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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 26 Feb 1936

Vol. 20 No. 27

Private Business. - Constitution (Amendment No. 23) Bill, 1936—Committee Stage.

Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

To delete in line 30 the words "immediately upon" and to substitute therefor the words "six months after."

I think that in the case of this particular Bill, even though it has reached this very advanced stage, the Government should be asked to reconsider, to some extent, at any rate, its attitude with regard to it. I think it is highly undesirable that a Bill which has never been canvassed before the electorate to any appreciable extent, a Bill for which the Government cannot claim as it claims in the case of so many Bills that it has a mandate, a Bill for which there is no public demand and which is a Constitution Amendment Bill, though it affects a minor amendment, should be pushed through as this Bill is being pushed through. As I said on a previous occasion, it seems to me to be purely a Party measure, introduced, not in vindication of any principle and not in response to any public demand, but simply for the convenience of the present majority Party in the Dáil.

The amendment which I have proposed is one which might be improved, and if I could find means for putting it in order, I should draft an amendment which I would prefer myself, but if this amendment or any amendment along similar lines were to be accepted by the Government, it seems to me that it would meet the Government's reasonable requirements. If carried into effect, it would mean that the continuance of University representation would not be seriously prolonged if the present Government Party obtained a majority at the next election because they could simply sit still for the few months that would elapse until the Bill would become law and the University members would disappear. If the Government were so returned, they could claim—I suppose as well as can be claimed in many other cases—that it had received a mandate for the abolition of University representation. On the other hand, if the present Government did not obtain a majority at the next election, the interval of six months would leave time for the matter to be reconsidered by the Dáil and the Bill either amended or steps taken to see that it did not come into effect at all.

The Minister may argue that it would be undesirable that, on the assumption that his Party obtains a majority at the next election, six Deputies should be elected, and that, after six months, they should have to vacate their seats. I do not think that is anything in the way of a great hardship or would cause any serious inconvenience. On previous occasions, we have had a second general election following a first after a very short interval and Deputies have had to vacate their seats. I think at any rate some arrangement like this would be better than that we should be faced with having the Constitution amended in one sense by one Parliament and in a contrary sense by the next Parliament.

Senator Johnson, on the last day, said that if University representation were to be restored, it presumably would not be restored by way of a Constitution amendment. As I read the articles of the Constitution, if this Bill in its present form becomes law and if the majority of the next Dáil wants to restore University representation, it must amend the Constitution, because, as the document will stand, with the amendments proposed by this Bill, it will be impossible to have University representation. Article 26 says:

Dáil Eireann shall be composed of members who represent constituencies determined by law. The number of members shall be fixed from time to time by the Oireachtas, but the total number of members of Dáil Eireann shall not be fixed at less than one member for each 30,000 of the population, or at more than one member for each 20,000 of the population: Provided that the proportion between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency and the population of each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as possible, be identical throughout the country.

The wording of the Constitution when this Bill is passed will make it impossible to have University representation. Therefore, Senator Johnson's suggestion could not be carried out. It seems to me that the passage of this Bill, in its present form, invites a sort of see-saw amendment of the Constitution. That, I think, is highly undesirable and, if the Government will not accept this amendment, they should consider some other way of altering the Bill so as to obviate a development which would tend to bring constitutional procedure into contempt. I put the amendment down simply as an invitation to the Government, if it is accepted by the Seanad, to reconsider their attitude in respect of this Bill.

I should like to say a few words in support of the amendment. I support the amendment simply in the hope that so bad a measure will never become law. University members are a very useful element in a Parliament and it is in the interest of the Government and the country as a whole that there should be University representation. It is because they are a useful element that I consider University representatives should form part of the membership of the Parliament and not for the reasons which were alleged by supporters of this Bill on the last occasion—that University representatives serve a particular class and not the general interests of good government. This is not a question of privilege. That question is beside the point—it is certainly beside the point so far as any argument I adduce is concerned. I am against all class parties—farmers or others. Such parties are bad but I think the University members are useful to the Parliament of every country. They are a type of member which would not otherwise find its way into Parliament, and it is a good thing to have that type. University members tend to be an unprofessional element, so to speak, and they have nothing to get out of politics. They go to Parliament, for the most part, from a sense of duty. They are highly educated and they are more scientifically and dispassionately disposed towards legislation than is the ordinary member. These are the reasons why I support the amendment, as I supported the rejection of the measure on Second Reading.

I hope that since we last discussed this measure Senators have read carefully the speech of the Minister in winding up the debate on Second Reading. I do not want to resume a discussion of the general principle which was then under review. The Minister spoke at considerable length but adduced no arguments in justification of the proposal. He said on two or three occasions in a very dogmatic way: "I am not persuaded by that argument." I suggest that, in a matter of this kind, it is not for the Minister or for the Executive Council to pronounce judgment. The only judgment that would be conclusive and that should be pronounced is the judgment of the electorate. The Minister has admitted that neither the principle of the Bill nor its provisions have been submitted to the electorate. All this amendment seeks is that an opportunity be given to secure such a judicial decision from the only body entitled to pronounce upon it. I am sorry the Minister did not intervene before I spoke because he might have indicated whether he proposes to accept or oppose this amendment. If his decision is to oppose it, should like to inquire if he is apprehensive that the judgment of the electorate will be in opposition to his own and that he does not want to accept that judgment. If he is not apprehensive of that, if he is confident that the majority decision of the people would support him in this measure, why does he resist this amendment? If the question be submitted to the people and if the decision be favourable to the Government Party, then the object which they seek to achieve in this Bill can be put into effect without any undue delay. If the decision be adverse to the Minister, as I think it would be, then, as Senator Blythe has pointed out, a very undesirable situation would be averted by the adoption of this amendment. I put it to the Minister that that is the constitutional way of looking upon the matter.

