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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 7 May 1970

Vol. 246 No. 6

Nomination of Member of Government: Motion.


Go gcomhaontóidh Dáil Éireann leis an Taoiseach d'ainmniú an Teachta Deasún Ó Máille chun a cheaptha ag an Uachtarán chun bheith ina chomhalta den Rialtas.

I move:

That Dáil Éireann approve the nomination by the Taoiseach of Deputy Desmond J. O'Malley for appointment by the President to be a member of the Government.

May I add for the information of the Dáil that, subject to the motion being approved by the House, I propose on his appointment to assign the Department of Justice to Deputy O'Malley.

I should like to state for the information of the Dáil that, having requested the resignation as a member of the Government of Deputy Neil T. Blaney, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and Deputy Charles J. Haughey, Minister for Finance, as neither would comply with my request, accordingly on my advice the President has today terminated their appointments as members of the Government with effect from the 7th May, 1970. On my advice also, the President has today accepted the resignation of Caoimhghín Ó Beoláin, Minister for Local Government and for Social Welfare, as a member of the Government with effect from the same date.

I want to take advantage of this occasion to make a statement on the termination of appointment of the three former members of the Government to which I have just referred. As might be expected, there has been much comment through the news media and otherwise on these terminations of appointment. In at least one case, if not more, there appeared to be an implication that the Minister whose resignation I accepted on Monday last, Micheál Ó Moráin, was involved in some way in the matter with which I now propose to deal. I want to assure the House that that appointment was terminated on health grounds as I have already stated publicly. The Minister was not involved in these matters.

On Monday, 20th April and Tuesday, 21st April, the security forces of the country at my disposal brought me information about an alleged attempt to unlawfully import arms from the continent. Prima facie, these reports involved two members of the Government. I decided to interview the two members of the Government—Deputy Blaney, then Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Deputy Haughey, then Minister for Finance. I decided to do this on the following day, Wednesday 22nd April, which was the day of the Budget. In the meantime I ensured that adequate steps were taken to prevent any unauthorised importation of arms. On 22nd April, the day I decided to interview the former Ministers, I received news of the accident to Deputy Haughey and, as a result, I was unable to interview him.

Deputies will remember I informed the House on that day that as a result of that accident Deputy Haughey became concussed and was under medical care in hospital. I contacted his doctor on a number of occasions seeking his permission to interview Deputy Haughey. He told me he was not in a fit condition for interview if the matter I proposed to discuss with him was serious. I told the doctor it was a serious matter and he repeated his opinion that he felt he was not in a position to discuss, certainly at any length, a matter of serious import. However, I ultimately got the doctor's permission and I decided to interview Deputy Haughey in hospital on Wednesday, 29th April. Having made that decision and before I went to the hospital, I then summoned Deputy Blaney to my room and interviewed him, upon which I went to the hospital and interviewed Deputy Haughey.

I told them both I had information which purported to connect them with an alleged attempt to unlawfully import arms, on the basis of which information I felt it was my duty to request their resignations as members of the Government. Each of them denied he instigated in any way the attempted importation of arms. They asked me for time to consider their position. I agreed to do so. In the meantime I authorised the continuation of investigations and I made personal investigations myself, following which I decided to approach the two Ministers again and to repeat my request that they tender to me their resignations as members of the Government. I did so on the basis that I was convinced that not even the slightest suspicion should attach to any member of the Government in a matter of this nature. Having told the Ministers that I wished to have their resignations forthwith, each of them told me he would not give me his resignation until this morning.

I may say that on the question of suspicion Deputy Cosgrave came to me yesterday evening to say he had some information from an anonymous source connecting the two Ministers concerned with this alleged attempt at unlawful importation. Shortly after requesting the resignation of these two Ministers I received the resignation tendered by the Minister for Local Government and Social Welfare, Caoimhghín Ó Beoláin. Not having received the resignations of the other two Ministers, I then informed the President that under the appropriate Article of the Constitution I was requesting him to terminate their appointments as Ministers and advising him to accept the resignation of Caoimhghín Ó Beoláin who had tendered it. As I have already informed the House, he did so.

I want to assure the House that this was the only attempted importation of arms of which I had evidence and with which the two Ministers named were associated. I also want to assure the House that these arms have not been imported, have not been landed in this country, and that the precautions I have taken will ensure they will not be landed.

