Skip to main content
Normal View

Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 Aug 1932

Vol. 15 No. 30

Private Business. - Negotiations with British Government: Motion.

I move:—

"That, in the opinion of this House, a satisfactory and permanent settlement of the present unfortunate differences between the Government of the Irish Free State and the British Government can best be obtained by direct negotiations between duly accredited representatives of the Governments concerned; and, having regard to the fact that the present economic strife, if persisted in, can result only in serious material loss to the peoples of both countries and in profit to neither, the House urges the Government, as trustees for the nation, to re-open forthwith direct negotiations with the British Government with a view to such settlement."

My principal object, my only object, in putting down this motion is to give the House an opportunity of expressing its views upon this unfortunate dispute between this country and England before we adjourn for the recess. And by expressing its views I hope it will be very definite on this matter. By expressing these views, which I hope will be very definite, they may induce the Government to devise some means of bringing about a settlement. The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, on the Second Reading of the Emergency Imposition of Duties Bill, said:

"Certain discussions took place with regard to the possibility of arbitration. Certain discussions took place with regard to the possibility of negotiation, but, at the moment, there is no line of contact, no line of communication being pursued." That, to my mind, is a serious position, and, if persisted in, if this state of affairs is allowed to drag on, it may have very serious consequences for the country. I believe it is the duty of the Seanad, as one of the two Houses of the Cireachtas, to express its opinion very definitely on the present situation and on the present policy of the Government.

President de Valera said that he has tried and tried very hard for a settlement but he did not tell us what his proposals were for that settlement. Lord Hailsham has thrown some light on these proposals, in an interview he is reported to have given to Press representatives at Ottawa. The report states that Lord Hailsham said: "What is the use of mediation with a man like Mr. de Valera, who won't budge? Mr. de Valera, in Dublin, six weeks ago, told Mr. Thomas and myself that he wanted an Irish Republic with Ulster in, but Ulster does not want to go in. Obviously, Mr. de Valera's hope is an impossible achievement." That is the position we find ourselves in and those are the proposals which President de Valera has put forward for a settlement of this question. That statement has not been contradicted.

It has. Lord Hailsham denied what you have read out, in the Press.

Would the Senator quote for me where it was contradicted?

You did not quote your authority but that denial has taken place in the Press. I have not the exact paper but it has been denied.

The denial I saw—I am not going to dispute the statement of the Senator—was not a denial of the accuracy of the statement but a denial that he gave the interview. Will the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs deny that that proposal was put up by the President?


I accept that.


Make your speech, Senator.

At all events, we have it and it has not been denied until now.

Perhaps, on a point of explanation, it should be stated that what is given as an opinion of what you want has nothing to do with negotiation or discussion on a particular issue. A bit of clear thinking on the part of Senator Counihan would remove that danger.

If the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs will allow me to develop my own speech and to develop it in my own way, I want to say that President de Valera at Limerick stated —and I presume Senator Dowdall will contradict this statement too—in effect, that it was futile to hope for a settlement of this question. The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, in Sligo, I think, said that he welcomed this economic war with England and hoped it would be a war to a finish. When we take all these statements into account, and take the speeches delivered by the different Ministers through the week-end, one is forced to the conclusion that this fight is not being waged for the retention of the land annuities, nor for any adjustment or reduction of the financial settlement with Great Britain, but that it is purely and simply a manoeuvre to get this country out of the British Commonwealth of Nations and to get some sort of excuse to declare an independent republic.

Many people speak very lightly of this crisis. They believe that there will be no tightening of belts or no stiffening of backs for them and that they will be able to carry on in their old way, but there will be disillusionment. If the present policy of the Government is persisted in, the whole social and economic structure of this State will be shaken to its very foundations and it may lead to red revolution. Up to the present, the farmer is the only one asked to suffer. He has lost his market through the imposition of extraordinary and enormous duties and through the ill-will which is springing up in England against him, and if this war continues for four or five months, what position will he be in? In the Free State, we produce something over 1,000,000 cattle to sell per year and of that number about 200,000 are bought for home use. I want to know what are we going to do with the other 800,000 which we have exported up to this? We produce about 600,000 sheep and lambs for export. What are we going to do with these if we are not allowed to export them? We produce enormous quantities of pigs, bacon and other agricultural produce, and what are we going to do with these? We must sell them to England, no matter what price we get, for we have no other market. That is the position, and the sooner the Government realise that—or admit that, because I am sure they realise it already—the sooner we will have a settlement.

For all these sacrifices what is the farmer promised? He is promised derating of his agricultural land. He is told, I believe, in some of the speeches, that his great-grandchildren will bless him for the sacrifices he is putting up, but let us take the actual and immediate promise of what he is told he is going to get if the land annuities are retained. Take the farmer of £10 valuation for whom the Government and the supporters of the Government have such great concern. His rates would be about £3. He is going to get that £3 in rates allowed to him. What will he get on the other side? He will have to sell about £100 worth of produce, and, even if he only lost the 20 per cent. duty, he will be at a loss of £17 on the transaction. The farmer is warned to pay his land annuities; he is warned to pay his rates; he is warned to pay his shop debts and other liabilities, but where is he to get the money to pay all these? Where is he to get the money to pay his workmen? Where is he to get the money to buy boots and clothes for his children? He certainly will not starve. He will have potatoes and meat, but he will have no money to get bread or other essentials. Where is the money to come from to finance the housing schemes and the other schemes which the Government have proposed? Where is the money to come from to pay the civil servants and public officials of the country and to carry on the ordinary work of the State? Last year our adverse trade balance was well over £14,000,000. What is it going to be this year if our exports are stopped? I could put forward a good deal of dark prophecies of what will result in the near future if this policy of the Government is persisted in, but I do not want to do it. This motion is an appeal to the Government to settle the question, and, therefore, I do not want to say any severe or hard things to the Executive Council, but I would appeal to them, even at this eleventh hour, to consider the question of having this matter settled. I would appeal to them to leave us within the Commonwealth of Nations, for it is the only hope and salvation of this country.

I formally second but I want to speak later on.


Very well.

I do regard this question as a very serious question indeed and I think that, when Senator Counihan was framing a motion of this sort, he should have framed it seriously. The gist of his motion is "to urge the Government by direct negotiation between duly accredited representatives of the Governments concerned" to stop this economic strife. Surely Senator Counihan must be aware that duly accredited representatives of the two Governments concerned have met three times already, before any serious blow was struck in what has resulted now, an economic war.

A fight to a finish.

Will Senator Counihan bear with me and have some regard for the terms of his own motion? Senator Counihan urges this House to ask the Government to do what they have already done three times. I think that if he tried to direct his mind to a really serious alternative form of approach he might have gone to something rather less sterile than this motion. He said that he did not wish to bring politics into this, and said it was very serious, after having brought in nothing else.

I did not say politics. I said I did not wish to make any black prophecies as to the result.

The Senator made not only black but red prophecies of the result. He said "red revolution" and he certainly did not paint a rosy outlook. If it was not a black outlook, I do not know what it was.

I quite agree that this is a serious matter. Lord Hailsham is a very serious gentleman; he occupied very important positions. He is a man who made a name for himself in the most competitive profession in England, having been Attorney-General and Lord Chancellor. I am perfectly sure that Lord Hailsham has more sense of responsibility in dealing with a question like this than merely to give expression to the views of some anonymous correspondent, more particularly in Ottawa, where, if there is a possibility of goodwill, it will be found. Senator Counihan mentioned that President de Valera was really making this a question of a Republic; that this country was going out of the Commonwealth, and that this was not because of the land annuities. When the Senator reads the report of his speech he will see what he said. I do not think he had a very clear idea of what he was saying.

Two really serious questions were before the country at the last election. I need not bother about one of them. The second one was the retention of the land annuities, which was before the country, not only at the last election, but for several years, as the policy of Deputy de Valera, and as the policy of President de Valera. No one can deny that. The President proceeded to put that policy into effect when he got a majority in the Dáil. Negotiations between duly accredited representatives of the Governments concerned resulted and we have come to the present position. But to say that it was the policy of a responsible statesman or politician to make this question merely a subterfuge to going out of the British Commonwealth—when his avowed policy for years has been the question of the land annuities—is not treating it with a very great sense of responsibility. I do not wish to say anything which will embitter this controversy, but it has been hinted at, rather than expressed, in the British Press that this would not come to the point to which it has come, only that a large section of the Press and a considerable section of the politicians across the water were not pleased with the result of the last elections here.

Senator Counihan said quite truly that we have lost the only market for our exportable surplus by the imposition of enormous duties. The first really serious blow in this unfortunate matter was struck by the other side against this country. It is well to remember that. It may be that it will be a terrible disaster if the production of one million cattle—800,000 of which are exported—ceases. That would be a terrible misfortune for this country. But it is also a really serious consideration in our agricultural economy —and here I do not profess to be an authority, but I think it is, at least, arguable—if the result of this will be to prevent us from being so dependent on one market for the main line of our agricultural production, it may be a blessing in disguise. I make no secret of saying that this may be a blessing in disguise if it has the result of making us look even for supplementary alternative markets. That may be still more a blessing in disguise. People wildly and ignorantly say that there is no alternative market for certain of our agricultural exports.

You are not able to tell us where they are.

Senator Miss Browne will have an opportunity of speaking, and I have no doubt the House will listen to her with great pleasure. I was about to suggest where these markets are. The business in which I am mainly interested is the butter trade and I know that the Danes sell butter sometimes in America. It may be news to Senator Miss Browne that I had a passport signed to go to America because the Danes and the Siberians were doing a large butter trade there and were getting better prices than Irish butter was getting in England at the same time. There is something to be considered by those who say that there is no other alternative market in Europe. It seems to me that at present the Danes are deliberately sending butter to Germany at a lower price than they are getting in England so as to have an alternative market. If Senator Miss Browne examines the position she will find that what I am saying is right. I think this House should not embarrass or restrict the Government in any way that might point to weakness or to panic. We are not so helpless in this matter as some people believe. Poverty is a misfortune but those who look up the import figures here will see that we have been very large purchasers of the products of England, and that on the other hand they have been practically the only purchasers of our produce. If they do not buy from us, Senator Counihan is quite right in saying that we cannot buy from them. I commend to the House a comment that appeared in the Manchester Guardian last week:

For anything that is known to the contrary the British trader is suffering because the British Government insists that it alone must be the stake holder of the moneys in dispute.

The point which I wish to make is that if the misfortune, which Senator Counihan fears that England must inflict upon us, arises, at least those who are hitting us are hit themselves.

