It is proposed to take amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 together and that the decision be taken on amendment No. 3.
Vol. 37 No. 6
It is proposed to take amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 together and that the decision be taken on amendment No. 3.
Molaim leasú a haon:
In page 2, line 15, to delete "the Irish News Agency Act, 1949" and substitute "Acht Gníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireannaigh, 1949".
Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil mórán le rá againn d'fhéadfaí abhar nua a thabhairt air. Bhí an t-abhar ar fad faoi dhíospóireacht againn an tseachtain seo caite. D'iarr mé ar an Aire, nuair a bhí Alt a I os ár gcomhair, an innseodh sé dhúinn an raibh aon athrú aigne tagaithe air i dtaobh an mholta a rinne nuair a bhí an Dara Céim os ár gcomhair.
Ní raibh mé ró-chinnte, ins an am, arb é Alt a I an tAlt ar cheart dúinn an cheist a phlé faoi, ach ba chuma. Is é an fáth ar thugamar isteach faoin Alt sin é, ionas go mbeadh fhios ar an bpointe gur mheasamar gur ceist mhór í seo, gur prionsabal—agus prionsabal an-mhór—a bhí i gceist againn.
Bhí seachtain ag an Aire ó rinneamar ár gcúis i bhfábhar teideal na gníomhaireachta a bheith i nGaeilge. Bhí seachtain aige roimhe sin le cuimhneamh ar an moladh a chuireamar os a chomhair. Fágann sin go raibh coicís ar fad aige chun a aigne a dhéanamh suas an ngéillfeadh sé dhúinn nó nach ngéillfeadh. Ní rud mór atáimid a iarraidh, go mbaistfí teideal Gaeilge ar an ngníomhaireacht seo. Ní aon mhaith a rá nach dtuigfeadh daoine i gcéin an teideal Gaeilge. Sin é an freagra is laige de na freagraí go léir a thug an tAire dhúinn. Mar adúirt mé an tseachtain seo caite, tír ar bith a bhfuil a leithéid seo de ghníomaireacht aici, baistfí an t-ainm ar an ngníomhaireacht i dteanga na dtíre sin. Nílmid ag iarraidh ar dhaoine i gcéin go bhfoghlaimeodh siad Gaeilge, ná nílimid ag súil go bhfoghlaimeodh siad teanga na nGael tré mheán na gníomhaireachta seo. Táimid á iarraidh seo— ó tharla gur náisiún ar leith muid agus ó tharla gurb í an teanga Ghaeilge an teanga náisiúnta—is ar a laghad gur i nGaeilge a baistfí an ghníomhaireacht seo atá le fóirthint orainn ar fud na cruinne.
Sul a ndéanfaidh mé dearmad air, ba mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh do rud amháin adúirt an tAire an tseachtain seo caite. Tháinig, feicthear dhom, sórt fearg air mar gheall ar chomh mór agus chuireamar síos ar an gceist seo. Facthas dó nach raibh i gceist againn ach obair an tSeanaid a choinneáil siar. Ba mhaith liom, chomh láidir agus is féidir liom, a chur in a luí ar an Aire agus ar an Seanad nach raibh rún dá shórt, beag ná mór, agam ná ag mo chomh-Sheanadóirí ar an taobh seo. Is dóigh linn gur rud an-mhór é, ó thaobh na hÉireann, igcás comhluchta nó fondúireachta atá á bhunú faoi choimirce an Stáit, go mbeadh ainm na comhluchta nó ainm na fondúireachta i nGaeilge. Is prionsabal an-mhór againn é seo. Níl aon leithscéal le déanamh agam, agus tá súil agam nach bhfuil aon leithscéal le déanamh ag aon daoine dár labhair ar son an mhéid a bhí mé a chur os comhair an Aire. Níl aon leithscéal le déanamh agam as an gceist a throid chomh dian agus chomh fada agus ab fhéidir liom. Nílimid ag cur isteach ar imeachtaí an tSeanaid. Creidimid sa náisiúntacht Éireannaigh. Creidimid sa Ghaeilge agus creidimid gurb é ár ndualgas i gceist den tsórt seo go dtiúrfaí tús áite don Ghaeilge. D'fhéadfainn an méid adúramar an tseachtain seo caite, ó thús go deireadh, a athrá. Níl dúil ag aon duine imeachtaí an tSeanaid a choinneáil siar. Tá fhios ag an Aire na hargóintí a bhí againn. Níor shásaigh sé muid an tseachtain seo caite. Ní móide go sásóidh sé muid inniu. Níl aon fhreagra le tabhairt orainn ach géilleadh dhúinn. Tá súil agam go bhfuil machnamh déanta ag an Aire ar an gceist i rith na seachtaine agus go n-admhóidh sé dúinn inniu, d'ainneoin nach dtaithníonn sé leis go pearsanta, nó le cuid dá lucht leanúna, ar a laghad, go ndéanfaidh sé an méid sin ar son muintir na Gaeilge sa tír, go nglacfaidh sé leis an moladh sa leasú, sa tarna ceann, go gcuirfear an t-ainm i nGaeilge ar an nGníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireannaigh nó teideal níos fearr má cheapann sé gur féidir leis ceann níos fearr fháil.