Last night at approximately 8 p.m. I considered it my duty in the national interest to inform the Taoiseach of information I had received and which indicates a situation of such gravity for the nation that it is without parallel in this country since the foundation of the State. By approximately 10 p.m. two Ministers had been dismissed and a third had resigned. I received information that an attempt had been made involving a number of members of the Government illegally to import a large consignment of arms from the continent for use by an illegal organisation. Arrangements were made under the pretext that this consignment was coming as an official supply of arms to the Army, and that involved making arrangements with the Department of Finance for allowing this consignment through the customs without check at Dublin Airport. My information was that the arrangements involved an Army officer. The affair came to the notice of the Garda authorities and the Garda officer in charge, a senior Garda officer, informed the Commissioner who sought a directive from the Department of Justice in view of a suggestion from an official in the Department of Finance that the Minister for Finance had authorised the passage through the customs of this illegal consignment.

When advice was sought by the Garda no directive was given and when it appeared to the Garda that the situation was not being handled with proper seriousness, a further request for a directive from the Minister for Justice was made. At this stage the matter was notified to the Taoiseach and eventually, after a lot of dithering, the authority from the Department of Finance was dropped.

I understand that because of the linking up of certain Ministers, an Army officer, the brothers of two Ministers, one the brother of the former Minister for Finance and the other the brother of the former Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and some of their friends, with these highly dangerous and illegal activities, the question of dismissing the Ministers from the Government arose. No action, however, was taken until the resignation of the Minister for Justice on Monday last. Yesterday when I received a copy of a document on official Garda notepaper which supported the information already at my disposal and which also included some additional names, I decided to put the facts in my possession before the Taoiseach. This particular document says: "A plot to bring in arms from the continent worth £80,000 under the guise of the Department of Defence has been discovered. Those involved are a Captain Kelly, the former Minister for Finance, the former Minister for Agriculture and two associates of the Ministers."

The House will now be aware from the statement the Taoiseach has made and from the brief recital of the information I have given that this is a situation without parallel in this country, that not merely involved here is the security of this State but that those who were drawing public money to serve the nation were, in fact, attempting to undermine it, and that there was a failure to deal with this situation by the Taoiseach.



Take him out.

Keep quiet. Do not worry. I will not be silenced by anyone.


Hear, hear.

Yesterday at Question Time I said, "Are there going to be other ministerial resignations?" and the Taoiseach said, "I do not know what the Deputy is referring to" and I, as reported in today's Irish Independent said, “Is it only the tip of the iceberg?”. It was a modest statement.

The situation that has now developed is such that the very security of this State is being threatened. The lives of the people not only in the greatest part of Ireland for which freedom was won at such great price have been put in peril. But, even worse than that, the people, particularly the minority about whom we are so concerned in the Six Counties, have their lives and their welfare put in jeopardy. That is a situation without parallel in the history of this country.

For a considerable time there has been speculation, there have been suggestions, there have been comments from this side of the House that the activities of certain Ministers were such that they were not fit to remain Members of the Government. All during that time the comments that were made by the Taoiseach and by other Ministers were that these were personal attacks on them. I now ask this House and the country to decide who was right and who expressed the real facts of the situation. There was a suggestion made that we were engaged in personal attacks. Not alone, as is now obvious and as it has turned out, were the Ministers concerned unfit to be Ministers but they were engaging in activity undermining the national security and recklessly endangering the lives of our people in the north while continuing to take the people's money. The people of this country can now, tonight, and not for the first time in our history, be greatful to this party for the selfless dedication to the service of the nation——

Mr. J. Lenehan

Ah, shut up. Your father sold the north and damn well you know it.

——that it has discharged without regard to personal interest or party consideration. The position that has now arisen is that this country is in danger of drifting into anarchy. The confidence that has been reposed in this party and the fact that people who were concerned at the trend of events confided this information in me, and in my colleagues through me, indicate that a situation had developed that not merely were those who were paid to serve the people betraying that trust but they were involved in betraying the nation and betraying the welfare of our people.

