A certain amount of confusion has arisen as regards this type of Bill in the past. Senators have made each Department they criticised the subject of a different speech, the Minister replied, and something that he said was made the subject of further debate. It would be a great deal better if each Senator embodied all his remarks in one speech. Only one speech will be allowed by each Senator, and I would ask the respective Ministers not to reply until the end of the debate.
Public Business. - Appropriation Bill, 1929—Second Stage.
On a point of explanation, what is to be the position if there are a number of Departments criticised in the same speech? Will our privileges in regard to the discussion of the departmental items in the schedule be restricted? It seems to me that, while one may make general comments in a Second Reading debate and the Minister for Finance may be able to reply to them, if one has to refer to matters dealing with other Departments which require, shall I say, more or less expert knowledge before a satisfactory reply can be made, an opportunity should be reserved for dealing with those matters on the Committee Stage. Otherwise, I can imagine that if there are ten subjects that want to be dealt with by ten speakers, we are going to have a very long Second Reading discussion with no satisfactory answer by the Minister.
On the Committee Stage, Senators can exhaust their powers in the matter of dealing with the various subjects that arise under this Bill. As the Senator is aware, Senators will have the opportunity of speaking twice on the Committee Stage of the Bill. That, I think, will facilitate matters, and I am glad that the Senator has pointed that out.
There are a great many subjects that could be discussed on this Appropriation Bill. I think, from what the Cathaoirleach has said, that it would be wiser to limit oneself as much as possible to one or two subjects. I propose raising a question which must be of interest to a great many Senators, to everyone indeed, because it means the payment of a sum of £1,170,000 a year out of the funds of this State. I gave notice to the Minister for Finance that I intended raising this matter in order that he might be prepared to answer the points raised. It is probable the Minister would have been able to answer quite well if I had not given him that notice, but I thought that as a matter of politeness it was right to do so. As this is a purely money and purely legal question, I hope it will be considered in a non-party way. It has also to be remembered, in connection with this, that the present Minister for Finance did not hold his present office at the time the matters were first introduced and negotiated. I do not know whether it will be possible to keep this discussion clear of party or not, but I hope that Senators will keep their minds open as much as possible on it, and deal with the arguments put forward.
The first question that I wish to raise is this payment of £1,170,000 a year as pensions to the R.I.C. That arises under the Treaty. The Treaty of 1921 dealt with two financial questions, one under Article V. and the other under Article X. Article V. has been abolished, and therefore, does not come into this. Article X. deals with this question of pensions to the R.I.C. I will read Article X. so that Senators may be reminded of the points it deals with. I hope they will pay attention to the particular wording of that Article, because a great deal depends on the wording of it. Article X. reads:—
The Government of the Irish Free State agrees to pay fair compensation on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920 to judges, officials, members of police forces and other public servants who are discharged by it or who retire in consequence of the change of Government effected in pursuance thereof.
That is the first point. During the years that have since elapsed, I confess when I looked at that Article. I considered that there could be no question in the matter at all, but we get wiser as we go along, and I, as well as other people, now see a very serious point in this.
I direct the attention of Senators to the particular wording of this— all those "who are discharged by it"—that is, by the Free State—"or retire in consequence of the change of government effected in pursuance thereof." That is the wording of Article X. of the Treaty. As a matter of fact, the R.I.C. were not discharged by the Free State Government and they did not retire on account of the new Government. In fact, they did not retire at all. They were discharged by the British Government. They were not handed over, and, therefore, the Free State could not discharge them. Let us see what happened. Article XVII. of the Treaty deals with the next important step in this matter. That Article says:
By way of provisional arrangement for the administration of Southern Ireland during the interval which must elapse between the date hereof and the constitution of a Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State in accordance therewith, steps shall be taken forthwith for summoning a meeting of members of Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and for constituting a provisional Government,
This is the important matter dealt with in that Article:
and the British Government shall take the steps necessary to transfer to such provisional Government the powers and machinery requisite for the discharge of its duties, provided...
This arrangement was not to extend beyond twelve months. There were a number of things to be done after the new Government came into power. The Treaty provided for Orders in Council to be issued by the British Government to carry out those points. Now neither the Treaty nor the British Act—the Free State (Agreement) Act of 1st April, 1921—transferred the R.I.C. to the Free State Government. What they did was to provide for the issue of Orders in Council to make that arrangement. I will now read the Orders in Council that deal with this particular matter. The Order in Council dealing with the R.I.C. is No. 10, and it states: "Nothing in this Order shall transfer to the Provisional Government the Royal Irish Constabulary or the administration of the force."
According to the next sub-section, the Dublin Metropolitan Police were transferred to the Free State, and from that date presumably the Free State Government paid the Dublin Metropolitan Police, as they had agreed in the Treaty, and according to the Article providing for that. The R.I.C., according to that, were not transferred at any time, and did not come under the control and payment of the Free State Government. That seems pretty clear. Nothing in the Order transferred to the Provisional Government the administration and control of the R.I.C. The British Government deliberately kept the R.I.C. in their own hands, both in administration and control, so that the legal liability to pay remained in the hands of the British Government.
That state of affairs remained from December, 1921, to August, 1922, the Constabulary remaining under the control and payment of the British Government. The Free State Government apparently were never asked to pay them at any time. On 4th August, 1922, the British Government passed an Act called the Constabulary of Ireland Act. That Act provided for the disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and laid down the scale of pensions which was to be paid. There was nothing in that Act about the Free State paying the pensions, directly or indirectly. Towards the end of August, under that Act of the British Government, the Royal Irish Constabulary were disbanded, and the scale of pensions laid down applied, but the Free State Government had no choice whatsoever in the matter. The Royal Irish Constabulary were paid by the British Government during that period and administered and disbanded by them. According to Article X. the Free State Government had certain liabilities to certain individuals, not to the British Government, and only to those individuals if certain circumstances should arise. If the Free State Government had the control of the police, if they had been handed over to them, they would have become liable for the payment of the pensions, but the Royal Irish Constabulary were not transferred to the Free State Government. No option in the matter was given to the Free State Government. Presumably, if there had been an option, a number of the police would have elected to serve under the Free State Government, and then that Government would become liable for their pensions.
The R.I.C. were not discharged by the Free State Government, nor did they retire in consequence of the Act. The result of that arrangement is that the Free State Government are paying for two police forces, that is, paying pensions to the R.I.C. to the amount of £1,170,000 a year, and paying the Gárda £1,414,000 a year, a total of £2,584,000 for the payment of police.
Why were they not transferred like the Dublin Metropolitan Police? First, because they were always regarded as a semi-military Imperial force for the control of Ireland and keeping it in subjection. Second, because this treatment was demanded by the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Third, because the British Government might want them in case of trouble during the next few months such as arose at the Four Courts. The British Government did not know at that time what was going to happen in the country. There were internal troubles. It would appear from a statement by Mr. Churchill at the time that the British Government desired to have in Ireland some force that they could rely on to carry out their wishes. That was done. Article X. of the Treaty provides that these police shall get not less than the same allowances that were made under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. There again we see how every opportunity was given under the 1920 Act for the police to come under the Free State Government.
The arrangement was that before a member of the R.I.C. could retire he should give six months' notice of his intention to do so. The object of this was to enable the police to judge as to whether they were going to get fairly treated, and if they were not they could retire. A further object was that the Free State Government should have the opportunity of seeing whether the men would suit them or not. It is quite clear from that Order that every opportunity was to be given to the Free State Government and to the men themselves to continue their services, but that opportunity never arose because, as I say, the force were never transferred to the Free State, but remained under the British Government, who paid them. They were discharged by the British Government, so that none of the circumstances under which we were obliged by Article X. of the Treaty to pay the disbanded R.I.C. came about and, therefore, the Free State was not liable according to law. Recently this matter was brought before the Dáil and the Minister there made a statement which was astonishing; it astonished Deputies, and indeed astonished everybody, because it was quite a new and unexpected development of the case. The Minister said that the matter did not come under Article X. of the Treaty at all and that it did not come under Section 10 of Orders in Council. I quoted both of these, and I do not think it is necessary to quote them again. He said the whole thing depended upon Section 12 of the Orders in Council, and not upon Article X. of the Treaty.
It is a strange thing that, while the matter of the R.I.C. was mentioned and laid down in very definite terms both in the Treaty and Section 10 of the Orders in Council, there is no word about the R.I.C. in Section 12. Section 12 is a sort of omnium gatherum Article which includes a number of items which had not been dealt with otherwise. The transfer of a number of articles was to be negotiated between the British Government and the Free State Government. Section 12 is as follows: "Any property, assets, rights and liabilities connected with the functions transferred under this Order shall, if connected solely with these functions, be transferred to the British Government, and if connected partly with these functions and partly with other functions, shall be apportioned in such manner as may be agreed upon between the two Governments concerned." There is no question there of police. That Article cannot be held to override Section 10, which lays it down that the police are not to be transferred to the British Government; nor can it be allowed to override the Articles of the Treaty. So that, if it were based on that, the only arrangement that could be made was a total transference of the payment to the British Government.
Section 10 of the Orders in Council prevented the matter arising at all, because it prevented the R.I.C. being handed over to the Free State Government. However, that was the Minister's plea, and I presume it will be his plea to-day. That being his plea, let us see what would have happened supposing he were right, which I contend he was not. Supposing he were right in saying that the transference and payment of the R.I.C. came under Section 12, that section shows that there was to be a bargain. Whatever was to be transferred from one party to another, there was to be a bargain made. If it had to do with the functions of the Free State Government, it was to belong to the Free State, but if it had only partly to do with it, then it was to be divided according to some sort of bargain which was to take place. Apparently practically everything which could possibly be transferred of liabilities was put on the Free State and the assets were given practically to the British Government, and to a certain extent only, to the Free State Government.
I might mention what did happen in one particular case which would probably have come under that particular clause. That clause, I suppose, would have dealt with Haulbowline. What happened in that case? The Free State Minister, apparently, whoever he was—he was not the present Minister—agreed to pay £4,000,000 to the British Government for the machinery of Haulbowline. Fortunately, Mr. John O'Neill, a former member of this Seanad, was sent down to go over the machinery and to see what was there. He went down and met an officer of the British Government and they looked over the different things. He was asked if he was satisfied. He said that he was quite satisfied—that it was very good machinery. Then the officer said: "I suppose you will sign this document for the payment of £4,000,000." He said: "I will not do anything of the sort." When he was asked why, the reason he gave was that if the British Government would hand over to us a portion of the Portsmouth dockyard he would be prepared to sign the document handing over a portion of the assets of Haulbowline to the British Government in exchange. His plea was a very proper one and one which could not be denied by anybody: that Ireland and England had been a united kingdom for years, and that during that time certain assets had accumulated and had been owned by both parties; on the dissolution of the partnership. Ireland was entitled to a share of the assets as well as the liabilities of the partnership, and that the whole thing ought to be pooled and divided in such proportions as might be thought proper. As that would be an extremely difficult problem to deal with—in fact it would be impossible—the only thing that could be done would be to let all the assets that remained in Ireland belong to Ireland, and the assets which were in England belong to England. The result was that we paid nothing for Haulbowline, but we had to pay for all the other matters, or for a great part of them. The Minister says we got over a certain amount of assets. We ought to have got over all the assets in Ireland at least. Let us see what was the result of this arrangement. The result when totalled up and settled was that the Free State pays £5,000,000 a year to the British Government.
Let us see what arrangement had been considered fair by the British Government in former days. The British Government on two occasions set up Commissions to inquire into the financial relations of Ireland and England. The first one was the Childers Commission, which found that Ireland had been unfairly treated and over-taxed. The Chairman reported that Ireland ought to get 2¾ million pounds per annum from Great Britain to make up for that. A good many years afterwards, when the Home Rule Bill was under consideration, the Primrose Committee was appointed for the purpose of going into the question. They found that Ireland had been over-taxed and was not in a position to pay the then share of taxation, and that the allowance to be made by Great Britain to Ireland should be at the rate of £3,000,000 per year. Therefore, these two Commissions practically agreed that England ought to pay Ireland about £3,000,000 a year on the separation of the exchequers. Instead of Ireland getting £3,000,000 per year from the British Government, twenty-six counties of Ireland have now to pay £5,000,000 a year to the British Government. Anything more unreasonable or unfair than that could hardly be imagined according to the British Government's own statement—according to their Treasury reports—because it was almost entirely officials of the Treasury who worked out the details. The result of all that is that we have been running into debt year after year and that we are taxed twice as high as Great Britain, as far as our taxable capacity is concerned. The cost of living in this country is higher than in Great Britain, whereas before the war and during the war the cost of living in Ireland was much lower. The result of all that is to make the Free State practically bankrupt. We are becoming more or less bankrupt every year, because we are not able to pay our debts.
The Minister at one time seemed to agree that we should not pay anything, because I remember his making a statement, which I have here, about that period, and if he wishes I shall read it. The statement was made before the negotiations took place. The Minister stated that he felt quite confident that whatever claims might be made by Great Britain in connection with the National Debt or other charges, the Free State would be able to put up counter-claims which would amount to at least as much, if not more. I know that this matter is going to lead to a great deal of discussion in the country, something similar to what has already happened in connection with other matters that I raised here previously, and I hope that Senators will consider this matter purely from a legal and fair and constitutional point of view, and not merely according to their party fancies.
