Committee on Finance. - An Bille um An Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1968: An Dara Céim (Atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Second Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:
Go scriosfar na focail go léir i ndiaidh "Go" agus go gcuirfear ina n-ionad.—
"ndiúltaíonn Dáil Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille ar an bhforas gur togra atá neamh-dhaonlathach go bunúsach an togra sa Bhille suas le 40 faoin gcéad de bhreis ionadaíochta sa Dáil a thabhairt do roinnt saorá-nach thar mar a thabharfaí do shaoránaigh eile."
To delete all words after "That" and substitute:—
"Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the grounds that the proposal in the Bill to provide some citizens with up to 40 per cent greater representation in the Dáil than other citizens is fundamentally undemocratic."
—(Deputy Cosgrave).

When the debate was adjourned last night, I was discussing the particular problems of urban areasvis-à-vis rural areas. I would like to dwell for a moment on some actual figures as distinct from the theoretical arguments which have been adduced by the Government in an effort to justify giving 40 per cent deviation to certain parts of the depopulated areas of this country. We were asked to accept that because of a higher population of people under 21 years of age in urban areas than in rural areas the principle of one man one vote was not respected where the ratio between public representatives and the people was on the basis of population rather than on the electorate.

We did extract from the Minister that the percentage of electors to population in rural Ireland is about 56 and in the urban areas, it is 61 per cent, giving a variation of only five per cent. It is quite clear you cannot under any canon of justice decide that it is fair to allow a 40 per cent deviation to compensate for a theoretical five per cent differential; yet that is what the Government are doing. They want a bias which is eight times greater than the percentage difference of the electorate to population of our land.

I want to give some actual figures as distinct from the theories which the Government have propounded. When in 1959 the Government introduced an Electoral (Amendment) Bill to rearrange constituencies, they did then what the courts said was unjust, unconstitutional and unfair. They gave preferential representation to some areas. What the Government are now seeking to do in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill is to provide power in the Constitution to do what was considered to be unjust, unfair and inequitable.

The exact figures for some constituencies are very interesting. The number of Dáil electors per seat—I am dealing with electors and not population—under that arrangement which the Government now seek to include in the Constitution, in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown was 14,370 electors per TD. In Galway, it was to be only 9,439 electors per TD. There were to be 5,000 electors fewer in Galway than in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. That is what the Government say is fair, proper and just and are now seeking to ask the people to accept.

Under the same arrangement in 1959, which they now seek to include in the Constitution, Dublin South-East had 14,522 electors per TD and Galway West had 9,961 electors per TD, again just 4,500 more electors in Dublin per TD than in Galway. Do not think for a moment that this was confined to Galway. You had the same low number of electors per TD in Monaghan, Wexford, Kerry and Donegal.

That was the situation in 1959 based on the 1956 census. At the time that Bill was introduced, the actual figures under the system which was in existence up to 1959 were: in Dublin County, there were 24,689 electors per TD; and in Galway South 9,439 electors per TD. You had nearly 15,000 more electors per TD in Dublin county than you had in Galway. Again, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown had 20,450 electors per TD as against Galway with 9,961 electors per TD. Here we have the actual figures showing 150 per cent disadvantage against Dublin.

The figures at the moment, in 1968, which are based on the census of 1956 are even more atrocious. This is again what the Government are seeking to enshrine in the Constitution and regard as fair, proper and just. At the moment you have the situation that in some Dublin constituencies there are almost 30,000 electors per TD and some of the constituencies in which it is intended to give advantageous representation have little more than 8,000 electors per TD.

That is what we are asked to accept as fair and proper. The Constitution, and the only course open to people in determining what the boundaries of constituencies will be, allows the calculation to be made only on the basis of known figures, figures ascertained in the immediately preceding census. If we are not to use that basis, the only other basis would be the electorate ascertained in the immediate preceding register preparation. This takes no account of the inevitable trend which will increase the population of urban areas in every 12 year cycle. The Department of Local Government, the Central Statistics Office, the Taoiseach's Office, several Government agencies and several local authorities will confirm that the population of Dublin is expected to increase by at least 100,000 in the next ten years.

Any rearrangement of constituencies which is now made will give no attention whatsoever to that inevitable shift in population, so that even if an effort is made to be strictly fair on this preparation of constituencies now and to have an equal ratio between population and TDs, it is bound to be put out of joint in the next ten years. It is bound to be put out of joint in one year after another, just as the 1961 arrangement is now completely out of joint giving three times higher degree of political power to constituencies in depopulated rural areas against Dublin and other urban constituencies.

The interesting thing is that in the preparation of the electoral arrangement in 1961, the Government were aware that the constituencies in Dublin were again going to have their population increased. Although it would not have been improper for them to bear that in mind, they did quite the reverse. Under the 1961 arrangement, the population per TD of Dublin North-East was the highest in the whole country. Dublin North-East which was a constituency in which there was bound to be substantial building, in which the population was bound to rise by the better part of 100,000 in the ensuing ten years, started off by being the furthest away from the national average by having the largest number of electors per TD. The next in line was Dublin County which again was bound in the ensuing 12 year period to have its population multiplied because it was, with Dublin North-East, the only region contiguous to Dublin city which had development land. That is Dublin County and Dublin North-East. From Clontarf to Howth and back to Ballymun, there was land ripe for development, land that had been dormant for years because of lack of development and was just then ripe for development because the new Dublin drainage scheme had been completed. No provision was made for the population that was bound to come into existence during the next 12 years in those areas.

There is no obligation on the Oireachtas to take cognisance of the inevitable increase in population but one would consider that it would be more relevant to do so than consider all kinds of imaginary inconveniences that some Deputies think they have and the personal burdens they have to bear. Under no acceptable canon can we approve any election system which will give 40 per cent additional power to some sections of our people. I do not think our people want it. I do not think that is what was in mind when this State was established and when so much was sacrificed to establish it and when so much has been sacrificed since we must maintain a degree of justice and equity for all sections of the people.

I mentioned last night, and I reiterate, that rural Deputies have immense advantages and their constituents have immense advantages which are not available to people in the urban areas. The greatest of all advantages is the provincial press which gives detailed news about townlands and parishes in the local news columns, where pages are taken up with every little detail of communal activity, family activity and personal achievements and personal happenings throughout the length and breadth of the areas in which the newspapers circulate. Any Deputy worth his salt will raise a substantial amount of publicity in the local newspaper if he is doing a modicum of work. Every meeting he attends and every branch meeting will be reported in the local press.

None of these benefits is available to Deputies in the urban areas where the most a hard working Deputy can get is his name in the newspapers in relation to a contribution in Parliament. It is common knowledge that when rural Deputies raise questions here they cannot get down to the general office fast enough to get copies of replies and have them circulated to their local newspapers where they are certain to be published. Dublin Deputies have no newspapers to publish their deeds or misdeeds other than the occasional newspaper when they are involved in national or international news.

I am not making a personal complaint. I have no personal grouse in this regard but I mention this as one of the important rural advantages. When rural Deputies say they are suffering disadvantages, they might bear that in mind. It is also common knowledge that people in rural areas are not so preoccupied in their daily existence with the daily pressures which are forever pressing in on the people in the urban areas, with the result that people in the rural areas are always full of information about their neighbours and areas, their own parishes and adjoining parishes and also their county. The same does not happen where you have thousands in certain areas, where the population can be up to 4,000 or 5,000 people per 100 acres. That would be a density some 500 times greater than the density of population in parts of rural Ireland.

The loneliest place in the world by far is the large city. The lonely person suffers much more acutely when living in crowded areas. That is the experience of people in large urban areas. There is a much greater need to have closer representation in the urban area than in a rural area. The only inconvenience which has any validity is the one which requires rural Deputies to travel long distances. But, in that regard, the Minister for Lands, speaking recently of the great benefits of going to Castlebar, told civil servants that they should not be grousing about going to Castlebar because they would get much faster to their work in Castlebar. Even if living in towns 20 miles away, they would get much faster to their work with less irritation, inconvenience and cost than if they were to remain in Dublin where it takes, in the Minister's words, half an hour and often more to cover even a mile. This is common knowledge, but these things apparently are to be ignored when we come to the immensely impossible distances through impassable territory where the pioneering Deputies of rural Ireland are perpetually to suffer in their imaginations.

The longest distance in mileage between the extremities in any constituency in the country is 79 miles and most Deputies would not have to do that in one day. The average distance for any Deputy within his own constituency would not exceed 30 or 40 miles. That is putting it at a generous figure and I venture to say that quite a number would have far less trouble in traversing that distance than it takes Dublin Deputies to get around their constituencies because of the traffic problems we have to face.

These are unimportant matters. The only reason I mention them is that these are the only arguments that have been advanced as to why we should change the electoral system. We have had arguments about electoral systems which are in operation in countries thousand of miles away and thousands of miles in dimension. Many people forget that although Canada is our next door neighbour, although there are Irish people there and it is an English-speaking country, although it may appear to be close to us in many ways and is a young nation like ourselves, there is a longer distance from the east to the west coast of Canada than from Canada to Ireland. Similarly in Australia, the distances are beyond our comprehension. Indeed in Australia even though the eastern seaboard may be sophisticated and developed, there are vast jungle or bush areas and deserts to be crossed when moving across land to reach the west. Any electoral systems which are thought to be convenient in those geographical circumstances are not likely to have any relevance to our own, in which, as we have seen, the average journey a Deputy would have to take to represent his own people is 30 or 40 miles.

However, these are nothing compared with more fundamental rights. We can wax indignant on liberty, equality and other political rights, as we call them. We are living very much in the past, spending so much time being concerned with political rights when it is with social rights we should be preoccupied. Our political rights ought to be sacrosanct. One of them is the right to an equal say in the selection of the Government, in the selection of one's public representative. The Government seek to interfere with that right which every democracy and republic has recognised since the days of the French Revolution—the qualities of liberty, equality and fraternity.

Where is equality in any system which will give 40 per cent more say in voting to one section of the community? That is clearly a negation of what the revolutionaries in France and those who followed them believed in. It is an interference with fundamental political rights to attempt to destroy the priceless privilege of equality in political influence. But I am concerned with social rights which I consider to be just as fundamental as the political rights of freedom, the liberty of the individual, the freedom of States. These are critically important things but the day has gone or should be gone when any of these should be qualified or challenged in any way.

What we need to concern ourselves with are the social rights without which man cannot develop properly. In a just society, which we have not got in this country, social rights would rank equally with political rights. On an equal footing with fundamental political rights should be fundamental social rights and they include the aspirations of every man to work, to education, to have a home, to full family rights, to be relieved of the agony of seeing his children emigrate, to social and medical assistance, to rid himself finally of poverty, insecurity and bad housing and, to the greatest extent possible, to be freed from the inequalities imposed by nature or society.

These are the fundamental rights, these social rights about which we should be concerning ourselves in the spring and summer of 1968. We should be concerned with the many ways in which we as a society fall short—the giving of these fundamental rights to the people. We should be concerned with closing the gap, removing the inequalities imposed by nature and society. What we are doing is something of which we should be ashamed, something in respect of which we should ask God to forgive us. We are wasting the nation's time and the nation's energies by endeavouring to infringe on what should be unchallengeable fundamental political rights, when we ought to be preoccupied with trying to confer on all our people equal social rights which are fundamental and essential if man is properly to develop.

I should like to turn to the Constitution and to refer to Article 41 to illustrate one thing I have in mind. We provide, in section 2, paragraph 1:

In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

In our society an increasing number of married women are obliged to go to work, and this is particularly true in cities and towns, to supplement the grossly inadequate incomes of husbands. What is the State doing about recognising the rights of the woman to be at home to look after the family? What are we doing in the spring and summer of 1968 to improve the lot of families? We are doing nothing. What we are trying to do is the reverse—to reduce the voting power of innumerable families in Dublin and other urban centres whose women are obliged to work in factories and domestic service because the family incomes the husbands can bring home are grossly inadequate to maintain the homes in a proper degree of comfort and to maintain children and give them the opportunities for education and development which should be theirs.

