When I heard his confession that he does want a censorship of pornography and of blatant indecency, I recalled the lines of the poet:—
"The soul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd
Lets in new light through chinks that time has made."
Perhaps this debate will let in through further chinks new light on this question of saving the country from propaganda of a vicious type:—
"Do not think that I am asking for censorship; I am merely asking the Minister to explain the extraordinary inconsistencies of the censorship department."
"Leas-Chathaoirleach: I am afraid the Senator is rather widening the scope of the debate."
That was a very mild reproof. What was the scope of the debate, as set out in the motion? The Minister was invited to give an account of what he had done in regard to one particular book and the Senator calmly proceeds to open up a new theme for which he had not set down a motion.
"Leas-Chathaoirleach: I am afraid the Senator is rather widening the scope of the debate.
Sir John Keane: I do claim the right to examine the consistency of the censorship department."
If he had claimed that right, he should have set down a motion that would cover it.
"I shall not be very long on this but, at least, I claim the right to refer to one publication, because the Minister says he wants to prevent the publication of anything provocative or dangerous to the public interest or the national security. I have here an extraordinary publication called Orange Terror. I am not going to wade through Orange Terror; the House need not be afraid. I am going to read only one passage from Orange Terror.”
With your permission, I propose to read at least one passage from Orange Terror.
"I am going to read only one passage from Orange Terror that is certainly provocative and that is not calculated to make for better relations with a friendly power.”
"That is not calculated to make for better relations with a friendly power"! That, I submit, is a distinct and specific charge that the passage that he read contravenes Emergency Powers Order, 151. It is a distinct allegation of a breach of the defences set up by this State in the way of neutrality and protection of national security.
"Here is the passage."
Before I read on, let me say that it is torn away from its context, not an unfamiliar thing with certain reviewers of books.
"In other words, Britain—the contriver and maintainer of a mutilated Ireland—Britain who utilised astutely the envenomed ascendancy of the settlers as an instrument for holding our Six Counties to serve as a second Gibraltar for her Empire."
Then later on in the same publication we read this:—
"How can any amelioration of the Irish Catholic helot's lot in Northern Ireland be secured but by political action.
"This appeared over the signature of a gentleman called William A. Magennis."
"The name was familiar to me and then, when I looked at the table of contents, I saw that it was Senator William Magennis who made these remarks, and these remarks have been allowed to pass uncensored."
"Have been allowed to pass uncensored" ! This is part of the Senator's indictment of the Minister—that he did not censor this statement. He has accused me, by name, of breaking the law and the Minister of condoning my breach of the law, turning a Nelson eye on it. Why does he impugn the right of anyone, call him what you like, to publish a statement in these terms or in similar terms? Simply because he does not understand what neutrality means. Let me explain to him that neutrality in international law is the condition of a State that declares that it will not aid, or intervene between, belligerents. In what way does that passage intervene between belligerents? Is it against national security? How can it be against national security when it protests against the mutilation of Ireland by a foreign Power and the maintenance of armed forces in portion of the province filched from its natural context, the island of Ireland? It will certainly not give offence to the most extreme Sinn Feiner—I need not mention names at which the Senator would shudder. It will, certainly, not offend the Party of which Senator Mulcahy is the Leader. The title of that Party declares its aim. It is called the "United Ireland Party." The very title of the Party that used to be known as "Cumann na nGaedheal" declares that it stands for the integrity of Irish territory. Certainly, Fianna Fáil is not likely to be offended by it. How can it be stated with any degree of truth, or any likelihood of being believed, that it is calculated to cause provocation and not to make for better relations with a friendly Power?
I take it the reference is to Great Britain. But has not Great Britain declared that she is, in this war, prepared to defend the rights of little peoples against aggression to the last ounce of her treasury and to the last drop of her citizens' blood? How can they be offended if they are told that here, beside them, in the island that is so frequently referred to as one of the British islands, there is a dismembered nation?
We have not to prove, there is no need to prove, our boundaries. The boundaries of an island are unmistakable. The boundaries of an island, in the natural order, are unquestionable. But a border line has been drawn as the frontier of Empire. The frontier of Great Britain and Northern Ireland lies across portion of our province of Ulster, and inside of that you have a minority that is almost equal in numbers to the majority; that is to say, it is a minority in arithmetic, but not a despicable minority, politically, and, at a time when propaganda from America, from Belgium, from France, from Germany even, is being circulated through the country without hindrance, the only people who are not to use propaganda on behalf of their national claim are the people of Southern Ireland! That is the doctrine of a Senator of this House who talks so glibly in his speech against the Minister—but let me give his own words, lest he should repudiate my recollection of them. He says:—
"I think the time has come when the Minister should go back to his political primer and should realise the proper attitude to Parliament. The Minister should realise that Ministers are the servants of Parliament. It is time he was told that its rights cannot be recklessly overridden, and that he cannot use his position to favour his vanity, his amour propre. He has a duty to his office in the nature of a judge, and has got to balance carefully the factors of public security as against personal liberty.”