That is a great advantage to us!

It is no advantage. It is a misfortune. I am not at all pleased with the situation. I have got one blow myself and I do not mean to say that I enjoyed it. But if we go down at the first blow, God help us.

I desire to support this motion. It seems to me that the trouble in this case is that a tribunal cannot be decided upon that will settle this question. Apparently both sides have agreed to arbitrate or to negotiate but the difficulty is that they cannot agree upon the tribunal to which the question is to be referred. I think that is not a difficulty that should stand in the way of a settlement. I do not profess to be a statesman; I am merely a business man, out to try to make my living honestly, but, if a difficulty of this kind arose in my business I believe that I could get an agreement with Senator Dowdall and that we would not take the extreme course that both Governments are taking, but like sensible people, without consulting lawyers we would try to adjust our differences. I want to have one point made clear. Have we definitely determined to cease having any further dealings with England? That has never been really cleared up. If we have so decided I think we are taking a very serious course. We all know that each country will be seriously hurt in the struggle. It reminds me of the fight that took place in pre-historic times between two cats. Senator the Countess of Desart may be able to tell us the cause of the fight because the cats came from Kilkenny. I never heard the cause of the fight. I would remind the House that there was neither victor nor vanquished at the end because all of the cats that were left were two tails. If this fight goes on I do not suggest that Ireland and England will be wiped out, but everybody must acknowledge that both countries will be very seriously crippled. This dispute has been described as a war. I deny that it is a war. It may be magnificent but it is not war. War has an objective, when one country fights another, and either beats that country or is beaten itself and there is an end. In this struggle who is going to be the vanquished and who is going to be the victor? Is Ireland going to climb down? I do not believe she will. The world knows that the English people are too stupid to know when they are beaten, and therefore this war will go on interminably. Of course here we are all lovers of Ireland. That is our first duty, but it does not follow, because we love Ireland that we must of necessity hate England. I have no hesitation in saying that I have no hatred to any country, and least of all to England. I remember that my religion and my countrymen get a fairer show in England than in any other part of the world. I know that England is our best customer, and I also know that a very large number of Irishmen make a decent living in England.

It surprised me—I do not know whether it would surprise Senators— to learn that in the city of Manchester there are more Irish people than are in the cities of Cork, Limerick and Waterford together. They have always had quite a favourable showing in all their exertions there. Another point to which I would like to draw the attention of the House is that, through the influence of the Irish in England, the tourist traffic in this country is of very great account. For one American tourist who comes to visit us, ten visitors come over here from England. These people leave a great deal of money here.

I saw where it was claimed the other day that if we could shut out English coal it would mean that 8,000 Welsh miners would be put out of employment. I wonder how Senator Dowdall would like that? Wales has been the best market for many years for the produce going through the port of Cork. There are a great many Irishmen living in Wales. Anybody who publishes a newspaper in Ireland will realise that, because his newspaper will have quite a circulation there. We hear a lot about the positions that are gained under the Government here because of a Cork accent. I assure the Seanad that these positions are infinitesimal compared with the number of valuable positions obtained by people with Cork accents in the principality of Wales. May I also remind the House that all through the struggle Ireland has had with England, Wales invariably stood beside us? Even to-day, curiously enough, Wales is, I believe, more inclined, through her representatives, to side with the President's position than with Mr. Thomas. These are little things which we should all remember.

It is said that there are other markets available in case we lose the English market. I think that is a tremendous reflection upon the present traders. If I know anything of Senator Dowdall, if there were a market for butter in Timbuctoo he would discover it and, if necessary, he would go there himself and press his goods upon the inhabitants. As regards Cork, I know that there is a touch of the Phoenician in us. We were a great carrying county. The first steam boat that crossed the western ocean was owned and manned by Cork men. Shortly before I can remember, there were fleets of ships leaving Cork to trade in the seven seas. They never went to England but English goods had to come to them. English goods were carried in Irish bottoms all over the world. I do not believe that there is much degeneracy in the merchants of Cork and, if these alternative trade openings were available, I am quite confident that they would have been already grabbed by the people in the south of Ireland. Of course, I do not say that out of a quarrel good does not sometimes spring. I do not want to see Ireland without an alternative market. I know that beet sugar grew out of the Napoleonic wars. I am aware that the invention of margarine was brought about by the siege of Paris. But there has to be a price paid for these things. In fifty years' time, an alternative market may have paid Ireland but very few of us here will be alive fifty years hence and I believe that posterity will be able to look after itself.

We are all asked to line up behind the President. That is a difficult thing to do. We do not all see eye to eye with him. There are things in which I believe we can agree. Funnily enough, up to this, I was led to believe, by the statements of Ministers, that our poor country was bankrupt. Now the demand is made that all debts must be paid, even though the people cannot sell their stock. I believe that, for the present at all events, our country is very well able to meet the obligations that will be placed upon it for rates, annuities and other things. I believe it is a time when every credit-giving institution should be rather lenient. Above all, I believe it is a time when every member of the community should do everything he can to push forward the trade and agricultural interests of the country. We must not for a moment admit that we can be defeated. I hope that in a very short time the quarrel will be adjusted. It is an unnatural quarrel and should be adjusted. But if obstinacy gains the day—I do not say that there is more obstinacy on one side than on the other—there is only one thing for us, the ordinary, workaday people of Ireland, to do, and that is to struggle on, with the greatest consideration we can possibly give to the needs of our neighbours.

I am glad the Seanad has got an opportunity of debating this question. I hope that it will be debated with calm and resolute courage. The resolution proposed by Senator Counihan is in two parts. With the first part of that resolution I think there cannot be any great objection. The resolution states:

That, in the opinion of this House, a satisfactory and permanent settlement of the present unfortunate differences between the Government of the Irish Free State and the British Government can best be obtained by direct negotiations between duly accredited representatives of the Governments concerned;

I agree with Senator Counihan that the best way of settling the differences which have arisen is by direct negotiations. I shall go further and say that however long this conflict lasts, direct negotiations will have to stop it in the end. But I thoroughly disagree with Senator Counihan when he says that the negotiations should be begun by the people of this country.

and having regard to the fact that the present economic strife if persisted in can result only in serious material loss to the peoples of both countries and in profit to neither, the House urges the Government, as trustees for the nation, to re-open forthwith direct negotiations with the British Government with a view to such settlement.

At the present stage, we should not ask the Government of the Irish Free State to re-open direct negotiations. I shall tell the House the reason why. I am not in the secrets of the British Cabinet or of the Irish Cabinet, but from the proceedings that have been published it appears to me that the British Government began this conflict. The correspondence between the Governments was carried on in the most courteous, good-humoured and good-natured fashion. Letters were written from our Minister for External Affairs to the Colonial Secretary in Great Britain which breathed a desire for friendship with England. In reply, he received from the British Ministers courteous and polite letters. Suddenly, hostilities were commenced by the British Parliament when they authorised the imposition of a 100 per cent. tariff on Irish goods. That came as a great surprise to me. Looking back the other day upon the correspondence which took place, it seemed to me to be the performance of a Sir Lucius O'Trigger before he proceeded to go in as second in the duel. The duel having started, I hope our courage will not ooze out through the palms of our hands. We are prepared to be friendly with the English people but they have started this conflict and it is for them to say when they wish to have negotiations with us.

I am glad that an opportunity has been afforded me to speak in this assembly on the merits of the dispute and I beg your patient consideration for what I have to say. In the other House, lawyers, with that assurance that comes from want of experience, have told you that the Irish have no case in law. Indeed, my friend, Senator Crosbie, asked you not to consult laywers. It is my opinion that we have a good case in law and I wish to state very shortly what that case is. The conflict here is between the British Parliament and the Irish nation—I might say the Irish farmers, because they are the Irish nation. That Parliament, after the defeat of the confederated Irish, confiscated the lands of the men and women landholders of Ireland. They sold these lands to the landlords whose descendants we have here now, for money and for military services. The former owners of the land and their descendants became the tenant-farmers of Ireland. For generations they suffered, but, in time, they rose and drove out those landlords and it became the duty of the British Parliament to pay the successors of the men who had paid them for the land. And so we had land purchase in Ireland, and that land purchase was a threefold transaction. The landlord sold to the British Parliament; the British Parliament purported to sell to the Irish tenant. In order to get the money to pay the Irish landlord the British Parliament borrowed from bondholders. It is said that the British Parliament only guaranteed that money. The British Parliament were to pay a dividend in respect to that money and the land bonds were returned as a Public Debt by the English until this controversy arose.

In the last hundred years, it was proved, Ireland had paid hundreds of millions of money more than her just share of taxation. That was taken into account when the Act of 1920 was passed. In that Act of 1920, Section 26, there were two subsections, one to the effect that the proceeds of the land annuities shall be paid to the Governments of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland respectively. There is another sub-section which says that the interest and sinking fund on the land bonds shall be paid out of moneys to be voted by the Imperial Parliament. It is said that the Act of 1920 never came into operation. Courts were established under the Act of 1920; the Supreme Court was established under the Act of 1920. Men were tried and executed under that Act. Did they recognise the Act of 1920? Was the Act of 1920 in force for them? Section 26 of the Act of 1920 is, in its terms, absolute and from the day that Act was passed the bondholders had a charge upon the British Parliament, and the money to pay them should be provided by the British Parliament and it was, and is.

Then again it is said that the Act of 1920 was to come into operation only by Order in Council. If you scan that Act you will see that it could not be postponed beyond the 3rd August, 1921, except by Order in Council, fixing the date upon which the various functions of Government should come into operation. There was no Order fixing the date in respect of the payment of the land annuities to the Government of Ireland. Therefore, at latest it came into operation on the 3rd August, 1921, and my contention is that it came into operation on the date the Act was passed. A Treasury for Southern Ireland was established by Order under the Act of 1920 in the month of May, 1921, and the proceeds of the land annuities were payable into that Treasury, and the money to provide the interest and sinking fund on the Land Stock was payable by the British Parliament and was paid under its authority.