Article 45 of the Constitution gives a directive on principles of social policy and it is terribly important we should read this Article because it is not cognisable by any court. It is for the general guidance of the Members of these Houses and it behoves us when considering the Constitution to look at this Article which has been directed to us to see to what extent, if at all, we are fulfilling our obligations to give the people the opportunities and the social policies they should be enjoying. We find, for instance, in that Article:

The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the whole people by securing the protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice and charity shall inform all the institutions of the national life.

How can we say we are promoting the welfare of the whole people when we are proposing to interfere with the very basis of our parliamentary system by depriving masses of our people of any representation in the House unless they happen to be lucky enough to back the winner first past the post. They are to be deprived of all representation in the House and that is not having regard to the welfare of the whole people. It is not a system which represents the virtues of justice and charity, nor could it ever be said that any Dáil elected under the British system of first past the post could be a just institution, an institution which was having regard to the need for justice and charity in national life.

Section 2 of the same Article provides:

The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing

i. That the citizens (all of whom, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood) may through their occupations find the means of making reasonable provision for their domestic needs.

We know that is not so: we know there are many homes which are below adequate, social, financial and economic standards and which do not afford all our citizens equality of opportunity. Yet we are not concerning ourselves in the spring and summer of 1968 with these matters. We are concerned rather to qualify the political rights of some members of the community.

The same Article provides:

That there may be established on the land in economic security as many families as in the circumstances shall be practicable.

It is because the Fianna Fáil Government, now in office for more than 30 years, have failed to establish on the land in economic security for as many families as shall be practicable that they are now endeavouring to diminish their responsibility by taking a crack at the people in urban areas to compensate for their lack of activity in establishing and maintaining as many families as practicable in adequate security on the land.

We find also in the Directive Principles of Social Policy:

The State pledges itself to safeguard with especial care the economic interests of the weaker sections of the community and, where necessary, to contribute to the support of the infirm, the widow, the orphan, and the aged

Yet we are giving the same infirm, widowed, orphaned and aged pensioners paltry pensions which are insufficient to provide for them a diet which would save them from starvation. It is common knowledge that there are hundreds and thousands of old people in this country who are simply dying of malnutrition. Yet, in the spring and summer of 1968, this Dáil and the Irish people are prevented from taking steps to remedy these unfortunate people's circumstances because we are, by Government direction, to preoccupy ourselves with disqualifying the electoral effect of some sections of the Irish people. I do not want to go any farther. I think I have drawn enough attention to the matter to show that the Constitution is concerned with matters other than political advantage.

I cannot too strongly condemn the Government for wasting so much time and effort in this attempt on their part to ensure the creation of rotten boroughs in rural Ireland with the assistance of rotten money to maintain a rotten Government in office. When we leave aside all the theory and all the arguments concerning which is the best and most suitable means of electing members to the national parliament of Ireland, we come down to the real purpose of the Government's proposals.

I am quite convinced that the Fianna Fáil Party have unlimited funds. I am quite convinced that they have received immense funds from a large number of highly questionable sources. They have sailed as close to the wind of corruption as any Government could ever sail. Machiavelli was a saint compared with them. One of their purposes in having this referendum at this time is in the hope that it will financially ruin their political opponents. They are less concerned with whether or not they can win the referendum than they are with having an expensive referendum campaign.

This is a Dáil in which we have had, every year since this Dáil was elected in 1965, a major electoral campaign— a Presidential election in 1966, local elections in 1967. I think the country was entitled to look forward to a year in which it would not have any elections other than by-elections. There is no doubt that the Fianna Fáil Party can fight general elections, referenda, Presidential elections and by-elections without batting an eyelid because their corrupt funds are limitless and they have no shame whatsoever in their efforts to get them.

Far from being sorry, whenever charges of corruption are made, the Taoiseach and all his Ministers and all the members of the Fianna Fáil Party delight to hear these charges made because they want the people of this country to believe that rights and privileges and facilities are not obtainable unless people corrupt themselves to the Government and they hope that that will continue. They would love to cheer Deputy L'Estrange and others when they make charges of specific cases of corruption. The Government could not care less whether or not the charges are true. They want people to believe that that is how government in this country is run because it gives them unlimited funds.

The anxiety of Fianna Fáil is that, in this referendum campaign, their political opponents will become bankrupt because of the money they will have to expend. Irrespective of the outcome of the referendum, it is not unlikely that a general election will follow, under the existing or a new system, not because there will be any cogent political or moral reason for having the election but because the Government would hope, immediately after the referendum, to rush a general election in which they would find their political opponents without funds to fight their campaigns.

I can assure the Government that if the Irish people have to beggar themselves to get rid of Fianna Fáil they will do it. By heavens, there is a day of reckoning coming for those who have endeavoured to corrupt the political institutions of this country in the way Fianna Fáil are encouraging them to do. Each and every one of those people will be exposed for what they are—the most despicable scum this country has ever had the misfortune to house. Those who tried to buy this country with the Act of Union and to buy the members of Grattan's Parliament were, like Machiavelli, saints compared with what is going on now under the guise of respectability.

I can assure the Government that, notwithstanding their best hopes, the Fine Gael Party will not be beggared by any referendum campaign or any general election. We have the masses of the small people of this country behind us. When the rights of the Irish people were challenged or at risk before, when sacrifices had to be made, the poorest of the poor gave their one shilling a week—and that was over 150 years ago when one shilling a week was given by the poorest of the poor—and that was a great deal of money then. That money worked against the might and the wealth of the British Empire and the ascendancy of this country. Be comforted with the knowledge, people of Ireland, that, once again, the ordinary people of this land, the little people, the people who have respect for decency in public life, will rally to the cause and will butcher the might of the Fianna Fáil Party. The day of reckoning to which I refer is fast coming. It cannot come soon enough.

I have been listening for the past few weeks to the many statements about our electoral system and to a general discussion on the merits and demerits of proportional representation. Deputy Ryan began to speak at about 8 o'clock last night. He repeated his statements many times but he made very few statements of fact. I have been asking myself what is really getting at him. I remember the local elections and how his Party failed miserably in Dublin city and can therefore excuse him for not having yet got over the jitters he suffered on that occasion.

We in this Party are asking the people to change our system of election from proportional representation to the straight vote. I have been in the by-elections. I heard speeches outside chapel gates. The whole theme by the Opposition seems to be that this is the arrogant Fianna Fáil Party and the cheek of Fianna Fáil to bring this matter before the people and that the people will give them their answer.

To listen to some Opposition speakers, one might think that this Government are some sort of dictatorship that took over overnight. Fianna Fáil have been in power many years and it has always been at the will and pleasure of the Irish people and, for that matter, they have been elected through the system of proportional representation. Fianna Fáil are putting this question to the people in a proper, democratic fashion and the people will decide whether or not they want to change the system of election. There is nothing wrong with that.

Opposition speakers say the referendum will cost a lot of money which could be spent in a better way. This country demands that we should have a strong stable Government and it is very little to pay if, thereby, we can avoid falling into a period of stagnation and a period when one Party would not have an overall majority.

I am amused to hear Opposition Deputies—especially members of the Fine Gael Party—speak about the amount of money this referendum will cost when I reflect on the position in their Parties. They should consider how many of their own Deputies are in favour of having this referendum and of getting rid of proportional representation. At their Party meeting they decided, by a very tight decision, to support the maintenance of proportional representation. I have listened to that Party, and it is really amusing when you think that the present leader of the Fine Gael Party was always a strong advocate of the straight vote; when you think back further to the man whom he succeeded, Deputy Dillon, who is also on record as decrying the PR system. We can go back to Deputy Costello when he was leader of the Party, and he also opposed the PR system of election. It is no secret that that Party would not be attacking the Government for trying to get rid of PR, were it not for a number of backbenchers who are afraid of losing their own seats and who are really putting their own personal affairs before those of their country. It is they who decided that the Party should try to maintain PR.

We hear many people saying that if we got the straight vote, Fianna Fáil would be in power forever. This is sheer nonsense, as can be proved by looking at other countries which have the straight vote. Britain, for instance, changes the Government from time to time. Some of us who are not very old have seen a Conservative Government in power by a large majority, and then being thrown out and replaced by a Labour Government. We have also seen some Labour Governments fall again in the eyes of the people. It goes to prove that under the straight vote the Government can be changed if the people so desire. All that is required is that the Parties in opposition put a proper policy before the people. If they do that, I have no doubt people will always vote for it. What is wrong is that there is no real strong Opposition party in this country, no Opposition party with a set policy of their own.

It has been said here that if the straight vote came in, a new party could not arise, that small Parties would disappear, and that the minority would not have a chance. Recent events across the Channel have proved that wrong. At the moment there are nationalist movements in Wales and Scotland, and very recently in a by-election a nationalist candidate was elected to the British Parliament. He put his policy before his own people. It may have been a matter of local interest or that he was concerned only with his own country, but the point is that he was a new voice; it was a voice that campaigned hard and as such got elected even in a by-election. It goes to prove that any Party that can formulate a policy and get the people to approve of it, will even under the straight vote, still be able to get seats in Parliament.

I was amused at the remarks of my friend, Deputy P. O'Donnell, in saying that small Parties would disappear and that minorities would not be represented. He then went on to state how he himself got into Dáil Éireann. It was with the help of the Clann na Poblachta Party; it was a simple elimination and a transfer of votes from that Party to Fine Gael that elected him. However, we should always remember who did away with Clann na Poblachta, which Party did away with Clann na Talmhan, which Party absorbed them. The very Party to which Deputy P. O'Donnell belongs absorbed these small Parties. Now Fine Gael are shedding crocodile tears for them. In the past they were needed to form coalition Governments, but first Fine Gael made sure to absorb them so that they would not grow.

There was a lot of talk about minority groups, but we must bear in mind that what any country wants is a strong Government. A country without a strong Government has no hope of survival. If we are to join the EEC, we will want a strong, stable Government. Everyday events in the world prove that a nation which has not got a strong Government is completely lost as far as progress is concerned.

If at all possible, we should avoid going through another period of Coalition Governments. We had two Coalition Governments and the point was that prior to the election the Parties did not announce that they were going to form a Coalition. The people voted for them independently, and once they had been elected, they came together to form a Government. It should be borne in mind that when those Governments were formed, ministerial posts were offered not on the credentials of the candidates who filled them but on the basis of allowing so many posts to each Party. It made no difference whether or not the man was capable of filling the post or not; each Party got its quota. That is something we do not want to happen again. It is better that we should have a strong Government, whether it be a Fianna Fáil Government, a Fine Gael Government or a Labour Government, but at least let it be strong and have the confidence of the people.

I listened to Deputy Ryan telling us about the rural areas and how convenient they were for Deputies, telling us about all that the rural people have to be thankful for and telling us also what difficulties the city people have when they want to meet their TDs. I doubt if he knows much about the rural areas—perhaps he does—but he was not correct. I believe in the single-seat constituency because it provides a smaller area in which the TD has to travel in order to see fewer people. It allows him to give the people a better service and they would be better represented. Listening to Opposition speakers, one would think that all you had to do was to sit in your car and travel for miles to meet somebody, but how many people in the rural areas are living seven, eight, or ten miles from their work, perhaps in a factory in a town, or perhaps in the Forestry Division, or working on the roads, or they may even be farmers working late in the fields, and if they have an urgent problem about which they want to contact their public representative, they may have to travel from 20 or 30 miles to do so. Many of them cannot afford to hire a car. They might be young married people with young families and it is very hard for them to meet their public representatives. Compare that with those living in the cities. It is well known that a 6d bus ticket will take you to your public representative. Of course, maybe he cannot be contacted.

