The Vice-President is present to explain to you some of the reasons which make it necessary, in the opinion of the Executive Council, to have a meeting of this House held on next Friday.
There has been introduced in the Dáil to-day a Constitution (Amendment) Bill, which will be passed on Friday next. I would urge the Seanad to meet without delay to consider that Bill. Senators are aware that there was grave disorder—in fact, a state of war —in this country in 1922 and early in 1923. Afterwards, the situation gradually settled down. There were many dumps of arms in the country, and there was kept going a sort of military organisation calling itself the I.R.A. That organisation was gradually becoming weaker, and finally, about 1926, the old I.R.A. organisation broke up and there was formed a much smaller organisation about which it was more difficult to obtain information. That smaller organisation was responsible for the murder of the late Kevin O'Higgins.
Why did you not prove it?
After the murder, a Bill giving very strong powers to the Government was introduced. The effect of that Bill was to keep the new organisation quiescent or in check. About the year 1928, or perhaps 1929, the Government, because there was no overt action, no great appearance of danger, and as a result of political pressure in the Dáil, agreed to the repeal of the Public Safety Act. The Public Safety Act was repealed and, within a month or two months of the repeal, we had attacks on jurors and on witnesses.
I want to enter a protest against this procedure. This is not a public meeting.
You may make your objection when the Minister has explained why the Seanad should meet on Friday.
I want to draw attention to this irregular proceeding—
You can do that later.
I move the adjournment of the Seanad now.
We had these attacks on jurors and witnesses. Previous to that, attempts had been made to intimidate jurors. They were circularised and attacked. Attempts were made to hold them up to obloquy for doing their duty. In spite of this, jurors, generally speaking, did their duty. There were miscarriages of justice but, generally speaking, when evidence was brought before jurors, they acted upon it and did their duty. But after these attacks—after the murder of one man and the wounding of another—the position became different. We introduced the Juries Protection Act, and it had a certain effect, but, broadly speaking, it became impossible in any case of what was roughly termed a political character, in any case which affected the armed conspiracy against the representatives of the people——
I protest against the delivery of a speech now, which really should be delivered on the Bill which we have not before us. The Minister is offending against all the laws of decorum and procedure.
If you do not desire to hear what the Minister has to say, I am sure the Minister has no desire to emphasise it. Some of the Senators may like to hear what the Minister has to say, and I am in the hands of the House. The Minister is giving certain reasons why a certain Bill has been introduced, and why it is urgent. Representations have been made to me by the President of the Executive Council, that, in the public interest, it is essential that we should meet on Friday. According to my interpretation of my duties under the Constitution, I have no option but to make an order for a meeting on Friday, and I propose to make such an order.
I should like you to hear the reasons from the Minister. There is no reason why you should listen if you do not desire to do so. But I should like the Minister to make clear what the Executive Council thinks are the grounds which necessitate the line of action which he proposes. The Minister is at present endeavouring to do that. If Senators do not desire to hear him, there is no reason why they should listen, but I would ask you to allow him to proceed.
I suggest that you make the order which you say you are going to make. This question can then be dealt with by Mr. Blythe or whoever represents the Executive Council on Friday.
Senator O'Doherty and Senator Connolly may not wish to hear the reasons why this matter is urgent. There are a number of Senators here who would like to hear those reasons and I suggest that the Minister be allowed to proceed.
I protest against this. The Minister is taking advantage of the opportunity to "put across" this sort of propaganda when we have not the Bill before us. All the matters which are being raised by the Minister can be discussed on Friday. The Cathaoirleach has decided to call the House together on Friday. He says he has no option but to do that. If he has no option in the matter, then we have no option but to attend. Let us attend. Let the Minister, or whoever represents the Executive Council, speak on Friday and give the reasons for requiring the Cathaoirleach to call the meeting for that day. We can discuss it then. It will arise on the Bill but I do not see why this discussion should be initiated when the Bill is not before us and when warning was not given of such discussion. It is on a par with——
Will you, a Chathaoirligh, give a ruling as to whether or not the Minister is in order?
I submit he is not in order. There is nothing before the House. This is on a par with the action of two Senators who are apparently privileged. I presume they would have sufficient intelligence not to append their names to a motion not knowing the Bill to which the motion refers. I submit that the whole business we are engaged in is out of order and I formally move the adjournment of the House until Friday, in accordance with the wishes of the Cathaoirleach.