When I hear men with no experience of legal matters saying that we have no law on our side and that the lawyers who signed that paper did not know what they were saying I tell them they have the assurance which always goes with ignorance and want of experience. Therefore, I say, when the Treaty was signed on the 6th December, 1921, the proceeds of the land annuities were payable to the people of Southern Ireland. I go further and say this: the English Government will never allow that question to be submitted to arbitration. They have never said that they would allow that question to be submitted to arbitration because there would not be two words about it. When the Treaty was signed we were entitled to the proceeds of the land annuities. Now what has altered that situation? An agreement was entered into by Mr. Cosgrave with some person representing the British Government. That person was neither a Minister, I think, nor a permanent official. It is called the Secret Agreement. I do not want to be offensive in the course of this speech, which I am making as a closely reasoned speech, but I do say I never heard of it and that I have several times in this House asked and asked again whether there was any agreement. It now transpires that there was an agreement made in February, 1923, but that was only a provisional agreement, a temporary agreement, and it was fairly right as a temporary agreement because there was no final settlement of the financial arrangements between the two countries until 1925. Now a new and important thing happened and that was the passing of the Land Act in 1923. In that Act, there is a section which provides that the proceeds of the land annuities shall be transferred to the appropriate account under Section 12 of the Land Act. That was right enough also, and reasonable, as a temporary measure pending the final settlement of the outstanding financial relation. It was reasonable enough, if it had been stated to the people that it was only a temporary measure pending a final settlement. Now I am not concerned to see how that section got into the Act of 1923. It was said it was put in on Report Stage. People who were present in the Dáil said that they did not know whether it was put in or not, but there it is and there it stands until it is repealed as it ought to be repealed; and of course it authorised the payments. When the British say "Will you submit the legal question to arbitration?" I might be inclined to say: "When Section 12 of the Act of 1923 is repealed" because, of course, that is one of the legal questions that would come before the arbitrator or judge.

Now that is not all. There came then the settlement of the boundaries. It is called the Boundary Settlement, but its official title is "Treaty Confirmation of Amending Agreement Act of 1924." That Act of Parliament confirmed an agreement which was signed by Mr. Cosgrave, Mr. Baldwin and Sir James Craig amongst others relieving the Irish Free State of the obligation under Article 5 of the Articles of Agreement to assume liability. Under Article 5 of the Treaty Ireland was to bear her share of the public debts and the war pensions. This agreement to which I am referring relieved Ireland of that liability. By a third paragraph of this agreement the Irish Free State assumed liability previously undertaken by the British Government in respect of malicious damage. That was the main final agreement.

I listened with great interest to the speech of Mr. Cosgrave in the Dáil. He said that when that agreement was signed the British Minister told him:

"You are to continue to pay the annuities." And Mr. Cosgrave in reply said: "Oh yes, we shall pay the Land Annuities."

Give us the quotation.

Yes, I shall give the quotation. I heard it myself and that is what I heard. What we have then is this. You have the Act of 1920 relieving Ireland from interest and sinking fund; the Act of 1920 giving to Ireland the Land Annuities; the agreement by Mr. Cosgrave, which I said was a temporary agreement up to that; Section 12 of the Land Act of 1923 authorising him to make these payments. Then, the final settlement between two people which contained no reference to the Land Annuities, and in order to bolster it and the whole job, we have the case submitted by Mr. Cosgrave now in 1932 that the British Minister when that agreement was signed said: "You are to continue to pay the annuities" and Mr. Cosgrave said: "Yes, we will." Well, what I say is this. I will not dispute the word of Mr. Cosgrave or any other man, but I do submit to this House that no man had it in his power to charge the Irish people with the payment of £3,000,000 or £5,000,000 a year. If that agreement was made why was it not put in writing? Why was it not confirmed by Act of Parliament as all other final agreements were confirmed? That is a question which will come before the arbitrator and which if it did come before a lawyer would lead to one decision, namely, that he could not have regard to any obligation which was not sanctioned by the Parliament of Ireland, and that is what we say here to-day.

I think I have stated very briefly the legal argument in favour of Ireland. It will be observed that when we delivered our considered opinion that there were two facts of which we were not aware. The one fact was the Agreement of 1923 by Mr. Cosgrave to pay the annuities—an agreement which was capable of explanation. The other fact is what Mr. Cosgrave stated in his speech in the Dáil to which I listened, that after the agreement of 1925 relieving the Irish Free State of war debts was signed an English Minister told him by way of no harm "You are to pay the annuities" and Mr. Cosgrave with that desire to oblige which some Irishmen show said "Of course, we will."

Honourable Irishmen.

Honourable Irishmen? I do not think it is honourable for any Irishman to agree to pay what is not his to give, and that was the position of affairs when Mr. Cosgrave signed the agreement of 1925. Mind you, I am making no charge against Mr. Cosgrave except perhaps this: I do not believe that Mr. Cosgrave ever knew that he was by law entitled to the proceeds of the land annuities.


Does he know now?

Oh, he knows now.

If I were the Senator I would not speak for Mr. Cosgrave.

I believe he does now. I think he is a man of intelligence. I would not say the same for some of his followers not in this House. I make an exception—I always do—of this House. That is the legal case put in short compass in regard to the land annuities: will the English submit to arbitration the question whether on 6th December, 1921, Southern Ireland was entitled to the proceeds of the land annuities? They will not. Mr. Thomas is reported to have said: "Oh, we will put this question to arbitration whether there was an agreement and whether it is binding." Our position is this: that not one single penny of Irish money can be paid to anybody except by the consent of Parliament, and we stand for the supremacy of Parliament. No man has a right to charge the Irish people with the payment yearly of millions of money by word of mouth. If the English thought that they were entitled to these annuities, do Senators think they would allow it to depend on the recollection of Mr. Cosgrave eight years after? No; they would have it down there in black and white with the other matters that are there recorded, and would have it sanctioned by our Parliament as well as by theirs.

I would like to speak mainly for the Irish farmers. They are the class to which I belong. I am a small farmer myself at present. Had the Irish farmers a case? I believe they had. I believe that they have been paying excessive rents for a great number of years. Has this argument ever occurred to Senators? During the Great War, in, I think, the year 1915—Senator Wilson will correct me if I am wrong in this—there was a fixed scale of prices for agricultural produce. Prices were controlled.

There was a fixed scale of prices and prices were controlled. That was in the year 1915 and the control was continued until 1920. While that control was on the Irish farmers received for their produce £250,000,000 less than they were entitled to as a result of the artificial control of prices. That is to say the British Government deprived the Irish farmers of £250,000,000 at least. On the last day of control the price of bacon was £200 a ton. On the first day that control was removed the price of bacon was £350 a ton. The price jumped £150 a ton as a result of the taking away of control, so that while the Irish farmer was getting £150 a ton less for his bacon the Danish farmer and the American farmer were getting £300 and £350 a ton.

When control was removed there were no such prices for Irish bacon.

My friend Senator O'Rourke is relying on his recollection. I am relying on expert information, and I am now making this suggestion to the Seanad where new ideas and reasonable ideas will receive a hearing because this is a platform from which the matters can be fully, fairly and calmly argued: that before this question is settled, even on the merits, an account will have to be taken of how much was kept back from the Irish farmers by means of control in the five years 1915 to 1920. We have a first rate case in law. The Irish farmers have a first rate case on the merits. We have been attacked. We did not seek a conflict. We must defend ourselves while the conflict lasts. The Irish farmer is now paying his annuity in the artificially reduced prices of the products which he sells. He is, therefore, entitled at a time like this to special consideration. Senator Dowdall has said that the events of this time may be a blessing in disguise to us. I hope they may. They have shown us at least that our system of agriculture is in a very dangerous condition.


I would like to remind the Senator that he is now dealing with problematical matters. The Senator, instead of arguing the question whether there should be arbitration or not, is arguing the whole merits of the case for arbitration. I put it to him that he should deal with the question before the House.

I always bow to the ruling of the Chair. I was only echoing what Senator Dowdall said that this might be a blessing in disguise to us. I think it is relevant as showing, whether we should proceed to negotiation or not, how we are going to be hit. I think we are likely to suffer by reason of the fact that our agriculture is in an unbalanced condition. I think that the trade in grass-fed beef is in a very precarious condition. I do not know how men who bought store cattle dear last spring are going to sell them in this autumn fat and make a profit. The trade in grass-fed beef is in a precarious condition. We must so arrange the economics of agriculture in this country——


That is outside the scope of the motion, Senator.

—that the danger shall not happen again. It may be that this conflict will be a great disadvantage to us. It is well to explain that it is likely to be very injurious to England. She has a good market here. Relative to her gross exports, perhaps the market is small, eight, nine or ten per cent., but it is a very valuable market and Great Britain, I think, would be disposed to prevent, as far as she can, other countries coming in and competing with her in that market. Therefore, there are the elements of a settlement. We did not begin this conflict. I agree with the Senators who say that it is an unfortunate conflict. It is a conflict which is likely to do harm to Great Britain and a conflict which is likely to do injury to us, but it is a conflict which may enable us to put our system of agriculture in a better condition that it is in at present.

So far as the motion before the House is concerned I do not think anybody could object to the first part of it—"That, in the opinion of this House, a satisfactory and permanent settlement of the present unfortunate differences between the Government of the Irish Free State and the British Government can best be obtained by direct negotiations." Nobody, I think, can dispute that, but as to the second part of the motion I thoroughly and entirely disagree with it. In my opinion we have been attacked. We have been attacked suddenly. The best thing for an attacker to do is to withdraw his attack, and if he wants to settle a dispute it is for him to re-open negotiations. I would remind Senators that the attack made upon us is not merely an economic attack. This is not merely an economic war. If it is true that diplomatic representations were made to the Polish Government not to supply coal to this country, if that fact is true——

That has been specifically denied.

Well, I have not seen the denial.

Everybody else has seen it.

If that fact, or any fact of that description, is true it is a blockade and not an economic war, and it is a blockade which of course would be followed in a very short time by actual hostilities. Therefore, I say we have a serious question to face at present, and if negotiations are to be opened they ought to be opened by the person who did the wrong.

I am not equal to following Senator Comyn in his rambling arguments which I think are wholly irrelevant, but I will deal with a few points. He talks about confiscations. Nobody should know better than the Senator that all confiscations or talking about confiscations should be stopped altogether. At the Land Conference of 1902 to which I referred on the last occasion here, representatives of the tenants of Ireland and the landlords of Ireland met and agreed that the land should be bought out on the basis of the landlords getting their net income. That conference, as I then stated, was translated into the Land Act of 1903 and England was not to be the principal in that case. It was stated specifically that England was to be the honest broker, and if England was to find the money to pay the annuities of the tenants of Ireland that Act would never have passed the British House of Commons and Senator Comyn would never have had an opportunity of going to North Tyrone in person with the Act of the Tenant Farmers of 1904-5. It is no use talking about the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 being the law of the land. If the Act of 1920 is the law of the land, then the law of the land is that we ought to pay £10,000,000 imperial tribute——

There is no such thing.