Here is the man who has the audacity to talk of public security and personal liberty, and he is offended—offended to the soul—with a work that exposes the tyranny and the suppression of personal liberty in the Six Counties, where to be a Catholic is to be practically an outlaw; a State where it has been boasted that it is a Protestant State for a Protestant people; where Catholics are not to receive aid if they are not in employment, and in the case of whom, when they apply for employment, it is considered a sufficient excuse for refusing or denying them employment that their religion is Catholic. Satan reproving sin is, as we say colloquially, "not in it" with such a declaration as this.
"He has got to reflect that he has to balance carefully the factors of public security as against personal liberty,"
and the Senator would balance, according to this pronouncement, public security against personal liberty by the suppression of 20 contributions that include among their authors Protestants, men who are very well known in this country, such as Mr. Ernest Blythe.
"Really, it is rather sad that, after 25 years of political independence, we should now have to emphasise these elementary rights of a free people."
Who are "we", in that context? We are the Parliament of Twenty-Six Counties. "Ireland", as one of the anti-Union lawyers said with force and eloquence,—
"Ireland is an island. The Almighty has stamped upon her her indelible charter as a nation. The God that made our land an island never meant her to be a province and, by God, she never shall."
She has been made a province, however. That prophecy was not fulfilled. But here is audacity in excelsis: to condemn the appeal to the nations, the appeal to the better sense of the British people themselves against the negation in regard to Ireland of everything of which they hold themselves forth as champions to the world.
One of the London journalists interviewed me shortly before the outbreak of this war. He wanted to know what our attitude was going to be, and I remarked to him, amongst other things, that our present attitude was one of sardonic amusement. He asked, "Why?" I said: "Because Mr. Chamberlain is going to war on behalf of Poland, partitioned Poland. The Pharisee of nations is going to plunge Europe into a war of which no man can see the end, on behalf of a little nation that has an aggressive neighbour. We have an aggressive neighbour also, and her aggression has separated our land. It has put a red scar across the face of Ireland. Will you not do us justice and give us the freedom that is our right, to show your bona fides before the world, before you embark on this universal slaughter and destruction?” He was good enough to tell me that he never had been so thrilled in his life before. His rejoinder was:—
"The British people do not know of these facts; they have never been able to see them from this angle."
Some of us have attempted to give them such information as would enlighten them as to the utter Pharisaism of protestations of battling for small peoples and trying to make a new order in Europe where justice, liberty, charity, and all the other virtues will prevail.
Now, speaking of this dreadful publication, Orange Terror, Senator Sir John Keane says—and you will observe that this is in reply to a ruling of the Chair to the effect that the Senator was rather widening the scope of the debate, because he was bent on having his fling at Orange Terror:—
"I claim the right to refer to one publication because the Minister says he wants to prevent the publication of anything provocative or dangerous to the public interest or the national security. I have here an extraordinary publication called Orange Terror. I am not going to wade through Orange Terror, the House need not be afraid.”
And, with your permission, I should like to quote a passage from the book that has been the casus belli in this affair, because I think that those passages are worthy of the attention of this House—I am reading, not from the publication which Senator Sir John Keane had, which is simply Orange Terror, but from the Capuchin Annual, 1943, in which it first appeared. In the Capuchin Annual this was added by the editor:—
"A fund to fight Partition! Subscriptions would pour into such a fund from all over the country and from outside the country, if people were convinced that it would be effectively spent. We are convinced, and readers of this edition of The Capuchin Annual, will all be convinced, that there is one way in which money can be spent, with very great effect for very little outlay, towards the unity of Ireland—and that without opening a fund, but with every Irish man and woman taking a personal, active part in the work.
"A section—a very large section —of this Annual deals with the North. It tells a terrible story—of the abandonment of 430,000 Catholics to Orange terrorism and repression; of almost unparalleled persecution of a religious minority; of responsible leaders and Government officials glorying in their evil tactics, boasting of them, inciting others to them; of the abrogation of common law, of imprisonment without charge, without crime, without redress, of democracy flouted, of elections gerrymandered, of all lawful protests proclaimed and frustrated, of juries packed, of evidence ignored, of perjury rampant, of a thousand and one injustices and wrongs; and it is all fully corroborated. You will not read it without a burning desire to end the hellish thing.”
