The motion before the House reads: "That the Seanad is of opinion that the recent actions of the Executive Council purporting to be for the preservation of public peace and order have not been justified." Senator Sir John Keane, in moving that motion in a very able speech, left me with the impression that he was justifying the National Guard in proposing to do what he blamed the Government for not doing. In effect, the impression I got from his speech was that he was encouraging the National Guard to accept and undertake authority for suppressing the I.R.A. or any similar body. He may not have intended that, but reading the notes that I made of his speech as he delivered it that is undoubtedly the impression that was created. Senator Douglas spoke of the effect of recent events on commerce and the scare that has been created by the Government's action. I suggest that Senator Douglas should just go back a week or two earlier and read the newspapers that appeared from July 21st onwards. I have before me the Independent for July 21st in which there are great across the page headings “National Guard launched in Dublin: A.C.A. disappears to make way for new body: General O'Duffy the Chief: Acclaimed by Blue-Shirt Delegates: The Army Comrades' Association is no more: Its place has been taken by the National Guard, with General O'Duffy, ex-Commissioner of the Gárda, as its chief, in room of Dr. O'Higgins, T.D.: The change of name and the appointment of General O'Duffy as leader were effected at an A.C.A. Convention in the Hibernian Hotel, Dublin, last night: It was one of the most remarkable meetings ever held in the city: Blue-shirted delegates acclaimed the National Guard and General O'Duffy by springing to their feet, with hands upraised in the Fascist salute, amidst a thunder of cheers,” and so on. Following upon that, we had a number of declarations all deliberately, I think, but certainly, in fact, tending to the creation of a state of mind and to spread the idea abroad that the National Guard, under the leadership of General O'Duffy, was a new Fascist organisation, a new Hitlerite organisation with Irish associations. It is that which, in my opinion, was calculated to create any state of disquiet, panic or unrest in commercial circles. Now I think there is certain justification for that state of— panic is too hard a word—doubt and hesitation and lack of confidence because all the evidence that has been prepared by the organisation itself goes to show that the clear intention of this body was to create a new organisation to take over government which would displace the existing system of government and social and economic organisation, with the inevitable consequence that it would raise opposition and create a state of unrest and that lack of confidence that Senator Douglas and others have deplored.
I, too, have read the reports of the debates on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill that took place in this House in October, 1931. I came across this very significant paragraph which seems to me extremely appropriate. It will be found in column 2037 of the Seanad Debates, 17th October, 1931. Speaking in this House on that occasion, Professor O'Sullivan, who was then Minister for Education, said:
"There is one great danger in a crisis of this kind that any country has to face, and that we are particularly liable to. Anybody who is familiar with the movements in the last 15 years in this country knows how remarkably quickly a situation may get out of hand, how, whatever the intentions of the individuals taking part in a certain movement in the beginning may be, that movement can get out of hand. The most fatal thing that could happen would be if this situation were allowed to drift. In its potentialities you would have a much more serious conditions to contend with than this Government had to contend with in 1922 and 1923, and the result, if the Government were not capable of contending with it, would be, as I expressed it in another place, the breaking up of this country into a number of parishes, half parishes and quarter parishes ruled by the local committee with guns in their hands."
Now, if one takes a note of that and reads the constitution of the new National Guard one will see that appropriateness of it. I want to draw special attention, at the beginning, to the kernel, the very heart of this organisation and everything that is associated with it. It is that the organisation imposes a pledge to obey officers and to obey its leader and chief, called the Director-General. The pledge reads: "I promise ... that I will work under the direction of the national executive and obey my superior officers." Right through the organisation, from the Director-General down even to the parish committee or half-parish committee of the associated organisation, we have this hierarchy: that the Director-General appoints his immediate subordinate and the chief officers appoint every officer and every minor officer in the organisation, and obedience is the one and all permeating law. Now that is an important feature to be borne in mind in examining this organisation. We also must bear in mind, as has been pointed out, that it has arisen out of the Army Comrades' Association. Deputy O'Higgins at this inaugural meeting explained that:
"His mind went back a year to a night when 12 members of the Old Comrades' Association met in a room in Dublin. At that time the general impression was that Communism was rapidly growing and democracy was only a recollection, and they sent out a call to the manhood of the country to come to the rescue of democracy and to trample under foot everything unclean, ugly and menacing in the life of the country. The response was in evidence, and was evidenced by the change that had taken place in the country in the last 12 months ... Since this organisation came into being life, property, free speech, and democracy have been safe in this land."