I did not interrupt you once. And I certainly do object to being interrupted by any amiable convert to Fianna Fáil in this House. Let one of the orthodox Senators of Fianna Fáil interrupt me if he will. Read the financial clause. The Act of 1920 provided that they were to pay £10,000,000 imperial tribute and Northern Ireland has to pay that and is liable, and Northern Ireland is part of the British fiscal unit. She does not collect one penny of taxation. England keeps the till. We can have the same terms along with the Act of 1920 if we want it, but these things have nothing to do with the merits of the case at all. Senator Counihan's motion I regard as a serious motion, but at the same time I regard it as purely a waste of time to discuss it because it is quite evident from the spokesmen of the Government, from the Ministers and from the speeches they have made, that they have made up their minds to have no settlement about this thing which I suggest is a dispute about land annuities but which Senator Counihan says is in reality part of a well-thought-out plan to root out the Treaty Settlement of 1921. Having failed to destroy the Treaty by a frontal attack, this question of land annuities and the question of the Oath were deliberately chosen to precipitate war with England and to create a state of bitterness and rancour which they thought would lead to the destruction of the Treaty.

But knowing that the Oath was not a question on which the majority have a great deal of interest, or, as Senator Dowdall says, it was not worth bothering about, the land annuities question was tacked on to attract the farmers and to induce them to vote Fianna Fáil. Land annuities was the cheese with which the trap was baited, and into which the unfortunate farmers were drawn; but having got them in they did not let them nibble the bit of cheese. They are not to have the cheese. They are told they must pay, not only the land annuities but also their shop debts. That is the advice of the President, but one man following him said in Galway that they were not even to pay their shop debts. He knew what would best appeal to his audience. Thus are the people of this country being shamefully hoodwinked about the question. They are told they must meet their obligations but they are not told how, with their best market cut off and their produce and cattle unsaleable. The people were told that the land annuities could be retained and that England would acquiesce in that because she could not do without our cattle and produce. Then when England proceeds to tax cattle and produce, we are told it is a blessing in disguise, and that the shipping of our produce to England all these years was a disastrous mistake on the part of this country. And we have now a whirlwind campaign going on all over the country to get people to swallow this dope, and anyone who refuses to swallow it and who dares to contradict it is guilty of high treason.

I am sorry Senator Connolly is not here at the moment to honour us with his story of his visit to Donegal last Sunday, for he went down there surcharged with political wisdom telling the people that he welcomed this fight and hoped it would go to a finish. How do you expect the Minister of a Government that welcomes a fight to be anxious for a settlement of it? In my days a medicine man whom we called Sequah went around the country and he had a pill that cured everything. In order to introduce the people to that pill he offered free gratis and for nothing to painlessly extract teeth; but he brought with him a brass band that played its loudest when the teeth were being extracted so that the unfortunate victim's cries would not be heard. I am afraid that Senator Connolly thought that his band would be able to drown the cries of the unfortunate people in Donegal, who voted for Fianna Fáil, and who put them in the position as a Government to cut off their best market, because no one in Ireland will feel the disastrous effects of this economic war more severely than the people of Donegal.

The people there are in the frontline trenches and they have not the same relish for a fight to a finish as Senator Connolly. One unfortunate man, trying to get his cattle over the Border, had twelve head seized. He lost £150 worth of cattle. That would more than pay three times over the annuities of the entire townland in which he lived. That unfortunate man will hardly realise that the plight in which he finds himself is a blessing in disguise, nor will he see much in the wisdom of the statesmanship that tells him to depend on himself; that we should depend on the home market, and should cut him off from the only market he had; and that it is degrading to have this country as a cattle ranch and a dairy farm to provide cheap food for the English market. The Danes do not think it a bit degrading to provide the English market with cheap food. Of course, they are practical people and appreciate the value of having a market of 40,000,000 people to supply. They believe in cultivating the friendship of England. To-day you will find all over Denmark the slogan "Buy British Goods." So much do they realise the importance of the British market that a few years ago, when it was reported that the British Government proposed to put a tax on foreign produce the Danish Minister at London said that if the tax was prohibitive Denmark would have to consider joining the British Empire. But here the patriotic gospel is that there will be no solution for this country until we get rid of the British Empire. And while that doctrine is being preached, while some of the Government are preaching that here, we have a top-hatted delegation at Ottawa urging Empire trade. Certain loyal Ministers are standing uncovered at the strains of "God Save the King." We are asked to believe that none of those genial statesmen of the Empire with whom our delegates are playing bridge or with whom they are philandering in these Imperial revelries we read about can be trusted to act as honest arbitrators in this dispute. Yes, friendship and loyalty with the British abroad and anti-British Jingoism at home! That is apparently the policy behind which we are to be rallied, or to be denounced as traitors and held guilty of high treason. This attempt to silence political opponents at whom they are shouting traitors and high treason, and hints by responsible Ministers that they are exercising restraint in not suppressing certain speakers and newspapers that criticise them, show the idea of freedom of speech and individual liberty that the great seekers of liberty are prepared to give to those who differ from them. But while exercising restraint in not suppressing opponents' speeches, no restraint is to be exercised to suppress those with guns. They are to be left free to terrorise the people of the country; and there is an organised attempt to terrorise the whole of the country.

What has this to do with the motion before us?


I must ask you not to get out of order in this way.

Is it not in order to refer to attempts made by Government speakers to characterise those who differ from them as traitors?


You are not in order.

Or that a meeting of farmers called to urge that those who are——


No, it is not in order.

Perhaps this motion we are discussing is high treason, because it is not so long ago that Senator Connolly lectured those who differed from him on the impertinence of our being here at all. But if we are here, and if the Seanad is continuing in existence and it is the attitude of him and his Party to do their best to suppress this House, while we are here we will do our duty. We will exercise our rights and we will not accept the idea that to remain silent while our country is pillaged and our best markets are being ruined, is a patriotic feeling.

I did not intend to follow the last orator who has been orating away for the last half hour and making the most ridiculous statements——

You were preceded by a fairly loud speaker.

And I want to contradict a couple of his figures.


You will remember, please, that the question now is as to whether arbitration is wise or not. Anything that says whether or not arbitration would be disadvantageous is in order; anything outside that is not in order.

I only wish to quote figures in contradiction of what he stated. He made a statement here that the Six Counties have paid eight millions and are still paying it.

I made no such statement. I said that under the Act of 1920 if it was law we would have had to pay ten millions. I did not say that the Six Counties did pay.

This is what the Six Counties paid. This year instead of paying anything they have received £128,000 from Britain. That is the balance between what they paid and what they received. Last year they paid nothing to Britain and they received from Britain £120,000. During the whole ten years they have paid twenty-five millions and received nineteen millions. In the whole ten years they paid £6,000,000, and the Free State during that time has paid £50,000,000. That is the difference between things.

May we ask for the information? Who is the authority for this?

It is very remarkable that every time any effort is being made at conciliation and discussion in this matter the British have intervened to put up their case. It began some time ago by some conversations between our representative and the result was two British Ministers came here and there was more discussion. A short time after that Mr. de Valera in pursuance of these discussions went to London and he was then presented with an ultimatum which they knew the Government could not possibly accept.

There was to be arbitration and they were to decide where and who the people should be.

That is not so.

Of course, that was refused. Some time passed and some more discussions took place. Another visit was paid by President de Valera to the other side and what was the result? He went over there to discuss the position. The Minister in London had stated, over and over again, that all that was dividing the two parties was the question of the constitution of the arbitration board. Over and over again, in my hearing, and in the public papers, he made that statement but when President de Valera went over the other day that was not the question at all. He said "Hand over the money now." That was the result of the negotiations.

Not at all.

The result of the negotiations carried out in a quiet and friendly way was the imposition by them of a penal code of tribute against this country. Who is to blame for that? Was President de Valera to blame? He had gone over there and argued quietly with them and that was the result. First, they put up an arbitration board that he would not have, and, then, they said: "There is a great deal more to be done. We will put on a penal code now." He went over again with the best and most reasonable plan that could ever be devised, invented by our friends the Labour people. I was over there myself and it was evident that the people knew nothing whatever about the merits of this case. It was reasonable and desirable that the matter should be made plain to both sides but they turned it down and, not only turned it down, but demanded that the money should be paid to them before anything could start. Will any sensible person say here that we have been unreasonable in this matter or that we have not gone to every length we could to try and smooth over matters in every way?

In the House of Commons, Mr. Thomas made some curious statements. He said "This is not a question of law. It is a matter of commonsense." I do not really know how judges or arbitrators can say that things are a matter of commonsense or can decide questions of commonsense. Mr. Thomas had said previous to that "This is an international question. It is not a law question." He has repeatedly gone into the matter and said that it is not a law question but an international question which must be decided by what people agreed to at certain times. Let us see how this thing happens. I do not intend to go into the long argument which was most accurately made by a Senator on this side—a statement which could not be bettered. We began by asking, in a very kind way, "What are your claims to this money? Can you tell us what they are?" They rested the whole of their argument on two points. They said that, in 1923, an arrangement was made by which the annuities were to be handed over to them. That arrangement was kept secret, and neither the Dáil nor anybody else knew anything about it, until 1932, when the British Government revealed it. Their second plea was the 1926 agreement which was kept secret for eight or nine months. Nobody in the Dáil knew that there had been such an agreement or that anybody had gone over to make an agreement. Neither of these agreements had passed the Oireachtas. Let us see for a moment what ex-President Cosgrave says on the subject. In 1926, just before that agreement was made in secret, on a resolution by Professor Magennis and a second resolution by Senator Johnson—I quote from the discussions in the Dáil at that time— ex-President Cosgrave put in an amendment which was passed. This was the amendment:

The Dáil, recognising that Saorstát Eireann cannot be committed to, or bound by any agreement with an external Government, without the prior sanction and consent of the Dáil, has no desire to limit the Executive Council in the exercise of its functions or in discharge of its duty to defend and promote the interests of the State and its people.

A little later on, on the same day, he said:

Deputy Magennis knows full well that the State cannot be committed to any change in its fiscal policy without the express consent of the Dáil. He knows that Articles 35, 36 and 37 of the Constitution provide for that.

Therefore, those two pleas which Mr. Thomas puts forward are null and void because they were not passed by the Oireachtas, according to what ex-President Cosgrave said, and what the Constitution said, as Senators can see if they take the trouble to read these Articles.

