If they wish to waste time they can do so but that is not what we are trying to do. What we are trying to do is to gain sufficient time for the country to realise the importance of what is going through here and to give a focus for vocal, determined and effective opposition to this Bill and, in particular, to this section.
The amendments that we are now considering are intended to palliate section 4. They are only palliative of it. The proper amendment that we all really desire is the one that was put down by Deputy Fitzpatrick for the purpose of deleting the entire section. Without section 4 this Bill would be a mischievous, a trivial, and unnecessary Bill, a Bill which should be thrown out but not a Bill on which it would be worth wasting much time. It is this section which gives the Bill all its sinister importance. I will grant the Minister that. With section 4, the Bill is an important one; historically it will be important if it is passed because it will mark a milestone on the road towards undermining the law of freedom of the Press and towards the undermining of democratic institutions and free speech. It is important that we should not allow this stage to pass without sounding the alarm as we are doing here.
At this point I would like to issue an appeal. It is not an appeal to the Minister for Justice whom I wish were here but who, of course, has not been here for very long sessions of the debate on this Bill that he is trying to bulldoze through. In most cases he allows it to be bulldozed vicariously. I would not make an appeal to the present Minister for Justice because I think he is a man of violent impulses and confined understanding with a smattering of the law. That is not the type of person to whom an appeal can be addressed with any hope of obtaining a magnanimous response but I would address this appeal to the Government and, above all, to the several men of common sense within the Government. I appeal to these men to drop this section now. There must be many people in the governing party who realise that this section is totally unnecessary, dangerous and repugnant to democratic conventions and who must realise that to persevere with it can only bring the Government into disrepute. Putting it at a low level it will get them a bad Press and a bad continuing Press.
There are those of them who are alive to such dangers. I would appeal to them now to drop this section. I do not say that if they drop this section or if they accept this and the following amendments we shall drop our opposition to this Bill, we will not. We in the Labour Party will vote as we are committed to vote against this Bill. I would say that if section 4 is dropped now or if the amendments to it are fully accepted there would not be very much purchase for further argument against this Bill. We could not go on arguing forever about the difference between a £5 fine and a £50 fine. The difference is £45 and everybody knows it, there is not a great deal more to be said about that; but there is a great deal more to be said and a great deal that ought to be said about section 4 and about these amendments and we are determined to say these things. As long as it is within our resources we shall continue to fight this Bill as hard as we can and as long as we can until we convince the governing party of the need for these amendments and of the need to drop section 4.
This section has effects which are obvious enough. I shall not attempt to cover the ground which has been very well covered by the three Deputies who have spoken already on this section, but basically it is clear it restricts freedom of comment to an extent which we cannot know until we see how it is worked. Our only gauge of how it will be worked can be what our opinion of the Government and of the Minister for Justice is and in what spirit a Minister like that is liable to operate these things.
Deputy Fitzpatrick illustrated the attitude of the Minister for Justice in relation to Press freedom very powerfully by a study of how this Minister dealt here in the House, quite recently, with Deputy de Valera who, quite independent of his honoured name, is one of the most respected Deputies in this House. It was dismaying and chilling to listen to the account of how he was dealt with when one considers the implications of this for the treatment of the Press.
I was reminded briefly of an anecdote concerning the late Joseph Stalin, who was approached at one time by one of the most respected members of his party, Lenin's widow, who wished to remonstrate with Stalin about his treatment of certain old party members. Stalin was a young, up and coming, tough, disrespectful character, with no great interest in the past or the past monuments of his party—the great names of his party—and he simply took his pipe out of his mouth and said: "If you do not shut up we will appoint a new Lenin's widow." This rather brutal and intolerant attitude is not the kind of attitude that we feel safe in entrusting our liberties to. The country is increasingly conscious of this and I think with every stage of the discussion of this Bill this becomes plainer.
This section of the Bill, the defects of which this amendment in particular and these amendments in general are designed in part to correct, affects most directly the Press, radio and television, but it affects of course every man, woman and child in the country indirectly by reason of its wider implications about the continuance of democracy and civil liberty in this country.
Deputy Fitzpatrick said that in some ways the Press is more important than Parliament for the defence of liberty. I see the point of that remark but I would not wholly agree with it. It seems to us that Press and Parliament are interdependent, they are linked together. There is no country in the world which has a really free Parliament without a really free Press and there is no country in the world which has a really free Press without a really free Parliament. These institutions are linked, their fates are linked. We wish to link and interrelate our opposition to this section and our support for this amendment and these amendments with the manner in which the Press, radio and television are attempting to defend the same liberties which are vital to us all. This is not a question of just a sectional liberty; it is the cause of liberty which is at stake here.
