The Republic of Ireland Bill, 1948—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Bill is a short and simple Bill, but one which, it is believed, will have far-reaching and entirely beneficial consequences for this country. It comes before the Seanad with the unanimous approval of Dáil Éireann. During its passage through the Dáil not a single vote was cast against it, not a single vote was recorded against it. It is hoped that a similar welcome will be given to it by the Seanad. During the course of my remarks on the Second Reading of the Bill in the Dáil, I gave a long, elaborate and, I hope, comprehensive survey of the conditions leading to the conception of this Bill and to its introduction into the Parliament of this nation. I am sure that Senators will not expect me— indeed, I believe they would not wish me—to travel over all the ground I covered in the various speeches I made in the Dáil. I hope just to give as concise an account as possible of the reasons impelling the Government to introduce the Bill and ask for its passage through this House.

The Bill, when it becomes law and is brought into operation, will put beyond all doubt dispute and controversy our international status and our constitutional position. It will also, we hope and sincerely believe, end all that crescendo of bitterness which has been poisoning our country for the past 25 or 26 years, and it will also enable us to do that which, from the discussions which have already taken place in Dáil Éireann on the Bill, is the earnest hope of all Parties in this Parliament, improve our relations not merely with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, but particularly with our nearest neighbour and best customer, Great Britain.

The first section of the Bill provides that "The Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, is hereby repealed." The proposals which are embodied in this Bill were referred to comprehensively in various newspaper comments as proposals to repeal the External Relations Act. The Government have been criticised from two different angles in connection with these proposals. On the one side and from one point of view it is said that the Government are taking the State out of the Commonwealth of Nations, are breaking the last link with the Crown and that this action was taken impetuously, without advertence to or full consideration of the consequences which would follow upon the repeal of that Act.

Senators are considering this measure to-day in an atmosphere of reality, in an atmosphere from which all the fog of misrepresentation and the poisonous lies has been dissipated. They can approach its consideration in the certain knowledge that, when it has been passed and becomes operative, our status will be internationally recognised as an independent Irish Republic in a way in which it has not been hitherto recognised and that all our commercial and other relations with those members of the Commonwealth of Nations with which for the past 25 or 26 years we have in some way and in some fashion or other had association will continue as they were before and will, in fact, be considerably ameliorated. That is the reality which Senators have the advantage of facing. Starting from the time of the first Chequers talks a few weeks ago, at which Ministers of this Government conferred with Ministers of the British Government, the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government and the Canadian Government, propaganda was disseminated in which the most horrific warnings were given as to what would happen if and when this Bill was introduced and passed into law. We were told that Irishmen would be aliens in Great Britain, that those trade preferences which had been accorded to us by Great Britain and other members of the Commonwealth of Nations, while, as it was alleged, we were members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, would be taken away from us and it was left to be inferred that considerable embarrassment and pecuniary loss would result. It is very gratifying to know that we have been able to achieve the results I have referred to here and that our trade relations will be in no way disrupted or dislocated, that our citizens will have free passage as they had up to this to the various countries forming the Commonwealth of Nations, that our Irish nationality will be fully recognised for the first time and that trade preferences will be in as full force and effect as they were before this Bill becomes law.

That is, as I have insisted, the reality, and I would ask Senators to approach the consideration of this Bill, having regard to that reality. The present position then is that the Government which was supposed, according to poisonous propaganda, to have taken this step without consideration, impetuously disregarding the nation's interests, have been able to achieve what I have stated and, in addition, to put, I believe, our relationships with Great Britain and the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations on a far sounder basis and to give to that basis a wider concept of reality and cordiality than it ever had before.

The Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, has had a very chequered history. If Senators will give me the charity of their patience for a few moments, I will outline the circumstances which led to the passing of that Act, in order to deal with the line of criticism to which I have referred and also to deal with the second line of criticism on which I have not yet expanded. I may say here that the second line of criticism or attack—whichever expression you prefer—came from that section of the people who said, entirely in contradistinction to what has been said by those others attacking us: "The Bill proposed here does nothing at all and is really of no significance whatever; it is only recognising something that already exists." The furthest that these people would go was to say that perhaps there was some doubt or difficulty—doubt or difficulty which, they alleged, emanated largely from the minds of politically-minded lawyers—and that it is a good thing to clear up any such doubts and difficulties, if they exist and to the extent that they exist.

I want to deal with both those lines of attack or criticism. I will commence with the first line of attack, and I want to mention this fact—because it is amazing, the number of people here and outside this country who have not adverted to what each one of us knows to be the fact—that the partition of Ireland was created by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and that that Act, which was passed on the 23rd December, 1920, obviously and clearly preceded the Treaty of the following year, of the 6th December, 1921, although, of course, the Act itself was only brought into operation piecemeal by orders of the British Privy Council. The Treaty of 6th December, 1921, gave this country the constitutional status of Canada and the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is not necessary for me to go through the long history of constitutional development which took place from the time that Treaty was ratified until the year 1932, when there was a change of Government. The net result of it was, at all events, that as a result of the Imperial Conferences of 1926, 1929 and 1930, it was perfectly clear that each and every member of that community of nations was a free and independent member with full sovereign status in the international comity of nations. The link which bound them together was the link of the British Crown and that link had been described, with the consent of all the nations concerned, in the Statute of Westminster, as the symbol of the free association of those members forming the community of nations known as the Commonwealth of Nations.

A change of Government took place in 1932. The Government which came into office at that time undoubtedly had —or subsequently acquired in the following year, 1933—the full support of a majority of the people of the 26 counties of Ireland which are under the de facto and de jure jurisdiction of this Parliament. With a different policy from that pursued by the previous Government, they proceeded to make certain fundamental constitutional changes, the most material of which was the change embodied in and effected by the Constitution (Removal of Oath) Act, 1933. That Act repealed the section of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) Act, 1922, which gave the Treaty the force of law and it removed the Oath of Allegiance which was in the Treaty from the operation that it purported to have.

Various other amendments of the Constitution took place, but it was not until the 10th December, 1936, that any matter took place to which it is relevant for me to refer. Up to the 10th December, 1936, with the exception of the removal of the Oath, the abolition of the Privy Council and some minor constitutional changes, the position continued to be as it was before the change of Government in 1932. It was clear that, while it could be alleged that the Treaty had been broken by the removal of the Oath, that matter was accepted by the British Government and by the British people. Ireland remained a member of the community of nations known as the British Commonwealth of Nations certainly until the 10th December, 1936. On that date the King then King of England, King Edward VIII, executed an instrument of abdication by which he abandoned his crown and all right and title to be King of any of the countries over which he had theretofore reigned. That instrument was signed on the 10th December by him and expressed his irrevocable determination to renounce the throne of England.

Apparently, the Government at that time felt that it was in the interests of this country that they should deal with the situation created by that abdication. It is not necessary for me to go into the controversies and discussions that arose, and have since arisen, on the effect of the action taken, save so far as those matters are relevant to the consideration to which Senators have to address themselves here to-day. On the 10th December, the abdication having taken place, the Dáil was summoned. Senators will, perhaps, remember that at that time there was no Seanad. The Seanad had been abolished some short time before, by the Statute No. 18 of 1936, which was signed on the 29th May, 1936.

The Government introduced two measures into the Dáil. They introduced a Bill to amend the Constitution, a Bill which subsequently became the Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Act, 1936, and they introduced the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936. The No. 27 amendment Bill first was considered by the Dáil. The general effect of that amendment was to take out of the Constitution of this country, the King, all reference to the King, and all powers purported to be vested in the King or exercisable by him on the advice of Irish Ministers. It took out of the Constitution all references to the representative of the King, the Governor-General, and, generally speaking, when this Bill was passed, there was no function, so far as the Constitution was concerned, that was exercisable by the King, with or without advice.

This Act purported to vest all those powers in the Government, or rather, to put it more technically, to make all those powers exercisable by the Government. That Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Act was signed by the Governor-General on the 11th December, 1936. It may be of interest to recall that that was his death warrant: he ceased, the minute he signed that, to be Governor-General. Also it might be of interest—it is of no interest now, except to constitutional lawyers—to consider how it was that the representative of the King who had abdicated the previous day was able to give the assent of that King to a constitutional amendment.

At all events, that statute passed the Dáil and was given the assent in that way and the following day, on the Saturday, the Dáil considered and passed the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936. There are many interesting points arising on that statute, but I do not propose to go into them. The attitude I adopted in the Dáil—the attitude that I wish to adopt here to the Seanad—was this: that the passing of that Act and the subsequent enactment of the Constitution of 1937 have given rise to bitter controversies, disputes, difficulties, nationally and internationally. On those disputes and on the matters arising from the passing of these enactments various points of view can be held, have been held and will be held and it is no function of mine at this stage of the history of this country to state whether the view I held or hold is the correct one or whether the view held by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. de Valera, during all those years is the correct one or whether there is some other view that can be equally held and is equally correct, or not.

The essential point is this, that from the time that Act was passed until this very year there has persisted in this country a constant stream of argument and dispute, futile and arid, leading nowhere, but giving rise to very considerable bitterness and very considerable doubt and, worse still, leading to very considerable conflict of an armed character, of an illegal character, which, in its turn, brought the consequences that the Government of the day, in the exercise of its duty as a Government, had to enforce the law against people who refused to accept a particular interpretation of these enactments and who persisted in their efforts of an illegal character, many of them sincerely actuated in their desire to achieve what they wanted to achieve, an Irish Republic, which they said did not exist under these enactments.

This statute provided that the British Crown or King could be used in connection with our international relations to the extent specified in the statute. I am not going to enter into any argument as to whether on a certain construction of this statute it was possible to argue that the King remained in full force and effect by virtue of certain words in the statute. That was one of the discussions that took place, one of the endless controversies that have occupied valuable time in the last 12 years.

Under Section 3 of this Act it was declared that so long as Saorstát Éireann is associated with certain specified nations in the Commonwealth of Nations, namely, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and South Africa, and so long as the King, recognised by these nations as the symbol of their co-operation, continues to act on behalf of each of these nations, on the advice of the several Governments thereof, for the purposes of the appointment of diplomatic and consular representatives and the conclusion of international agreements, the king so recognised may, and is hereby authorised, to act on behalf of Saorstát Éireann for the like purposes as and when advised by the Executive Council so to do.

Now, accepting the proposition that all that happened under that enactment was that the King was entitled to act, if so advised by the Government of this country, in reference to the appointment of diplomatic representatives and the conclusion of international agreements, that situation, narrowed down to that point, has been the cause of what I have referred to as arid, futile and endless discussions as to our status. It will be noticed that the words used here, presumably employed deliberately, do not state that this instrument or organ, as it subsequently came to be called, is to be used so long as Ireland is "a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations." It is only so long as Ireland "is associated" with the Commonwealth of Nations.

There are various infirmities in this statute, to which I have on other occasions called attention, and to which I think it is not necessary to refer to-day. In the context of the criticism to which we have been subjected by this Bill, that we are removing the last link with the Crown, I want to direct the attention of Senators to a few relevant points. The first one is that the King there is, under this statute, selected for limited purposes, for purposes which are entirely confined to international relations with this country —a very important matter indeed— and there is no statement here that Ireland is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. In fact, from that time on, and even after the Constitution of 1937 was enacted, the King was so used in all the relevant international documents appointing our representatives abroad.

Now the allegation is that we have taken the King away. Controversies arose as to what his functions were. The Constitution of 1937 was enacted and, from start to finish, there is no reference whatever to the Crown, to the British King or to any monarch whatever, but there is a provision, as Senators are probably aware, in the Constitution—Article 29—providing that an organ, instrument or method of procedure used or adopted by the members of any group or league of nations may be employed by the Irish Government. Following upon that authority in the Constitution, the instrument of the British Crown has been used up to this for those purposes. When the Constitution was enacted, the British, as Senators are probably aware, sent a Note to this country stating their point of view on the effect of the enactment of the Constitution. I will read the relevant portion of it:—

"His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have considered the position created by the new Constitution which was approved by the Parliament of the Irish Free State in June, 1937, and came into force on December 29th. They are prepared to treat the new Constitution as not effecting a fundamental alteration in the position of the Irish Free State, in future to be described, under the new Constitution, as Éire or Ireland, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

His Majesty's Governments in Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand and the Union of South Africa are also prepared so to treat the new Constitution."

I have directed the attention of Senators to the British constitutional theory that the Crown is the symbol of free association and that common allegiance to the Crown is the link uniting the members of the Commonwealth together—common allegiance. The British Government said they were prepared to treat the position created by the new Constitution of 1937, which was entirely republican in form, and the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, as not effecting any fundamental alteration in the position of this country with Great Britain, and the other Governments of the Commonwealth agreed to adopt the same procedure. Their point of view, therefore, was, presumably, if they were to adopt their theory, that because of this External Relations Act and the use of the Crown for limited purposes, that Crown still remained the link and implied allegiance but those Senators who are lawyers will probably have noticed the significance of the words used by the British in this Note. They are prepared to treat the new Constitution as not effecting a fundamental alteration—"prepared to treat it as not effecting." We have a principle that when a statute deems a thing to be something, it in effect recognises that it is not and, by that Note, the position appears to have been taken up by the British that, although they knew full well that a fundamental alteration in fact had taken place by the passing of a Constitution republican in form and by the use, as an organ, of the British Crown, they were going to deem the position to be as it was before, thereby admitting that it was not as it was before.

The position taken up by Mr. de Valera, then Taoiseach, was fundamentally different, and I will have to refer Senators to some passages from Mr. de Valera's utterances during the course of the last 12 years in this context. He took up the point that this country owed no allegiance to the British Crown. As to whether the King was the link or not he stated that anybody — except, curiously enough, the President of Ireland—could be authorised to act in connection with the signature of treaties and the carrying out of our very fundamental international relations, on which foreign nations judge our international position. The President could not do it. Anybody else could do it. The office boy could do it. The King was only accepted there for a short time. That is the link that we are supposed to be breaking. That shows the sort of poisonous propaganda and the entire misunderstanding about what we are doing here and what is taking place. I want Senators fully to realise that. The British said: "We are prepared to treat the matter as if nothing took place." The Irish Government, represented by their leader, Mr. de Valera, said: "Something fundamental has taken place. We do not recognise the King at all. We are using him the same as we could use an office boy if we wanted to," and nobody was ever able to tell until recently or—perhaps I should say—nobody was ever able to get any authoritative information as to whether we were or were not during the previous 12 years a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The British said we were. The Irish Government through their head said, first of all, he did not know whether we were or not, then he said you could make up your own mind on it, and then he said that he had not enough information to say whether we were in or out of the Commonwealth. Finally, this year, he came down and said we were on the boundary, neither in nor out of the Commonwealth. That is the situation that confronted us. That is the situation, or part of it, that has to be dealt with in this Bill.

It would perhaps be relevant for me now to refer Senators to some of these utterances that I have adverted to on the position of the King and the Commonwealth of Nations. The Leader of the Opposition, Deputy de Valera, who had been probably the prime mover in all these constitutional changes, spoke on this Bill on the 24th of last month and he described the Crown as "a statutory agent". I think I had used that phrase first. He said:—

"You have no King here in this country no matter how much some may wish to misrepresent the position. There has been no King of Ireland either internally or externally since 1936 and certainly not since 1937."

He had made a similar statement earlier, but there it is stated specifically, the view of the Leader of the Opposition who conceived, designed and directed this system, that since 1936 and certainly since the enactment of the Constitution in 1937, there was no King here either internally or externally—and yet we are now supposed to be abolishing the last link with the Crown. In the same speech, he said in reference to the question of allegiance to the Crown:—

"It was obvious that we had publicly repudiated by our Acts of Parliament here and by our Constitution, any such thing as allegiance. It was perfectly clear, therefore, that if the States of the British Commonwealth were going to hold to the 1926 Declaration and to allegiance as the bond, then we were not in the Commonwealth."

He interpreted the note from the British that was served on the 29th December, 1937, and to which I have referred as follows:—

"In other words, they declared we were a member of the Commonwealth even though we had repudiated allegiance."

In July this year he expressed a similar view. On the 29th November, 1944, the then Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, was asked by Deputy Oliver Flanagan a question which amounted to an interrogation: were we in or were we outside the Commonwealth? Apparently it had been stated in the British House of Commons that we were in the Commonwealth, and Deputy Flanagan asked the Taoiseach, as Minister for External Affairs:—

"Whether he was aware of a statement made in the British House of Commons by the Under-Secretary for Dominions that Éire was part of the British Commonwealth of Nations; if this statement is correct; and, if not, if he will consider a public denial."

The answer was singularly unilluminating:—

"As I pointed out in the Dáil on the 28th June this year during the debate on the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs, our position in regard to the British Commonwealth of Nations is governed by, and defined legally in, two instruments: one, an Act of the Oireachtas entitled Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, Section 3 (1). The other is the Bunreacht, which, in 1929, Section 4 (2), gives the Government certain powers in the executive domain in regard to our external relations. These are both public documents and can be read by anyone who desires to know the position. I do not propose to try to paraphrase them or to give any definition to the relationship established by them save that contained in the words of the documents themselves. I do not think it necessary to do so, nor do I think anything would be gained by attempting it."

In answer to that clear question, as to whether he believed we were in the Commonwealth or not, that is the answer given by the then Minister for External Affairs, and yet we are told by certain people that we are going outside the Commonwealth by this Bill. Deputy Flanagan returned to the charge and said:—

"The Taoiseach has not answered the question I put to him. I have asked the Taoiseach if the statement that Éire is a part of the British Commonwealth is correct? Yes or no?"

The answer was:—

"I think the Deputy will take some time to learn that you cannot always answer questions by ‘yes' or ‘no'. The Deputy can read the documents. He can see any definitions that the British may give of what they mean by the relationship between the British Commonwealth of Nations, and if he is not satisfied he can settle it with them."

Then further on Deputy Flanagan asked:—

"Is the Taoiseach aware that this is a question of national importance, and that the people are anxiously looking forward to a reply to clear the air as far as this statement in the British House of Commons is concerned? I consider the reply most unsatisfactory.

The Taoiseach: I can only say that this matter was settled back in 1936 and 1937 by the External Relations Act on the one hand and the Constitution on the other. It has not been changed since, and we do not propose to change it at the moment.

Mr. Flanagan: Then we are a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations?

The Taoiseach: Make up your own mind on it."

That is the 1944 version. "Yes" or "No" could not be said in answer to a specific statement in the British House of Commons. We are to make up our own minds. Yet we are told that this Bill is doing something drastic, getting us outside the British Commonwealth and breaking the link with the Crown, this half-link that has been referred to in this Act.

Again on the 11th July, 1945, the matter was taken up in the Dáil. The question was put by Deputy Dillon: were we a republic or were we not. Deputy de Valera replied:—

"We are, if that is all the Deputy wants to know."

I think it was in the course of that debate that Deputy de Valera first announced that we were a republic by reference to certain books.

On the 17th July, on the Estimate for the Department of External Affairs, Vol. 97, col. 2568, 2575, he said:—

"And now, to Deputy Dillon's second question—are we or are we not a member of the British Commonwealth? That is a question for which the material necessary for a conclusive answer is not fully available. It depends on what the essential element is in the Constitution of the British Commonwealth."

He had not the information to enable anybody to give a conclusive answer to this specific question. On June 24th of 1947 he had gone a step further. He did not say "yes" or "no" to Deputy Flanagan, and to Deputy Dillon he said that the material necessary for a conclusive answer to the question was not available.

On the 24th June 1947, column 87, Volume 107, he said:—

"This is a Republican State. As a matter of our external policy we are associated with the States of the British Commonwealth. We are not at the present time regarded as members of it, but we are regarded as associates."

He had gone on a stage further. Up to that he had not been able to say whether we were or whether we were not in it, but now he said that we were not members, but associates. Deputy Morrissey then asked whether that meant we were inside or outside, and he said:—

"It means that we are external to the British Commonwealth as long as the States in it regard the acceptance of allegiance to the King as the necessary link. If that is the bond which they have, we have not that bond and we have made it quite clear that we have not that bond."

There the matter rested until this year. On the 2nd December, 1948, column 927, he said that this question as to whether we were or were not a member is the only one of these points for which there was any basis of truth. Then he said:—

"I, therefore, was in this position, that I could not of myself say that we were in or that we were out. There is in this country a large number of people who will not be satisfied with being out and there is a large number of people who will not be satisfied with being in. There is only one place, in such a set of circumstances, in which the two contestants could possibly be satisfied, and that is on the boundary."

Senators or anybody outside the House who may be inclined to think that what we are doing here is something fundamental in the relationship of this country with the Commonwealth of Nations have only to look at that selection of extracts from the unending series of debates and discussions over the past 12 years to see for himself or herself where we stand in this matter. First, no answer, and the British insisting that we were within the Commonwealth of Nations; the Leader of the Government here in Ireland saying: "You can make up your own mind on it"; then saying that he had not enough material to answer "yes" or "no"; then, that we were not in the Commonwealth but were associates—whatever that means; and, finally, a few days ago, saying that we were on the boundary and he could not say whether we were in or out. Anybody who wishes to found an argument on that set of facts that we are doing something fundamentally in connection with breaking this socalled last link with the Crown and bringing this country outside the Commonwealth of Nations is welcome to that argument, because anybody who relies on that argument insults his own intelligence.

The position is perfectly clear to me, at all events—I do not want to insist upon my own judgment—there was nothing but an elaborate make-believe, almost a concerted illusion between Great Britain and this country. The one side asserted that we had a republic and that the King was used for certain purposes in the same way as the office boy could be used, but that no allegiance was owed to him, that he formed no link and had no importance whatever, except as a particular type of undignified symbol. On the other side, the British and others asserted that Ireland was in the Commonwealth. Senators must realise that that was the position. Here we insisted that we were outside the Commonwealth and that we recognised no Crown and no King; abroad, whether within the Commonwealth or outside it this country was regarded as being part of the Commonwealth.