There are one or two matters—one of minor importance—but both raising narrower issues than those raised by Senator Colonel Moore which I wish to touch upon. They refer to the administration of the public parks. The minor matter is a question of litter in the parks. I understand at the present time there is no power to prosecute any person or persons for strewing litter in the parks. Anybody visiting St. Stephen's Green, where the conditions are, I think, more or less normal, must have noticed the litter and I venture to say the increasing litter that is to be seen there. I do not know what amount of power the park authorities have to keep the place in order, but I would suggest to the Minister that it would be necessary to take powers to prosecute as the readiest and most economical way of abating the nuisance.
The other point I want to raise is the exclusion of the public from Phoenix Park and its use for special purposes. I am not disposed at the moment to deal with anything more than the purely legal aspect of the case. I consulted the Act under which the Phoenix Park is regulated and I find that the Commissioners have power to fence in and to have exclusive occupation of any portion of the park for any particular purpose. A licence may be granted to admit or exclude the public from such portion as has been fenced off. Throughout Section 4 of the Act, it is quite clear that the limits and power of fencing off only apply to portion of the Park. That is the first ground on which I base my argument that recent action which has been taken has been taken without legal power. It is, moreover, laid down that where such portion is fenced off and a licence is granted to any person to use that portion, such licence shall be approved by each House of the Oireachtas. The licence shall be laid upon the Table and can be challenged within ten days.
Pursuing this matter further, I find that no such order was laid on the Table, and that no such resolution was passed by the Oireachtas. Instead of that, the exclusion of the public was made purely under a by-law which the Commissioners had power to make. Under that by-law, approved by the Minister, the Commissioners took power to close the Park and charge for admission. I submit it was illegal and wrong to take that action under a by-law, and that it should have been taken under an order made or resolved by the Oireachtas. I am reinforced in this contention by reading the debate on the Second Reading of the Phoenix Park Act, which took place in 1925, when a statement was made by Professor O'Sullivan, who was then Parliamentary Secretary to the Office of Works, from which it is quite clear that the object of the exclusion of the public was for the purpose of safeguarding merely a portion. His statement shows that there are certain portions of the Park set aside for this particular purpose of recreation, and it only requires a moment's consideration to see that if certain portions are set aside there must be a certain amount of exclusion. Senator Johnson, who was then a member of the Dáil, speaking on the same occasion, said: "I can imagine two circumstances arising which would make it legitimate, and not unreasonable, that some kind of power of the sort should be retained, but even there there should be some limit. It should either be subject to the sanction of the Oireachtas or there should be some limit of time—a very narrow limit." It was, perhaps, as a result of this comment that this section was inserted, leaving the Commissioners power to exclude the public, subject to the sanction or approval of the Oireachtas. I have not had occasion to raise this matter before, and I should have been sorry in any way to embarrass those who had, at considerable expense and with great public spirit, taken the pains they did in connection with recent public festivities. But I think it is right to say that there is a certain section of the public which is rather concerned at the use of the Park in the manner in which it was recently used, and who, at least, say that if the Park is going to be used in future for such purposes it should be done with full knowledge of what is being done, by Parliament having the facts before it, so that the country may know exactly what is intended. It can, at least, be said on behalf of a minority that to exclude the public, to put up advertisements, and to enable quantities of litter to be strewn in public parks is at least undesirable, in the abstract, although there may be conditions that make it necessary or the public may wish it. If the public unmistakably wishes it and Parliament says so, let it be done. I raise these points now, and I hope if this action is to be repeated in the future the Government will be sure of its powers and will lay the facts before Parliament and inform Parliament of its future policy.
I want to raise one or two matters on these Railway Votes, Nos. 57 and 58. The House is aware that the Oireachtas has considerable responsibility for railway affairs. The Railways Act, 1924, compulsorily amalgamated the whole of the railways that were within the Free State. Then the Road Motor Services Act, 1927, gave power to the Railway Companies within the State to run road motor services. That Act provided that no Railway Company could run a road motor service except with the approval of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce as to the routes that should be served and it further provided that the Minister, through the Rates Advisory Committee, would have to approve of the rates and fares charged by any of these road motor services. That Act has been observed up to the present but I understand that recently an important development has taken place. The Great Southern Railway has purchased the Irish Omnibus Company, the biggest omnibus company in the State. I understand that, although it has been purchased by the Great Southern Railways with the money of the shareholders of the Great Southern Railways, it is going to be run as an independent concern—as a separate and distinct concern. Previously, when the Great Southern Railways had to run a road motor service, they had a contract with the Irish Omnibus Company for the running of that service but they had to go to the Minister for his authority or approval as to the routes that the Company would cover to the extent it served the Great Southern Railways. Is it now to be the Irish Omnibus Company solely that will decide what routes are to be covered, though as I have already said this company is financed with the money of the shareholders of the Great Southern Railways? I would like to know whether the Company will have to go and seek approval from the Minister for Industry and Commerce for the whole of its routes seeing that it is purely a railway omnibus company and not an ordinary private company? Previously, it only came for authority in respect of those services that the Great Southern Railways were responsible for and the rest of its services were free lances, the same as any other bus company in the country. Will it in the future have to come to the Minister for approval for the whole of its routes? Will the Rates Advisory Committee have to approve of the rates charged and will the company be subject under Section 10 (1) of the Railway Road Motor Services Act of 1927 in regard to the Railway Tribunal? Section 10, sub-section (1) of the Act reads: "The road motor services run by the Railway Company under this Act shall, for the purposes of the Railways Act, 1924, be deemed to be a business carried on by the Company ancillary to and subsidiary to these railways the charges of which are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Railway Tribunal."
I would like to know also if it will be the duty of the Railway Company to include in their balance sheets the revenue and expenditure in connection with the new company? I know that last year that company had very considerable transactions with regard to Road Motor Services and yet their books show that only £4,187 in revenue was received as the total receipts from the Road Motor Service. I do not know by what legal quibble that figure could be shown, because everybody knows that that figure could only equal the receipts from two successful buses. Senators will be aware that a big action was started in the courts recently between the Great Southern Railways and the Irish Omnibus Company where a sum of £18,000 is involved. Yet, the company come along and say that the total receipts for the whole year for bus services was only £4,000. The idea is absurd and requires the attention of the responsible authorities, whoever is responsible for seeing that the Act is observed in regard to the proper making and presentation of balance sheets of the company.
The new Omnibus Company, as I understand, is to have as chairman or managing director one of the directors of the Great Southern Railways, in fact the nominee of the L.M.S. on that board, and will have as its secretary the late Secretary of the D.S.E.R., a man who went out as redundant with a pension of £900 a year and a lump sum of £1,500. That man is now being taken back as secretary of the concern run by this railway company, whilst there are being thrown out of employment dozens of highly-skilled railway officials, well fitted to fill that post—thrown out of their positions without pensions except small ex gratia amounts. I wish in what I am saying now to dissociate myself from any personal reference except to say that these men are disemployed and have got no pension for disturbance and that these men should have some consideration given to them before outsiders are brought in.
I also wish to draw attention to another matter in connection with the same Vote: that is, the notification given by the principal railway companies, including the Great Southern Railways and the Great Northern, to smash up the existing machinery for dealing with railway men's wages—the Railway Wages Board, presided over by Mr. Justice Wylie, for the settlement of disputes. The withdrawal of the company from availing of the machinery of this Board in April next, which is the earliest date at which they could withdraw, forecasts a considerable amount of industrial strife at a very critical period. The machinery was brought into operation by the mutual consent of the companies in 1923 at a period of considerable strife on the railways. The best testimony of its effectiveness has been the fact that since it came into operation there has not been one single strike or lock-out in the case of the 20,000 men covered by the scheme.
The Companies have got the lion's share out of it. They have got considerable cuts in wages and there have been disimprovements in the conditions affecting most of the existing employees and all of the new employees. Although the findings of the Board were not binding, the employees have accepted them, though these findings meant very considerable hardship to them. The first disappointment came on the 1st February last, when an application was made by the Company for a further reduction. This was declined by the Board by a majority of two. Now the majority included the whole of the users of the railway on the Board and the Chairman. Mr. Justice Wylie, as well. I should say that the Board was composed of six representatives of the Union, six representatives of the Railway Company, four representatives of the users, and an independent Chairman who was a judge. The majority finding was signed by all except the Company's representatives. The majority included men like Mr. Hewat, ex-T.D., who is himself a big employer and is concerned with the Tramway Company. Immediately afterwards, we find the Companies indicating their intention to break away. And the following day in the "Irish Times" you had this statement:—
"An official of the Great Southern Railways Company informs an ‘Irish Times'representative that in his opinion the railways were bound to accept the decision of the Wages Board, since it was part and parcel of the machinery set up between the companies and the trade unions. They might, he added, be able to force the issue in some other manner."
Senator Sir Walter Nugent, the Chairman of the Great Southern Railways, at the annual meeting of the Company, held on March 9th. dealing also with that question of wages, said:—
"In this context, it would be perhaps, well to state that we have more than once sought to obtain relief on questions dealing with wages by making—in conjunction with other Irish railways —applications to the Wages Board set up for that purpose. I regret to say that we have found the machinery ponderous, expensive and generally ineffective."
That statement was dealt with by the Chairman of the Wages Board to-day, and I do not want to say anything further in reference to it except that the principal Company notified their intention of withdrawal forthwith and the severing of their connection with the machinery of the Wages Board. The only alternative to disagreement between the Company and the Unions is the drastic one of the strike or the lock-out. This is a peculiar mentality on the part of railway companies here when we hear so much talk and when so much is written about peace in industry and when negotiations at the other side of the Channel are participated in by men like Sir Josiah Stamp, the President of one of the biggest of the British railways. The railways here, run as they are at present, have no time or business for conciliation or negotiation. In such circumstances, I would suggest to the Minister that it is quite time that the Government instituted an inquiry as to the manner in which the railways here are being run.
It is very hard for people who have given their lives to the service of the railways to see a great concern being run over the precipice through the incompetence of be-whiskered patriots who had neither training nor experience of any kind that would make them capable of running a concern like the Great Southern Railways. You have big salaries paid to men who are treated as office boys and are given no authority, good, bad or indifferent. The engineers in the locomotive and permanent-way departments are dealt with by directors who have no railway experience and who have no training that would justify them in any way in interfering with railway administration.
Generally, a condition of chaos is developing. Immediately after the finding by the Railway Wages Board to which I referred a sort of mild reign of terror started on the Great Southern Railways. Clerical officials with periods of service ranging from twenty-five to forty-six years got a month's notice terminating their services on the ground that they were not required, and refusing to give them any pension or compensation as provided in the Third Schedule to the Railways Act. Some of these men were within a period of three months from the age of sixty years. When a man would arrive at the age of sixty he would be entitled to a pension or superannuation for life from a fund. In another case a man had nine months to go. The Company refused to allow these men to serve the period necessary to bring them to the pensionable age, the age at which they would get the pension to which they would be entitled. Small ex gratia pensions have been given to these men at the pleasure of the Board. The attitude of the Board towards the employees is “Under the Railways (Existing Officers and Servants) Act of 1926 you are left at our mercy, and if you want to get justice you will have to go to the Oireachtas.” In that way they justify the wholesale dismissals of men who, according to all railway tradition, were looked upon as absolutely permanent officials. Up to the time I speak of there was no record of disturbance in the case of salaried men on broad gauge railways; in all railway history there was no disturbance as far as they were concerned. The Great Southern Railways Company have now broken with that tradition on the grounds of alleged necessary economy.
I will read for the Seanad an extract from the speech of a shareholder at a recent meeting of the shareholders of the Great Southern Railways:—"Mrs. Sullivan said that in the past 25 directors of the now amalgamated railways were paid £10,500. They had now 15 directors selected from that 25, and the shareholders were asked to increase their fees by £1,715." The reply of the Chairman was as follows. He said: "The directors were some of the best business men in Ireland and they made a great monetary sacrifice in attending to the business of the railway. He declined to believe that the shareholders would be satisfied with less competent and cheaper directors." So it is evidently very bad policy to have a cheap director. It is quite a good and sound policy to throw out a competent, skilled and thoroughly efficient railway official who has had forty years service; it is sound policy to deprive him of his rights under the Railways Act and to leave him at the mercy of time and tide.
To-day we passed an amendment to the Bank of Ireland Bill one clause of which says: "(a) no banking company registered outside Saorstát Eireann or banking corporation, trust or other company carrying on its principal business outside Saorstát Eireann shall be qualified to vote or capable of voting at any general court or otherwise through a trustee, nominee or other person or otherwise in any matter relating to the affairs or government of the Bank. ..." Nevertheless, the position is that the nominee of an English company, acting as a director, is to run the Great Southern Railways; not only will he be able to vote but he will actually run the railways. I do not question his ability to do that, although I fancy that the experience that he may have gained some years ago is not of the type necessary to cope with the running of railways. There should be some protection for the Great Southern Railways, and the interests of the L.M.S., with £30,000,000 capital, should not be allowed to override the interests of the rest of the shareholders. However able certain people may be, seeing that their main interests are outside the Great Southern Railways, there should be some curb upon the extent to which their activities shall operate. One strong man having a definite object in view can rule the Great Southern Directors without the slightest trouble.
I suggest to the Minister that the time has arrived when an inquiry into railway conditions, and particularly into the Great Southern Railways, is necessary. The time has come when an amendment of the Railways Act, in so far as it refers to compensation for dismissed railway officials, should be brought before the Oireachtas. I hope that the Minister will see justice is done to the men who have devoted their lives efficiently and loyally to the services of the railway.