We would hope that, as we continue our critical opposition to this section and as we argue the case for these amendments, the Press will work, as it were, with Parliament on this. The Press has diagnosed what the trouble is, the Press has seen the evil of this section and has stated it; but, through the Chair, I should like to point out to the editors of our papers and to those in control of the media that time is running out. We here can make a case for this amendment, and for this group of amendments, we can sustain it for a certain time as long as we have effective breath and argument, but we can only do that for a certain time, there are only a limited number of Deputies who have been working on this and time will run out.
The party opposite has talked of running into the month of September, nobody takes that seriously, we are not going to run into the month of September. This Bill unamended, if that is the Government's wish, will rather soon become law so that now is the time, not only for us here to oppose this thing as best we may and to amend it if we can, but for the Press in a more massive and concerted fashion than it has yet done to make known its condemnation of the principle involved in this section.
I would hope also to make known the fact—and I hope it is a fact— although it is only for the Press to say whether it is, that the Press of this country would entertain for all the future a settled distrust of the party which forced through this section and began a process which could be an irrevocable and fatal process of gagging the freedom of Press comment and possibly eventually the freedom of news coverage. If our national Sunday papers were to come out on Sunday in that sense and if all our national dailies without exception were to come out on Monday in that sense this Government could be given pause and it just could be that they might begin to think again. The Minister for Justice would not, of course, think again. It is rather doubtful if he thought in the first place. But, his colleagues, who include men of sense and prudence if not of great sensitivity, might think again.
If this section of the Bill could be withdrawn, if its withdrawal could be obtained or even if all these amendments which reduce its noxiousness to a considerable degree could be made, then the evil of this Bill could be turned into good because we would have stopped a tide. We would have said that interference with the freedom of the Press is not acceptable here; it will be fought in Parliament and the fight in Parliament will be taken up in the Press and in the country and it will be made unrewarding for the people who are trying to do it.
I would ask, with respect, the Press to consider that. I am emboldened to do that by the fact that, as Deputy Desmond said here last night, we have read a number of editorials on this matter and we have received a circular from the National Union of Journalists asking us to do our bit in fighting this section of the Bill. We think we are doing it and what we are asking in return is that the Press should consider this point of timing. It is not enough to fight this Bill when it is a remote possibility. It is good that the alarm should then be sounded when it is a remote possibility. The Press did that. But, it is very important that at this time, when there is still a possibility of stopping this section, that the Press should act concertedly and with unambiguity and with force to destroy this section, get it taken out either by the passage of these amendments or, preferably, by dropping the whole thing.
I do not know whether we may interpret the silence on those benches, the silence unbroken except by these strange gutteral cries we hear from time to time—I do not know whether we are to interpret that as meaning that an agonising reappraisal is actually in force. I hope it may be. I very much hope it may be and if it is so, if they are prepared to withdraw this section, of course, this series of amendments, Nos. 7 to 10, will become unnecessary. So that, if that is so, the sooner they can tell us that they are withdrawing it the better so that we may be saved a waste of Parliamentary time and breath.
We here do not regard ourselves as being engaged in an obstructing process. We regard ourselves as focussing criticism on a highly defective, highly dangerous section of this Bill in order that time may be gained for public opinion through the Press to express itself unmistakeably. I say "through the Press" because, as has been pointed out, radio and television are not entirely free. I shall come back to that in a moment. There are certainly people both in the authority and in the service of the authority and of us all in broadcasting and in television who are trying to make it free, trying to make it a vehicle for free, informed, responsible comment as well as coverage of the news and there are also those who are trying to work in the opposite direction, limiting the freedom of radio and television, which is a very vulnerable, fragile, tenuous freedom and are here beginning the assault on something much more securely established with us, and that is, the freedom of the Press.
We are conscious that there is nothing in our arguments which will be new to the Press itself, or to those who value the freedom of the Press. There is nothing new here but it is essential that these principles be reasserted formally and as tirelessly as may be whenever they are in danger, as they undoubtedly are in danger here.