The other source of controversy during the past 12 years was the question: "who was the head of the State." The answer to this provides a standard by which foreign countries, and even countries in the Commonwealth so far as they are not foreign, could test our international status. The head of State is one who typifies or embodies the idea of the corporate entity known as the State. In a republic, it is the President and in a monarchy it is the King. Here we had both a President and a King, but we had a President who had no functions in international affairs. Although the office boy could sign the credentials of our representatives abroad, the person who should have been the head of the State, the President of Ireland, the person who will be the head of the State when this Bill becomes operative, had no functions whatever in connection with international affairs. If Senators who have different political views from mine do not accept my word for that they can find that my statements are based upon statements made by Deputy de Valera in the recent discussions in the Dáil. The President could not do it, but the office boy could; but people outside saw that the King signed the document accrediting our representative to His Holiness the Pope on the advice of the Government exactly as he would have done before these constitutional changes took place, they saw that the President of the United States accredited his representative here through the medium of the King, and that we accredited our representative to the United States through the medium of the King. The King was the head of this State, so far as outside countries were concerned. We were not internationally recognised as a republic, and never were, and never will be until this Bill becomes operative.

On that point, as to who was head of the State another controversy arose. On 20th June, 1947, the then Deputy McGilligan, who is Professor of constitutional law in National University and who had to discuss this matter in his lectures to his students, was about to ask a question at column 2323 of Volume 106 of the Dáil Debates and the following colloquy took place:—

"Mr. McGilligan: If we have a head of the State in this country——

Mr. de Valera: We have.

Mr. McGilligan: I say, no.

Mr. de Valera: The President is the head of the State.

Mr. McGilligan: The President is not the head of the State.

Mr. de Valera: He is."

That was one point of view, and, without going through the various other occasions when that took place, if Senators will look at the Dáil Debates of 24th November last, they will find that Deputy de Valera came down heavily not on the side of the President but on the side of the Government and said that the Government was the head of the State.

Now, that is the position. There in the Constitution somebody who had certain functions, all of an internal character, and was described as the President of Ireland but who had no functions whatever, who, according to Deputy de Valera himself during the recent debates, could not act in any way in connection with our external affairs. He was the only person in the State who could not—the office boy could do it; the Taoiseach could do it; the Government could do it; but the one person who, one would think, would be the titular head of the State could not interfere in the slightest degree in connection with our external affairs. There is the controversy which has gone on for the past 12 years— futile, barren, endless, leading nowhere —and all the time—Senators will have to realise this, no matter what anybody says—we were not recognised internationally as a republican State.

I understand that Deputy de Valera takes a particular point of view and it is a point of view—which I do not want to controvert, except to the extent to which I have done so, which is necessary—that we had a republican Constitution—with that I agree fully— and that that was recognised, that we were recognised as an independent republic by outside States. We never were. There was a considerable amount of elaborate make-believe, illusions on both sides, almost collusion —the British and others saying: "You are in the Commonwealth and have allegiance to the King", and the Irish Government saying: "We are a republic", and the King put in an undignified position which could be occupied equally well by a clerk in a Government office. If there were no other reasons than those, I think that any Government, faced with the conditions with which we were faced and in the circumstances in which we became the Government this year, would have felt entirely justified, indeed, coerced, at some time to bring in this Bill.

Deputy de Valera, in a Dáil adjournment debate last year, said: "Bring in your Bill and we will support it". In the course of his remarks during some portion of the debates in the Dáil—I think the Committee Stage—he said that he had said that maliciously, of malice aforethought, in order—if I may paraphrase him, although it is a very dangerous thing to paraphrase Deputy de Valera—to egg us on to bring in this Bill. Whether we were egged on by that or not, here it is, and everything I have said would justify bringing in this measure. We have hopes, convictions, certainties, that, when this Bill is brought into operation, all that futile discussion which has distracted our energies away from the fundamental matters, from matters of vital importance in connection with social and economic affairs, will be ended and we can at least know that, when this measure becomes operative, all that futile controversy will pass into the books of constitutional law and into the law schools. If anybody wishes to go into it as a matter of history, he may do so, but we will be finished with it. All that futile discussion will be ended, and we will have put our country internationally in a dignified position and taken it out of the undignified position in which it was up to this.

Anybody who has been abroad must know that all the time one was abroad one was constantly asserting one's position. One had to keep up the dignity of this State, to allege that we were a republic and to maintain that particular attitude. We all did so, but we always had to be explaining and asserting, dodging and getting into a position where one found you had, inferentially, to recognise that the King, by virtue of his being used for certain purposes, was the head of this State, because we had no real head other than the King. We were in a completely undignified and impossible position internationally, and no matter what anybody says that is a fact.

As I emphasised in the course of the remarks I made in the Dáil, those reasons were cogent reasons, coercive reasons, for bringing in this Bill, but they were not the real reasons for doing so. We have had these arid discussions; we have had this pretence and this make-believe; but it was a pretence and make-believe which brought tragic consequences for this country. Throughout the whole course of the history of Ireland since 1922, we have had the spectacle of each successive Government having to take action against people who took up arms or used illegal methods to establish what they called an Irish Republic. The Government of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1932 went through an agony dealing with that situation. Irishmen were forced in an Irish Parliament because of illegalities, because people said—and some were very sincere—that they were going to get, by force, an Irish Republic, to bring in Public Safety Acts and other statutes and measures designed to secure internment without trial, with the consequence that, in such circumstances, Irish law made by an Irish Parliament was in danger of not getting the support and the respect due from Irishmen. We were criticised at that period, from 1922 to 1932, for what had to be done against these people. From 1932 to 1948, the same sad story is to be told by our successors—hunger strikes, imprisonments, internments, shootings and hangings all during that period, by Irishmen of Irishmen, in pursuance of the Acts of Parliament passed by Irish Deputies and Senators, and all because of a futile controversy. We want to end that, and it is to end it that this Bill is brought in.

Is it worth while to hold on to this dubious link with the Crown, and thereby leave it open to another set of young Irish people to feel that they have a conscientious duty to take up arms here against brother-Irishmen in order to establish an Irish Republic, when we do not know whether we are in or out of the Commonwealth and when nobody can say where we are or what our constitutional or international status is? Is it worth while to keep this tenuous link with the Crown, to keep us within the Commonwealth, as is said, and retain a position in which both we and the British institution of the Crown are insulted, to keep us on the boundary not knowing whether we are in or out of the Commonwealth and neither in nor out? We wanted to end that, and I have made it perfectly clear to those Senators who wish to read what I said in the Dáil that that is our primary purpose in bringing in this Bill. I want to appeal to those people whose sentiments are sentiments of loyalty to the institution of the Crown to consider the remarks I then made and to consider that this measure, in our view, is vital in the national interests of Ireland, and that they come first.

When the 1936 Act was passed and was taken over by virtue of the provision in the Constitution of 1937, that was the position, whatever its interpretation may be—whether it was a republican Constitution with authority in it to use an outside organ for specified limited purposes or whether it made no fundamental difference in our relationships with the members of the Commonwealth—whatever the position was —there was no going back from that for any Irish Government. We were either to remain in that undignified position, insulting the British Crown and insulting the Irish nation on a certain interpretation of the document, or to go forward. We are going forward because it is in the interests of peace, order and the end of bitterness between Irishmen. That is our primary purpose. All the other matters I have referred to are only secondary, but they justify in secondary fashion what we are doing.

We saw in the circumstances created when this Government was formed an opportunity which did not exist before of taking a step which, we believed, was in the best interests of the Irish nation, the Irish people and all sections of the Irish people, to put an end to that bitterness, to put a stop to the disputes which clogged our energies, prevented our national advance and prevented our fulfilling economic destinies.

The months went on and this new Government was formed, and its members are now more and more closely in unison in our outlook and in our policy. We have with us, and still have in the Cabinet and in the Dáil, representatives of those people who had fought in arms and had kept arms, some from 1922 to February of this year, in an unconstitutional way, seeking to reach the position where this country would be recognised as an independent Irish republic. I want to repeat, and am going to repeat, ad nauseam if necessary, that the object of the Government in bringing in this Bill is to take the guns out of Irish politics—and it is going to do it, whatever the consequences may be. Whatever my own political fortune or that of the Government may be in the future, we are absolutely satisfied that this measure is essential, if peace and order amongst Irishmen is to be achieved, if bitterness is to be stopped, if there is to be an end and a period to that frightful struggle between brother and brother, father and son, mother and child, that has taken place within the last 25 years. I do not care about a link with the Crown, or the Commonwealth and the Crown, if I can achieve, and this Government can achieve, that situation where there is an end to the bitterness, where there is peace and unity in this country.

Having achieved that, we will have done as well something which is worth while. We have always taken the view that it was in the interests of this country, from the material point of view and from other points of view, that we should have as close association as possible with those countries to which so many of our people have emigrated, and in which they have left so many of their descendants who, never abandoning the allegiance they owe to the country of their birth, still retain in their blood their allegiance to the Irish people and the Irish nation. We have had great ties of friendship and great ties of blood with our people in Canada and Australia, and, to some extent, in New Zealand. So far as our ancient enemy, Great Britain, is concerned, our missionary priests and nuns and brothers, our lay teachers and doctors, our workers, our craftsmen, have gone over there. If there is necessity for them to go over there, if the economic conditions here are such that they must go over, it is better that they should go over in circumstances where they can do a fruitful day's work for the country of their adoption and themselves. Is it not better that Irishmen who have to go to England should go there to earn their living and do productive work, and is it not well and worth while taking away this ridiculous so-called link with the Crown, and our diaphanous connection with the British Commonwealth of Nations, to achieve that never again would Irishmen go over to put bombs into public buildings in England, to do illegalities in England? Is not that something worth achieving, and can not all sections of the Irish people, whether or not they belong to the Protestant community, which was known as the minority in recent times, work together for the achievement of that end?

That is our purpose and our aim. That it will be achieved, I believe, is apparent from the peace and order that have subsisted since the 18th February in this country. Not for 50 years has there been such peace, such absence of lawlessness, such complete absence of gunman work, with no military tribunals operating and no person interned without trial. That has been the condition here in the last nine months and when this Bill is through, when it becomes law and comes into operation, it will be a guarantee for the continuance of that state of affairs, which is so eminently desirable and which transcends all other considerations.

The other line of criticism is that we are doing nothing. The second section of this Bill declares that "the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland". The suggestion has been put forward that all that this Bill is doing is recognising an existing condition. I do not care whether this Bill declares, confirms, describes or recognises a republican Statehood for this country. Each person who has his point of view on that may keep it, so far as I am concerned. That section makes it clear, at all events, to outside people as well as to our own, what the status of this country is. Deputies will remember that Article 5 of the Constitution provides that: "Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic State". Article 4 prescribes that: "The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland". There is no description in that Constitution of the kind of State it is. Inferentially, it may be regarded as a republican Constitution. I have specifically stated in the Dáil on the Final Stage of this Bill, that I recognise it as such and that I have recognised it as such from very shortly after it was enacted, notwithstanding certain criticism that could have been made and notwithstanding certain damaging arguments that could have been put forward. I stated publicly in University College, Cork, in 1936—it was in the public Press—that once that Constitution was enacted by the Irish people I would accept it as such.

It is a republican Constitution, republican in form, but when you find an Article in it which provides that a monarchy can be used for the vital purposes of our international affairs, then this State ceases to be a republic. When anyone says that this Bill is doing nothing of any significance, I say there is no force in their argument. This Bill is doing something of farreaching consequences. If it were not, we would not have had all the hullabaloo in the inspired Press during the months before its introduction. We have had superimposed upon a Constitution which appears to be republican in form the shadow of the Crown. The functions that have been, in fact and in practice, fulfilled by the organ of the British Crown will now be transferred to and exercisable by that person who will be, and who ought to have been, the head of this State, the President of Ireland. They will be taken from the British Crown and given to the only person, up to this, who could not exercise them, the President of Ireland. He will be the head of the State and he will exercise them as such and he will be recognised as such internationally; and, for the first time, in consequence of what is in Section 2 of this Bill, we will be recognised internationally as an independent Irish republic.

The third section vests the powers in the President and comment is not called from me on it.

I would like, before I pass from Section 2, to refer to the use of the word "Ireland". Those people who in the Dáil felt that they were bound to support this Bill and still had to say something against it, of course had to refer to the fact that this was not a 32-county republic—and it is not. Nevertheless, the use of the word "Ireland" there is strictly and legally and constitutionally accurate—accurate in constitutional law and in international law. We do, of course, declare in our Constitution, by Article 2, that "The national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas". That could be regarded by outside jurists or people who were adverse to our point of view, as merely nothing more than the assertion of an untenable claim, or at best the assertion of a claim to a position which exists de jure but not de facto. Actually, of course, the position is that we cannot exercise control over the six north-eastern counties. We have that right de jure, we have it morally and we also have it by virtue of the Treaty of the 6th December, 1921.

In Article 1 of that Treaty, Ireland was given the constitutional status of Canada and the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations. I emphasise for Senators that the first word of this Treaty and the first clause in that Constitution is "Ireland", which shall have the same constitutional status, etc. In Clauses 11 and 12 of the Treaty, which provided for the secession of the six north-eastern counties' jurisdiction from the area of the Parliament of Ireland to be set up under the Treaty, it is provided that, until the expiration of the month granted by the Treaty to the six north-eastern counties' Parliament during which they could opt out of this Treaty, the powers of the Parliament of the new State were not to be exercisable as respects Northern Ireland.

Quite clearly, the Treaty gave Ireland a Parliament with jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland, and Northern Ireland had power to opt out, but pending that month during which they could exercise this option, the powers of the Parliament of Ireland were not exercisable —but the powers were there, given by this Treaty. When the Northern Ireland Parliament opted out under Clause 12 of the Treaty, as they did, it was provided by Clause 12 that, on the exercise of that option, "the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland, and the provisions of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920 (including those relating to the Council of Ireland) shall, so far as they relate to Northern Ireland, continue to be of full force and effect."

In other words, the Treaty made Ireland a new State; if the Northern Government opted out, as they did, what they got was what was got under the Act of 1920. Even the Council of Ireland was to stand. And what did they get? Under the Act of 1920, they got the jurisdiction of a subordinate Parliament. The jurisdiction of a subordinate Parliament is strictly limited to what is bestowed upon it by the statute which created it and that jurisdiction, so far as Northern Ireland was concerned, was only to certain named Parliamentary counties. Sub-section (2) of Section 1 of the Act of 1920 provided:

"For the purposes of the Act, Northern Ireland shall consist of the Parliamentary counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone, and the Parliamentary boroughs of Belfast and Londonderry...."

Therefore, the position was, and the position is, that the jurisdiction of the Northern Parliament is confined to those names, specified Parliamentary counties and boroughs, and if I may, without going into legalistic discussions or arguments, just state the fact shortly, Parliamentary counties and boroughs are places where you vote for Parliament, and they are land areas, and the inevitable and logical conclusion is that, even from the point of view of British theory under that Treaty, apart from the assertion of our moral claim and right in Article 2 of our Constitution, the position is that we have the whole of Ireland, minus certain Parliamentary counties, the whole of Ireland, North and South, including the territorial seas right around the whole coast of Ireland. We have that under British theory and British law, and therefore, the description of Ireland is the proper description. People in the Northern Parliament have jibed at us. Modern politicians have jibed at us for the use of the Irish word "Eire" to describe our country, and the adjectives "Eirish" and "Eireannish" and all the rest of it emanated from British sources and Irish sources sometimes. They have used it as a derogatory term. They cannot use it any more because we now have the position that we have the Republic of Ireland under the statute law of this country, and international courtesy and comity must demand and require, and will demand and achieve that the sort of derogatory jibes that have been thrown at us in the years past will cease.

There is the justification for this Bill. We were told that it would end any faint hope of securing the unification of our country. I have dealt with that fully in my Second Reading speech in the Dáil and I do not intend to repeat what I said here. Even under this Treaty, when Northern Ireland opted out, the Council of Ireland was still to continue and perhaps that may have been a faint indication of the desire of the British people and the British Parliament and the British Government that there should be the ultimate union of Ireland because, under the Act of 1920 which set up this Council of Ireland, the purpose for which it was set up was to achieve the ultimate unity of Ireland. Section 2 of the Act of 1920 provides that with a view to the eventual establishment of a Parliament for the whole of Ireland and to bringing about harmonious action between the Parliaments and Governments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland there should be established a council to be called the Council of Ireland. Even that wretched Act of 1920 had for its aim, and even its principal aim, the unity of Ireland. That aim was preserved in the provisions that I have referred to in the Treaty—clauses 11 and 12.

Those words, pregnant words, significant words, in Section 2 of the Act of 1920 have been conveniently forgotten by the people who speak now as if they had a title deed from the Act of 1920 to complete and conclusive jurisdiction for ever under the Act of 1920. In recent months, or years, the phrase has become current that Ulster must not be coerced. I described that recently, and I reiterate what I said then, as hypocritical humbug. That Act of 1920 brought into the jurisdiction of the Northern Ireland Parliament masses of Irish Catholics, against their will. They coerced them to their will, in Tyrone, Fermanagh, South Down, Derry City and other homogeneous areas. It lies not in the mouth of any Northern Ireland politician or any British politician or statesman to speak about wooing Ulster and not coercing her. Ulster is allowed to coerce and has coerced our Irish Catholic people for the last 28 years. It is about time that that stopped. That is the sort of thing that gains currency throughout the world and gives the smug politician in England who wants to dodge his responsibilities an excuse for not doing his duty and the duty that lies upon the British people and the British Government to undo the wrong they did in the Act of 1920. At all events, when that malicious propaganda has been set aside we can face this position that when this Bill becomes operative we will have taken this problem of Partition away from where the British have been anxious to keep it for some time past, a position where they say that this problem is an Irish problem to be solved between the North and the South, thereby letting them out. We shall put it upon the plain of international affairs, to which it belongs. We will be completely independent, sovereign and free, and so recognised internationally when this Act is passed and comes into operation.

We can use that position, and will use it, whatever Government is in power, to see that that problem is solved internationally, if it is not solved by the North and ourselves. That will be, in my view, an advantage that we gained. We have got nothing out of the position for the last 28 years, no wooing, no offers of friendship, no offers of the grant of privilege being any avail. It is idle to say that when Deputy de Valera did hold out the promise, as he did hold it out to them over two and a half years ago, he was prepared to accept the position as it stands at the moment, this degrading position of the Crown outside and the republic inside, if that would create a bridge across which North could walk to South and create union. That particular offer was ignored and, as I have said, and I repeat here, just as those people, the Government and the Parties that supported the Treaty from 1922 to 1932 in the hope that thereby unity of Ireland would be achieved as well as the freedom of our country brought about, they were subject to vituperation as being "pro-British"; we were told we were a Commonwealth party, as a term of opprobrium; we were told we were not Irish, and all the time, we were hoping that the position created when we were a full member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, with all it implies, would induce those people in the North to co-operate with us. Never once did they walk an inch of the road. "Not an inch" has been their answer up to this and will be until they are coerced by public opinion, international public opinion, and the changing circumstances of a changing world to take up a different attitude from what they took up in the years gone by.

There is one matter that I wish to mention before I conclude. In the course of numbers of articles on the awful consequences that were going to happen when we became a republic and discarded this so-called link with the Crown, and when we ceased being on the boundary of the Commonwealth of Nations, the things that would happen to our citizenship rights and our trade preference, in periodicals which ought to have known better, in newspapers which ought to have been more fully informed, statements were made which had no basis in fact or in law. All these matters have been arranged between Great Britain and ourselves, about citizenship rights, free passage of men and free passage of goods subject to trade agreements with Great Britain and the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations. They recognise and will recognise the position there will be under this Bill internationally when it becomes operative but I do wish, for the purpose of the record and also for the purpose of the information of the Irish people and, in order that they may take little notice of some of these things that have been disseminated by the Press in the last few months, and doubtless will be continued to be disseminated in the months to come, to give them some indication of what trade preference rights and citizenship rights are.

Citizenship rights have always been a source of conflict between this country and Great Britain. We have always held to our Irish nationality and in discussions at Imperial Conferences we fought all the time for the recognition of the Irishman and the Irishwoman as a separate Irish nationality. The British insisted on British citizenship and British subject. It was not until this year that our rights as a separate nationality were recognised and they will be continued to be recognised under the Act that was passed a few months ago after consultation between the Government of Great Britain and ourselves.

As regards trade preference, one would think from the observations of newspapers, and even such a reputable periodical as the Economist, that these trade preferences were something that were given to us from the bounty of the British people or the bounty of the other Governments of the members of the Commonwealth of Nations, because we were members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Everyone who has had anything to do with these matters knows that in recent years preferences depend, not upon status or membership of the Commonwealth of Nations, but in the first and fundamental instance, upon a business basis. It is good business and it is reciprocal business, and that is the basis on which Ireland got preferences from, and gave preferences to, the members of the Commonwealth of Nations. We did not get them because we were a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. We got them because of the agreements that were made between members of the Commonwealth of Nations, and because it is good business. Some of these newspaper articles would appear almost an invitation, an active invitation, almost an encouragement, to foreign countries or foreign nations to come in, after this Bill becomes operative, and demand from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand under the clause in their treaties dealing with most favoured nations treatment, similar treatment to that existing among some of the nations in the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth preference system in its present form is based on trade agreements concluded at Ottawa in the year 1932 between Great Britain and other than this country and by some each of the Commonwealth countries Commonwealth countries with one another. We made a trade agreement with Britain in 1938 and another one this year, in July. On the 20th August, 1932—Senators will remember that at that time the economic war had just started and no agreement was made with England—Ireland concluded agreements with Canada and South Africa, and a further agreement was concluded with South Africa on the 30th July, 1935. Under these agreements preferences were exchanged and it was because of these agreements that preferences were exchanged, and those preferences exchanged between Ireland and the Commonwealth and British Empire countries other than Great Britain, Canada and the Union of South Africa are a matter of practice and there is not on either side any contractual obligation to give or contractual right to receive.

The trade preferences granted by Ireland are based on Section 8 of the British Finance Act, 1919, as adapted, and that section provides for preferential rates of duty on certain goods specified in a schedule. The section was suitably adapted to Ireland in Section 15, sub-section (4) of the Irish Finance Act, 1923. Following the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement, 1938, provision for the granting of special preferential rates for certain British and Canadian goods was made in Section 6 of the Finance (Agreement with the United Kingdom) Act, 1938.

The Commonwealth preference system, accordingly, is not a fixed arrangement under which each member gives and receives the same treatment, nor is it something which depends for its continuance on the adherence of all members, as any particular country, except Great Britain, by terminating its contract or contracts could put itself outside the operation of the system. Great Britain is the key point of the system, she alone has agreements with all the Commonwealth countries.