An mar a chéile Gníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireannaigh agus Gníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireannach nó bhfuil faoin Seanadóir difríocht a chur isteach ansin?
Nuair cuirtear leasuithe síos sa tSeanad, ní bhíonn lucht a molta cinnte go cruinn céard is ceart a chur síos. Cuirtear síos an leasú go hiondúil ionas go mbeidh deis díospóireachta ann agus ionas go mbeidh deis ag an Aire an scéal a scrúdú. Mura dtaitníonn an leasú leis mar atá na focla curtha síos agus go mbeadh sé sásta glacadh leis an bprionsabal, d'fhéadfadh sé focla níos feiliúnaí a cheapadh. Ghlac mise leis na focla an Ghníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireannaigh de bhrí go bhfuil sé mar theideal ar an mBille.
Ach níl. Gníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireannach atá ann. Ní mar a chéile iad.
Bhí mé ag ceapadh go mb'féidir go mbeadh ceist faoi sin. Is cuma liom má chítear do lucht aistriúcháin gurb é an leagan ab'fhearr ná Gníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireannach. Tá mise lán-tsásta leis. Is ceist í i gcónaí don Aire an bhfuil na focla i gceart, an réitíonn na focla leis an bprionsabal atá i gceist. Má cheapann an Seanadóir Ó hAodha go bhfuil mé geallta do na focla, níl. Níl mé ag fógairt gur údar Gaeilge mé. Labhraim Gaeilge gach ócáid is féidir liom. Ní hamhlaidh ach oiread go bhfuil mé ag fógairt gur scoláire Gaeilge mé. Tá mé sásta i gceisteanna den tsórt seo éisteacht le tuairim na ndaoine atá cáilithe chun cur síos ar chruinneas agus beachtas na Gaeilge.
Although I cannot express myself in the learned manner of Senator Ó Buachalla, in Irish or English, yet I would like to express my thoughts on this subject. I would like the Minister and the House to know that this is not a political business but a matter of very strong principle. If we have not got our language, we have but little. Our Republic, without its language, would be looked upon in foreign countries as part of the British Empire. No matter by what name we call ourselves, other countries will regard us as part of the British Empire that was.
It is important that the language should be retained for the young people who have had opportunities to learn it that the older generation did not get, and we should use the few words and phrases we have. It is just as important that it should go out to the world that we have our language, our nation and our nationality. Foreign papers are circulated in this country. Their titles are not in Irish or English but in the language of the country from which they emanate.
I may be over-stating my ideas, but I think that even in the question of Partition, this little favour, if you like to put it that way, that we are asking from the Minister would be a help. It would appear ridiculous to a country that would not know our position that we should seek their aid on the question of Partition and use the English language. What can most of them think but that we are part of England?
Many strange things have happened in this country in the past year and a half. I think this is the strangest of all, that a news agency going forth from this country to put our views before the world should be sent out under a foreign name—English. I would ask the Minister, even now, at the eleventh hour, to change his mind and to do what is right. I cannot see how he, as leader of a Party whose title is Clann na Poblachta, can be consistent with that title and refuse the amendment.
I had the honour to be one of the members of the House on the delegation that went to the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the Hague 11 years ago. Three of those who were with me— perhaps more—were fluent Irish speakers, and their wives who accompanied them were also fluent Irish speakers. That afforded a great opportunity for real conversation in Irish. I joined them in London. I had some Irish. I have it still, thank God, but I could not hold a conversation in Irish. I asked these people not to allow my presence to turn their conversation into English. I asked them to talk Irish on every possible occasion and to leave me there silent if I could not join in. They asked me was I in earnest and I said I was absolutely in earnest. We made the agreement and kept it. When we arrived in the Hague I went to a different hotel from the others. I did not speak one word of English in that hotel. I do not know Dutch, but I do know enough French to get me through. I spoke French all the time, whether it was good, bad or middling. The only French-speaking waiter in the hotel attended me always. When I was leaying he asked me what nationality was I. He said: "I know you are not French or English." I told him. We got into conversation about the language, and I told him a few Irish words and phrases. He was surprised and delighted to now that we had our own language. Why should we not have this little gesture from the Minister, from his Party and his Government, to help to spread that idea amongst the nations of Europe?
If this amendment is put to a vote, I will vote for it, but I want to say frankly that I do not like the title suggested. I think it could have been fairer to the Minister if we on this side had thought of something more comely and more attractive. It is quite easy to do so. When I looked at it, I thought immediately of an excellent name for this news agency—Scéala Ó Éireann. That is a very simple phrase, a phrase which foreigners could learn quickly. I feel, however, that they will be deterred by all the "h's" in the suggested title.