I should like to draw attention in that connection to the recent case in the United States of the publication of the Pentagon Papers. This is very relevant because it was a case in which the Press of America saw Press freedom as threatened. What did they do? Did they allow simply a test case to be taken? Did they allow the New York Times to go out on its own and then wait cautiously and see what would happen? No, they did not. When the New York Times was prevented from publishing a section of these papers, then the Washington Post took it up, the Christian Science Monitor, and so on; right across that great country, newspaper after newspaper took on the cause of the defence of the freedom of the Press then menaced as it is now so clearly menaced here and they showed that their combination in the assertion of Press freedom was a powerful force which must be recognised by a Government even despotically inclined—and I believe there are perhaps people of despotic inclination in most Governments, it is a human characteristic—we have our share of them here and they have their share of them in the United States. Obviously there are two main things involved— freedom of comment and freedom of news coverage. They are inter-related but that is a question we will have an opportunity to discuss more adequately on section 10 where it directly arises but what is here at stake is freedom of comment and it is freedom of comment which amendment No. 7 is designed to protect.
This is not just an interest of the Press as a section, an interest of the Fourth Estate, a professional interest, if you like, a trade union interest. Certainly, it is not for us on these benches to speak in any way disrespectfully of trade union interest and to say "a mere trade union interest", and we do not say so. A trade union interest is important, something to be respected. But this does go beyond that. The defence of the freedom of comment in the Press is the defence of a public interest, the interest of every individual and every group. We all have a right to have somebody free to speak up in our defence. Even if we have done something which is unpopular with the Government, with the State, we have a right to have someone to come forward to show the provocation which led us to undertake an act, even a slightly illegal act, to situate that in its context. Now, to situate an illegal act, an act of forcible entry and occupation, in its context would become, under this Bill, a criminal act. That is what this Bill is for.
This section of this Bill is aiming —as usual, of course, in the actions of this Government—a very heavy, cumbrous, rusty sledgehammer to destroy a butterfly that is no longer quite where it was when the Government last aimed this object at it. What set it going? The idea, if idea it can be called, behind this section we are seeking to amend and to destroy was to be able to fine and to imprison the editor of a newspaper like the United Irishman if the editor of that newspaper defended squatting. That narrow, petty object was all that was in mind when this section was framed.
Of course the scene has long since shifted. It is no longer a question of sitting in, of squatting and so on: nobody is talking about these things any longer. This Bill and this section of the Bill have no longer any object other than in the amour propre of the gentleman or gentlemen who set this thing going.
However, the thing which they set going and which we are now trying to break, which we are now trying to stop, which we are trying to get rid of, is a lethal mechanism. It is a mechanism which can destroy Press freedom in this country, and the less it is opposed, the less it is fought, the more likely it is to do precisely that, because these gentlemen will say to themselves: "We got away with it, they made a general fuss, but then they ran out of steam, it died out, the Press were not seriously worried, they took it and they will take a bit more." You may be sure that if the public and the Press indicate their willingness to take a bit more from this Government and this Minister, they will get it.
I have spoken in relation to this section and this amendment about the Press and Parliament. This is a matter which essentially arises from a consideration of the section and of the amendment. I think we would be agreed that this is an amendment and a section which raise very broad principles which cannot be discussed merely as a narrow technical question. It is one with the broadest implications and perhaps at this stage, on the first of these amendments, it may be appropriate to look at what we aim to safeguard, what we seriously think to be threatened, which is freedom here—freedom as defended by the Press and by the institution of Parliament.
We are not saying this just rhetorically. We, like other sections here in this Parliament, say things rhetorically from time to time and sometimes a little more than we mean either in the heat of the moment or when carried away by the momentum of an argument. But this is serious. This, as they say, is for real. There is a real threat here. Making to encourage and to advocate a criminal offence is the thin end of the wedge. We are sliding in other ways, from other sources, including some of the actions or inactions of this Government. As a result of events in the North, which are outside the Government's control, we have been sliding gradually, almost imperceptively, away from a state of acknowledged, secure, democratic conventions and traditions. One gets away from these things a little at a time and then one no longer quite knows where one is until one does not realise what is happening.
This is a stage on that way and it is a noticeable stage. We owe the Government, perhaps particularly the Minister for Justice, thanks at least for that. By their clumsiness in the wording of this section which we are trying to amend, they have made the trend or the drift away from democracy tangible, they have made it something we can put our finger on as we are now putting it. This section we are seeking to amend or to destroy has its significance in a wider context, in the general context of the urgently necessary defence of a free Press and a free Parliament and of freedom generally in this country at the present time.