There are at least three Departments in which I am interested and one of them is the Department of Local Government and Public Health. I am anxious to deal with the question of poor law relief in Dublin, but in the absence of the Minister—perhaps he has not had sufficient notice that this subject might be discussed—I propose to leave that item over until the Committee Stage when I hope the Minister responsible will be in attendance in the Seanad. One of the remaining two matters is of minor importance and I think in connection with it the Minister for Finance is responsible. Senators will have noticed that a change has recently taken place with reference to the publication, the printing and distribution of the Official Reports of Parliamentary Debates. I do not know what the position of the Seanad is in this matter, but so far as I am aware the Seanad has not been consulted and certainly has not given any formal approval of the change that has taken place in regard to the manner of publication of these Reports. I know I am voicing strong feeling amongst Senators, and I am even more clearly voicing the protests of a large number of Deputies, when I mention that there is resentment at the change and at the inconvenience which the change tends to bring about. Anybody who tries to follow the proceedings of both Houses and to understand the business that is dealt with from week to week certainly finds the present method of publication inconvenient. This will be realised more clearly when I mention that in connection with Bills that are discussed in the Dáil on a Wednesday and that are expected to be discussed in the Seanad on the following Wednesday, the Official Reports of the Dáil debates are not received by Senators until fully a week has elapsed. This does not tend to a proper understanding of the attitude of the other House or to the efficient transaction of the business of this House. I do not know what the amount of saving is by reason of the changed method of publication, but I think it would take a great deal of saving to justify the delay in the publication of these Reports. I do earnestly plead for a return to the practice of having the reports of each day's proceedings published independently. We do not want to wait for the debates of a whole week to accumulate before the book is published and distributed.
The other matter that I want to deal with is of much more importance. I refer to the question of the signing of what is known as the Optional Clause of the Statute of the International Court in connection with the League of Nations. This subject has been occasionally dealt with in the Seanad and the Dáil during past years. We know from our readings of the proceedings of the League of Nations that the Government has been favourable to the proposition that arbitration should be the normal method of settling disputes between nations. It will be remembered, too, that at the proceedings which took place at the Conference in 1926 the representatives of the Saorstát present, along with others, desired to agree to the proposals of the League in regard to the Permanent Court of International Justice. I think that willingness is also indicated to agree to the signing of what is known as the Optional Clause. Perhaps it might be as well to state briefly what is meant by that. The League of Nations' Covenant made reference to the establishment of a Court of International Justice, and in 1920 the statutes of such Court were agreed on, but included in them was a clause which was left optional to the various members of the League to sign or otherwise. It reads as follows:
Article 36. The jurisdiction of the Court comprises all cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in Treaties and Conventions in force. The Members of the League of Nations and the States mentioned in the Annex of the Covenant may, either when signing or ratifying the protocol to which the present Statute is adjoined, or at a later moment, declare that they recognise as compulsory, ipso facto and without special agreement, in relation to any other Member or State accepting the same obligation, the jurisdiction of the Court, in all or any of the classes of legal disputes concerning: (a) The interpretation of a Treaty. (b) Any question of International Law.
In short, it means that States which agree to refer justiciable disputes to arbitration would bind themselves to do so in all cases of that nature. That Optional Clause has been signed by a number of States with certain reservations, some of which relate to the period during which it would be operative, others of a slightly different nature. There has been considerable agitation in Great Britain and pressure has been brought on the Government from time to time that the Government of Great Britain should sign the Optional Clause. At the Imperial Conference in 1926, the question was discussed and, apparently, some of the States represented at that Conference doubted the wisdom or advisability of signing that clause. An agreement was arrived at deferring any decision and agreeing that before any of the States finally decided to sign that clause they would further consult the remaining members of the Conference—that is to say, members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Within the last few weeks, as is known, the new British Government has indicated that it is giving consideration to the question of signing this Optional Clause, and has rather definitely stated, I think, in the King's speech that the Government now proposes to sign that clause after consultation with the Dominion Governments. One does not quite know what is happening, but one gets the impression from certain newspaper reports that reservations are under consideration by the British Government, and it has been suggested that the various Dominions which are to be consulted in this matter by the British Government should agree to a uniform set of reservations. In "The Observer" of the 30th June last there was an article by "Our Diplomatic Correspondent," and the first three paragraphs were written as though they were written with authority. The article points out that "The Observer" is "authoritatively informed." Then it goes on: "We are authorised to announce." Further on it says: "It is understood." The article does not claim to be authoritative, but it has the appearance of being inspired. It mentions the names of Sir Cecil Hurst and Mr. Dalton. The former is, I think, the chief permanent official at the Foreign Office, and the latter is Under-Secretary for Dominion Affairs. It says:—
"It is understood that Sir Cecil Hurst and Mr. Dalton are now examining the reservations that Mr. MacDonald will make when he announces in the Assembly Great Britain's acceptance of the Optional Clause of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice. The most important of those reservations will probably be that the British Empire, for the purpose of the Optional Clause, be regarded as a unit in spite of the separate international status now attaching to the British Dominions. There is ground for the belief—
this is a departure from the idea of authority—
that the present Government fully adopts the view that a dispute within the Empire is a domestic, not an international concern. Although the proper quarters do not disclose the nature of the answers received from the Dominions on this point (their reticence being, no doubt, due to the Government's desire to keep all its secrets for the King's speech) yet it may be confidently expected that the Dominions will agree."
I am quite aware of the doubtful nature of these alleged authoritative newspaper articles, and I am also aware of the fact that it is a practice amongst the Governments of some countries—I do not know if it is the practice in this country—to fly kites in the way of newspaper articles. I am afraid that it is not the practice in this country, as no one takes notice of what is said in the newspapers until something definite has been accomplished and then people wake up. I have a suspicion, however, that this article was the beginning of the kite-flying season, because since it was written there have been numerous notices in the English newspapers touching on the same question and suggesting unity of policy—which one need not necessarily object to—and agreement as to the kind of reservations that ought to be made by the various States which are members of the British Commonwealth and are also members of the League of Nations as separate entities. I think that this is important because of the knowledge we have that pressure has been consistently applied since the Free State entered the League—even before that, when it first made its move towards entering the League— to convey the idea of diplomatic unity in the British Empire and to fix that in the minds of the people of the constituent States of the Empire and, more particularly, in the minds of the representatives of other countries outside the British Empire.
I am raising this point because I want to let the Minister understand —and I hope it will be taken as the view of a large number of the people of the country, I think probably the great majority of the people of the country—that he will be supported if he takes and follows firmly the line he indicated before of quite independent action. Unless he can show very strong reasons as affecting Ireland alone for making any reservations, this Optional Clause should be signed without reservations whether other countries sign it with reservations or not. I think that any reservations one can conceive as being requisite from the British point of view are not requisite from the Irish point of view. I think also that we should not give support to the proposition that a dispute between two States, members of the League of Nations, if they are also associated in the British Commonwealth, is by that fact ruled out of the jurisdiction of the International Court.
Whatever may be said in favour of preliminary efforts being made to resolve disputes between members of the British Commonwealth— and I quite appreciate the force of the contention that it is a simple matter to create machinery for resolving disputes between such States without having to go to the permanent Court— we should not by any action of ours rule out, or agree to ruling out, reference to the International Court if circumstances require it, in respect of disputes between any members of the League of Nations, whether they are also members of the British Commonwealth or not. I am raising the matter now because the opportunity will not arise again, and it probably is as opportune an occasion as could arise to give support to the idea that the Free State should, as soon as convenient, signify its approval of and signature to the Optional Clause of the Statutes of the Permanent Court of International Justice, and that it should be signed without any reservations, whether other States put reservations to their signatures or not.
I want to refer to several of the items in the Appropriation Bill and contribute something in the nature of criticism, if possible constructive criticism, on the various items. We are to some extent handicapped by the fact that one speech has to cover the entire discussion on the Bill. As the Bill involves 69 items, we all appreciate the difficulty of covering them as extensively as we would like. Without further ado, then, I would like to take a few of the sections and deal with them as briefly as possible. I would like also to feel that such criticism, constructive criticism particularly, might be noted by the various Departments, otherwise I feel that it would be rather futile to sit and listen to discussions here at all.
The first clause I would like to refer to concerns the Forestry Department, and I want to make a few practical remarks in regard to it. The appropriation for the Department amounts to £37,803. I do not consider that that is exorbitant. In fact, I question very much if it is adequate for the necessary work that should be done by the Forestry section. Some time ago, a Forestry Bill was introduced and, I understand, passed by the Oireachtas. Since then, I have not heard a word as to whether it has been made operative, or if it is operative at all in the Saorstát at the moment. This Bill aimed at the conservation of such timbers as were available in the country and at the prevention of export of raw timber or timber in the ground. The Bill was somewhat belated, because a great deal of the most valuable timber has been exported in the round out of the country. That is a hardship in two forms. First of all, we lose some of our most valuable timber and, secondly, it deprives potential manufacturers and existing manufacturers of a valuable source of supply which provided very considerable employment indeed in the saw mills and for wood operators throughout the country. I would ask that the Department, through the Minister with us at the moment, should be consulted about that, and that we might be informed whether that Bill is in operation and what has happened to it since it passed its various stages.
I want to make one further suggestion in regard to timber. I read a report from the Forestry Department recently which clearly indicated that in the main the timber they were planting throughout the country was fir, Scotch fir or Douglas fir, which is practically the same thing. I suggest that whilst a great deal of this timber is valuable for farmers and others throughout the country, we ought to take the long view and to aim at planting timber that will in years to come be of considerable economic value to the woodworking industries. The country has been almost denuded of the various timbers which were essentially suitable to it. I refer to sycamore, elm, ash and oak. It is true that these are much more slow in growth, but the position in regard to the timber available in this country is very bad, and I would suggest that the Department of Forestry, in the allocation of funds for the development of timber growing in the country, should pay particular attention to these timbers which are becoming scarce, not only here but all over the world. Even though it means a considerable delay in the growth of the timbers, the raw material ultimately would be available for sawmills and for such wood-working industries as are essential for the Free State. That is a most important point. In the main, Scotch fir is exported in a form upon which very little labour has been expended. It is cut down, sawn, made into pit props and shipped out of the country. Whereas in the other case, in the development of ash, oak, elm, and sycamore and such timbers you have wood available which will give a tremendous amount of employment. That is merely a suggestion. I think it is an urgent matter that these timbers be planted under Government direction and if possible entirely under Government control.
I want to refer you to the Department of External Affairs. I notice in the Vote of £39,276 that a supplementary Vote of £2,763 is in the appropriation fund for this Department. Whilst I think we all agree that it is very essential that we keep ourselves right before the world, through the agencies of the officers of the External Affairs Department I wonder if we are really getting full value for this amount. It is not a big amount and might be considerably increased always on the presumption that first of all we had the most competent people available acting for us and secondly that they were attending to their work. I do not propose to criticise any individual branch or any individual representation that we have but I suggest it is a matter to which close attention should be devoted. It is absolutely essential that the right viewpoint be had in foreign countries. It is absolutely essential that the individuality of this country as a State should be stressed. I am not fully satisfied that that is the case. In the American activities I am afraid that we played rather a bad second fiddle to the British administration. Whether that is desirable or not I do not know. From my point of view it is anything but desirable if we have to admit that we are a subsidiary, as it were, of the British Empire and that our consulate offices and our administration, our plenipotentiary in Washington have to play second fiddle to the representative of the British Legation there. If it is possible, let us make it perfectly clear that this is not being done with our full will and consent and in so far as it is possible let us stress the individual nationality of the Irish in these countries. Otherwise I feel, apart from the expenditure of money on such legations—I speak particularly of the American Legation— that it reacts very unfavourably on our position here. I do not want to go into any close details as to the psychology of the American position. I understand it fairly well, but I know that the position some time ago did not react with any credit to the Irish people. That perhaps is not due to any fault of the Minister representing this State in Washington or our representative in New York but due to the position itself. I suggest it would, perhaps in all the circumstances, nearly be as well not to be represented there at all as to have representations that would make us an apparent willing party to a subsidiary position within the British Empire which we occupy in the eyes of American citizens.
I want to refer to one other item with regard to our representation in Washington. It is more a bookkeeping item or an analysis of the details regarding what this Legation is costing us. I find when I consult the Estimates that the Minister is down for remuneration for £803. Now, representation allowance for the same Minister is down at £2,000, allowance for rent £900, and motor car allowance £400. I have no fault to find with these. They may be expensive or they may not. I do know only that it is very expensive to maintain a position such as the representative of this country ought to maintain at Washington, but I suggest that the method of presenting the figures is not quite right. I suggest it could be argued that the Minister is only paid £803. As a matter of fact it has been argued to me. I was asked my opinion about it, and I said, "it is ridiculous, it is an office boy's salary in Washington," but when you total the amounts you have £4,100. I do not want to labour the matter, but I suggest that some other form of presentation of the Minister's salary and allowances might take place.