That is not quite the same as "Tidings from Ireland." Senator Hayes may think "Scéala Ó Éireann" wrong, but my idea is that it would be a very attractive title. It is a title which anybody could learn and one to which people would quickly become accustomed, as they are accustomed to such words as "Dáil,""Seanad" and "Taoiseach," which have all passed into common usage. I feel that Gniomhaireacht Nuachta Eireannaigh is rather intimidating and I feel that a simple phrase such as that which I suggest would do a lot of good. It would take the imagination of those to whom we send out our reports. I can understand why Senator Ó Buachalla adopted this phrase—it is a literal translation of "Irish News Agency"—but there is no reason in the world why the Irish title should not be the primary title. You may have an English title or description in the Act, but the name certainly should be in Irish and I suggest that that name should be "Scéala Ó Éireann," which seems to me to have a meaning which would convey exactly what we are aiming at.
One would think it would have been unnecessary to occupy the time of the House to-day and on previous Stages of the Bill in trying to get from an Irish Minister a promise that an Irish title, whatever that title might be, would be used in connection with this Bill. As was pointed out, the usual procedure is to use the initials of whatever service is in question in relation to the various agencies, but surely there is no reason why in the case of either the term proposed by Senator Ó Buachalla or that suggested by Senator Mrs. Concannon, the Irish initials should not be used so that when people abroad inquire as to what agency a particular piece of news comes from they will learn that it comes from an Irish News Agency.
I should like to support the previous speakers and to ask the Minister to accept the amendment. One of the main reasons is the fact that the title of broadcasts from other small countries is in the language of these countries, and we should not be an exception. Every member of the House would be glad if the Minister accepted the amendment.
I have a good deal of sympathy with Senator Miss Pearse, because I have been abroad a good many times and have represented Ireland at various conferences, and have always regretted intensely that I had not a better knowledge of Irish, not because I expected to speak Irish with French people but because I always felt that there could be a misunderstanding by reason of the fact that I was limited, as she is, to English and a limited knowledge of French. To my mind, there is a danger, in debating a matter of this kind, that it will seem to appear that we are either pro the development of the language or against it. Most people will agree that at this time no such issue arises. In my opinion it is a simple question—what will best achieve the purposes of the Bill, and, in doing so, will we be in any way injuring our position, either in the matter of the language or in any other national respect. The object of this news agency, if I understand it correctly, speaking in general terms, is to try to provide abroad news of a kind which we believe is accurate and desirable in relation to the more important matters arising here. Judging by the previous debate, there seems to be a pretty unanimous opinion that the news going out or the news which is published in relation to Ireland is not altogether fair to us and certainly does not put over what we think is desirable.
The practical issue is whether we should insist that the name of the agency should be in the Irish language and only in the Irish language, which would be the effect of the third amendment. The first two amendments are rather different and they rather surprise me because they propose that the name of the Act should be in Irish in the English version. That is quite inconsistent with our practice—it will no doubt be in Irish in the Irish version and in English in the English version. That, however, is a matter of opinion and not, I suggest, a matter of vital importance. The third amendment is important because it would definitely have a bearing on the work of the agency.
The nearest analogy I know of is the decision of a certain Party in the country which, rightly or wrongly, felt that it was not getting a fair deal in the news which was being published. A number of members of that Party got together and decided to publish a daily newspaper which was to circulate not amongst people speaking a number of different languages but amongst people a number of whom spoke Irish but of whom unfortunately by far the largest number spoke English. The object of the paper was to provide news which, in the opinion of the Party, would be strictly fair to them. They decided to have an English title. Nothing will persuade me that any of the people connected with the establishment of that paper were anti-Irish or anti-Irish language. They viewed it from a practical point of view. After 16 or 18 years—I do not know what the period was—they decided it would be well to have a Sunday paper and after their experience they came to the decision to have an English title. We must view this matter entirely from the practical point of view. When the agency is established I hope that it will be possible to have the name on the letter heading not only in Irish or English but in the principal recognised languages of the world. That is not at all unusual in international bodies, and there is nothing in the Bill to prevent it. The effect of the amendment, however, would be that the agency would be legally obliged to call itself by an Irish name although its object is to spread Irish news in countries where Irish is not known. From the practical point of view I think it would be much better to keep the Bill as it stands.
As one who knows practical matters I would like to add my voice to the voices of those who have asked the Minister to change his mind on this question even at this late hour. It has not been pointed out so far that to call the agency by an Irish title would injure the purpose of the Bill, that is, interfere with the efficiency of the agency. While Senator Douglas has pointed out that some people in this country did not issue the name of a newspaper in Irish, that argument could not be used against having the title of an Irish News Agency in the Irish language. It has no bearing at all on the matter. We are not dealing with this country but with the world.