Relations between Press and Parliament are normally perhaps a little tense, a little suspicious. The Press— and this is what we are defending here —are critical. They are not just critical of the Government but they are critical of Parliament, of individual Members of Parliament, and naturally, being human, as the ladies and gentlemen of the Press also are, we often tend to resent such criticism and there is impatience in Parliament quite often about the Press as there is in the Press about Parliament. Nonetheless, the two institutions are inseparably connected. We have sometimes thought, at least I have sometimes thought, that in their coverage of Parliament the Press have tended to bring Parliament into a degree of disrepute which is dangerous—dangerous because the alternative to parliamentary government can only be something worse. However, as we say that, as we say that the Press have done that or have helped to do that, we must, of course, realise and confess that we, too, have helped it.
The Press have not just damaged Parliament by presenting a distorted image of it. Though they have sometimes done that—there is sometimes a type of jibe at Parliament and of the motivation of parliamentary men—but also, alas, we must say that sometimes the Press tend to bring Parliament into disrepute simply by accurately reporting its proceedings, and indeed if those proceedings were more fully reported, if all the interjections from those benches were faithfully reported for the edification of the multitude, Parliament would be brought into even more disrepute than it is.
I would wish that in the Press there might be a continuing sense and suggestion not only of the defects of Parliament as a working institution but of the necessity for Parliament as an institution which we are trying to vindicate at this moment and about which we are trying to stretch out a hand to the Press of this country so that our effort on this may be a combined, coordinated one.
I have said that relations between Press and Parliament in general are a little ticklish, a little strained, and that perhaps on neither side is there quite enough effort made to realise the interdependence of the two for the maintenance of freedom. Though these are general considerations, there are special considerations that apply in this country and that are relevant to this section and to this amendment. These special considerations arise in particular out of the peculiar and unique and never sufficiently consciously considered history of Parliamentary democracy in this country and of our attitudes to Parliamentary democracy, of the degree and kind of security which the conventions of Parliamentary democracy have actually secured. This is a very tenuous, fluctuating, interesting thing because most of the countries which achieved independence during the present century have either lost their independence or lost whatever democracy and civil liberties they originally possessed. These things flickered on for a while and then died out. With us they have shown much more life than that. They are still alive after nearly 50 years of a recognised, independent existence. They are still alive but we are wondering whether, among us too, as in these other countries, they are beginning to flicker and die down. We shall see whether that is so and the importance of this section which we are trying to amend is that it is a test case in relation to that.
The Irish people are, I think, ambivalent, of divided mind, about Parliamentary democracy. For quite a long time under British rule the concept of Parliamentary democracy meant almost nothing. It was something going on out there. Then towards the end of the last century Parliamentary democracy was made, for the first time, to seem relevant and, therefore, to be relevant by a group of men, the Irish Parliamentary Party under the leadership of Charles Stewart Parnell, who were able to use the institutions of the British Parliament, use the House of Commons and even the forms of the House of Commons, in a way which the ordinary farmer in Mayo, the supporter of the Land League, felt to be relevant. They were helping him. They were getting from this legislature concrete benefits. They were changing the land laws and eventually they were getting the concession of the case for home rule. They were forcing Ireland's position on the attention of the world. They were doing this through the constructive and indeed brilliant use of Parliamentary institutions.
At that time the idea of Parliament, the idea of voting, gripped the imagination of Irish people. From the Ballot Act of 1872 they had the right to the secret ballot and their parliamentary representatives told them that indeed the ballot was effectively secret, which they would not have believed without being told by people whom they trusted. They used that ballot and they have been, since the general election of 1880, at least, using that ballot with conviction and with habit. They have grown used to Parliamentary institutions. No other country, I believe—I am subject to correction— that won or found or in some way obtained its independence during the current century had the practice of democracy that we have. No country was so used to voting and to getting something by voting. It meant something for us. To many of these other countries it meant nothing. It was something that was hurriedly introduced and used as a facade without any real leverage in the days just before independence. For us it meant something, that habit of democracy, and it is very much a question of a habit with most people more than of a principle which they have worked out, a precious habit because without it there is no way of changing your government without violence. That precious habit became part of our traditions in this time from 1880 or thereabouts to the great crisis before the First World War.