Senators have heard of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade concluded at Geneva in 1947. We are not a party to that. We have not adhered to that agreement, but all the Commonwealth countries have, and that agreement and the draft charter of the proposed international trade organisation specifically exempt from the general requirement of most favoured nation treatment all preferences in force on the 10th April, 1947, exclusively between two or more of the following territories: Great Britain and Northern Ireland and dependent territories thereof; Canada; Commonwealth of Australia and its dependent territories; New Zealand and its dependent territories; Union of South Africa, including South-West Africa; Ireland, India, Newfoundland, Southern Rhodesia, Ceylon and Burma. Ireland is definitely mentioned in that general agreement on tariffs and trade, although we are not a party to it, and it recognises that this country can have those preferences that existed on that particular date irrespective of our status. It is not because of our status that we are referred to in that international agreement.

We have not yet decided whether we will adhere to or become parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. We have complete freedom at the moment to give any preferences we like. We could not, of course, receive new preferences from Canada, South Africa or Great Britain. I should like to give a few figures to Senators in order to have them on record to dissipate this nonsense about the awful things that might happen to us if Great Britain refused or said: "Look at what we are going to do and the awful things that will happen". The fact of the matter is that as far as preferences are concerned, Great Britain and other Commonwealth countries get as much, if not more out of them than we do. To assert to the contrary is either to be misinformed or is the sort of propaganda in so-called reputable newspapers and periodicals that is something that can only be dictated by malicious motives.

Of Ireland's total imports in 1939, 56 per cent. came from Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 10 per cent. from other Commonwealth countries and 34 from non - Commonwealth countries. What were our exports during that period? In 1939 Great Britain and Northern Ireland took 93.6 of our exports, other Commonwealth countries took only 1.1 per cent. and non-Commonwealth countries 5.3 per cent. That was in 1939. For imports in 1947 the percentages were 41 per cent. from Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 11 per cent. from other Commonwealth countries and 48 per cent. from non-Commonwealth countries. Our exports for that year to Great Britain were 88 per cent.—yet we hear of the awful consequences of not getting preferences —other Commonwealth countries .5 per cent., and non-Commonwealth countries 10.8 per cent.

In 1939 Ireland granted trade preferences to Great Britain on goods amounting in value to £8,000,000. In the same year Great Britain granted preferences to Ireland on goods amounting in value to about £4,000,000. No preference, of course, was granted to Ireland on live cattle exported to Great Britain to the value of £11.64 millions, but importation was free of duty. In 1947 trade preferences were granted by Ireland to Great Britain amounting to £18,000,000 approximately. In the same year Great Britain granted preferences to Ireland on Irish goods to a value of £6.5 millions. No preferences were granted on live cattle exported to Great Britain to the value of about £13,000,000. Ireland is of course practically the only exporter of live cattle to Great Britain.

The trade returns clearly show that Irish imports from Commonwealth countries have been very much greater than the value of goods imported by Commonwealth countries from Ireland. In 1939 Ireland imported goods valued £4.5 millions from Commonwealth countries other than Britain and, in that year, exported goods to the value of only £.29 million to Commonwealth countries other than Britain. In 1947 Ireland imported goods to a value of £14.1 millions from Commonwealth countries other than Britain. In that year exports to Commonwealth countries other than Britain amounted only to £.21 million. It is abundantly clear that the advantages of these trade preferences between Ireland and all Commonwealth countries are like trade generally of mutual advantage and essentially reciprocal in their nature.

An analysis of the trade returns should convince any interested party of the facts of the position, and it is quite incomprehensible that there should be such misunderstanding and misrepresentation as to suggest that where Ireland was concerned trade preferences brought substantially more advantages to Ireland than to the other countries to which preferences are granted by Ireland.

May I pass in retrospect here to some of the economic Commonwealth conferences I attended during the time I was in a position to do so? I saw the representatives of these Commonwealth countries arguing and getting the last ounce out of their mother country, Great Britain. As far as economics was concerned each side bargained and argued just the same as one would bargain over the price of a cow in a fair. There was no sentiment. It was business all the time. But it becomes sentiment when we break this link with the Crown and get out of the Commonwealth.

To come down to hard facts I want to have this fully appreciated. The trade returns should convince anyone interested in the facts of the situation. It is not appreciated, owing to misunderstanding and misrepresentation, that trade preferences granted by Ireland brought as much advantage as preferences granted to Ireland. I do not want to have a competition as to whether we get more out of them or whether Canada or Australia get more. The essential fact is that trade preferences are all a matter of good business bargaining between different countries. There is no sentiment about it at all.

The Economist on November 27 of this year had an article which I wish to controvert authoritatively. This is an extract from the article commenting on the Republic of Ireland Bill:—

"The system of imperial preference rests upon the doctrine that the members of the British Commonwealth, through their common allegiance to the Crown are not foreign countries to each other. It is only for this reason that foreign countries having most-favoured-nation treaties with the United Kingdom are unable to claim the preferential rates of duty on their goods. If at some future date, say, Denmark claims to be treated on the same footing as Eire then there can be no doubt at all which alternative will be chosen in London: it will not be to admit Denmark and every other foreign country to the circle of imperial preference but to expel Eire from it. It should be very clearly understood that any harm the Irish may do to themselves in this way is neither the wish nor the responsibility of Great Britain."

Fortunately for this country the sentiments underlying that article are not the sentiments that actuated Dr. Evatt, Mr. St. Laurent, Mr. Fraser or Mr. Attlee. They recognised the real position. They recognised that there is a community of interest between countries and that it was of common benefit to them that the existing position should be maintained. The point of view put forward by the writer in The Economist is clearly due to a misunderstanding of the position.

The argument is based on a misunderstanding. Since Britain became a party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, it is not true to say "that foreign countries having most-favoured-nation treaties with the United Kingdom are unable to claim the preferential rates of duty on their goods", merely because Commonwealth countries having common allegiance to the Crown "are not foreign countries to each other". The fact is that if, in present circumstances, Denmark were to claim to be treated on the same footing as Ireland, the British Government would be obliged under the terms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to resist Denmark's claim by indicating that, while preferences in force on the 10th April, 1947, may be maintained, no new preferences can be created after that date.

To say that Britain would choose not "to admit Denmark and every other foreign country to the circle of imperial preference" but to "expel Eire from it" is to suggest that the "circle of imperial preference" is a club from which members may be expelled. This, of course, is altogether at variance with the facts. Existing preferences between Britain and Ireland are based not on membership of any club, but on specific trade agreements. To deprive one country or the other of these existing preferences it would be necessary to renounce these trade agreements.

I am afraid I am occupying more time than I intended, but I wish to make it clear, and to repeat that this Bill was neither conceived nor designed in any hostility to the British Crown or to the British people, or to the Canadian people, the people of Australia, the people of South Africa, India or Pakistan. It was conceived and designed because the Government felt the interests of this country required it, that peace and harmony amongst our own people demanded it. They felt also, once this was passed, that so far from there being any less cordiality between Great Britain and this country, there would be more cordiality and greater co-operation. We were told that we were going to lose the advantage of being in the Commonwealth. I had some experience of imperial conferences of this kind. We were supplied with information dealing with international affairs from the British Foreign Office and Dominions Office. There was not a single conference which any member representing this country attended for very many years past. There has not been any interchange of information, and no co-operation of the type that exists between British Commonwealth of Nations.

What is the use of talking about our being a member of the British Commonwealth or the advantages we are getting from it when that is the actual position? We were suffering from such national complexes and inhibitions that for years past we were not able to send a representative to honour the dead of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the other nations at the Cenotaph. We were able to do it this year because we had ceased to have these national complexes and inhibitions. We were able to carry out our international courtesies and obligations because we were no longer self-conscious. We were able to carry out our diplomatic courtesies in a way that it was not possible to carry them out— and in fact they were not carried out —for the last few years. That is of more advantage than the so-called link with the "half Crown" or than being "on the boundary." There is a greater chance for close co-operation between the members of the British Commonwealth and ourselves than ever before. The Commonwealth has an abundance of friendship and goodwill for us. That friendship and goodwill did not abate in the slightest degree after I had announced in Canada the intention of the Government to bring in this measure. On the contrary, when I explained to Mr. Mackenzie King the purposes of this Bill, I received nothing but goodwill and sympathy. I have received sympathy from Mr. Evatt and Mr. Fraser from South Africa and from the British Government. Anybody now who says that in this Bill we are doing something to disrupt the delicate mechanism of the British Commonwealth is saying something which is not only contrary to the best interests of this country but is doing something to disrupt the good feeling which is there now and which will improve when this Bill comes into operation.

The history of this country shows two things. It shows that every settlement between Ireland and Great Britain always came too late, and it shows that every settlement that was made made its contribution to the quota of friendship and goodwill between Irishmen and the British people. This measure, having been received in the atmosphere of goodwill, harmony and co-operation in which it has been received by Mr. Attlee and his Government in England and by the generality of the British people, will add a further measure of goodwill between the two countries.

Only one thing is now left standing between the complete reconciliation of the two countries and the two peoples, and that is the solution of Partition. As I said in the Dáil, the fact that we have that problem to solve and to face ought not, and will not, prevent our taking our proper place in the councils of the family of nations of the world, and far from adopting or continuing a policy of isolation, we have cleared away all ambiguity, all doubt regarding our international status and our constitutional status. We will give to the world our quota of peace I hope in the difficult times that are coming.

I rise to support the Bill, but I must say that, notwithstanding the fact that I have tried very hard, I have failed to arouse any sort of enthusiasm in myself in connection with it. In his speech, the Taoiseach has covered a lot of ground, but I must say, if one can judge from his statements, that he must have discovered a lot of enemies in this House or in this country of whom the rest of us were not aware. When I say the Taoiseach was shadow-boxing I do not say so with any disrespect whatever, but I would like to assure the Taoiseach that as far as we on this side of the House are concerned, he and his Government in any moves forward they may make, now or in the future, will have our 100 per cent. support. I can well imagine that the Taoiseach may disagree with some of the rest of us on certain matters—it is only quite natural that he should—and perhaps some of his uneasiness is due to the fact that he arrived at a decision in the recent Donegal by-election——

Senator Hayes says "oh". Surely we have not arrived at the stage that it is any harm to refer to the Donegal by-election. If I stray from the subject under discussion I think the Chairman will see that I am pulled up, and I assure Senator Hayes that he will have no reason to complain, as I have no notion whatever of going into a discussion on Locke's Distillery or anything of that sort. The Taoiseach made a statement that those who voted against the Coalition Parties would be voting against the republic.

I never said anything of the sort.

He did not.

The Taoiseach is always being misquoted, but that is how he was reported in the papers.

I said it would be represented as that by some people in the six north-eastern counties and I did not care about them.

God help us if we have to vote on those lines. I can tell the Taoiseach and the Minister for External Affairs that the 19,500 people who voted for Neal Blaney in the Donegal by-election will stand like one man behind him in any step forward, and there is no mistake about that. If anybody in this House or in this country is going to tie the Taoiseach's hands in any forward move, it will not be the members of the Party that I have the honour to represent in this House. The Taoiseach is building up, in my opinion, imaginary obstacles. He says, for instance, that his Party were accused of being the Commonwealth Party. Surely the Taoiseach must think we are very simple people, very forgetful people with very short memories, if we cannot remember six, nine, or 12 months ago or five years ago, when he and the members of his Party bragged that they were the Commonwealth Party.

Can the Senator give me any single quotation that I did that?

I have not the quotations here.

No, he has not the quotations. Read my election address this year and you will see.

I do not want to make the Taoiseach or his Ministers disagree with the Leader of his own Party, General Mulcahy, who has said on numerous occasions that he had no objection whatever to being styled the Leader of the Commonwealth Party.

General Mulcahy never made a statement like that, obviously.

All right. We will pass on. Far be it from me to try to raise any rows among the Leaders of the Government.

You need not be a bit worriied about that.

It will take ten years to undo the damage they have done. The Taoiseach is a very good advocate, and he has denied on a number of occasions that we had in this country a republican Constitution. I would be the last man to differ with him, and if we had any doubts, we need only refer to the statement made in the Dáil by the present Attorney-General, then Deputy Lavery, in connection with the Constitution:—

"Examining the Bill in the time which I and the House have had in which to do so, it seems to me that the effect of the Act is to remove the King from the Constitution and give the country a republican Constitution. That may or may not be a desirable thing."

Notwithstanding that, we have the Taoiseach coming in here to-day to tell us that we had a King here in this country, a King here, a King there and a King everywhere. Surely we ought to accept the position as it existed and give credit where credit is due to the people who brought about the position we find ourselves in to-day when we can repeal the Act and call the country a republic. The Taoiseach has spoken for a considerable time and with a lot of what he has said we on this side of the House agree, but if the Taoiseach tries to justify his Party's attitude in what might now be regarded as the distant past, if he tries to convince this House, and through this House the country, that under the so-called Treaty of 1921 the Government at that time had jurisdiction over the entire 32 Counties of Ireland, I say that the Taoiseach is asking a little bit too much.

I wish the Senator would keep to what I did say.

The Senator listened and, with all respect, wrote it down. If the Taoiseach expects us to believe that he is asking too much. Nobody is in a better position to know what the position was under the provisions of that Treaty than the Taoiseach. There are other people here who paid rather dearly for learning the history of that particular period, but anybody who knows anything at all about it, anybody who ever read the original debates in the Dáil, knows that under that Treaty, not alone had we not authority over the 32 counties, but we had not authority over any county; that under one section of that Treaty, England had the right in time of war, not alone to occupy the ports, but to occupy the country as a whole. Then we are told that during all these years since Fianna Fáil came into power nothing has been done. I find it very difficult to understand why the Taoiseach, who is not a man who is, as far as I know him, very violently minded on politics, could not give credit where credit is due and could not come here and say—

If the Senator will pardon me, I did not repeat what I said in the Dáil because I was trying to make my remarks as short as possible. If the Senator takes the trouble to see what I said, he will find that I went out of my way to give the fullest credit to everybody in internationally advancing this country. It is on record.

I am quite prepared to say that the Taoiseach did say several complimentary things in the Dáil, and made complimentary remarks about the Leader of the Opposition, but then he spoils it all by saying something petty and trying to take from some people the credit which is, in my opinion, due to them.

I would be glad if the Senator could state that specifically, and not generally. I am under the belief that I did nothing of the sort.

I do not want to get into any hectic debate on this matter at all, but I think that the Taoiseach should be a little more generous, and not be so grudging in any credit that he has given.

I had not the intention of being grudging, and I do not think my speech in the Dáil would stand that interpretation.

He is not generous himself and he cannot understand people being generous.

I must ask to be excused if I misunderstood the Taoiseach, but we know that since Fianna Fáil came into power, since Deputy de Valera became Taoiseach, this country has advanced more than it advanced in any other period of our history. The Taoiseach has said that this Bill was designed to, and that it definitely will, take the guns out of Irish politics. I hope that the Taoiseach is right and I think that every fair-minded man in this country will also hope that the Taoiseach is right, but there is one thing about which any amount of questions in the Dáil failed to get a proper reply and it is something about which I hope the Taoiseach or the Minister for External Affairs will reassure the House before this debate is finished. Deputy after Deputy of the Fianna Fáil Party asked the question in the Dáil—and I read the debate from one end to the other—are we to assume that once this Bill becomes law no man or body of men will have the right to take up arms except under the authority of the Government of this State. After that question was raised time and time again the Tánaiste, Deputy Norton, gave the following reply:—

"That, when this Bill became law, no man would have the right to take up arms for the establishment of a republic for Twenty-Six Counties."

That, to my mind, is a milk-and-water reply. I think we are entitled to demand a definite answer to a definite question whether or not any man or body of men has the right to take up arms outside the authority of the Government for the establishment of a 32 County republic or the establishment of anything you like—for the annexing of a neighbouring island, if you like. We have had people declaring war on neighbouring countries. Are we to be in the same position in the future, or are we to take it that we will get a definite answer from the Taoiseach that when this Bill becomes law no man will have the right to do things of that kind? That is the reply we want.

He had not got the right before.

He has no such right now.

I am not suggesting that he has, but there are other people who do suggest he has.

Not Senator Baxter. We have not got our heads in the sand. We all know what has happened and we all know that there were people in this country who held that they had the right to do these things, and, from the debates in the Dáil, one finds that certain Deputies took up a line which would convince anybody that even yet they maintain that they held that right.

The Fianna Fáil Party did so at one time.

That is the reason Senator Tunney was expelled from the Fianna Fáil Party.

That is the reason he resigned from the Fianna Fáil Party.

The Senator did not resign from the Party.

The Fianna Fáil Party is the last Party who should say anything about guns in this country. One must have a certain amount of patience with Senator Quirke, but one cannot stand him too long.

Some people feel——

If you want credit given, give credit to the people who accepted the Treaty. Do not try to suggest that we are all fools.

I never suggested anybody was a fool and I do not like people to think I am a fool. I do not think we should descend to this sort of stuff in this House. There is no necessity for it, but, talking about taking the guns out of Irish politics, I think it is most appropriate that the people who first brought guns into Irish politics should be the people to take these guns out of Irish politics. When I speak of the people who brought guns into Irish politics, I am not referring to some people who think I am referring to them. I am referring to the people who launched war in this country. The people who brought the guns into Irish politics are the people who brought the guns to bear on the Four Courts. They who are afraid of being called a Commonwealth Party are annoyed because they are called a Commonwealth Party. They should not be so ready to let down their pals. When they did not have guns to attack us, they borrowed guns from England, and when, having got the guns, they found they had not got men to use them, they borrowed men from England to bring the guns into Irish politics.

I have the greatest respect for any man who has done his part in this country, even though I did not agree with him at the time, and there is no man I have greater respect for than Deputy de Valera. He struggled through the years, year in and year out, working longer hours than practically any other man in the country, to get the republic of Ireland recognised. He struggled through America, travelling from one coast to the other to get recognition for the Irish Republic, and I am quite sure he is a happy man to-day to know that, as a result of his labours over the years, the Irish Republic is recognised and accepted in the capital of his own country, Dublin.

When it was a question of the removal of the oath, we were opposed in this House and in the Dáil by the people who are now annoyed because they were called a Commonwealth Party. When it was a question of moving step by step to the stage at which the Constitution was introduced, we were opposed at every inch of the way by these same people. As a result of the progress made and the steps taken under the Fianna Fáil administration, we now find ourselves in the position, and I say thank God that we find ourselves in that position, where there is no longer what might be regarded as a Commonwealth Party in this country. I believe that a great day's work has been done, and I only wish I knew who was entitled to the credit for converting all the members of the Fine Gael Party to what I might call the republican policy.

You did your share, I am sure.

I had nothing to do with it. I am quite serious, and want to be honest about it. If anybody can tell me who the man is who is responsible, I will take my hat off to him and keep it off.

Your logic and eloquence over the years played its part.

The Taoiseach, at the outset of his remarks, launched a terrible attack on the people who were opposed to him in connection with this measure. Like all good lawyers, the Taoiseach probably took up the attitude that attack was the best form of defence, and, when he talks about poisonous propaganda and newspaper articles, I am quite sure that he is not suggesting that any of the poisonous propaganda came from this side of the House, or from the people in the country whom we represent.

There was a suggestion made by one of the leaders of the Fianna Fáil Party, which got wide publicity in Canada, that this was a move inspired by Communists. It was published all over Canada.

And after the Canadian spy trial, it was a grand bit of propaganda.

That was very helpful to us.

Many unfortunate things have been said from time to time by individuals, but if we get to the stage where any man cannot say what he believes to be true in connection with this or any other legislation——

Do you believe that to be true?

I do not believe it to be true, but I am only one man.

Try to convert your colleagues to the truth.

I have been trying to convert Senator Baxter for 15 years, and have not made any progress.

And you never will.

I suppose not. As I say, I believe he was shadow-boxing. He knows as well as I know that, in private or in public, every member of the Fianna Fáil Party was more than helpful in connection with this matter. I met people rushing here and there on the day the Bill was introduced in the Dáil. One would imagine that the end of the world was coming. They asked: "What is going to happen?" I asked: "What is going to happen where?" They said: "Over in the Dáil," to which I replied: "Not a thing in the world, except that a lot of people who will not be able to get in will be disappointed." I thought the whole country would be there, but, to my amazement, the only people there in any numbers were the foreign diplomats and pressmen.

In the Dáil? The gallery was packed.

It is damned easy to pack the gallery. The gallery here is packed now and they did not come to hear me. The people of this country had known for years that they had a republican State and anybody who had any doubts has known since the Constitution was introduced that it was a republican Constitution.

Republicans have been executed since.

Senator Tunney took good care that he was not executed.

The fact is that republicans have been executed since.

Many of these interruptions are not relevant at all to the debate, and should not be made.

There is a move to do away with capital punishment, and Senator Tunney can then do things which he might have been afraid to do before. As far back as 1935, Deputy de Valera was asked at an Ard-Fheis if we had a republic in this country, and he said publicly then that, in his belief, this was a republican State. He was not questioned on that at the time, but, notwithstanding the fact that he was not questioned, we still have people coming along year after year to tell us that there is a lot of ambiguity, misunderstanding and misrepresentation in connection with the situation. I should like to say that any misrepresentation or misunderstanding which existed was created by the people who have now apparently been converted— and I say again thank God for it—to our side.

What were you doing with a republic and a King in it?

That has been already explained. When we took over this State, nobody had very far to go to find the King, or to find where he was. It was not a question of the three-card trick—you had not to turn up the corner to find him. The King was all over the place and everybody knew it.

Question.

Because of the actions of Fianna Fáil and Deputy de Valera, the King was gradually eliminated from the country, until we eventually found ourselves in the position in which the King was used as an agent and not as he was when we found him here. I do not think it right that anybody should try to withhold the credit for the advances made from the man and the Party responsible for these advances. We will all admit, in our saner moments away from political excitement, that a considerable advance has been made. We have had it stated here by the Taoiseach and by the Minister for External Affairs that, something like a year ago, they decided we had a republican form of Government here. We had a statement by Senator Lavery, the Attorney-General, to the same effect. Let us then agree that that was the position and let us stand together for the next move forward.