I second that.
I cannot take that motion. This is a question of order. The Vice-President is making a statement on behalf of the Executive Council. The point of order is whether or not this statement should be made. That is for the House to decide. If the House desires to hear the Minister, then he should be heard. If the House does not desire to hear him, then he should not be heard. If the House desires to hear the Minister, any Senators who, not desiring to hear him, interrupt, are guilty of disorder. I have powers to deal with disorder, and I shall exercise them. Let me make the position perfectly clear. The Vice-President is here to give an explanation. If you do not desire to hear him, he cannot make it. To move the adjournment of the House until Friday at this stage is out of order.
Would I be in order in moving that the Minister be not heard?
I move that.
I will take that motion.
Do you rule that that motion is in order?
Yes. The question is that the Minister for Finance be not heard.
May I draw your attention to Article 57 of the Constitution, to ask if in spite of that your ruling still stands?
I am afraid, Senator, my original ruling is out of order. Article 57 is very explicit. It says: "Every Minister shall have the right to attend and to be heard." So we cannot prevent him from attending and being heard. The Minister must stay. I will ask Senators who do not wish to hear him not to do so if they so desire, but if they do attend, it will be my duty to enforce order.
I would like to say this, that we object to the initiation of a discussion of a Bill which is not before this House. It is a most unfair proceeding.
I wish to know if we have the right to reply in case we disagree with the Minister.
I do not think so.
We are very anxious to obey your ruling. You will admit that. We would like to know if the Minister is allowed to address the House may we reply to him.
I shall endeavour to answer.
At the beginning of this particular business to-day, Senator Johnson expressed a desire to have this particular motion tabled for next Friday. So far as I can gather by an indication of feeling from the seats occupied by Senators Connolly and O'Doherty, there is some evidence of support for Senator Johnson's desire for information. That clamant desire for information is now going to be satisfied. I think the desire for that information should not be prevented by Senator O'Doherty and Senator Connolly when their own wishes are going to be complied with.
It was a question of associating ourselves with Senator Johnson in the way business is being dealt with. Nobody has got a Bill, yet here we are seriously discussing it.
It is a one-sided arrangement.
Wait now and see whether we will be permitted to answer.
Under the circumstances I will allow answers to the Minister's speech.
I only want to make a statement showing why the Government consider it urgent. The Juries Protection Bill was designed to secure a measure of immunity so as to enable a juror to do his duty without being molested, but that Bill could not be made sufficiently far-reaching to protect jurors. Jurors have been unable to do their duty and many citizens who were on the jury list have approached the Government on the matter and have said that it was grossly unfair that cases of this sort, involving armed conspiracy, should be dealt with by the ordinary jury system. The jury system is all right for dealing with ordinary crimes such as murder or robbery. That means a single individual who has only one or two associates, and when justice is meted out to him they are in no danger of revenge being taken upon them. In dealing with armed conspiracy, a juryman was liable to be shot; he was liable to have pickets outside his house and attacks on his property, and they pointed out that it was impossible to expect a single civilian to stand up against an armed conspiracy. We hoped for a long time that we might be able to deal with this movement of conspiracy by means of the ordinary law. Recently, within the last eight or nine months, it is quite impossible to maintain order in this country without taking the special powers we propose to take in that Bill.
During the last eight or nine months there has been a recrudescence of activity and an increase in the numbers of those connected with the conspiracy. In the present year three murders as well as crimes of intimidation and attempted murder have been carried out. Witnesses would be afraid to go into Court because the midnight visitor would come to them with a pistol in his hand. Juries have been afraid or unable to convict because of the same reason. While you have that conspiracy manifesting its character in the crimes committed you have youths in increasing numbers engaging in drilling parties and similar activities. We know that drilling is only the prelude to violence of various kinds. There are parts of the country at the present time where conditions are serious and we are quite satisfied from all the information we gather from police and other sources that if special powers are not taken by the Government, if those who are taking part in these movements are to have their immunity continued, we would, within a few months, have arrived at the condition in which we were in 1922 when there were armed individuals here and there throughout the country, and when there was no respect for the rights of the ordinary citizen, and when the only solution for the situation would be civil war. In one way it is not serious because the numbers engaged are not very large. It is not serious yet because they are a cowardly crew who can be dealt with and all that is wanted is for the hands of the ordinary peaceful citizen to be untied. We have means for bringing these people before a court that cannot be intimidated.