I want to find out from the Taoiseach tonight—and this House and the country are entitled to find out—what action it is proposed to take against the persons concerned. There is a person who was an Army officer; there are the Ministers or ex-Ministers who have been named: there are the other persons the details of which are available to the Government and to the security service of the Garda and the Army.

This House must be concerned at a situation in which arms were being imported for use by an illegal organisation. It is not necessary to remind the House at this stage that very recently a garda in the gallant discharge of his duty, serving the public, was murdered; that there have been a series of armed robberies; that, in fact, for some months practically no bank has been safe. This situation is so serious and so grave that it is obvious that this Government, or what is left of them, are not fit to govern.

So far as this situation is concerned, there are these criminal activities but, worse than that, the gravity of the national situation is now emphasised by the fact that the Taoiseach and the Ministers who are left are prepared to cling to power with the support of people whom the Taoiseach considers unfit to hold ministerial office. This is a situation that those whom we commemorated at Arbour Hill today could never have visualised would have happened. I believe the Minister for Labour in a comment today said he went there to pray. We went to pray for them. I am sure that if those who fought and died—and I am privileged to speak from a family tradition that as far back as '98 gave lives in defence of the rights of the Irish people to govern themselves. This party asserted and defended and vindicated the people's rights to ensure that this sovereign authority and it alone would act and work and discharge its responsibility for the people. We are prepared to resume that historic assignment and there is an inescapable obligation on the Taoiseach and his colleagues to resign and to give this country an opportunity of electing a Government of integrity, of honesty, of patriotism, in whom the people and the world can have confidence.

What frightens me in this debate is the approach of the Taoiseach to what I and the people regard as a grave crisis. I was appalled when it was announced that the instrument for discussion on this grave crisis was to be a motion from the Taoiseach for the appointment of a Minister. What appalled me even more was the introductory speech the Taoiseach made in moving this motion in which he recited what he had done in regard to the three or four Ministers concerned in the last two weeks and particularly in the last few days. I describe it as a grave crisis. It cannot be disguised. It is a crisis that is not confined to this House or to any political party in it. It is a crisis that is not confined to the 26 Counties. It is a crisis that cannot be disguised in its application to the Six Counties, in particular, as well as to the 26 Counties.

It is, I think, incumbent on us all to speak with great care so that none of us may, by speech or interjection, contribute to the worsening of a situation which could do damage to our democratic institutions, a situation which can be likened to that which obtained prior to the disastrous civil war of many years ago, a civil war the futility of which people of all political persuasions have long since come to recognise. I do not think the Taoiseach can say that he was not warned. For months we have called for the removal of Government Members who seemed to condone violence. I remember this particularly in a debate we had on 22nd and 23rd October last when we warned the Taoiseach about the inflammatory speeches being made by the now Deputy Blaney. We remember, too, the retort on that occasion from the Taoiseach, a retort tantamount to condoning what Deputy Blaney said or, at least, alleging that these were his personal opinions, at the same time accepting him as a member of the Government, a Government who were supposed to have collective responsibility for policy in all directions and particularly for policy in respect of the Six Counties of Ulster.

By way of consolation to the Taoiseach, may I say that we support, even at this late stage, his action in dismissing from his Government certain Ministers who have been dabbling with violence and playing with fire but, to that extent, and to that extent only, we support the Taoiseach's action in the present crisis. Whatever may be the political consequences in this crisis we believe a rational and responsible policy should resolutely exclude from the national consensus those who encourage and condone violence and especially those who engage in surreptitious collusion with violence practised by others.

Over the last 18 months Fianna Fáil have spoken with two voices on this matter of national unity. We had the Taoiseach, the Fianna Fáil Party spokesman, condemning violence, and we supported that and urged the doctrine that unity can only be reached by agreement between the two communities in this island of Ireland; and we had the other voice through the now Deputy Blaney, and others, who hinted that the use of force is legitimate and practicable. We were led to believe that there are many supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party, though perhaps not vocal, who subscribed to that sort of policy.

The tragedy is and the shame is that these two voices have been used, one by the Taoiseach and one by others, including Deputy Blaney, for party expediency—a policy, or should one say "policies", if one could try to weld them together—a policy which has been one of disaster and has brought this island to the verge of civil war. But, even as the policy of a policy of expediency, the Blaney/ Lynch Fianna Fáil Party have now come to the end of the road.