It must be some time since the Deputy travelled on a bus in Dublin if he thinks you can get very far for 6d.

It is not very far for you to travel. If the Deputy does not know his constituents, it is his own fault. The Deputy was trying to tell us how easy it is in the country, that you have cumann branches of the Parties and the announcements of their meetings are sent to the local paper and everybody is supposed to read them. However, that is not getting to the root of the matter. A lot of people will have private matters to discuss. It is to that end that we badly need the single-seat constituency so that people will be able to meet their public representatives without having to hire a car and travel 30 or 40 miles at 8 o'clock or 9 o'clock at night.

I regret that in this debate there seems to be developing a kind of rural versus urban bias. The Fine Gael and Labour Parties seem to have combined together to form an anti-rural group. Under the tolerance vote the whole principle is to give one man one vote. I heard figures being thrown out here in regard to different constituencies, and it was also said that if you had 20,000 people in a district in Dublin city, there might be as few as 11,000 or 12,000 voters whereas in the country a population of 20,000 could include 16,000 or 17,000 voters. That could be a difference of 4,000 or 5,000 voters between country and city, according to the population. It is well known——

I was quoting official statistics.

——that there are more people under 21 in the city than in the rural areas.

There is a five per cent difference.

It can be 15 per cent. It must be remembered that people are still coming into the cities, into the Civil Service and into business generally, and at the time of election, many thousands of those may not be on the register. That is a point which has been missed. What is going to happen is that in the finish the cities are going to be over-represented. We should be aware of the fact that rural populations are producing as much and exporting as much as their city counterparts, and many are producing more. That cannot be denied. The main Opposition Parties are against this tolerance vote. If the Deputies opposite from Mid-Cork, one Labour and one Fine Gael, are going to vote against this, I will be surprised. If they do, we will have a big discussion outside chapel gates later in the year. However, that is another day's work.

I do not know what relevance it had to the debate but we heard a discussion about all the things Fianna Fáil had not provided for—in regard to pensions, people leaving the land, and so on. These matters have nothing to do with the Bills we are discussing. We want a system which will provide us with a strong Government all the time. We do not want to return to the days of the last Coalition Government when they left office, not because they were beaten in a vote in the House but because they fell out among themselves. It was enough that that happened in the past without having it again and it should be a warning for the future.

Many Deputies think there should be a law prohibiting Deputies and Senators from being members of local authorities. I could not subscribe to that view. It is a matter for the people when they go to their different Party conventions to put forward whom they like. It is a democratic method and if they are not satisfied with their local Deputy, they will not be long telling him so. It would be a bad thing if such a law were passed. We are one of the few countries in the world which still have the system of PR as we know it. They have the system in Tasmania, Malta and Gibraltar which are more or less subordinate legislatures, but it is a system which is dying out in the world and the people would be wise to change to the straight vote, no matter what arguments are put forward. We had arguments about candidate A getting 7,000 votes, B getting 6,000 votes and C getting 5,000 votes and so on, but what you will get is the candidate whom most people want, being elected. It is a fairer system than one in which a candidate gets 10,000 votes while three others get 5,000, 4,000 and 3,000, and finally one of them is elected by some 300 votes. If we had the straight vote, we would be sure that the man who heads the poll would be the man whom most people will want elected.

It has been said that once a man is elected, he will become a dictator in his own area. We can look around across the Channel to see that that is not true. One leading figure across the water was recently defeated in his own constituency because his own people did not approve of him. That proves that under the straight vote we could have changes very often. It is evident that on the straight vote the wind of change would blow more evenly throughout the country and that if the Government were in favour, their vote in each constituency would go up and if they were not in favour it would go down. That would mean that we would probably have a change of Government often.

In 1959 when the referendum was held, it was stated by the Opposition Parties that Fianna Fáil wanted to get rid of proportional representation in order to hold on to power. At that time the people voted in favour of retaining PR and strange to say, they also voted since then that we should also hold on to a Fianna Fáil Government, under PR. Looking to the future and in the interests of the nation, I have no doubt that the best system for us is the straight vote. Arguments have been advanced against it but I have no doubt that if it were left to a free vote of the House, there would be a large majority in favour. There would be well over 90 Deputies who would vote for the straight vote. Some 90 Deputies out of the 144 would return to their constituencies to campaign for the straight vote, but because of Party rule, one way or another, they will not be allowed to do that. It is a pity and I should like to see a free vote for then we would know what people were really thinking.

In the last ten years we have had a strong government. Many Governments have got into difficulties but we can boast at the moment that we have a sound economy, and it is sound because a few years ago when the Government saw the trend of events, they took certain remedial measures which have borne fruit. Those measures could not have been taken unless there had been a strong Government. It is vital for any country's survival to have a strong, stable Government. I would appeal to the Opposition Deputies to have a special look at this tolerance vote. There is an effort being made to disfranchise the country areas. It is bad enough to live in rural areas, many of which have not the amenities which people in towns and cities have, perhaps without sewerage as many of them live at the foot of the hills, at the foot of the Comeragh Mountains, for instance—but now they are not to be fairly represented in Dáil Éireann. That is a slur on these people and Deputy Ryan cast a slur last night when he referred to the intelligence of the voters in Clare and said that they voted Fianna Fáil and always returned Fianna Fáil with a strong majority because they used not to meet their TDs or see them very often. That is a slur on the people who have represented republican Clare down through the years.

I was not making that argument. It was the Deputy who said that.

The Deputy said the electors in Clare voted Fianna Fáil because they did not meet their public representatives very often. If the Deputy had his way what would he do? I have a fair idea what would happen if the Deputy were dividing the constituencies. We, in Fianna Fáil, have put a great many by-elections over us in the past few years. We can be satisfied with the results and we are looking forward with confidence to this referendum.

We are discussing here two Bills, one dealing with what has become known as tolerance and the other dealing undoubtedly with the perpetuation of intolerance, the sort of intolerance we experienced in this House last week when a Minister of the Government threw at a Front Bench Member of the Opposition such epithets as "swine" and "cur" simply because that Member thought it fit and right as his duty to bring to the notice of the Minister, of the Government, of the House and of the people, who will ultimately decide their own fate when it comes to voting on things such as referenda and general elections, that certain irregularities, which reeked of corruption, had taken place, were taking place, and should be stopped.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill is obviously intended for one purpose and one purpose only. If one looks back over the pattern of Fianna Fáil conduct in the last decade, one will discover that every time Fianna Fáil get frightened of the electorate, they take refuge in an assault on the Constitution. The 1959 referendum was thrust upon us because in that year the then leader of the Fianna Fáil Party saw fit to remove his immense prestige from the Party and, fearing that, without this prestige, the Fianna Fáil Party would not get an overall majority, we had the 1959 referendum. As a result of happenings, such as the Presidential election last year and the local elections, the Fianna Fáil Party have got a very plain intimation from the people that the day of an overall Fianna Fáil majority is gone. It is not just in jeopardy. It will be gone when the people speak in the next general election.

Haunted by the same fear as that which haunted the Fianna Fáil Party in 1959, Fianna Fáil are attempting now the same strategy, with the result that, within a short period of ten years, the Irish people are being asked again to change the Constitution, the document in which are enshrined their fundamental rights. If anybody were in any doubt about Fianna Fáil misgivings and the reasons for this Fianna Fáil manoeuvre, they need only listen to Deputy Meaney. He made it quite clear to the House that Fianna Fáil realise that under the present system they will not come back again ever as an overall majority Party and the only way they could govern would be by combining, as they did before, in a coalition. Deputy Meaney made it quite plain to the House that Fianna Fáil will not have that and, if they can prevent this disaster to the Fianna Fáil Party, they will do so by amending our Constitution. Deputy Meaney also said it is up to the people to decide whether or not they want the Constitution amended. Fundamentally, that is, of course, absolutely true and that is why one of the most important aspects of this forthcoming referendum, if we have it, is that at this stage the people should be given some intimation as to what they will be voting upon when and if they vote on the Third and Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bills.

Is it a fair question to ask the average man and woman: Are you in favour of the terms of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968? That question entails a great deal and, in case this Bill never gets on the Statute Book, it is just as well, I think, that the full terms of the Bill should appear in the Official Report of this House. In asking the ordinary man and woman are you in favour of the terms of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968, you are presupposing in the first place that they have read and studied Article 16 carefully and have had a copy of this Bill and, having had that copy, that they understand its intention. The almost invariable practice in legislation is to put some sort of Preamble to a Bill: an Act to procure a better form of rent restriction, etc., etc. But, in this Bill, there is no Preamble of any description, no few short sentences pointing out the fundamental issues on which the people will be called to adjudicate. In effect, the ordinary man and woman, the hawker in the street, the business man, the farmer and the farm labourer are being asked do they approve that:

WHEREAS by virtue of Article 46 of the Constitution any provision of the Constitution may be amended in the manner provided by that Article:

AND WHEREAS it is proposed to amend Article 16 of the Constitution:


1. —Article 16 of the Constitution is hereby amended as follows:—

(a) the sub-section set out in Part II of the Schedule to this Act shall be substituted for sub-section 3º of section 2 of the Irish text,

(b) the sub-section set out in Part II of the Schedule to this Act shall be substituted for sub-section 3º of section 2 of the English text.

2. —(1) The amendment of the Constitution effected by this Act shall be known as and may for all purposes be referred to as the Third Amendment of the Constitution.

(2) This Act may be cited as the Third Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1968.

A determination of constituencies shall be so effected that if

i. with respect to each of the constituencies, the number of members to be elected for it is divided into its population (as ascertained at the census last preceding the determination), and

ii. the average of the quotients of the divisions is ascertained,

none of the quotients shall be greater, or less, than that average by more than one-sixth of that average.

Subject to the foregoing requirement of this sub-section, regard shall be had at a determination of constituencies to the extent and accessibility of constituencies and the need for securing convenient areas of rerepresentation and, subject to those considerations, to the desirability of avoiding the overlapping by constituencies of the boundaries of Administrative Counties (other than boundaries between those Counties and County Boroughs).

Is that a fair question to ask any average elector in this country?

When you go on to the provisions of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, the problem posed is much more difficult. We have heard three or four Government Ministers, including the Head of the Government, talking here on these proposals and not the slightest scintilla of information has been given to the people in regard to the type of question which they are to be asked in the referendum. It is only fair at this stage, before the debate reaches its final stages, that some spokesman on behalf of the Government should indicate to the people that when they vote on this referendum, they will be enabled by the simple nature of the questions asked, to know what they are voting about. A similar stratagem was resorted to on the occasion when the last referendum was put to the people and many people on both sides of the political fence were completely mystified by the question posed to them when they went into the polling booths.

We must remember that those people do not make a habit of voting. It is very seldom they get the opportunity of voting and even the most experienced voter gets quite nervous when he or she goes into a polling booth, but when they are posed a question of this nature, unless there is something on the paper to indicate to them: "Look, what you are really voting about is PR or the straight vote", we are not giving the people a fair opportunity of answering the question put to them. I would appeal to the Government at this stage to make clear their intentions in respect of the type of question which is to be put to the people.

One of the points made by the Government when they indicate that they think the straight vote is the proper form of voting is that PR is more difficult to understand and that the straight vote is easier to understand. If that be the principle which the Government wish to enshrine in respect of balloting of any description, surely it is only right that they should simplify, in so far as it is possible, the issues which are being put to the people of Ireland in respect of an amendment of the document in which is contained the sum of their individual rights and their rights as members of the nation.