Various propaganda statements are being made that this Bill will hinder us in that further advance. I do not believe it will. I believe that if we can get in this House the unanimity shown in the Dáil, if we can get the people of the various political Parties to stand shoulder to shoulder, regardless of who may get the credit for it, that advance will be made. We have some people to-day who are jealous because Deputy de Valera goes to America, to Australia or to Canada. We have other people saying that he is usurping the business of the Government. There were very few people prepared to take his place when he risked his life flying to practically the four corners of the world. He is doing still the job that he did all his lifetime, taking the same stand as he took from 1916 to the present time. I believe that, regardless of who leads the fight, if we are all in it and if we stand shoulder to shoulder we will come to a day when we will be in a position— which we are not in to-day—to have something to shout about; and that day will be when we have a republic established and in effective operation over the whole 32 counties of this island.

I take a somewhat different point of view, in relation to this Bill, from the last speaker, and, perhaps, somewhat different from many, if not most, members of the House. I am not interested in something to shout about. My feelings are somewhat mixed, but my predominant feeling is one of satisfaction and pleasure. I feel that we will now have a State with a name and a status which has been accepted by every Party, and that no one will be able to suggest that there can be any possible moral justification for the use of force against the elected Government of our country.

You do not admit they had it since 1938? You say you now admit it.

I am stating that I believe the position is one in which no one will say that there is any moral right to take up arms against the State.

That is not what you said.

I do not believe that they had that right at any time or for any reason. I am referring to the political position. I have never supported the taking up of arms against the State at any time.

I know that.

I believe that there are people just as honest—perhaps more honest than I, who hold different views. It seems to me that to be able to declare a republic with the knowledge that the reasons for our action are not misunderstood by the Governments of Great Britain and the other States of the Commonwealth with whom we desire close co-operation and friendship is no mean achievement. I feel that we owe a great debt of gratitude, not only to the Taoiseach and the Government for the action which they have taken, but also to the Governments of the Commonwealth States for the public statements of friendship and understanding which have been made by them, which are of great value to us.

I cannot, however, avoid a certain amount of feeling of regret that in order to assume the name and status of an independent republic, we have had to cease definitely to be in the Commonwealth, and I have a good deal of sympathy for those persons who feel confused and bewildered by the mass of contradictory statements which they have read in the Press during the past few months. The Taoiseach has dealt with the constitutional controversies.

According to the opinion of some eminent lawyers—and although I am not a lawyer I would be inclined to share the view—we have not been technically or legally in the Commonwealth since 1937. Mr. de Valera told the Dáil last week that he could not say whether we were in or out of the Commonwealth, but he was quite emphatic that the King of England has not been the King of this country in any form whatsoever since 1937. My opinion on these matters would be of little value, and I do not desire to enter into this controversy, but I want to point out that there are large numbers of people in Ireland, both North and South, who have a strong sentimental attachment to the King, and who do believe he is or will be King of Ireland until this Bill becomes law. These people are by no means confined to the Protestant minority. As a general rule, they are people who have very little understanding of Irish national sentiment, and they have not realised that since the Treaty there has been a steady but sure evolution towards the republican ideal.

Most of these people feel that they have been badly let down by their public representatives. Some of them voted for Fianna Fáil—they thought that in some clever way Mr. de Valera had used the External Relations Act to keep the King of England as King of Ireland while at the same time satisfying republican sentiment. Probably most voted for Fine Gael in the belief that Fine Gael would prevent their King from being taken from them. Their memories were short and they had quite forgotten that Fine Gael had probably done more than any other Party to remove the use of the King's name from Irish affairs. Many people were confused between King and Commonwealth and thought that Fine Gael's appreciation of the value of Commonwealth association meant that Fine Gael was in favour of having the English King as King of Ireland. It was thought at least that Fine Gael would keep them in the Commonwealth. They forgot that Fine Gael and its predecessor, Cumann na nGaedheal, had always been essentially a realist Party—it placed little value on forms, whether it liked them or not. Its leaders supported the Treaty, not because they liked everything in it but because they believed that it would bring political independence and with it open up the possibility of new and friendly relationships with England and the Commonwealth. When the Fine Gael Party opposed changes in certain constitutional formalities then in use, such as the oath, it did so because these changes were made without consultation with Commonwealth States, and they feared that unilateral action on our part might injure or weaken our relations with the Commonwealth.

The Fine Gael Ministers in the present Government were following in the best traditions of their own Party when they approved of the proposal to repeal the External Relations Act, knowing that this would be done after friendly consultations with Commonwealth States and that it would lead to closer and better relationships with those States. True, they had to accept a position under which we would not be in the Commonwealth, but as a Party they had never quibbled over words if they could get the realities.

Personally, I do not think that I have ever doubted that some day Ireland would declare itself to be a republic. I did for a long time hope that it would be possible to arrange by friendly negotiation for an Irish republic inside the Commonwealth, and if this had been possible I personally would have preferred it to the present position.

In my opinion, the British Commonwealth of Nations, as it used to be called, was one of the finest and most important political developments in history. It grew into an association of free and independent States for the purpose of friendly intercourse and good understanding based on ties of friendship and common interest. Its strength lay in its elasticity—it grew rather than was created. It was the instrument through which colonies or dependencies were able to achieve by peaceful means political freedom and independence. It had few if any rigid rules of membership—any member could secede at will. While to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and perhaps even to South Africa, the Commonwealth appears to be the instrument through which they achieved recognition of their independence, we must recognise, whether we like it or not, that the majority of Irishmen do not feel that it was the instrument through which we gained our political freedom. I believe this to be largely, if not entirely, due to the fact that there was insistence on the use of the King and because it was held that the use of the King's name in some form must be regarded as an essential form or usage by countries in the Commonwealth.

I do not believe that at any time, certainly at any time in my lifetime, a majority of the Irish people has been willing to accept the King of England as a constitutional monarch in the same way as he is accepted by the people of England. Whatever may be said for the principle of a constitutional monarchy as against a republic —and personally, I think it has many advantages — it will, I think, be generally recognised that a constitutional monarch who has not got the loyal affection of his people, can be of little more value to a State than a rubber stamp.

I think that any impartial person— and we have none in this House who would be fitted to do it—who studies the political history of this country during the last 30 to 40 years, will regard this Bill as the natural and inevitable culmination of a movement towards absolute independence, in which all Parties have played a part. Attempts to apportion praise or blame can lead only to bad feeling. We are far too near the most important events to be able to judge impartially. We cannot avoid having our own opinions, but we are not obliged to give expression to them in public.

There are certain events in my life which stand out in my memory, and which I do not think I will ever forget. I have the clearest possible recollection of the day when the news arrived that a Treaty had been signed in London. That was just over 27 years ago. I was overjoyed, and so was everyone I met that day. I knew nothing of the details, and I believed that an era of peace in Ireland had commenced. I have an equally clear recollection of my feelings of dismay when I learned that our leaders had disagreed, and that some of them felt that they had been let down, and that the acceptance of the Treaty would be vigorously resisted by some of our national leaders. I believed that the will of the majority should be accepted loyally by the minority, even though that minority was of substantial proportions. I am still of the same opinion, but I recognise that in the past there have been honest and patriotic Irishmen who sincerely held a contrary view.

I have also a very clear and definite recollection of discussing the position with the late Michael Collins, when he asked me to be his representative on the committee which drafted the first Irish Constitution. He explained that he would be formal chairman of the committee, but that he could rarely attend meetings, and that he wished me to consult him once or twice every week. He told me that he believed it should be possible to draft a Constitution which would make the independence of this State clear to everyone, but which would not break the Treaty. Above all things, he said, we must try to avoid a civil war. I was reading, the other day, some notes which he gave me, and which made it very clear that he felt we should, if possible, leave the King out of the Constitution. He said that the King was in the Treaty, and if we made the Treaty law, it should be sufficient. The drafts of the Constitution which were submitted to the Provisional Government by the committee varied in certain respects, but they all aimed at promoting unity and at creating an Irish democratic State which would receive loyal support from all the people. The need for a national focus point around which all Parties could rally without sacrifice of any political principle was as clearly recognised then as it is now.

If I were to follow Senator Quirke and comment on the events of that time or all the details of the Treaty or if I were to comment on the draft Constitution which was placed before a constituent assembly at which only a little more than half the elected representatives attended, I would only reopen a controversy about a period which I regard as one of the most tragic periods of our recent history.

There has been so much controversy and bitterness since then that I doubt if there is any Irishman living who could make a résumé of our political progress since the Treaty without raising a storm of protest. I feel, however, that an understanding of events since the Treaty is essential to an understanding of the circumstances which make it desirable to pass this Bill. I propose, therefore, with your leave to read a few short extracts from letters written by the late Professor Berriedale Keith which set out most of the essential facts in our parliamentary history in relation to the Commonwealth much better than I could hope to do. Professor Berriedale Keith was a recognised authority on the British Commonwealth of Nations. All the extracts I propose to read are from letters published in the Scotsman newspaper.

As far back as January 9th, 1922, Professor Berriedale Keith, wrote:—

"It seems to me impossible to take any exception to the action of those members of the Irish Legislature who have accepted the Treaty as a stepping stone to national independence. The Treaty contains no suggestion of permanent allegiance, and the right to secede has been declared to be inherent in Dominion status by Mr. Bonar Law on behalf of his Majesty's Government."

A significant statement for 1922 from a British constitutional lawyer.

In another letter to the same paper dated April 10th, 1922, he refers to the apparent inaction of the Provisional Government and says:—

"The Free State leaders are confessedly believers in the republic who merely accept the Free State as a stepping stone to independence."

On June 16th, 1922, in another letter he asks:—

"Is not the Constitution of the British Commonwealth of Nations elastic enough to include a republic?"

There are quite a number of interesting letters between that period which it would take far too much time of the House to read. Some of them deal with the Privy Council and other matters, and, of course, a great many with Commonwealth affairs not relating to this country at all. I skip on to January 19th, 1932.

On January 19th, 1932, Professor Keith wrote a letter to the Scotsman in which he says:—

"The handing over to the Free State of its new Great Seal by the King, recorded in your Court news to-day, marks the final establishment of the complete international sovereignty of the Free State and the elimination of any British control." In the same letter he says:—"The position of the King under the new régime is inevitably different from his position towards the Government of the United Kingdom. History, the loyalty of his people, and his constant concern actively with all important affairs of Government give the sovereign as regards United Kingdom affairs a definite measure of authority as opposed to formal power.""In the case of the Free State, it has been made clear by the Government that the King is expected to act automatically on the advice of Ministers as does the Governor-General in internal affairs and it would be obviously fatal for His Majesty to endeavour to guide in any degree Irish Ministers."

On March 30th, 1932, Professor Keith expressed the view that Mr. de Valera was wrong in his mode of procedure by unilateral action in relation to the oath, but he writes:—

"What practical effect would the disappearance of the oath from the Treaty as well as the Constitution have upon relations between the two countries? Certainly there would be no change in constitutional relations."

In another letter written on June 11th, 1932, on the subject of the oath, Professor Keith says that:—

"Mr. de Valera's claim that the oath can be removed without breach of the Treaty rests on a far stronger basis than is often admitted."

And he gives his reasons at some length.

On May 5th, 1933, Professor Keith wrote:—

"It seems unfortunate that neither Mr. de Valera nor the British Government appears capable of suggesting some new conventional arrangement under which the Free State might remain within the British Commonwealth, while enjoying in name the republican Constitution which, de facto, she actually possesses.”

After all our arguments as to what we are, it is interesting to note that a British constitutional lawyer considered in 1933 that we had, de facto, a republican Constitution. I do not think it is of much importance now.

On August 10th of the same year he wrote again to the Scotsman and said:—

"As Mr. Cosgrave and Mr. de Valera are at one in their determination to eliminate the Crown as a real factor in government and no doubt represent the predominant view in the Free State, the question arises whether the British Government is to persist in the present attitude of hoping that something will turn up to render relations easier, or whether it ought not to attempt to recast relations with the Free State.""Can any substantial ground be adduced for refusing to permit the Free State the right to adopt by a plebiscite, if it so desires, a republican Constitution, and to regulate relations with it by a treaty proper? If such a ground exists, why are we not informed of its nature instead of being left with the uncomfortable impression that we are contending for a shadow to the detriment of our economic interests no less than those of the Free State?"

On November 15th, 1933, he wrote:—

"I fear that our Government, after swallowing a camel, is straining at a gnat in its fulmination against Mr. de Valera.""Mr. Cosgrave was permitted without protest to eliminate the Crown from its proper connexion with (1) the Civil Service; (2) the armed forces; (3) the administration of justice; (4) stamps and coinage, and to ascribe to the Executive Council powers of every kind normally accorded to the Crown or its representative in Council. He was permitted to nullify the appeal to the Privy Council, and to compel the British Government to pay the sums which his Government under a Privy Council award should have paid." In the same letter he comments: "It seems to be a confession of bankruptcy of British statesmanship to deny the possibility of a formal republican Constitution within so strange an edifice as the British Commonwealth of Nations."

I could quote a number of similar extracts from letters by the Professor on the subject of a possible Irish republic but I only propose to quote the most important. This one is particularly interesting in view of what actually did happen and in view of the scare-mongering which took place over the last few months:—

On November 17th, 1933, he wrote:—

"Under a republican Constitution within the Commonwealth, formal allegiance would be replaced by interchange of rights of citizenship, the Crown would cease to be an object of hostility and derision, co-operation in foreign affairs on a treaty basis would replace the present chaotic relations, and, last not least, instead of treaty rights for coastal defence, which the best naval and military opinion considers would be a snare and delusion if the Irish Government and Army were hostile, there would be arrangements for cordial and effective co-operation, precluding any return of the dismal days of 1916.""We may regret that the Irish should demand a republican Constitution, but, when we are prepared to take vast risks in India, it is fantastic to throw away a chance of settlement for mere words."

On the subject of the King the following quotation from a letter written on December 6th, 1933, is, I think, important:—

"The King here"—that, of course, means in Great Britain—"has affectionate loyalty from his subjects, enormous influence, and, as 1931 should have reminded us, most important powers. In the Free State, Mr. Cosgrave, with the co-operation of successive British Governments, and most notably of Mr. Thomas, deprived the King of every vestige of influence and all legal power.""There is not an act of external or internal affairs on which his Majesty can do otherwise than as bidden by the Executive Council of the State. He cannot refuse advice, he cannot dismiss a Ministry with a majority in the Dáil. All his functions, now of the most limited kind in internal matters under the Constitution, are performed by a servant of the Ministry, who could not legally receive or obey an instruction from the King."

Then comes this very striking phrase:—

"Would it not be more honourable to terminate this farce of kingship in the Free State, and substitute for it a Constitution frankly republican but with genuine and cordial recognition of the King as the head of the Commonwealth, of which the Free State would freely accept membership?"

In a letter dated October 24th, 1934, which deals mainly with certain issues between South Africa and the Commonwealth Professor Keith wrote:—

"The truth is that British faith and statemanship have to contend against a deep-rooted love of republicanism and the ultimate result no man can tell.""Mr. Cosgrave left Mr. de Valera nothing of consequence to do as regards the elimination of the Crown from connexion with the Government of the Free State. In this case again faith has failed to alter obstacles based on centuries of history."

I have read these short extracts from letters written by Professor Berriedale Keith, partly because they are interesting at the present time, but mainly because they show how certain events here were viewed by an expert in constitutional law, who was second to none in his knowledge of the British Commonwealth. The measure of agreement which has now been reached between our Government and the Governments of Great Britain and the Commonwealth was very clearly visualised by Professor Keith 15 years ago. The only difference is that he visualised an Irish Republic inside the Commonwealth, whereas it seems clear either that we are out now or that we will be out when this Bill becomes law.

As I have already stated, I would prefer if we could be described as in but when I examine my reasons I find that they are more sentimental than factual. Incidentally, I agree almost entirely with the remarks made with regard to trade by the Taoiseach and I had intended to make some reference to it, but it is quite unnecessary to do so after what he has said. When the Removal of the Oath Bill was before this House I expressed the view that it was a matter for discussion whether or not any link with the Crown should be regarded as an essential form in the Commonwealth. I gave it as my view that the one essential link was an obligation to consult together from time to time on all matters of general interest and in particular to consult with any or all of the other Governments on any matter which any of them might consider to affect their interests. That view was, I know, shared by quite a number of members of Parliament from the Dominions with whom I discussed it. Whether the difference between the words in or out will or will not prove significant time only can tell. It has already been publicly stated by all the Governments concerned that there is a desire not only to continue present friendly relationships but for closer co-operation. Whatever word or words may be devised to describe our new and closer relationships with the Commonwealth I can see certain advantages from our point of view in having been declared as out of the Commonwealth. Whatever laws we may pass or whatever actions we may take as the result of future consultations cannot by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as forced upon us. They will be acts of our own free will beyond yea or nay.

Sitting suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

It seems to me that the future of the Commonwealth may well be decided by the events of the next year or so. Forces are at work which must inevitably change its character in many ways. It is no longer a British Commonwealth, though some of its most important states are bound to Britain by ties of kinship and affection. While on the one hand it is becoming more than ever an association of free and independent States, it is recognised that, on the other hand, its vital interests lie in the closest possible co-operation with the United States of Western Europe which are resisting the spread of Communism.

A small country like ours dare not adopt an isolationist policy. We must have friends, and it is only natural that we should look first of all to the countries to which our people emigrated in the past. These include Great Britain and most of the Commonwealth States and also the U.S.A. As a small European nation fundamentally opposed to Communism we fully realise the importance of European unity. It, therefore, seems to me that our vital interests more nearly coincide with the vital interests of the Commonwealth than at any time in the past. It may, therefore, seem paradoxical that we should take a step which will be regarded as making it clear that we are not in the Commonwealth. I support this Bill because I am convinced that the formal declaration of a republic had to be done sooner or later in the interests of peace and unity at home, and because I believe it is only under such conditions that the people of Ireland will realise that they have a part to play in the promotion of international understanding and goodwill. This must, I believe, result in closer co-operation with Commonwealth States than has been possible for many years.

The Taoiseach has already expressed in the other House the sympathy which is felt by a very large number of Irish men and women for His Majesty, George VI, in his present illness. We all sincerely wish him a speedy recovery. I have watched affairs pretty closely during the past 27 years, and I am confident that I am correct in saying that the present King and his illustrious father, in their relations with this country, have always acted in a strictly constitutional manner, and that, though we desire a republic, we have no quarrel, real or imaginary, with the present occupant of the throne of England.

Before I conclude, I should like to refer briefly to one aspect of this matter which is causing genuine concern to many people. I refer to the possible effect of our action on the problem of Partition. We are told that once this Bill becomes law, all Parties can unite in a vigorous campaign to end Partition. If this means that the passing of this Bill will clear the air so that all Parties can compete with each other as to which can talk the most and the loudest about Partition, then I think more harm than good will result.

The Bill of itself will not, I believe, make any real difference to the problem one way or the other. Much of the propaganda with which its introduction has been surrounded has I think already done harm and will take some time to undo. The position in which the King was placed by the External Relations Act would not have satisfied any Unionist in the Six Counties. I have quite a number of friends in the North who are Unionists. On more than one occasion I have been asked if the majority in the Six Counties were to change their attitude and negotiate for some plan of unity with the rest of Ireland, did I believe that the people of the Twenty-six Counties would loyally accept the King of England. I had to reply in the negative and say that I believed that Ireland would some day be recognised as an independent republic. One-eighth or even one half as the Taoiseach says of a Crown makes no appeal whatever to those Ulstermen who think that they are loyal subjects of King George VI.

It is surely obvious that no Government of the Twenty-Six Counties could ever have negotiated on the basis that the King of England was to be loyally accepted as the King of Ireland. No Government could have promised any such thing, and the majority in the Six Counties are no fools—they at any rate would never have been taken in by an External Relations Act. It seems to me that the problem can never be solved by pretence. Honesty is the best policy in this as in everything else. Every move in the evolution towards a republic has more or less antagonised the majority in the Six Counties, and has helped to provide plausible arguments for the die-hards whose policy can be summed up in the three words "not an inch." In my opinion, the people of the Six Counties can be roughly divided into three classes—one class, mostly Protestant, which regards Partition as something which must be maintained at almost any cost; a second class, mainly but by no means entirely Catholic, which would like to see Partition ended at once; and a third class, mainly Protestant, which does not believe that Partition can be permanent but which is doubtful if it would be wise to do anything at present.

I believe it is essential that we should appeal to and make friendly contacts with this last class. They will not be influenced by talk, especially if coupled with threats of force, but in my opinion they can be appealed to. They are interested in world affairs and they are as much opposed to Communism and the totalitarian State as we are. If they could be convinced that a united Ireland would really assist the creation of a united Europe and so help to prevent another war, I believe they would be prepared to take what they might feel to be a risk in order to promote international security and goodwill.

If, after this Bill becomes law, there are clear indications that it is going to be followed by closer co-operation with the Commonwealth and if it is shown that we do not desire an isolated republic but rather that Irishmen shall in future play an increased part in world affairs, then I think we may find a response from not a few of the Protestant young people living in the Six Counties. I stated my views on Partition at some length in this House in July of last year. With some minor modifications they are still my views and I need not repeat them now.

In conclusion, I would like to say that, whereas I have always believed in Irish political independence, the word "republic" makes little or no appeal to me personally. I nevertheless hope that those who feel as I do about the word "republic" will accept this Bill as an honest effort to bring peace at home and to improve our relationships with other States. I think I have shown that our first Government eliminated the Crown as a real factor in government and deprived the King of every vestige of influence and real power. Everything in relation to the Crown that has been done since made little difference fundamentally, and was only important in so far as it might endanger our relationships with Great Britain and the Commonwealth. We have been assured beyond question that the reasons for this Bill are accepted in a friendly way by the Commonwealth States, and that we can hope for even more friendly relationships with them. I, therefore, believe that Irishmen who, like myself, have stood for the Commonwealth connection in the past, can support this Bill with a clear conscience, and with genuine hopes for the future.