In that great crisis something else, of course, came in which has also entered our traditions and weighs heavily on them. That is the tradition of violence. We know, we are perhaps in some way too apt to refer to that, that the re-introduction of violence into a democratic parliamentary situation did not originate in this part of the country. It originated, of course, with the Ulster Volunteers who, with the connivance and enthusiastic encouragement of the Tory Party, set out on a course of armed opposition involving eventual armed resistance to the will of Parliament. There would be more to say about that but it would not be directly relevant to this Bill, this section and this amendment. There would be more to say about how easily we took it for granted that this minority could be voted in or out and its objections overruled from Britain but that is not the point here. The point which I am trying to concentrate on here is the defence and the fragility, in our conditions, of parliamentary institutions, menaced, along with a free Press, by the tendency to legislation like this.
The point is that the armed Orangemen defied Parliament and successfully defied it and then that the most active younger Nationalists, those from whom both our great parties, our greatest parties in the numerical sense, derive their principal traditions, the Sinn Féin, Volunteer, IRB group movements agreed on one thing, that on the whole the Orangemen were right to take up arms. They were not right in their general idea but in taking up arms they were right. Patrick Pearse said—I quote from memory and I will be corrected if I am wrong—that an Orangeman with a rifle in his hand was less ridiculous than a Nationalist without one. With this you get a new trend in this counterpoint. We have established a habit of Parliamentary democracy but now there comes into this a rival tradition, that a minority even with rifles in their hands may set aside in certain conditions at least, the authority of Parliament or ignore the authority of Parliament and act on their own.
There is no doubt that the men of 1916 were in a minority at the time of their action. There is no doubt either that their action was retrospectively and posthumously upheld by a majority of the Irish people, excluding the northeast corner. The fact that the 1916 tradition is the central venerated one in our society and is essentially not one of Parliamentary democracy introduces an ambiguity in the relation of the Irish people to Parliament and to democracy, an ambiguity which it is very dangerous to upset, as I think is being done here. This question of limiting the respect for Parliamentary democracy, of watering it down or if necessary disregarding it was, of course, vastly compounded when, among the heirs of 1916, one section at the time of the Treaty rejected majority rule, rejected the concept of the ballot and all it stands for and reverted to something more ancient, an appeal through Rousseau's "general will" to the concept of an overriding, mystically envisaged nationality which means that those who go against your concept of this nationality no longer count in the nation; their votes are no longer to be measured.
Those who took that view fought a civil war and lost it and after a while they returned to the Parliamentary process. I doubt—I have always doubted—whether that represented or even now represents on their part, on the part of what are now the governing party, a genuine conversion to democracy. They lost originally on the Treaty; they lost on the ballot; they tried civil war and they lost on that. Then they came back into Parliament. I think they did not do that out of democratic conviction but because it was the best of their play; the civil war had been lost.
I have felt this in the past reading Dáil Debates, which I read dutifully for many years before I came into this House, and I have felt most strongly while I have been in the House that the conviction of Fianna Fáil and of the governing party is that this Parliament derives its legitimacy from the presence in it of Fianna Fáil and no other source, not from anything sacrosanct about it as a Parliament, not from anything specially venerable or cherished in Parlamentary democracy but simply because they and they alone represent the sacred tradition of nationhood and they are good enough, for conventional reasons, to share with the rest of us here in the formulae of discussion. And, as they have a majority, they are able to go on with that. I think many of their supporters feel much the same. We know that Sinn Féin in its earlier phases also did its best to bring Parliament—at that stage the British Parliament—into disrepute so that Parliament and parliamentarians became dirty words in the traditional language for many people and this still remains so; you still catch vestiges of this language.
The point I am making here essentially is that we are not living in a country in which parliamentary democracy and the conventions that go with it—and it is very close to Press freedom —are as securely established as they are in most Western European countries. They could go; they could crumble; wedges could be pushed into them. I think what we have here is a wedge being thrust into Press freedom which will tend in the direction of bringing about a different kind of State from what we have had, a State which could be defined as more national in which people who are outside the Fianna Fáil consensus could be dealt with because, once we have crossed this little bridge where we make it an offence to encourage or advocate an offence which the Bill itself sets up, we make it that much easier to pass Bills making it an offence to encourage or advocate anything else.
The Government have given several indications, some months ago and recently, that it may introduce internment without trial. It could, if we swallowed this one, be an offence to encourage or advocate any kind of resistance to internment without trial or any criticism of the Government's policy. This could become an issue. We are living on the verge of some kind of emergency. When we gave our notification to the Council of Europe in relation to the possibility of internment without trial we were indicating that we might be about to act under a section which refers to an emergency threatening the life of the nation. We had a declared emergency once before, during the war, and at that time and under pressures which made the step in the eyes of many people legitimate, there were provisions for the limitation of Press freedom as there were in most countries in wartime. We were not at war and I believe we applied a more stringent and more insensitive censorship than most other neutral countries. We could again have an emergency declared in peacetime and under it we could have the most serious limitation of Press freedom.