Let us return to a point I mentioned a short time ago, that is, the Fianna Fáil suggestion that it is necessary to remove the proportional representation system because,inter alia, the people do not understand it and people spoil their votes and that therefore sections of the community are disfranchised by the retention of the system. I do not think the Government are as naive as they pretend to be in this matter. Most of them have attended count after count and they have seen the almost monotonous regularity with which properly availed of papers come out of the ballot boxes. They have seen the dwindling number of spoiled votes over the years. The statistics show very plainly that more and more people are finding it more and more easy under the proportional representation system properly to exercise the franchise. Way back in the early years of PR, the statistics were possibly unreasonably high. For instance, in 1922, the percentage of spoiled votes was 3.08. In the general election of 1923, the percentage of spoiled votes was 3.66. As the years went on, the statistics for succeeding elections showed plainly that the Irish people were beginning to understand how PR worked and the average of spoiled votes went down year after year so that by 1961 it had fallen from the 3.66 of 1923 to .96 of the total vote and there was a further improvement in the last general election of 1965, when the total average of spoiled votes was .91 per cent.

Similarly a greater proportion of the Irish people are availing of PR. People are not frightened off voting by the fact that they have to operate the PR system and more and more people troop to the polls each year. Thus in the 1922 general election, only 62 per cent of the electorate availed of the immense privilege of voting and in the 1923 general election, only 61 per cent of the electorate availed of their vote, but as the years went on, year by year the average number of people voting increased so that by 1961 instead of 61 per cent that availed of their vote in 1923, 70.6 per cent of the electorate voted and in 1965, 75.1 per cent voted. I know somebody might say: "Oh, well, these were freak years." It could be said that if there is an election on a fine day, more people come to cast their votes because it is more convenient for them to do so, but the statistics of the intervening years between the years I have mentioned show plainly that the number of people using PR has gone up year by year so that examining those statistics, we can use the words of Mr. de Valera when he was leader of the Fianna Fáil Party. With great truth, we can say: "The system we have we know." That is the PR system. We can echo the words of that skilled politician. He gave one of the reasons why we should retain PR and it was that the people know it. He said: "It has worked out pretty well." Each of us here could echo those words and use the whole phrase: "The system we have we know; the people know it. On the whole it has worked out pretty well." I am quoting from volume 67-68 of the Official Report, column 1343. What the former Taoiseach said was true. It has worked out pretty well.

Possibly the best comparison between the effects of the PR system and the straight vote is an analysis of the events that happened here under PR and what has happened in Britain under what Fianna Fáil are pleased to call the straight vote. In 1933, which was quite an average year, Fianna Fáil and Labour between them had 717,000 votes. They got 49.7 per cent of the total vote and 50 per cent of the seats.

In the British general election of 1924 in the southern counties of England, there were 82 seats available to the electorate. The Conservative Party, which is the Party of the southern counties, received 1,500,000 votes and of the 82 seats, they captured 81. The Labour Party on the same occasion got 922,000 votes, very nearly 1,000,000 votes, and they got one out of the 82 seats. Examples like that could be multiplied in the recent history of the operation of the straight vote. They have been multiplied here by Members who have spoken before me and I do not intend to keep the House in giving further examples. However, it shows the crooked way the straight vote can work. It shows the crooked results the straight vote can produce and it shows the crooked sort of representation the straight vote can throw up in parliament. To me it shows the crooked conduct of the people in the Party which at the moment are advocating a change to the straight vote in this country. First of all, the people do not understand it; secondly, they are afraid to use it; and thirdly, as Deputy Meaney says, we must have stability and strong government.

There are very few countries in the world which can show such a history of stable government over the past 20 years as we in this country can show. What exactly does stability mean? On that side of the House, it obviously means it is stable only when the Fianna Fáil Government are in power with an overall majority, but to the average man and woman in the street who look on stability in parliament as meaning the number of years each parliament exists, there is comfort in the thought that since 1944 we have had more than reasonably stable Governments. The parliament elected in 1944 lasted three years and seven months; the 1948 Dáil lasted three years and three months; the 1951 Dáil lasted two years and ten months; the 1954 Dáil lasted two years and eight months; the 1956 Dáil lasted four years and six months; the 1961 Dáil lasted three years and five months; and the present Dáil is going strong. Could there be anything more stable than that?

Could the Fianna Fáil Party explain what they mean when they say there is a lack of stability as the result of the retention of the proportional representation system in this country? We could, looking at the statistics which I have just given to the House, echo the words Mr. de Valera used in this House in volume 67-68 of the Official Report, column 1343, and could say what he, having looked into his heart, said: "We have to be very grateful that we had the system of proportional representation here. It gives a certain amount of stability?" It was giving it then when those words were spoken by the then leader of that Party. He was there then and he was using his prestige and the various other elements which contributed to making him an effective leader. It was stable then and it was stable until he left the leadership of the Fianna Fáil Party. It was stable until they felt in 1959 that once he left, the sheep would be scattered because the shepherd had gone. When they found out that this was not so, they were still able to survive and they were quite happy to go ahead until they got the ominous rumblings of the Presidential election and the still more ominous rumblings of the local elections, and the sheep suddenly felt they might be scattered again. The sheep suddenly decided that this was an unstable thing—unstable for the Fianna Fáil Party but not unstable for the carrying on of the system of proper government in this country.

As I say, Mr. de Valera presented the proportional representation system as giving a certain amount of stability. A certain amount of stability is the most that we can expect from any electoral system. There is no doubt that it gives more stability than the straight vote. We have been told that the straight vote in Britain gives stability. Examine the history of the House of Commons over the past century or more and you will find that for more than half of that period, coalition governments, the mention of which made poor Deputy Meaney shudder in horror some time ago, ruled.

Another suggestion made by the Fianna Fáil Party was that which emanated from the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I am quite sure we on this side of the House can be pardoned for rejecting Deputy Colley's ingenious suggestion that proportional representation is being abolished in the interests of the Fine Gael Party so that at some stage Fine Gael will replace Fianna Fáil on that side of the House as the Government. If we reject this dissimulation, it is not purely because we are instinctively doubtful about everything which emanates from that side of the House, but we cannot make Deputy Colley's ingenious suggestion tally up with things which happen on that side of the House at even higher level than the Minister for Industry and Commerce. During the 1959 debates here, when Deputy Dillon was making the suggestion which I am making now—I was here myself then—that the reason proportional representation was being wiped out by the Fianna Fáil Party was that Fianna Fáil had been put out of office under it in 1948 and 1954, the then Taoiseach, who was not the present Taoiseach and not Deputy Lemass, the former Taoiseach, but his predecessor, said "Precisely."

During the last proportional representation debate, the present Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Blaney, who is as astute a politican as the Fianna Fáil Party ever had, said that when proportional representation was gone, not only would Labour, Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan have had it, but Fine Gael would have had it, too. Which is correct? Which version of the Fianna Fáil attack on the proportional representation system is correct? Is it the kindly assertion of the Minister for Industry and Commerce that in the interests of democracy, Fianna Fáil will elevate us to government and will gently recede back into Opposition here, or is it the more realistic one of the Minister for Agriculture, that he wants to wipe out every minority element in this House and wants back into power in this House a Government who will spread right round those benches so that nobody can raise his voice in protest; in protest against the type of thing which is being protested against here, or that the Minister for Local Government would be in a still stronger position when he throws epithets like "cur" and "swine" at Deputies on this side of the House under the present regime?

The Fianna Fáil Party are deliberately, for the second time in a decade, assaulting proportional representation because they know that their day is done under that system and that if they cannot have recourse to the straight vote, they are not coming back as a Government Party with an overall majority. So they have recourse to a system under which it is notionally possible for a Party that gets 34 per cent of the votes to come back here as an overall PR Party.

The Government know that every investigation that was held into the straight vote system in this country, having regard to the last local elections and to the last general election, showed plainly that there would be only one result of a general election under the straight vote system in this country at the moment, that is, a huge overall majority for the Fianna Fáil Party.

If the Minister for Industry and Commerce had tried to investigate the situation generally, he would know as well as we do that what he said here was laughable and a travesty of truth. With the Fianna Fáil Party with 90 to 100 Deputies in this House, how can any of the other Parties arise from the ashes created by the straight vote again? Two out of every three people in this country who had occasion to go to a Deputy, irrespective of that person's own political belief, would have to go to a Fianna Fáil Deputy and we know how the Fianna Fáil process would press these people down and make sure they got no assistance unless they paid tribute to the Fianna Fáil Party by openly associating themselves.

If you rob the other Parties as you hope to rob the other Parties of their representation in this House, you will rob them of their organisation; and that is the cold, deliberate intention of the Government Party, to grind down every element of opposition in this country and to drive them out of the House and to drive their supporters and their leaders into the wilderness.

On us 144 Deputies here depends largely what will happen to all the people. On the availability of free and open criticism in this House depends the standard of our Government and the absence of corruption, and at least, if corruption is here, an assurance that it will be carried out openly in the full light of publicity which will be given to it in this House. Must we banish this construction? Must we banish the inquiring mind? Must we banish the people who come into this House to embarrass a Government on issues on which they are entitled to be embarrassed? That is what is contained in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill and that is why I believe that the people, irrespective of what they do in a general election, would still solidly reject the Fianna Fáil proposal to reject proportional representation.

It was mentioned here by Deputy Ryan last night that the Fianna Fáil Party eventually getting second thoughts about this, have applied market research organisations to investigate the mind of the people. I can tell them this. When I went down to Clare canvassing, I expected the reception I got. It was courteous but firmly pro-Government, and having tried to sell the candidate and having found there was not that extensive market for him, I tried to sell proportional representation instead and I may say there was a more receptive market. People supporting my namesake, Deputy Barrett of Clare, assured me that when it came to proportional representation they would vote against the Government.

You were canvassing for the wrong election.

That is the situation and the sooner the Government realise it the better. I rejoice they are doing this. They will leave on themselves a stigma the Irish people will not forget. They will be looked on as a spendtrift Government who purely as a gamble are throwing away £100,000 of the people's money in this venture in the hope that in some strange fashion PR will be rejected and in the course of the next few years will benefit to the full Fianna Fáil Deputies.

There is another matter to which I should like to refer in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill. The issue contained in the first part is sufficiently important to leave it stand alone. That is the substitution of the relative majority system by the single non-transferable vote. Why should the elector who goes into the polling booth to adjudicate on that have to deal with another measure as well?

The other portion deals with the number of constituencies and the setting up of a boundaries commission. I would have thought that as the Government are having a referendum and as they are seeking to amend certain sections of the Constitution, the proper approach to this would be to leave this particular issue of proportional representation stand by itself and if necessary, have a third issue put before the people in a third Bill dealing with the setting up of the boundaries commission. The Government should seriously consider this. As I indicated at an earlier stage of my speech, the man or woman who goes into the polling booth in the absence of a fair approach by the Government as to the framework of the Oireachtas will be more than sufficiently confused in answering yes or no for retaining proportional representation without this extra measure thrown in. In the absence of a good reason which has not been given us by any Government spokesman, the Government should do the right and fair thing for the Irish voter and should put a third issue before him on a third ballot paper.

I do not intend to keep the House any longer. I simply wish to repeat my belief that the Irish people will reject with the scorn it deserves the proposal which the Fianna Fáil Party are putting, not in the interests of the people, not in the interests of getting a fair return from the electoral process, not even in the interests of the democratic idea, but purely in the interests of a Party who want to swell and swell. Yet they know that in the absence of a victory in this PR assault, they will never again in the foreseeable future come back to this House in the numbers with which they now infest it. They know that without the destruction of PR they will never again come back as a majority Party.

I know from my experience in my constituency and from my experience with the voters in Clare—even those Fianna Fáil voters who retraced the name "S. Barrett" and voted for "Mr. S. Barrett" on their papers— that they are against the Government, and unless the Government wish to stigmatise themselves in the manner I have indicated, they should withdraw the measure they now have before the House.