The Minister spoke at great length upon various aspects of the question but adduced no conclusive argument. He spoke with great laudation of people who emerged from the Universities— distinguished figures in Irish public life. One would think from these references that he held the Universities in very high esteem. In view of this Bill, the University authorities might well say: "It is all very well to dissemble your love, but why do you kick me downstairs." This is a matter of great importance. The Minister gave scant attention to the idea that University representation is a good thing for the legislature. He suggested that because England is the only country in which it exists, there must, therefore, be something wrong with it. I do not think that that follows at all. He said, "We are keeping pace with all democratic constitutions." I wonder if that is correct. I wish it could be said of us in regard to the bi-cameral system of government. I press upon the Minister the desirability of accepting this amendment, which is not conceived in any spirit of Party antagonism. Senator Blythe drew attention to a very undesirable possibility in this matter of constitutional manipulation when he spoke of the possibility of a see-saw contest between different Governments when the change of the political pedal takes place. I do not think that anybody who seriously regards the interest of the State will consider this possibility desirable. One Government comes in and makes constitutional changes; a general election takes place and another Party comes into power and reverses those changes. I think that the present is an occasion when the Government might with advantage to their own prestige and to the stability of the conception of constitutional things, pause and accept this amendment. They should defer the final decision until the only tribunal entitled to pronounce upon the issue will have been consulted.

The last country in the world, in view of its history, which ought to abolish University representation is Ireland. In view of its boasted culture, it should be the last country to act in this way. I can understand why the present Government want to get rid of University representation when I think of the meaning of the word "University"— a universal outlook, an outlook on periods of history which show the fate of those who undertook more than they could accomplish and what happened to trumpery tyrants or people who tried to construe the will of the people to their own advantage; or who took advantage of the static effect of constitutional government, which gives four or five years in which Governments need not put themselves to the touch-stone of the people's will. There are six representatives of the two Universities. Take any three of them and parallel them with those in office when, in the expansive days of Lord Mayor O'Neill, the rates expanded in Dublin up to 150 per cent. People who were paying £100 prior to 1916 were made to pay £250 before 1921. After these expansive and expensive days, three Commissioners were put in to clear up the fungating mess. They reduced the rates. Will it be denied even by the compensated Senator on the other side of the House that if members of the two Universities were put in as Commissioners for the whole country, which is hardly seven times bigger than the City of Dublin, they would not make a better job of it than the present Government?

Mr. Healy

The Commissioners doubled the debt.

There is a debt of £6,000,000 odd on the farmers of Ireland, due to the action of the Government, who were to reduce their debt by £2,000,000. If a small percentage of that were paid over to administrators from England to come over here and carry on as city managers and as managers of the suburbs, which are the rest of the Free State, it would be very well spent, and do not think for a moment that it would be "bringing back England." By no means. England was brought back when fiscal autonomy, secured by Arthur Griffith, was bartered lately by the Government. There would have been a settlement under Redmond but for the question of fiscal autonomy. Many Republicans had to die before fiscal autonomy was secured from England. We have to pay for the present state of affairs not only in the free markets of the world, but we have to take at the highest price England's coal at the top price and bottom value and provide work for 5,000 British miners, while our own unemployed increase by 6,000 a month.

Has this any connection with University representation?

I am sketching what might be done, that three University members be put in as commissioners.

We are not asking for that. We are only talking about what came from the Dáil.

Then I will discuss the gerrymandering situation. The North of Ireland was blamed for having gerrymandered the position in such a way that the people's will and representation was impeded. There was a great outcry when Lord Craigavon and others would not allow the Nationalists there the representation to which they were entitled, and six counties were taken instead of the nine counties. One Reverend Mother and a few lay Sisters would make a better job of Ireland at the present moment than the whole of the Executive Council. University people are intelligent; they know the world's history and they have experience from which to draw conclusions. It may be said that the President's drive against the Universities has arisen from two causes. Some decades ago he presented himself for a mathematical Sizarship in Trinity and he did not succeed. I could understand the exclusion of Trinity on that score, and I could understand the exclusion of the National University, though there are two of his followers there, because being Chancellor he will not brook equals near his throne. He will reign alone. He does not want anyone to denude him of his multifarious glory. This question has far more significance than little persiflage can cover. If we are unfitted for constitutional government we could take no surer steps to bring the tyranny of ignorance deliberately and avowedly into methods of government. We may be told that the constitutional idea may not suit this country. It is a very serious thing to interfere with organised representation or even stultify the vocational representation which the new Seanad may or may not have. To cut out University representation without putting anything in its place in an Ireland which was once historically known as the "Island of Saints and Doctors," is to run counter to the historical characteristics of the country. As for the will of the people, there was never greater nonsense. The will of the people as represented by the Executive Council is the last will and testament of the farmers' prosperity. If we do not want to bring in a couple of competent English administrators, we might send to ancestral Norway to send competent managers to us. It was the Norse people who founded Dublin. Take over three commissioners from anywhere rather than blot out the one critical and conservative representation that we have got. This abolition is all part and parcel of the scheme behind the dismissal of the Seanad.

Senator Gogarty paid me the compliment of mentioning my name. I do not know whether he meant it as a compliment but, in reciprocation of the compliment, I will briefly refer to him. When he was a very young man, Senator Gogarty took my advice and, after a great many years, I humbly give him a little advice now, and that is for a man of his exceptional abilities to try to keep away from aping the position of the mediocre. He should also try to give up belittling his own countrymen at home and belittling them in the Colonies. He should try to remember that if there is any memory left to him.

On a point of order what about the Bill?

There is not much about the Bill in the Senator's remarks, but Senator Gogarty referred to Senator O'Neill, and I understood Senator O'Neill was going to refute some of his statements. Apparently he is not doing so.

I think we should adjourn and let them have it out.

I beg to thank my Daniel, the lion of the Labour Party, who has spoken. I thank him very much, but I thought Senator Gogarty in his speech claimed to have been a pupil of Trinity College, Dublin, and knowing his father and mother, it often occurred to me that it was a pity he ever left the Christian Brothers' school. Senator Blythe has the little habit of imputing things to his political opponents, and even to Senators. In all my long experience of public representation I never heard a man use more catch-cries than Senator Blythe. He said that this was a Party measure. The same would apply to every Bill brought in by any Government that might be a Party Government, but Senator Blythe with his "any port in a storm" suggestion thinks this Bill should be postponed, or not put into operation until this Party is in power. Senator Bagwell, as usual, with the spirit of the highly educated person stated that university members are useful to the country as a whole. I can speak for a long time as to what University members did for Ireland in the past, but I will reserve my remarks in that respect until I am speaking later on the whole Bill. I am opposed to the proposal that the Bill should be postponed even for one day. Remembering what has been done by privileged franchises in this country in the past, and remembering what they did for the City of Dublin by those entitled to a special parliamentary franchise, I consider they were sparking plugs of iniquity and a means of robbing the citizens of their property. I could go back a long way also to narrate what members of Parliament for the University that was in existence at the time did for the cause of education and for the cause of Ireland. I am opposed to the amendment. In my opinion what the Bill proposes to remove is something that is opposed to progress. No section of a people should have a privileged parliamentary franchise.