If we give our police the powers which they have not got of stopping and questioning and requiring information it will help to solve the matter. As it is at present if a crime is committed in Tipperary and a policeman meets any civilian and asks him a question as to his whereabouts and what he heard, he tells the policeman to go to the devil, and he has no remedy of any kind. If he seize that man because of the terrorism that prevails he will himself be mulcted in damages for wrongful arrest.
The position is that a handful of thugs, supported by a number of dupes and a number of rogues, have gradually built up an organisation which has become a public menace, and an organisation which cannot be dealt with by the ordinary machinery, because the ordinary machinery, so far as the civilian citizen who has to go to his lonely residence in the country is concerned, has fallen down. The same thing applies to the juryman who has to go to his residence or business house. We would require the powers to deal with it. It is all very well to have Habeas Corpus and to have trial by jury if we insist upon maintaining those, but when we have to deal with a violent conspiracy then we have something which is contrary to the interests of the whole community.
The real rise of this movement is due to the fact that during the last year or two a new element has come into the situation. The new movement is definitely, I will not say Communist, but it is Communistic, and Communistic doctrines are being preached. Many of the men at the head of the movement are men who have been in Russia and who, when they were there, received training in revolutionary methods. We have these men with the new gospel coming in amongst the remnants of the old I.R.A., amongst remnants of people who are discontented because of misfortune or some other unhappy circumstances, and trying to link them all by the belief that they have only to apply the rule of the gun and that they can seize power in this country and dominate it. This thing has been steadily getting worse, and the Government contemplated calling the Houses of the Oireachtas together to deal with it. There were great difficulties in devising legislation that would meet the situation, and the legislation that has been devised has had to be of a drastic character to prevent it breaking in our hands. The fact that we did not call the Oireachtas is no indication of our views of the matter. It is a situation easily dealt with if the powers are given—a situation that can easily get out of hand if they are withheld.
There is nothing so gripping as terrorism. The man who is terrorised is too proud to admit it, and human nature being weak, they begin to think that they might share in the spoils of some revolution that could be carried out. We have had a revolution in this country, and there are lots of people in it who do not see why one revolution should not be followed by another. The Government believe it would be tragedy on the part of citizens if they did not give the Oireachtas the drastic powers by which the movement can be crushed. There is one other manifestation of the new movement. I have already told you that the attack on jurors began with letters and visits and ended up with bullets. Visits to members of the Oireachtas began some time ago. Since 1922 there was no interference with members of the Oireachtas. Now we have the thin end of the wedge and the beginning of this new attack on the liberties of the people, and it is because of that and in order to prevent any crime of violence being done, that we want to get the powers quickly, and we ask the Seanad to deal with this matter as expeditiously as possible.
Some Senator might move that we do adjourn till Friday at 3 o'clock.
Before this motion for the adjournment is taken, I understand that you have decided that we shall meet.
We wanted to reply to the Minister.
We have all been rather mystified by the Minister's speech, the substance of which is peculiar and very unusual. We are asked now to meet on Friday to pass a Bill the contents of which we do not know, but which, I understand, is to repeal four or five sections of the Constitution which were supposed to be sacred. The first reason given for it is that when the I.R.A. organisation was dissolved in 1926 a similar organisation was then established, and that that similar organisation was responsible for the murder of Mr. Kevin O'Higgins. This is the first time we have heard that piece of information. Of course it has been stated by the Minister without any proof. I ask Senators to remember that in 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929 a Public Safety Act was in operation and that Public Safety Act was allowed to lapse.
The regrettable, the deplorable murder of Mr. Kevin O'Higgins several years ago is no reason for this drastic piece of panic legislation. The Minister says that there is a conspiracy, a small, violent conspiracy. It must be small, because until Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney started talking about it during the Summer Recess as a sort of holiday recreation, people seemed to know very little about that organisation. People know very little about it yet. I was in Ennis the other day, and I met two or three people. The first asked me what was this about, and the second asked what it was about. We do not know what it is all about except that a very violent Bill of this kind, if passed into law, would probably prevent a free, open, fair, constitutional contest in which the present Government would be defeated at the polls. The Minister intends to repress the people whom he has described. Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney has raised a bogey. He means to crush the bogey. What I regret is that there was not a word in the Minister's speech other than the word of repression and coercion.
