abroad and give to our people ever rising standards of living. It is in that spirit and with that objective in mind that the Labour Party supports the nomination of Deputy Costello.
Speaking on behalf of the Clann na Talmhan Party, I wish to say that we support the proposal that Deputy J.A. Costello be Taoiseach. We do so first and foremost in obedience to the direction given by the majority of the people in the recent general election through the ballot boxes. We do so, secondly, because in 1948 the Clann na Talmhan Party supported Deputy J.A. Costello as Taoiseach. He presided over the inter-Party Government for three and a half years and the prosperity brought about during that short period of office has lived in the minds of the people. It is, I think, desirable to bring that prosperity back and I believe the people have made that decision in the recent general election just concluded.
I think it is only fair to say that we in this Party fully appreciate the great general personal sacrifice Deputy Costello made during the period 1948 to 1951 in throwing up his professional business and abandoning his family life, as anybody who enters politics has to do. We are asking him once again to make the same sacrifice. For these reasons, we are supporting Deputy J.A. Costello and the return of the inter-Party Government in the firm knowledge that we will be capable of bringing back again the prosperity which this country enjoyed with a fair Government and good management.
I would like to rise in support of the nomination of Deputy Costello as Taoiseach and I would like to state briefly my reasons for so doing. Our function here to-day is two-fold. It is, first of all, to interpret and give effect, so far as we can, to the expressed will of the people and, secondly, to provide for the country the best Government that we can. I think there is little difficulty as regards the first part. In so far as the issue of the recent election was between the concept of a one-Party Government and the concept of a representative inter-Party Government, the people have expressed their wish in unmistakable terms. They have clearly opted for an inter-Party Government.
The second question we have to decide here is probably more complex from my point of view. I believe that the best type of Government which would serve the interests of the nation in the present situation is a Government that would be representative of all the principal Parties in this House. Immediately after the elections, on the 23rd May, I submitted to the leaders of the different Parties proposals for the formation of a nationally representative Government. I am not going to weary the House by going into the details of these proposals. I would like to urge three reasons which, in my view, render the formation of such a Government desirable from the point of view of the nation.
First of all, this nation of ours faces a number of tasks that are of vital importance to the future of the nation and that are urgent. There are four main objectives upon which, I suppose, there would be theoretical agreement in this House on all sides—four main objectives to which, at least, lip service would be paid by all Parties and all Deputies in this House. They are four objectives on which very little has been achieved. There is, first of all, a question of the reunification of our country. After over 30 years, little or no progress has been made in that direction. There is, secondly, the question of providing full employment for our people so as to increase production and, at least, reduce the export of our people. In other words, deal with unemployment and emigration.
There is, thirdly, the task of saving the Gaeltacht, which is rapidly dying and without which the efforts that have been made to preserve the language will be utterly wasted. There is, fourthly, the objective of providing efficient administration for the country. I think that, as regards these four objectives, probably every Party in the House would agree and would certainly pay, as I have said, lip service to them; but I do not believe it is possible to make real progress towards the achievement of these objectives unless we can secure the united efforts of our people and unless there can be a consecutive policy put behind an effort to achieve these objectives. I believe that the best way of securing such a united effort and such a consecutive policy would be by the co-operation of all Parties in this House in providing the nation with a nationally representative Government composed of the best brains in this House.
In addition to those four main objectives there are many other possibly less important matters upon which agreement could be reached, matters such as decentralisation, the curbing of bureaucratic controls, law reforms, agricultural methods, research and education. I have no doubt, and I think every Deputy in this House who is prepared to examine the question objectively will have little doubt, that tremendous progress could be made if it were possible to approach each one of these problems objectively on a non-Party basis.
My second reason for taking the view that a nationally representative Government would serve the nation best at this juncture is associated with the unfortunate and tragic history of our country during the last 30 years. We have had no normal political development. Because of various divisions among our people and in our political life there has been a destructive rather than a constructive approach to most political questions. Policy has often been decided by reason of embittered prejudices rather than the needs of the nation. Possibly we have had an example of that in the recent events which preceded the last general election. I fear that much of the policy of the last Government was prompted not by an objective examination of what was required but by a desire to reverse everything that had been done before and a desire to seek reasons to blame the other Parties for everything that had been done, in an effort to discredit them. It is not necessary, I think, to review these events in any detail.
Deputy Mulcahy in proposing Deputy Costello as Taoiseach to-day referred to the high motives that inspired the national movement that was responsible for the creation of this State. He also referred to the high hopes of the youth of to-day. I am glad he did so but I feel that we are setting an extremely bad example to the youth of to-day and that we on both sides of this House who contributed to the building of this State should now realise that there is a duty upon us to hand down to the new generation an example of tolerance and co-operation for the benefit of our people. I believe we have failed in that. It is not necessary to attribute the blame for that failure but anyone who examines our political life will readily realise that we have failed.