I had hoped that this amendment would have been discussed from a non-Party point of view. In my opinion, the amendment is much more serious than most of my colleagues on these benches or on the opposite benches realise. Coming as I do from the Border, I know very well the effect that a Bill of this kind will have on the unity of Ireland. I was delighted to read the Minister's speech dealing with that point, where he stated very clearly that if he thought the Bill would have any injurious effect on the unity of Ireland, he would reconsider his attitude, and perhaps advise his colleagues in the Executive Council to do so. Knowing some of the difficulties of our people on both sides of the Border, I do not look upon the amendment from the point of view of Senator Gogarty or Senator O'Neill. I look upon the Bill, and also upon changes that have taken place from a very serious point of view. If we look back to the foundation of this State, as far as I know an arrangement was made that certain privileges or certain rights should be given to the minority here. That arrangement was come to between Mr. Arthur Griffith and Senator Jameson and other responsible people. I look upon this Bill as a complete breach of that agreement.

I also look upon it as a serious matter that we should run the risk of depriving the country of the services of men of the ability, standing and honesty of Senators Jameson, Brown and Douglas and others of that type. I have had experience of men like Senator Jameson during the last 20 years. I know all that he did when an effort was being made to settle the Irish question. I am sure Senator O'Neill remembers it, too. Senator Jameson played a very honourable and noble part during that time in trying to avoid the conflict that came afterwards. If his advice, and that of men of his standing, had been taken at the time Ireland would be in a more happy position than she is to-day.

I live on the Border. I have had 37 years' experience of working on public bodies with men of the type of Senator Jameson. You have men of his type on the county councils of the three Border counties—Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal. You have minority representation on these bodies. I think we all realise what fine services they render on our public bodies, and how capably they assist in the work of local administration. This Bill, like others of its kind, is going to have the effect of lessening the representation hitherto given to the minority. Our friends on the other side of the House will tell us that there should be no privileged class. It will, I think, be conceded that, after all, property has some rights. As I have said, these representatives of the minority have ever proved themselves to be an asset on our local bodies, and their services have been of great benefit to the country generally.

The people across the Border, and on the Border, are very watchful of everything that is going on this side. I want to assure the Minister that all those who live on the other side of the Border are not all politicians and are not all against the unity of Ireland. Many of them, if it were safe for them to speak out their minds, would be ready to advocate the unity of Ireland. We had experience of that on the Monaghan County Council, of men who had taken a very active part on the other side of the Border in denouncing everything that was going on on this side. Yet, many of them have now come to realise that there never can be peace or contentment in this country as long as the Border remains. We should make every effort possible to retain in our public life men of the type I have mentioned, because with their help, we may be able to bridge the differences that exist between the people on the two sides of the Border. In my opinion a Bill of this character is calculated to do very great harm. It is wiping away almost the last of the few remaining safeguards left to people of that class.

We hear a lot about patriotism. The experience that I have had in this House and outside of it has disabused my mind greatly as to what a true patriot is. We hear a lot about the people who are prepared to die for Ireland and to make any sacrifice for her. But, at the present time, I cannot see any great evidence of patriotism in the country. That applies to my own side as well as to the other. If we were all real patriots and out for the good of the country, we would come together, shake hands, and say that all our efforts for the future would be directed to the good of Ireland, and that we were ready to fight for her welfare. There is no evidence that that spirit is abroad in the country. Rather the spirit abroad is that of one trying to best the other. That will never lead the country anywhere.

I do not think that it was ever the intention of the leaders who went before us to deprive any section of our people of the measure of representation to which their numbers entitled them. The minority are certainly entitled to have a voice in the administration of our affairs, and for that reason I hope the Minister will accept this amendment. I am afraid that Bills of this character will have the effect of making the Border permanent, at least during our time. It is a pity, I think, that there is not a little more give and take on both sides. There is a provision in the Constitution whereby the minority are to be given fair and just representation—not privileged representation—but what is fair and just. It is a very serious matter indeed to wipe away safeguards of that kind.

Some members may think that what I am saying is nonsense. I can assure them that I know well what I am talking about. I have an intimate knowledge of the mind of the commercial and agricultural community in Northern Ireland. If something could be done to assure these people that they could safely come over to this side, and that if they did so there would be proper safeguards for them, then, I think, we might hope that at no distant date the unity of Ireland would be achieved. This Bill is not going to hasten that end. The wiping away of the Seanad and of University representation will cause disappointment to those who had hopes for the unity of Ireland. I would appeal to the Minister to see that the Bill will not come into operation until the Government have an opportunity of consulting and of getting the mind of the people of the country on it.

Donnchadha ua hEaluighthe

Níl ach cúpla focal do rá ar an leasú seo. I had not intended speaking on it, but having listened to the speech of Senator Toal one cannot help asking, what complaint can the minority on this side of the Border have, in view of the fact that there is in operation here the principle of proportionate representation?

The Government, in effect, are abolishing that also.

Mr. Healy

In view of that fact, are they not in a position to get the representation that their numerical strength entitles them to? We are dealing here with the case of University graduates. Some of us had not the advantage of getting a University education, but will not their position as University graduates strengthen their claims if some of them decide to go before the ordinary electorate as candidates for the Dáil. In answer to Senator Toal's speech, what have we to learn from the people on the far side of the Border in the way of tolerance or otherwise? The Government of the Six Counties took very good care to abolish proportional representation so that the minority would not get their due representation either in Parliament or on the local councils. They gerrymandered the constituencies in such a way as to ensure that only their own crowd would succeed in getting returned at the elections. I think that when discussing a Bill like this Senators should bring their commonsense to bear on it.