The Irish language in this country is a really live issue, in fact it is so much a live issue and we are all so much in agreement on it that it is not so important as to get the Irish language idea put across in foreign countries and to make the people of those countries realise that we are a separate nation. I know practically no Irish myself, but I realise that there is in this country a rising generation practically all of whom have learned or are learning the Irish language and who take a keen interest in it. I hold that we owe it to those young people to do whatever we can consistent with doing our job properly to forward the interests of the Irish language. I would again ask the Minister to consider the feelings of those young people and even at this late stage to consider accepting the amendment.
I rise to join in the appeal to the Minister to consent, because of the intensity of feeling of the people who have preceded me, to a compromise. This is an age of initials and during the course of the debate much stress has been laid on the importance of initials. There is a simple Irish word for news of only five letters, "Scéal". Never mind "Scéala Éireann" but just take "scéal". I think it would be a tragic thing if in the course of a Bill of this kind it were inferred that because of divisions in this House anybody was hostile to the encouragement to the use of Irish. I am an old Gaelic Leaguer and I hated the position in which I was put on the Second Reading when I voted against those who wanted to use an Irish phrase instead of an English one, but I want to be consistent. If this goes to a division to-day there is no doubt as to how I will vote. I will vote against the amendment, but that does not prevent me from making an appeal to the Minister as others have done, if this is not absolutely sacrosanet and important and if he has not got to maintain the position he has adopted, to use the word "scéal". It would be an index of the work of the agency. Call the news what you like or have what you like on the letter heading but have the word "scéal" or "sgéal" put on the news. It is a simple word. It would set people thinking and realise that we are not only Irish but have a language which will develop in the course of time.
It seems to me that this Bill should be approached in a practical way. We should look forward and see what is the purpose of the Bill and to whom it is intended that the work of the news agency should appeal. If the amendment is well founded it does not go far enough and there should be an amendment to Section 7 sub-section (2) that all the news issued by the news agency should also be in Irish.
It might not be practical but at least it would be logical. It is unfair that it should be supposed that because people hold that the title should be in the English language they are enemies of the Irish language or critical of it at home. This is something intended for abroad. Just as if it were intended to disseminate news in France the French language would be used and if it were intended to disseminate news throughout the world it should be in whatever language is understood, so the title of the organisation doing that work should be as far as possible in the language of the place where the work is being done.
I refrained from intervening in this debate for a long time until Senator Lavery got up. I approach this matter in the only commonsense way it can be approached. We should look at it as a business proposition for this country rather than in the narrow way it has been looked upon by the opponents of the name of the Bill. I do not want to question the sincerity of the Senators who are calling for an Irish name for this news agency. I believe they are sincere in advocating that, but I think that, as Senator Lavery suggested, we should look on this in a commonsense logical way, as a business transaction, as something we want to distribute or sell. We want to get Irish news presented to the world in a business-like way and in a better way than it has been distributed hitherto. If I want to sell or distribute a commodity in the world I will do it in the manner which offers the best prospects of success. If Senator Quirke wants to hold an auction in London he will not begin by advertising the auction in Irish. However sincere he may be about Irish he will advertise the auction in plain English and if he wishes to hold an auction in France he will use the French language. If I go to England to-morrow to sell news or anything else I will use the English language. We will not further the cause of Irish by using the Irish title of this measure. To my mind it would have an adverse effect. If we have an Irish title on the Bill I doubt whether that title will be used by the countries that will use our news. If they do, they will assume, naturally, that the country distributing this news under an Irish title will have a fair knowledge of the Irish language itself. I ask how many hundreds of thousands of our Irish boys and girls in the last, not 50 but even 15 years, have a knowledge of Irish, when they should have had that knowledge on leaving school where Irish was a compulsory subject? How many ever utter a word of Irish?
More than the Senator thinks.
I do not say there are none. I know there are some, but the percentage is very small.
I have worked in other countries for many years—I had to do it—and I think I was as anxious as anyone could be to uphold the honour of my particular country. I heard very little of the Irish language ever spoken there. I do not give way to any Senator in respect for those who are enthusiastic about the Irish language and who have made very great sacrifices to learn it. Unfortunately, I did not learn it, but in my own small way I tried to back up those people who were trying to further it. I will give one instance of what happened. I have engaged in numerous occupations during a very lengthy life, and one of them is a breeder of dogs—probably one of the most successful breeders of the Red Setter in the world at one time. I adopted the practice of naming all my dogs by an Irish name, though I did not know a word of the language. Some 20 or 30 years ago, when there was very much enthusiasm and demand for the learning of Irish here, I was beyond the age for learning it as a student, but I backed it up in other ways and in the naming of my dogs I called them, for instance, Gruagach, Bealtaine and Eilteog; and other names that possibly I barely knew the meaning of myself. That is just an instance of what enthusiasm could do. It did not matter twopence whether I called the dogs by English, French or any other name. I did not want to sell my dogs. I was going to these shows only as an exhibitor and it did not matter whether I got a prize or not. As I was not selling them, I was not looking for an effect in that way. But if I were to engage in it as a purely commercial transaction, I would not have called my dogs by Irish names. I would have advertised them in some other way.