I am sure that when the Government decided to seek to amend the Constitution and introduce these measures in the national Assembly they hoped for fair, intelligent and dedicated discussion. What we have had from the Opposition has been abuse and charges of corruption against the Government. This does not do the national Assembly any good. It helps to recall that when the Nazis sought power in Germany, they began by bringing democracy into disrepute, by launching charges of corruption against the democratically elected government. As a result, the people voted in Hitlerism as a solution and an alternative to the alleged corruption. We know now how the German people paid for it in the following years.

It would be a good democratic exercise if we were to throw away temporarily parliamentary privilege so that if any Member of the Opposition or of this side of the House wished to make charges against people who were not here to defend themselves he would have to do so without the protection of privilege. Last week the Chief Whip of Fine Gael made accusations against a person who was not here to defend himself. The victim of that assault is no friend of mine: I do not even know him, though I know of him. The Fine Gael Deputy would not repeat those charges outside this House.

Fine Gael and Labour are not serving this Assembly by these charges and I can foresee a day when democracy in this country will be brought into such disrepute that some extreme leftwing or right-wing lunatic fringe may try to seize power. Fine Gael in the past have shown Fascist tendencies and it could well happen again that that lunatic fringe might get power in the Party and try, even by force, to take power here.

A member of the Labour Party speaking in the House said that he would fight a civil war, should this referendum be accepted by the people. I do not know if his Party have rapped him on the knuckles for that nonsense, but I suggest that the people of this country will clearly see which side has made a case. Neither Fine Gael nor Labour have even bothered to meet the case we have made. Both have been satisfied to fling scorn, abuse and charges of corruption at the Government. The referendum is to be held because the provisions in the Constitution which this Government gave to the people—and I am old enough to remember the fierce opposition with which Fine Gael and Labour tried to stop it——

Not on the PR issue.

They came along then with the same charges. They said women would be put in nunneries, that they should have no rights, and that the president would be a dictator. Luckily, the people did not believe them and went ahead and enacted the Constitution. It is ironical to hear Fine Gael and Labour Members now telling us about the great Constitution we have. They tell us it is sacrosanct, that it is not to be touched. All this indicates how old-fashioned they are. They are not with it, not even in the twentieth century, in political and social thinking.

We realise on this side that PR has been good to us, that unless it goes, Fianna Fáil are likely to be in power forever. Built into the PR system is a safeguard against major swings either way. Fianna Fáil could lose a few seats but would still be the biggest Party, fit and capable to form a Government. That situation could be defeated only by a coalition and we know there are forces in both Fine Gael and Labour working hard to bring that about. I wish to heavens they could. One of these Parties must be sufficiently strong to form an Opposition—I can never make up my mind which; some people say both— and we must have an Opposition. Our reason for wishing to change is to enable the people to be represented properly, to speak effectively, so that the country can be provided with a good Government and an Opposition.

I have always been in favour of the single-seat constituency. We hear criticism of Deputies not doing their work properly, but many Deputies trying to do their jobs well know that it is an almost impossible task. The area I represent or misrepresent is far too big. My constituency stretches from the Poolbeg Lighthouse in Dublin Bay to Templeogue. It is quite a territory, shared with me by Deputies J.A. Costello and Seán MacEntee. Both are much more experienced than I and they, too, know how difficult it is to say that they can serve the whole area all the time. Give us the single-seat constituency and each Deputy, whether Fianna Fáil, Labour or Fine Gael, will be able effectively to serve the people better. They will know their people better, they will be at the grass roots, closer to the people, unlike the present system which gives us huge areas to cover, meaning, in turn, that it is very difficult to keep in touch with all the people. The point is that an election is held to give the country a Government.

I deliberately avoid going back and telling the House about what Deputies said 30 years ago. I listened to an Opposition Deputy yesterday and after two hours he had reached only 1912. I had to leave the House. Thirty or 40 years ago, the social and political set-up was much different. We had alleged minorities who, because of the change in the set-up, had real fears that they might become swallowed up by the bigger Parties. Today minorities are still there but they are integrated in our political life. The Party to which I belong have people of all faiths but we share the common bond of being Irishmen. They know Fianna Fáil would never try to introduce legislation that would hurt minorities.

When the PR system was praised 30 years ago, the praise came in the light of the circumstances then existing. But they have changed since. To suggest that there should be no change is utterly ludicrous in this age and in this part of the 20th century. We can point out that Britain has operated the straight vote system for a century. We can point out that the British Monarchy system has given stability to that country. All over Europe, royal heads have rolled but it has not happened in Britain because they have had stable government there. There are many minorities in Britain but, on the whole, they are not penalised. There are some ways in which they are penalised but they could be penalised under proportional representation or under the straight vote system which is the system they have there.

I often wonder, if Fine Gael allowed a free vote on this issue in this House, how many people, voting conscientiously, would vote against the proposed change.

How many people in the Deputy's Party would vote against it?

A Government side is different. We know there are some people in our Party who might want to vote otherwise but the number is infinitesimal.

There would be a revolution the day Fianna Fáil would have a free vote on any of them.

The straight vote system has worked well in other countries. There are Fine Gael Deputies who do not agree with their Party's support of the proportional representation system. They have great courage in saying so publicly and I congratulate them on it.

That is more than Deputy Moore has.

What about the views of their own leader on this subject?

Deputy Ryan is objected to for not doing his work.

I have never heard such a statement. It comes from the poisonous minds of Fianna Fáil. I do not believe that charge. The Deputy ought to sustain it by saying who has made it.

We shall give the people a chance of doing that.

Hardly a week goes by that I do not see at least six people whom Deputy Moore failed.

Only six a week? Deputy Ryan's average is 25 a week.

Stop talking poppycock.

If Deputy Ryan will examine the last election figures, he will see who it was who worked hard.

I held my seat with a much larger vote.

The Deputy was damned lucky to hold it.

Stop talking tripe. I nearly topped the poll. Deputy Moore came in last.

I am talking fact. Deputy Ryan was once called the bright hope of his Party.

That is unfair.

I know now why the Government want a better type of Deputy, if this is an example.

That applies to all sides of the House.

The Taoiseach did not say that.


Interruptions are disorderly and they must cease.

Deputy Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins does not seem to worry about her husband. He will have to use a bicycle in Wicklow to keep ahead of the new Member for Wicklow.

I do not worry about him because I know he is well able to look after himself.

Deputy Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins must cease interrupting.

Go back to the Poolbeg lighthouse now.

We are giving the people an opportunity of voting on this issue just as we did in 1937 in relation to the Constitution, which also was opposed by Fine Gael. Despite their opposition, the people in their wisdom and intelligence voted for it. The point I want to make is that if it is good for the people then we should change the system. We in Fianna Fáil believe it is good for the people but we want the people to decide the issue for themselves. There has been talk of dictatorship but that is ridiculous because the people who try to make these allegations—the Fine Gael Party—are the only Party who tried to be dictators of this country but the people sensed it and would again. Deputy Ryan will admit that in a single-seat area, a Deputy can serve the people better than in a multiseat area. Mathematics will prove that contention.

The Chair will not allow me to agree or disagree with the Deputy at this stage.

I shall tell the Deputy about it now and he can say something in reply on the next Stage. The straight vote system has worked very well in other countries and I am sure it will work well here. A lot of silly things happen under proportional representation. The man who tops the poll is not necessarily elected. The wishes of the biggest single unit of people who give their first preferences to a certain candidate are not heeded because of the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh counts. Some years ago—I was not a candidate at the election—I saw a man get 6,500 first preference votes only to be defeated by a man who got only 2,500 first preference votes because his partner pulled him in on the second and third counts. Deputy Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins suggested we should have better Deputies.

The Taoiseach suggested it: I did not suggest it.

No matter how perfect we may be on this side of the House, we could attempt to gild the lily and try to get a better type of Deputy. We believe that the straight vote system which we recommend will bring a better type of representative. If it achieves that, I think it is worth while to make this effort. At the same time, I appreciate the worthiness of many members on the Labour and Fine Gael benches, some of whom work very hard. However, because of the multiseat constituencies, and the amount of work to be done by each one of them, they cannot give the time to come here and to legislate, which is their primary duty. They are bogged down writing letters, calling on people and meeting people who call on them.

The area I represent has one of the highest number of voters in the whole country. It is difficult to serve all the people. For that reason, we seek the change in the Constitution. There is no point or truth in saying that we want dictatorship.


It is the people who will decide this issue, not Fianna Fáil. The common people of the country decide on the form of Government.

What Fianna Fáil seek is different from what the people will decide.

We seek the common good just as we have always sought it. The people have appreciated this and have returned us to office in one election after another. They will continue to do so until we get a good Opposition which has the makings of a Government within it. Having heard members of the Labour Party and of the Fine Gael Party make charges of corruption against Fianna Fáil, all I can say is that the people will know how to assess the value of such charges. Fine Gael continue to underestimate the intelligence of the people and, accordingly, Fine Gael pay the penalty.

I had hoped to hear really constructive criticism of the proposals. I had hoped people would say: "This is a good thing" or "This is a bad thing" and that we would have discussion on the merits of the proposal. So far, I do not think one Opposition Deputy has spoken on the merits of this measure. He has spoken about Taca, about corruption, about planning permission, about everything. Indeed, in an attempt to blacken the Government, one Deputy almost suggested that Ho Chi Minh is a member of Taca. Such tactics do not serve democracy. When the Irish people read reports of what is going on in this Assembly they cannot be blamed for thinking it is corrupt. Let Fine Gael not forget that mud cannot be thrown without some of it sticking to themselves. I appeal to them to cease this abuse and, if necessary, to propose amendments to this measure. I appeal to them to do a job for the country, for the people and for this Assembly.

In recent times, in the eyes of the Irish people, this Assembly has fallen to the very nadir. People are questioning: "What are the Opposition doing?" Abuse is not a good tactic. Will the Opposition please get down to their job now and discuss the merits and demerits of proportional representation versus the straight vote system; the single-seat area versus the multi-seat area? We on this side of the House believe that we can serve the people better on the straight vote system in the single-seat area. Members of the Fine Gael Party may be cynical. This is our ambition. It is not to perpetuate the Fianna Fáil regime. We do not believe that and we do not want it. In order to have a democracy there must be some change some time but there will be no change until the people see that there is a worthy Opposition to replace the Government. When the people feel that, they will act accordingly. No matter what the Opposition may do, they will not hasten that day until they prove to the people that they are a worthy Opposition, worthy of Government and they can move over here then.

It is often said that a country gets the Government it deserves. I can never make up my mind whether that is true or not but we should give to the people the very best machinery for electing the best Government we can have from the people who go forward. A Party with a policy should have the means of having this policy tested in the most efficient and effective way. The system which we propose to the people is the most effective. Thirty years ago there was some case for having the PR system in order to assure the minorities that their rights would be respected. That day is past. The minorities now are part of our society. They are working, as we are, for the betterment of the country and have no fears that we will do anything against them.

I heard a most dishonest case being made by an Opposition Deputy yesterday when he compared the straight vote in this part of the country with the system in the North. He suggested that because there was not PR in the North the minorities there were given less representation. Of course, he knows very well that the North has a very unhealthy political climate and that it would take more than a change of voting system to change that. Let us welcome the signs that there are in the North of change. Winds of change have blown through most places. In the North they were not winds, merely wisps blowing along the corridors of Stormont. It is unjust to make any comparison between the Six Counties and the rest of the country. Any minority here that can get sufficient support under either system will, of course, have representation but it is not the duty or it is not the purpose of the exercise of an election to give every minority a vote here. If that were taken to its logical conclusion one can picture the Parliament that we would have.

There are lots of people in the city here who have all sorts of parties. They will never enter this House, I hope, because of the lunacy of their outlook. Yet, PR encourages the lunatic fringe to seek representation here. This is one of the things which the straight vote would stop. It might have the effect of making Labour and Fine Gael coalesce, which might not be a bad thing.