The people in this part of Ireland are noted for their tolerance. I come from the South of Ireland where I never saw any evidence of bigotry. The people there of different religious persuasions live together in peace and harmony. I was really surprised to hear a sensible man like Senator Toal talking in the strain that he did. We have nothing to learn from the people on the other side of the Border in the matter of tolerance or anything else.

I propose to state briefly why I believe this to be a wise and a good amendment for a Bill of this character, and particularly for a Bill which is an amendment to the Constitution. The principle underlying it is that the Bill shall not come into effect until the people have had an opportunity of expressing their opinion on it at the next general election. That is a principle which you will find in many democratic constitutions. In England, where they have not a written constitution, that principle was recognised in the case of a redistribution Bill which changed the character of the constituencies. If you examine the precedents laid down by a number of countries which have adopted the unicameral system, of which, apparently, our Government are highly enamoured, Senators will find that the more conservative of them — in fact, one might say the more democratic of them — have adopted the principle embodied in this amendment. That is so in Finland. There is a somewhat similar provision in operation in Spain. In the case of Finland, unless there is a two-thirds majority a Bill cannot come into effect until after the following general election if it is one dealing with the constitution.

It seems to me that the principle underlying this amendment is a sound one. The Bill is in the nature of an amendment to the Constitution, and therefore, I think, this principle should apply to it so that it would not come into effect until the people have had an opportunity of expressing their opinion on it.

The amendment is in no sense a blocking amendment. It is a reasonable proposal, and one that, I think, can be accepted with dignity even by those in favour of the Bill. It is one also that, I think, should apply in future to every Constitution (Amendment) Bill.

If anyone asked me for ten good reasons as to why University representation should be abolished, I would reply immediately that the chief spokesman here to-day for the continuance of University representation in the person of Senator Gogarty supplied these ten good reasons. I am sorry the Senator is not present because I want to say that during the time I have been a member of the House I have never heard a word of constructive criticism from him. The only thing I have ever heard from him was vitriolic, personal, vulgar abuse of somebody or other. As the chief spokesman of University representation, I think he supplied abundant reasons as to why it should be abolished. Those who vote for University graduates down the country, whether they are doctors, engineers or whatever else they may be, feel that they are handicapped by reason of the fact that they are called on to vote for someone living out of their own constituency, and, therefore, are not in a position to judge the good qualities, or otherwise, of the candidates before them. In voting as their Parties will call them to vote at University elections, they do so because the different Parties which they represent tell them that, owing to the restricted number of votes in the University representation, every vote they cast for the University representation is equal to ten votes in their own constituencies. Otherwise the university graduates down the country may be much better pleased, and feel that they have a better right, to exercise the franchise in their own constituencies, where they are making their own living, instead of voting, possibly, for some eccentric University professor whom they do not like. Personally, I absolutely disagree with the amendment.

I do not propose, Sir, to accept the amendment. This Bill has been before the Oireachtas for practically two years now. We had it debated at very considerable length in the Dáil and here in the Seanad, and we know the result of the discussions two years ago when the Bill was first introduced in the Seanad as well as in the Dáil. Nothing new has happened and no new arguments have been brought forward either for or against the Bill since then. At any rate, so far as this amendment is concerned, I think there is ample reason, after two years, with plenty of discussion and plenty of notice, why this amendment in Senator Blythe's name should not be accepted. Senator Blythe, in moving the amendment, suggested, I think, that it might be put to the people again at another general election by way of referendum. That is what I take his argument to be—that the Bill would be put before the next general election and in that way come back to the people on a referendum. At any rate, whether you call it a referendum or not, his argument is that it should be put before the people again. However, after two years of very full discussion, very full public notice, and ample debate in the legislative Assembly—the two Houses—I cannot see that there is any necessity for postponing the matter further. If there were still in the Constitution the Referendum that was there originally, and which Deputy Douglas I think had some hand in putting into the Constitution, there might be something to be said for sending a Bill of this kind to a referendum. Senator Blythe, however, did one man's part at any rate in depriving us of that Referendum.

Then, why not put it back?

I wonder would Deputy Milroy vote for putting it back. Anyway, in backing up the proposition that the Referendum should be abolished, Senator Blythe said at the time:

"The reasonable, and the best method, is to have as democratic a system of election as you can have, and to allow the freely-elected representatives of the people to come together, to hear the arguments, and to decide on behalf of the people, and then to go back and meet whatever fate befalls them at the hands of their constituents, and either have a renewal of confidence or be replaced by other people who may undo what they have done.... If representatives of the people do wrong and their actions have to be reversed, that is no argument against depending on the judgment of the representatives of the people."

I think that Senator Blythe is well answered by his own words, and I think I need not say anything more in answer to Senator Blythe.

I suppose the Minister awaits the same answer.

I notice that Senator Milroy was very optimistic. I think he is optimistic by nature. It is a good thing, of course. It is a good thing for a man who has to face what Senator Milroy has to face—I am speaking politically now, of course—to be optimistic, because he will need it all. He is optimistic that his Party is going to be returned at the next general election. What a hope! Is there any sane man in this House——

——who imagines that there will be any change of Party in the next election? Well, Senator, keep on being optimistic. It is about all that is left to you. Senator Bagwell talked, if I did not misunderstand him, about University members in every parliament in every country. I wonder what parliament has the Senator in mind, or in what countries there are University representatives elected to parliament. There is only the one. I know that Senator Bagwell has a great love, a great respect, and a great regard for that one, but that is the only parliament in the world where there is University representation in parliament. I would suggest to Senator Bagwell, however, that he ought not to allow his great love and respect and regard for that old British institution to lead him astray into thinking that that one case represents the whole world and can speak for the whole world or for the representatives of the Universities in the parliaments of the world. There is only the one case of University representatives in parliament, and they are not always elected as, perhaps, Senator Bagwell knows from recent happenings.

I was told here to-day that I did not use any arguments in favour of the Bill. I am going back now, Sir, with your permission, to the arguments that were used in the Second Reading.

That is all right.

As I say, I am going back again, with your permission, Sir, to the Second Reading of the debate. I was told that I used no arguments. Senator Milroy and others said something of that kind. Then Senator Milroy proceeds to answer my arguments one by one. Well, if I had made no arguments, he need not have bothered trying to answer them. Senator Blythe talked about pushing the Bill through. Surely to goodness, after two years, off and on, of debating it hammer and tongs—although occasionally there were other subjects of debate, such as the economic war, and so on—it can hardly be said that a Bill that has been before the public and before the Oireachtas, and that has been debated as this Bill has been debated in the representative assemblies, and in the Press and elsewhere, has been pushed through with very great haste. I do not think there is much in that argument.