This is the day of reckoning. As far as the nation is concerned Fianna Fáil stand before us now as a bankrupt party—a party that have no policy they can or ever will apply to the Six Counties of Ulster. They are a party who deceived those who followed them. They pretended they had a long-term policy for the reunification of the country. But they had none. They avoided public discussion on what policy might be and we well remember the efforts that were made to avoid discussion right through the whole of last summer, particularly during the month of August, and we well remember the efforts we had to make in order to induce the Taoiseach to have some sort of debate on the Six County situation in this House. His retort on all occasions was that he did not think it was opportune, that he believed that something might be said within this Parliament that would worsen the situation that obtained in Belfast and Derry in August of last year. The plain fact was, of course, that he was not afraid of any members of my party, because we had behaved responsibly over those awful three months; he was afraid of the members of his own party and it was significant on that particular occasion that we did not hear a Boland, or a Haughey, or a Blaney make any utterance at all in a debate which we regarded, and which should have been regarded, as one of the most serious and most important this Dáil had for a long, long time.

The reason is now clear. Fianna Fáil had no policy. They were then, as they are now, split on this particular issue. I am not interested in any damage that may be done to the Fianna Fáil Party. We are not concerned about that. What is important, and what we are concerned about, is the damage that has been done to the country by the Fianna Fáil Party, particularly in the last two weeks.


Hear, hear.

I do not know whether or not I have this accurately, but it is again a demonstration of the casual approach of the Taoiseach to this grave crisis that we have on our hands: I am told that the gist of the statement made as a result of the special meeting of the Fianna Fáil Party held at Leinster House was that the party "endorsed a motion to the effect that the party approved such nominations as the Taoiseach may make to replace the Members of the Government whose appointment had been terminated". Each of the three ex-Ministers, Deputy Blaney, Deputy Haughey and Deputy Boland, and the ex-Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government expressed unreservedly his loyalty to Fianna Fáil and the Taoiseach. What they should be doing is expressing their loyalty to Government policy, if there is any Government policy. What they should be doing is expressing their loyalty to the people of this country.

It seems abundantly clear to me that, whoever drafted that resolution, and if it was considered in any serious way, the main purpose of the meeting today was to close the ranks and to express loyalty to the Fianna Fáil Party merely for the purpose of keeping them together. These have been demoted, so to speak. I do not know what the vote was within the party. As I said this morning, that is their own business, but I am informed that on this particular Motion the voting was 65 to ten.


You tell me it was unanimous. No matter what the decision was, or what the voting was, the important fact is that these three ex-Ministers are now Members of this House, purporting to support the Taoiseach's expressed policy in Killarney and elsewhere in regard to his approach to the situation in the Six Counties.

What is also disturbing is that these are three Ministers who were in charge of vital Departments. They have deceived the Taoiseach, the Government and the country. What are we to think of their administration of their Departments over 13 years? If they deceived the Taoiseach and the Government could they not deceive the farmers, the people who are looking for houses? Deceit would be all over them if they behaved like that and were deceitful as far as their own Taoiseach was concerned.


The Taoiseach gave the impression in his statement that there was a suggestion that two of these Ministers were involved in some way in this attempt to smuggle guns into Ireland. I think within his heart he knows that they were and, if they were, will there be criminal proceedings?


If they were, will these three Ministers be accused by the Attorney General? May I ask will these three Ministers be asked to give an account of their activities on the accusation by the Taoiseach here in this House and be judged by their peers?

Put them against the wall.

It was said at the beginning that what makes this crisis grave is the reports that Government Ministers and Departments have turned a blind eye on arms smuggling. This could be the very event that could turn the north and leave us with a situation that would be far worse than that which we had in August, 1969. I am not, nor should I be, concerned about the damage to the Fianna Fáil Party: what I am concerned about is the damage that these three gentlemen and the Taoiseach and the Government Party have done to the nation. If this should happen, if we are to have a greater crisis in Derry and Belfast and other places this year, Deputy Blaney and his friends must bear the grave responsibility but the Taoiseach must take a greater onus so far as the responsibility is concerned.