We have been frequently told that we are dishonest in this matter. What really happened in this matter? In 1921, the Treaty was passed. The people who went over after the passage of the Treaty to settle financial questions with the British Government were people who had no notion whatever about finance. I am not saying that to their discredit in any way, but I say that the British Government had the experience of hundreds of years; they had the Treasury with all the papers and documents; and they had officials behind them to explain how matters stood. The people who went over from this country had just come out of a war here and they were not selected because they were great financiers. They were simply people who had distinguished themselves in the war. They were quite ignorant and could not be otherwise of all the financial difficulties and the law in respect of these matters. They went over in February, 1922, and a document drawn up by the British Treasury was given to them to sign, handing over certain things, amongst them being the annuities. They signed it and they ought not to have signed it without inquiry. We can say this, that they had no reasonable way of knowing anything about it and, anyway, it was only a provisional document and I would not blame them so much for doing it. Nevertheless, that document was the foundation of all the things that happened after. The British and Irish Governments went on their way with that document as a foundation. You have only to read the two documents to see how related they are to each other. They made a secret agreement in which these large sums of money, millions of money, were handed over and kept the Dáil and Seanad in ignorance.

Why was the Dáil not told? Why was it kept secret? Can anybody explain that? Just before that 1926 agreement was made, President Cosgrave made a statement, on 26th February 1926, three weeks before the agreement was signed. He said in the Dáil, "There have been no negotiations, secret or otherwise, for an economic treaty. No proposals of a fiscal character have been initiated since the London Agreement of 3rd December, 1925." Did he not know— I suppose he did not know and I am not going to say he was wrong—but why did he not know that, at that very time, the agreement of 1926 on which the British found their claim was being negotiated? It was signed within three weeks of that speech. Anybody who knows anything about the financial relations of Ireland and England knows perfectly well that, from the day the first English soldier came over to this country, this country has been exploited for British interests. During the end of the last century the matter was brought up again and again. Two Commissions sat. The Childers Commission declared that Ireland had been over-taxed for the previous 40 years and recommended that 2½ million pounds a year should be allowed to Ireland to make up for it. That was not done. In 1896, there was another Commission. These Commissions were British Treasury Commissions—in the second case, there was only one Irishman on it—but there were very competent British Treasury officials on them. The recommendation of that Commission was that Ireland had been overcharged during that time and that £3,000,000 a year should be allowed to make up for it. What has happened? Instead of Ireland receiving £3,000,000 a year to make up for that over-taxation, the Free State, a part of Ireland, has been asked to pay 5¼ millions or 5½ millions a year. Instead of receiving £3,000,000 a year, they have been paying away over £5,000,000 a year. Who did this? It was the sleight-of-hand of the British. The people who were in office in this country had not any reasonable means of knowing all the intricacies of these matters. Now, they are indignant because somebody steps forward and says that this matter should cease. They are angry and they hate President de Valera. They want to get rid of him. They have said so and there is no hiding it at all. They say "If we could get the other lads back again, we could do something."

There are a good many in this country want to get rid of him, the majority of them.

If they did get them back, I do not know how much they would get out of them. What have they been doing ever since they came to the country—telling us how they love us——


You are really going outside the motion a good deal.

What I want to point out is this——


That we should not arbitrate.

That the British do not want arbitration. Whenever arbitration is near, they put in some stop to prevent it. First, they put in the stop of the selection of the Committee; and secondly, they wanted the money paid beforehand. The going over and talking has failed miserably every time it has been tried. I have never been in favour of these things, and I have said that I expect nothing from arbitration or from talking to these people. We will only be worse off if we do it. I do not profess to be a prophet, but it has turned out that I was perfectly right. Nothing has turned up and nothing will ever turn up. The only way is to organise our forces here, and when we are bullied or cheated by someone in another country, to defend ourselves as best we can.

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?

Or is it a genuine attempt to find a basis of negotiation?

Senator Counihan repudiates the idea that this is any reflection on the Executive and says it is meant to be helpful. I would ask this House to consider—I would welcome whatever their decision is—how far we are to go and where the line is to be drawn as regards our approach in this matter. Why do I say that I want this to be a fight to a finish? Why did I say, as I did say, at LetterKenny, that I welcomed this economic war? Again, I am quoted without qualification. I welcome this economic war if it means that the one-track trade policy we have been pursuing is removed for all time. I welcome this war if it reawakens in those people who would claim to be disciples of Arthur Griffith a consciousness of his teaching, when he argued that we exported the raw material and imported the manufactured products and that we had an ill-balanced trade. The prices of cattle, sheep, pigs, wool, butter and all other agricultural commodities are fixed by the fluctuations and variations of the British market. We know it was a big trade and we know it is a big trade. If it is found that such a crisis as this places us in a bad position economically—we have always argued that it did and I have always been taught that, since I started to read the early United Irishman—if this crisis begets a position in which the people of this country will be forced to face up to the realities and the dangers of the economic situation, then I welcome this fight. Transition periods are always going to be difficult and this one is going to be acutely difficult. We have no illusions about the position. We realise what it means and how tough it is going to be. We argue that this is an opportunity for the Irish people to adjust their whole economic policy and, if it is lost, such an opportunity may not occur again. They will then continue not to be in control of the British market, not to be sure of it but always to be at the mercy of it.

While we are on that subject, what is the real position of the British market at present? Will Senator Counihan argue that this was a very valuable market for the last two years? Will he show me the commodities that produced a profit over cost and will he tell me what the prospects are? Remember, in Denmark, which is so often held up to us as an example, they are to-day in a very serious economic position. They are not able to pay their land annuities there. I quoted an extract last week showing that Germany is now in a position to feed her 65 million people. Britain will have to do something similar. Senators will remember that, for years, I have been arguing about an economic collapse, about the rate of exchange, the situation as regards the gold basis and control of currency. Let it be remembered that so long as Britain is controlling our financial and currency policy, she is able to ensure, by operation of the rate of exchange, a purely British and not imperial preference of whatever the difference in the rate of exchange is. We may have to face up to the whole question of credit before this crisis is over. We may have to face up to the question of what our banks are going to do or what they must have to do. We may have to face up to the whole currency problem. If we do, I, certainly, will be very glad that this fight has been precipitated and that we will be forced to do what we would have to do inevitably within the next 10 or 15 years. Senators talked here as if the whole world was not tottering, on the verge of collapse. There is one great advantage in this thing—if we have intelligence in this country it will make us realise that such a collapse is imminent, that it is imminent in the United States, all over Europe and in Britain itself. I do not want to go into all these points now but I want to point out that if there is intelligence and co-operation in the country, all these things will be faced and an intelligent Government which is trying to think intelligently and to do things intelligently for the good of the people and for the ultimate economic safety of the people will be backed up in its efforts.

With many points of Senator Crosbie's speech, I felt not only in agreement but satisfied that he had made them. We are in a position to meet our obligations. Of that there is no question. Individually, perhaps not; nationally, yes. One of the first charges laid against us was that we were spending the land annuities, that we had not got them in a suspense account. We are in a position to meet that. The question of credit facilities, so wisely mentioned by Senator Crosbie, will likely arise. If it does, it will have to be faced. If we are facing this question as serious men and women, who have got to realise what the country has got to go through, we will have to be prepared to face evolutionary and revolutionary changes. The Senator implied that we, more or less, gloated over the fact that the Welsh miners are being thrown out of work. That, of course, is not so. We have no ill-will towards England. We have no ill-will towards English workers. We have the greatest sympathy with them. I have the greatest possible sympathy with them, because I realise what they are facing. Perhaps, not now; perhaps not in 5 or 10 years it will come but inevitably and inherently in the whole position is collapse and it is coming much more quickly than I would have anticipated a few years ago. No doubt, Senator Counihan's motion is one that the Seanad will accept. Unfortunately, it does not mark out any specific line of action. I do not think that Senator Counihan would, as a self-respecting Irishman, want the President of the Executive Council to go further in the approach towards negotiations than he has gone. I told the House what happened. I fail to see that any further approach can with any decency, not to say dignity, be made by this country. We realise the seriousness of the position. We realise that it is probably one of the most critical issues that have been before the country since the Black and Tan war and the Treaty negotiations. But we realise also that we have got right on our side and that we have a legal position and a moral position. We realise that, if we yield on this, there is no limit to what we may be asked to yield on again. Are we to go on the run before the demands of the British Cabinet? Is there anything in historical records which shows that we ever gained before by going on the run? What I would ask Senators to remember is that we have a legal position and a moral position. That being so, it is their duty to stand by the country, giving their criticism, their opinions, their advice, not in any party spirit but in the spirit of doing all they can with everybody else to ensure that the country will emerge successfully.

Deputy McGilligan, amongst other speakers, has stated definitely that we could get a very good settlement. I never could understand what that meant. Do they know what settlement we could get? Have they any knowledge from Britain or elsewhere as to the terms upon which we could settle or are they alluding to possible settlements which they could have made and did not? They had 10 years of it; they were on a better footing, admittedly, with the British administration than we are, by virtue of their political attitude. If it be the case that we, as Deputy McGilligan says, could have a good settlement, what is the settlement he refers to and why did they not get it while they were in power? Were we so wealthy that it was felt it was due to us, as an act of grace, to transmit three million pounds or five million pounds to Great Britain? Did we do that by way of a gesture? If a settlement could have been got, why was it not got? If it was not got for 10 years, why is it argued that we could get it now? I do not want to introduce any bitterness into this debate at this point. I do regret that the speeches on this issue, where they have been made in opposition, have tended more to the support of Britain than to the support of our own country. I think that must be admitted by everyone who has read them coolly.

That is regrettable. I do not want to introduce any bitterness but the facts are as I say and they are regrettable. I do not know what purpose this motion is going to achieve. If there is some good purpose to be achieved by it, well and good. If not, it may be perfectly innocuous. It does, at all events, allow us another opportunity to express our view. It may be that some lead may be taken on the other side arising out of this debate. I am not very optimistic about that. But we are willing to negotiate. We are willing to arbitrate and we have stated definitely the only conditions we make as regards that. We think that our terms are reasonable and we think that Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, when appealing for peace at Lausanne and getting it, with the wiping out of reparations, and then appealing to America for the wiping out of his war debts, showed a very different attitude when he demanded that this money should be lodged to their account before he would even consider negotiations.

I want to say from this House that whatever hopes Mr. Ramsay MacDonald may have of having reparations wiped out by America, they will never even be considered until this issue with us is finished.