No. 67 on the Appropriation Bill deals with the League of Nations and the amount involved is £4,257. That is not a very big sum either. I am not concerned at all about the sum, but I am very much concerned about the moral position and the moral status that we occupy in the League of Nations, if we occupy one at all. We were discussing here not very long ago the matter of the Kellogg Pact, and Senator Colonel Moore and myself ventured to pass some criticisms on it. In fact I might go so far as to say that we, in the main, supplied an analysis of the motives and reasons for the Kellogg Pact. The Minister for External Affairs, who attended, dismissed rather summarily and perhaps with what one might call slightly bad taste, our criticisms as absolutely futile, or words to that effect. Immediately I left the Chamber and went outside I purchased the "Evening Herald," and it was rather significant, and a rather peculiar coincidence, that in the "Evening Herald" of that particular evening when we had discussed the Kellogg Pact, there appeared a report from Ottawa where a debate very much like our own had taken place and where the Canadians immediately and wholeheartedly repudiated the British action in negotiating with France a secret pact under the table. Senator Dowdall had described it very aptly in saying they were both caught under the table in enacting this separate pact. The Minister for External Affairs did not deem that worthy of consideration at all. As a matter of fact this debate in this Chamber aroused interest outside this country altogether. I happen to know personally that certain people outside this country were very much interested in our attitude.
I suggest that these criticisms we ventured to offer should not be met in that way.
To come back to the Vote itself, I would like to know how far we have any influence whatever in the League of Nations. Certain things have been indicated recently in international affairs in which we are involved as constituent members of this thing called the British Empire, and I want to know in what way we can enter our disclaimer of any moral responsibility for the various things that are being so done. If that can be done at the League of Nations I suggest that we ought to do it there. If it is, as Senator Johnson referred to it, an international court. then it ought to be done there. At all events, it is for our moral good and moral status throughout the world absolutely essential, in spite of the method adopted by the Minister for External Affairs in dismissing criticism in this House, that our individual position should be made clear to the world. The only position, as I argued on the Kellogg Pact, that we have in this country is a moral position. If we lose that we lose all.
May I ask if the Senator would indicate the things done that he has in mind?
I intended to proceed to that just now. There were certain operations carried on by the British Empire as such with regard to Afghanistan which have had reactions, and certainly have been aired in the intelligent Press outside these islands and outside Europe altogether. I want to know how we are going to be absolved from any participation in these as a member of the British Empire. These activities are utterly discreditable, and we are involved in them. I know, furthermore, that in the League of Nations the whole question of the opium traffic as regards India and China has been brought forward, argued and fought. So far no results have been achieved, and it is perfectly clear that it is due to the combination of certain Powers who are interested, and the Power that is mainly interested is Great Britain. This may seem remote from our activities and interests, but it is very important to a small and comparatively poor country that it would try to keep the only position that it has got, namely, the moral position in the world. I suggest that if we cannot air our particular viewpoint at the League of Nations and through the Department of External Affairs at the same time, then the money that we are spending both through the Department of External Affairs and through the League of Nations is only waste, and is actually doing us harm throughout the world.
There is an item (No. 68)—Remuneration for cost of management of Government Stocks, £8,950. I just want to ask a question on this, not in criticism but to be clear about it. This money, I believe, is paid as a sort of brokerage charge, perhaps, to the banks. I think, as a matter of fact, the National City Bank and the Bank of Ireland do most of the transactions with regard to Government stocks. Is there anything, I would like to ask, in the original charter of the Bank of Ireland which bound them, by way of a set off for certain facilities and concessions which they have got, to do these Government transactions free? I have had certain analyses made of the charter, and it occurs to my memory that there is some clause in the original charter of the Bank of Ireland which demands from them that they carry these transactions through free in view of certain facilities which they get through their charter.
There is one other thing, and I have left it to the last because it is the most important. I suppose it would really come under Section 16 of the Appropriation Bill. Senator Moore has dealt with the matter of pensions, and several debates have taken place in the Seanad with regard to the activities of the C.I.D. —the Detective Organisation—and the Guards generally. The Minister has not been, to say the least of it, very helpful in the matter. Where we attempted to sift things, and where our only desire was to get down to the truth, there were continued disclaimers, a sort of "Hold up your hands, there is nothing in your story." That has been consistent. He may be perfectly right and perfectly justified in adopting that attitude, but, for the information of the Seanad, I am going to read a cold statement which has been handed to me to-day, and which may bring some matters under the attention of the Minister for Justice, and may, perhaps, encourage him, if anything would, to investigate these matters and find out what truth is in them. The statement that I am going to present contains various serious allegations. At the moment they are allegations. I am not prepared to vouch for any of them. I believe they are absolutely true, and there is evidence contained within the statement which goes to show that in many respects they are certainly true. But what I would urge is that full, complete and immediate investigations be made to see where the truth lies and where certain wrongs contained in these allegations may be righted, and if those responsible can be brought to book for them. The statement is as follows:—
"I wish to draw your attention personally to the following:—
"On June 16th last, on his way home from Bodenstown, with five companions, Mr. T.J. Ryan, of Cranny, Kilrush, Co. Clare, was held up on the road between Clarecastle and Ennis by two members of the Detective Division, ordered to leave the car, and searched.
"On refusing to give an account of his movements (he had already been held up three times on the journey from Sallins), Mr. Ryan was pushed against a wall, threatened, and struck repeatedly on the stomach and chest. He was then ordered into the car, and, as he was entering, one of the detectives rushed at him and kicked him. When in the car he was again assaulted, one detective taking hold of the iron starting handle, struck him with it on the legs, severely wounding him on the shin. The other detective rushed at him and struck him with his fist on the right eye, blackening it. Before he was let go, threats of all sorts were made by the detectives, including threats to murder Mr. Ryan. He was treated for injuries to his stomach, leg and eye by Doctors McAuliffe and O'Dea.
"On July 1st, Mr. Ryan's house was raided, and a watch has been kept since by the detectives day and night. No reason was given to Mr. Ryan either for the raids or for the constant surveillance to which he has been subjected.
"On Sunday, July 7th, about 3 a.m., Mr. Ryan was called from the window of his bedroom and ordered to get up. He got up and opened the door. He was then pulled outside the house by two detectives, and pushed in to an adjoining yard. He was repeatedly struck on the face and body. One of the assailants with a drawn revolver struck him with it on the body. The second lashed him with what appeared to be a belt on the body and legs.
"He was maltreated like this for some minutes before he was allowed back to the house.
"On entering, he went to the bedroom of his mother, who is old and an invalid. He was ordered by the detectives to get out of the room or he would be riddled with bullets.
"He then went to his own room and returned to bed. Some time later he was again ordered by a detective from the window to get out of bed. When he opened the door he was once more beaten and kicked. He was then allowed back to bed.
"He got up about seven or eight o'clock. It would appear that the detectives on watch had meanwhile been changed. Whilst preparing breakfast (he resides alone with his mother), he was again struck on the face by a detective. On saying that he would take legal proceedings the second detective said he saw no assault.
"Mr. Ryan next went out to milk his cows; he was again struck several times, knocked down, punched generally on the body and stomach. This was repeated a number of times whilst he was endeavouring to milk the cows. His cars and hair were pulled, until finally he had to abandon the milking. The milking stool was thrown at him as he left. He was dazed with the beating and went to bed. This was about 9 o'clock.
"About noon he was again ordered to get up. When he did not obey, the window of his bedroom was raised and an attempt was made by one of the detectives to get in by it. Being unable to do so, this detective and his companions burst in the door which was on latch. The two detectives rushed into Mr. Ryan's bedroom; they pulled him out of bed, struck him, threw him down and kicked him. He went back to bed, but was pulled out again, beaten and thrown on the floor. This happened three or four times. Whilst in the bed he was throttled by one of the detectives, the other holding his hands. When lying on his back in the bed also they knelt on his stomach. These assaults were accompanied by abusive and threatening language. All this took place roughly between 12 and 1 o'clock. Mr. Ryan's mother was witness to his being beaten in the bedroom.
"Having been told of the assaults on Mr. Ryan, I went to Clare on Monday last; saw Mr. Ryan and learned of the above details from himself. As I approached Mr. Ryan's house, I saw a man apparently on duty beside the house. He approached me as I was entering, and asked my name, which I gave. When I entered the house, he followed, and when Mr. Ryan invited me to his bedroom he accompanied us and was present whilst I took notes of Mr. Ryan's statements. On leaving, I asked this man his name; he showed me his card. His name is Mulkeen (a member of the Detective Force). When I reached the road, on leaving Mr. Ryan's house, two men with bicycles signalled me to stop. I was pulling up, was recognised, and let pass.
"Mr. Ryan bears evidence in his person of the ill-treatment he has received. One of his eyes is blackened and his shin has medical dressings on it. He is being attended by Dr. O'Dea, of Kildysart."
That statement was given to me before I came into the House by Deputy de Valera, who signs it. It is a serious statement. It was taken from Mr. Ryan by Deputy de Valera in the presence of a member of the detective force. I do not know whether or not there is any ground for charging Mr. Ryan with any misdemeanour, but I suggest, if there is, that it would be much decenter to arrest Mr. Ryan, make a charge against him, and let him be tried. Apparently, members of the detective force are constantly there. That is something, perhaps, that should be explained. He is either a criminal, and is due for arrest, or he is a free citizen who is entitled to the partial freedom we enjoy. I suggest that this is an urgent matter, one that demands full explanation and full publicity as regards the rights and wrongs of his case. Whether Mr. Ryan is to be tried or not is a matter for the Minister for Justice to decide. If Mr. Ryan is not to be tried by the Minister for Justice, then the people who are inflicting these brutal assaults ought to be tried, and tried by the Minister for Justice himself. I leave it at that. I do not think the statement requires adornment by me. It is a cold statement. We want to know the truth. We must have the truth, and we must see, if possible, that justice is administered by the Department of Justice.
I want to draw attention to one item in this Bill— Item No. 8, Schedule (B), Part III.: "For Capital for the Local Loans Fund, and to make repayment to the British Government in respect of local loans outstanding, £935,000." I take it that the amount is made up of £600,000 in repayment of outstanding loans, and the balance to provide capital for the Local Loans Fund. I am not satisfied that there is any statutory authority for paying this to the British Government. If there is I would be glad to have such authority quoted. By Section 27 (1) of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920:
The power of collecting and enforcing the payment of sums due on account of loans made before the appointed day to authorities and persons in Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland out of the Local Loans Fund, the Development Fund, the Road Improvement Fund, or other similar public fund, shall be transferred to the Governments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland respectively, and the amounts so collected by them shall be paid into their respective Exchequers.
If that section is still the law, it is quite clear that this money should be retained in the Free State Exchequer. If it is not the law probably some section of some Act will be quoted to show that it has been repealed, but I have not yet discovered that Act. It was agreed on former occasions, when we had debates in the Seanad, that the Act of 1920 was not in force. The view taken was that it had been repudiated by the people, and that it did not exist. Since that time, cases have been before the court, especially the case of the civil servants, where it was decided that the Act of 1920, unless where it is repealed by the Treaty, is in full force and effect. I am aware that there is a clause in the Act of 1920 by which we are bound to pay a certain sum as a contribution towards Imperial expenditure and liabilities. That sum was originally fixed at £18,000,000 for the whole of Ireland, the proportion payable by the Free State being 56 per cent. and that payable by Northern Ireland 44 per cent. That amount was only fixed temporarily, and was subject to variation by the Joint Exchequer Board, taking several matters into account, including the taxable capacity of both Ireland and the United Kingdom. In Northern Ireland we have seen the results of the working of the Joint Exchequer Board, whereby the original amount of £7,920,000, which was fixed for Northern Ireland, has been reduced to £1,200,000 for the year 1928-29. Calculating on that basis, if that clause stood the amount for which the Free State would be liable would be only £1,527,000. But I hold that the section has been repealed by Article V of the Treaty, which fixed the contribution on a different basis altogether—on a fair proportion of the entire British Public Debt. We know that the liability under that Article was abolished by an amending Act, passed in December, 1925.
From another point of view I do not think we are liable for any of these local loans. The local loans stock is a very big amount—over £300,000,000—and I hold that it comes under the heading of the public debt of the United Kingdom. A very eminent financier, Sir George Paish, who was at one time editor of The Statist, in describing what was supposed to be included in the national debt of any country, said that local loans, if guaranteed by the State, would be considered part of the public debt, and treating the matter from that point of view it is clear that the Free State is not liable. This whole matter of our financial relations with Great Britain is one on which it is not surprising that we should differ. Eminent judges, men supposed to know the law, have very frequently differed on matters that are not quite so complicated, and I suggest that, as the Minister has now seen he was in error in the case of the civil servants, it is possible that in this case also there is something to be said for the people who take a view opposite to his. In a previous discussion on this matter the House was very evenly divided on the question of setting up a committee to investigate and inquire into these things, and I think that an adverse decision was come to only on the casting vote of the previous chairman. I intend to move a recommendation in Committee with reference to this Vote, to omit the part which refers to the repayment to the British Government in respect of local loans outstanding, with a view to giving an opportunity to the Dáil, in the event of the recommendation being carried, to obtain the best legal opinion possible as to whether or not there is any liability for the repayment of this money. I know that an agreement was come to—the Ultimate Financial Agreement—which was merely an agreement come to between Ministers here and Ministers in Great Britain. It has never been submitted to this House or to the Dáil, and I do not see how we can have any responsibility for it when we have not approved of it. That is the only justification I can see for this Vote. Of course when the Dáil has voted this sum of money it cannot be taken to any court, and the Auditor-General cannot look into it because it is passed by a vote of the competent authority. I observe that no opportunity for discussing it was given in the Dáil; it was merely voted, without any expression of opinion being given from any side.
