I do not propose to go into a resumé of all that has been said in the various debates on this issue. Senator Counihan, with, I have no doubt, the best will in the world, is anxious to have negotiations resumed, and judging by his speech and by the various remarks he made to-day and on other occasions on the proposal and dealing with this whole issue, one would imagine that the failure of the negotiations and the failure to agree upon a tribunal was entirely one of responsibility for the President and for the present Executive. I think it would be very wrong that such an impression should be created or that such an impression should go out from this House. Senators who have been taking an interest in this matter will remember the various steps and the progress of the controversy. The latest step was when the President of the Executive Council went across to London to see the Premier, Mr. MacDonald. It was conveyed through Mr. Norton by Sir Stafford Cripps, following various discussions that went on between them, apparently, and in which the Labour Parties on both sides of the Channel were interested, that the possibility of a basis of negotiation might be reached. Willing, ready and anxious to explore every avenue towards that end, the President of the Executive Council left this country and went to see Mr. Ramsay MacDonald.
It is interesting to note the period at which he went, and it is interesting to take Prime Minister MacDonald that week-end and contrast him with Prime Minister MacDonald a very short time before at Lausanne. We get here in the one person two different mentalities, two different approaches, two different points of view, on what is really a common question, the problem of peace between peoples, the problem of equitable settlements, the problem of clearing the air, so that the peoples might live together in agreement and in harmony. The Prime Minister of England, speaking at Lausanne, referred to the necessity for facing up to agreements which could not be kept, and in a review of the entire position as regards Europe, he made a very worth-while speech on that issue. He dealt with practical things in a practical way, in a sympathetic way, in an almost sentimental way, with the result that we know, and the Germany of 1914—the super-devils that were to be exterminated by war to end war; the people who were a blot on civilisation and Christianity, in other words, the Hun—was to be released from all payments of reparations with the exception of a nominal sum which was to be lodged and which might never be called upon. Prime Minister MacDonald, having achieved this worthy object by the wiping out of the reparations, then turned his eyes to the United States and, in his own terms, made the plea: "See what we have done in Europe; come now and do likewise to us." Almost within a week following his return from Lausanne this same peacemaker in disguise, in discussion with the President of Saorstát Eireann, did not attempt to discuss the possibility of negotiation, did not budge one inch from the question of a tribunal, but did say in effect: "You must lodge the money to our account and then we will talk about it after."
I want to ask Senator Counihan if one of his associates in the cattle trade came and told him that he owed him £100 or £1,000, which the Senator refused to pay because he did not owe it, believing that there was no legal argument against him, and knowing, as we know, that there is no moral argument against him, but was prepared to let the issue be decided by a proper judicial tribunal or court, and if prior to the matter going into court, Senator Counihan's supposed creditor demanded that the money be paid, without the legal aspect or the moral aspect being examined, what is the Senator going to do? I submit that is the parallel in this case. President de Valera went across to London and I said in his presence that I did not believe it was wise for him to go. I opposed his going. I do not think any harm came out of his going. I am satisfied that no harm came out of it. If it did nothing else, at least, it relieved President de Valera of the continuous and the unjust charges made against him, first that he is not a person with whom anyone can negotiate, and second that he is not willing to negotiate at all. I submit that the President went very far, if not too far, in making the trip to London to discuss with Mr. Ramsay MacDonald the basis of negotiation. Senator Counihan has quoted an interview which was supposed to have taken place between a Press representative and Lord Hailsham, in which Lord Hailsham is stated to have said that Mr. de Valera would not budge. Lord Hailsham has repudiated the interview and ipso facto has repudiated the statement, because if an interview is published with a certain statement in it and if that interview is repudiated then the statement in it is equally repudiated. Let us take it on its merits. It is indicative of the mentality we get when Senator Counihan accepts the words of others instead of accepting the verdict of President de Valera. Senator Counihan and those who live in Ireland ought to know President de Valera better than Lord Hailsham. They ought to know the circumstances, and they ought to do what Lord Hailsham has been doing, namely, standing up for his own country and not standing up for the enemy.
President de Valera is also supposed to have stated that he wants a Republic with the Six Counties in. President de Valera has always held to that point of view, and always will, until it is achieved. His whole Party is committed to that policy. He explained at great length, both in this House and in the other House, what the objects of Fianna Fáil are, and he pointed out during the last election that we deliberately went to the country on a restricted mandate. I would refer for a moment to the speeches made on the Treaty debates. The one and the only reason that enabled the Treaty to be put over on the people of this country was the stepping-stone argument. We were told we would get freedom to achieve freedom. We were told we would go one step after another to achieve complete independence, and Michael Collins, God rest him, wrote to me in America and told me that we would have a Republican Constitution, and that it would be no time until we had a full Republic. This is the first time I made that statement, but it is true. These people should not now attempt to follow the British attitude, by trying to discredit the President of the Executive Council and to follow on the same lines as Lord Hailsham. We are working on the restricted mandate which we got at the last election, and let it not be forgotten that the Oath, which is gone, and the land annuities were the big issues. It is by virtue of that election we are in executive power. The electors may have been all wrong, the decision may have been all wrong, but the facts are that it is by virtue of that we are in power to-day as the Executive.
Senator Counihan referred to a speech of mine in Sligo on Saturday night, and Senator MacLoughlin referred to a further speech of mine in Letterkenny on Sunday. Senator Counihan has quoted, as most people, unfortunately, are quoted in this country, a bald statement taken out of the context without any qualification. That, I suggest, is not decent. I am used to it and I am quite willing to stand up to that, even under these conditions. I said that I hoped it would be a fight to a finish. Here and now I frankly proclaim that I want this thing finished once and for all, and if we are going down as a Party let us go down. If the country is going to fight, now is the only opportunity. What are we fighting about? We are fighting for £3,000,000 of land annuities and for an analysis of the position with regard to £2,000,000 in payments, or £5,000,000, a year, which represents 20 per cent. on a turnover of £25,000,000. Senator Comyn, in one of the ablest speeches made in this House for a very long time, made a clear, consecutive, sequential analysis of the whole legal position, and I do not think, legally, that case can be answered. I would point to the fact that under the Act of 1920, some of which is operating in this country at present, that is to say those sections not covered either by the Articles of Agreement, by the Constitution or by repeal, the Six County Government, controlled by Lord Craigavon, collects the annuities and retains them. In this country one would imagine that all Irishmen would seek to get the best arguments and to make the best case in defence of their own country.
Senator MacLoughlin referred to the fact that I went to Letterkenny accompanied by four bands, following the example of Sequah teeth extracting and so on. I want to assure Senator MacLoughlin that I have less love for brass bands than he has, for I find they are very distracting to logical thinking. However illogically I may express myself, I do try to think logically and disturbances of that nature are not welcome. As regards teeth extraction, what we are trying to do to-day is to prevent teeth extraction. What the people who argue for a crawl to England in this issue want is to extract all our teeth and tie our hands behind our backs, leaving us nothing with which to fight. I want to emphasise now that we are anxious for a settlement, that we are anxious to negotiate, that we are prepared to negotiate and prepared to accept arbitration. But we are not prepared simply to act on the "say-so" of Prime Minister MacDonald, when he says that we must pay in the money before the thing has been argued or debated. And we are not prepared to accept his dictation as to the nature of the tribunal. That has all been thrashed out before and I do not see any purpose in thrashing it out again. If Senator Counihan—I say this in all good faith—can suggest anything practical or can use his influence in regard to negotiation, there will be no obstacle thrown in his way. When this motion is brought in here to be debated I want to be clear about two things: Is the purpose of this motion to discredit the present Executive?