PUBLIC BUSINESS. - MAJOR FITZMAURICE AND GERMAN COMRADES CONGRATULATED.

I propose:

"That the Seanad congratulates Major Fitzmaurice and his German comrades on their success in flying the Atlantic Ocean for the first time from East to West in a heavier-than-air machine."

There are no honours in this country for anybody who has conferred distinction on it except two. The first is the freedom of the cities, and the freedom of the City of Dublin is a very great honour. In the last fifty years it has been conferred only about twenty-six times. The other is a far greater distinction and it rests with this House to confer it. All of us remember with pleasure that we had the opportunity of conferring it on Senator Yeats when he showed honour to the country by winning the Nobel Prize.

Major Fitzmaurice has thrown another wreath of fame on this country by flying the North Atlantic for the first time from East to West. The two actions are very widely separated, but in their reactions on the country they are one and the same thing. Comparisons may be odious, but in thirty-six hours it might be said that Major Fitzmaurice brought this country more prominently before the world than the six years during which it has been resented at Geneva. Had he chosen British company his fame had been wider. Had he chosen another engine he might have been more beholden to a certain sporting nation, but he might not have reached his destination. The honours in this country's gift are limited. Major Fitzmaurice cannot be made by our country a colleague of that coloured king, Sir Ofori Atta, or be given a seat in the House of Lords with Lord Terrington, or be given a title like Sir Alfred Mond, but he can be noticed by the Seanad, and it should be put on record that the Seanad of Ireland did for an Irishman what the Senate of France did for the two people who fell into the Atlantic.

The Senate of France tendered their congratulations at an official reception last November in honour of an American airman and Miss Ruth Elder. They did not cross the Atlantic; they fell into it. That has nothing to say to us, but the fact is that Major Fitzmaurice did cross the Atlantic, and Ireland got a great deal of kudos out of it, that it cost us nothing. Nobody came forward to help Major Fitzmaurice in his three years' determination to fly across the Atlantic except that good sportsman, Mr. J.D. Siddely, a member of a big English firm, who offered him three engines, but there was no one came forward with the £2,000 necessary to build an aeroplane. This country is getting immeasurably more value, as I said before, than it got for £60,000 spent in the last six years in Geneva, though the two things are not comparable. Major Fitzmaurice was trying to do this for three years. He was determined to do it with every obstacle against him, and every opportunity that came in his way he availed of it. It was very lucky for both parties that he got the chance of flying with a Junker aeroplane, because, in spite of all the rumours in other countries, Baron von Huenfield said that he never sat behind a finer pilot than Major Fitzmaurice, and, therefore, it confers a certain amount of distinction on the Seanad that it can honour such a man. It would be a mutual honour if we put it on record that we congratulate Major Fitzmaurice, as we already had the honour of congratulating one of our own Senators. I am very pleased to bring this motion forward, and I trust it will get support. I am not making any remarks about the narrow-mindedness that showed itself in one or two directions when this flight was a success, or for not encouraging Major Fitzmaurice. Major Fitzmaurice was the first airman who during the Great War made a night flight across the Channel. He did good work. As Senator O'Farrell remarked, there was in that unprecedented reception of him in Dublin one or two exceptions where it looked as if they were sore, and perhaps jealous or envious.

I second the motion. The East to West flight across the North Atlantic was a courageous and memorable achievement, and it has won the rightful admiration of the people of two hemispheres. Not the least important aspect of the performance is that in this victory there were no defeats except it be the elements. There are no widows and orphans created by the victory, and no mourning has to be worn as a result. Major Fitzmaurice and his gallant colleagues have achieved more for their respective countries in this flight than anything that they could have accomplished by carnage on the dripping battle field. They have made a notable contribution to scientific endeavour and scientific achievement. They had no guarantee of material gain if they succeeded, while they had the certainty of a watery grave or a lingering death on the icy wastes if they had failed. There was no half-way. Men who set out voluntarily on a hazardous mission such as this are dauntless men and they deserve the congratulation and admiration of the people. It is a pity more encouragement is not given to daring pilots, such as Major Fitzmaurice, either by the Government or public-spirited citizens with money, as is the case in other countries. If Major Fitzmaurice depended on any encouragement he received here for any flight he might make he would never have crossed the Atlantic by air. I hope the great possibilities of the position will be in the near future carefully examined and exploited in a statesmanlike way. Perhaps, too, if there was a proper assessment of values Major Fitzmaurice would not be confined to marks of appreciation such as cheers and flowers, and even one step up in promotion in the Army. He has done something which has given the small Free State Army a more international status, and one would hope that some more tangible recognition would have followed his great performance than has been the case.

I wish to associate myself with Senator Gogarty's motion congratulating Major Fitzmaurice. His performance in flying the Atlantic from East to West is unprecedented. He has shown himself by his courage, nerve and endurance to be a very great Irishman. Major Fitzmaurice served during the Great War in my part of the service. I have always had a great regard for the officers who served in my regiment, and for that reason it gives me the more pleasure to congratulate Major Fitzmaurice on his performance.

Motion put and declared carried unanimously.

The Seanad adjourned at 5.45 p.m. until Tuesday, 24th July, at 3 o'clock.