I want to speak on this subject.
STATE LANDS BILL, 1924.—FINAL STAGES. - MILITARY SERVICE PENSIONS BILL, 1924.—COMMITTEE STAGE.
On which section?
On Section 1. I wish to ask the President, if he can by any means, to make no distinction of sex.
Are you moving an amendment?
Yes. I want to propose an amendment to insert in the third line, after the words "officer, non-commissioned officer, private or volunteer" the words "of either sex." It is rather difficult to find a word to suit, but what I want to point out is that the section as it stands only applies to men.
It is quite unnecessary to insert these words, because the simplest way would be to say "person." I should think by putting that in it would include females, if there are any, who answer the description. If there is a lady acting as an officer, non-commissioned officer, private or volunteer, she could then come within this section.
Will the President accept that? It is very well known that women worked with extraordinary vigour and enthusiasm during the whole of that time. They sacrificed themselves more than men. The men would not have been able to carry on the business without them in many cases. Many of these women have suffered in mind and body as a result of this, and to a certain extent are broken down from the work they did. I think it is a great hardship that they should be excluded, if they are excluded, and I understand they are really meant to be excluded from this Bill.
Do you propose a substantive amendment to provide for volunteers of either sex?
I do not think that it is necessary. There is only one person that I know qualified in one respect, and I do not think she is qualified in the other respect. Service in the National Army is a condition precedent to getting a pension. We have had only one lady doctor, and that lady is not qualified by reason of pre-Truce service. Therefore it does not arise. If Senator Moore will give me particulars as regards any other cases I would be pleased to look into them. But I am advised that "person" includes "persons of both sexes." You, of course, Sir, are a better judge of that.
In various parts of the Bill lower down "he" is used.
You will find in the Constitution that the word "he" is used with reference to Senators, though it was contemplated that the Seanad would include "she's."
Does not the Interpretation Act get over that?
The President says there is only one person. I am not interested in any particular person, but I am speaking of those who suffered just as much as most of the men. Though the Minister has a right to disallow any particular person, I am not going into that, but the rights of those who suffered during that particular period should be equally considered, whether men or women.
The Minister has given an undertaking to consider any cases you put before him. Perhaps you would be satisfied with that.
I do not think I would like to undertake any such job.
Does "person" mean either sex?
I would not like to ask the Seanad to accept anything I might say on that. It is a question whether it is covered by the Interpretation Act or not. As Senator Brown said, it may, but I am not at all sure that the Intepretation Act would apply to the Military. I doubt if one had to construe the British Military Acts whether one would construe a soldier there as including both male and female. I rather think one would not.
"Volunteer" is not interpreted. I think anybody who helped might be regarded as a volunteer though not actually enlisted.
I should say first of all that service in the National Army was essential. There was only one lady in the National Army. She was a doctor. I believe she had no pre-Truce service. If the Senator contradicts me in that I will agree to letting this go, but I am satisfied there is no other.
I have nothing to do with any person.
Then the case does not arise.
I would like to put that amendment, that "person" includes either sex.
I think there is confusion there, if you will pardon me for saying so. This Bill deals only with persons who fought in the sense of miltary service in the National Army.
Not only in the Army, but in Oglach na hEireann and I.R.A., and the Fianna Eireann.
It does not include even service in those unless accompanied by service in the National Army.
It is a condition precedent to any service that that service must be accompanied by service in the National Army. I do not think Senator Colonel Moore realises what the result of this amendment might be. It would not cover their case even if his amendment were accepted—it would not cover the cases he has in mind by reason of the proviso.
I did not understand that. I would like if I could to take out that proviso.
If that is to be done I must have a regular definite amendment.