I would hope that before the men who are responsible for the setting up of this State pass away it would be possible to give a better example. Many of us are growing old. Many of the members of this House who are here to-day will probably not be in the next Dáil. Deputy Mulcahy in proposing the election of Deputy Costello as Taoiseach in 1948 paid a tribute to some Deputies who had died in the period that elapsed between the dissolution of the Dáil and the meeting of the new Dáil, and in doing so he said: "In their passing and in the events that have since taken place some of us can see the Hand of God tracing a new chapter in the history of our country." These words are very true and I wish we could realise them here. I wish we could realise that the Hand of God will in the next few years trace a new line for the development of our political institutions. It is my hope that the men on both sides of this House who have in the past rendered valuable service to this nation, who have been responsible for the setting up of the institutions of the State will realise their responsibility and will be prepared to come together if for no other reason than to give the rising generation the hope of a spirit of tolerance and an inheritance of political example.
My third reason, one which I know will not find ready acceptance in the House, is that I believe the Party system of Government which we have adopted is not consonant with the system of proportional representation. We adopted the institutions we have here at a time of stress without careful examination and modelled them largely on the British Party system. It would be well if we gave some thought to the concept of representative Government rather than to the British parliamentary system.
So far, I do not think there has been any adequate acceptance of the suggestion I made for the formation of a National Government, but I am prepared to support the formation of an inter-Party Government for two reasons: firstly, because it gives effect to the decision of the people in the election; and, secondly, because I favour the concept of inter-Party Government as against the concept of one-Party Government.
In the formation of either a National Government or in the formation of an inter-Party Government, I would, in any event, have supported the election by this House of Deputy John A. Costello, because I know that he commands the respect and the support of the majority of the members of this House and of the people outside. He is a man of integrity, honour and ability whom I have had the privilege of knowing for many years prior to my entering this House. I knew then and appreciated his sense of honour and his ability in other fields. From 1948 to 1951 I had the opportunity of judging these qualities put at the disposal of the inter-Party Government, at the disposal of this House and at the disposal of the people. I am satisfied that he is a man fitted to occupy the position of Taoiseach and that he is the man whom the people desire to have as Taoiseach.
I do not propose to tax the patience of the House, but I feel it is my duty as a truly independent Deputy to express here the message given to me by the people of County Roscommon in the recent election campaign. My election address and my election campaign were conducted on the lines that I owed no allegiance to and had no ties with any political Party here. In adopting that line and pursuing it without deviation for the last three years, I immediately became the target of all the political Parties here. No stone was left unturned in the course of a long and arduous campaign to ensure that I would be ousted from my seat as a representative for County Roscommon.
The people of that constituency gave their answer in no uncertain terms and I think their answer, leaving me out of it altogether, is one that should receive consideration here. I told my constituents that I believed it was time the rigid Party line was broken down and that it should be possible for members of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to vote together frequently according to the dictates of conscience. For the last three years I have taken that line here and in the recent motion prior to the dissolution of the Dáil when every effort was made to line up the Independents on one side or the other I clearly stated that I was prepared to stand or fall by the verdict of my constituents. Their verdict is that I was right; that too much time in the past has been devoted here to "cod" motions and too much time has been wasted; that too much time has been devoted to scalp-hunting. One of the messages given to me was that the people now want workers rather than politicians. They want workers, not dummies and not drones on the back benches on both sides of the House.
In the course of the election campaign I pointed out that it was essential that I should be given freedom to make up my own mind as to whom I would support in this election of Taoiseach. That privilege was given to me by the people of County Roscommon. In arriving at a decision as to the way in which my vote should go I have considered several aspects very seriously and very carefully. The first thing that struck me was that I felt the Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, went to the country without real cause: he went purely on the result of two by-elections although he could have remained in office for a further two years. To be quite fair to the Taoiseach and his Party, there was no camouflage. Their policy was there for everybody to see. It was a policy of austerity in which one could see the mind of Deputy de Valera himself. That is not meant as anything but a compliment.
I do not know how many corners we have turned in the last 30 years, but we are still as far away from prosperity as we were when we first started out. The present generation is no longer concerned with the bitterness of the past. The present generation is prepared to give full credit to the men who founded the State and achieved freedom for us, in this part of the country at any rate. They are not prepared to accept the bitterness that has been handed down as a result of the civil war and in a very small way, perhaps, my success in County Roscommon has proved that the present generation want a change in that regard.