Ba mhaith liom ar an gcead dul síos a rá nach raibh mé chomh sásta le horáid an Taoisigh ar an mBille seo is a cheapas go mbeinn. Shíleas tar éis ar tharla ins an Dáil agus tar éis an méid ama a bhí aige breathnú siar ar an méid adúirt sé agus breathnú siar ar an méid adúirt an Teachta de Valera, go bhfhaigheadh muid míniú i bhfhad níos réasúnaí uaidh ná mar á fuair muid inniu. Níl fhios agam mé fhéin cé mhéid iontaoibhe ar cheart dúinn a bheith againn as dlíodóirí. Tá dlíodóirí ar m'aitheantas, daoine fiúntacha, daoine a bhfuil mór-mheas agam orthú, ach tar éis iompar chuid de na dlíodóirí a raibh muid ag éisteacht leo le tamall gairid anuas sa Dáil, is deacair a rá cén uair is féidir iad a chreidiúint agus cén uair nach féidir iad a chreidiúint. Dúirt an Taoiseach nach raibh faoi labhairt ar feadh i bhfad ach ní raibh a chaint is a chosúlacht ag teacht le chéile. Dúirt sé nach raibh faoi na rudaí adúirt sé sa Dáil d'ath-rá anseo. Ní h-é amháin gur dúirt sé an méid adúirt sé sa Dáil, ach chuir sé leis an méid ba sheirbhe den méid a dúirt sé sa Dáil.

Séard a bhí san gcuid is mó den oráid a rinne sé anseo tráthnóna ná ionsaí ar an Teachta de Valera. Bhí sé anmhíleata tráthnóna; bhí fonn cogaidh air tráthnóna agus fonn troda. Níor thugas faoi deara go raibh fonn troda chomh mór sin air nuair bhí sé ag caint ins an Dáil os comhair an Teachta Éamon de Valéra agus níor thugas faoi deara nuair bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an tráthnóna sin thuas í Leitir Ceannain agus é ag cur síos ar an gceist seo go raibh an oiread sin fonn troda air agus bhí air tráthnóna. B'fhuras dó bheith míleata; b'fhuras dó bheith calma; agus b'fhuras dó bheith misnúil nuair nach raibh an Teachta de Valéra anseo lena fhreagairt. Nuair bhí mo chara, an Seanadóir Ó Cuirc, ag cainnt fuair sé locht ar an dTaoiseach faoi go raibh sé ag ceilt cuid mhaith ar an Teachta Éamon de Valéra, an obair mhór a rinne sé ins na blianta atá caite. Agus d'éirigh an Taoiseach agus dúirt sé go raibh sé ana fhial ar fad. Tá rá ins an nGaeluinn adeireas "lámh le tárrtháil agus lámh le milleadh." Má rinne sé iarracht adhmachtáil a dhéanamh ar an obair a rinne an Teachta Éamon de Valéra, níor spáráil sé am, níor spáráil sé cainnt, ag iarraidh chur in iúl nár thuill an Teachta sin, agus a chomrádaí ins an Rialtas atá imithe amach, an moladh a bhí tuillte dóibh ó cheart. Bíodh sin mar atá.

Maidir leis an mBille, mar dúirt me, uair amháin eile, tá mé ar nós an té a bhí ag sochraid a athar—níl brón ná áthas orm, ach ní miste liom an Bille seo a bheith ann. Ní miste liom é bheith ann ar trí chúis, go speisialta. Ar an gcéad dul síos, cruthaíonn an Bille seo a bheith ann an obair mhór, an obain chruinn, an obair bheacht, a rinne an Teachta de Valéra agus an Rialtas a bhí páirteach leis, fhaid agus bhí siad i réim ó 1932 go 1948. Cruthaíonn an Bille seo bheith ós ár gcomhair gur Poblacht í Éire. Cruthaíonn an Bille seo gur Bunreacht Poblachtach Bunreacht na tíre seo. Murach gur Bunreacht Poblachtach an Bunreacht atá againn, ní fhéadfadh an Bille seo teacht ós ár gcomhair gan an Bunreacht féin d'athrú. Measaim, sa tríomhadh áit, go gcruthaíonn an Bille seo, go n-admhaíonn an muintir atá páirteach ins an Rialtas atá ann, go raibh dul amú orthu i dtaoibh status na tíre seo ins na blianta atá caite, agus is admhachtáil é sin don tír go léir go raibh siad ag dul amú. Sílim gur furas an méid sin a chruthú, as caint an Taoisigh ins an Dáil agus as a chuid cainnte anseo tráthnóna.

Rud amháin gur chuir mé spéis ann, den mhéid adúirt an Taoiseach, nuair a bhí sé ag cur an Bhille ós comhair na Dála, go ndub irt sé go raibh an iomarca "Constitutional lawyers" agus an iomarca "Constitutional law" againn i rith na gcúig bliana atá caite. Ar eagla go gceapfaí go bhfuil mé ag cur mo leagain féin ar a chaint, tá an méid seo ráite ar colún 348 d'Imleabhar 113:

"We have—and it is hardly necessary for me to say it—had rather too much, within the last 25 years, of constitutional law and constitutional lawyers."

Le cuid den chainnt sin, tá mé ar aon intinn. Ní raibh an iomarca constitutional law againn. Gach aon dlí dá ritheadh, gach aon leasú dá ritheadh, ar dlí bhunreachtúil na tíre seo, bhí sé riachtanach. Ní raibh an iomarca de againn. In áit iomarca de a bheith againn, shílfeá gurb é an chaoi nach raibh dóthain againn, mar chitear don Taoiseach go bhfuil gá leis an mBille seo. Ní aontíaím leis go raibh an iomarca "constitutional law" againn, ach aontaím leis—agus is dóig liom go n-aontaíonn mór-chuid de mhuintir na hÉireann go láidir leis—go raibh an iomarca de na "constitutional lawyers" againn. An fíor a rá nach raibh gá leis na dlithe a chuir an Privy Council dá chois? An fíor a rá nach raibh gá leis an dlí a chuir íocaíocht na nAnnáidí Talún dá chois? An fíor a rá nach raibh gá leis an mBille a bhain an mionn, an mhóid, as Bunreacht na tíre? Nach raibh gá leis na rudaí sin go léir? Dá ndéanfadh an Taoiseach machtnamh air, sílim go gcuirfeadh sé malairt crot ar an gcainnt sin. Tá mé ar aon intinn leis go raibh an iomarca de na constitutional lawyers againn, ach is trua nach raibh níos mó constitutional law againn beagán beag níos mó.

Cuid de na dlíodóirí seo, a cheapadar go mba cheart dóibh é thógáil de chúram orthu féin labhairt ar cheisteanna móra práinneacha, ceisteanna a bhaineann leis an náisiún. Ce hiad na dlíodóirí atá ag cainnt ar constitutional law agus an iomarca de a bheith ann? Cuid acu, cheapadar go mba cheart dóibh go n-ullmhóidis an ráiteas ag cuidiú le Sasana agus naimhde na hÉireann, nuair a bhí an "campaign" ar bun chun na hAnnáidí Talún a shábháil agus a choinneáil anseo.

Cé bhí ag cuidiú le Sasana?

Béidir go gcuimhneoidh an Seanadóir ar an ráiteas a d'ullmhaigh an tArd-Aighne ins an am, an té atá anois ins an bhfeidhmeannas onórach mar Thaoiseach ar an dtír, gur ullmhaigh sé ráiteas ag míniú nach raibh de cheart ná de chead againn do réir dlí airgead na talún a choinneáil.

Ní raibh sé chomh simplí sin.

Béidir nach raibh.

Agus ní raibh sé ag cuidiú le Sasana—agus ní féidir é sin a rá, mar ní raibh, agus tá a fhios ag an Seanadóir é sin, chomh maith.

Fágfaidh mé faoi na dlíodóirí.

Ní raibh sé ag cuidiú le Sasana.

Fágfaimíd faoi na dlíodóirí an Páipéar Bán sin a scrúdú. Fagfaimíd fúthú a leagan féin a chur air, ach ní miste liom a rá—agus a rá, ar ámharaí an tsaoil—bhí dlíodóirí eile ins an dtír a bhí níos réasúnta, a bhí níos "objective" béidir, ina gcuid machnaimh, ná cuid de na dlíodóirí go bhfuil mé ag cainnt fúthu.

Dlíodóirí macánta ab ea na daoine sin a raibh sé ag cainnt orthu.

Rinne an Taoiseach tagairt don bhaint a bheadh ag an mBille seo le caradas a bhuanú idir sinne agus an Bhreatain Mhór agus tíortha eile. Ba mhaith liom a rá go bhfuile mé go láidir ar aon intinn leis, go dtiocfaidh maitheas mór as an mBille seo ar an mbealach atá sé ag rá. Is díth-chéille ag duine é a rá nach dtagann neamhspleáchas na hÉireann le leas Shasana. Is díth-chéillé acu a rá nach dtagann neamhspleáchas na hÉireann leis lena leas idirnáisiúnta. Sin é an rún a bhí ag Fianna Fáil ón chéad lá— agus níl an Taoiseach ach ag ath-rá sin. Dá nglantaí na constaicí agus na trioblóidí a bhí idir sinne agus Sasana as an mbealach, gur feárrde a bheadh an dá thír as. Taithníodh sé le Sasana, nó ná taithníodh, tá mé ag rá seo: nach féidir leas na hÉireann ó thaobhan ghéilleagair, ó thaoibh na sóisial achta, nó ó aon taobh eile, a chur ar aghaidh go sásúil, faid is nach mbeadh Éire neamhspleách. Má abraíonn an Taoiseach gurb é a thuairim go bhfuil neamhspleáchas, saoirse iomlán, riachtanach in Éirinn, le go raghaidh Éire ar aghaidh, agus dá thoradh sin, gur feárrde a bheadh Sasana fhéin as, tá mé ar aon intinn leis.

Do chuir an Taoiseach síos a lán tráthnóna ar chúrsaí tráchtála, ar chúrsaí géilleagair, agus ar an saghas tráchtála a bhí ar bun idir sinne agus Sasana. Béidir go raibh gá go gcuirfeadh sé síos, chomh fada agus chomh mion sin, ar an gceist seo. Ó mo thaobh féin, ba doiligh dom a thuigsint cén chaoi a bheadh baint aige sin leis an gceist a bhí á phlé againn. Ach béidir, ó tharla go ndúirt an Taoiseach an oiread agus adúirt sé tráthnóna, i dtaoibh buntáistí an neamhspleáchais i gcúrsaí tráchtála agus uile, go meabhród sé do chuid dá Airí, a súile a choinneáil ar an dtaoibh sin den scéal, in aon déileál a bheas acu le déanamh feasta leis an mBreatain Mhór, go gcuimhneódh sé nach é amháin go dteastaíonn neamhspleáchas poilitíochta uainn, ach go bhfuil neamhspleáchas géilleagair agus neamhspleáchas tráchtála riachtanach chomh maith. Nuair a thiocfas a chuid Airí ag déighleáil le muintir na Breataine Móire, nuair a bheas Aire ag déighleáil le maoin, le saibhreas nach leis féin é, ach le muintir na hÉireann, go gcuimhneódh sé, pé ar bith ceart atá aige a rogha rud a dhéanamh lena chuid féin, nach ceart dó saibhreas mhuintir na hÉireann a thabhairt mar bhronntanas d'aon dream ar bith eile.

Nach bhfuil a fhios aige é sin? Nach bhfuil a fhios san ag gach duine?

Nach bhfuil a fhios ag an Seanadóir Ó hAodha chomb maith agus atá agamsa, nach bhfuil sé ach cúpla mí ó shoin ó d'éirigh an tAire Talmhaíochta, atá i bhfeidhmeannas faoin Taoiseach, agus duirt go dtabharfadh sé stoc na hÉireann, feoil na hÉireann, do Shasana níos saoire ná a thabharfadh sé do mhuintir aon tír eile é?

I bpoiblí adúirt sé é sin.

Sea. Níl a fhios agam cén fáth a bhfuil an Seanadóir Ó hAodha ag déanamh an cur isteach sin orm. Aon chur isteach atá déanta aige go dtí seo, ní fheicim cén bhaint a bhí aige leis an méid atá á rá agam.

Má tá an Seanadóir ad iarraidh a ligint air go bhfuil Airí ins an Rialtas a thabharfadh maoin mhuintir na hÉireann gan ceart, tá breall air. Tá san soiléir, nach bhfuil?

Le linn Fianna Fáil bheith i réim, do cuireadh a lán dlithe i bhfeidhm. Dúradh, ins an am a raibh na hathruithe seo á ndéanamh ins an dlí, go dtarlódh easaontas as an méid sin idir muid agus Sasana, idir sinne agus náisiúin an Chomhchiníochais—na dlíthe sin i dtaoibh na n-Annáidí Talún, na dlithe i dtaoibh an mhionna, na dlithe i dtaoibh Gnóthaí Eachtracha, i dtaoibh an Bhunreachta, agus eile. Ba íontach an rud é an Taoiseach ag cainnt tráthnóna ar an "gcampaign" atá ar bun ag páipéirí áirithe agus ag daoine áirithe, ad iarraidh dochair a dhéanamh, de bhárr an Bille seo atá tugtha isteach aige. Ní miste liom, béidir, an méid seo a mheabhrú, sliocht as an óráid a rinne sé agus é ag cur an Bhille ós comhair na Dáala:

"Deputies and those interested will only have to look back in retrospect upon the history of this country during the past 26 years to see that every step made in advance towards development and the recognition of our national and international sovereignty brought with it, between Great Britain and this country, an additional measure of good feeling and goodwill."

Na blianta ina dhiadh, nuair a rinneadh gach iarracht ins an dtír seo an tír do chur amú i dtaoibh an méid a bhí ar bun ag Éamon de Valéra, éiríonn an Taoiseach agus admhaíonn sé nach dochar é ach a mhalairt-maitheas. Agus le cúnamh Dé, na daoine atá ag rá gur dochar agus aimhleas a thiocfas de bhárr an Bhille seo, beidh an dul amú céanna déanta acu agus a bhí déanta i dtaoibh Páirtí an Commonwealth, ins na blianta atá caite.

Is ceist anmhór í an raibh an tAcht seo—an tAcht Üdaráis Fheidhmiúcháin (Caidreamh Coigríche), 1936—i gcoinne Bhunreachta na hÉireann? Tá súi agam, nuair a bheas an tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha ag cainnt, go dtabharfaidh sé léargas níos cruinne dhúinn ar an bpoinnte a luaigh sé ins an Dáil nuair chuir sé insteach ar Theachta áirithe, le cur in iúl dó go raibh an tAcht sin ultra vires an Bhunreachta. D'fhéadfainn roinnt a rá faoi ach b'fhearr liom gan aom rud a rá go fóill, le súil—nuair a bheas deis ag an Aire—go míneoidh, sé go cruinn dúinn céard a bhí ar intinn aige. Má bhí an dlí sin ultra vires an Bhunreachta, nach aisteach an rud é na dlíodóirí meabhracha seo—agus is daoine meabhracha iad—nach bdearna siad rud éigin leis an dlí sin a chur dá chois. Cén fáth nár luaigh siad ins an Dáil, nó cén fáth nach ndeachaigh siad go dtí an Comhairle Stáit, nó go dtí an chúirt agus a thaispeáint go raibh an dlí sin i gcoinne an Bhunreachta? Cinnte, tá gá leis an scéal a dhéanamh soiléir. Admhaím é sin. Ach cé dó is gá é dhéanamh soiléir? Do mhuintir na hÉíreann? Do fíor-thromlach mhuintir na hÉireann, go h-áirithe, níor ghá é sin. Agus níor ghá aon rud a dhéanamh leis an scéal a dhéanamh níos soiléire do na Stáit choigríche. Thuigh formhór na ndaoine é. Cé h-iadh na daoine a raibh an ceo orthu agus iad in aimhreas? Is aisteach le rá gurb iad na dlíodóirí a bhíos i gcónaí ag ligint orthu anseo gur iad féin an t-aon aicme amhaín a thuigeanns céard é atá ins an mBille.

Bhí a fhios againn nach mbeadh aon easaontas mar gheall ar na dlithe seo, nach mbeadh aon olc ar mhuintir na Breataine Móire chugainn, nach mbeadh aon olc ag aon náisiún atá sa Chomhchiníochas nó taobh amuigh de; ach do chreid an Páirtí go bhfuil baint ag an Taoiseach leis, go mbeadh easaontas agus olc ann. Chreideadar é sin, agus is baolach gur theagasc siad é sin chomh maith. Béidir, mar léiriú air sin, níor mhiste má léim sliocht eile as an óráid chéanna—ar eagla go dtuigfí go bhfuil mé ag cur mo leagain fhéin ar chainnt an Taoisigh, agus éagóir á dhéanamh ar an bPáirtí a bhfuil baint aige leis le tamaill fada:

"With the Removal of the Oath Act, with the enactment of the Constitution of 1937, with the handing back of the ports, with the recognition of our neutrality during the war, all these things contributed their quota in bringing about the end of those old feuds and bitternesses that divided the peoples of these two islands for centuries."

Nach é an trua an Taoiseach agus a chomh-dhlíodóirí ins an Páirtí agus dlíodóirí taobh amuigh den Pháirtí, nár aithin siad sin i bhfad ó shoin, agus nach ndeachaigh siad amach agus an teagasc sin a chur i bhfeidhm ar na daoine a bhí ag dul amú—béidir acu féin agus daoine nach iad?

Inniu agus ins an Dáil, do chaith an Taoiseach cuid mhaith ama ag iarraidh cosaint a dhéanamh air féin agus ar a Pháirtí i dtaoibh an Chomhchiníochais, cé acu an raibh siad ag fágáil nó nach raibh. Sin é an rud a bhí sé a dhéanamh, díreach ar an chaoi go raibh an Seanadóir Ó Dubhghlasa ag cuidiú leis tráthnóna, ach ní raibh sé chomh soiléir— míniú a thabhairt do chuid dá lucht leanúna ar an volte face a rinne siad le gairid i dtaoibh an Chomhchiníochais. Chuir sé an cheist ins an Dáil:

"Why are we doing this now? Why are we leaving the Commonwealth of Nations? Why are we breaking the last tenuous link with the Crown?"

Ní dóigh liom gur gá dom aon aithris do dhéanamh ar chuid de na rudaí adúirt lucht an Pháirtí go bhfuil baint ag an Seanadóir Ó Dubhghlasa agus an Taoiseach leis, i bhfábhar an Chomhchiníochais agus i bhfábhar na mbuntáistí a bhí le fáil againn de bhárr bheith páirteach ins an Comhchiníochas sin. Ní gá dom aon léiriú do dhéanamh ar na tuairimí a foilsíodh go foirleathan, go rabhmar taobh istigh den Impireacht. Mar shampla, an I.R.A., ba ghnáthach leo bheith ag fuagairt go rabhmar ceangailte, go raibh ceangal na gcúig gcaol orainn, leis an Impireacht. D'fhéadfainn iad a lua.

Cuireadh ceist ar an Seanadóir Ó Cuirc tráthnóna an bhféadfaí cuid den fhianaise a lua, go raibh sé sin ar intinn mar pholasaí Pháirtí an Taoisigh. Béidir nach mbeadh cuid de na Seanadóirí an-tsásta leis an bhfianaise, ach tá an fhianaise le fáil in Imeachta na Dála ar an mBille seo. Luadh iad, tugadh mion-chuntas orthu, agus ní gá dom am an tSeanaid a úsáid ag dul siar orthu. Bé polasaí Fine Gael—níl aimhreas ar bith orm faoi—an ceangal, is cuma cé h-éadtrom nó tanaí é, do choinneál idir muidne agus an Comhchiníochas. Dúradar go raibh sé ann. D'amhhaigh siad go raibh sé ann. Ach ní raibh sé ann. Dúairt Fianna Fáil nach raibh sé ann. Bhí an dá thuairim ann, an raibh sé ann nó a mhalairt. Dúramar nach raibh sé ann, go raibh sé ann uair amháin ach gur chuir Fianna Fáil rómpú é bhriseadh agus gur bhris siad an ceangal sin.

Luaigh an Taoiseach tuairim an an Ollún Where mar gheall ar an gCoróin:

"It is difficult for those who regard the Crown as a badge of servitude to accept it as a badge of freedom."

B'shin é an tuairim a bhí agam i gcónaí, go mba chomhartha daoirse agus sclábhaíochta é. Níl aon olc againn do rí na Breataine Móire, beag nó mór, ach níor admhaíomar go mba rud ceart nó cóir é go mbeadh an Choróin, nó dílseacht don Choróin, in aon dlí ná ngnóthaí na tíre seo.

Chuireamar rómhainn é sin do bhriseadh, agus sin é an fáth gur briseadh an mionn as an mBunreacht, agus go raibh an tAcht Üaráis Fheidhmiúcháin (Caidreamh Coigríche), 1936, ceapaithe ar an mbealach inar ceapadh é. Sin é an fáth gur ceapadh Airteagal 29 ins an mBunreacht, ar an mbealach ar ceapadh é. Ach an t-am ar fad, bhí an teagasc á dhéanamh ag baill an Oireachtais, ag Páirtí Fine Gael go h-áirithe, agus ag a lucht leanúna—agus ag an Aire Gnóthaí Eachtrachta anseo i láthair, nuair a bhí sé taobh amuigh den Dáil— go ra hmar taobh istigh den Chomhchiníochas. Bhí an Taoiseach agus a lucht leanúna ag fógairt go mba cheart an scéal d'fhágáil mar bhí. Ach an rabhmar ins an gComhchiníchas? Ní dlíodóir mé. Do b'fhuras don Taoiseach agus da chomhdhlíodóirí teacht ar réiteach na ceiste da mba mhian leo agus ní chreidim go raibh siad chomh dall nach bhfacadar nach raibh aon bhaint againn leis an gComhchiníochas ar feadh aon bhliain deag go h-áirithe. Cén fhianaise a bhí ann go raibh an náisiún ina phairt den Chomhchiníochas. Ins an mblian 1926 chom maith agus is cuimin liom, do bhí comhdháil Impiriúil ann agus de thoradh na Comhdhála sin do thánadar ar formula le ballraíochta Chomhchiníochais a shocrú:

"They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations."