I put it to Senators here that, if they realise fully that what we are attempting in this Bill is to put forward this news as Irish news to the rest of the world, so that the rest of the world may apprehend what we are trying to do, they will realise we should put it in a language more universally recognised than the language of our small country, however enthusiastic we may be about our own language.
If Senator Quirke wants to hold an auction in England or someone wants to sell some goods in England, France, Germany or even Russia, they will try to do so under a name that will offer them a chance of success. I have every desire to believe in the sincerity of those Senators opposing the proposition in the Bill, but I see no good reason why the Minister should accept the amendments.
I am sorry I cannot accept the amendments proposed. I have already indicated at some length to the House the various considerations that render these impracticable. Senator Quirke has stated that it had not been pointed out to the House that it would injure the efficiency of the news agency. I thought that the burthen of the remarks I made to the House before was that it would injure the efficiency of the news agency. The primary purpose is to disseminate news about Ireland, in whatever way it can be most easily assimilated by newspaper men, newspaper editors, and correspondents in foreign countries. If ever there were a case for not using an Irish name unless that Irish name in itself was clearly understandable in a foreign language—either in English, French or German—this is such a case. It would be different if an Irish name could be found such as the Agence France Presse found. They went to a lot of trouble to get that name. In French it is not grammatically correct, but it shows three words that were in most languages understandable. Agence France Presse does not make sense in French, but is merely three separate words that will be understood in most languages as an agency dealing with the Press from France. I think that the Seanad has agreed, in the earlier discussions that we had, that as far as the public in other countries is concerned they will hardly ever see the name of the agency. All they will see are the initials, if even those are published— and in a great many cases even the initials will not be published. I feel that the initials I.N.A. have at least the possibility of conveying to speakers of foreign languages that it is an Irish News Agency. Most people are used to the initials N.A. meaning "News Agency" and the only confusion that could arise would be between Ireland and Ireland.
Yes, or Italy; but the context would clear that up. G.N.E. would be more difficult, I think. Furthermore, there is another difficulty that the Seanad will appreciate. In every newspaper office there is a mass of propaganda being poured in by different political organisations. That is particularly applicable to countries like America. There are many lost causes being fought the whole time and they send in a mass of political propaganda to the newspaper offices. The sub-editor or editor receiving a document with a name that he does not understand will assume that it has emanated from one of those organisations and will not look upon it as coming from one of the news agencies from which the papers derive their information.
Senator Hawkins has said he thought it should be unnecessary to have to convince an Irish Minister that the name of the Irish News Agency should be in Irish, to convince an Irish Minister that this amendment should be accepted. It occurs to me that, if that is so, a great many people who have been in a position of responsibility in the Government over a period of 16 or 17 years were equally difficult to convince. The first amendment put down is that the name of the Bill should be in Irish. I would ask Senators to look through the names of the Acts that were passed through from 1932 to 1948 and to point out to me the number of Acts in which the Title of the Act in the English language is given in Irish. They will occupy the fingers of one hand, so I think that arguments of that kind are particularly unworthy.
Likewise, other Senators pointed out that when, in recent times, papers have been started, an English title has been used. The Irish Press used an English title and the Sunday Press, started recently, used an English title; and I am not going to suggest for one second that those responsible for that—be they the directors, the shareholders or those who guide its policy—are not interested in the Irish language. They probably realise that, from the point of view of selling the paper, an English title would be easier.
Our purpose here is to create a news agency that will sell its news to the world, to people who are not a bit interested in the Irish language, to people who may think it even a pity that there should be any nation in the world that speaks a language other than their own particular language. I would like to make it quite clear that, in not accepting these amendments, I am doing so purely and simply for the reason that I think it would impair the efficiency of the news agency, that it would reduce its ability to get its news taken throughout the world.
I am in complete agreement with the movement for the revival of Irish and for making Irish the spoken language of the nation. I do not think that these amendments have any relation to that nor, indeed, do I think that amendments of this kind or proposals of this kind are any help. On the contrary, I think that many measures of this kind have done a good deal to harm the revival of Irish. I think one of the difficulties is that the enthusiasm for the revival of Irish has been largely killed by official pressure, may I put it that way, from above. In my young days, I remember well, young people used to go out and learn Irish voluntarily, not for reward. I used to spend my summers in Ring learning Irish and working at Irish. Now, apparently, from the policy that has been pursued, there has been a tendency for people only to learn Irish when they had an examination to pass, in order to get a job, or something like that.