I am more or less reluctant to intervene, but I think it is only reasonable that I should identify myself with the resolution proposed by Senator Counihan. I think the subject raised, in that motion, requires most careful attention. I think this motion was a very sensible way to approach the Seanad. We are asked simply to give an expression of our opinion as to the desirability of bringing this matter to a conclusion. Anyone who has the interest of the country at heart will agree that we must be alive and sensible to matters as they stand at the present moment. Senator Comyn in his speech proposing this motion showed an eloquence and forensic ability resembling that of Sheridan in connection with the the case of Warren Hastings. There is the question of the importance of the case to be considered, but of course there is the point of view that lawyers are always wonderfully successful until another lawyer gets up and knocks the bottom out of the previous lawyer's statement. I do not want to anticipate that the bottom can be knocked out of the statement made by Senator Comyn. There were many things he said that I agree with, but there was a good deal with which I differ. Many people do not treat this matter seriously enough. They remind us of those who played when Rome was burning. The country is suffering and we who are connected with the live stock industry will suffer the greatest hardship. It is almost lamentable at the present day to see the way the markets are affected by the new tariffs. No later than last week I saw a number of cattle sold at a loss of £40 10s. on the lot. That, in the case of the particular farmer concerned, represents a couple of years' annuities and that will be the case with many other people before very long. I appeal to the Government and the Executive Council to make the most earnest possible efforts to explore every avenue with a view to bringing about a settlement.

In connection with the issue between the contending parties there is a certain amount of pride at stake. Neither one side nor the other will give in. Certainly they have gone out of their way to some extent to meet one another but without success and it does appear as if it would require some strong third party to come forward. I say, with all sense of responsibility, that this economic war, if persisted in, will have the same effect as the Great War had on the world. A recurrence of this will have to be prevented by some League of Nations' authority and never be allowed to start again. It began, in a small way. There was the usual preliminary canter, but the seriousness of it, the loss and the responsibility to people who want money to pay their debts will be more and more aggravated as time goes on. For that reason I say, with all sincerity, the sooner the Government or the Executive Council can bring this contest to a close the better.

I do not intend to deal, at any length, with the speeches that have been made. It all boils down to this: Can we or can we not have negotiation with England? In the beginning, and before this economic war started at all, there was an opportunity, and a very good one, for negotiation with England on the question of the land annuities. A situation had arisen which never arose before. It was brought about by these conditions. The full weight of the world depression had not fallen upon Ireland until the present year. As a farmer I know more about that than all the Fianna Fáil Party put together and it is as a farmer I am speaking. I claim, in spite of what Senator Connolly said and knowing better the opinion of the farmers, that there is no call at all for this economic war. What brought about the position in which a good agreement could have been had upon this question of the land annuities? This change did not occur when the previous Government were in power. The farmers were able then, though with great difficulty I allow, and I know what I am talking about, to get through their obligations. They met their liabilities until the full weight of the depression reached them about the beginning of this year. No matter that a good settlement was brought about in the Conference of Lausanne to which Senator Connolly referred. But it was not in a war spirit, or a spirit of arrogance that the parties went into that conference. They went in in a very humble spirit and resolved to get the best bargain they could.

How did our Government approach this question of getting a remission or a re-adjustment of the land annuities? They went about insulting the other party in every way in their power. They said we do not owe this money, and we will not pay a halfpenny of it. For my part, my father signed his agreement when he purchased his land and I stand by that. If I did not he would rise in his grave and charge me with being a renegade to my family and my country. I do not agree and never agreed that this was not an honest business deal which should be approached on its merits. President de Valera could have gone to the British Government and the whole economic situation which has arisen now would be averted. He could have gone and said —and that is what Mr. McGilligan meant—or what I believe he meant— to the British Government with perfect truth: "The farmers of Ireland are not able to pay, I know they are not able to pay. Can we not come to some agreement: can you not meet us and make a reduction, or can you not give us some accommodation to get over the economic depression and pressure which has come upon us at the present time?" But not at all. The same callousness and pride and arrogance that brought about the Civil War which cost the country thirty-five millions, is displayed now, and is going to cost the country a great deal more. If this matter is not settled the cost of it is only going to be a drop in the ocean compared with what the cost of the Civil War was. It is a matter of pride and arrogance that prevents us going to the British Government, not in any degree of humility, but in an honourable way to ask for an honourable settlement. That is the whole thing in a nutshell. This condition is all brought about by that war spirit which so many efforts are made to arouse in the country now. I tell Senator Dowdall and the other Senators who have spoken that we are not going to be silenced by cries of "traitor." It is our right to speak and we have a right to free speech. The late Government never once tried to silence these people in the country. In the last ten years everything insulting that could be said was said about them and they never made the smallest effort to close down free speech. They never said "You must stand behind us or else you are traitors." That is a state of things that no honourable person could assent to. Not for a moment. People cannot be misled. They must be allowed to give their opinion or there is no freedom; it is simply tyranny.

There is not the smallest sympathy for the poorer farmer at all. I am inundated and bombarded by those men about their annuities. They are at their wits' ends as to what they are to do. They have no money; they cannot pay and yet they are afraid that they will have to pay not once, but twice, three times or four times. Many of these poor people state they have already lost six times the amount of their annuity. These people are small farmers — half farmers, half cattle dealers, and there are many of them in the country and I know many of them. I do not want to go into this question of the 1920 agreement. Why does not Senator Comyn speak the whole truth and tell us also of what sums this country was relieved in the past? I deny there was any secret agreement. The country knew all about it at the time. I was not a member of the Dáil but I knew all about it. There was no such thing as a secret agreement.

A temporary agreement, I said, pending a final settlement.

We heard a lot about a secret agreement at the time. There was no secret agreement. When Senator Moore was speaking I asked his authority for his figures about the north but I did not get it. What really happened was that when the arrangement was made about paying the land annuities we were relieved of over £10,000,000 per annum. There is another important item and that is that there is something over £2,000,000 coming to Ireland in the shape of income tax out of moneys sent out of the country. That money comes back to us free, gratis and for nothing.

It is not coming back to us now.

Senator Fanning can correct me afterwards.

I quite agree with what Senator Miss Browne says. There was a difference of 1/6 in the income tax, but now unfortunately it is level.

Yes, since the present Government came into office we have had that increase in income tax. We have had a passage of arms before about the confiscation question. It is a very deep question. I must say to Senator Comyn again that there is no logical conclusion to be drawn from it. If we want to find the original owners of Irish land we had better join an archaeological society and then we will find that the original occupiers of this country came from Spain about 4,000 B.C. Unless you go back to them you will not find the original owners.

Did they bring the land with them?

No; they found it here. The land was covered with ice and they were the first occupiers. I suggest that Senator Comyn should join some archaeological society and then he will find out all about the original inhabitants.

I know the history of my own family. My forefathers represented Munster in the Supreme Council of the Confederation.

So did mine. My ancestor was a Colonel in the Confederate Army and was just as good as Senator Comyn's.


I think Senators might now come back to the motion.

The motion outlines a way in which the matter could be settled. With regard to the case made by Senator Comyn, I say with all due respect to him that we have lawyers who tell us that in regard to this matter his Party have not a leg to stand on. If they think they have, why will they not go to arbitration?

I wish briefly to approach this question from a different aspect to that of most other Senators. I think that an eleventh-hour resolution in a time of crisis is not a desirable thing, and we are in a great crisis in Ireland at the present moment. Resolutions of this kind, if passed, may or may not have an effect that is not desirable. The motion recalls to my mind a certain county council resolution which was passed when Ireland was fighting the Tan War. The resolution was similar to the one now before this House. It was a cry for mercy: "Stop the whole thing. We will be friends again." That county council resolution had a very important bearing on what followed. It was recognised at the time that that resolution, as well as a letter which appeared from an important politician, deferred the Truce, which came afterwards by at least eight months. The English people thought, as a result of the passing of that county council resolution, so like the motion that Senator Counihan is proposing to-day, that the Irish people were going to squeal, and that it was the first sign of weakness. But, instead, the Irish people held on to their course and they won. The war did not stop. The Black and Tans became more terrible in the country. The Truce would have come about eight months earlier than it did but for the passing of that resolution.

I am sure that the Senator who put down this motion probably did not even know of that county council resolution. I am sure that if he did or had the slightest idea of the consequences of it he never would have put it down. However, if it is passed to-day it will not be of the same importance as that county council's resolution was in the past. I think the English people and the English negotiators have learned to know the value of resolutions of this kind. At the same time, fearing that it might have any disastrous effects on the great crisis we are in, I hope the Senator himself, who has called this an eleventh hour resolution, will withdraw it even now, and that he will see that this discussion has been a very creditable one, I suppose, to this House. What the Senator himself had to say and what others who spoke in favour of the resolution had to say will, I am sure, reach the ears of those who have the re-opening of negotiations in their hands, without the Seanad passing the resolution at all.

We have discussed a great many subjects more or less relevant to the motion before us. The speech of the last speaker is one that I would like, first of all, to refer to. It is the kind of speech which is obviously sincere, but I think it was just as mistaken as this motion. You have it in every country where there is a struggle. In Great Britain, anyone who had the courage to say that the War ought to come to an end was said to be showing weakness. I am not convinced that the people who were strong nationalists, who expressed the opinion, as some courageously did during the struggle, that the time was coming when it should come to an end, did harm. I do not believe that the people to-day who say that this thing is not going to be worth what it is going to cost us and that it is time an effort should be made to put an end to it are either showing weakness or doing harm. I deny that those of us who believe that we ought not to be put into the condition that we are in to-day and that the struggle ought not to be gone on with are necessarily in any sense approving of the attitude taken by Britain. When I spoke before in this House I think I made my position clear with regard to that.

We had to-day a long and able speech from Senator Comyn. From his point of view it was a pretty fair speech, fairer I must say than a number of other speeches. Still I do not think his was a fair speech to-day because he knows that some of us honestly disagree with some portions of it and he knows that we must not say so. He knows that if we were to enter into legal arguments against him we might injure the position our country is taking. I am not going to do that. I do not think anyone here wants to do it. Therefore, I think he should not have placed us in that position.

It is inevitable, when any country gets into a struggle with another country whether it be war of the old-fashioned kind or an economic struggle, that there will be some people who will have grave doubts as to the wisdom of their Government's action. That cannot be helped. That does not mean that they are going to try and make the position of their Government more difficult in maintaining order and in keeping stable the economic position of the country. I do not believe any of us want to do that, but you cannot help that. I wish I could believe, as Senator Connolly does without any doubt, that he has absolute right on his side. I hope he has, and I am not going now to question it, but what I do say is that some of us who in the past had doubts are not doing wrong in urging that even now an effort should be made to bring this thing to an end. We have had a certain amount of talk about secret agreements. Now we hear of secret disagreements so that none of us know what exactly occurred. Senator Colonel Moore does not know. That is obvious from his speech. I thought I knew from the papers, but having listened to Senator Connolly to-day I confess now that I do not know.