If there is one solid argument against continuing University representation, it would be the presence of Senator Gogarty, if Senator Gogarty were elected from a University. Thanks be to God, for the honour of the Universities, he has not been. Senator Gogarty used the word "persiflage." Now, what word, other than that which he used himself, could better described his own speech? I said here, on the Second Reading, that University men —some elected by the Universities and some elected from the constituencies— had been an honour to this Oireachtas. had done honour and credit to their Universities and to the country as a whole, and had given considerable help in every direction in their work as parliamentarians. That is true. I also said that there were some people who were graduates of Universities—some of them with more than one University distinction—who had been members of parliament, who added no credit or honour or glory to the parliament, to their universities or to themselves; who were a hindrance to the nice things one should think about University education, and who were a blot on University education. I think, after listening to Senator Gogarty to-day, one need not emphasise that argument of mine further. He had not, it would seem, a reasonable, solid argument to put forward against the Bill or in favour of this amendment. He rambled and talked of anything but what was before the House. If that is a sample of what a graduate of the University can be in an assembly such as this, well, God save us from any more of his type.

There is just one other point, that is, in reply to Senator Toal. I said on the last day, as Senator Toal quoted, and I repeat now, that I did not think that the presence of University representatives in the Oireachtas, or the fact that there was University representation in Dáil Eireann, would make any difference so far as the unity of the country is concerned. I do not know what proportion of the voters of the National University or of the University of Dublin live in Ireland outside the area of the Free State. There is a certain percentage of them, of course. I have not yet heard one of them, however, in a public way, whether they be voters in the University of Dublin or in the National University, use their position as constituents of the electoral college of either one or other of these institutions to help forward the restoration of the unity of the country. If there were any solid argument to be founded on the fact that there are such voters living in the Six County area, one might expect that something would be brought forward to show that these University voters, who live in the Six Counties, had in some way made use of their position as voters to help to bring about, by voice or pen or otherwise, as an organised body or as individuals, the unity of the country or to suggest some means or make some constructive effort towards restoring the unity of the country. I have not come across any such suggestion or any such argument since the Free State came into existence.

There is just one other matter on that same line that I should like to refer to. I should be glad indeed to know if these same University electors, either individually or collectively, have ever, by voice or pen, showed any interest in the treatment of the minority of our countrymen in the Six Counties. I have never known such to happen. Senator Toal talked about the position of the minority in the Free State and how undesirable it would be to lose the people of the minority who are members of elected public boards. I agree with the Senator. I should not like to see the representatives of the minority put out of their positions on public boards—positions to which they are entitled by their numbers or by reason of their service to the public. I hope that the electors will remember all good citizens who go before them and remember their services to the country and vote for them accordingly. I think it would be a calamitous thing if any citizen were to be refused a vote or refused a seat on any of these responsible public bodies because of his religious views, at any rate. But it is known to everybody that our people in the Six Counties, the religious and political minority, have not got—on the contrary, have been denied—representation on local bodies and I do not think that anything we can do here is likely to alter the minds of those who control affairs in the Six Counties at present. We are not discussing the Six Counties here, and it is probably entirely out of order for me to speak on the subject, except in so far as Senator Toal referred to the question of the effect that anything we might do here in regard to University representation and other matters might have adverse effects on the state of mind of the people in authority in the Six Counties towards the unity of Ireland. I do not think that anything of this kind is likely to alter the minds of those who are the governing authorities in the Six Counties at present, but, at any rate, I would like to see some justice, a small measure of justice, given to our own people by those who control public affairs in the Six Counties, that small measure of justice that is denied to them at present. I think we would welcome it and that we would go out of our way to show our appreciation if there was anything to show appreciation for. So far, there has been none.

One word more. I am sorry that no authoritative persons representing the minority in the Twenty-Six Counties have made at any rate, the protest that one would expect should be made by them on account of the position they occupy in the Twenty-Six Counties. They have not made the protest that one would expect should be made by them in regard to the treatment of the minority in the Six County area.

If I am in order, I would like to make a few remarks arising out of references by the Minister in his speech. I think I gathered from what he said that he accused me or inferred that I had misled the House, on the subject of University representation existing in Parlíaments all over the world. If I did, it is quite possible that I may have, it was not proper. I am not absolutely certain as to the words I used until I see what the reporter has put down, but what I meant to convey was that University members were a useful element in any Parliament in which they exist. They do exist in three Parliaments in these islands. One of these Parliaments is the mother of Parliaments from which all others have been copied and which has existed and worked for centuries. I should like to see how many of the Parliaments in other countries have got that to put on their banners. Therefore, what is done in the two Parliaments that are nearest to us strikes me as a more important issue than what is done in other Parliaments of the world where life less resembles ours than does our neighbours.

There is—I think I may have mentioned it already—in one country a system which is not just the same as University representation, but it seeks to arrive at the same object by another way. The Belgian franchise, as, no doubt, the Minister is aware, provides additional votes for people with a high standard of education. Additional votes are given for University degrees and so on, which is rather the same thing as University representation applied in a different way. It was not my intention to mislead the House, and I should like Senators to remember that the Parliaments I referred to are those nearest to us.

I would like before Senator Blythe replies to make a few observations. I think Senator Gogarty has been taken far too seriously. I listened with considerable interest to his rambling speech, and I think I could say that he is like the rattlesnake who strikes so often that he eventually loses his sting. That is the state which Senator Gogarty has reached at the present time and, with the exception of a few little inaccuracies, there is no necessity to refer to his speech. He referred to the fact that the farmers of Ireland were owed £6,000,000, and I am sure he had in his head the report of the Childers Commission. If that is what he was referring to I think the figure should be £60,000,000.


£300,000,000. It was more than Senator Gogarty's figure in any case. It said the over-taxation was something like £2,750,000 a year. The Primrose Commission set the figure at £3,000,000 a year. Another mistake which he made was when he referred to this island as "the island of doctors and scholars." Though he changed "saints" to "doctors," somehow the halo did not fit him.