I do not want to be taken as in any way suggesting that Irish should not be made one of the essential qualifications for the holding of Government appointments, and so on, but I do feel that what is lacking is voluntary enthusiasm by the people for Irish, and I feel that proposals such as the ones put forward here are not calculated to help that enthusiasm. If it were a proposal in relation to a company that operated here, in relation to the publication or dissemination of news in Ireland, I think there would be quite a strong case to be made for it but that is not the case here and, as I have said before, in relation to the Title of the Bill, there are several hundred statutes that have been passed by this House and by the Dáil over the years and all the titles in the English text are in English. I see no reason why we should depart from it in this case. I think it is unfair to suggest that I or any member of the Government or any member of the House who votes against this amendment has not got Irish at heart because we do not accept an amendment to have the title of this Bill in Irish. If that accusation is made, there is the same justification for it as if I made an accusation against my predecessor that he had not got the language at heart because he did not put an Irish title on the Acts initiated by him or an Irish name on the paper which he created.
I have since had an opportunity of looking into certain other news agencies. I find, for instance, that the title of the official Egyptian News Agency is the Arab News Agency. They do not use the Arabic language in their title. Likewise, the Israeli Press Agency uses English in its title, not the Israelic language.
I think the Minister is correct when he says that eventually this news agency will be known internationally, if it succeeds, by its initials, I.N.A., and that, if there is an indication in foreign newspapers as to where the particular item of news comes from, it will be headed, not Irish News Agency, but I.N.A. That is correct, if it is ever mentioned. The number of cases in which it will be mentioned will be comparatively small. I have discovered a rather curious thing. I am not accepting the approach that this news agency will appeal to the English-speaking world. I think far more valuable purpose would be served by going to people who know very little about us. For instance, South America, where Spanish is used.
You would use their own language.
Yes, in sending out the news, of course. I want merely to make this small point that at present the Indian National Airways, in the brochure that is issued, is known as I.N.A. I think those initials are also in the K.L.M. issue. I am not suggesting that there would be any great confusion caused. It is just a small point. The context would clearly indicate which of the I.N.A.'s was in question.
I think there was an entirely wrong conception. What we are doing here is not endeavouring to send out news or news items or bulletins in the Irish language. It has been accepted here that the proper course would be to send out the news in the language of the country to which it is going. We are asking that the name should be in Irish. I do not want to detain the House. We had a long debate on this the last day. I still think that the reasons advanced by the Minister are not convincing. I am sorry that the Attorney-General went on the assumption that the news also should go out in the Irish language. There was no mention of that at all. Our case is that the name of the agency should be in Irish. The reasons advanced by the Minister on the last day and repeated to-day would not convince me that the proper step is not the one suggested by the amendment.
The procedure adopted about this matter is rather peculiar. We discussed this precise question in Committee and took, in fact, two divisions on it. We are now discussing an amendment about it. I do not want to repeat what I said in Committee, except to this extent: The revival of the Irish language is a national question for us. We must solve it ourselves and the amount by which we actually use the Irish language is the test of its success, not the number of labels we attach to anything, whether a news agency, or a railway company, in Ireland or anywhere else. This amendment, as the Minister has very properly said, is not a test of Irishness and the way people vote on this amendment is not a test of their anxiety for the revival and the use of the Irish language. That should be made quite clear.
The amendment is based—I presume in all sincerity—upon a completely mistaken conception that demonstrations about the Irish language in legislation and on labels and in titles are a substitute for the learning of the Irish language and the use of the Irish language. They are not. Somebody said: "We want to get the Irish language as a fact across to foreign countries." I do not think we do. We have an enormous task, first and foremost, to get the Irish language as a fact across to our own people, before we start getting it across to foreign countries. Senator Miss Pearse put her finger on one of the things which are most valuable in foreign countries, namely, Irish people who in a foreign country speak Irish. Two people spending a short time somewhere in doing that have more effect than any heading on any kind of notepaper going out from Ireland. That is my position.
We are endeavouring to evade the very hard and very difficult facts by a kind of legislative sleight-of-hand. It is not good enough, it is not right. Above all, when people put down this kind of amendment and compel other people to vote upon it, they are not separating the sheep from the goats. It does not follow that the people who want this amendment are the people who have the most genuine anxiety about Irish and that the people against it have less. That is not so. This is an impractical proposition, a proposition which would have no effect upon the actual facts in connection with the revival of the Irish language and no effect upon the work the Irish people at home have to do for and about that language.
Ní miste dhom a rá gur chuir an tAire an-diomá orm. Nuair a chuala mé ag caint é ar an Dara Céim den Bhille, shíl mé gurb é an chaoi nár thuig sé an cheist agus chomh luath agus thuigfeadh sé an cheist go mbeadh sé réasúnach ina taobh, agus, mura bhféadfadh sé géilleadh dúinn, ar a laghad go gcuirfeadh sé os ár gcomhair i gcoinne an mholta a rinneamar argóintí láidre agus go mbeadh sé soiléir gur chreid sé féin go láidir iontu. Ní dhearna sé sin, agus d'ainneoin an méid atá ráite aige i dtaobh an mheasa atá aige ar an nGaeilge agus d'ainneoin an méid atá ráite ag an Seanadóir Ó hAodha i dtaobh a mheasa-san ar an nGaeilge, is iomaí duine in Éirinn nach gcreidfidh iad. Is fearr an sompla ná an teagasc, adeirtear, agus b'fhearr an sompla sa gcás seo ná an teagasc.