Senator Sir John Keane naturally does not like that sort of speech. He would "not wade through it". He would tear a passage from its context, and ask people to believe that to write in these terms was a violation of neutrality. We have been very faithful to our neutrality. There was a time when every Nationalist, from Tone to O'Connell, repeated that England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity. We have not said that. We have preserved a strict neutrality, but while we have done so, we have declared in Article 29 of our Constitution a very important doctrine with regard to our international relations:
"Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly cooperation among nations, founded on international justice and morality."
"Founded on international justice and morality." My article, from which the Senator was pleased to quote in order to accuse me of disloyalty to this State by breaking its law in an important matter, objected to making a religious question of Partition, of separating the question of religious persecution from partition and making the removal of persecution the immediate object. I declared it is a political question and must be solved politically. It is merely drawing a red-herring across the trail for people to talk as the seconder of Senator Keane's motion talked about reconcilement coming about in the course of time.
Permit me to turn for a moment from the Senator's opening speech to deal with Senator O'Sullivan's. It has a bearing on this point. He had no word to say, I must admit, about Orange Terror, but he had about Sceilg's Life of Cathal Brugha. From that book he cites a passage of history from the period of the Black and Tans, and Senator O'Sullivan makes this comment on The House of Gregory affair:—
"I am afraid I must say that I am driven to the conclusion, and it is my belief, that after the book had been passed by the controller of censorship—and you will remember that the book was recalled for three weeks and then sent back to the author—the Minister came on the scene and resented, not references to atrocities committed by the Black and Tans, but those mentioned as having been committed by the other side—"
—the other side being the Cathal Brugha side, the Irish side. Then the Minister, it is alleged here, deleted passages from this book through spite. He resented no reference to atrocities committed by the Black and Tans but those mentioned as having been committed by the other side, that is, our side.
"...and determined with spiteful petulance to prevent the sale of the book by every and any lawful means in his power."
There he differs from the Senator who, "in spite of what lawyers might say", maintains that the Minister's action was illegal.
"I have mentioned both the black-and-tans and the I.R.A. but I should like to say that I did not mention these matters by way of drawing a red herring across the track."
He is careful not to tell us for what purpose he did mention them.
"The final verdict must be left to the historian of the future. It must be left to a time when all of us here have passed beyond these voices and we must await the charity and the tolerance such as living men are not always prepared to extend to each other and certainly not prepared to extend to each other in the measure shown by the author of this book. We may hope, too, for a measure of reconcilement in the whole territory of Ireland at some time in the future, although, perhaps, not in our lifetime, and if we do not get that reconcilement then, as a student of history, I tell you that there is no hope of unity in this country."
Adversity, we are told, makes us acquainted with strange bedfellows, but pertinacity and propaganda against a good cause also may bring strange bedfellowships into being. Here is the seconder of the motion wanting suppression of propaganda in the cause of Irish freedom, in the cause of integrity of Irish territory— in short, in the cause of Irish rights. Now, the author of the words I have read, purports, himself, to be a historian. He has published, I am told, a history of the Seanad, and incidentally, has given a history of contemporary Ireland, and the events belonging to it. I have not read the book, and, therefore, I cannot speak of it at first hand. If I have not read it, I have heard about it. It struck me as a very extraordinary speech in this passage, at any rate. Notice what this historian, who describes himself as a student of history, declares with regard to a case for Ireland: It is not to be made until other men and other times have arisen; the verdict on it is to be awaited.
The verdict on what—if the evidence of those who can give evidence is to be suppressed, as suppressed it is in the Six Counties of the North, where Orange Terror was banned, to show their love of liberty and their contempt for the people of Southern Ireland who have censorships? Now I re-read you, in the light of that, this passage:—
"The final verdict must be left to the historian of the future. It must be left to a time when all of us here have passed beyond these voices, and we must await the charity and the tolerance such as living men are not always prepared to extend to each other."
Why are we not to assert the rights of our people? Because we are alive? We are to wait for the verdict of someone in times to come, God knows how long. Meanwhile observe—this is the implication—let 430,000 Catholic Nationalists in the Six Counties go to Hell. He calls for tolerance and Christian charity. Tolerance for the oppressor, tolerance for those who as descendants of the planters are holding our land as a garrison. I have pointed out— not for the first time in the past 25 or 30 years—in Orange Terror, that the partition of our land is British policy, and that these bigotries, these quarrels between Catholics and Protestants are really fomented to give colour to the pretence of benevolent England that she has to keep her armed forces in Ireland lest peace should become impossible because of the divisions between these unhappy peoples. That is the pretence.