With that faith in their own powers they decided to extend their organisation under a new leader and to multiply its membership by calling in others than army comrades and all who were prepared to accept the direction of the leader and chief officer—the Director-General. It was pointed out by General O'Duffy in his speech on the same occasion that—
"A large proportion of the membership of the old organisation is drawn from ex-officers and ex-members of the National Army, and the National Guard will thus have the benefit of highly disciplined members in its ranks at the outset."
It will be remembered by some of us that many of the men who constitute the officer-grade of the National Guards were men of prominence and great activity, relentless and ruthless in their conduct, in the days when they were carrying on the national fight, and in the days after the establishment of this State. One knows that they have been commended for these characteristics and that they are habituated to thinking in terms of military force, discipline and orders. That is what one might call the background. Then we have the constitution. Senator Douglas said he had read through it and that he found in it many things with which he was pleased to agree. I, too, read in it many things in the attainment of which I should be delighted to assist. Some of the things in it are so good that it is a great pity that the cause they embody should have been prejudiced by the auspices under which they have been floated or under which it is attempted to make them popular. The desire to awaken throughout the country "a spirit of combination, discipline, zeal and patriotic realism" is one we all commend. But the scheme of organisation lays down, as I pointed out, that the leader and chief officer shall be a director-general. The controller is to be appointed by the director-general, and right down through the hierarchy the officers are appointed. The National Guard is, in fact, a hand-picked organisation, not selected, not appointed, not elected by the membership. Even the national congress of the associated organisation is, in the main, to be a body of hand-picked military officers—"military" in the sense that the National Guard is a military organisation. I do not want to suggest that it is using armed force, but it is military in the sense that it is organised on a military basis. Do not let us forget that the members are pledged to obey their officers. The chief officer-leader is the director-general. The director-general, as we all know, took a very prominent part in the Anglo-Irish conflict. Owing to his strong activities in the North, he became known in the columns of the Morning Post as “Use-the-lead-O'Duffy.” He became the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. He was later appointed as Chief of the Gárda Síochána. Again, when trouble arose, he—the man in the gap—was appointed as head of the Army. That was in 1925, after the mutiny. He then reverted to his position as head of the Gárda Síochána. General O'Duffy, in the course of his speech, said:—
"The present Parliamentary system, which is not Irish, is in every way becoming more and more detrimental to the best interests of the people. At the meetings in Kilkenny, Waterford, Clonmel, Tipperary, and Limerick all present accepted the new policy most enthusiastically and went away determined to advocate it in their respective areas. All were unanimous in declaring that party politics had served their period of usefulness and that the sooner a change was effected the better."
The Blueshirt of August 12 contains an article from which I take the following extract:—
"Chaos grew slowly upon Italy and Germany. It is being produced here almost over-night and the youth of the country is rising with an equal speed to face the situation. Democracy, in the short space of a year, has gone mad and committed suicide——"
The writer forgot that Dr. O'Higgins had explained how democracy had been saved within that year. But that is only a minor inconsistency:—
"and a rapid choice between Communism and some system with discipline and authority as its first principle is facing the young generation here. The choice will not be difficult."
Again, quoting a speech by General O'Duffy from the Blueshirt:—
"He broadly outlined the aims and objects of the National Guard, with particular reference to the difficulties of farming at the moment and the present Parliamentary system which, he declared, was largely responsible for their ills."
From the Independent of August 11, I quote another speech by General O'Duffy:—
"There must be a Parliament in the country, but for the good of the country the present system of parties and politicians requires to be changed. The proposed change will mean an abolition of parties and constituencies, and instead we will have representatives for agriculture, labour, science, education, engineering and the other vocational walks of life. Explaining the system in detail General O'Duffy said:—
"Each parish would be a unit, with a committee and officers in charge, and in that unit the various interests would have their representation. The next unit would be a group of parishes corresponding to the constituency in the present system, and that would also have its committee and officers. They would send delegates to the central body at headquarters, and they would send their representative to the Dáil.
"The people would be given a trial of the new system and then given an opportunity of returning to the old if they wished."
That is very generous, very kind, and very condescending. Note this:
"They would send delegates to the central body at headquarters and they would send their representatives to the Dáil."