Thrácht an tAire ar theideal an Achta. Mhínigh mé go soiléir an tseachtain seo caite agus mhínigh mé go soiléir inniu cén fáth gur chuireamar leasú síos i dtaobh teideal an Bhille. Theastaigh uainn go bhfaigheadh an tAire leide ó thús go raibh fúinn an cheist seo a phlé agus an cheist seo a throid. Ba chuma linn faoin leasú ar ainm an Bille—is é an rud a bhí ag teastáil uainn leasú ar ainm na gníomhaireachta. Mhínigh mé sin go soiléir an tseachtain seo caite agus ní gá dhom a thuilleadh a rá faoi anois. Thrácht an tAire ar theideal nuaíochta na Fraince agus an moladh a bhí aige don teideal go raibh cupla focal ann go dtuigfí iad in áit ar bith ar fud an domhain. Dá nglacfaí leis an teideal mar tá sé ceaptha ag lucht an aistriúcháin don ghníomhaireacht beadh dhá fhocal is trí fhocal a dtuigfeadh duine ar bith iad a raib meabhair aige. An focal "Nuacht" is léir go bhfuil cosúlacht cuid mhaith aige sin leis an focal "news" agus ar an gcaoi chéanna an focal "Éireann," dá dtugtaí Gníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireann nó Gníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireannach nó Gníomhaireacht Nuachta Éireannaí ar an ngníomhaireacht, tuigfí an foca "Eireann" ag duine ar bith a d'fhéadfadh mórán léitheoireachta a dhéanamh i gceart.
Thrácht an Seanadóir Ó Dubhghlas ar "inconsistencies" mar is dóigh leis a bheith againn ar an taobh seo den Teach. Tá Achta ann cheana féin ar i nGaeilge amháin atá teideal na gcomhlucht atá bunaithe iontu. Is féidir a rá nach mbaineann na comhluchta sin le gnóthaí coigríche, ach is fíor go bhfuil Achta ann a bhfuil teideal na gcomhlucht a bunaíodh iontu i nGaeilge amháin, cuir i gcás, Mianraí Teo, Bord na Móna agus tá cinn eile ann.
Maidir leis an argóint a bhí aige gur i mBéarla atá an t-ainm ar pháipéirí nuachta sa tír seo, níl baint aige sin leis an gceist atá os ár gcomhair. Nílimid ag cur síos ar an "Irish Press" nó aon pháipéar eile. Dá mbeadh scéal teideal páipéirí nua os ár gcomhair, bheinn go láidir i bhfábhar an t-ainm a bheith orthu i nGaeilge. Bhí baint agam féin le páipéirí Gaeilge a chur ar bun agus cinnte is i nGaeilge a foilsítear an nuacht iontu agus is i nGaeilge atá an t-ainm ach níl aon bhaint aige sin leis an scéal seo agus níl ann ach meilt ama a leithéid a thabhairt isteach.
Do chuir caint an Seanadóir Ó Leathbhaire ionadh orm. Uaireanta, ní miste leat duine a rá rudaí nach mbeadh mórán údair acu leo ach thar aon duine do chuir seisean ionadh orm agus an chaint a rinne sé faoin méid a bhí ar intinn againn agus an dóigh a bhíomar ag iarraidh é dhéanamh. B'fiú don tSeanadóir an Tuarascáil Oifigiúil don tseachtain seo caite a léamh. Ní bhfuair mise é go dtí go rabhas istigh anseo ar mo bhealach go dtí an Seanad ach feicim an méid seo ráite ag an Aire an tseachtain seo caite ar cholún 308:
"Of course, Tass is a very well-known news agency, but a very notorious one. I do not think we will ever aspire to or reach the same degree of notoriety. May I mention, in passing, that if Senators saw Tass written in the Russian language they would not recognise it. Tass depart from using their own language when they are distributing abroad."
Nach shin é an freagra? —glac le litreacha áirithe mar chomhartha ar an ngníomhaireacht. Sin an méid déanfaí sa gcás seo. An chaoi a bhfuil an saol, ní abróidh duine an teideal go hiomlán—gheobhaidh siad gearr-leagan air. Ní cuirfí an nuacht amach i nGaeilge ach an t-am a mbeadh gá leis.
Mar shompla, dá mbeadh nuacht ag dul go Boston, tuige nach gcuirfí amach i nGaeilge í? Sin í an chathair is mó sa domhan a labhartar Gaeilge inti. I gcás cuid de na hirisí a foilsítear i dTalamh an Éisc nó cuid de na hirisí a foilsítear in Albain—na cinn atá ag dul suas tríd an nGaeltacht—tuige nach gcuirfí an nuacht chucu i nGaeilge? Ach in áit ar bith i gcéin bheadh súil againn go n-úsáidfí teanga na tíre a mbeadh an nuacht ag dul isteach inti. Sin é an méid atáimid a iarraidh. Má theastaíonn freagra níos cruinne ón Seanadóir Ó Leathbhaire gheobhaidh sé é sa méid adúirt an tAire an tseachtain seo caite. Tá an Seanadóir Bennett agus an Seanadóir Ó hAodha ag dul amú ar fad faoi cheist seo na Gaeilge.