There is now a new situation and I would direct Senator Mulcahy's attention to this in particular. There is another armed force in possession of the Six Counties and its war facilities. Great Britain, as I have pointed out in that and as I have repeated through so many other agencies of publicity, holds the Six Counties because it commands the great highway between the Old World and the New but the war has shown that there is another port, a port leased by Great Britain, from Iceland. America took it over at the beginning of the war and America followed up that manoeuvre by occupying positions in the 26 Counties. When the allied forces went to Africa, America was careful to occupy another port that looks out on the ocean. Are not we entitled, in view of these developments, to consider that we are justified, while preserving our neutrality as between belligerents, not to cease to assert our national rights, that no Power may say in later days when this great re-settlement of the world is to come about, that we let our claim lapse?
By a fortunate coincidence, there is a leading article in the Irish Times to-day on Poland's future—not Ireland's future. Poland's future is “news” I must admit. I shall read just a little from it:
"Many years ago a Muscovite chieftain, Ivan III, remarked that there never could be peace, only a truce, between Russians and Poles."
It seems that there are other helot nations to which that could apply equally well. Senator Sir John Keane, in his propaganda delivered through this House, wishes the public to believe that we are to abandon all propaganda on behalf of Ireland against Great Britain, because we are pledged, and properly pledged, to neutrality as between all four belligerents. I challenge him to show that any passage which formed the context of his quotation runs counter to, runs foul of or in any way is incompatible with, neutrality as understood in international law, but if I was guilty of a breach of neutrality, so is the Irish Times. It gives a little history of the partition of Poland at various epochs and the different boundary lines of the Polish nation which have been drawn by politicians not geographers, and we come to this:
"Mr. Churchill said on Tuesday that, much as the British people are anxious to carry the war-time alliance with Soviet Russia into the constructive years of peace, they cannot forget their contractual obligations to the Poles."
The Irish Times is not afraid to quote Winston Churchill, who in his turn is not afraid to say to the ally upon which for the moment the whole security and future of the British Empire depend, viz., Russia, that notwithstanding its designs for the permanent partition of Poland, England and American claim to have a word to say about the matter. Because we are not contending about the partition of Poland but about the prolonged partition of our own island, Senator Sir John Keane says that when the Minister countenanced the circulation of my propaganda, he was unjust and unfair. The Irish Times goes on:—
"Mr. Churchill said on Tuesday that much as the British people are anxious to carry the war-time alliance with Soviet Russia into the constructive years of peace they cannot forget their contractural obligation to the Poles."
But they may, presumably, forget their contractual obligations to this country though America has not forgotten what its spokesman, Professor Woodrow Wilson, declared about the rights of small nations, the small as well as the great, to choose their way of life and obedience. Here is the end of the article:—
"When one considers the number of similar problems that bestrew"
If after that had come the word "Europe", it would have covered the case of Ireland, but the writer of the article is very, very particular, meticulously so.
The words are "Central and Eastern Europe." It reads:—
"When one considers the number of similar problems that bestrew Central and Eastern Europe one realises the difficulties of 1918 will be the merest child's play in comparison with the tasks that await those who will be required to clear up the present mess."
Senator Sir John Keane, of course, would not let the people of Southern Ireland call upon Great Britain to take a hand in clearing up the great mess which British politicians here created. I dwell upon this because it shows the virus, the ingrained hatred of the Irish nation which breaks out at some time against declarations to make and keep the Irish people Irish by having their own national culture, their own national language, and it breaks out on occasions like this again when a Minister in Southern Ireland is to prevent propaganda on behalf of the rights of Ireland to be Ireland, not Southern Ireland a State, and Northern Ireland as it is called, an imperial province with a completely different allegiance. We want to do away with the bridgehead in the frontier of the Empire drawn across our land but no, we must be silenced if we demand that and the man who puts forward that case has, as I repeat, the audacity to perorate on national security and freedom, justice and the rights of man.
What a piece of hypocrisy! That is the only word I can call it. I have exposed two pieces of hypocrisy in this nuisance raid: in the part which reveals that this is the beginning, the clearing of the ground for a massed attack to make room for the great tanks to move and assail our position and the second hypocrisy is that this is a move in the interests of high and lofty ideals. What a fuss about a little piece of pork!