A Senator

You are taking him seriously now.

Senator Blythe in the middle of all the nonsense that we have heard spoken, proposed an amendment in which, I think, there was not much sense. I did not think anyone was taking this Bill so seriously as he seemed to be. He suggested something with regard to see-saw legislation. What he wanted to convey at any rate, as far as I take it, was that if this Bill became law and if, as Senator Blythe in his optimism suggested, there should be a change of Government at the next election—I envy him in his optimism—the new Government would eliminate this particular legislation and have representation returned to the Universities. That is all right in its own way from Senator Blythe's point of view, but are we to take it that this is the most serious amendment made to the Constitution? If so, it is a strange thing that the House accepted the principle of this Bill on the last occasion, and it is strange that there has been so little noise made about it. If it is not so, and even if this is only of no importance, I suppose we are to take it that if such a thing should happen as Senator Blythe's Party ever getting back, they would repeal all those Bills amending the Constitution and replace the Oath and the various other things that have been taken out. If that is so, it is another argument why they should never again be let back into the saddle, but I do not believe there is any danger of it. I oppose the amendment.

I did not mean to say a word in this debate, but I do not often find myself not getting on in a very amicable way with the Minister who is here. He closed his remarks with the statement, which applied to the part of the community to which I belong, in which he made an assertion that nobody connected with the minority had ever come out and said much against the way the minority in the North had been dealt with. It would take the Minister a long time to produce his evidence in support of that assertion. I am greatly surprised at his statement. I did not expect it from him, and I do not know why he made it. I do say that it is not a statement which should have been made; it is impossible, practically, of proof.

There are many cases where representatives of the minority here have said things disapproving of the way the minority were treated in the North of Ireland, but the minority are not people in the habit of coming out on platforms or of taking part in big political affairs, and, therefore, for them to take such action would be quite out of the course of their ordinary existence. I am sorry the Minister made the statement, and on behalf of the minority, I say that I do not think it is correct. The great trouble in this country is what I think Senator Toal dealt with. Here are we in the South, going along our own line and knocking away every one of the protections which it was thought wise to provide in the beginning. What are the people up in the North doing? They are doing the very thing the Minister talks about, sitting on top of the minority. The two Parties are taking care to get as far apart as they possibly can. Our present Ministry is doing it on our part, and the Government in the North is doing it on their part.

That is one of the great objections which we see in this kind of legislation—that it is separating us still further by doing away with all the safeguards and giving an impression, which none of us can deny, that the majority here are out to get rid of every kind of protection we were given. I have never complained of the way we have been treated here. I am not talking about physical treatment, but of the chance of having our voice heard in our political affairs. We are doing away with the Seanad and with University members. What are they doing in the North? Sitting on the minority, not giving them a voice in their affairs. Both Governments are drifting apart, and the whole of the people know it. I do not know how we are going to get out of those unpleasant developments that are leading to trouble. This Bill is not a good way to lead eventually to a united Ireland. I can talk freely on that in this House, because I know that none here, no matter where they are sitting, have not got the same idea. Therefore, one can speak out freely, and in doing so, I say that the Minister should not have made the criticisms of the minority which we have heard from him. I do not think we deserve it.

I would like also to add my voice to what Senator Jameson has said. I am one of those who were astounded at the statement of the Minister. To my knowledge, it is not a true statement. I have been present at joint meetings at which representatives of the South of Ireland have spoken on this point with the utmost vigour. To my own knowledge there are committees existing at the moment, and containing people from both sides, for the sole purpose of trying to put an end to certain things that have happened in the Six-County area. I have some knowledge of this myself. As the Minister knows, the relief funds which were collected on the other side, especially at the time of the anti-Catholic pogrom some years ago, went through me. I was identified with the work, and I received assistance from Catholics and Protestants on the other side of the Border. I know that vigorous protests and expressions of opinion have been uttered in Church bodies. It may be that the Minister thinks that is no use, that they should be made public. There is a small number representing the religious minority here, and I think I can say without hesitancy that on each occasion on which the matter arose, our views were made perfectly clear in the House, right from the beginning. If the Minister looks through the records he will find that is so. I would suggest to him that anything we may say has very little effect. The place in which it should be said is inside the Church bodies, and, to my knowledge, it is being said. I think it is most unfortunate that the suggestion should be made by a responsible Minister that the minority here have done nothing, and are doing nothing, to express their views on the unfair treatment of the minority in other parts of Ireland. I am satisfied that it is not true.

I think, first of all, that Senator Jameson and Senator Douglas have misinterpreted what the Minister said. What he said was that the minority here were not doing their part in helping to alleviate distress and suffering on the other side of the Border.

Might I ask the Minister was that what he said, because I do not think it was?

I do not care what he said, anyhow. I have my own views on this question, and I say this as a Catholic and as a member of the Government Party—and, in saying it, I believe I am merely repeating what the Government have already said—the present Government of this country have guaranteed security, peace and contentment to the minority in the Twenty-Six Counties. Can Craigavon and his Government in Belfast say the same thing? Senator Jameson drew a comparison, but I think the comparison he drew is not correct. It might be well intended but he made the comparison that the Government here are sitting on the minority in the same way in which the Government of Belfast is sitting on the minority in Belfast.

No one here ever said anything of the kind, nor does anyone believe it.

The implication was there that more or less the same treatment was being meted out.

No, it was not.

The facts and the evidence are all there as to how authority derived from government is being used here and in the Twenty-Six Counties. You have in Belfast the leader of the Belfast Government stating that it was a Protestant Government for a Protestant people. Was that not inciting his own followers to abuse the position?

It certainly was. Is not all this question of a Parliament in Belfast and a Parliament in Dublin the making of the people, either the majority or the minority, on either side?

I must try to get the debate back to the question of University representation. Perhaps you would help me to get it back, Senator. The Minister departed, in the first instance, and I think you might let it rest at that.

Not in the first instance.

Speakers have referred to the subject and, in fairness to everybody, somebody should say something on it.

You are not dealing at all with what they said.

I will say this much: The whole trouble, discontent and misunderstanding that exists inside the 32 Counties of this island has been initiated in Downing Street.

I cannot allow Senators to enlarge the debate. I do not think you ought to bring Downing Street into a discussion on University representation.