I thought before this debate took place that there was first of all a discussion between the representatives of our Government and the representatives of the British Government at which proposals for arbitration on the question of the land annuities took place. I thought that the basis on which that arbitration was to take place was satisfactory to our Government. I gather now from Senator Comyn that they did not agree on the essential point: that England would not agree to any arbitration on what he regards as the essential point as to whether they were due on a certain given date. I thought that the point on which there was to be arbitration was, as far as the point itself was concerned, one to which our Government agreed.

What I said—I gave it as my opinion—was that the English would not consent to arbitration on the question whether Southern Ireland was entitled to the proceeds of the land annuities on the 6th December, 1921, when the Treaty was signed.

And the Senator further said that he thought that was the essential point?

I refer to that to show that whereas we thought the point which was to be arbitrated had been agreed on between the Governments there are now grave doubts as to whether it was. I thought before to-day that the one issue on the question of arbitration was the nationality of the chairman.

The terms of reference were never settled.

I thought that was the point. The people of this country were given to understand that was the point. If there are other points the people are entitled to know them. They are entitled to know what this fight is about. I understood on the last occasion that there was no question of any negotiation between the two Governments. Senator Dowdall says there was. I understood that no negotiations took place; that there was only a discussion as to the way by which it might have led to negotiation. The Senator objected to this motion because he said there had been negotiations. From the facts in the papers I quite disagree with him, but again, I wonder what are the facts? I understood the last discussion took place to see whether a way could be found by which there might be negotiations which might not necessarily lead to arbitration at all. I understood then that Britain proposed that the annuities should be paid over before these negotiations took place. I find now from what Senator Connolly stated—I took down what he said— that they asked for the payment of the money prior to the arbitration. That is a totally new thing which I was not aware of before. I do not think it was clearly stated before.

I agree that when two Governments come together for discussions the matters discussed must of necessity be secret, but when these break down it is not good enough to go into war with just the statement that they have disagreed; with vague statements made by the Ministers and others as to what took place. I respectfully submit that the debate makes it clear that we do not know. Then there have been references to the Oath. I do not know how far the Oath is affected by this position of war between the two countries. What I want to come to and say is this: that I am not suggesting any reflection on the personnel of this Government, but I say deliberately that it is a reflection on the British Government and a reflection on this Government that we have to go into an economic war upon a matter of that kind. I say it is a shame to both countries. If a regiment of soldiers from Britain had landed here we would be in a panic. We would not be making jokes about it. I tell the House—I feel perfectly certain about it—that this economic war, carrying the fight to a finish, as it has been glibly talked about, is far worse than if a regiment of soldiers came here. There is no use, if one may use a vulgar phrase, codding ourselves about it. What is it all for? It is because we have not had agreement. I was glad to hear Senator Connolly say here again to-day: "We are still ready to go to negotiation." Though I disagree with other things that the Minister said, I want to say that that statement, coming from a responsible Minister, was worth this debate, and with great respect to Senator Mrs. Wyse Power I am of opinion that Senator Counihan's motion was justified if it was only to get a renewal of that statement. In every war, one side always says that it was the other side started it. In every war, either one side or the other must propose negotiations. The ending is always the same—by negotiation.

It is not good tactics to squeal.

I am not squealing. As one member of this House, I am in the position to say that I have no other interests outside of this country. It is not squealing to say that we are out to do all we possibly can to avoid economic war and to put this country in a position of security. We are told that the present situation may possibly be a blessing in disguise because it will lead us to alter our economic policy. I do not want now to discuss whether that economic policy we want to alter should or should not be changed but I want to say you cannot wisely alter your economic policy during an economic war. It will be done all wrong. It will be done without plan. And you will not succeed in these circumstances even if it is a good policy. Assuming for the sake of argument it was a good policy it must be done, as well, when you have markets elsewhere. I think there may be markets elsewhere. I do not know whether there are or not, but the job is to try to find those markets and not to first destroy the other market. When you have your new markets then you may be in a more independent position. This may seem to some very disloyal: I do not think it was reasonable to ask for these annuities to be handed over pending arbitration on the issue, but I would sooner have done that than go into an economic war for half a year or so. You may say this is a traitorous, but it is an honest, statement. Now, is there a way out of this? If it be true that the British Government were prepared to enter into negotiations, and that Senator Connolly says they are willing to enter into negotiations but the crux is the payment of this money, then I say that is easily got over. That money should be put with the Bank of International Settlements on deposit. England particularly asks for that because she thought negotiations might go on for years. It would show good faith on our part, and it is a practical proposal to make if that be the issue, but honestly I do not know what exactly is the issue. Now, I do not think it matters if this motion is put or is withdrawn. I do not think it matters if it be put at all, and frankly I do not care whether this is settled by arbitration or by some other people making proposals or whether it is done as stated here. But I do say it is the duty of every Irishman to make every effort to see that it is done.

I have been waiting for a considerable time to hear some member of the Opposition have the courage to come out and definitely propose that the money ought to be paid over. After we passed Senator Miss Browne I had given up all hope. Senator Douglas went in a half-hearted way about it and said we should pay it over to a Bank of International Settlement. I do not know how to account for it but even if somebody had the courage to stand up and say so here I doubt if he would have the courage to go down the country and tell the farmers to demand that the money be paid over as an alternative to the continuance of this economic war. We have heard several speeches here which are nothing more or less than a repetition like gramophone records of resolutions we have heard passed by alleged farmers' meetings around the country. I do not mind saying that I believe it is just an organised attempt to stampede the people. Still, there must be considerable disagreement even amongst the members of the same organisation, and in a few cases at least we have had meetings of farmers in a few counties demanding a two years' moratorium. Now if there was any proof necessary as to a moral and legal right to these land annuities I say the fact that the farmers who are organised to embarrass the Government by demanding the two years' moratorium, definitely proclaims that they did believe that we had the right to retain these land annuities, because if the country did not have the right to these land annuities, how do they suppose the Government could grant a two years' moratorium? I do not want to go further into that phase, but I would like to say that I agree with Senator Mrs. Wyse Power when she suggests that Senator Counihan should withdraw his motion. The motion, if it had any useful purpose in opening discussion on this matter, has already served that purpose, and I would appeal to Senator Counihan to withdraw that motion. Senator MacLoughlin says we cannot drown the voices of the people to their suffering as a result of this economic war. I think I am as much in touch with the people of the country as most of the Senators here, and I say without fear of contradiction that the only people squealing at the present time are the very last people who should squeal— the big farmers, the ranchers and that kind of people. The small farmers and workers have very little to say, and anywhere they voice their opinions at all they voice them very firmly behind the Government. We are accused of glorying in the sufferings of the workers of England and other countries. I for one would like to say that we do not glory or rejoice in the sufferings of the workers of England or anywhere else in the world, but we do feel that when this hammering has passed over the heads of the workers of England it will definitely fall at the feet of the English war lords and bring them to their senses; and I believe it will do that before very long. We are accused of Jingoism also by Senator MacLoughlin but his memory must be very short if he thinks that his Party during their ten years in office ever lost an opportunity of putting their own Jingoism into operation against their own people. I will not go further on in that matter as I may create some more bitterness and I do not believe that that would serve any useful purpose at this stage. When a ship at sea runs into a gale each member of the crew may be called upon to make a little sacrifice.

A great sacrifice.

At the present time the ship of State is run into a gale and, whether we like it or not I hold it, that each and every man and woman of this country is a member of the crew. Some people in this country may think they are first-class passengers but even if they are, first-class passengers in certain circumstances have to get out and do a little work. I say this ship of State is in a squall. Each member of the crew may be called on to make a little sacrifice. Now I think it will be admitted by all parties we are all in the same boat. The majority of the people in that boat are not to make the sacrifice over the whims of the few. There are certain rules and laws whereby people will have to conduct themselves in that boat. And so I appeal to the patriotism of those who claim they have patriotism and to the commonsense of those who have no patriotism, just in a few words, to "don't rock the boat." That is all.

I am not going to say very much. I want to point out that there seems to be in the tabling of this motion a real confusion. It is assumed that the Seanad on the motion will decide the question as to whether the land annuities should or should not be paid. I presume that the Senator who tabled the motion acted in good faith, and I feel that the question we are called upon to decide is not whether the land annuities should be paid to England or not. It is a question as to whether direct negotiation is the best method of obtaining a decision on the question of the land annuities. I have listened throughout the debate and I have heard very few arguments advanced for or against direct negotiation. It is, however, suggested in the motion that if the Seanad so decides that direct negotiation is the best method of approach, our Government should undertake the initiation of this direct negotiation. Now, while assuming that the Senator who has tabled the motion has acted in good faith, I feel he has not taken the realities of the situation into consideration. Direct negotiation has been tried. We are led to believe that direct negotiation reached a certain point that no decision could be come to between representatives of those Governments concerned in this question. In other words, our title to the land annuities and other moneys was put forward in a statement of claim by the representatives of our Government and a counter-claim was put forward by the representatives of the British Government. A deadlock was reached and it seems to me as an individual, not speaking with any Government authority or information whatsoever, that when that deadlock was reached the only sane commonsense attitude for both Governments to take up is the existence of arbitration, and all talk of negotiation as the best method in the circumstances seems to me to have no foundation in reason.

Now as to the question of arbitration: We desire arbitration. We as a nation are anxious for arbitration. Personally I am anxious for arbitration because I believe that no final decision can be taken on this matter unless by arbitration. Some of those who are opposed to the attitude of the present Government regarding the constitution of the arbitration court state that the spokesmen of the Fianna Fáil Government are of opinion that there are no honest men inside the British Empire, or, as some call it, the British Commonwealth of Nations. I would ask them to consider whether that argument should not be turned back on themselves. Are they assuming that all the honest men in the world are within the confines of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and that all men outside the British Empire are dishonest men? Senator Douglas in speaking stated that he made a discovery in the utterances of Senator Connolly that the Government was still desirous to negotiate—"still willing to negotiate," I think the words used were. Can Senator Douglas or any member in this House or elsewhere opposed to the standard of the Fianna Fáil Government point to a single solitary statement made by a responsible Minister of that Government to the effect that they would not negotiate on these issues? Negotiation was not turned down by the Fianna Fáil Government. Fair arbitration was not turned down by the Fianna Fáil Government. A deadlock was reached in negotiation and before a decision could be arrived at as to the constitution of the arbitration court the British Government took the immediate action of what is now termed economic war. That is the situation as I see it as an ordinary citizen. I think that if we discussed this motion and kept strictly to its terms, we would not, as a supposed group of intelligent citizens, essay to bind the hands of any Government by stating direct negotiation is the best way of settling this dispute. It is on that basis that I approached the question and I ask the mover of the motion to keep that before his mind and not to wander into the pros and cons of the question at issue, regarding the payment or non-payment of the land annuities. If that is done, I feel that we, as a Seanad, sitting deliberately on the question as to whether we are accepting this motion or not, will have no hesitation whatever in rejecting it.