Perhaps some of you have read some of the schemes of organisation of the Fascists in Italy and the Hitlerites in Germany. You might also note the similarity one might say, with the Communist International, the organisation, the government of the headquarters organisation of which is very nearly parallel with the executive government, and the powers which are very definitely indicated in the explanation by General O'Duffy. In the Blueshirt of August 12 the leading article contains this statement:—
"Not only does the National Guard, in accord with its conception of national comradeship, think that the State should assist in the organisation of economic groups, but it believes that the State should fix the constitution of the various unions and federations, and take care that they are controlled by men of good character, public spirit and sound national views."
"If it should prove necessary the State must check and reprove from without any organisation which is not behaving in a comradely manner, and the National Guard working within them all must try to instil into them such a spirit that the intervention of the State will seldom, if ever, be necessary."
Of course we should not forget the article in last week's issue of the Blueshirt. It advises members: “Get in everywhere.” A leading article with that heading while it does not use the word, advises the same thing as the formation of Communist cells, in every organisation.
"It must use its members not merely in connection with its own activities but also on the task of influencing the policy and feeling of all other public organisations into which they can gain admittance and which have or seem likely to have any importance in relation to the formation of public opinion."
"Not only should Volunteers remain in their old political organisations, if they are allowed, but if new political bodies are started and seem to be appealing to any substantial section of the electorate, members of the National Guard should step in and see that the new bodies are taken care of. What is advised in this regard might be dangerous if the National Guard had a different system of administration, if it were controlled by elected delegates. In that case it might happen that Volunteers who were in other organisations might acquire unorthodox ideas and attempt to distort the policy of the National Guard itself. As it is, however, control and direction in the National Guard came from the top."
I have a book which has been in my possession for a number of years. It is the official report of the debates in the Italian Parliament at the inauguration of what is known as Syndical Reform in Italy and the Labour Charter, containing speeches by the Prime Minister, Signor Mussolini, and the Minister Keeper of the Seals, Hon. Rocco regarding the legal relation of the collective relations of Labour. There is a good deal in this book which clearly proves to me that the compilers of the policy of this new organisation have been students of the Fascist scheme of things. When I read "the State should fix the constitution of the various unions and federations, and take care that they are controlled by men of good character, public spirit, and sound national views" I am referred to a quotation from the statement explanatory of the new law, in the report of the Commission to the Chamber of Deputies explaining the new organisation of trades union federations, etc.:—
"The other fundamental principle of the legal regulation of syndicates (that is trade unions) is the control of these same syndicates by the State. This control is exercised in two ways: by the power possessed by the State of refusing to approve the appointments of the persons directing the associations or of revoking such appointments, and the exercise of supervision and control. The power which the Government may invoke in certain cases of dissolving the boards of directors of the associations, and to entrust their administration to a commissioner, is only the result of the grant of judicial personality, for the Government has a similar right, in virtue of the general principles of our Public Law in respect of all bodies on which the State grants civil personality...
"It should not be forgotten that the persons directing the associations must continuously enjoy the confidence of the Government, and this is the best guarantee that the working of the associations themselves shall be in harmony with the objects for which they have been created, and recognised, and which renders unnecessary and useless the subjecting of each single act and decision to a minute examination by the supervisory authorities."
I could quote more of that formal statement of the position of the Fascist Government, as to how they intend to allow organisations of labour, and organisations of employers, and organisations of any economic character, to be conducted, by they themselves taking powers to appoint and to remove officials of these organisations, to ensure that they shall be of such "good character, public spirit and sound national views," according to the ideas prevalent at the time, by the director-general. That is the method contemplated in this organisation, according to this official statement, which is an almost complete replica of the scheme in operation in Italy to-day. Notwithstanding that, we have General O'Duffy saying:—
"I am above all a democrat, but I favour improving the present system, improving it in a constitutional way, moving only as fast as the people desire." ....
"Have the Civic Guard been ordered to direct all their attention to the National Guard and not to trouble about any other organisation? The answer to this question would be interesting. Parliamentary Government again!"
One sees right through these writings and speeches an indication that Parliamentary Government, at any rate—whatever else has to go— must be abolished. The system that is indicated as the successor to Parliamentary Government, as we know it, is one which is called vocational representation. I think there is a great deal to be said in favour of vocational representation. I think there is a great deal to be said in favour of the corporate idea—if it is a corporate idea in fact—in economic affairs, where the people concerned are governed by those concerned, but I think there is everything to be said against that idea when the government is to be imposed from above.