I am free to tell you in this House some of the conclusions that I have formed in the last three or four months. In this country there has been an increase in the population. There are numbers of young men and young women growing up, twenty or thirty thousand of them. They have no employment. There are a good many people in the country who have no food. There is undoubtedly discontent in the country—discontent at the want of employment. It is a discontent which will manifest itself, perhaps, in disturbance of one kind or another. Instead of drawing the sword to cut down these men, your own countrymen, instead of using words of repression and instead of using measures of repression, it is the duty of the Ministers of the Executive Council—and this is a matter that should receive the serious consideration of the Seanad—to devise means whereby the discontent shall be allayed. Before you introduce any measure of repression you should first introduce some measure whereby the young boys and girls of this country will get employment. If they get employment there will be no room for the new theories that the Minister tells us are being so assiduously cultivated.
We are not a Communistic people; we are an individualistic people; we are a Catholic people, and although there is great discontent, and although the hunger of the people may form a fertile soil for agitation, of this I am confident, that Communism will take no root in Ireland. You will have to solve the problems of the poor, the problems of the people, on Irish lines and according to Irish ideas. Instead of passing your coercion legislation you should vote three, four or five millions for the employment of the people during the coming winter months. If you do that I think you will have very little danger of agitation, and you will have very little need for repressive measures. Instead of putting boys to goal, instead of employing young lads to watch over other young lads and to shoot young fellows in this country, you should endeavour to give the people employment. Be considerate towards the people—the agricultural workers and the town workers. See that they get proper treatment, and reduce the extravagant expenditure of your Government. If the expenses of this Government continue in the same way as they have continued for the last five or six years, you will have nothing in this country but discontent, hostility, opposition, repression, blood, murder. That is what you will have.
I move, as an amendment, that instead of Friday we meet on Monday. The Minister gave some reasons why a Bill of this kind is necessary. I think we are not justified in discussing the merits of the Bill or the reasons for it. The sole question we should consider is the necessity for urgency. I think that if the Dáil passes a Bill which it deems to be urgent, this House is bound to take heed of what the Dáil sends to it; but let the House bear in mind that this is a Bill to amend the Constitution. Let us assume it passes the Dáil on the Minister's assurance, the Dáil being obedient. Let us assume that it passes the Dáil, as desired by the Minister, on Friday. This House is then expected to receive a Constitution Amending Bill, consider it immediately and pass it into law by Saturday, in accordance with the motion that has been put into the hands of Senators O'Rourke and Wilson, presumably by the Minister. If this House has any respect at all for its past constitutional acts, surely it is not going to be browbeaten into amending the Constitution in that fashion. What urgency has been suggested? The Minister speaks of things that have been developing during the last nine months. He said that the conspiracy at this moment is not very great; there is nothing to fear.
I did not say that.
The Minister said it is not serious now.
From a national point of view; but it might be very serious from an order point of view.
If the Minister's statement is to be considered of any value at all, it is the severest possible condemnation of the Minister for Justice and the Gárda Síochána.
It is the severest possible condemnation. This House, we are told, must pass a Constitution Amending Bill by Saturday afternoon. If it does not the Gárda Síochána and the Minister for Justice will not be able to maintain order for, say, three or four days longer. That is the implication in the Minister's statement. My suggestion is that the House should have at least time to consider what is in the Bill that will, it is assumed, have passed the Dáil, and from Friday evening until Monday is not a very long time to consider a Bill of such importance. It meets any reasonable demand there may be for urgency. I say that if the House agrees to make an amendment of the Constitution of so radical a nature as is suggested, then you may as well say good-bye to Constitutions. Constitutions are utterly useless if they can be played about with in that fashion. It is desirable that we should be allowed some reasonable time to consider this important amendment of the Constitution, and I think in the circumstances my proposal to meet on Monday instead of on Friday should receive the sanction of the House.
I was not in the Chamber when Senator Johnson was addressing the House and I would like to know what it is he is moving. Is he moving an amendment to my motion?
Yes, but so far it is not seconded.