All right, I will say no more.

It is suggested by some speakers that the shipyard workers in Belfast, the linen lappers and the workers in the shops, as well as the small farmers and workers of the small towns in the north of Ireland, will be affected greatly by the existence in the Free State of University representation. I had a good many years life in the north of Ireland and it would be a very great surprise to me to learn that any of the people I have mentioned, who are the people who determine policy in the north of Ireland eventually, have any consideration at all for the question of whether there is University representation in this Parliament or not.

I have no desire to prolong this debate, and I am merely going to make a comment on what Senator Johnson has said. We have two points of view expressed here as to the wisdom of this action of the Government. Senator Johnson thinks that any activity of this kind on the part of this or any other Government has no influence whatever on the people of the Six Counties. To a certain extent I am, perhaps, in slight agreement with the Minister in so far as he urges that the people in the majority here might show greater activity in the matter of making contacts with the majority in the Six Counties to create an atmosphere more favourable to unity. My view is that if you stifle that voice through an action of this kind you kill any desire, any enthusiasm and, indeed, you cut off hope. Mind you, it is difficult to get people out as apostles for the creation and building up of a new State here, and I feel, as Senator Toal feels, rather strongly. Perhaps none of us can get away from our surroundings. The citizens of Dublin, like Senator Johnson for many years, and other people here, are away from the Border. They are not so placed as Senator Toal and I are placed, as to be able to see the Border line when we get up, morning after morning, and they must undoubtedly have less consideration for the difficulties confronting the country with regard to reunion; but it is my strong conviction that stifling the voice of even one man, one good citizen, who is prepared to come out and whose voice will ring across the bridges in an effort to make people on all sides more resonable and clam is a national crime.

I cannot, I confess, see from the point of view of the rights of democracy where the rights of democracy are being at all infringed by the continuance of University representation in the Dáil. I can say this—and I need not challenge Senator Johnson who was there with me—that during our years in Dáil Eireann, so far as the representatives of either of the Universities were concerned, they had always, in my recollection, anyway, very open minds in the matter of social and economic problems. Apart from political questions, there were no more open, no more constructive minds and few as constructive, indeed, as theirs. If you want an example of what the University product can do, even from the point of view of the sort of policy which Labour in this country to-day is prepared to enunciate, it may be asked if there has been anything at all the equivalent in constructive genius and ability of what the National University, through Deputy McGilligan did, when, in the name of the State and in control of the things that the State can mobilise, the Shannon scheme was made operative for this part of the country? That was a scheme conceived in the brain of a man of the ability of Deputy McGilligan, utilising the resources of the State to give the country an organisation managed in the kind of way which apparently Labour in this State to-day would like to manage things.

I argue very strongly that from the point of view of the rights of the people and of democratic government there are no people in the Dáil more concerned for democratic rights than the representatives of the Universities, and I am absolutely convinced that this is a great fault from the point of view of taking away certain undoubted privileges which a small minority in this country enjoy. If you take them away they are not going to be given back, and I do not see that from the national point of view, the nation's interests suffer at all by the enjoyment of these rights by these people here. Is it not a grand thing that we should be able to point out to the people across the Border—and it has been my privilege and great joy more than once to do it—"If you up there could do what our people have been broad enough and tolerant enough to do down here you would not have Cardinal MacRory having to make his appeal, an appeal which has gone unheeded, indeed, for an impartial inquiry into the treatment of the minority." These things are all true, but they are unpleasant questions to discuss here. It is, however, a tribute to the broadmindedness and tolerance of the majority and of the minority here that it is possible to discuss them in the spirit and in the atmosphere in which they are discussed in this house.

I have no doubt, despite what the Minister said on the last occasion, that he is looking to the future, thinking about the next election and of what effect the removal of this University representation will have on the formation of the Government next time, in passing this Bill. I would put this to the Minister: Who knows what things will be like, either in this or any other country, when the next election comes around here? Who knows, even accepting what we had from the Minister for Industry and Commerce in Cavan a week ago, that there must be an election in this country in 1937, whether it will matter one pin point whether Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or the people who want a workers' republic are in control of this country in 1937, looking at the conduct of affairs in Europe to-day? It may not matter whether the six representatives from the Universities might, could or would be elected to the next Dáil. Conditions in the world may be such, and internal conditions in this country may be such, that there would have to be a mobilisation of all that was best in the country to hold society together at all. I believe that if the Government could get away from the petty things they are doing and be a little more patient, their patience would be rewarded. I said the other day that their predecessors were short-sighted on more occasions than one and they reaped the whirlwind. I believe that what is being done in this respect is not wise, and, if the Minister agreed to accept the amendment, he could possibly say, in days to come, that it was one of the wisest decisions the Government ever made.

Senator O'Neill rose.



Why vote? Has everyone not a right to speak?

We have been told that this Bill will affect the unity of the country. I will be perfectly candid. Much as I detest the system, if I thought for one moment that the Bill would interfere with the unity of the country, I should vote against it. I am quite in agreement with Senator Johnson, that the people in the north of Ireland do not care two rows of pins whether or not this Bill passes, if other barriers were removed. I must again go back to the statement made by the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Gregg. That statement will do more to remove those barriers than a politician speaking from the housetops for eternity would do. I maintain that we would have a united country if the people in the north were let alone. I was touched deeply by the speech of my old friend, Senator Toal. I have more than a hankering regard for Ulster and, in particular, that part of Ulster from which my people originally came. In my young days, in the field of sport, I travelled almost every county in Ulster, not leaving the other parts of Ireland out of mind. In those days, I found nothing but honour and straightforwardness in the young fellows of the province of Ulster.

You are now making a Second Reading speech. The question is not whether this Bill should or should not be passed but when it should come into operation. The question as to whether the north hates the south, or the south hates the north is quite irrelevant.

I bow to your decision. Why should I not? You have always endeavoured to help me. I thought I was in order in view of the many speeches which have been made. If they were out of order, they got away with it. If I am out of order, I shall sit down.

You have already made one speech which was not very relevant. You were going on to refer to the question of north and south. There must be some relevance in the speeches.

May I not make a speech now——

You are at liberty to make a speech on the amendment but I cannot allow Senators to proceed to deal with the question of north and south. If that were permitted, the debate might go on to Tibb's Eve.