I wish to refer to some of the statements made by the Minister in the Dáil last week in connection with the salaries paid in the Civil Service. I understand that there is considerable dissatisfaction among a number of civil servants, principally because the rates of pay are very much below those in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain, and also on account of the ban on promotion—the fact that no promotions have been made from the lower grades since 1924. The Minister stated in the Dáil the other day that while we in Southern Ireland were five per cent. behind Northern Ireland in the rates of pay in the Civil Service, we were ten per cent. behind the English rates of pay. I understand that in the clerical and lower grades we are really twenty per cent. behind the rates paid in England, although the Minister says we are only ten per cent.
With reference to the marriage and children allowances, the Minister said that in some instances here a civil servant, if he is married and has six children, can get the maximum of £260 per annum, while he would be entitled to only £237 10s. on the other side of the water. I understand that this maximum of £260 applies only to officers who came in under the entrance examination in 1925, and that in order to get it an officer would require to be six years longer in the service than he is at present, that he should be a married man and have at least six children under sixteen years of age. Unless the Minister wishes civil servants to marry widows with large families to qualify for this, there is very little prospect of any man in the Civil Service getting this maximum which the Minister so pleasantly held out. I do not know if the £60 a year would compensate him for the qualifications he would require to get. I think that disposes of the little sop that the Minister held out to the civil servants in his speech last week.
There are two other sections in the Civil Service that seem to me undoubtedly to have a great grievance. They are the ex-Post Office temporary clerical assistants and the ex-temporary preventive men (Customs and Excise), who were recruited from an examination held in 1925. These men were entitled, by the conditions of service laid down at their examination, to the rates of pay applicable to their temporary employment; at least, they were led to believe that their position would not be worsened by the fact that they qualified in this examination. To bear out that attitude of mind, the Establishment Section of the Department of Industry and Commerce entered them, and these men were actually paid for three months at the rates of pay which they believed they were entitled to, and now these rates have been reduced. Not alone were they reduced in their wages, but they had to pay back some of the money that they had received in the previous three months. Under paragraph LB of the conditions of service, in announcing the examination it was stated that due regard would be had to the temporary rate of pay when computing the entering salary of the successful candidates. Instead of that being done, they were put in at the minimum clerical scale by orders of the Department of Finance. As to the ex-temporary preventive men, I understand that, before they were appointed, they were also performing clerical work. They were performing that work before they stood for this examination, and they ought at least be paid the wages paid to temporary clerical workers who also came in at the same examination. I understand that there was discrimination between the two. These officers have since been suffering under a very grievous disability. Regarding promotions, I notice that the Minister for Finance stated in the Dáil: "Promotions will, after a time, have to be resumed, and I hope they will be resumed, even on a small scale, at a fairly early date." I notice that the Minister does not give any definite promise. He thinks that the ban on promotion will have to be withdrawn. That ban on promotion has been in force since 1924, while it was only confirmed by a circular in 1926. That circular held out the hope that it would only be of a temporary nature—of two years' duration. This ban on promotion applies to a section called writing assistants. They are placed in a very disadvantageous position, because these officers are really in a grade that is more or less peculiar to women. No matter what ability they may be possessed of, they have to stick there. Apparently there is no way out for them. I suppose it is a case, as Deputy Anthony said in the Dáil, of "Once an office boy, always an office boy." In the case of male writing assistants recruited from at open competitive examination in April, 1926, they were appointed at a fixed starting weekly salary of £1 12s. 4d., including cost of living bonus. After almost 3½ years' service their wages, including bonus. are now only £1 19s. 8d. Some of these men have twelve years' service. They were graded into this writing assistants grade from other temporary grades. Some of them have 12 and 14 years' service. I think it is due to them that they should get promotion from the inferior positions they hold at present. I hope the Minister will give speedy effect to the hope that he held out in the Dáil regarding promotions in the case of those minor staffs in the Civil Service. If he does so, it will help to create a spirit of zeal, energy and good-will in the service which, apparently, from what one can gather, does not exist there at the present time.
Many interesting subjects have been discussed here to-day. There is one which concerns me rather intimately and on which I feel very strongly. It has been dealt with by Senator Connolly with great calmness and moderation. In dealing with the matter I hope to follow his example. I refer to the allegations of outrageously illegal conduct on the part of a certain section of Civic Guards in the Co. Clare. Senator Connolly has read a statement from Mr. de Valera which has been listened to with surprise by every Senator. That statement referred to the condition of this man on Sunday. I have a statement as to his condition and his treatment on the previous Saturday. Here is the statement of a lady whose accuracy, credibility and common sense cannot be questioned—Mrs. Sheehy Skeffington:—
I saw Mr. Ryan to-day, a week after the occurrence, July 13th, about noon. He had just got up and was sitting beside his bed. The left side of his face was still black, his eyes swollen and discoloured. His ear is battered looking, and his head has lumps and bruises on it. His back is stiff and his whole body battered. Dr. O'Dea, of Kildysart, whom I interviewed later, corroborated his statement, adding details as to the marks on his back, legs, abdomen as well as on his head. Ryan still appears dazed and feverish. He was allowed up yesterday for the first time.
Now, here is something which I think the Minister for Justice ought to consider especially:
As I approached the house by the long drive from the road I saw two C.I.D. men and a patrol march up and down at sentry go outside the cottage. When I got in a third C.I.D. man was sitting beside Mr. Ryan in his bedroom. These are relieved in threes at intervals. There are three shifts in all, guarding night and day. When I went into Mrs. Ryan's room, on the other side of the kitchen, the man outside kept peering in, while the man in the house shifted his quarters to the kitchen.
Now, the Minister for Justice may say that, even assuming this statement to be true, it is a private wrong and that the courts of justice are open. I believe he has said something like that in the Dáil. If we were to confine ourselves to that individual case my submission to the Seanad would be that it is not a private wrong. It is a public wrong, and it is a matter which was rightly brought before the Seanad for the consideration of those responsible for the administration of justice. Nor is it an isolated case. In other parts of the Co. Clare young men have been waylaid by people who drove up in motor cars accompanied by Civic Guards in uniform. The un-uniformed men came out of the car in a case that occurred near Lisdoonvarna, and brought the young man out of the car and into a field and kicked and battered him. I know of another case that occurred still farther south in the Co. Clare, where an old man was taken out on the road and kept there practically naked in the night for several hours. These are three examples, and I wish the Minister would pay some little attention to them and try to discuss the legal implications arising from them. These are examples taken from various parts of the Co. Clare, and they point to a system of terrorism. I wish simply to state that these things have happened. I do not wish to attach any blame, but I wish the Seanad to consider the position.
These illegal acts are alleged to have taken place in various parts of the Co. Clare. If they have occurred, and there is the statement of Mr. Eamon de Valera as to one of them, they point to a system of terrorism in the county and an attempt by members of the Civic Guards, or some branch of the Civic Guards, to bully and cow the people of the Co. Clare. I tell Senators, and I tell the Minister, that that is quite impossible, because if there are any men in this country or in the world who will resist conduct of that kind it is the young men and the old men in the Co. Clare. The Minister for Justice ought to have remembered what was said by one gentleman of our own profession some years ago at a meeting held on the borders of Co. Clare. He said that he would bring the young men of Clare to the front in cages. There was a Claremen listening to what he said, and the answer he made was "You are relying on the cowardice of the men of Clare, which does not exist." I tell the Minister now that if he is calculating on the cowardice of the men of Clare that that does not exist, and that young and old will resist this terrorism.
I will deal now with the legal aspect of this question. I have satisfactorily disposed of the contention of the Minister that in a case like this the Courts are open to the person who is injured. They are, but the wrong in this case is not a private but a public wrong. I think it is a national wrong, because there is, and I am sorry to see it, a very bad temper arising in the district in consequence of the reports which are made as to the illegal acts. There is a sort of sympathy springing up in every section of the community in Co. Clare with the men who are alleged to have been attacked in this way, and not alone amongst the people in Co. Clare but amongst their friends all over Ireland and the world. I can tell the Minister that it is a very serious thing. The suggestion has been thrown out, I think by Senator Connolly, that this is a matter calling for public investigation. I think it is a matter calling for public investigation because, in my opinion, if there were some prospect that the conditions there were likely to be impartially examined it would have a great effect in mollifying the feelings of the people, and would certainly do much more good and conduce much more to public order than any attempt whatever to browbeat either the young men or old men of the Co. Clare.
This was brought forward with great moderation by Senator Connolly. I am a Clareman myself. I have endeavoured to be as moderate as I possibly could in making a statement in this case, and in supporting Senator Connolly I did not make any charge, because, so far as I know, nothing has yet been proved, but sufficient has been said to show that in the public interests there is a matter here for investigation, not merely in vindication of the persons who say they have been injured, but in the interests of the whole of Co. Clare and in the interests of Ireland generally. There is no legal answer, I think, to the request which has been made here. I believe there is no political answer to it, and I think that in the interests of the great body of the Civic Guards, as well as in the interests of the people of Clare, there ought to be an investigation into this matter by impartial men, from the Oireachtas if you like, men selected by the Minister himself if necessary. That is all I wish to say. Hold a public inquiry with the power to call for documents and to examine witnesses. I feel that that is absolutely necessary and that it might bring peace. If matters are to continue as they are, knowing as I do the temper of my own people. I say that probably very regrettable incidents will happen before this year is out. That is all I mean to say upon it. I could say more, but I feel so strongly on the matter that I might say what might not be conducive to good feeling and, therefore, I will pass from that.
The next matter I would like to take up is one of great importance. It has been brought forward by Senator Moore, and it relates to the Department of Finance—that is, the pensions of the Royal Irish Constabulary. These pensions amount to a big sum and consist of two items. There is the amount for the pensions of the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who had retired before the Treaty, and there is the question of the pensions of the Royal Irish Constabulary who retired after the Treaty. The old pensions amount to £591,000 a year. Pensions on disbandment amount to £970,000 per year. Different considerations apply to both. It is my submission that the old pensions, the pensions payable to the British servants for work done under the British régime, were part of the public debt of the United Kingdom at the time of the Treaty and that they are not legally payable by us. I would go so far as to say that there is no legal justification whatever for the payment of the pensions to the police who had retired before the date of the Treaty. The police had been paid by the British Government out of the public funds of the United Kingdom. Their pensions were, at the date of the Treaty, undoubtedly part of the public debt of England and, as such, they were wiped out, if anything was wiped out, by the agreement between President Cosgrave and Mr. Baldwin. Any contention opposed to what I have said does not bear investigation.
Now I come to the second item of £970,000. These are tremendous figures for a small country. Senator Moore has put his case very well, and I shall go into it, if I may, a little more closely. We have Article X., which says:
The Government of the Irish Free State agrees to pay fair compensation, on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920, to judges, officials, members of police forces and other public servants who are discharged by it or who retire in consequence of the change of government effected in pursuance thereof.
Senator Moore has shown very clearly that the police force were not discharged by the Provisional Government, and it is unnecessary for me to argue it further. The next question is: did they retire in consequence of the change of government effected in pursuance thereof? I would ask Senators to recollect exactly what had happened at the time of the Treaty. The R.I.C. were not placed under the control of the Provisional Government. In the British House of Commons it was stated that Great Britain would, in no circumstances, place the R.I.C. under the control of men who, they said, had killed some of them. The British took up the whole force of the R.I.C. They were not dismissed, they did not resign, they were disbanded, and they were disbanded in pursuance of a British Act of Parliament which provided that their pensions should be paid not by Ireland, but out of the public revenues of England—out of the Consolidated Fund.
There is another aspect of that question relating to the pensions of the R.I.C. who were actually serving at the time of the Treaty which is worthy of consideration. If we are bound to pay—and I deny that we are—any portion of their pensions, I submit that we are not bound to pay the whole of them, because when a Commission was held in 1912, called the Primrose Commission, the representatives of the Government in Ireland—Sir James Dougherty and Sir Antony Macdonnell—were examined in reference to the charges for the R.I.C. They stated that the Constabulary charges were not local charges in their entirety, but that they were Imperial charges—that the police force was, to a certain extent, a civil force, but in reality it was an Imperial force. Sir James Dougherty, at the time, contended that one half—and I think Sir Antony Macdonnell went further and said three-quarters—of the pay and pensions of the R.I.C., as then existing, should be an Imperial charge. Therefore, on the lowest estimation, you have it that the old pensions should go— that is the £591,000 payable to the old policemen. There is no ground whatever for paying that money. If the Minister made any bargain which bound him to do that, he will have great difficulty in justifying it. The £591,000 is not payable by us, and as regards the £970,000, it is not payable either; in any case the whole of it is not payable, and not more than one-half, on any view. This question of the pensions of the R.I.C. is very well deserving of renewed consideration by the Minister.
While I am on that question of finance, I should like to emphasise what has been said by Senator Linehan. There is no doubt that under the Act of 1920 the annuities in respect of the local loans were payable into the exchequer of Southern Ireland. They may stand on a somewhat different footing from the land annuities, which were also made payable by the Act of 1920 to the Treasury of Southern Ireland, and as we contend, are still payable into the Treasury of Southern Ireland, and that by that same Act the British Parliament has undertaken the entire liability for the sums advanced by stock-owners. In our opinion, the thing is plain. Senator Linehan says that he is going to call for an investigation. I hope that no impediment will be placed in his way. I think the proper way to deal with these financial questions is to have them calmly and impartially considered by a committee of this House or of the Oireachtas.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer. Senator Connolly has called attention to the afforestation of this country. It must be apparent to anybody that in the last ten or fifteen years this country has been denuded of its most valuable timber, its noblest trees, and there is no attempt made to plant trees of the same class—ash, oak, elm and sycamore, those beautiful trees which have been cut down in the demesnes that are studded through the country. Farmers cannot afford perhaps to incur the expense of planting trees of that description. They take some considerable time to mature. The quick-growing tree, such as larch and fir, is the tree which seems to be favoured by the man whose resources are small. This other beautiful timber in the course of a few years will be seen no more in the country unless some measures are taken to see that a greater variety of trees is planted. I should therefore like to emphasise and second the recommendation made by Senator Connolly in that respect. There were many other subjects dealt with which I should like to say something about, but, as it is so late now, I shall defer it to another occasion.