I beg to second Senator Johnson's amendment. I may say that I have seen Senator Milroy do most extraordinary things in this House, but the most extraordinary thing of all is his attitude now. He comes in here and he asks what business is on. It is his business to remain in his seat and listen to the debate.
I am in the Chamber as much as some Senators.
I wish to emphasise that in my opinion the Minister did commit himself to the statement that the position at the moment is not serious. I do not believe it is serious. In his heart, apparently, the Minister does not believe it is serious. There is absolutely no necessity for calling us together to discuss this measure next Friday. What is the existing situation? A Bill is introduced into the Dáil and nobody knows at the moment what will be the fate of that Bill in the Dáil. The Executive Council apparently claim to be prophets as well as everything else, because they tell us that the Bill will be passed by the Dáil on Friday. We do not know what the Bill contains. Two Senators came here to-day contrary to the Standing Orders and they ask that the various stages of a Constitution Amending Bill be taken on Friday. We do not know even yet whether or not they saw the Bill. The Cathaoirleach has announced that in accordance with the pressure that was brought to bear upon him by the President of the Executive Council he had no alternative but to call the Seanad together on Friday. The Minister attends the Seanad to make a statement here as to the urgency of the matter, but instead of stressing the question of urgency his statement is really in support of the Bill. This proposal to leave the matter over until Monday is a perfectly reasonable one. We have been placed in a ridiculous position by the Executive Council and we should hesitate to consider this Bill in a hasty manner.
To put it in a nutshell, the main reason for the introduction of this measure is that some extra window-dressing is necessary for the coming election. There must be dust thrown in the eyes of the people. The smoke screen to which Senator Connolly has referred must be raised and the eyes of the populace must be taken off the failure of the existing Government to improve economic conditions. The threat of war which has prevailed in this country since 1921 must again be revived in order that the present Executive will be put back into power. That is the position in a nutshell. We are sending delegates to Geneva and, in fact, all over the world, professedly for the purpose of engendering an atmosphere of peace amongst the nations. Here in our own small country with a population of a little over three millions our Executive Council is engaged in formulating measures affecting seriously the liberty of the subject and practically putting out of existence sections of the people at present disfranchised. I will never endorse action of that sort and I ask the House to refuse to endorse it. Certain members of the Seanad are seldom here, but I will ask those who remain to express their contempt for the action of the present Executive. When this Bill comes before us, if it ever does, let us discuss it on its merits.
Senator Johnson seems to think—I gather this from one or two sentences I heard him utter—that the Executive Council and those who support them have a flair for tearing the Constitution to tatters because they have nothing else to do. That is a very mistaken idea. Senators have been asked to-day why there should be so much urgency over this Bill. There is reason for urgency. In this country there are certain people who defy the Constitution. They have no regard for the rights and liberties of the people, a matter about which Senator O'Doherty is so much concerned, and their actions render the lives of the ordinary citizens in danger. Senator Johnson asks why there should be any urgency and what would three or four days matter. Possibly three or four days' expedition in matters of this sort may help to save some home from tragedy; it may help to save some lives that would be valuable to this State. All this discussion we have had to-day is simply an attempt to anticipate the debate which will take place next Friday. As far as I can judge, it does not emanate from any desire to maintain a peaceful and a calm atmosphere in the country. The peace of the country is being seriously menaced, and it is necessary for the Government to take some action to safeguard lives and property.
There are some people to whom the safety of the country is of little interest; there are people who appear to think that the best thing that could happen is for this State to go down in disaster. We who stand for the State and who believe that the State is worth standing by are of the opinion that measures necessary for the safety of the State and of the citizens should be expedited. Why should we defer this matter until Monday? Every day in a serious crisis of this sort is a day gained in the interest not only of the present generation but of generations to come. A certain small section of this Assembly, is trying to degrade it and make it cheap. Certain Senators are endeavouring to lessen the tone and the spirit that should animate the discussions in this Chamber.
I listened with great interest to Senator Milroy, but really after hearing him I am not much wiser than I was before. He talked about degrading this Assembly. I think the whole procedure to-day has degraded this Assembly to a level that it had never reached before. He also talked about anticipating information in Friday's debate. I would remind him that that anticipation was precipitated by the Minister having to make an explanation which nobody wanted to hear.
At the request of Senator Johnson.
Not at all.
