I speak as a supporter of amendment No. 8 in the name of Deputy Thomas J. Fitzpatrick. This proposed change may sound, perhaps, like a not very important change, not a very extensive change, affecting only two words but, yet, it stands at the very core of our opposition to this section. We object, of course, to the entire section. We object to the entire Bill, but it is this word "encourages" particularly which is the most objectionable feature of the whole objectionable Bill. The Minister has claimed —it is a bold claim—that the word "encourages" or the word "advocates" in this Bill are equivalent to the word "incite", that they add nothing to the meaning. That is essentially the claim I wish to investigate in some detail this morning, the claim that the words "encourages or advocates" are the same in their essential meaning as "incite", the claim that they would give the Minister no new powers. I want now to go into some detail about that. As the Minister makes this claim we will have to see if that claim stands up in the light of accepted authority on the English language and in the light of usage. To pursue that may, I am afraid, take some time. As I mentioned last night, if there is objection to the consumption of time in this matter, we agree; we think we should not have to discuss this matter at all. There is a way of dealing with that; it is by withdrawing section 4.
In my remarks on amendment No. 7 I covered a good deal of ground concerning the generally objectionable character of section 4 and the Chair extended to me a certain amount of latitude, for which I am grateful; I do not propose to seek any such latitude today because I shall be concentrating very, very closely indeed on the meaning of the words in the amendment and the meaning of the words in the section as it will stand without amendment and as it will stand if this amendment is carried.
I want to make this point: we do not yet know whether or not the Minister will accept this amendment. He could. He had an opportunity of speaking last night after Deputy Fitzpatrick's very able, very cogent speech introducing this amendment. The Minister was here for part of that speech. He looked in, looked at his own brief, and then he walked out again. He is a rather restless Minister and we have not seen much of him during this debate. He was not there when Deputy Fitzpatrick sat down, as he did, I believe, at about ten past ten last night. There was an opportunity for the Minister to come in at that time and say what his attitude is to this amendment.
Is he accepting it or not? There is a rumour that he may be about to accept it; I sincerely hope that that is the case but we would not be justified on the basis of any rumour in dropping our sustained detailed support of this amendment and opposition to this section. I would make the point that if the Minister does indeed accept this amendment he will be accepting a most significant change in his Bill and that his Bill as it will then stand will be frustrative of what I believe was his main purpose in bringing in this Bill. I shall be coming a little later to the Minister's statements and to what I think his purpose is in bringing in the Bill. I think that this word "encourage" is the key to his intent, what I think may well prove to be his baffled and frustrated intent, as regards this part of the Bill that deals with the Press. The word "encourage" was intended to cast a wide net so that anyone against whom the Minister feels particularly strongly for some reason can be drawn into that net. Before long, I shall proceed to demonstrate with all the resources which English lexicography permits— and they are very considerable—just how wide that net is. That net in the hands of this Minister would be a weapon which we propose to strike from his hands if we possibly can. That is the activity in which we are engaged.
But before I proceed to that portion of my remarks which will take up most of my time I am obliged, for certain reasons, to look at some of the things which Deputies opposite have said about, in particular, the Labour Party, about the character of our support of these amendments, the character of our opposition to section 4. It may be helpful to the House— and I want to be helpful to the House if I can at all—and to the Press also, to indicate the broad lines on which I shall be speaking. First of all, I want to deal with a number of Fianna Fáil points made in the debate. As these are very miscellaneous, very heterogeneous, sometimes very farfetched, I shall be obliged in this part of my speech, in dealing with these things, to range a little bit widely, but no more widely at any point than the debate has already ranged, than it has been carried by Deputies who did not stick very closely to the amendment and by one Deputy who admitted, after he had been speaking for half an hour, that he did not know what the amendment was on which he was deemed by courtesy of the House to be speaking.
So, let me take up then some of these miscellaneous points, bearing in mind that I shall, after that, come to a different kind of exercise, much more closely bearing on this amendment, because I am in no way distracted from it by irrelevancies or semi-relevancies which have been introduced into this debate, though I may say with respect, a Cheann Comhairle, I am not at all questioning the Chair in allowing them. I think the Chair deserves to be congratulated on the handling of this debate in realisation of the important, far-reaching character of the issues raised by this amendment, in not restricing the debate to too-narrow and technical description.