We have no confidence in Deputy Blaney, Deputy Boland or in Deputy Haughey. We have none in the Taoiseach. These were his principal aides. These were the people on whom he depended, his senior Ministers, and they have let him down. He reposed his confidence in them. These were the men who were supposed to advise him. They deceived him. I do not know whether or not the Taoiseach was aware of this situation but there are rumours— merely rumours, I say—that arms have been brought in. The Taoiseach made the point as if to suggest that the only consignment of arms that it was attempted to bring into this country was stopped some place or other. I think he should have further conversations with some of his dismissed colleagues to see what the actual facts of the case are.


Is it in order for somebody to speak from outside the barrier when a Member is speaking in the House?

It is not in order, inside or outside the barrier, when a Member is in possession to interrupt him. The interruptions should cease.

The Taoiseach believes that he has dealt with a national crisis, not of long-term national responsibility but of 26-County electoral politics, the internal politics of Fianna Fáil. This policy has now crashed to the ground. It is a policy, so far as the unification of the country is concerned, of duplicity and irresponsibility. It may have won its short-term awards but now the day of reckoning has come.

We tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government. It appears to me the Taoiseach is not prepared to risk —perhaps not a vote in this House, because he has his party lined up— but he shies away from the risk of a vote on a no-confidence discussion in this House because he knows in his heart and soul that even though he might get, so far as a vote is concerned——

I am entitled to intervene on a point of order. It is not my decision that a vote of confidence is not before the House.

The Chair has decided that it would not be in order to take the motion for a vote of no confidence this evening.

I merely mentioned the fact that we had tabled a motion of no confidence. The point I want to make is this: this has been a serious matter. It must have been so for the Taoiseach. He sacked two Ministers, one resigned and a Parliamentary Secretary resigned. Governments in Europe and all over the world have resigned for far less. Why not this Government? It is not sufficient to win confidence in the party rooms; the mandate to govern must come from the people, not from the 76 or 77 members of the Fianna Fáil Party in a situation like this.

The confidence that the Taoiseach and his party enjoyed since the last election has disappeared in the last 24 hours. They may hang on to power by the vote of those who are in the party and those who are expelled but we believe that they have no moral authority to govern and the only alternative, no matter what the result is, is within the next 24 hours for the Taoiseach to go to the country again and see whether or not he has the people's confidence.

I think we can all feel and share the sense of shock which the announcement made earlier today caused to the people and the country but when we learn, as Deputies have learned tonight, that the Taoiseach and the leaders of the Fianna Fáil Party were aware since 21st April that two Members of his Government were engaged in a criminal conspiracy to subvert the interests of this State, to import guns into this country and that he did nothing about it until after eight o'clock last night when the leader of the Opposition went to see him—and it is perfectly clear that it was the fact that these facts were known to the Opposition that put a bomb under the Taoiseach—these factors make the sense of shock that must be felt by the people at what has been going on all the more real and the more serious.

Are we going to permit this country to be turned into a banana Republic? Are we going to have our institutions, our code of conduct and our conventions whittled away by cynical ambitious men who respect no law except the law of the jungle?


Hear, hear.

These are serious things. The leader of the Opposition described this as perhaps the most serious crisis since the early days of the State. If it is a crisis, it is a crisis of conscience for every member of the Fianna Fáil party. Let them examine their consciences —that party over there who permitted this situation to arise by indolence, by neglect, by arrogance, by failing to have regard to the proprieties and to their sense of responsibility to the people. They allowed their party to be taken over by ambitious men "on the make". This is bad for Ireland. It is bad for the confidence of every young man growing up in this country who should have a pride of citizenship in this country of ours. What of the people in the Bogside? I am not surprised that Deputy Blaney has left this House. I wish he would leave it permanently.

He will shortly.

What of the people in the Bogside? What of the people whose life and property and future were put in jeopardy by a couple of ambitious men who were still going to sit on Ministerial seats while someone else was put in danger?

I want to repeat what the leader of the Labour Party said. What action is being taken or will be taken against Charles J. Haughey, against Neil T. Blaney, against Micheál Ó Moráin? What criminal charges under the Firearms Act of 1925, the Offences Against the State Act of 1939 and the Defence Act of 1954? Are we to have one law for important Members of the Fianna Fáil Party and another law for other people? What steps will be taken by the Attorney General of Ireland to make sure that the Writ of this House applies equally in relation to every citizen of the State?