There is an item on Vote 11 of which I would like to get some explanation. The amount, £5,000, is very small for this year, but it is only portion of a bigger sum. The full sum is £25,000, and the Vote is for headstones for British military graves in Ireland. I do not know what power I have to effect a change in that Vote, but I should like to raise the question as to how it comes to pass that a sum of £25,000 has been voted out of the Irish people's money for head-stones for British military graves in Ireland when we have hundreds of patriot graves, graves of men who gave their all for this country, and not even a name-plate upon some of them. I am one of a group of people who have been working very hard trying to get voluntary subscriptions to put names above those graves. We find it very hard to get the subscriptions, because the people are so poor. It is not that they would not help us if they could, but because they are so very poor. It is an extraordinary position that here in this country £25,000 can be voted away for such purposes while the patriot dead are left uncared for. If this is to be accepted as a principle imposed upon us, that British military graves have the first right and claim on Irish people's money, I, for one, should like to be taken as objecting. I have every objection to any money being spent on British military graves in Ireland, but when it comes to voting money away for such a purpose while our own graves lie derelict, I have a violent objection to such a course, and I should like to know if there is any explanation. It may not be Irish money that is voted and there may be something in it that I do not see, but I should be very glad to have an explanation.
There is another item of £900 for the care and upkeep of British military graves in Ireland, and I should also like an explanation of that if the Minister thinks he ought to give it.
There are some matters which I shall leave to the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Justice to deal with when I shall have concluded. The first matter raised to which I shall refer was that by Colonel Moore in reference to R.I.C. pensions. That matter was discussed in the Dáil, and I have nothing to add to what I said in the Dáil in regard to it. Senators must recognise that the Treaty is a very short document of, I think, eighteen articles. It simply deals with a certain number of main points. After the Treaty, arrangements of various sorts had to be made. The policy that was followed was to make these arrangements, either in accordance with the general provisions of the Treaty or, where there were no general provisions, in accordance with the general spirit of the Treaty, so that frequently when people ask: "Is such-and-such a thing in the Treaty" and seem to expect that no arrangement could be made that is not covered by the Treaty, that is entirely a mistake.
Coming now to the point of the Royal Irish Constabulary pensions, after the Treaty was signed and ratified, the question of the transfer of the functions of Government came to be decided and the transference of the functions of Government was effected by the Transfer of Functions Order in the drawing up of which the Provisional Government concurred. I may say that at a very early stage, 24th January, I think, after the Treaty was accepted, in the first document drawn up after the "The Heads of working arrangement between the two Governments," it was there agreed that the Dublin Metropolitan Police were to be transferred, but that the Royal Irish Constabulary were to be disbanded. Further in the Transfer of Functions Order it was provided by a clause which I quoted in the Dáil, that the property, assets, rights and liabilities connected with the functions transferred should be transferred. Now the function of the police was transferred—it was clearly transferred by that order. The personnel of the Royal Irish Constabulary was not transferred although the personnel of the D.M.P. was transferred. The function of the police was definitely and clearly transferred by that order, and with the function of police went certain liabilities.
The argument that Senator Comyn put forward, that certain pensions were part of the public debt, is so clearly preposterous that I need not discuss it at all. The question of public debt does not come into it in the very least. As I said in the Dáil, the matter of the R.I.C. pensions is not covered by Article X of the Treaty. Article X of the Treaty really does not deal with pensions at all. It deals with compensation, not with pensions. So far as Article X of the Treaty is concerned, if a man was transferred to us, say a Civil Servant, and served his term until he reached the retiring age, no pension liability would fall upon us. Article X simply provides that where people were transferred, if they were discharged or retired in consequence of the change of Government, they should be entitled to certain compensation which was to be fixed in a particular way. Then the Article proceeded to say:
"that this agreement shall not apply to members of the Auxiliary Police Force or to persons recruited in Great Britain for the Royal Irish Constabulary during the two years next preceding the date hereof. The British Government will assume responsibility for such compensation or pensions as may be payable to any of these excepted persons."
It is perfectly clear to anybody who reads the section that the intention and the spirit of the Treaty— the general intention of the signors of the Treaty and the spirit of the Treaty—was that in respect of those people who would be transferred the responsibility of the British Government would be confined to the compensation or pensions which they would pay to the members of the Auxiliary Police Force and to those who had been recruited into the Royal Irish Constabulary during the two years preceding the signing of the Treaty. However, I quote that to indicate that the arrangement of the Transfer of Functions Order is in accordance with the spirit and intention of the Treaty. It is not definitely governed by the Treaty at all. It is part of the arrangements which were made for the implementing of the Treaty and for the transfer of functions. All round, the principle accepted in the Transfer of Functions Order was that the property should go over with the functions, and that the liability attached to the functions should go over. We have accepted responsibility not merely for those pensions of the Royal Irish Constabulary but for the pensions of Post Office workers and various other departments not directly covered by Article X.
We got property of various kinds; we got substantial assets of various kinds, which were receipts from our point of view, under that arrangement. I quoted in the Dáil the statement of the President, which shows clearly that this arrangement in regard to the questions of the R.I.C. pensions and in regard to the land annuities are all based on the agreement of December, 1925, by which Article V. of the Treaty was wiped out. They are absolutely on the basis of that agreement. I will quote again the President's words in the Dáil on the 10th December, 1925:—
"I am proud to say, and let whoever likes make political capital out of it, that we met honest, just and generous people to make a case to. The Irregulars can go out now if they like and sound that throughout the country. I am going to tell the truth in connection with these negotiations— the whole truth. We explained that we were paying out three and a quarter millions a year for land held by our people, more than half of them occupying uneconomic holdings. We explained that we were sending out of the country a million and a quarter in pensions, and we told the British Ministers: ‘You can, if you like, assess us for ten, twenty, thirty millions; we will not be able to pay. Is it any advantage to your country to make us bankrupt? We are not standing for repudiation. We are prepared to bear our burden; we are bearing at present, and we will be bearing for a long time, an undue burden and we are not honestly able to pay a single penny.'It was accepted in good faith, and that finished Article V."
So that was the arrangement made then. If the Oireachtas were to take up the position that they would repudiate the arrangement under which the land annuities are paid or the arrangements under which R.I.C. pensions are paid, the question of Article V. would be immediately opened up. The wiping out of Article V. was based entirely on these arrangements which had been come to about substantial matters. I do not want to take up a lot of time in dealing with this particular point, but I would just suggest to people who look at the financial relations between the two countries, that they must look at the whole arrangement. There is no use at all in picking out a particular point, concentrating on that and ignoring other aspects of the settlement. The settlement constitutes one whole agreement. These various things are one whole. They fix our financial arrangements. In certain respects, we might have liked them differently. In certain respects the British might have liked them differently. There had to be compromise on both sides, as there always has to be compromise on a bargain, but it is entirely foolish, futile and useless to consider a single aspect of a bargain. Now the financial arrangements between the two countries as a whole are these: (1) no responsibility for the British debt; (2) no charge falling on the taxpayer except these charges in respect of pensions and charges involving the repayment of sums paid by the British to us in compensation under the Treaty.
As regards the charges for pensions, certainly there can be, as regards the main part of the pension charges that we have to pay, nothing on which any question can be raised as to moral liability. Even the R.I.C. were very largely engaged in carrying out normal civil functions. They had other functions. Their numbers were larger than they would be if they had been only performing police duties, but perhaps not so very much larger as was once thought. So far as those pensions are concerned—so far as that part of the pensions is concerned which arose out of the normal ordinary civil duties of the police which were performed by the R.I.C., that was a charge which would have lain upon the people of this country if there had been no question of the need for a change of government. If the Free State had been in existence fifty years ago, the proportion of the R.I.C. who were necessary and who were occupied in performing civil duties would be now ex-R.I.C. and would be chargeable on the people of this State.
With regard to the portion of the police force who were in excess of normal requirements and the charge for whose pensions represents an excess charge beyond what would lie on the people of this country for police pensions if the Irish Free State had been established fifty years ago, they would have to be taken simply as part of the general bargain, which was in some parts more favourable to us and in some parts more favourable to the British Government. But in respect of the whole financial agreement, we are in this happy position that we, as it were, entered upon our existence as a State with no national debt at a time when most countries were groaning under tremendously heavy debts. We entered upon our existence as a State with no national debt. We have only a trivial national debt at present. We have no responsibility falling on the taxpayer because of the change of Government except this responsibility for pensions, a very big proportion of which is entirely in the nature of a normal charge, and the small charge which falls upon us in connection with the change of government.
I do not wish to interrupt the Minister, but I would like to ask are these pensions not part of the debt we are paying, and is not our debt enormously increased when we pay more than one million a year for pensions alone? What is the capital value of that sum that we pay in pensions alone?
It is clearly ludicrous to suggest that this pension charge is part of the national debt. I do not want to take up more time with that point than I have already taken up. Financial agreements must be looked upon as a whole. With reference to the point which Senator Linehan raised about payments in respect of Local Loans, I observe that the Senator quoted the Act of 1920, and he gave us what seems to me to be an entirely ridiculous legal argument. Without going into the question of dates—and I have not the exact dates at hand—I can say that the Act of 1920, in so far as it concerns land annuities and these financial matters, was never brought into operation. Even if it had been fixed and even if it had come into operation—which it did not—it would not apply to the Free State. Its provisions related to the Parliament and Government and Exchequer of Southern Ireland, a subordinate Parliament and Government, a glorified county council. The Parliament and Government and Exchequer of Southern Ireland never came into being. The whole arrangement was never started. We start quite fresh with the Treaty. The Act of 1920 was completely set aside and was never in being, legally or otherwise, to cover these matters. I will not go any further into Senator Linehan's point. Until he puts down his amendment, I will not discuss that any further, because there is no use in going into it a second time. The Senator has some funny notion about litigation and about the discussions which have gone on with regard to the Wigg and Cochrane case. There was no question of the Act of 1920 in connection with that case.
Senator Sir John Keane raised a point about the letting of the Phoenix Park for the motor races. The first matter involved is the legality of the letting. The Commissioners sought legal advice and they were advised that they were entitled to let the Park. It is possible for the Commissioners to let the Park for a period not exceeding three days in any one year without going through the procedure mentioned by Senator Sir John Keane. Consequently, what was done was legal and it was correctly done. With regard to the point as to whether the matter should have been brought before the Oireachtas so that it might be known, the fact that the Park was going to be closed for motor races was, I think, well known to everybody for a considerable time beforehand.
Will the Minister deal with the point raised in regard to permitting litter to be scattered about?
I looked over the Act and I could not say for certain that there is not power to make by-laws covering that matter. It is not quite clear and it is a matter that could be looked into. Senator Johnson asked about the new procedure in regard to the Parliamentary Reports. I cannot mention the exact figure of the economy effected, but I should think it is in the neighbourhood of £2,500 per annum. I am not so sure as to whether or not there is any serious inconvenience caused to Deputies or Senators, because it has been arranged that any Deputy or Senator who wants a particular speech in advance will be supplied with a carbon copy by the reporting staff. I do not know whether there is any real inconvenience, but it is a matter that I would be prepared to hear more about. I do not know whether there is any real case for going back to the old procedure, thereby incurring the additional expenditure that would be involved. It is only occasionally that a Deputy or a Senator is in such a hurry to get the Parliamentary Debates that he must have them, say, on a Friday rather than on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. I know occasionally that may happen, but we thought at the time that the difficulty could be met by making arrangements for supplying carbon copies.
Will the volumes, embracing reports of the proceedings for a period of six months or so, be continued?
No, but arrangements can be made to get the weekly books bound for a very small figure. I will leave the question of the signing of the Optional Clause to the Minister for External Affairs. With regard to the few other matters relating to External Affairs that were raised by Senator Connolly, I will say this: The Senator talked a good deal of the subsidiary position that we occupy in the eyes of American citizens. He, more or less, suggested that this view of our position in the eyes of American citizens was due to some action or lack of action on the part of our representative in Washington. In my view, it is due to the misrepresentations of the Party to which Senator Connolly belongs. Where you have a Party of a considerable size continually misrepresenting the position of the country, both here and elsewhere, it is difficult for a Minister or for anybody to prevent a certain amount of misunderstanding arising. If the Party to which Senator Connolly belongs will simply desist from misrepresenting things, I think the position will rectify itself quickly.
With regard to things which the British may or may not have been responsible for in Afghanistan or such places, we have nothing to do with that and we have no responsibility. So far as people outside are concerned, I do not think they tend to invest us with any responsibility. Senators ask questions as to whether the Bank of Ireland is obliged to keep Government stocks free; that is, to undertake the labour involved of keeping the registers, paying dividends and so forth. The Bank of Ireland is not so obliged.
Senator Duffy raised a number of points with reference to civil servants and the ban on promotion. I dealt with all those and certain other points when the matter was before the Dáil. As regards the rates of pay, I think they are sufficient, having regard to the conditions of the country generally. They produce, at any rate, a sufficient number of candidates when vacancies are being advertised.