The first point I would take up is a point—and this is not irrelevant at all; this is a point basic, I think, to the whole discussion of the amendments relating to section 4—made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, Deputy O'Kennedy. Members opposite made the point yesterday—which was fair enough— that we should not purport to quote what people said unless we can quote from the official record. This is good counsel and I shall follow it here. Of course, it often happens that one is not able to quote from the Official Report because the Official Report is simply not available; it is not in printed form and it is not always easy and convenient to get one's hands on a typescript and, in those circumstances, I think a Deputy is justified, as Deputy Fitzpatrick certainly was yesterday, in quoting or paraphrasing at least from memory what one heard a Deputy actually say. But I recognise that the method is fallible; for that matter the Official Report is sometimes fallible, but I agree it is the best source on which we can rely; so, let us consult it.
I wish to refer to the remarks of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, the gentleman who holds that very responsible post in our Republic, Deputy Michael O'Kennedy. I propose to quote from our debates of Friday, 16th July, 1971, Volume 255, column 1790. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, Deputy O'Kennedy referred to members of our party. He brought in the question of civil disobedience and that is what I want to say something about here. I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that this is an important principle and a somewhat difficult one and that it is relevant to the purposes at which the Bill purports to be aimed and therefore relevant to the discussion of any amendment of it, but the Parliamentary Secretary said, speaking of the Labour Party:
They are so anxious now to ensure that the principles of civil disobedience be established in our law —these principles that derive from no source of authority—that they are prepared to create new criminal offences to accommodate those principles of civil disobedience. That may be the fashion in other countries where some of the Labour Deputies in their various peregrinations may have met them, but it is not the fashion here ...
He goes on to say:
Possibly what Deputy Cruise-O'Brien wants us to do here ... is to substitute for the principles of civil obedience the principles of civil disobedience. Deputy Cruise-O'Brien appears to hold these principles of civil disobedience as sacrosanct. Whence they have derived we have never been told.
A Cheann Comhairle, you are about to be told now.
Deputy Cruise-O'Brien referred to street protests in America, with which he is not unfamiliar.
Correct, and I am proud of it.
They have, apparently, been drawn from some unknown source, not indeed, from the consensus of society. They have been drawn here from this unknown source and the whole purpose——
is something or other which is not relevant. Then, again, he says these principles derive from no source of authority. "No known source"—I am very, very sorry that a gentleman should be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, God help us, who says that the principles of civil disobedience have no known source, who hints they may be derived from Karl Marx or somebody whom no decent man, not even the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, would claim to know about. I do not intend to waste much time on that aspect of the matter, but all this exercise was a genteel way of saying what some of those gentlemen over there have less genteel ways of saying, that is to say, that the Labour Party is a bunch of dirty communists. That is what this little belated, forlorn exercise in McCarthyism was all about. Speaking on the amendment to this section, I shall pay the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education the dubious compliment of believing that he does not know what the sources are for the principle of civil disobedience and I shall proceed to tell him.
Let me begin with the great classical source for the principle of civil disobedience. Let me not be misunderstood here. These gentlemen pretend that anyone who advocates or encourages the view that in certain circumstances civil disobedience may be justifiable and is justifiable are attempting to subvert all law, all organised society, the whole structure of civilisation. This is what men in authority have eternally claimed about this, and equally eternally in every age the principle has been asserted that unjust law is not binding. Men and women—and women have done it as often as men—have taken it upon themselves to defy, to break a law which they believed to be unjust. I do not say unjust in some minor way. There are minor injustices in the law and the people are not justified in breaking the law for any minor reason. It is only when some great principle is involved that a man or woman may have to stand up, or sit down, and say: "No. I will not put up with this, not even if it is the law."
That principle, that theory, is probably as old as human society. I grant that it is in a sense an alien doctrine. It is an alien doctrine to any man to whom the whole heritage of western culture, the whole of European culture, is alien; if that is alien, then so be it: the principles of civil disobedience are alien. They did not originate in some parish in County Cork, County Limerick or any other county. They are at the source of our civilisation. I do not want to make any disrespectful reference to any county; it is not part of my purpose at all, but my purpose is to try to show that these principles of civil disobedience derive from and are as old as the great twin sources of all our culture, that is to say, all of the culture of Europe. I say "Europe". I do not say "western Europe" because I believe the culture of Europe to be essentially one, and to spring from the same sources which have affected the Slavonic world quite as much as western Europe. These two sources are, of course, the Judean and the Hellenic.