We do not know what the explanation is. I could make certain surmises why the thing is going to be rushed through on Friday, but I do not propose to do that. There is one thing evident in this House, and it is that the Government, amongst the majority in this House, can claim a very considerable amount of blind voting—men who do not vote either by their consciences or anything else. At the opening of our proceedings we say a prayer, or at least the Clerk reads a prayer in which we speak of Peace, Justice, Truth, Religion and Piety. Was there ever such a travesty where men vote blindly for anything and support what they know in their hearts is not true? That is our experience of the damned hypocrisy of standing here and talking about peace, religion and piety. The thing is nauseating. It is Assemblies like this and people acting like this that are causing trouble outside the country. Senator Comyn referred to the economic position of the country in which the national position is involved. Let them remove the Oath of Allegiance to the British Government, remove the representative of the King, and take away all those menaces that certain kinds of people will not conscientiously bow the knee to in this country. Let the free vote of a so-called free people establish their Parliaments and elect their representatives without these barriers and there will then be no danger of Communism. These barriers are being deliberately kept up to keep a certain junta in power. There are certain malicious influences at work in this country that keep the present Executive where it is, and the sheep here come in to vote blindly for something that they do not know and have not seen. That is the position, and no man in his heart in this House can deny it—not one.
I spoke to-day on a very important issue, an issue that I consider important and one that has been shirked by the Executive of this country. This Bill is now offered as a smoke screen to cover over the failures of the Electricity Supply Board, of the Drumm battery, and of every other economic failure that they have made. But the day of reckoning is coming. Are we going to have it in a constitutional parliamentary way or deliberately to go out as agents provocateurs to provoke the people of the country into revolt? We stand for law and order, and we want disciplined Government. We believe in majority rule. The Ministry want to go to the country and they have got this smoke screen for electioneering propaganda. They want to create in the country an atmosphere to return them to power for another five years. In my judgment they have miscalculated this time. No one in the country believes that the country is in the danger they say, and anything the Minister said to-day has not been backed up by any evidence. Loose statements will not carry anywhere. They do not want members of the Seanad or the Dáil to have time to analyse or criticise the statements that will be made. Does anyone think that between now and next Friday we will be able to challenge the statements that were sprung in the House to-day? The thing is a travesty on decency. This is government by a junta and a dictatorship. They and they only are the possessors of truth. I want to say that truth is at a very low ebb in this country, due to the lack of moral leadership and the example of lies given here and in the other House.
By which Party?
That goes without saying. You have had control of all the propaganda. Until recently you had control of all the Press. It cannot be charged to us that we had control of anything until recently.
What about the guns and the dumps?
That is all that I am going to say. I want to support the motion that the thing be adjourned until next Monday, so that we will get some reasonable chance of analysing what it is about. This is bungling through with a vengeance. What is going to happen? I do not know, but something must be imminent when the Executive are afraid to wait over the week-end.
My memory goes back a good deal further than that of most people here. The things that have been said by the Minister for Finance and by other Minister were said long ago in the British Parliament by the people over there who were dominating this country. Every argument that was put up by Buckshot Forster and all those other people has been raked up now. It is all the same story, but the answer always came from the Irish side then, just as it is coming from the Irish side now, that the first thing you must do is to put the people in a proper condition. You must not starve them or turn them out of their houses on the roadside. Then you will have peace in the country. That turned out to be true after years and years of discussion on these matters. The same thing has arisen now. This Government has reduced this country to a state of poverty by sending all our money out of the country and by mismanagement of every sort. Even the railways are going to be torn up. We were told the other day that the Drumm battery was going to settle that question, but no one believes that now because the railways, which would have been useful, are going to be torn up. All these things are due to the mismanagement of the present Ministers. Then you have the very bad behaviour of the Guards, the division of the Guards who are detectives.