Céard eile a theastaíonn ó aon duine? Sin é an cruthúnas an raibh náisiún ins an Chomhchiníochas nó ná raibh. An féidir nach raibh fhios ag an Taoiseach agus a chomh-dhlíodóirí an t-am ar fad go rabh an formula sin ann? Is cuimhin liom ceart go leor nuair a bhí an mionna anchoitianta sa tír. Is cuimhin liom—ní raibh posta an-mhór agam—scilleacha beaga sa tseachtain—ach do briseadh as an bpost mé mar gheall ar nach nglacf inn leis an mionna a thógáil do Rí coigcríche. Chonnaic mé an mionna sin ag imeacht. Ní hamháin gur imigh sí as do Stát-Sheirbhisigh, do mhúinteoirí, ach d'imigh sí as do lucht an Oireachtais. Nuair d'imigh an mionna, nach bhfuil sé soiléir ón míniú sin sa Bhunreacht go rabhmar taobh amuigh den Impireacht?

Cuireadh ceist ar an Iar-Taoiseach mar gheall ar status na tíre ar an 24ú de Mheitheamh an bhliain seo caite, agus dúirt sé:

"The Constitution is a Republican Constitution. That we are a Republican State here nobody can deny. We are a republic."

B'fhéidir go mba cheart dom tuille a rá. Ag col. 408, Vol. 113, dúirt Mr. de Valera:

"I said before we were a republic. I say it now and this Bill is the best proof of it because you are not establishing a republic, you are simply declaring that the description of the State shall be a republic. If it were not capable of being so described then this would be a lie and a nullity. If there was anything inconsistent under the Constitution in being a republic, we could not declare the republic by ordinary legislation."

Agus níl ós ár gcóir anois ach gnáth-Bhille. Chomh fada is a bhain linne ba phoblacht a bhí againn sa Stat seo. Dúirt muintir na Breataine Móire nach ndearna sé aon difríocht, dúradar nach raibh aon locht acu ar an gcaidreamh a bhí ar bun mar a bhí idir Éire agus an Bhreataín Mhór agus na náisiúin eile ina an Comhchiníochas. Iad fhéin adúirt é sin; ní muide adúirt é. Dúradh níos mó ná uair amháin an chuid riachtanach den Nóta a chuir an Rialtas Sasanach amach ar an 29ú Nollaig, 1937:

"They are prepared to treat the new Constitution as not effecting a fundamental alteration in the position of the Irish Free State, in future to be described under the New Constitution as Éire or Ireland, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations."

Iad-san adúirt é sin; ní muide adúirt é. Tá siad á rá anois ar an gcaoi chéanna, mórán an rud céanna, nach ndéanfaidh an Bille seo aon difríocht, ins an gcaidreamh idir muid agus iad agus náisiúin an Chomhchiníochais, ach iad-san a bhí á rá gur mian leo go leanfadh an caidreamh ar an mbealach a bhí sé go dtí seo. An bhfhágann sé sin nach mbeidh brí leis an mBille seo? An mbaineann sé de thábhacht, de thairbhe agus d'eifeacht an Bhille seo? Dhiúltaigh cuid de na "constitutional lawyers" breathnú ar an bhfhírinne. Dhiultaigh siad an fhírinne á admháil. Dhiultaigh siad an scéal mar bhí fhágáil agus glacadh leis. Cheapadar leanúint ar aghaidh leis an bpolasaí a bhí acu dalladh phúicín a chur ar mhuintir na tíre. Ní féidir linn a rá nár éirigh sáthach mhaith leo i n-Éirinn ach níor eirigh leo i gcéin. B'fhéidir maidir leis an bpoinnte sin nar mhiste dhom tagairt a dhéanamh do imeachtaí eile ins an Dáil tamall o shoin.

Uair eigin sa tsamhradh—ní cuimhneach liom go baileach an dáta—i mbliana chuir Teachtaí áirithe ceist ar an dTaoiseach i dtaobh status na tíre seo. Thug an Taoiseach freagra agus cuireadh ceist eile air agus thug sé freagra ach idir an dá linn thainic sé féin agus an t-Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha le chéile agus phléigh siad an dlí go léir. Sa deireadh do chinneadar aontú ar phoinnte áirithe. Sé dúirt an Taoiseach i dtaobh an scéil agus i dtaobh an fhiosrúcháin a rinne sé fhéin agus an t-Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha de bharr na gceist seo a cuireadh orthu:

"The result of all these questions and the discussions which took place between the questions was that the Minister for External Affairs and myself having come one way or the other, finally came to the conclusion that we were not a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations."

Arís ar chol. 376 tá an sliocht seo le fáil:

"Apparently then as a result of all that we reached the point where everybody said we were not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. That is the answer to those who are asking why we are leaving the Commonwealth of Nations."

Tar éis aon bhlian déag thainic na "constitutional lawyers" ar aon intinn nach rabhmar inár mball den Chomhchiníochas. Tháinic siad le tuiscint i gceart céard í an bhrí a bhí le hAlt 29 den Bhunreacht. Sé an trua nár tháinic siad ar an tuairim sin roimhe. Sé an trua nár admhaigh siad an fhírinne roimhe. Dá n-admhódh, dá dtagadh, ní fios cé mhéid imní, ní fios cé mhéid trioblóide, ní fios cé mhéid achrainn agus ní fios, b'fhéidir, cé mhéid fola a sábhálfaí don tír seo.

Sílim go n-admhaíonn an Taoiseach an dearmad a bhí air, an dul amú a bhí air i dtaobh an scéil ar fad. Sin é a cheapaim nuair a léigh mé an sliocht seo as a óráid. Sílim go n-admhaíonn an fear anois a bhí ag cainnt inniu ar an mí-ádh a tháinic ar an tír le linn na mblian atá caite go raibh dul amú air:

"I was defending people" adeir sé, "who were being prosecuted before the Special Powers Tribunal and who were being pursued by the then Government, very properly, for acts of violence."

Sé an trua, mar adeirim, nár fhógair sé a thuairim agus nár fhógair na dlíodóirí a dtuairim i dtaobh ballraíocht na h-Éireann agus an Chomhchiníochais. Níor ghá dhóibh ach é 'rá agus sábhálfaí a lán den tír seo.

Chaith an Taoiseach cuid mhaith áma tráthnóna ag cur síos ar cheist eile: "Head of the State" mar adúirt sé.

Níl fúm mórán a rá faoi ach tá dhá thuairim air agus mar a adúirt mé cheana, tá meas mór agam ar thuairimí dlíodóirí de ghnáth ach tá fhios agam ag an ám gcéanna go mbíonn na dlíodóirí ag dul amú. Is rí-mhinic i stair na tíre seo le 17 bliana, nó le 16 bliana go h-áirithe, gur cruthaíodh go raibh an dul amú ar go leor.

Ins na cúirteanna, i gcoinne an Rialtais, nach ea?

Sea. Ceist chinnte í seo, an cheist seo faoi cheannasaí an Stait, go bhféadfaí go leor a rá ina thaobh, ach ag an ám gcéanna sílim nach raibh an Taoiseach ag tabhairt cothram na Féinne tráthnóna don iar-Taoiseach nuair a bhí sé ag cur síos ar an gceist sin. Sén trua nár phléigh an Taoiseach an scéal sin níos mionna ná mar a phléigh sé é ins an Dáil nuair a bhí an t-iar-Taoiseach i láthair, ach is fiú, agus iarraim ar an Seanad a bheith foighdeach, go gcuirfidh mé ós cómhair an tSeanaid an t-eagar a bhí ag an iar-Taoiseach, an tuairim a bhí aige ar an scéal. I gcol. 421, Imleabhar 113, deir sé:

"The question has been raised who is the head of the State here. I have given a good deal of thought to that since the question was raised and I have had time to think the matter out fully. The question really is whether in our Constitution there is an individual head of the State. There is no head of the State directly named. The head of the State can be not merely an individual, but it can also be a body or group. I think there are States in which that is so. Our Constitution was intended to be as explicit as it possibly could be with as few fictions as possible and if you read our Constitution, you will find that the executive power of the State, if that indicates the head, is exercised with the authority of the Government. Anything that the Government uses is an agent. The authority lies with the Government. The authority does not devolve down from some head like a king and to be exercised in his name or he exercising in his own name, but with the advice of others. Probably the best answer to who is the head of the State here was that the head of the State was the Government."

Cathain adúirt sé é sin, má sé do thoil é?

An iar-Taoiseach ag cainnt ins an Dáil ar an 24ú Samhain, 1948.

Dúirt sé anuraidh gur bé an t-Uachtarán ceannasaí an Stáit.

"But we had a President and we wanted to give to the President as many powers and functions as we could. If he has not got more, I would like to have those who say that to throw themselves back to the time of the constitutional discussions here. When we were discussing the Constitution here, the allegation and the charge was that we were giving such power to the President that he was to be a dictator. I am glad to see the President getting these powers. I am glad to see the person who is the first citizen of this land and so described in the Constitution given these powers. I am glad he is getting these powers. This Act is necessary to give him these powers. Afterwards, however, will these people, these jurists, to whose opinion the Taoiseach seems to defer so much, will these people who may be writing about us, if they are interested, say that even by giving this Act, we have constituted him the head of this State?"

Silim nar cheart dom stopadh ansin. Ba mhaith liom cuid eile a léamh:

"I do not care whether we fall into a category of States. It was not to fall into a category of States our people have fought through the centuries. Our people have fought for independence and the point about the republic was that it was in that form that our independence was crystallised in our time. That is the significance of the republic but it was not that we might be classed by some jurists as this type of State or not that we were worrying. We knew perfectly well if they wanted to they could find out from the fundamental documents exactly the type of State we were and that any real jurist was not going to be fooled into thinking that a statutory agent appointed in the way in which the King of Canada, Australia and so on was appointed by us was in any sense the head of our State."

Admhaíonn an t-iar-Taoiseach go raibh cumhachta áirithe nar tugadh d'Uachtarán an Stáit. Do mhínigh sé cé'n fáthe nár tugadh na cumhachta áirithe sin dó agus míníodh go mion iad ins an Dáil ach an rud ba cheart don Taoiseach a rá nuair a bhí se ag cainnt ins an Dáil anseo trathnóna, gur b'fhuras dúinn na cumhachta sin a thabhairt don Uachtarán am ar bith ba mhian linn é sin a dhéanamh agus táimid á dhéanamh sin go réidh agus go furas ins an mBille seo. Mar shampla, i n-Alt 12, fo-alt I, den mBunreacht áit a gcuirtear síos ar an Uachtarán:

"There shall be a President of Ireland (Uachtaran na hÉireann), who shall take precedence over all other persons in the State, and who shall exercise and perform the powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution and by law."

Is furas teacht ar an bhfo-alt atá ar intinn agam ina bhfuil sé ráite go soiléir go bhféadfaí, faoi dhlí an Stáit, cumhachta ar bith a thabhairt don Uachtarán atá faoi réir Bunreachta na tíre. Ar na cúmhachta gur féidir linn a thabhairt dó faoin mBunreacht tá cumhacht gníomhuithe dúinn i ngnóthaí eachtracha, sa mbealach atá ráite anseo. Sílim nach raibh an Taoiseach ag tabhairt cothram na Féinne don iar-Taoiseach; sílim gur chuir sé roimhe ionsaí pearsanta a dhéanamh air i mbealach nach raibh i nmholta. Níor tugadh na cumhachta don Uachtarán mar gheall ar na fáthanna a luadh sa Dáil ins an am. Sa mhéid go bhfuil an Bille seo ag tabhairt na gcumhacht sin don Uachtarán, tá mise an-tsásta; dúirt an t-iar-Taoiseach go raibh sé an-tsásta agus tá muid ar fad an-tsásta ach níl muid ag bunú poblachta ins an Stát seo; tá poblacht ann cheana; níl á dhéanamh againn ach go bhfuil muid á rá gur poblacht í an Stát. Dá socraíodh an t-Aire Talmhaíochta maidean amáireach go mbeadh ar gach feilméar sa tír cárta fháil agus an focal "bó" a scríobh air agus an cárta sin a chrochadh faoi mhuineál gach bó ins an tír, an ndéanfadh sé blas difríochta maidir le mianach na mbeithíoch nó le gnéithe na mbeithíoch? Níl muid ag déanamh anseo ach, mar adúirt an Seanadóir Ó Cuirc, á rá gur b'amhlaidh atá poblacht sa tír seo le haon bhliain déag. Má shásaíonn sé sin an Taoiseach, tá mise lán-tsásta; má shásaíonn sé na daoine a bhí i gceist aige, a bhí míshásta mar gheall ar status na tíre le fada mar a cheapadar é bheith, tá fáilte agam roimh an mBille agus guímid go mbeidh an toradh as a bhí seisean á' rá. Níl fhios agam ar ghá don Taoiseach a bheith chomh cinnte sin go gcuirfidh an Bille seo deireadh lenar gcuid trioblóidí ar an mbeolach atá sé á' rá. Má shocraíonn aon dream daoine éirí amach amarách agus á rá; níl muide sásta leis an téarma sin "Poblacht na h-Éireann"; séard a theastaíonn uainne "Poblacht Sóisealach na h-Éireann"; nó: níl muid sásta leis an bpoblacht sin, séard a theastaíonn uainne "Poblacht Sóbhietach na h-Éireann"; má ghlacann siad i n-a gceann é gunna a thógáil thagann siad ghá thóraíocht le gunnai agus ma chruthaíonn siad do mhuintir na tíre go bhfuil siad i ndá ríribh faoi'n gcreideamh atá acu, an mbeidh muid géilliúnach dóibh? Tá súil agam go gcuirfidh an Bille seo deireadh leis an gceó atá ar dhaoine le fada anois; má dhéanann sé an méid sin, déanfaidh sé a lán.

Tá rud eile ann gur mhian liom tagairt a dhéanamh dó: nuair a bhí an Taoiseach ag cainnt, chuir sé síos ar an Teórainn agus ar dheighilt na tíre seo. Tá muid ar fad ar aon intinn leis nuair adeir sé nach mbeidh muid sásta go gcuirtear deireadh leis an deighilt sin. Is mór an trua nach bhfuil an Taoiseach ina fhear chomh mór is a thug muid creidiúint dó a bheith. Ba mhaith liom dá n-admhódh sé an méid atá deanta ag an iar-Taoiseach faoi cheist réitigh na deighilte i n-ionad a rá nach ndearna an t-iar-Taoiseach agus a chomrádai i bpáirti Fhianna Fáil aon rud faoin gceist sin ó tháinic siad i gcumhacht. Níl sé sin fíor. Tá sé fíor gur b'é ceann de na ceisteanna ba mhó a phléigh an t-iar-Taoiseach le Rialtas na Breataine sa mblian 1938, nuair a chuaigh sé ag déanamh réitigh leo ar cheist na nAnnáidí agus ar cheist na gcalafort. Níor spáráil sé aon ócáid chun na ceiste a phlé agus ní amháin é sin ach níl fhíos agam nach raibh an náisiún i gcontúirt le linn na héigeandála níos mó ná aon uair amháin de bharr chomh diograiseach agus chomh dúthrachtach a bhí sé ag fógairt na h-eagóra sin, deighilt na h-Éireann. Fógraíodh don tír tamall ó shoin go raibh plean ag páirtithe éagsúla agus plean ag an Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha le deireadh a chur leis an deighilt sin; bhí plean ag an Taoiseach le deireadh a chur leis an deighilt, ach cá bhfuil na pleananna? Bhí muid ag súil tráthnóna go bhfhaigheadh muid l de éigin ar an bplean sin, ach cé rd a fuair muid ach focla fuara ceómhara?

Ni dóigh liom gur gá dhom aon rud eile a rá faoin mBille, ach ba mhaith liom tagairt a dheanamh don teideal atá le bheith ar an Stát. Tá mé ar aon intinn leis an Taoiseach ins an achainí a rinne sé le muintir na h-Éireann glacadh le teideal an Stait mar atá sé sa mBille seo agus níor mhiste dá gcuireadh an Taoiseach comhairle ar chuid da lucht leanúna féin mar maslaíodh an Stat ins an Dáil agus anseo ar an mbealach a bhí seisean a rá, nuair a bhí daoine ag iarraidh dallamullóg a chur ar mhuintir na tíre agus beag is fiú a dheanamh faoin iarracht a rinneomar chun an Stait a bhaisteadh mar ba chóir. Cinnte níl mise sásta go bhfuil ann athrú déanta thar na téarmaí ata sa Bhunreacht—

Nach bhfuil an focal "Poblacht" ann?

Tá, ach níl ann ach an Stát a bhaisteadh, an rud atá ann d'ainmniú.

Ach nach mait an rud leanbh a bhaisteadh?

Níl aon athrú gur fiú trácht air ach má shásaíonn sé an Seanadoir—

Ni chun mise a shásamh a cumadh é ach a mhalairt.

Tá súil agam go mbeidh seisean díograiseach, dílis uair ar bith a mbeidh an Poblacht i gceist.

Nach bhfuil mé dílis riamh don cheart?

I rise to speak with a very full realisation of the responsibility I have assumed in opposing in this House this Bill, which has received the unanimous approval of the Dáil and for which the Taoiseach has asked for similar unanimity in this House. I am driven to oppose this Bill by my convictions, convictions which are shared, I believe by a considerable majority of my constituents and, I know, by a very considerable number of people in this country. I speak here as an Independent, entirely free from any Party ties and entirely free from any Party pledges or Party Whips. I am responsible in this House only to my own conscience and to my constituents. I think it only right to point out that I do not represent in this House either Trinity College or the University of Dublin. I am not in any way authorised to express their views or opinions. I know that some of my colleagues favour this Bill and some are opposed to it. Neither of the bodies I have mentioned has expressed any views on the matter and neither will express any views. I am speaking here as an Independent.

Ireland has often been referred to as a mother country. I believe that I am more entitled than any other member of this House to speak for Ireland as a mother country. My constituents include those who do not even live in this country. They are graduates of my university, living in Ireland, both North and South, in Great Britain, in the United States, in Canada and in Australia. I do not think that any other Senator speaks for as large a constituency as I represent.

In the special circumstances of this debate, which invites the application to myself of various terms such as ex-Unionists, West Britons and, as the Taoiseach said, "hypocritical humbug", I realise now, in inviting such designations, that it is only right that I should say a few words about myself. I come of a family that came to Ireland three centuries ago from Scotland, seeking in this country the wider freedom that was not available in their own land. My family ever stood for freedom. On my father's side it was represented in the Ulster land war of 1770, the Volunteers and the United Irishmen. In 1798, at the Battle of Antrim, my great grandfather stood beside Jimmy Hope. One at least of my mother's family, Rev. David Warwick, gave his life for Ireland and was hanged in 1798 in front of his manse. My great uncle, Joseph Gillis Bigger, and my uncle, Francis Joseph Bigger, will be remembered for what they did for Ireland. I do not think I could accurately be termed an ex-Unionist. I have never been a Unionist. From my earliest days I favoured in every way self-government for this country. I was born a British subject and served in the British Army. If that entitles me to be called, or if anyone calls me, British, I cannot very well complain. I have ceased to regard the term "British" as a term of contempt. I remember when Britain stood alone, when free France was only a name, when Russia had not made up her mind on which side to fight and when America stood aloof.

I find it hard to speak dispassionately on this question, because I cannot dismiss from my mind the recollection that I have been taken in by a confidence trick, that I have been a mug, a dupe, a sucker. I and thousands of others in this country voted at the last election for Fine Gael, confident that the Leaders of that Party were honest men, upon whose good faith we could rely. It was believed that their policy might be taken on its face value and not subject to legal quibbles. The statements upon which I chiefly relied were those of General Mulcahy and of Mr. Costello. When General Mulcahy was elected President of Fine Gael he said:—

"We stand unequivocally for membership of the British Commonwealth."

That plank in the Fine Gael Party programme, as far as I am aware, has never been withdrawn.

The Taoiseach and Mr. Harold Douglas in their election address—a copy of which I have here—said:—

"If Fine Gael is elected to power it will not propose any alteration in the present constitution in regard to external affairs."

This statement meant, as I understood it, that no alteration was proposed.

Would the Senator mind reading the rest of the address?

Mr. Costello said that co-operation with other nations was essential if this country was to play its part for security.

Read the first part about the co-operation of our Party?

Perhaps the Taoiseach would like to do that. The defence has been made by Mr. Douglas that the External Relations Act is not part of the Constitution. That is true. Unfortunately, I and many other people did not realise that at the time. I think the fundamental dishonesty of that defence is shown by the fact that, in the address, the word "constitution" was written with a small letter. In Mr. Douglas's letter to the Irish Times, the word “Constitution” was written with a capital letter.

Is this an inspectorial quibble?

I was going to suggest that the quibble did not come from my side. I and other suckers, a good many of whom voted No. 1 for Mr. Costello and No. 2 for Mr. Douglas, were credulous mugs for thinking we were voting for a Party upon whom we could rely to maintain a link that we believed to exist—a rather tenuous link, but one still there—with the Commonwealth.

Why not vote for the Labour candidates?

I will have to consider that next time. Mr. Douglas, in his defence, said:—

"I believe Mr. Costello is carrying out the statements in his election address both in the letter and in the spirit."

I leave that to Mr. Douglas as far as the letter goes, but I cannot yield him the spirit. I find it hard to believe that Mr. Douglas is quite so credulous as he would like us to believe. Mr. Douglas is still a young man and if he practises sufficiently hard he may be able to reach the White Queen's level of believing "as many as six impossible things before breakfast". I confess my fault. I can only say that the error I committed at the last election was committed in complete ignorance, and, by way of exculpation, I can only promise never again to vote for any one of the Fine Gael candidates.

I think I am justified in protesting against the way the intention to introduce this Bill was announced to Ireland. It would have been only right that the Leader of the Government of this country should have announced such a momentous decision in this country and not in Canada or anywhere else. I read most of the speeches in the debate in the Dáil and elsewhere and listened to the speeches to-day, but I am still mystified regarding one point. When was the decision to introduce this Bill taken? I realise that it must have been either before or after one particular date. It must have been taken either before the general election or after it.