As this is the day after "Pancake Eve," I suppose I had better conduct myself. I presume I shall be at liberty to make a speech before the Bill finally passes.

You are at liberty to make a speech now on this particular amendment.

I prefer to bow to your decision.

Is it in order to ignore the amendment and refer to statements made by other speakers?

If these statements affected you personally, I should be glad to allow you to refute them. If they did not, then I do not think you ought to refer to them.

But they affected the country generally, and, therefore, I should like to refer to them. I should like to reply to the speech made by Senator Jameson. I regard Senator Jameson as one of the most fair-minded men of his class in this House or in this part of the country. But when he gets up and makes the statement that this Bill does an injury to the class to which he belongs, I must repudiate it. He and the people he represents must remember that, in this part of the country, we have proportional representation, which enables them to have their proper representation in the Parliament of the State. Having drawn his attention to that fact, I want to draw his attention to the fact that such a state of affairs does not exist in the Six Counties. That is a very important matter. Proportional representation does away with a good deal of the alleged grievance which he assumes exists in regard to the people he represents. Not only that but, under proportional representation, no Party is ever likely to have a sweeping majority in the Parliament. As a matter of fact, the present Government has about one of a majority. He can, therefore, well realise that a position might easily come about in which the Universities would determine who would be the Government of the country. Again, Senator Jameson might have a grievance if we denied representation to Trinity and allowed it to the National University. We are not doing that. We are depriving both Universities of representation. Therefore, a great part of the Senator's grievance is removed. If he examines the position fairly, he will, I think, find that there is no justification for the allegation that the minority in this part of the country are being harshly treated.

I shall now come back to the mover of the amendment. Senator Quirke said he envied the mover of the amendment his optimism. I do not. I pity him. It may, at some time, come about that Senator Blythe's Party will form a Government, but I do not think that Senator Blythe will be there. Therefore, I think he is to be pitied rather than envied for his optimism. To my mind, this is a proper measure for a democratic Government to introduce. Any future Government which would try to restore University representation would get a very bad reception. Senator Blythe argued that this might be made an issue at the next election. Just imagine the place University representation would get in an election contest, with the questions of the economic war, tariffs, and so forth occupying the attention of the electorate. Not 1 per cent. of the votes would be cast or influenced by that question, in view of the all-embracing questions which would be before the country. Since we have proportional representation, it is unfair and unjust to give dual representation to any class in the community, particularly when they do not represent the majority class in the community. I am opposed to the amendment.

I listened with very great care and attention to what Senator Jameson said and also to the remarks of Senator Douglas I should not have mentioned this subject at all but for the remarks of Senator Toal. He, in his wisdom, thought that this measure was going to have a certain influence on the question of the unity of Ireland and certain matters in the north of Ireland. I do not think it will have any influence. I should be long sorry—I say this to Senator Douglas, Senator Jameson and anybody else interested—to misrepresent anybody, and I should be long sorry to say anything that would hurt the feelings of the minority in this House or in Saorstát Eireann. My ambition would be, if I have any power or influence in the public life of the country, to bring the two elements closer and closer, to make greater harmony exist between them, and to secure that, at least, the full measure of representation the minority are entitled to in public affairs be given to them. Personally, I should not be content with being just; I should be more, I should be generous. That is my attitude and always has been. I do not think that I have anything to withdraw.

I do not know whether any representations or remarks by responsible people on behalf of the minority in Saorstát Eireann would influence the people in the North of Ireland in their treatment of the minority there. At any rate, I should like to see a trial of it. I should like those who can speak with authority to see if any words of theirs would have any influence in getting bare justice for the minority in the North. I had this matter in mind because this week I read in the Press a statement by the Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr. Mageean, which statement was emphasised by Cardinal MacRory. These are two of the most responsible men in the country. They occupy high positions and they would not state that the minority in the North were suffering such terrible rigours and such unjust treatment if they had not evidence of that. They have made these statements often. They have repeated them recently and they have not got, so far as one can judge from the Press, which is the only means of judgment available, much consideration for their statements, or for those for whom they spoke. When I heard Senator Toal speak, I thought it might help to get some consideration for the claims put forward by these two very responsible and authoritative spokesmen for the minority in the North if they got some backing from the spokesmen of the minority in Saorstát Eireann. I do not know whether that would have any effect or not, but it would do no harm to try.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 24; Níl, 21.

  • Bagwell, John
  • Baxter, Patrick F.
  • Bellingham, Sir Edward.
  • Bigger, Sir Edward Coey.
  • Blythe, Ernest.
  • Browne, Miss Kathleen.
  • Counihan, John C.
  • Dillon, James.
  • Douglas, James G.
  • Duggan, E.J.
  • Fanning, Michael.
  • Garahan, Hugh.
  • Gogarty, Dr. O. St. J.
  • Griffith, Sir John Purser.
  • Jameson, Right Hon. Andrew.
  • Kennedy, Cornelius.
  • MacLoughlin, John.
  • Milroy, Seán.
  • O'Connor, Joseph.
  • O'Hanlon, M.F.
  • O'Sullivan, Dr. William.
  • Staines, Michael.
  • Toal, Thomas.
  • Wilson, Richard.


  • Boyle, James J.
  • Chléirigh, Caitlín Bean Uí.
  • Connolly, Joseph.
  • Cummins, William.
  • Farren, Thomas.
  • Foran, Thomas.
  • Healy, Denis D.
  • Honan, Thomas V.
  • Johnson, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Raphael P.
  • Linehan, Thomas.
  • Lynch, Patrick, K.C.
  • MacEllin, Seán E.
  • Moore, Colonel.
  • O'Farrell, John T.
  • O'Neill, L.
  • Phaoraigh, Siobhán Bean an.
  • Quirke, William.
  • Robinson, David L.
  • Ruane, Thomas.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Blythe and Baxter; Níl: Senators Robinson and Quirke.
Amendment declared carried.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to.
Section 4 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1, as follows:—

Title. To delete in lines 17—18 the words "as from the next dissolution of the Oireachtas."

This amendment is consequential on amendment No. 2, which has just been passed.

Amendment declared carried.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported, the Committee reporting specially that it had amended the Title of the Bill.