What about yourselves?

We never did coalesce. You did, though.

Yes, but that has gone.

I am not going to remind you of that. It is not cricket to remind you. It might well be a good thing if there were a joining.

What about both capitalist Parties getting together?

Yourselves and Fine Gael—you are the capitalists.

This is the new line.

Deputy Kyne has suggested that we are a capitalist Party, which we are not.

Of course, you are.

You are a socialist Party and socialism means State capitalism. What is the difference? That is all it is.

Why not Russia, so?

It is State capitalism in Russia, Czechoslovakia and anywhere else—the same thing. I notice that the socialists in Britain are using the straight vote system and the socialists in some of the continental countries are also using it.

In Russia there is a one-Party system. You are just one step away. By what you are proposing now you can have the one-Party system. That is what you want.

We are communists, then?

The Deputy will be conceding next that he is a member of Taca.

No. I do not know who is in Taca.

Produce the list and prove that he is not.

We are capitalist communists—is that it?

The system we are seeking to have effected by the people will, we honestly believe, give a better system of government. This we believe. Do not forget, when Deputies talk about dictatorship, it is the people not the Fianna Fáil Party who will dictate which system they want to have. The wisdom, intelligence and brilliance of the framers of the Constitution 30 years ago gave the people forever a charter by which they could decide what system they have.

Including PR.

But you want to change it.

I have explained why at times PR was the best system. One of the things about the Opposition is that they will not change with the times. That is why Parties become old-fashioned Parties. The youth of the country will vote whole-heartedly for this change.

That remains to be seen.

The youth will vote that way because this is the age of change and the youth want change.

I will take a bet with you outside the House.

Order. Deputy Moore.

I am not a betting man but it is immoral to bet on certainties.

Deputy Kyne should allow Deputy Moore to make his speech.

I do not want to prolong the debate. I know that Deputy Kyne wants to make his contribution which I should like to hear but, unfortunately, I have to leave. I would appeal to the Opposition, if they are going to take part in this debate, to discuss the proposals and stop the mud-slinging battle in the House, which is not doing their own Party any good and certainly not doing this National Assembly any good. The people are talking about the attitude of the Opposition as regards corruption. If there is corruption, where you see it there are ways and means of bringing the people to law. We do not employ the Attorney General for nothing. If people who have proof, or say they have proof, of corruption will only give this to the Attorney General and let him investigate it, they will be doing a far better day's work for the country and their own Parties. I would ask the Fine Gael and Labour Parties to rise above themselves this time and discuss, for once, what is on the Order Paper here.

May I start off by saying that I have no intention of attempting to attack Deputy Moore whom I recognise as a very decent, honourable Deputy. I disagree with him violently on many of the things he said, but I believe in his sincerity. He has appealed to us to deal with PR and PR only and not to attempt to deviate to attack failures on the part of the Government. The subject of this debate is PR and that is what I intend to deal with in my very limited time.

I have heard Deputy Ryan speak for approximately three hours and I heard Deputy John A. Costello making a most interesting speech on PR, very relevant to the point at issue. I want to treat the subject as I see it as an ordinary man-in-the-street, which is how I regard myself, although slightly prejudiced because of the fact that if PR is abolished I probably will lose my seat. I cannot help the fact that the desire to remain in Parliament exists in me as in most of us here but the fact is that I can regard the question in the normal way that the ordinary man-in-the-street will see it. When I rudely interrupted Deputy Moore, not intending any offence to him, to say that outside the House I would be prepared to make a bet with him, I felt also that I would be betting on a certainty. That is beside the point.

I was not impressed by the Taoiseach's opening statement in connection with the reasons why PR had to be abolished and we had to adopt the North of Ireland system which Fianna Fáil do not like—the North of Ireland system of gerrymandering. That is exactly as I see the intention of the Fianna Fáil Government. It is true a British Labour Government is in under the same system, but that does not give it any particular significance to me. In Britain there is a clear cleavage between the capitalist class and the working class. The only cleavage in Ireland is between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in regard to what side they took in the Civil War. That is the only difference I recognise between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

God help you.

They both might have been of the same Party as far as I am concerned. I am a socialist and have ever been so. I come in here under the name of a Labour Deputy, but my policy is the policy of Connolly, possibly of Marx and other socialist thinkers. I do not know whether I should include Mao Tse Tung because I have not read all his philosophies, but he certainly has done more for the people of China than was done for them under the old Dynasties. I am quite sure that the coolies in China, whom I went to see 34 or 35 years ago, are far better off under the present system, whatever they call it, socialism or communism, than they were before they got this uplift.

However, that is beside the point. We are a small country on the extreme western tip of the continent of Europe. The Taoiseach told us that by abolishing proportional representation we would have a better type of candidate who would give more attention to his duties. Surely that is ridiculous? Surely competition is the greatest thing in life? If I am competing against, as I am, two Fianna Fáil Deputies in the constituency of Waterford, I will go all out to give service to the people of Waterford who voted for me and even those who did not vote for me with the intention of winning them over to the Labour Party. If I had two Deputies who were not as attentive to their duties as I am—I am not saying they are not—and if by doing that, I could win votes for the Labour movement, am I not entitled to do it? Under the new proposals I would be isolated, if I had the good luck to be elected, which is a different thing.

I had experience of Fianna Fáil in 1961 when they reduced the Waterford constituency from four seats to three, adding it on to South Tipperary. They decimated my county to within six miles of where I live and gave over 7,000 votes to South Tipperary with the intention of returning Deputy Loughman. Of course, they failed because even the Fianna Fáil people in my constituency rallied behind me and voted so strongly for me that not only was I elected—I normally was elected fourth out of four—but in 1961 I was elected first out of three with 1,200 votes in excess of the quota. I could go out and celebrate my victory and leave Fianna Fáil to decide who was going to be the unlucky man. Unfortunately for him, it was Deputy William Kenneally, Senior, who had to take the hammer. I was not sorry for him because he voted for it and had to accept it. Deputy Teddy Lynch came in. Deputy Seán Ormonde was another unfancied Fianna Fáil man at the time. Deputy Ormonde, Deputy Lynch and myself were returned because the people of Waterford would not accept from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour or any Party that they should decimate the county and push more than a quarter of the votes into South Tipperary to help Deputy Loughman.

It worked two ways. It helped my colleague, Deputy Seán Treacy, who headed the poll in South Tipperary. If they had not decimated Waterford, I probably would have had to fight for the last seat. I would say I probably would have made it. This was the response of the people to a dirty deal by Fianna Fáil. I might say it was admitted to me by prominent Fianna Fáil people—I will go no further than that—that the attempt was not to get me out, because they were not too bad about me, but they would have loved to have got the late Deputy Lynch out. Unfortunately, Fine Gael were too entrenched to allow any possibility of getting him out and the next best was to push me out. Luckily for me, the people of Waterford did not agree. They gave me 1,200 more votes than the quota. It was the first time I ever got it and I suppose it will be the last. Nevertheless, I got it.

Not only the Taoiseach but any of the Fianna Fáil Ministers who spoke made a very poor case. We have had few speakers on this from Fianna Fáil. We had a few backbenchers, innocent people who would follow the Party line irrespective even of their own interest. But has anything been said to justify this change? Deputy Seán Moore referred to the opposition from Fine Gael to Mr. de Valera's Constitution of 1937. I am not so sure there was that opposition from the Labour Party at that time. I have been in the Labour movement since 1926 and I do not remember campaigning against that Constitution. In particular, I do not remember campaigning against PR being included in that Constitution. Mr. de Valera at the time, and all credit to him, riveted in this form of election.

We should take pride in the fact that we are intelligent enough to use PR as it should be used. A great Fianna Fáil friend of mine recently said to me that, if and when PR does not give stable government here, surely the Fianna Fáil Party should give credit to the people that they will then accept a proposal like this. I have here a copy ofTrade Union Information for February, 1968, which gives a record of the Governments elected here, the proportions elected under PR and how they functioned. If we look back we find it is a fact that this country has had more stable government than Great Britain had from 1923 to the present day. There is the problem of uncertain government. General de Gaulle had it in France. He had to amend the Constitution. The point is that there was a clause in the French system of election, or of forming a Government, to the effect that if you threw out one Government, you did not have a general election. You had a shuffle up of the Parties and people combined to pick out a Coalition or an inter-Party Government—call it what you like. They formed this Government rather than face the people. In Ireland that never happened. When a Government were defeated, we never had an attempt not to have a dissolution but to have an inter-merging of the Opposition Parties to see if they could form a Government. That never happened here. I hope it will never happen. General de Gaulle had to get that amendment through. So that argument is not right.

The other argument I understood the Taoiseach to make was that you would have a better type of candidate, a younger type who would be confined to an area and would have more time in Dáil Éireann. I am sure Deputy John Lynch is as much a Deputy as I am. I came in here at the very same time as he did, with just as much experience of Parliament as he had. I am quite sure my intelligence is pretty well as good as his is. I have used my 20 years in Parliament to know how to get elected, just as he has. I do not think he has a God-given right to tell me now, because he is Taoiseach, that he knows what the country wants and is prepared to put it to the country. It was put to the country nine years ago. I think it was Deputy Healy who said that if Fianna Fáil are re-elected, they will continue putting it to the country. I doubt that, because I think that after the referendum they will not put it to anyone. The only thing they will be putting to the country is whether or not they are going to govern again. However, that is another question, and one on which I am not committing myself.

Deputy Moore asked me to talk about the referendum. First and foremost, I want to say that the failure of Fianna Fáil to put this over was due to one thing and one thing only. They were not telling the truth. The real truth is that now, due to the coincidence of a number of deaths and victories in by-elections—and victories they were; let me be very blunt about it—they have now secured five out of the six vacancies; they do not have to depend on a number of Independents either being absent, or being here and assenting to what they are doing, or being here and moving out when a vital vote comes along; they have a complete overall majority. It is in these circumstances only that they could get this through Dáil Éireann in the first instance and put it to the public.

If they told the truth they would say this is an effort to continue Fianna Fáil in power indefinitely—my estimate is for about 20 or 30 years because of the fact that the Irish people change very slowly. The effects of the Civil War will take a long time to die down. Those who fought with Fine Gael or Cumann na nGaedheal will vote Fine Gael, and those who fought on the other side against Collins and the others will still vote Fianna Fáil. The Labour Party are in the unenviable position of being in the middle and trying to reason with them. Thank God, the young people are beginning to see that. The proof is—if proof were needed—that in the Dublin local elections we defeated Fine Gael. We got more councillors and aldermen elected than Fine Gael did. We did not get more than Fianna Fáil.

In the Cork by-election when we had a new Taoiseach facing his first by-election in his home city, Labour gained 2,500 votes even though the contestant had no chance. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael dropped votes. Labour were the up-coming group, and they will be. Why? I was down there working and I was in charge of 20 university students, the coming doctors, teachers and professional people if they do not have to emigrate. I am hoping their enthusiasm for a socialist republic will continue right to the end and that the day will come when Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will merge as the capitalist class which they are.

Never mind talk of Taca or talk of that kind. It irritates me. There are people who are employed, and people who are employers. It is a clear distinction. It operates in Britain and in most countries in the world. We have it here in Ireland. We represent the people who work and other people, and we are beginning to think we are entitled to a fair share of the wealth of the country which our labour helps to produce. We are not satisfied that Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil will give it to us. We feel we are a separate Party and completely distinct from any other Party.