We are not urging—and I make this point in anticipation because the Minister in earlier references to this has seemed to claim that those who criticise or oppose the idea of making it an offence to encourage or advocate the practices referred to in this Bill want— absolute, unrestricted Press freedom. Nobody claims that. The freedom of the Press is subject to certain accepted restraints, restraints which are accepted by the Press itself and whose utility is recognised by the public, restraints on libel, restraints on obscenity and so on. There is no problem there; these are established conventions, but what is involved here is an innovation tending towards the further restriction of Press freedom. It is something that must be regarded with extreme suspicion in any country where Press freedom already exists. If there is to be any restriction on the freedom of the Press it must be seen that there is a threat to our freedom, to our lives, which makes this absolutely necessary. A Government can come forward in time of war, in time of a threat of invasion and say: "This is it; we must do something of this kind." But what is this? This is a threat that somebody will sit in Hume Street. This refers to a state of affairs which is already past and is no longer relevant but which is used to justify this massive intrusion of Press freedom.
We all know the conditions to which this Bill and, in particular, this section refers. There was a time when the Sinn Féin-IRA Movement, under the impulse of a group of young left-wing people, hoped and tried to influence the movement in the direction of non-violent demonstration, in the direction of the kind of protest movement which had emerged in certain other countries, connected with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the movement against the war in Vietnam and so on. They tried to get into the mainstream of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the movement against the war in Vietnam. I think they were making a mistake in so doing because they were dealing with forces they did not understand adequately. The fundamentally militaristic, romantic and chauvinistic character of the IRA movement remained and was bound to emerge. I respect an intention in this —an intention to divert the reserves of idealism and courage which undoubtedly exist among the young people who are drawn to that movement into an essentially non-violent protest.
That was never fully successful and it has long since been abandoned. However, this Government overreacted to it. They disliked very much this left-wing, relatively non-violent trend among these people. The traditional romantic IRA militarism, of going north and blowing up a customs post—and maybe killing someone— looked to them, and still appears to many of them, to be patriotism. The other procedure was new, foreign and undesirable. Undoubtely some of them wanted to return the IRA to their traditional course.
There was the trend which led to the emergence of the two branches of the IRA, one of which was partly encouraged from those benches. I do not want to go into that matter on this amendment but it is part of the background. Now that situation has gone. The "sit-ins" and "fish-ins" are no longer "with it"; they are lingering on as a kind of bug in the Minister's mind and they have bugged him into producing this sinister piece of legislation.
We are conscious that there are genuine dangers now coming from outside Parliament and directed against the freedom of all of us. We have been accused of wishing to follow a parliament of the streets. I do not know what that would be but we have no such intention. This Parliament is the Parliament because we are the elected representatives of the people. Sometimes we may wish that the people would elect someone else rather than X or Y but the index of the opinion and feeling of the people must be respected.
The people in the so-called parliament of the streets are not elected by anyone. They just happen to be on the streets, driven by some motive— perhaps adequate, perhaps not—to be on the streets and to protest. We regard it as important in relation to the functioning of the real Parliament that there should not be a parliament of the streets but that there should be freedom to protest, and to protest in the streets. This is part of the process by which Parliament came into being and it is part of the process by which Parliamentary democracy became a reality for our forefathers. For example, the great mass meetings of the Land League were the corollary and, in a sense, the guarantee that Parliamentary democracy, in which the representatives were involved in such public protests, was a real thing. It was not something going on in a remote formal building, it was part of the life of the people. That is our relation to protest—not that the protesters should usurp the role of Parliament but that the right to protest and the exercise of that right—especially when it is unpopular with the Government—should be part of the living process of the Parliamentary democracy we are seeking to defend.
We have been accused of very strange things in this connection. The Minister has spoken as though we were linked with people who were seeking to overthrow the State by violence. That is a reckless, vicious charge which the Minister knows to be untrue. However, that is no barrier whatever against his using it, as he has used it here. In an effort to make that charge in some way plausible to some very limited mentality, the Minister actually charged that in visiting the refugees in Bangla Desh my objective was to cause anarchy and civil war. That charge is contemptible even by the Minister's standards and I cannot make my criticism any stronger than that.