Hear, hear.

Will the Taoiseach answer?

Let us remember that one of these former Ministers who left his post today, only because the President of Ireland acted under the Constitution at the instance of the Taoiseach, and who refused point blank to resign, Deputy Charles Haughey, who went to his office today to clear out his personal papers and who is not in this House tonight so far as I know, is the man who two weeks ago, under sentence of resignation from the Government, was the Minister responsible for this nation's Budget. What does that mean? What does it indicate? What does it imply?

Can anyone now have any sense of confidence in what this Government have been doing or will do for so long as they remain in office? The nation's Budget was under the control of a Member of the Government actively conspiring to arm an illegal army inside this State to subvert the policy of his own colleagues and his own leader. The man who was acting in that irresponsible and treasonable way was the person who was in charge of the Budget introduced two weeks ago.

That man, we learn from the Taoiseach tonight, having been asked by his leader to resign says "No" and his leader waits. His colleague, Deputy Blaney, having been asked to resign says "No" and his leader waits, and waits, and waits, and waits, and would still be waiting had he not discovered last night that the leader of the Opposition knew the full score.


Hear, hear.

I have had occasion to refer to the credibility gap that exists between the present Government and the present Ministers, our present leaders, and the ordinary people of this country. In the past 24 hours that credibility gap has been so widened that it should cause shame even to Deputy Kevin Boland. I am glad to see Deputy Boland for the first time in this House sitting in the back benches.

He will be outside shortly.

Never in the Deputy's time.

These are serious matters and serious issues. This debate arises on a motion to appoint a new Minister for Justice. I should like through the Chair to ask Deputies to have regard to what has been happening to the silent services of our State in the past 12 or 18 months or two years, to ask what has been happening to our Army that, despite provocation and temptation over many years, has always remained loyally to serve those who were the Government elected by this House. What is to be thought of our Army when it was made a front and a dupe for the illegal importation of arms? I saw that the Chief of Staff attended a meeting of the Government to make a protest on behalf of the Army in relation to certain matters.

That is not true.

It appeared in the Evening Press this evening.

It is not true.

What is happening to our Garda force when it has been commonly known throughout our courts and throughout this city that for the past 12 or 18 months in relation to clear breaches of the law which the Garda Detective Branch discovered they were frequently told to lay off and turn the Nelson eye?


Hear, hear.

That is not true.

It is true. I accuse each Member of the Government of having full responsibility in this respect.

A Deputy

We can hear the Deputy. He need not shout.

What is to be thought of the fact that, in recent months, so concerned have been those responsible for the enforcement of law and order in this country that they sent many protests to the person who occupied the office we are asked to fill tonight? What is to be thought of the feeling in our Garda force when this trend had its inevitable end in the cold-blooded murder of Garda Fallon some weeks ago? By neglect, by failure to live up to proper principles every Member of this Government, including the absent ones, are equally responsible. There are decent men in the Fianna Fáil Party.


Hear, hear.

Very few.

There are many. I would say the vast majority.

The Deputy is charitable.

They find it a bit hard to surface.

They are honourable men but they are lazy men. They were not prepared to activate themselves into a proper application of proper standards and principles. They have been used, with the result that the country has suffered.

This debate tonight is on the motion to appoint Deputy Desmond O'Malley as Minister for Justice—that is the immediate motion before the House. He will come to hold high office. He will, perhaps, remember that one of his predecessors died in the discharge of that office. He will perhaps remember that associated with that office used to go a sense of dedication to the Irish people, irrespective of what was involved.

I regret to say that that sense of dedication was not present and, with the tolerance of the Taoiseach, was not there during the last two or three years. We had the deplorable spectacle of the Minister for Justice continuing to practise as a solicitor; we had a situation in which the discharge of that high office was for a professional man merely a nixer, something he did when he had time to spare.

Let the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil Party know that outside this House in every part of Ireland there is a sense of concern tonight, and it will continue during the coming weeks; a sense of concern that a party elected with an overall majority less than 12 months ago should have so disgraced themselves that their own leader could not subscribe sincerely and honourably to what was stated to be a policy statement on behalf of the Government; a sense of concern that at night time behind closed doors little men with big cheque books were getting together to whisper and to conspire.