I do not quite understand from what has just been said whether the speaker meant that he approved of the resolution or not. The difficulty I felt all through in regard to this was that it was more or less putting Senator Connolly and those who represent the Fianna Fáil Party in this House, and the Government, in a difficulty, because no matter whether they agree with us that it is a desperate thing to see this war go on and whether they really in their hearts would like to see it ended, I found it difficult to see how they could vote for this resolution without seeming to imply some fault on the part of the President. That was the only thing I could see that ought to prevent this House unanimously passing this resolution. There, if I am interpreting the last speaker correctly, I think he and I very nearly agree, and I think Senator Comyn very nearly agrees. In the first part of his speech he said he could agree, and I believe that there is not a single soul in this House who wants this thing to go on and who would not give anything in the world to see it stopped. Yet here we are with long speeches about the right of the thing, and how many of us Senators really know where the rights are? I do not and I doubt if anyone else does. We have our own views about this, that and the other, but when we see such a state of affairs as this country going into an economic war with Great Britain, there is not a single one of us who would not do all he could to stop it.

How is it to be done? By taking a resolution such as this and letting it go out to the world that we could not drop political differences sufficiently to say that we deprecate the war and that we believe, as the words of the resolution have it, that every effort should be made to find a way out? That is all it amounts to. I have altered the words a little at the end because I did not like the wording to reopen forthwith direct negotiations with the British Government, because that implies something or another connected with the past negotiations and might be said to reflect on the President and the Government. I thought it could read like this: "... if persisted in, can result only in serious material loss to the peoples of both countries, and in profit to neither, the House urges the Government, as trustees for the nation, to use every effort to effect such a settlement." I believe honestly that there is not a Senator who would not agree to that wording. The farmers know the gravity of a war such as this terribly well, but we business men know it just as well, and we are voicing the opinions of a very great number of people in the Free State when we say that we view the present condition of affairs with the greatest fear—I do not quite know what is the right word to use.

We are being forced into a war that can do no good to anybody. I was listening to Senator Connolly and he said that we were fighting about five million pounds. He said that we were also fighting because this was an opportunity for the Irish people to establish themselves in a position which sooner or later they would have to face. He also said that he thought that the British people were on the verge of a breakdown, and that, therefore, it was a time when it would be a wise measure for the Irish people to endure the calamity which this means and that, if they did not do it now, they would have to do it 15 or 20 years hence. We all know the condition of the world at the present time. There is not a country in the world that is not very nearly on its beam ends and all the wise people of the world are trying to get nations to help nations out of the trouble and out of the morass, and, here are we, an intelligent people, hesitating to give an opinion and to state unanimously that we object to the war and that we do not like it, and asking our Government to use every effort they can to find a way out of it. That is all the resolution means. That is all it does, and I think it is a great pity that any of us should be voting on Party lines in this matter. I deprecate, as I said, that we should debate it, because I could see a difficulty in the way of Fianna Fáil Senators voting for it. We did not want, and nobody wanted it, to put them into a difficult situation, but, as it has been raised, I, for one, certainly think that whatever the majority may be, it would be a great thing if the Seanad would state definitely that it is their opinion that a way of peace should be found.

Senator Jameson says that he hates war and I am sure that everybody echoes that. We all deplore war and we realise that war, whether on the battlefield or an economic war, is injurious mainly to the poorer or working-class people. There is a war going on now. We are told it is an economic war. Certain people are complaining and they are very sorry for the poor people. I have yet to learn that any working-class organisation has stated, on behalf of its people, that they are suffering unduly because of this economic war. When did the economic war commence?

Three weeks ago.

You are living in dreamland, Senator. This war has been going on for years. This country has been competing for England's trade against the world. That is a war.

But we were not shut out.

We were not but we got very few privileges. England has a monopoly of our trade without any war. I think the mover of the resolution, having brought forth this discussion, and given every shade of opinion in this House an opportunity of expressing itself, should withdraw it. I am opposed to war. My father was neither in the confederate army nor in the directory; he was a dock labourer, and the dock labourers at the present time are going to suffer more than any member of this House and a great deal more than any of the poor small farmers who are so much talked about. In the course of my travels, I came across people who ought to know something about agriculture, and I am told that there are at least 18 countries where we can dispose of a great deal of our surplus agricultural produce. We are trading with them now. There is one organisation in the country that is trading with them now on a competitive basis, and, if they are forced by reason of the 20 per cent. duty out of the English market, they can open up trade with them.

I believe there is no great difficulty in respect of butter and certain other articles of agricultural produce. Cattle are the great difficulty but when we analyse what we are losing in respect of cattle, we must realise that the humans are more important than cattle. What employment does cattle-raising give in the country? Certain people have a monopoly, and, through them, certain other people may be hurt to a certain degree, but what about the human beings who ought to be employed on the land? What is their position to be? I feel that whatever is the outcome of this, nothing will be got by holding up our hands and saying "Give us what you can" or by going over to the British Government, as one Senator advocates, and begging and whingeing. We have been whingeing for centuries and what did we get from it? I have no antipathy whatever to the English working class. I have no reason, but when it is a question of preserving this country, and the interests of this country, I decide for this country, although I am not one of the people who say "My country, right or wrong." I am not so Jingo as all that but I think that in this matter it is certainly our duty not to put difficulties in the way of the people who are dealing with it. I certainly believe that, having got an expression of opinion from the House, the resolution ought to be withdrawn. I have to vote against it although I do not want to.

This is an economic war. It is not a war on cattle or land annuities. To be strictly accurate, it is an uneconomic war for both countries. It means destruction, destitution and death for many people on both sides of the Irish Sea. Like every other war, they must get the cannon fodder somewhere, and the cannon fodder in this case will be the miners of South Wales, Cumberland and the other mining districts in Britain. The cotton workers of Lancashire, the wool workers of Leicester, the boot workers of Northampton, the iron and brass workers of Wolverhampton and Birmingham—many of these people are Irish or of Irish descent, but, at all events, they are human. They are formed just the same as the people here to the image and likeness of God and we are going to make cannon fodder of these people because we want war. When I say the people on both sides of the Irish Sea I mean the head of this State, and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, who is head of the British Government. On this side, it has already affected drovers, yardmen, dockers and railwaymen. They are the cannon fodder on this side. Soon it will affect farm workers, shop assistants, shopkeepers and eventually the whole nation because our trade with the people on the other side represents 96 per cent. of our total exports. President de Valera rightly advised farmers and everyone else to pay their debts, to pay their rates, their annuities, their taxes and pay the shopkeepers. But if farmers have not got the money to pay how will they pay? If farmers cannot export their produce where will they get the money to pay their workers? With the exception of Guinness's stout and Jacob's biscuits we have no other exports except what the farmer produces. If money is not coming in how will farmers pay anyone? And if they cannot pay it means bankruptcy, because there is practically no other industry in the country. It means the bankruptcy of the nation, and privation and poverty for everyone. It means filling the cemeteries and filling county homes and mental hospitals. Statistics prove that during a war the population of mental homes decreases, the reason being that many of the people who in the ordinary course would be in them are out fighting. When they are killed by a bullet there is no more about them and they will not worry the mental homes or anyone else. In this war, when the people begin to suffer from starvation and poverty, their minds cannot stand the strain and they will have to be put in mental hospitals where the State will have to maintain them. I do not know where the State will eventually get the money to carry on these services. I do not want to enter into the rights or wrongs of this question. I stated previously that I considered both sides were wrong owing to the way in which they approached it.

The Minister referred to-day to the previous Government, and I think mentioned that Deputy McGilligan stated that the dispute would have been settled if it had been approached from a different angle. The Minister asked why the late Government had not done so during the last ten years. The answer is very simple. It can be given with one word—Lausanne. I do not want to play England's game and I do not want to say what were the views of the late Government. The present Government are going on the ground that England is not legally entitled to the land annuities. If so, that can be discussed and negotiated on. No one will be better pleased if the Government will be able to retain the land annuities in this country. There is another way of approaching this matter, but it did not arise during the period of office of the last Government. It has arisen since then. The reason is that Great Britain has forgiven some other nations' war debts. I do not admit that this is a war debt, but it could be treated in the same way if it was approached in the proper manner. That was what Deputy McGilligan had in mind, that this dispute could be got over if properly approached. I do not want to criticise my friend Senator Comyn but his speech reminded me of a gentleman known in the West of Ireland who was in the habit of saying "Doctors differ and patients die, ora pro nobis!” I think I can truthfully say to-day: “Lawyers differ and nations starve, ora pro nobis.

I move: "That the question be now put." We have heard very little about the negotiations but all about the reason for retaining the land annuities.

I second.

Question put and agreed to.


I appeal to Senator Counihan to withdraw his motion.

I am sorry I cannot do so.

Question put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 12.


  • Browne, Miss Kathleen.
  • Costello, Mrs.
  • Counihan, John C.
  • Crosbie, George.
  • Desart, The Countess of.
  • Douglas, James G.
  • Fanning, Michael.
  • Hickie, Major-General Sir William.
  • Jameson, Right Hon. Andrew.
  • Kennedy, Cornelius.
  • MacLoughlin, John.
  • O'Connor, Joseph.
  • O'Hanlon, M.F.
  • O'Rourke, Brian.
  • Staines, Michael.
  • Toal, Thomas.
  • Wilson, Richard.


  • Comyn, K.C., Michael.
  • Connolly, Joseph.
  • Cummins, William.
  • Dowdall, J.C.
  • Farren, Thomas.
  • Foran, Thomas.
  • MacEllin, Seán E.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • Phaoraigh, Siobhán Bean an.
  • Quirke, William.
  • Robinson, Séumas.
  • Ryan, Séumas.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Counihan and Wilson; Níl: Senators S. Robinson and O'Doherty.
Motion declared carried.
The Seanad adjourned at 8 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, August 4th.