The issues before us are amalgamated in the discussion on the Third and Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bills. On reading these Bills as an ordinary person in the street would look at them, here is what I assimilated: (1) the straight vote to be introduced; I am quite sure the Parliamentary Secretary will not disagree with that; (2) the single-seat constituency in which the straight vote would be exercised; (3) a commission to be set up to deal with the single-seat constituencies; (4) a differential in certain areas in the country as a whole which the Government of the day would be empowered to implement. I do not think anyone can contradict me when I say those four issues are there. There may be other side issues but they are the four fundamental issues, as I see them, which the ordinary man in the street will have to decide.

I should like to deal with those four issues. I do not want to talk about Taca or even of unemployment or emigration except incidentally where they affect the question of this differential which would give the votes of people in a particular area more value than the votes of other people in other areas. Other than that I have no intention of broadening this into a general discussion on how Fianna Fáil have carried out their duties here.

The straight vote simply means depriving a number of people of their right to express their view as a second preference. I heard a lot of talk from a number of speakers about "your second vote". You have no second vote. You have one vote, and one vote only. That vote can be used only once. It goes to the man you choose and if he can use it to help him to be elected, it cannot go to anyone else, but if it is not of any use to him because he has been eliminated, it can be transferred. You have one vote. As I see it, this question of the second and third and fourth vote, if I know PR—and I have studied it pretty well—does not arise. It is not correct to say you have a second, third, fourth or fifth vote; you have not; you have one vote but you have the right to say that if that vote does not help, or cannot help, or is not necessary to help, the man you have chosen, you have a second preference and it should go to a second man and, should he not need it, it should go to a third man. Surely that is the essence of democracy? Why should Fianna Fáil attempt to deprive the voter of that right? If there is any reasonable argument that Fianna Fáil can put up for that, I should like to hear it.

Under the straight vote system, a man with 26 per cent of the votes can be elected to represent the whole electorate with 74 per cent of the people not in favour of him. To give another instance, if there are 1,000 voters in a constituency—you can multiply the figure by 30 if you wish—where there are four candidates for a single seat and two of them get 250 votes each and one gets 249, the man with 251 votes can represent the total electorate. Or, in the same constituency, the four candidates can get 250 votes each, and I wonder how the Parliamentary Secretary would suggest they would decide who would be elected. He might not like to comment on that. The only thing I can suggest is a draw from a hat. I know that can happen under PR but there are many devices that can first be tried.

Supposing, in my constituency, Deputy Kenneally, Deputy Browne and I stand in this one-seat constituency, when they have cut off Waterford, and we all get say 3,000 votes each. Who will get the seat?

That would be a sticky one for the returning officer.

It would, but things happen that we do not foresee. Who is to decide—the toss of a coin or a draw from a hat? Surely that system is wrong? It can eventually happen under PR but there are very many safeguards whereas here we are running bull-headed into trouble.

I do not want to mention religious groups because I think that is played out, but I can see the NFA feeling sore about the Government, as they do, deciding to run a farmers' candidate. Because of the limited number of farmers, say, in the Waterford constituency, they would probably—they did before—get 6,000 or 7,000 votes but they have no hope of getting a voice in this House under the system now proposed.

They would have a hope in a rural constituency.

I shall come to the splitting up of constituencies later and I think I shall be able to prove that Fianna Fáil, irrespective of the Commission, will be able to design the constituencies, and if I know the way they manoeuvred in 1961, they will not favour the Labour group or the NFA. They will favour Mr. Loughman as they tried to do then. The leopard is not going to change his spots.

Which leopard?

Fianna Fáil.

The constituencies had to be revised by law.

If you like, I shall discuss that. There was a bigger population in Waterford than in South Tipperary. There were four seats in each place but they decided to transfer 7,000 voters in Waterford to South Tipperary to make it a four-seat constituency and cut down Waterford to three seats.

And as a result Deputy Treacy headed the poll.

And I headed it in my area.

Where was the victimisation?

It was intended.

So then it was really bad judgment?

The intention was bad also. The intention was there but it did not work out.

We are not only malevolent but stupid also.

Yes, this is admitted as a fact by members of your own Party.

So we are corrupt, malevolent and stupid, and yet we are always the largest Party.

Since when?

Since 1932.

I am dealing with the straight vote and these interruptions tend to put me off the point. As I was pointing out, a candidate getting 26 per cent of the votes could be elected provided four candidates stand—and it would not be beyond the power of a wealthy Party or Parties to put up stooges and pay the £100 deposit to run perhaps a disgruntled Labour or Fine Gael candidate so as to split the vote.

It is stated inTrade Union Information of February, 1968, that with 30 per cent, one can secure a seat under the system now proposed. That means that 70 per cent of those who do not want the candidate will be deprived of representation. I want to warn the NFA, the trade union movement of which I am a member and any other group, religious or otherwise, that if they vote for this system, they will be depriving themselves of the right to criticise or comment on any action of the Government. I am quite confident—and that is why I offered to make a bet with Deputy Moore outside the House— that this proposal will be defeated not only by 33,000 people, as was the case nine years ago, but by at least twice that number.

At that time the proposal was coupled with the magic name of Mr. de Valera but intelligent Fianna Fáil people saw fit to elect Mr. de Valera as President and refused to give Fianna Fáil this monopoly which they attempted to get. If and when Fianna Fáil dare put this to a referendum—I believe they will never put it as it is proposed in this Bill—I am quite sure that Deputy Norton, a former Labour man, is being used to put up an alternative that Fianna Fáil will be very happy to accept. But it will be opposed by the Labour Party completely and, I hope and believe, by Fine Gael equally so. There will be no compromise on this. This will be a straight issue: either we hold PR as it is or have the straight vote; the alternative vote is not a substitute. Deputy Costello has encouraged me to believe from his speech yesterday that that would be the Fine Gael view. There will be no compromise on the lines proposed by Deputy Norton, perhaps on his own, perhaps inspired—I do not know—but certainly looking at the results of by-elections over the past session, Fianna Fáil will be very happy to accept as second best Deputy Norton's amendment.

The question of candidates offering amuses me. It is argued that under the new system, there would be select young candidates going forward. What are Fianna Fáil afraid of? Can they not put up as many candidates as, say, the number of seats in a constituency? Can they not give the people the right to vote for the Fianna Fáil man they like? I can go back to a time when Mrs. Morrissey, widow of the late Deputy Michael Morrissey, was selected by a Fianna Fáil convention in Waterford in 1947 to contest Waterford. She was turned down by the Executive and then Deputy Seán Ormonde was put forward and won. I contested the election and lost the seat. Why not let the Fianna Fáil supporters select the candidates by their votes, one, two, three, down the panel as they normally did, and let the best survive? Operating the straight vote and imposing one candidate on one particular area is no choice.

What happens if, for instance, the constituency I represent, Waterford, is divided into three areas? Perhaps Dungarvan would be an area: supposing a Fianna Fáil man got in there, would all my supporters have to go to him if they had problems about social welfare, about health, about old age pensions, about injustices or grievances that needed to be ventilated? Would they have to go to a Fianna Fáil man?

They do it as it is.

Go to Fianna Fáil?

Labour people?

Any number of them. I get them.

I am not talking about Kildare. I am talking about Waterford. I do as much and twice as much as the two Fianna Fáil Deputies in my constituency.

I agree with that.

I know more about social welfare than either of the two will ever learn because I worked on social welfare, and, as a Deputy, I have recovered from Social Welfare over 20 years £50,000 to £60,000 of benefits that would be lost to my constituents, had I not been elected or had a Deputy like me not been elected. I do not believe that my Labour people in Waterford would be happy to have either of my colleagues in Waterford. I say that with no disrespect. They are both very good friends of mine and people I respect very much. However. I do not believe my Labour people would dream of going to them or would get the same satisfaction from going to them as they would get from coming to me as their representative.

I believe sincerely that this is an attempt to take away the rights of a sectional interest of the Labour Party in Waterford. The trade union movement is a sectional interest, consisting of the ordinary roadworkers, farm labourers and so on. They have nothing in common with factory managers, big shopkeepers or big traders. They have entirely different problems in regard to social welfare, old age pensions and so on. If the people of Waterford vote for this proposal, they are cutting their own throats, and that is why I am talking here. This is a dastardly attempt, a shocking undemocratic attempt, to fasten Fianna Fáil into power for the next 20 or 30 years, because they fear one thing and one thing only, that at the next election they will not have an overall majority. They are worried about what the Labour Party will do. The Labour Party will have the balance of power. I doubt if even the Parliamentary Secretary will deny that at the next general election, if PR remains, we will have the balance of power.

We are winning an awful lot of by-elections.

I know that. That is why Deputy Norton is proposing the amendment. It suits the bigger Party. The bigger Party will win the by-elections because of the use of the alternative vote, which is as near as possible to the straight vote. When the Labour Party made up their minds in Wicklow that they would advocate voting down the panel, then Fianna Fáil got the result. We could have done it in Waterford where there were 1,500 plumpers, and where you still won by 600 votes. If I, not because of who I am but as the Deputy in the area, advocated at that stage voting down the panel——

For capitalists.

I will tell you why I did not do it. PR was not in question. This was a question of Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, and I was a Labour man. "A plague on both your houses" was my attitude.

You told them to vote for Fine Gael.

In Wicklow we exercised our right and got results, and we will do this in the referendum.

You changed your mind and supported Fine Gael, your masters.

No man is my master.

You should be grateful. They kept you in government for a long time.

I listened to the Minister for Agriculture making a speech in Carnew. I was standing in the doorway listening to him attacking the labour movement and I said to a Labour friend of mine: "What an almighty fool he is. Why should he not praise us and try to get our seconds because all our seconds are going to be deadly?" and did it not prove so? When will Neil Blaney learn his lesson? If I had been he, I would have said: "Fine Gael are a rotten group but the Labour fellows are decent." I would look at it——

I must remember that.

Poor Neil did not have a clue. He attacked us but I said nothing. Then Paudge came along and did the same thing.

You said the Fine Gael fellows were nice fellows?

We said: "Vote down the panel other than Fianna Fáil."

Vote for Fascists or anybody else.


You have to worry about that. If PR remains then Fianna Fáil could be in power, or it might be Fine Gael, or perhaps both of you would put us in power, you never know.

We would have a Coalition again if that were the case.

We would indeed.

How do you make that out? We said no to that. I said that we might put in Fianna Fáil, or Fine Gael, or that we might take office ourselves if both of you hate each other as much as you say you do. When we have 35 to 40 Deputies after the next election——

Is that the next election?

Yes, the next one.

That will be a spectacular change.

We have had a lot of talk about going into the EEC but are you not aware that there is a European Parliament and it will not be elected on the straight vote? Most of the countries in the EEC, apart from Britain, which you do not like copying, and the North of Ireland, have not got the straight vote. I am sure that they do not favour the straight vote system. If you could tell me what countries in the EEC, apart from Britain and the North of Ireland, favour the straight vote, I would be interested to hear of them. There are different types of PR systems. We have the minimum PR with the smallest number of seats, three to a constituency, with five as a kind of maximum. I remember that under Cumann na nGaedheal there were seven-seat constituencies. I remember Waterford and South Tipperary returning seven Members. Ex-Senator Jack Butler, Dan Breen, Seán Robinson, Nick Phelan, two Sinn Féin, or whatever they were called, and a farmer were elected. If we go into the EEC, are you going to convince them that you are right, that Britain and the North of Ireland are right, and that they are wrong? You do not like being reminded that you are copying the North of Ireland.

Keep on to the North of Ireland.

Yes, if it hurts you.

You got that idea from Fine Gael.

I do not mind hurting you at all. There is no use dodging the North of Ireland. Captain O'Neill more or less complimented you recently when he said that we are getting wisdom down in the South now.

Did your leader not compliment Mr. Wilson when he was elected Premier, on the straight vote?

For goodness sake, relax. Remember that the Irish Labour Party only has affiliations with the British Labour Party. We disagree with them about Ireland and about a lot of things. We are not tied up with them any more than we are tied up with Moscow.