If I accept the first proposition I will be forced to the unwelcome conclusion that members of the Fine Gael Party, having determined to introduce such a measure as this, went to the country seeking to obtain the support of many people who were entirely opposed to this measure. I have no wish to accuse these gentlemen of any such dishonesty. I am, therefore, forced to think that the decision to introduce this measure, that we are told is so urgently necessary, was arrived at after the general election. Listening to the Taoiseach this evening I am almost tempted to believe that he has been a convinced out-and-out republican for years and years. I find it hard to reconcile that with his membership of his particular Party. There were, I think, facing the Government two possible pathways. I grant to the Taoiseach gladly, or to any man, the right to change his mind. I think it shows honesty, freedom and a working brain to be able to change one's mind. I do not think anyone can resent it, but if the Taoiseach's mind was changed after the election, if he became convinced and convinced the members of his Government that it was right to introduce a Bill such as this— and I admit freely that such a conviction might have been arrived at—there were two possible ways open to him. He took the easy and the wrong method. He and his Government went ahead with the Bill without a mandate from the country. The correct procedure for him—and on this I have no doubt—if he were honestly convinced of the desirability of this measure was at once to go to the country with a straight issue: Do you want the repeal of the External Relations Act? Do you want the declaration of a republic for Ireland? I have little doubt that they would have got the mandate they desired from the country and such a policy would have had some desirable consequences. They would have been sure of their mandate; they would have known that the hands of the Government were in this respect clean; they would have made a stand for honest, open government; and they would have relieved the thousands of people who voted for them of this feeling which I share, of having been done.

Let us look at this Bill, a very short Bill indeed, entitled "The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948". The date at any rate is correct. I have no doubt, if there was any doubt before, that when the Bill is enacted a republic will have been established, but will it be a republic of Ireland? I have listened with the greatest attention to what the Taoiseach has said. I have no pretensions to be a constitutional lawyer. I have read what the Minister for External Affairs said in the debate in the Dáil. We have heard a great deal about de facto and de jure and a great deal, going right back to the days of the Treaty, of what the British Government and others did about the meaning of this word “Ireland”, but it is to me completely erroneous to talk about the Republic of Ireland Bill. It is not the Republic of Ireland. The Minister for External Affairs assures us that this will be a de jure republic for the whole of Ireland but a de facto republic for the Twenty-Six Counties. The word “Ireland”, I was told when I was very young, meant an island in the Atlantic ocean to the west of Britain and to the west of Europe. It means that, nothing less and nothing more. No treaties, Acts of Parliament or constitutions are going to convince any realist that this word can in any realistic sense mean anything else. We are bewildered, bewitched and confused by the using of the word “Ireland” in two senses. It is not the Taoiseach's responsibility. We have to go further back to when Deputy de Valera introduced this word or rather this new meaning for an old word. Deputy de Valera and the Taoiseach have at least one thing in common, their resemblance to Humpty-Dumpty—not in physical appearance I assure the House. Humpty-Dumpty said: “When I use a word it means just what I wish it to mean, neither more nor less.” If the word “Ireland” no longer means the Thirty-Two Counties, it will mean a portion of the island, Twenty-Six Counties. I do not think any ordinary man of common sense or reasonable education requires lawyers' arguments as to de jure and de facto. We know that the title of the Bill is misleading and in my opinion it is deliberately misleading. Its correct title should be “The Republic of the Twenty-six-thirty-seconds of Ireland Bill” or the “Republic of Eighty-one per cent. of Ireland Bill” or, if you like, the “De facto, de jure Republic of Ireland Bill”. I hold that this Parliament has just as much effective right to declare the Republic of the British Isles as to declare the Republic of the whole of Ireland. I am exceedingly sorry that it is not within our power to declare an effective republic for the whole country, but I hold it to be in effect not so within our power. I have always been unwilling to follow the usage of the word “Ireland” in two senses. By doing so we present to those to whom the majority of the Seanad are opposed, those in Northern Ireland, a weapon.

North-eastern Ireland.

If the title Ireland is used for the Twenty-Six Counties, surely I can use "Northern Ireland" for the Six Counties. The Six-County Government has started an agitation for a change of its title. It is asking to be called "Ulster". It has no right to be called "Ulster" and it is not Ulster, but if we are ready to swallow the fallacy that twenty-six-thirty-seconds equals the whole country how can we oppose the other fallacy that six-ninths of a province equals the whole province?

Clause 2 says:—

"It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland."

I distrust the cautious wording of this clause. It smells of lawyers' midnight oil and I distrust lawyers as I distrust politicians. In contrast to rash inaccuracy of the title, we have the extreme legal caution of this particular clause. Why could not the clause state "The State shall be the Republic of Ireland"? Everybody could understand that. I am sure that there are legal reasons, however, for not using simple language capable of being understood by ordinary people and I suspect that this may form a useful defence in the future.

Clause 4 is:—

"This Act shall come into operation on such day as the Government may by order appoint."

It rests on the Government to declare what is claimed to be the day on which we shall celebrate the independence of the country, the severance of the last link, the breaking of the connection, if there was a connection with the Commonwealth and the sacking of the King. This Government with its new found powers has taken the right when the Bill becomes enacted of declaring a particular day for the coming into force of the Act. Why has the Government not told us the day? Because, as the Taoiseach has said, legislation in the British Parliament is required. Just look at our new freedom. The day of our independence depends on legislation in the British Parliament.

Surely not. That is surely a very unfair rendering of what has been said. Surely nobody said that the day of our independence depends on legislation in the British Parliament. Even doctors would use plainer language than that.

Is the Senator giving the exact quotation?

I believe so. I put it in inverted commas. I believe I am quoting the Taoiseach rightly when I say: "Legislation in the British Parliament is required."

Before it is possible for the Government to appoint the day.

Not at all. Not merely can you not understand English, but apparently you cannot speak it. I said nothing of the sort. What I said was that, in order to clear up the situation, legislation would be required both in the British Parliament to deal with the situation in England and here to deal with the situation in Ireland.

As I have said, I am no lawyer——

That is obvious.

——but still it has been admitted that legislation is required both in our Parliament and the British Parliament before the Government is in a position to appoint the day.

Not at all. We could appoint the day to-morrow when this Bill goes through, if we like. It is merely a matter of convenience for both countries and at the desire of all countries.

Would we not put the same reservation into a health insurance Act?

I must accept that the British Parliament is completely out of this.

I have always believed—I believed in it, I think, before some of the now staunch supporters of the principle had arrived at their present convictions— in the principle and the desirability of self-government for this country, but always inside the Commonwealth. I have believed that a status which was good enough for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa was good enough for this country. The Commonwealth is a unique aggregation of States. It differs from the League of Nations, or the so-called United Nations, in that it has a centre, a head—a figurehead, if you like— which holds it together and tends to prevent that centrifugal disruption so liable to occur in other aggregations of States. The King is an essential element in the legislative machinery of only one country in the Commonwealth, Great Britain. In others, he plays quite a subsidiary part as an agent, acting on the instructions of the Government of the constituent——

The Senator says he is not a constitutional lawyer. Let him then keep away from constitutional practice.

That is foolish.

It is asinine.

Thank you, sir. The position is that he does not play an effective part in the internal legislative work of the countries of the Commonwealth, and it is a mere accident that he happens to be the King of England. He could equally well and effectively be King of Canada——

It is more than an accident.

——or King of Australia, or of one of the other constituent countries. The Taoiseach has told us very forcibly to-day that really our rights and privileges as a member of the Commonwealth, or as an associate of the Commonwealth, were worth exceedingly little. Other people hold other views, as everyone is entitled to do. I have always regarded our rights as being of some definite value. I would prefer a status which allowed us to maintain our rights rather than to freely exchange them for a new red herring status granted us by the grace of the head of the present British Government, an act of grace in which there is no stability, and in respect of which there is no guarantee that a similar status will be maintained by future Governments. Members of the Government have been very busy of late. They have hurried to Chequers and to Paris; they have negotiated agreements and taken part in discussions; and, at the end of all this, we are told that our position will not be any worse, or much worse, than it was before. By working very hard, we are very nearly holding our own. Again, may I quote from Alice:

"Here you see it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as hard."

No one has considered, I believe, up to the present what would be the position of this country in the event of another European war occurring, a contingency by no means beyond possibility.

Can we not decide that?

To-morrow.

Can we not consider the matter now? I am proposing at least to consider it at the moment. In the last war, this country preserved its neutrality. The fact that it was able to do so showed that it was completely free, completely master of its own destiny. It did so not by any kindness or goodwill on the part of Germany. I have seen the German General Staff maps of this country, maps printed with the greatest care and in the greatest detail, maps intended, and obviously intended, for the invasion of this country. The fact that we were not invaded by Germany was not due to the love of the German people for this country, nor was it due to the Irish Army—and, in saying that, I want to express my appreciation of the exceedingly high standard of efficiency of the Irish Army. It was due to one thing, and one thing only, the existence of the British Navy. Are we going to be in a position to rely on the protection of the British Navy in the next war, if another war should come? I sincerely hope we shall be able to do so.

We have heard a great deal about the traditional dislike of the Crown inherent in this country. I do not think that there is as much dislike of the Crown as some people seem to believe. The Taoiseach, in the debate in the Dáil or elsewhere, referred to the Irish republican tradition. That tradition, the tradition of republicanism in this country, is an exceedingly modern one. It is, I think, alien in many ways both to Gaelic and Catholic Ireland. It originated with the Protestants in the revolting American colonies and with the Agnostics in France. It was nurtured in this country mainly and almost entirely among the Presbyterians in Northern Ireland. The Presbyterian form of Church Government is essentially republican and it is possibly for that reason that the Presbyterian turns naturally to a republic and has a considerable distrust of both Kings and Prelates.

One of the chief aims, we are told by the Taoiseach, of this Bill is that it will take the gun out of Irish politics. If it were guaranteed to do that, I would be almost tempted to support the Bill, much as I dislike it in many other respects, but I fear that where the Church has failed the kind words of the Taoiseach will also fail. I sincerely hope that this legislation will take the gun out of Irish politics, but, once a man has wielded a gun, it is very difficult to get him to abandon the use of that gun and the gun which has killed for the republic may be turned to other targets. It may be turned against Northern Ireland and that way lies civil war. I am a lover of freedom, of personal freedom as well as political freedom, and so long as the gun plays an important part in Irish politics, there can be no real personal freedom in this country. I agree rather unwillingly with what Mr. MacEntee has said rather than with the Taoiseach:—

"If you want to achieve that object, you must punish severely and relentlessly every individual who turns a gun on his neighbour, whether it be out of private revenge or ostensibly for public purposes. You must act on the principle that a person who would raise a gun to cow or intimidate his fellow-citizens or coerce them in their public actions is an enemy of democracy and unfit to enjoy the rights of a citizen in a democratic State."

Until it is recognised by every man, woman and child in this country that murder, whether of a private individual, a Garda or a detective, is murder and will be treated as such by the Government of the country, there can be no guarantee that the gun has been removed from politics. This Bill aims mainly at taking the gun out of politics and placating an admittedly small minority of the inhabitants of this country.

Who says they are small?

If you tell me that it is a majority, I suppose I am bound to accept it, but does anyone seriously hold that the numbers who believe in the gun are a majority? I would sincerely hope, for the credit of the country, that they are a minority, and a relatively small minority. Efforts are being made by this proposed legislation to take the gun out of politics to placate this minority. What of the other minority, a minority of very considerable magnitude, a minority commonly and wrongly called ex-Unionists or Protestants? Neither term is applicable. That minority includes, of course, some ex-Unionists, and many, like myself, who are certainly not ex-Unionists, and, in addition to Protestants, it includes, I believe, a fair number of Catholics, so that neither of these terms is applicable. This minority is just as Irish as are the Parties composing the Opposition or those who believe in the gun. They have done much for Ireland, they have lived here and worked here, and have built up rather than destroyed; and I believe that they deserve the sympathy of the Government. They are scarcely represented in the legislative assemblies of the country, they are less vocal than some Parties. Even for these reasons, I do not think they should be denied a saying and a hearing in the affairs and in the destinies of our common country.

I would like to point out that this minority, of which I have the honour to be a representative, has been of considerable service to this country. I would like to point out further, that in this country, as in other countries, the majority is not always right, and the minority is not always wrong. It was a minority who rose in 1798; it was still a smaller minority who rose with Emmet in 1803; it was a minority who were beaten by bribery in the Union Debates in the Irish Parliament; it was a minority, a very small minority, who worked with Arthur Griffith, struggling to keep alive the infant Sinn Féin. The minority has often been right; the majority in this as in other countries has often been wrong. On behalf of this minority, I warn the Government that, in our belief, in introducing this Bill, they are making a tragic mistake. History, and history alone, can show whether the majority or the minority is right.

The Minister for External Affairs has referred to the referendum. If it were possible to take a free and open referendum of all the people of the whole country, if it were possible, in this referendum, to put aside all question of personalities, as to what someone did in 1916, 1920, in 1922 and so on, and put before the electors of the whole country a straight issue: "Do you wish Ireland to be governed as a republic or as a member of the Commonwealth?" I believe that you would have a clear majority for the Commonwealth status.

Nonsense.

You were silent up to the present.

The outstanding problem facing Ireland to-day is that of Partition. It is one of the dearest wishes of my life that, within my lifetime, Partition may be ended and that we may have once again a united country, the whole country. To achieve that end, I am ready to accept almost any form of self-government, from the most dilute form of Home Rule, to the most extremely independent republic — because I think the issue of Partition is of far more importance than the issue of the particular method by which a portion, or two portions, of the country are to be governed.

The Taoiseach has stated—and I hope now I am quoting him correctly:—

"The people of this country, and, I think, every Government of this country since 1922, have travelled for more than half-way along the road of conciliation with the Government of the six north-eastern counties, and at no time, and at no part of that road, has there been even a friendly representative of that intractable ruling class."

The Taoiseach is right, in part at least. Every Government that we have had since 1922 has travelled along the road of conciliation, but every Government has travelled in the wrong direction— they have turned their backs on conciliation, and, seeking to achieve the maximum degree of freedom, they walked away from possibilities of conciliation, moving further and further from the possibility of reunion with Northern Ireland. Mr. de Valera, the Taoiseach and others have travelled far and wide—to the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain— trying to work up opposition to Partition and seeking for the union of Ireland. I believe that their time would have been better occupied if, instead of going so far away, they had gone to Northern Ireland.

They would be arrested.

They would be arrested.

They should talk with the people of Northern Ireland— not the Government, not those wishing for reunion, but those who elect the Government, the farm workers, the ship workers, the linen workers, the shopkeepers and so on, who are strenuously opposed to reunion. They would discover that they have reasons. I believe them to be wrong, but these people are honestly convinced that they are right, and the only hope of reunion of this country is to find out the views of this quite honest group, and try and see if we cannot reconcile their ideas and ours.

The Taoiseach has referred to the intractable ruling class. If he thinks that opposition to reunion is entirely a matter for a small clique, he is making a great mistake. Behind that Government, mistaken as we may think it to be, is a very united body of public opinion which happens to represent the majority of the inhabitants of the Six Counties. I do wish to assure the Taoiseach that these people are very convinced that they are right and that everyone else is wrong. They are convinced, and so convinced are they that they will not be affected either by threats or vituperations.

Neither of these will convince them and neither of these will intimidate them. There must be something in the soil or climate of the north-east corner of Ireland, something that gives to its inhabitants their independence of spirit and of outlook. We know that this republic which it is proposed to set up will have no more authority in the Six Counties, in the north-east corner of Ireland, than would the authority of the Ardrigh have had against Cuchulainn or would the authority of King James have had in the time of the Siege of Derry. Almost alone among the people of Ireland these people in the north-east corner have not changed. Fifty and more years ago they said they wanted to remain a part of the United Kingdom and they have so far succeeded in remaining as part of that territory.

We have had a good deal of talk to-day from the Taoiseach about coercion, coercion in the Six-County area. I have been in the Six Counties probably more than the Taoiseach. Personally, I have never seen any sign of coercion. If by coercion you mean that a minority of a country is governed by a method that they do not like, then admittedly there is coercion, but I do not think that that is the ordinary meaning to be attached to the term coercion. There have been very highly-coloured accounts of coercion from which one would think that an unwilling people was kept in subjection by some kind of brutal Gestapo or Ogpu. These accounts are completely without foundation.

There were a few pogroms.

There have been there, regrettably; there have been elsewhere. I think there is very much that state of peace for which the Taoiseach has correctly taken credit, or some of the credit, in this portion of the country. Law and order are being maintained now in both portions of the country. Those guilty of murder, of arson, and of robbery are punished, and, furthermore, those guilty of inciting others to these crimes, equally guilty, in my view, are also punished. I do not think that we can say that there is an absence of free speech in that area when a member of the Northern Ireland House of Commons is able to end his speech with the wish, "Long live the republic." I freely admit that only the most foolhardy man in certain areas of Belfast would wave a Tricolour and sing the Soldier's Song. But what would happen in many areas in Dublin to the equally foolhardy man who would try to wave a Union Jack or sing God Save the King. The chairman of the Dun Laoghaire Corporation was censured for having given orders to fly the Union Jack when a section of the British fleet was in the harbour on a friendly visit, no doubt by invitation of this Government. Only a week or so ago a former Minister of the Government of this country was howled down in O'Connell Street because he had ventured to quote with some degree of approval certain utterances of a Minister in the Northern Ireland Government. The truth is that we in this country, north and south, are an intolerant people. We find it easier to howl down opposition rather than to argue with and try to convince those who hold views dissimilar from those we ourselves have.

The Taoiseach has also referred to the coercion of some of those living in Border counties. If these people are coerced, whose fault is it? By the Treaty, Article 12 I think it was, a Border commission was to be set up. The duty of this commission was to readjust the Border with a view to satisfying the legitimate requests of people living on both sides of it. A commission was actually appointed. Its report was never published. I have been told, I do not know whether rightly or wrongly, that that report was less favourable to the Free State viewpoint than had been expected. That may be entirely wrong. I do not attach any importance to it. What is important is this, that after deliberation and negotiations, Article 12, by mutual consent, was dropped in return for the dropping by the British side of Article 5. Article 5 was the article by which the Free State was made responsible for a share of the national debt at the time—a normal requirement of treaties by which a country is divided into two or more portions, and so, if these unfortunate people for whom the Taoiseach has such sympathy, these unfortunate people along the Border counties, if they are coerced, the responsibility rests on the Irish Free State Government, of which the Fine Gael Party is, I think, the lineal descendant, and on the Parliament of the Irish Free State, which, by a large majority, ratified the dropping of the Border commission.

Greatly as I desire the reunion of Ireland, I do not desire it at any price under any conditions. I want it by the only way which I believe will give complete stability and security and friendship in the future, that is, by the free will of the peoples of the two portions of the country. It is, I think, a matter for these two divisions in the country and not for anyone else. It is not, in my opinion, a matter for the British Government. If Northern Ireland or, if you like, the north-east corner—or the Government of the Six Counties— I do not much mind what you call it— and the Government of this country wanted to join together, I am quite certain that the British Government would not stand in the way. They would be delighted, I think, to be free for all time of an Irish problem. On the other hand, I would not wish that, by any bargaining, any attempt should be made to get the British Government to attempt to coerce the people of the Six Counties into an unwilling union with this country. I do not think that any British Government, mindful of the part that Northern Ireland played in the recent war, would be so base but, even if they did consent, I would object most strongly to coercion.

The Taoiseach has referred to the minority in the north-east as being coerced. If you change all this by force you only exchange one coercion for another. Conditions are not improved if there is effected a forced reunion of the whole of Ireland as a result of which there is strong and determined minority coerced by a Government supposed to be the Government of a united Ireland. I do not think force in any way can secure a satisfactory or a lasting termination of the Border, of Partition. It is by a new mutual understanding, and, I think, by a certain amount of giving away something to which we are attached that union can be effected.

No one in this House or elsewhere is more earnestly desirous of securing the reintegration of the whole of Ireland, the union of the whole of Ireland, both North and South, but I do insist on the importance of securing this reunion by some way which will not involve future bitterness or future unwillingness to be governed.

Mr. de Valera and the Taoiseach have attempted to get outside support for the reunion of Ireland, from the United States, from Canada and from Australia. I would resent any interference by these countries. I am not bothering about the legal implications. To my mind, this is a domestic matter. It affects Irishmen both North and South. It does not fundamentally affect anyone else. Now, about getting American support. The negroes in some of the Southern of the United States are down-trodden, coerced, ill-treated, deprived of their civil liberties, deprived of their rights, lynched, beaten to death, roasted to death. All this is deplorable, but what kind of reception does the Taoiseach think would be given in, shall we say, Nashville, Tennessee, to a resolution of the Dáil and Seanad of this country deploring the ill-treatment of the negro population of the United States and asking the United States Government to rectify the matter? It would be regarded as the height of impertinence and interference, and rightly so. In the same way I would regard any attempt at interference by the Government of the United States or Canada or elsewhere with this terrible problem that faces us. I would regard that as uncalled for and entirely unhelpful.

A Senator

And the British Government, too, which is responsible?

That is one of the points on which we differ and it is a difficulty. The fundamental responsibility for the existence of any Partition in this country rests, of course, on all of us—I am responsible, with others —all of us who have wanted some form of self-government in this country. There was no Partition of the country until——

Until it was planted.

That is what started Partition.

I am one of those who are planters.

That is obvious.

Well, you have to accept me as a fact.

The leopard does not change his spots.

The chief argument in favour of reunion is, of course, the sentimental one, that we are one country and should remain one country, that any partition or division of the country is unnatural and should be abolished. With that, I am in complete agreement, but, unfortunately, against this there is very determinedly held in the Six Counties of North-East Ireland another sentiment, a sentiment of loyalty to the King, and there is no use sneering at that sentiment; it is a very real thing to the people who hold this belief. The play that has recently been made of the wild threats of 40 years ago to kick the Crown into the Boyne and to sack the King and get a German Kaiser to replace him—these were wild threats but, even so, underlying them is one of the bases of the affection these people have for the King.

They have not a bit of affection. They would have kicked his Crown into the Boyne.

They have very considerable affection. They have respect for the Crown and affection for the person wearing the Crown, and, as I am trying to explain, one of the bases of that respect is this: the King is a constitutional monarch for them: he is not a King by Divine right: he is King by the will of the people. The people feel, therefore, that he is their King, their ruler, as long as he carries out essentially their wishes. There is a personal feeling and, no matter how you may scoff, no matter how you may disagree with it, that sentiment is there and, to my thinking—and I hope I am wrong—a solution will be very difficult unless allowance is made for that very real sentiment.