Everyone in the State knows perfectly well that this is all bluff and that the object of it is to intimidate and frighten the people of the country to get them votes. We know how that was done before. I happened to be in Tralee some years ago. I was not a member of Fianna Fáil at the time. I was asked to go there. One of the Guards, an agent of the Government, came down and beat one of the people who was electioneering in such a way that the ground was all covered with blood. It was all over his bed. I went there to see him. That is what they are going to do now. They are going to do worse because they are going to appoint Military Courts with the power of life and death over the people and nobody is to be allowed to speak about that. The Press will not be allowed to publish the evidence. What is going to happen is that you will have secret courts and secret punishments including death. Does the Minister suppose that these things, trying men secretly and all the rest is going to reconcile the country to his Government? Very far from it. Every person who is tried in that way and shot in that way will become a hero in the country because everyone will say that he was unjustly tried and shot. When we came in here to-day we found the whole place, around Kildare Street and inside, filled with policemen and soldiers. Such humbug and nonsense, all intended to frighten the people and to make a hullabaloo and good business for an election! Senators and others who had no wish to be protected have found themselves with police, who are ordered to protect them against their own will. All that, too, is for the same purpose of making a hullabaloo in the country.
People who live in the country came to me in the last few days and said to me, "Is it safe for us to go down the country?" I said of course it was, that this was only political propaganda. I said it was done before whenever there was an election to be held. There is no danger in this country. In England and in America and in almost every other country there are hundreds of murders compared to the one in this country. I believe it is stated that there were three political murders in the last three years and on the strength of that——
What about Seán Curtin's two children?
As far as I know, it is suggested that for political purposes there were three, and I know of no others. They may say that it was for political purposes people were shot, but as far as it is generally known and believed there were about three political murders in the last three years. Military courts are to be set up with the power of life and death over the people because of these three murders compared to hundreds in England. No one is going to break up the Constitution in England because of a few murders here and there, ten and twenty times more than in this country. The whole thing is bunkum from beginning to end. In the whole of my life neither the British Government nor any other Government ever dared to have military courts with the power of life and death over the people. The proposal that is now made by this Government was never made by any other people, not even by the most coercionist Government in England. I do not believe that the people of the country are going to be humbugged. The Minister gave one instance of the late Minister, Mr. O'Higgins, and on a supposition he made a statement as to how and by whom he had been shot. This is the first time that any Minister or any Parliamentarian or any judge or anybody else ever made that suggestion. Very different suggestions have been made even as to what side had murdered him. It is not by any means clear as to who did it or which side did it. Many people think it was done by the other side.
That is a dirty lie, and you should be ashamed to say that.
It is not a shame.
It is a shame for the Senator to say it.
How dare you say it was one political body did it?
I did not say it, but it is a shame for you to say it is one political body.
It is a shame for the Minister to say it.
It is a shame to put the thing down to any person or Party when no one knows who did it. That is the shame of the whole of this business. It is a shame and a sham from beginning to end, an attempt to bully and to frighten the country into voting for them at some election. People come to me and ask that very question, and I tell them that it is only humbug. The Minister for Justice actually went so far as to go to the representative of an English paper and to make political statements to him accusing his fellow countrymen of being blackguards, liars, murderers and so on. All that was published in England to the detriment of this country, and all on the strength of three supposed murders. Everything that we can do to stop this thing will be done. Some time ago, when the Minister for Justice came to this House with a Bill not so strong as this one, I told him that it was going to do more harm than good. He said that when the Bill was passed he would be able to settle up the whole country and make it all right. He has not done so. On the contrary, exactly what we told him has happened. According to the Ministers, the country is in a worse state now than it was at that time, and the same thing will happen now.
- Chléirigh, Uí Bean Caitlín.
- Comyn, Michael, K.C.
- Connolly, Joseph.
- Cummins, William.
- Duffy, Michael.
- Foran, Thomas.
- Johnson, Thomas.
- MacEllin, Seán E.
- Moore, Colonel.
- O'Doherty, Joseph.
- Robinson, Séumas.
- Bagwell, John.
- Barrington, William.
- Brown, Samuel L., K.C.
- Browne, Miss Kathleen.
- Byrne, Right Hon. Alfred.
- Griffith, Sir John Purser.
- Guinness, Henry S.
- Jameson, Right Hon. Andrew.
- MacKean, James.
- MacLoughlin, John.
- Milroy, Seán.
- Molloy, William John.
- O'Connor, Joseph.
- Costello, Mrs.
- Counihan, John C.
- Douglas, John G.
- Esmonde, Sir Thomas Grattan.
- Fanning, Michael.
- O'Hanlon, M.F.
- O'Neill, L.
- O'Sullivan, Dr. William.
- Staines, Michael.
- Toal, Thomas.
- Vincent, A.R.
- Wilson, Richard.