But you love him like a brother.

We admire him for trying to do what he is doing, just as we hate Franco, Salazar and Smith in Rhodesia, and the other man in South Africa. We detest these people and we have no connections with them.

You said you liked the Chinese, did you not ?

I do not know much about Chou En Lai or Ho Chi Minh or any of these people. My contacts have not reached that far unfortunately.

But you do know about South Africa and Spain ?

I know that when I was in China the coolies were slaves.

They are still slaves.

They are not. If they are, they are slaves with full bellies. I would rather be a full-bellied slave than an empty-bellied slave. I do not know their views on other things but I do know that the very important nations of the world, including America, Russia and Britain, are beginning to favour them and the only reason is that they must be coming on from what they were. They used to be exploited by America, Britain and others but now they are beginning to stand on their own feet. I do not know whether or not that is a defence of Chou En Lai or Ho Chi Minh; it is only what I can see from the outside.

In regard to the single-seat constituency, may I say that I had the experience of having my county divided? At least one-quarter of the land area was transferred to South Tipperary. My colleague, Deputy Treacy, who represented that area, found that it was impossible to deal with county council problems and health authority problems as a result, and he found that the division of the county was wrong. As far as practicable, the county should remain intact both for county council and health authority purposes, and also as far as representation in Parliament is concerned.

I have three counties because of PR.

I know. I disagree with it and you disagree with it. The argument is that this is going to be confined to counties. I do not think that is possible and not only will you find it impossible but you will divide the counties and Waterford, for example, will be divided into west, mid, and city. Is that not true?

That is the idea.

It is already divided into county council areas.

What happens to the Labour man in mid-Waterford who has a problem and there is no Labour Deputy in mid-Waterford?

He can nip down to Tom Kyne.

Tom Kyne might not be elected. I know he will be but I do not like saying it. It is a hopeless position. Are we not working perfectly well as we are? We have two more Fianna Fáil Deputies for the time being. That is only until the next general election when Fine Gael will win back the seat—that is obvious to everyone— and rightly so, because they have 8,500 electors who want a Fine Gael Deputy and it is right that they should have that Fine Gael Deputy. We have only 7,000 electors and, if they want a Labour Party Deputy, he will be elected. Fianna Fáil have only enough electors to elect one Deputy. If they had enough to elect two, they would get them. It is because they have not enough to elect two that they want to deprive the people of their rights.

The really important matter is the Commission which will decide how to re-arrange the constituencies. I have read this Bill carefully and, if I am right in my interpretation, this Commission will consist of three Members of Dáil Éireann nominated by the Taoiseach and three Members from the Opposition. That means three Fianna Fáil Deputies, two Fine Gael and one Labour. Now Fine Gael and Labour do not always agree. If there were disagreement, the three Fianna Fáil Deputies could override the others. Even supposing we were unanimous and the Fianna Fáil Deputies took the opposite view, then the chairman, a High Court judge, will decide. I do not hold judges in disrepute, but, if I were a High Court judge appointed by a particular Government, I would be inclined, no matter how impartial I wanted to be, to favour, without even knowing, perhaps, that I was doing so, the view of the prevailing Government, just as the Ceann Comhairle is compelled to vote in this House for the status quo or, in other words, support the people in power. Even if the chairman did not do that, even if he decided to vote with the Fine Gael and labour Deputies and overrule the three Fianna Fáil Deputies, is it not true that in the Fourth Amendment Bill, power is taken to override that decision? By a clear majority of Dáil Éireann, it is possible to revise the constituencies ourselves and say "To hell with the Commission." In the Fourth Amendment Bill, there is provision for Dáil Éireann, by a clear majority, to override the Commission, including the High Court judge.

That is a hypothetical case. I doubt very much that it would arise.

Then why was it written into the Bill?

In order to provide against the situation.

—against the situation of the Commission giving a report unfavourable to Fianna Fáil. Power is being taken under this measure to wipe that out by a straight majority here. And Fianna Fáil have that straight majority. Fianna Fáil can rearrange the constituencies if they disagree with the report of the Commission. I say that is gerrymandering in its most blatant form and I believe Opposition Deputies have not yet really cottoned on to the fact that this is there. Deputies should know it. The press should know it and publicise it. The people should realise that Fianna Fáil, having set up a Commission, have also put in a proviso that, if they do not like what the Commission does, they can change matters to suit themselves.

I come now to my fourth point, the differential. Deputy Carty is here and he will appreciate this: the only reason the differential is wanted is that down in the west of Ireland, Fianna Fáil have got more people in than Fine Gael. Fianna Fáil feel that if they hold the West with the same number of seats, they will be all right and by this ruse here, they want to maintain their present strength in the West, despite a falling population. That is an objectionable practice. Fianna Fáil should come out into the open and say that the West is their strong point and they are not going to lose Deputies there because of emigration. I promised I would keep to proportional representation but I have to bring in emigration in this particular instance. The people are emigrating, possibly for reasons beyond the power of any Government. It is a bleak place. There is no living there and the people are leaving.

James Connolly said that the Ireland he believed in was not the hills or the valleys or the mountains; it was the people. If the people are not in the West, why should Fianna Fáil attempt to give to the hills and the mountains and the valleys and the remaining few people there an equal vote with a numerically superior population in other parts of the country? This is purely a ruse to return an extra one or two Fianna Fáil Deputies as against Fine Gael, in this case, because the Labour Party have not unfortunately penetrated into the West to such an extent as to have a serious contest there. Possibly we shall do that later. Seven votes in Dublin, five votes in Connemara if this goes through. I assume this is where the ruse will apply —Connemara, Clare and other western areas. Seven votes in Dublin will equal five votes in the West. That is an end to the principle of one man, one vote that democracy demands. We had enough of that under an alien government when the landlord had two votes to every one of the ordinary people. Now Fianna Fáil want to bring back that system. Shades of the Republic! It is a very odd Republic now.

I dealt with Deputy Norton's amendment. If not inspired by Fianna Fáil, it certainly suits Fianna Fáil to have this amendment. I would not be a bit surprised if Fianna Fáil accept this as a compromise to help out the Labour Party and Fine Gael! I heard Deputy Costello speaking last evening and I only hope Fine Gael will stand firm on this issue. We will beat the attempt to abolish proportional representation if Fine Gael do not accept this wishy-washy amendment, which would really mean giving a definite advantage to Fianna Fáil, as things stand. I hope Fine Gael will listen to my words and decide this is a straight issue. Either they are for or against proportional representation. The transferable vote in the single-seat constituency is not proportional representation, and never was, notwithstanding what the Constitution said in 1937.

During the by-election in Wicklow— I did not have an opportunity of going to Clare—we had impassioned speeches from the Taoiseach, Ministers and Deputies explaining that proportional representation was not the issue in Wicklow. What did they think the people in Wicklow, or Clare for that matter, were? Proportional representation was certainly the issue. Fianna Fáil had gone all-out, saying what they intended to do in June, and we were perfectly entitled to go out, as we did in Wicklow, and say to the people: "Vote for anyone other than Fianna Fáil; having voted Labour, go on down the ballot paper." Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, Liberal and Independents were all anti the abolition of PR. Nobody can accuse Sinn Féin of trying to do away with PR. They cannot accuse the Liberals or the Independents of that and certainly Fine Gael have made their point clear, and thank God, seven out of ten, I understand, of the Labour votes were transferred to Fine Gael, not because we wanted Fine Gael in but because we wanted to defeat Fianna Fáil and the proposal to abolish PR. We succeeded in doing that and we will adopt the same attitude if there is another by-election, as unfortunately there will be. We adopted a different attitude in Waterford, in South Kerry and other places, but when the issue of PR and the rights of the people come into it, we will forget any differences we have with anybody and will insist that our voice will be heard in exercising PR to its fullest against the Party attempting to deprive the people of their democratic right.

I feel sure Fianna Fáil have learned their lesson and they are regretting it now. Do not tell me you had a victory in Clare. If I put up an old coat in Clare and put FF on it, it would be elected. We all knew that. I think the Labour Party had the greatest victory in Clare because we increased our vote by 50 per cent, notwithstanding the fact that everybody who voted Labour knew they had not a hope of winning. It is a wonderful thing to be on a losing side and be able to fight your battle and stick to your principles. So many on other sides do not do that.

Deputy Dunne exposed the attempt of the Government to muzzle even TV. I know that is denied. I know there is a commission set up inside Telefís Éireann to investigate the leakage but it was quite clear and a copy of a directive given to the people who deal with "Seven Days" that they were not permitted to discuss the pros and cons of PR was published in theSunday Independent. I would like to ask why. I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister when he is replying why and what this new commission which has been set up will do about it. All the people of the country are satisfied that that directive was given and was not given by the head of Telefís Éireann on his own behalf. It was whispered over a table in some hotel in the country: “This is a Government view. We are not telling you to do it but if you do it will be looked on with pleasure and in the future the Government will be grateful to you.” It was the most disgusting thing we had.

I have had my doubts about even news announcements from Telefís Éireann. I have noticed for quite a long time that when there is an official strike it is labour news but when there is a two-years agreement on no strikes as there was in the Waterford chipboard factory, it is a trade union agreement— a slight difference. It is labour news when it is disaster, but when it is good news, it is a trade union agreement. Maybe I am just suspicious, but I have been struck continuously by the way our news announcers present news. Labour is attached of course to a political Party, even though we are very proud to have the trade union movement in with us.

In the Wicklow by-election, we were told not to talk about PR. There was plenty of reason for us to talk about other things. However, we did concentrate on PR. There was the question of emigration. Is it not true that even OECD reports that 18,000 people a year have emigrated over the past ten years from this country as an average?

What was it like in the three years prior to 1957?

It was 50,000.

Fair enough.

You have reduced it to 18,000 or 20,000. Are you happy?

I just asked what it was.

I have answered.

Nobody is happy about emigration but it was three times greater in your three years.

OK; that is all right. It is no credit to us.

But is it any credit to you that over the next ten years 20,000 young intelligent people, not old, disabled or anything else but young, virile, educated people, will have to leave this country? Is that any credit?

That is no credit to anybody.

No credit.

We agree on that.

Would you not think that we should be much more interested in Dáil Éireann in discussing for the past two or three weeks how we could stop that rather than the question of whether we should have the straight vote or proportional representation?

It is the people who will decide that.

The people are not interested. The people want to stop emigration; they want to get employment; they want to get housing; they want to get the health services changed.

And they do not want another Coalition Government.

Maybe they want that. Maybe that is the answer to it.

It could be.

Fianna Fáil are not doing it. You cannot deny there are 6,000 more people unemployed now than there were this time 12 months ago.

Ninety-seven thousand in 1956.

Where are Deputy Lemass's 100,000 jobs?

Go back to the straight vote and I will talk to you about that.

We were told in Wicklow to keep on this; now when we are here we are told to go back to the straight vote. I will keep to the straight vote.

I only wanted to throw in as an interjection the waste of time it is dealing with the straight vote because I know, and I know from Fianna Fáil people, that Fianna Fáil will be beaten by at least twice as much as they were beaten previously. They made an attempt in the early stages to parcel up the Third and Fourth Amendments together. Thanks to the daily press which played a very prominent part in this—outside of theIrish Press of course—they were forced to change that but perhaps that may, as Deputy Costello said yesterday, suit them. I am glad at least that the people have an opportunity of voting on the individual question of whether or not they want the straight vote as against PR.

I have discussed this with prominent, intelligent Fianna Fáil people who, while admitting that they have voted for Fianna Fáil in the past and perhaps will in the future certainly are determined that the rights of the people of Ireland which they have had since the foundation of the State in 1922 will continue to be there, that they will be permitted not only to elect a Government but to elect by PR the particular individuals who will form that Government.

Debate adjourned.