£1 a week would do that.
They produce candidates of high quality, and the rates of pay are certainly as good as the rates of pay for similar labour outside; perhaps they are rather better. As to the question of the market value of labour, it has to be taken into account, and it is one of the factors by reference to which rates of pay will be fixed. I think the present rates of pay are not below what they ought to be.
Does the Minister take into account, for the purposes of comparison, similar services such as banks and insurance companies, railways, Guinness's, and such large concerns where there is responsible work? In those places, they have a certain character and class of person engaged. On the other hand, does the Minister take the meanest comparison rather than the higher and better comparison?
When we were making the changes, figures were obtained in regard to all these cases in so far as it was possible to obtain them. With regard to the ban on promotion, I can only repeat that that is a temporary thing. No hardship has been caused and none is likely to be inflicted for some time yet, because there were abnormal promotions before it was imposed. In the classes which are clamouring for the removal of the ban, either we have very few but comparatively recent entrants, or else we have a great number of people who got in by very much easier examinations than they normally get in by or who were already promoted from another grade. Generally speaking, I think there have been more promotions than probably would have been the case if there had not been a change of Government and if there had been no ban on promotions.
We have to arrange for it, but in certain classes to which promotion might be made the establishment of the grade was either full or else the position was that practically nobody had entered that grade by direct competition. We feel that in all grades to which people entered by public competition—leaving aside for the moment the lowest grade and taking grades like the Executive and the Junior Administrative —it is very necessary to get a certain proportion of young people in with fresh minds and with energy which one does not always find in more experienced people who have come up. The best arrangement we think is that these grades should be recruited by two methods—partly by promotion and partly by direct entrance by open competition. With regard to the question asked by Senator Mrs. Clarke, it was discussed a year or two ago, but I personally have forgotten the details in regard to it, and I could not give her any full information at present. I am prepared to have the Senator written to in regard to that particular point.
Two points have been raised in the debate—one by Senator O'Farrell in regard to railway matters, and the other by Senator Johnson in relation to External Affairs. There were, of course, in addition, the rather foolish remarks of Senator Connolly on External Affairs. So far as Senator O'Farrell's point is concerned, I would preface any remarks I make by saying that the Senator appears to found all his criticism of the Great Southern Railways Company, in their relation to bus traffic, on what he alleges to be a fact, namely, that a bus concern is going to be run out of railway funds. To my mind, a great deal will depend on how far that is proved. The Senator asked whether the routes will have to be approved, according to the provision laid down in the Road Motor Vehicles Act. A great deal will depend upon the determination of the question as to how far the bus services are definitely run out of railway funds. Clearly, if that is not so, the approval of the routes and matters in regard to the determination of fares and so forth will not arise. If it is proved that the Irish Omnibus Company for the future will be financed purely out of railway funds, then, prima facie, there is a case that the routes will have to be approved and that all the clauses of the Act will apply to the operations of the company. A great deal will depend on what are the financial arrangements.
Senator O'Farrell also referred to the proposed management of the new company. So far, I am only aware that a company has been registered. I have no knowledge of its being financed out of railway funds and I have no official intimation as to the matter referred to by the Senator. While still pointing out to the Senator that my remarks are based on an hypothesis still if it be proved that out of railway funds this bus service is being financed and that that service has as one of its chief men a gentleman who was retired from the Great Southern Railways Company on grounds of redundancy and given a pension of £500 or £600 a year plus a lump sum, and who is being brought back to run the bus services at a salary, plus the pension and the lump sum, then I say that that is something amounting to a scandal. Whether these are facts or not will have to be determined. The Senator alleges that they are facts. I do not know. But I would say that there is certain evidence that something of that sort is happening. I go on to say that, with the state of unemployment as it is, and with the railway company trying to make ends meet by reducing the number of employees and, according to Senator O'Farrell, doing it in a harsh and unfeeling way—an allegation which I cannot stand over without evidence—if this man is being brought back and being paid a salary in addition to his pension and lump sum, it amounts to a scandal.
The Senator says that there should be an inquiry into the running of the Great Southern Company. I do not think that that inquiry is called for at the moment and I would ask the Seanad in this to remember my position. We do not own the railways. There is no socialised service so far as transport is concerned at the moment. The shareholders are the proprietors of the railway company. They elect the directors and, if such a thing as Senator O'Farrell alleges is happening and is proved to have happened, that is a matter which the shareholders should take up with the directors of the company. It is a matter which I might later have to take up with the directors though I am not sure of my powers in regard to such matters. On the general running of the railway company, Senator O'Farrell says that a big concern is being run into bankruptcy and that there is a state of chaos supervening in the management. If there is evidence for such a statement it should be made clear, if possible, to the shareholders and let them attend to it at their ordinary meeting. I have certain dealings with the railway companies and I must watch very carefully that I do not encroach on territory into which I have no authority to enter. I do not want to have thrust upon me responsibility for a service which is not nationalised at the moment.
That remark would also apply to the Senator's allegation that a nominee of the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company is running the Great Southern Company. If that be so, if a nominee of the L.M.S. can be shown to be operating detrimentally to the interests of the Great Southern Railways and if he is able, or if he has been put in a position which enables him, to overawe the other directors who were elected by the shareholders then the shareholders should have that position revealed to them in order to see what action they should take. We have definite obligations in regard to transport and it may be that a further attempt may have to be made to deal with the situation.
Other matters were raised which fall more definitely within my province. Senator O'Farrell says that an application was made to the Wages Board to have wages reduced and when that application failed something approaching a reign of terror set in, that notices were issued to certain men asking them to take their leave and that they were informed on their return that they were retired and that no compensation was going to be given. Here again we must get the facts. There are certain compensation terms laid down in the Railways Act as afterwards amended by the 1926 Act. The amending Act was passed because it seemed that the 1924 Act operated not in accord with what the Oireachtas intended, that there were certain loopholes left, and that the employees at that time were trying to enlarge the scope of compensation which the Oireachtas decided to give.
I decided by legislation to limit and to narrow it. It was pointed out that we were dealing with a delicate situation, and everyone admitted that it was hard to be as precise as one would wish to be in defining the changes in conditions of employment, and loss or decrease of emoluments such as would entitle to compensation. At that time I ventured on the opinion that when matters were more definitely within the knowledge of one party to the action than of the other the onus of proof lay on the party having superior information to make a case. In regard to a recent judgment in the Kerins case, Judge Davitt, who was the arbitrator, laid it down that he knew no rule of law which shifted the onus of proof. But he went on to say that he did not interpret the statute rigidly, he called on all the parties to give all the information within their control, and he said that in no case did he find the railways company reluctant to give information which it had in its possession. I am, of course, quoting from memory, but I think the arbitrator gave it as his opinion that in so far as the statute may have put the onus on the men, the onus of proof could not have been satisfied by a single applicant. But in the proceedings the arbitrator asked the company to give the information and the company gave it in all cases. One must only wait to see how the new arbitrator will act. If he finds himself coerced into doing injustice to the men we will have to make another attempt to amend that legislation. The intention of the Oireachtas is quite clear. It intended mainly, as Judge Davitt laid down in the Kerins judgment, that where redundancy or any lessening of a man's salary or any change in the conditions of his service arose from amalgamation, compensation should follow. If these evil effects did not arise from amalgamation then compensation should be refused. That was the general principle of the Act. So far as the Acts do not carry that out or so far as the arbitrator cannot give the men justice under these terms, we will have to get that seen to. But the cases will have to go before the arbitrator. The arbitrator will have to be allowed to act on cases brought before him. If it be proved that there is anything approaching coercive action of the type that the Senator spoke of in regard to employees and that the employees are being deprived of compensation which the legislature definitely intended they should get, we can move against the railway company just as in the previous legislation we moved against the employees.
Senator Johnson dealt with the matter of the Optional Clause of the International Court of Justice and read a quotation from the "Observer" as to reservations that were being considered by the British Government. The belief was expressed in the article that the Dominions would agree to a certain reservation, namely, that the British Commonwealth of Nations would sign as one party and that there would be no chance of dispute between members of the Commonwealth going before the Permanent International Court. I took some notice of the terms of the article as read by the Senator. It was rather cleverly worded. It began by saying, "it is authoritatively stated"; further on it says, "we are informed"; later on it says "it is believed," and it concludes by saying, "it is confidently expected." The Senator thought it was kite flying; if so, that particular kite should be pulled to the ground immediately. I have not previously heard of this reservation in connection with the International Court and the Optional Clause. This Clause has been discussed on two or three occasions. It was first raised by the Free State representative at Geneva; it was raised secondly by Canada, and the British Government is the third in the field.
There was never any question of a reservation such as the "Observer" spoke of, and to my mind the quotation which Senator Johnson gave from the Optional Clause shows that that particular reservation could not be made, because the signatories will have to be members of the League of Nations and they are to sign a declaration that "they recognise as compulsory ipso facto and without special agreement, in relation to any other member or State accepting the same obligation, the jurisdiction of the Court in all or any of the classes of legal disputes concerning: (a) the interpretation of a Treaty, (b) any question of international law" and the other two points referred to by Senator Johnson. Reservations may be made either in regard to reciprocity between States Members of the League or in regard to time. To my mind, clearly the only reservations that can be made and the only reservations that so far have been made, are in regard to time or reciprocity between certain States. Most of the States which have already signed the Optional Clause have made reservations on the point of reciprocity, and a number have signed with a time limitation—for five, ten or fifteen years. I do not see how we could possibly accept any such reservation as is spoken of in the "Observer." The Seanad can definitely understand that we will take, as we have always taken, quite an independent point of view. It may happen that the result of our taking an independent point of view will be action in harmony at times with Great Britain or with a number of the Dominions of the Commonwealth, but our decision is always come to on circumstances that are peculiar and appropriate to this State.
Senator Johnson has correctly outlined our normal relationships. We recognise a certain relationship established by the Treaty, and in determining disputes between ourselves and Great Britain we would try the ordinary methods of negotiation to see if they could be settled. The matter in dispute might be a matter of Commonwealth importance as opposed to one of importance only to ourselves and Great Britain, and we might have some sort of Commonwealth conference on it, but in no event can we rule out the possibility of appeal to the International Court or suffer the right of recourse to that Court to be removed from us. But normally we recognise the particular relationship between members of the Commonwealth and we would try to hammer out an agreement among ourselves. We have given indications on several occasions that we are anxious to sign the Optional Clause but we are not going to accept any reservations in connection with the signature which would reduce signature to a farce.
Senator Connolly has wondered whether we are getting value for the money spent on our representatives abroad. I am confident that we are now getting value for the money spent on these representatives. I would not have made the same answer seven or eight years ago. The Senator is anxious to know whether we are merely playing second-fiddle to Britain, and he goes on to insinuate that we must be in a subordinate position. That is again the slave mind to which the Minister for Finance referred. If people would refrain from asserting as facts, in an insinuating way, this sort of mis-statement, there would not be so much work for our representatives abroad. It is a peculiar thing that in this country where there was a civil war fought almost completely on the question of status, and where we have opportunities frequently given when questions of status can be debated in the two Assemblies here, when precise questions can be put and precise answers demanded—on the Estimates, and on this particular occasion we never have an approach to a really good debate on status in so far as either the Deputies or Senators of the Party to which Senator Connolly belongs are concerned. I had four utterly foolish points raised by Fianna Fáil in the Dáil. Here I get the insinuation of playing second-fiddle to the British, but not one instance given of any occasion upon which our representative in any country abroad took up a particular line of action when he might have, or should have, taken another line. It is rather an insult to the intelligence of both Houses that we should be forced to listen time and time again to debates upon status formed only upon the prejudices and imaginings of certain people in both Houses. We have got here two points, opium and Afghanistan. What the Senator has discovered about Afghanistan I do not know. There is, apparently, some plot on. Apparently we have not improved our moral status with regard to something that is being done about Afghanistan.
On a point of explanation, the question I raised was whether it could be discussed by the League of Nations—our association with the British Empire and their activities in Afghanistan and various other places.
What is the Senator anxious to raise about Afghanistan?
I am anxious to assert that we, the Irish Free State, are not associated with the Commonwealth of Nations known as the British Empire in these activities.
I think we should run Amanullah for the vacancy in the Seanad.
I am not aware that there is anything being done in Afghanistan to which the Irish Free State Government is a party. Nothing at all, good, bad or indifferent. I do not know what I am going to discuss in the League of Nations.
Can we assert that we are not associated with the British Empire in these foreign activities that are causing trouble in India, China, Afghanistan and other places, and to which we are being committed before the world?
I do not know what the activities are.
If the Minister read foreign affairs he would know. I can supply him with material.
What the Senator should do is to supply the Seanad, in an important debate, with the facts. What brush are we being tarred with? What is the point about Afghanistan? I have nothing to do with Afghanistan. I am not a party to anything that has happened in Afghanistan.
In so far as we are associated with the British Empire we cannot repudiate what they are doing there.
What the Senator should be precise about is how far are we associated with the British Empire in anything that is happening in Afghanistan. Are we to make ourselves ridiculous before the League of Nations by claiming something which nobody has blamed us for and in which nobody believes we are implicated.
The purpose of the question was to find out, in so far as we are accepted as part of the British Empire how far we are associated with these activities, and to stress that we are not associated with Black and Tanism in foreign countries in so far as we are represented in the British Empire.