It is very difficult to meet the various arguments advanced by the staunch opponent of reunion in the north-east corner. Businessmen think their industry would not be as good. Workers point to their superior social services. Many point to what they think would be the compulsion of essential Gaelic— their children would be taught Gaelic, and a knowledge of the language would be necessary to secure public appointment. All this would be unpopular and I, personally, find it exceedingly difficult to meet these objections. I am glad, however, to be in a position to state—and I want to make this statement with no less publicity than any other statement I have made here this evening—one of the strongest objections in the north-east corner of Ireland is the fear that, after reunion of Ireland, their religious liberties would be interfered with by a Government predominantly, as is natural, Roman Catholic.

Are they interfered with down here?

I want to assure everyone in this House and outside it that in my opinion that is entirely false and erroneous.

It is a mischievous statement to make, and you should not have made it.

I make no apology to the Senator. I think it is an outrageous statement to make.

May I have permission to continue? I want to point out that this belief, which is held by many people in the North of Ireland, is, in my opinion, an entirely false and erroneous belief. I want to point out that I and the Protestant minority in this country have never experienced the slightest interference with our freedom to worship God as we please. I do not think a single instance of interference on religious ground with the Protestant minority can be produced in this country, and I will endeavour, and I hope successfully, to make this point clear, not only to this House, but to the whole of Ireland, North and South, that the fear commonly held by people in the North that there would be religious persecution or some religious disability in this country is entirely false and erroneous. There is complete liberty here. The Protestant minority, if there was a united Ireland with a majority of Catholics in power, would be just as well treated as they are in the Six Counties at present, in Great Britain, or in any other part of the world.

The fear of persecution or lack of freedom is entirely unfounded. I will go further than that and say that, in worldly affairs, the Protestant minority here are not merely well-treated but they are too well-treated. The various Governments of this country have been so anxious to be fair that they have awarded far more preferment to them than the numerical strength of the Protestant minority would warrant. That is very generous and I am making as public an acknowledgment of it as possible. It is as it should be.

I apologise to this House for having spoken at such length. I have done so because I am one of the very few representatives here of the very substantial minority in this country, a minority composed of people who, as I have said before, love their country no less than anyone else but who have an objection, mainly a sentimental objection, to the Republic. They are not vocal; they are not objectionable, they are not going to raise guns against our people; they are not going to burn down or destroy but they are a minority whose views, I think, substantially support my opposition to this Bill. My opposition is based mainly on my conviction that the passing of this Bill will postpone for a generation or more than a generation the one thing I most desire, the reunion of Ireland. I appeal, therefore, to the Senate—not with any great hope, I think, of being answered—even at this eleventh hour to reject the Bill, but whether you do so or whether you do not, I still stand before you unrepentant, unashamed and unapologetic, and declare that, despite all I have read on this and despite such speeches as I have heard, I would infinitely prefer, for this country, the status of a free, self-governing Dominion within the Commonwealth than the status of any republic which it is in the power of the present Government to give.

The speech we have just listened to from Senator Bigger makes it clear that he has a solution for the problem of Partition. His solution would appear to be that we should revert to the status this country enjoyed before 1921 and that we should become again part of the United Kingdom, that we should accept the Crown and probably accept the controlled Government of a Parliament in Westminster. That is a possible solution, but Senator Bigger has not shown how a proposal of that kind, which I think I am justified in saying he has clearly made, can be related to the problem of the Bill which is before the Seanad. If Senator Bigger proposes to go back, if not to the period when we were part of the United Kingdom, to the status we enjoyed immediately after the Treaty of 1921, it is perfectly competent for him or for any other person who holds the same views as he does to introduce a Bill, either in this House or in the Dáil, for that purpose, but I think that whoever introduces that Bill will very quickly get his answer from the Irish people. In his speech here on the Republic of Ireland Bill, the subject being the repeal of the External Relations Act of 1936, I think I am justified in saying that Senator Bigger has given no indication that he has ever read the External Relations Act of 1936. He certainly gave no indication in the course of his speech that he understood the history, the contents or the nature of that Act as expounded by the Taoiseach here this afternoon. The question before the Seanad to-night is not whether we should solve Partition or our other difficulties by going back into the Commonwealth. The question is what we should do in relation to the External Relations Act of 1936, and what this measure should do, having taken this definite line, in seeking what has been for centuries the ideal of Irishmen, national independence. The question really before the House is the converse of what Kevin O'Higgins said in the Treaty debates of 1921 or in the month of January, 1922, when he said in answer to Deputy de Valera:—

"If we go into the Empire we go in, not slide in in an attempt to throw dust in our people's eyes, but we go in with our heads up."

We are now in 1948 and we have reached the point when we have advanced since 1921 step by step until we are, in fact, although not yet in law, independent in every sense of the word. What we have to consider now is, if we go out of the Empire or secede from the Commonwealth, if you will, shall we go out with our heads up or shall we slide out in an attempt to throw dust in our own people's eyes? That is what has to be considered in relation to the Bill which is before the House.

I think that it would be wrong to take Senator Bigger's speech too seriously. I think that once he protested that he was not a constitutional lawyer, that he was not a politician, that he mistrusted lawyers, and that he mistrusted politicians, he disabled himself from making any serious contribution to the matter before the House. I suppose that "politicians" is a term of opprobrium in contradistinction to "statesmen." We are all in this House politicians in a sense. We are, some of us, I hope, statesmen, or with some claim or ambition of proving ourselves such. A Senator who comes in here, therefore, and says he is not a constitutional lawyer—and indeed the Senator has amply demonstrated that he was not—and says that he is not a politician, has disabled himself from making any serious contribution to the debate in this House. When he quotes nursery rhymes and makes protestations about breaches of faith, and speaks of Ireland as a geographical term, he shows that he does not, if I may say so with all respect, understand political problems, and, in particular, the political problem before this House. Ireland, in the title of this Bill, is not an island or a geographical entity; Ireland, in this Bill, is a political conception, and Ireland being the historic Irish nation, the republic we are establishing is not a republic merely of land and water, but it is a republic for living people, and it is the status which the Irish nation, which is single, united, and whole, throughout the island, desires and is declared to have. It was stated in Dáil Eireann that the opposition to breaking what was called the last link with the Crown, the secession from the Commonwealth were a minority, an insignificant minority, and I was interested to read in a leader in the Irish Times that, while that might be true of the Twenty-Six Counties, it would not be true of the country as a whole. It was a gratifying recommendation that Irish problems should be considered in terms of the country as a whole, and that if that is to be done, it should be done not only in relation to this particular problem, but to all political problems. It would be found that there are a substantial number of persons who oppose breaking the link with the Crown, the secession from the Commonwealth. It will be admitted by all that there remains a substantial, even an overwhelming majority who, if the country were taken as a whole, would take the line taken in the Bill, and if democratic principles are to prevail, and if we are to give them more than lip service, and let this question, like all political questions, be decided by the views of the majority, does anyone doubt what the views of the majority on this question are?

I would like to pass from these preliminary observations, possibly provoked unduly by the speech of Senator Bigger, to consider the real question before the House. The Taoiseach has, as fully as was possible in a speech of two hours, explained the nature of this Act which it is proposed to repeal. He has explained as fully as possible within the limits of a reasonably short speech the constitutional status of the country to-day. He has, I hope, made it clear that this Act, the repeal of which is proposed, has been read in two opposite senses and that while, on the one hand, Senator Bigger undoubtedly derives his popular ideas of what it contains from the newspapers he probably reads, says we are seceding from the Commonwealth, on the other hand, Senators opposite, Senator Ó Buachalla and others, say that we are a republic, that we have been a republic for 12 years, that no fundamental change is being made and that this is only a piece of political window-dressing. It is not necessary for those who have introduced this Bill to do more than to set these two points of view one against the other and to say: "There you have the justification for getting rid of this Act." But, of course, like most questions, there are two sides. Reading this Act of 1936, there is ground for saying that it maintains the Commonwealth connections, and, reading this Act, there is ground for saying that it declares a republic and gives the country a republican Constitution. It all depends on which part of the Act you read, because this Act is a composite Act and if one examines the course of its passage through Dáil Eireann at the time, in 1936, the single legislative House, one can see where the republican element comes in, and, on the other hand, where the Commonwealth or link with the Crown comes in.

The Act had a curious history, short as was the time between its introduction and its passage into law. The Taoiseach has told the House shortly what was the course of events and I do not know whether I am really justified in going over these matters in more detail. I shall try to do so as shortly as possible. I have the better justification for doing that because the Leader of the Opposition in the Dáil quoted words used by me in Dáil Éireann, in 1936, when the Constitution No. 27 Act was being passed. As Senators will remember, his Majesty King Edward abdicated or signed his instrument of abdication on 10th December, 1936. On the morning of 11th December, 1936, the Government introduced into Dáil Eireann a Bill which was passed on the same evening as the Constitution No. 27 Act. That was an Act which went over the existing Constitution with a blue pencil and struck out from it every reference to the King and every reference to the King's representative and took from the King and from his representative every function which remained after the inroads of earlier constitutional amendments. That Act, as passed, left the King of Great Britain no place whatever in the constitutional position here.

It was on 11th December, when that Bill was being debated, that I used the words which Deputy de Valera quoted in Dáil Eireann the other day at column 763 of Volume 113, No. 6 of the Dáil Debates. He said:—

"The view that was taken by some of the Deputies who were here on the opposite benches is clear from, for example, the statement that was made by Deputy Lavery, the present Attorney-General. On that occasion, he said:—

‘Examining the Bill in the time that I and the House have had in which to do it, it would seem to me that the effect of it is to remove the King from the Constitution and to give to this country a republican Constitution. That may or may not be a desirable thing.'"

I had a wisdom beyond my years, because ten years afterwards Deputy de Valera discovered that it gave us a republican Constitution.

The point I wish to bring out is that, on the 11th December, we enacted in Dáil Éireann this Act which gave us a republican Constitution and there could be no possible doubt about it. But on the morning of the 12th December another Bill was introduced. On that blessed morning Ireland was unquestionably, so far as the act of her Legislature could do it, a republic, without a King of any kind, without any kingly functions remaining in the law of the State. But on that morning there was introduced a Bill—the Executive Authority (External Relations) Bill, 1936. As it was introduced, it was a perfectly logical, if somewhat peculiar, proposition. As introduced to the House on the morning of the 12th December—at a time, mark you, when we had no King; he was gone from the Constitution, Edward VIII had abdicated, we had no concern any longer with ratifying his abdication, as we thought, because the King had no functions here—it provided in Sections 1 and 2 that diplomatic and consular representatives should be appointed by or on the authority of the Executive Council and that international agreements should be concluded on behalf of Saorstát Éireann by or on the authority of the Executive Council. It went on in Section 3 to provide in terms which ultimately became, without alteration, Section 3 (1) of the Act:—

"It is hereby declared and enacted that, so long as Saorstát Éireann is associated with the following nations, that is to say, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa, and so long as the King recognised by those nations as the symbol of their co-operation continues to act on behalf of each of those nations (on the advice of the several Governments thereof) for the purposes of the appointment of diplomatic and consular representatives and the conclusion of international agreements, the King so recognised may, and is hereby authorised to, act on behalf of Saorstát Éireann for the like purposes as and when advised by the Executive Council so to do."

In the Bill as introduced, sub-section (2) of Section 3 reads:—

"The King referred to in the foregoing sub-section of this section shall for the purposes of that sub-section, be the person who, if his Majesty King Edward the Eighth had died on the 10th day of December, 1936, unmarried, would for the time being be his successor under the law of Saorstát Éireann."

Mark it—and I would invite Senator Bigger's attention to this—that this proposal was quite explicit, that the King mentioned was the King recognised by other countries as their King, and that there is the clearest safeguarding of the position of Ireland, that Ireland—or Saorstát Éireann, as the term went then—did not recognise that King as their King for any purpose, even for this particular purpose. Now, someone will tell me that this is a constitutional lawyer's point, that this is a trick. It was not I or anybody with whom I was in association who drafted this, but the thing that stands out quite clearly from it when this section became part of the Act is this, that we were giving to the king of other countries the duty of performing certain acts for us while explicitly denying to him any allegiance or recognition of him as our King. I do not suppose Senator Bigger follows that.

I follow you.

But I think it is reasonably clear, and is it not plain? That was the Bill as introduced by the Government of the day. That was Deputy de Valera's Bill. That was the whole of it. That is what I call the republican part of the External Relations Act, but, on this 12th December, 1936, for some reason that has never, so far as I know, been explained, an amendment was proposed. I hope I made it clear that the Constitution (No. 27) Act had got rid of the King altogether, that this Bill, as introduced, gave us no King. It said there was a King of other nations—"so long as we were associated with these other nations." It is to be remarked that curiously, in the Constitution of Saorstát Éireann, there was left, when the King and his representatives disappeared, Article 1, which declared that we were members of the Commonwealth. At any rate, on this blessed morn of the 12th December, we were free of the King; we were, for the time being, at least, a republic without any question of doubt, with no King, or no functions given to any King.

The republican section might have left us in that position but, for some reason that has never been explained, an amendment was proposed which amendment subsequently became sub-section (2) of Section 3 and which reads:

"Immediately upon the passing of this Act, the instrument of abdication executed by His Majesty, King Edward the Eighth, on the 10th day of December, 1936 (a copy whereof is set out in the Schedule to this Act), shall have effect according to the tenor thereof...."

Now, if I made myself clear, it is difficult to understand why we should be giving effect to the instrument of abdication of a King whose power, authority and existence under our Constitution we had destroyed the evening before. However, there it is, and it goes on:

"and His said Majesty shall, for the purposes of the foregoing sub-section of this section and all other (if any) purposes,...."

These words are new, they are not in the Bill as introduced—

"cease to be King and the King for those purposes shall henceforth be the person who, if His said Majesty had died on the 10th day of December, 1936, unmarried, would for the time being be his successor under the law of Saorstat Eireann."

And then the instrument of abdication is scheduled. That is what I suppose might be called the Commonwealth part of the Act and anybody, whether he is a constitutional lawyer or merely a man of reasonable commonsense, who examines the Act carefully will find a conflict and a contradiction between these two sub-sections.

All this was explained by the Minister for External Affairs in Dáil Eireann. He pointed out that under this sub-section it was possible to contend that there was a King of Ireland. It was not a probable construction. It was a possible one. Why it was done we have never heard but the effect of it was to give Deputies and Senators who like to maintain that this Republic was declared by the Act of 1936 full power to do so by relying upon sub-section (1) and it gave some colour to those who wanted to say the Commonwealth connection was retained by reading sub-section (2). But, however that may be, that was done in December, 1936. In the month of July, 1937, the Constitution of the Irish Free State, as amended, was disposed of and disappeared and the country, by the legal theory adopted at the time, gave to itself a new constitution which had no history but which came down by Divine inspiration through the vote of the people on a day in July, 1937. It did not spring, like the old Constitution, from a treaty or from anything else. It was enacted by the people. It came down brand new and that Constitution is the Constitution under which we live to-day and that Constitution is, as has been repeatedly said, clearly, if you examine it from end to end, a Constitution which would give this country a republican form of Government.

What, then, became of the External Relations Act of December, 1936? What became of it? Why is it still making confusion in our constitutional position? The method used by the new Constitution of providing a body of law for the new State, as in a sense it was, was to provide, as it did by Article 50, that "all laws in force in Saorstát Éireann at the date of the coming into force of the Constitution, save in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, continue in full force and effect", and by that single clause the new State provided itself with a body of law, and every statute and every principle of the common law, assuming the statute is pre-1937, has to be examined to see whether it is contrary to any provision of the Constitution, and to the extent to which conflict is established, or supposed to be established, that law is invalid and is not carried over and is not part of the law of the State.

Now, that test has to be applied to the External Relations Act, 1936. Did it survive? I do not want to be too legalistic but I think it is possible to say that, inasmuch as Article 29 of the Constitution, to which the Taoiseach has referred, empowered the Government to make use of any organ of the State or any organ recognised by a group of nations with which the State was for the time being associated, it did probably entitle the Government to utilise the King of other countries, but not our King, for the purposes of the appointment of diplomatic and consular representatives and the conclusion of international agreements.

That was what I call the republican part of the External Relations Act. But, is it not possible to argue with force that the second sub-section of Section 3 which I have read to you, and which can be read to give to Ireland a King—though that, as I say, is not the construction that it ought to be given; but it is confused and contradictory and in contradiction to the first sub-section—that that particular sub-section did not survive? It may well be that the coming into force of the Constitution of 1937 destroyed that part of the External Relations Act and left only the shadowy part of the Act that provided that the King of these other countries, without being King in any sense of Ireland, might be utilised, as a clerk in a Government office might be, for these particular purposes.

Now, if that be so, is it not consonant with the dignity of this nation that this state of affairs should be ended? Is it not due to the dignity of the British Crown that it should no longer be called on to perform these functions? There was a time when Kings had authority, when Kings had power of life and death. With the progress of civilisation and the establishment of constitutional monarchies, these powers and authority were lost but at least a King continued to hold the allegiance and loyalty of his subjects and, if I have explained the position under our Constitution and under this Act, it is stated in terms that admit of no question that the King of Great Britain gets no allegiance from the people of Ireland, that they disaffirm any loyalty to him, that they will use him at their will as the person qualified by being a King of other States for certain particular purposes. Is it reasonable to say that it is due to the dignity of the British Crown to end that state of affairs? Perhaps only constitutional lawyers can understand it, but at any rate this is a question of law and a question of constitutional practice and law.

I would not go into Senator Bigger's laboratory and lecture him on his experiments. If he comes here he ought to come here as a constitutional lawyer having studied his problem. I would like to think that he does not represent the views of the minority of people whom he claims to represent. I do not myself believe he does. I think there are people who do entertain a sentimental and real affection for the British Crown and the institution of the Crown living in this country who have in the past, do now and will in future recognise that their loyalty is due to the Government of the country in which they live, that their loyalty is due to the nation in which they live and in which they get their livelihood and where they live under the protection of the laws, just the same as Irishmen who go to Great Britain and live and work there are expected to give loyalty to the laws of that country and do. I do not think it is too much to ask of people who disapprove of the idea of a sovereign Irish nation that, if they elect to live and work here, they should do as people have to do in every civilised State in the world, give loyalty to the nation and the constitutional institutions of the nation in which they live and work.

Apart from other difficulties, there is no doubt, as the Taoiseach has explained, that the British Crown here in Ireland is not, as it is in other parts of the world, respected. I speak, of course, of the institution. I read an article by Viscount Simon—no doubt other Senators read it also—in the Sunday Times of last Sunday. There are many things in it which are perhaps not sustainable, on which one might join issue, but there is one passage in it, coming from a distinguished Englishman and a distinguished lawyer, a man who in his time proved himself a good friend of Ireland, which I recommend to those who wish to keep the symbol of the British Crown in Irish institutions. He said in the course of his article:—

"All who keep in mind the past history of the relations between this country and Ireland know well that, while the idea of the Crown furnishes a potent element of mutual sympathy and natural union between ourselves and, say, New Zealand, the Crown in nationalist Ireland has been in the long past regarded by many as a symbol of overlordship and oppression.

No Englishman ought ever to forget that in Ireland there is a race with a different history from ours not for the most part derived from our stock, proud of its distinctive contribution of scholars and saints and statesmen and orators and poets, with traditions which are all its own. Ireland is itself a mother country. Unhappily the implacable Irish memory is too long, and perhaps the English memory is too short. William Watson, I think, described Ireland as ‘that lovely bride whom we have wedded but have never won'. And an Englishman who knows all this and keeps it ever in his mind may understand how these surging impulses can lead to the formal declaration of the Irish Republic."

There may be nothing very new in that. It may derive its principal importance from the fact that it is an impressive statement by a man with a long life's experience of the relations between Ireland and England. It is a fair statement of the position of most Irishmen. It is a fair statement of the reasons that have in some degree impelled the introduction of this Bill.

It has been said repeatedly in the debate in the Dáil and, no doubt, will be said here—the Taoiseach did say it this afternoon—there should be no idea that the act which we are taking is an act of hostility either to Great Britain or to the nations of the Commonwealth. There is no justification for taking it in that light. It is, I think, true that, with the removal of this irritant, mutual co-operation can go forward and improve, that the people of this country can pay proper respect to their neighbours in Great Britain and to the institutions of Government in Great Britain. There have been slight indications of it already. To put it in perhaps a rather vulgar, low, way, it may bring about the time when the British National Anthem, God Save the King, will no longer be a Party tune in this country, because a Party tune it has been in the past and a Party tune it is to-day in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland—and I can speak with some knowledge of that.

I do not want to follow Senator Bigger—I have paid him too much attention already—into his observations about Northern Ireland. I only want to say this—if a suitable occasion offers itself in future, it can be debated more fully—it is not true that there is no coercion in the North. There may be no coercion for Senator Bigger and his co-religionists but there is persecutions for some and in one of his observations I think that he gave us a clue. He told us—he was reproved for it, I think, by the sense of the House—that in the North of Ireland one of their greatest objections to unity was the fear that there would be religious persecution here. The way they would put it—the way they used to put it—would be, "Home Rule means Rome Rule".

He paid a very proper and generous tribute to the way in which successive Governments in this country had governed the country without a trace of any such feeling of prejudice. Is it unreasonable to suggest that the people who are said to entertain these fears judge by their own actions? That might be developed. This is perhaps not the time or the place to do it. It may be they are conscious of their own motives, of their own actions and that they attribute to others similar feelings. However, that is not really germane to the subject of the Bill.

I have, perhaps, spoken too long and perhaps in too legalistic a way. It is a word that is abused nowadays. One could expound these matters in much greater detail and at much greater length. One has to choose between being over detailed, overmuch the lawyer and not being sufficiently the lawyer. I have tried to explain as I see them some of the points of this problem. I feel confident that not only the nationalist members of the Seanad who feel strongly that this Bill ought to be passed into law, but those who, for one reason or another, would wish to keep the link with the Crown, will realise, on a study of the Act and of the problem, that it is for the benefit of the nation—and for the benefit of the nation in its relations with its neighbours—that this Bill should be passed into law with as large a measure of support as it can get.

Debate adjourned.
The Seanad adjourned at 10 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 10th December, 1948.