For what purpose? It was to get into this country, in operation, another force, another army. There is a sense of concern that trusted leaders and trusted Ministers should so seek to betray their own leader that they would act in that way without regard to the harm they would do, without displaying any sense of responsibility. The Fianna Fáil Party should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

I agree with a great deal of what the last speaker has said but I feel this is more than a moment of disgrace for the Fianna Fáil Party. It is a moment of national disgrace.


Hear, hear.

I have just returned from a short visit to Northern Ireland, a visit of information, trying to find out what was happening, and I came back with a most earnest sense of impending national tragedy on this island, already, before those gentlemen committed what they have committed, already a polarisation, the growing strength of the Paisley movement of Protestant fanaticism at one end of the island and at the other an irresponsible party and the IRA, all building up to next July and August, towards a festival of destruction, a festival which will spread out, if it is allowed to do so—I hope it will not be allowed but it will be no thanks to those gentlemen if it is not—to all parts of the island.

This is the fire those people are playing with. I do not think honestly that they understand. I do not think the Taoiseach understands. I do not think the gentlemen he depends on know anything more about it than that which they read about when they were 12 years of age. This is a party of ignorance and fanaticism and this has led to this folly which has fallen on their heads and, unfortunately, on the heads of all the people.

Those gentlemen are still there—the gentlemen who on the Taoiseach's own showing are nothing short of State criminals. By their votes and the votes of their friends, the Taoiseach holds on to that office. In these conditions we from here have to try to carry on the talk, the dialogue with the people, in that knowledge.

Have we any conception of the impact these revelations will have? Already there was a situation of grave distrust, of grave doubt, and now the people have heard that the Taoiseach, who at Tralee last year made a very sensible statement, expelled from his Government people who were playing with violence, only when those people were exposed by the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Cosgrave. They would not have been exposed had not Deputy Cosgrave done it.


Hear, hear.

I do not think that in all matters I would agree with Deputy Cosgrave but on this occasion he has rendered a public service. Having been exposed, those people have a duty to the people. I know that among them there is a sense of duty, a feeling of duty towards the people. I am not saying they are violently different from anybody else: they have a sense of decency, a sense of responsibility among them. That being so, they should not hold to office in these circumstances, by those tainted votes, by the tainted votes of people who on their showing are criminals of the State and who have been so exposed by the Taoiseach himself.

I am not engaging in loose or idle rodomontade: if you wish, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I will withdraw the word "criminal". They are accused of certain things which are high crimes. Not merely in the narrow legalistic sense, they are crimes of irresponsibility perpetrated by people in high office. What are we to think of that cold irresponsibility, that propensity towards destruction and crime? What are we to think of that which had that at its core? The Taoiseach had to be told of it by somebody else. Will you in the Name of God, go in peace?

What is involved in this situation is not the passing fortunes of any political party: it is whether the principles of good Government, of justice and fair play are to govern our future conduct of Irish affairs. The safety and security of all the Irish people must be the first and overwhelming concern of any Irish Government. When a Government, or any members of it, presume to promote the cause of any section of the people above the others, then such a Government have forfeited their right to command the respect of all the people. Our people are contained not merely within the borders of the 26 counties over which the writ of this Parliament for the time being may run but within the shores of our island. We have an obligation towards those of our sons and daughters who have been forced by circumstances to seek a living in lands beyond the seas. In the light of that, there is no justification for the supreme, criminal folly of the Taoiseach in suffering as members of his Government people whom he had every reason to suspect did not share the obligations which most Irish people consider must be the overwhelming concern of any Government.