The Senator is very far out of date. In Geneva there is nothing known as the British Empire delegation, except it is the delegation representing Great Britain and her dependencies. Outside that there are separate delegations. We have a delegation. Australia has a delegation. Canada and South Africa have delegations. And not one of these people, except in so far as they put their names to certain things are responsible for what is known in Geneva as the British Empire and her dependencies delegation.
After the statement of the Minister, I am quite satisfied to have it on record that the Minister disclaimed any responsibility. That is exactly what we wanted.
I am disclaiming responsibility for something I do not know anything about, something that nobody has given us responsibility for and that the Senator has not been able to be precise about. Opium is a thing the Senator is anxious about. He must have been indulging, or is otherwise unaware of what has been going on. Why should Senators come into a deliberative assembly and talk about matters without having taken the trouble to read what actually happened on questions referred to conferences of the League of Nations? I wonder does the Senator know that opium, as a special question, has been sent to a special conference and that we have a special delegate at that conference.
I am quite aware of that. That is why I have raised the question, to know if the Minister would tell us what attitude the delegate has taken.
Would the Senator go on and say what actually happened at that conference?
Would the Minister assure us that he took the right line of action there?
The Senator said that he knows that a particular question was sent to a special conference, that we had a delegate at it, and that we have taken certain action.
I said I knew it had been referred to a special conference. I did not know whether we had a special delegate there. I would be interested to know what was his action there.
So a matter about which the Senator knows nothing seems to the Senator to be the proper matter to criticise here. Information on the point about which he expressed anxiety is in books at present in the Oireachtas library, and it is open to the Senator to read them if he has a capacity for study and not merely a capacity for making insinuations.
I resent the personal attack that has been launched on me by the Minister. I think it is very desirable that questions such as this should be asked, so that we may ascertain from the Minister where we figure in these things. If he resents any questions being asked, of course, we know where we are. As I said in the initial portion of my speech, I wanted to contribute as far as possible constructive criticism, and I think we are entitled to get, as far as possible, details from the Minister.
Senator Connolly said that we were playing second fiddle to Great Britain, that we were bound up with certain British Empire activities. He made a point with regard to the opium conference. The whole setting of his speech is that so far as our delegation had anything to do with two questions, with opium or Afghanistan, we were bound by certain things the British Empire, as he calls it, had done. I ask him does he know what happened about opium, which is one of the questions he raised.
Senator Connolly only asked a question.
I am aware of the fact that he has no information.
Senator Connolly made it perfectly clear that he desired information on certain points. If the Minister desires to give it he can.
All I am anxious to do is to show how debates are prepared for this House and how allegations are made.
We do not want any instructions from the Minister.
The Senator must allow the Minister to proceed.
I think the House will agree that I raised the matter in an interrogative way and not in any sense of carping criticism. I asked for information. I should be only too glad if the information is satisfactory. All I want is to have it brought to the notice of the House that certain things have been done and the Saorstát has been implicated in them.
The Senator has made it perfectly clear and I cannot allow him to speak again. Does the Minister desire to go on?
We did take very definite action in the special conference. We opposed the British Government. I do not know whether that will satisfy the Senator.
I am quite satisfied.
In future, in selecting matters to criticise the Senator might make a better selection than the two points raised by him to-day. Yet his action to-day is typical of his Party. Status is an important question—so much so that it might be said that it lay at the root of the civil war. But when an opportunity arises to discuss this important matter, to reveal our inferior status, as the Senator's Party says it can be revealed, how does the revelation proceed? Two or three utterly futile points in the Dáil, in the Seanad, Afghanistan and opium. That is the height of the criticism with regard to the very important matter of status. That opium question put in the form of an insinuation——
I made no insinuation.
I am going to leave the Senator to read his own remarks. He may have said more than he intended. He may not know exactly what he is going to say until he stands up. I said before that we were quite pleased with our representatives abroad.
We understand what that means.
I want to detail that a little bit more. It is quite clear that if Senator Connolly, when he was in America, seven or eight years ago, had the same attitude towards the British as he now thinks our representative at Washington has he would have made a very hopeless representative from our point of view.
If I had not that attitude I would be hopeless.
We now see after seven or eight years in which detailed discussions have gone on about status that the Senator bases his view of our inferiority on Afghanistan and opium. I cannot understand the Senator's inferiority complex with regard to the British, and I am very glad that we have better representation now than we had previously.
I only purpose to deal with a point which was raised, or rather, I should say, a question which was raised this afternoon by Senator Connolly and Senator Comyn. That is the question of alleged ill-treatment of a man called Ryan in the County Clare by the Civic Guards who were stationed in the County Clare. Senator Comyn was very careful to tell the House that he was a Clareman. He wished, seemingly, to make this House believe that he was speaking on behalf of the Clare people. He talked about breaking the spirit of the Claremen, the young men of Clare and the old men of Clare. It certainly seemed to me, in the course of Senator Comyn's speech, that he was insulting the people of Clare, because the gentleman, Mr. Ryan, whose spokesmen Senator Comyn and Senator Connolly were to-day, whose alleged grievances these two Senators were reciting to this House, is not a man who has got the sympathies of the old men or the young men of Clare, because all the respectable persons in Clare, the old men of Clare and the young men of Clare, loathe the criminal activities of the association of which Mr. Ryan is a leader in Clare.
Why is he not tried?
We are told by Senator Comyn that the people of Clare are getting terribly upset and perturbed about the actions of the Guards in Clare. I will read here a statement by somebody who knows a great deal more about Clare than Senator Comyn. I will read to this Seanad what has been said by Dr. Fogarty, Bishop of Killaloe. I fancy he is a better authority and more entitled to speak for the young men and the old men of the County Clare than even Senator Comyn. He is dealing with the outrageous murder of a Guard in this particular part of Clare where Ryan lives—I may here interject that the Senator, dealing with what happened in the County of Clare, never said one word in reprobation of that shocking crime. Dealing with the County of Clare, and of the relations existing between the people and the Guards in the County Clare, I should have thought that Senator Comyn would have grasped at the opportunity of expressing the loathing and detestation which I sincerely hope Senator Comyn feels for that loathsome crime. Dr. Fogarty says:
"That outrageous crime has shocked the whole countryside. Those who were responsible for it have neither religion, conscience, nor common humanity."
On a point of order, we are not discussing the crime that occurred several weeks ago, nor do I consider the remarks of the Bishop of Killaloe relevant to the question we are discussing. I submit that the Minister is digressing, that he is deliberately evading the point and——
Is this a point of order?
——that he is wasting the time of this House on a matter which is not relevant to the question.
I am sure the Senator does not like my speech. It has been stated here that the Guards are unpopular in Clare.
I said "a section of them."
I do not think the Minister is dealing with the question strictly.
I am, sir. The statement goes on:—
"The blood of that innocent young man will follow them to eternity. It is only a mercy of Providence that even more lives were not destroyed. For Guard O'Sullivan, the sad victim, we have profound regret. May God reward him with everlasting rest for the zeal and virtue with which he protected the lives and property of others and served his country.
"We sympathise most deeply with his mother and family and friends far away in Cork, and we sympathise with the excellent force in which he was a young officer of outstanding merit and popularity.
"The cortege that followed his remains from Kilrush is evidence of the general mourning felt for him, and the indignation caused by his death. That appalling crime may have, and I hope will have, one good result. It is an object lesson, and a fearful one, to young boys of what they subscribe to when they become members of a ruinous secret society in defiance of their Faith and religion.
"Distressed as the whole community is by the shocking crime, one reads with disgust the flippant references to it by some members of the Dáil.
"The country has a right to expect not a virtual palliation, but an outspoken and stern condemnation of such an abominable crime."
There is the view of the Bishop. There he expresses his view of the Civic Guards and what an excellent force, in his opinion, they are. I put his views against Senator Comyn's views and I ask the Seanad to accept them. Senator Comyn complains that this man Ryan has been searched again and again by the Guards.
Of course, he has been searched again and again by the Guards and will be searched again and again by the Guards. A very short time ago Colonel Moore objected to my speaking too much in the Seanad. May I ask him for one moment to restrain his anxiety? Of course, this man has been searched again and again by the Guards; of course, his house has been searched again and again by the Guards; of course, his house will continue to be searched, and, of course, he himself will be searched, because we are not going to allow crimes to be hatched out. This gentleman does not want to be searched. He objects to his house being searched because he wishes, and those associated with him wish, to hatch out crimes without let or hindrance, and the persons who are upholding him, like Senator Comyn and Senator Connolly, although they do not mean to do so——
On a point of order, I made a perfectly cold-blooded statement. I pointed out, and I think Senator Comyn pointed out also, that this was a series of allegations and that we wanted the matter investigated. We have not said that they are true, but we claim that they are matters for investigation. We are being side-tracked by a whole diatribe of things that are not relevant to the charge.
That is not a point of order.
I submit one thing the Minister has to do is to analyse the statement that has been given and have an investigation into the details.
I stated that Senators, consciously or unconsciously, were giving assistance to these men, that consciously or unconsciously the only result that could follow from their action is that these men will get encouragement.
Is the Minister definitely asserting that this Mr. Ryan referred to in the statement is a criminal? That seems to be the purport of his whole argument. If he is a criminal we want to know why he is not arrested and charged.
Mr. Ryan is the head leader of an association in Clare which is out to upset by force ordered and established government in this country.
He is still at liberty.
Mr. Ryan has never denied that himself. Are the Senators ignorant of it? Is Senator Comyn, who comes from Clare and knows all about Clare, ignorant of that?
You made a charge against this man of treason. Certainly, I am ignorant of it. I think it is disgraceful that the Minister should make a charge against a man in this House which he cannot prove.
Then the Senator thinks that Mr. Ryan is not associated with it?
I am certainly ignorant of any activities of Mr. Ryan.
I cannot allow any more of this discussion.
I am very glad that the Senator is ignorant of them.
We must protest against being accused of knowing all about a Mr. Ryan, of whom I heard nothing until to-day.
So I thought. Possibly it would have been better if the Senator had made inquiries.
I made a perfectly cold statement in question form which we must have answered.
What about other men who have been assaulted?
I really must ask Senators not to interrupt any more.
I would suggest that you ask the Minister to keep to the point at issue. I think it is your duty to us to protect us against this kind of attack.
I think the Minister should stick to the point.
As far as this man, Ryan, is concerned, he has been again and again searched and will be again and again searched. That any undue violence has been used against Ryan I do not admit. I know that certain charges were made in the Dáil by Deputy de Valera. I got the police reports, and I am satisfied on them that no undue violence was used against him. A certain statement was read here to-day. I received no notice of what was in that statement and, therefore, I cannot tell the House definitely whether the statements contained in it are true or not. How on earth could I? But I say this, that I think it highly improbable that they are true.
Will you investigate them?
That is my business. If this man says that any wrong has been done to him, let him go into court. As far as I am concerned, I am simply dealing with the discipline of the Guards and I am perfectly satisfied——
On a point of explanation——
I cannot have any further explanations. It is very clear.
As far as I am concerned, I am satisfied that the police in Clare are perfectly disciplined and are doing their work in Clare admirably, that they are keeping the peace and preventing outrages in Clare which, if it were not for their activities, would spring up.
Might I ask the Minister a question? Are we to understand his position to be that if a person is suspected, within the knowledge of the Minister, of being associated with criminal activities, it is within the discretion of the police to harass him, to enter his house and to stand by his bed at their will, to arrest and re-arrest him, to search and re-search him, and, generally, to treat the man as though he were a prisoner unconvicted, without attempting to charge him with an offence? Is that the position that the Minister takes up— that it is allowable within the law for that sort of thing to happen?
Of course it is!
The Senator is, of course, making statements on the assumption that the statement which has been read out is correct.
No; but I am asking a question on your statement.
My statement is that he has been searched, and will be searched again and again, and I say that this man is a well-known leader of that association in Clare. If the Senator reads a paper called "An Phoblacht"— which I hope he does not—he will know that there is no secret about that. Now, that is a person who is likely to carry about with him dangerous and seditious documents, documents which would spread sedition around the country, and also documents which would probably lead to very grave and serious crime. On account of what has happened lately in Clare, it is necessary for the Guards to keep him under very close surveillance and to search him again and again, so that he may not be able to hatch out successfully illegal organisations.
Will the Minister confine——
You have asked the Minister a series of questions, and I cannot allow you to ask any more.
This is a point that I think is important. Will the Minister confine his discretion to the police to search and surveillance——
Senator, please sit down.
- William Barrington.
- Sir Edward Coey Bigger.
- Samuel L. Brown, K.C.
- Alfred Byrne.
- Mrs. Costello.
- John C. Counihan.
- The Countess of Desart.
- James G. Douglas.
- Sir Thomas Grattan Esmonde.
- The Earl of Granard.
- Henry S. Guinness.
- P. J. Hooper.
- Sir John Keane.
- Cornelius Kennedy.
- Patrick W. Kenny.
- Francis MacGuinness.
- James MacKean.
- John MacLoughlin.
- Seán Milroy.
- James Moran.
- M. F. O'Hanlon.
- Thomas Toal.
- Richard Wilson.
- Caitlín Bean Uí Chléirigh.
- Michael Comyn, K.C.
- Joseph Connolly.
- William Cummins.
- J. C. Dowdall.
- Michael Duffy.
- Thomas Farren.
- Thomas Foran.
- Thomas Johnson.
- Seán E. MacEllin.
- Colonel Moore.
- Joseph O'Doherty.
- John T. O'Farrell.
- Séumas Robinson.