As far as the Fianna Fáil Party is concerned they put their policy before the people. In order to continue that policy the Taoiseach demanded an over-all majority to enable him to pursue his policy. He made that quite clear, but the people denied him in that regard. That is the plain, blunt truth. The other side of the picture is that the Fine Gael Party put up enough candidates to enable them to have a majority in this House and to have a Government by Fine Gael. The people did not accept Fine Gael as an alternative to Fianna Fáil. Therefore, the people decided that no single Party would receive a mandate for Government. It became inevitable, therefore, that if we were to have a Government it must be a Government where there would be co-operation between the Parties. I understand that even at this moment the leader of Fianna Fáil—and he is entitled to his view—still takes the view that he will not co-operate with other Parties in this House, that he believes in sticking rigidly to the system which he has controlled for so many years as head of the Fianna Fáil Party. I am afraid that the Irish people at present are not prepared to accept the views of Deputy de Valera in that regard. If Fianna Fáil are not prepared to co-operate in the formation of a Government, then other Parties will co-operate and the prospect will be seen of a first-class Opposition in the Fianna Fáil Party.
My personal views do not carry much weight in this House, but my personal views, for what they are worth, are that I would like to see in this State, in the autumn of their lives, Deputy de Valera, Deputy Mulcahy, Deputy MacEoin and Deputy Aiken—all those men on both sides of the House in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael—on one side of the House and members of one Party, because there is no fundamental difference between them except a difference based on the bitterness of the civil war. All of them did marvellous things for the people of this country prior to 1922. But the political set-up in Ireland to-day is based on bitterness, and anything that is based on bitterness cannot hope to succeed. I am sure that there are many Deputies on both sides of the House who agree with my views on that, but they are tied and unable to express their views.
I do not accept for a moment the suggestions put forward by the leader of the Clann na Poblachta Party in connection with the formation of a National Government, because I think the political pirouetting of the prima donna of that Party was shown up three years ago. Five years ago that organisation was all in favour of receiving an over-all majority by putting up 97 candidates to rule and guide the destinies of this country. Three years ago they wanted to be, and were, the architects in the formation of an inter-Party Government, but to day they are not prepared to take part in an inter-Party Government and want to be the architects of a National Government. They must be serious in this House.
Fine Gael and Labour say that they are prepared to work in co-operation. So far, I do not know what the Fine Gael policy is. I do know what the Labour policy is. I have no bitterness towards those on either side, but if Fine Gael show now that they are prepared to throw overboard for good the conservatism of the past, then they can help to make a success of the future government of this country. I do not know if they will, but we will know in the next few years. The policy and programme that have been outlined by that Party looks good on paper. If there is one thing which the people generally said it was that the cost of living was too high. There can be no question or doubt that that was one of the main issues at the election, and is one of the main problems which faces the incoming Government. Whether Fianna Fáil succeed in forming a Government or whether the Government is to be composed of the inter-Parties of Fine Gael and Labour, the question remains that the cost of living must come down and must be accomplished.
As far as I am personally concerned. I am prepared to co-operate, and give whatever support I can, to the Government that is elected to carry out a programme that will expand agriculture, that will expand our industrial programme, and that at the same time will reduce the cost of living; but I reserve the right at all times to vote in this House against that Government on any occasion on which I find that they are not living up to the suggestions and the promises which they made in the course of the election campaign.
If I were to allow my personal feelings to sway me in this, it is quite easy to understand which way I would vote, but I cannot allow my personal feelings to operate when such an important matter as this comes up for discussion. My vote is not going to decide as to who the Taoiseach would be, and I am glad of that. Personally, I would like to see, if it were possible, even now when we cannot get that co-operation between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the present Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, holding out the hand of friendship to the Labour Party, because there are many points of policy on which they agree very closely. I do not suppose that is possible, and if it is not we will have to accept the alternative. I hope that Labour will prove to be a virile and vigorous force in the new set-up and will ensure that Labour policy is put into operation. In order, therefore, to help in my own small way in this regard, I propose on this occasion to cast my vote for the election of Deputy John A. Costello as Taoiseach. I want to say that I have nothing but the greatest respect and admiration for the lifelong service which Deputy de Valera has given to this country. I think that he has served it well.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Dáil for having elected me as the Taoiseach. While I am fully sensible of the honour that has been conferred on me, I am equally appreciative of the serious responsibility with which I am charged. We are all aware of the serious problems that have to be faced, but a direction has been given to me and to my colleagues who will be associated with me to work together as a team, to pool our resources, both of experience and of brains, to solve those problems.
I have little doubt that, with the support of the vast majority of the people, which we enjoy at the moment, and doing the best that lies within us and knowing the difficulties that face us, we nevertheless will be able to make some not immaterial contribution to the solution of those problems.
I suggest, Sir, that we adjourn for two hours.
On resumption at 7 o'clock, Deputies on my left will please find accommodation on my right, and Deputies on my right will find accommodation on my left.