One of the real tragedies of this situation is that the movement to secure civil rights for a large section of our people in that portion of our national territory which is still not within the writ of this Parliament has received a mortal blow. The people who deserve our sympathy tonight are not the members of the Fianna Fáil Party or of the Government—although in the resolution which emanated from their party meeting today that was clearly and primarily their only concern—but the unfortunate, wretched families in the North of Ireland who have in the past suffered appalling housing conditions, poverty and malnutrition through unemployment and who have been deprived of fair voting rights and political power because they were in that region in the minority. Those people had every reason to hope that through their efforts and the reasonableness of the conduct of those of us who had achieved our freedom, which had its beneficial effect in Westminster and throughout the world, the days of their great agony might soon come to an end. What do they see now? They observe tonight that, as a result of the selfish criminal stupidity of Ministers paid by Irish people to serve them, the enemies of the Irish people, the enemies of the unfortunate people in the North of Ireland, can now walk the streets claiming they were justified in all that they said when they argued that the campaign for civil rights, for human rights and for fundamental rights in that sad region was, in fact, an effort to undermine the authority of that State and was a deliberate effort by the Government and by the people to run into the ground the people who had the fortune of having the political majority in that truncated province for the past 50 years. The real tragedy is that these people now where they had every reason to hope are tonight in darkest despair.

Last autumn, we in the Fine Gael Party tabled a motion which we asked the Taoiseach quite reasonably to take. I believe it is pertinent to remind the House of that motion and of our efforts to have it discussed and voted upon. The motion read:

That Dáil Éireann formally rejects the use of force as an instrument to secure the unity of Ireland, welcomes the steps so far taken and promised to eliminate discrimination in Northern Ireland and looks forward to the establishment of full fundamental rights and freedom for everyone irrespective of religion or political opinion.

That motion stands undiscussed to this day on the Order Paper of the Oireachtas. The Taoiseach, Deputy Jack Lynch, and his Government refused to allow Dáil Éireann to declare itself as formally rejecting the use of force as an instrument to secure the unity of Ireland. They refused to allow Dáil Éireann to welcome the steps so far taken and promised to eliminate discrimination in Northern Ireland. They refused to allow Dáil Éireann to express the hope that the establishment of full fundamental rights and freedom for everyone irrespective of religion or political opinion would soon operate in Northern Ireland. In the light of the disclosures of these unhappy days it seems to me that the Taoiseach feared that if the motion were put the cat would have been let out of the bag and these disclosures which have shaken the nation to its roots and postponed for decades to come the unity of this country would have been made last October. But like Mr. Micawber he was waiting for something to turn up and praying that the day of reckoning would never come. Instead of reducing the evil consequences of what he knew or suspected was afoot he made the situation a great deal worse. We were taunted for years past when we complained of low standards in high places and when we quoted the Minister for Industry and Commerce as expressing his concern about low standards in high places——

That is out of context.

——and when we expressed our convictions and conveyed such information as we had, the Taoiseach invariably stood up and called on us to remain silent or produce the proof. Last night the proof was produced by Deputy Liam Cosgrave, leader of the Opposition. It was only when the Taoiseach knew that proof was available to us that he accepted the inevitable realising that the game was up. When the Taoiseach received the evidence, as he said, on 21st April did he inquire then how long the evidence had been in the possession of the Minister for Justice? Our information is that the evidence was available to the Minister for Justice for days before that, having being conveyed to him by the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána but the file was suppressed and not brought by the Minister for Justice to the notice of the Taoiseach. While the Taoiseach may be anxious to spare the Minister for Justice or may be anxious to reduce the involvement of a number of the members of the Government, the fact remains that the Minister for Justice was in possession of the information before the Taoiseach and the information was not conveyed by him to the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach told us earlier this evening that he was stopped from going to the Minister for Finance to discuss the matter because of an unfortunate accident to the Minister for Finance. He was not prevented by any illness or accident in the case of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. The Taoiseach did not, on his own statement tonight, interview the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries until he got clearance from the doctor of the Minister for Finance that it was safe to see him. Deputy Blaney had an extra week with which to play with fire or cover up his tracks if he got any indication that the Taoiseach was on his trail as inevitably he must then have suspected.

Many people wondered why the Budget of this year was so lacking in an understanding of the financial and economic requirements of this country. It is quite clear now that the answer was that the Minister for Finance did not have his mind on the job. A man who was prepared to stake the very security of this country, the very existence of this State, to achieve his own peculiar ends is a man who would not be in the least bit worried about the economic or financial ruin of this country. It does cause some surprise to many people who accepted that Deputy Blaney and Deputy Boland and possibly Deputy Moran might be involved in activities of this kind, that Deputy Charles Haughey should also be involved. Many of us were not surprised. One can respect somebody who holds views and expresses them courageously but can one at all respect the double-talker, the smooth operator?

Debate adjourned.