Ag dul amú ar fad?
Ag dul amú ar fad faoi cheist seo na Gaeilge. Bhí an Seanadóir Bennett ag caint faoin méid daoine a fhágas an scoil agus a imíos i gcéin agus a chailleas an Ghaeilge. Níl aon aimhreas go bhfuil a lán daoine ann den tsórt sin, ach creideadh sé uaimse go bhfuil a lán lán eile imithe i gcéin a scríobhas abhaile i nGaeilge. Feicim le tamall rud nach bhfaca mé le fada an lá, scríobhann muintir Chonamara abhaile i nGaeilge, na daoine óga. Mo mhic léinn féin a rinne a gcúrsaí trí Ghaeilge agus atá imithe go ceithre hairde an domhain scríobhann siad abhaile i nGaeilge agus scríobhann siad chomh cruinn, beacht sin nach gcreidfeá go raibh siad lá imithe as an tír. Má tá daoine ann atá ag déanamh faillí sa nGaeilge, tá a lán eile ann a úsáideas í. Níl an ceart ag an Aire ná ag an Seanadóir Ó hAodha má cheapann siad nach bhfuil spéis ag daoine sa nGaeilge ach amháin mar abhar scrúduithe.
Ní dhúirt mé é sin ná ní dhúirt an tAire é ach oiread.
Dúirt an tAire gur fhoghlaim daoine Gaeilge blianta ó shoin ar a son féin agus go raibh sé féin orthu, ach anois go raibh an "enthusiasm" tráite agus nach bhfoghlaimíonn na daoine í ach amháin le haghaidh scrúduithe. Níl locht agam ar dhaoine a bhíos á foghlaim le haghaidh scrúduithe. Tá súil le Dia agam go gcoinneoimid an Ghaeilge ar chlár gach scrúduithe agus gur ag dul i dtreise a bheas sí, ach má cheapann an tAire nó duine ar bith eile nach bhfuil daoine ag foghlaim Ghaeilge ach amháin le postaí fháil tá dul amú mór orthu. Bímse ag taisteal na tíre, ag dul go dtí scoileanna, ceard-scoileanna agus ranganna faoin tuaith le blianta fada agus le gairid d'fhéadfá an méid daoine atá ag foghlaim na Gaeilge le haghaidh scrúduithe a chomhaireamh ar aon láimh amháin. Tá dul amú ar an Seanadóir Ó hAodha agus ar an Aire mar nach bhfuil tuiscint acu ar mheoin mór-chuid daoine sa tír i dtaobh na Gaeilge. Tá scartha, briste acu leis na daoine sin beagnach ar fad.
Is trua liom go gcaithfidh mé achainí a dhéanamh ar an Aire. Cheap mé go raibh mé cosúil le bacach bóthair ag iarraidh déirce ach cheap mé nach raibh mé ag tabhairt cothroim don Aire nuair a léigh mé an freagra a thug sé. Shíl mé nár thuig sé an cheist agus chomh luath is a thuigfeadh sé í go dtuigfeadh sé gur iarratas réasúnta é seo, ach feictear dhom anois nach raibh an ceart agam. An rud a thóg an tAire ina cheann caithfidh sé dul ar aghaidh leis, níl sé cóir, níl sé réasúnta, agus caithfidh sé rud a dhéanamh más maith leis é. Ach sheas an Ghaeilge constaicí ní ba mhó ná an chonstaic seo.
Ní constaic é seo, ach a mhalairt.
Seasfaidh sí agus saróidh sí an ceann seo mar a sháraigh sí an chuid eile.
Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 fall.
I move amendment No. 4:—
In page 3, Section 8, sub-section (2), to delete paragraph (b), lines 38 to 41.
I would like, if you will allow me, to refer also to amendment No. 5.
They are more or less related.
Amendment No. 4 proposes to delete paragraph (b) in Section 8, and I think there was agreement on this on the Committee Stage. If the paragraph is deleted, then amendment No. 5 will not arise. If it is not deleted amendment No. 5 will be unanimously accepted. There can be no objection to amendment No. 5 at all, so that perhaps, I might devote myself to amendment No. 4. It provides in the section that no member of either House of the Oireachtas shall be appointed a director of this news agency except with the prior approval of Dáil Éireann. I think that the proposal that a member of the Dáil or Seanad should not be appointed is one that tends to put members of the Oireachtas in a class apart from other members of the community or to make them into a sort of untouchables. It suggests that people who get into public life and who become members of the Dáil or Seanad should not be appointed to any public post as such. I assume that it is the belief of every opposition that every Government will make corrupt appointments to particular posts, but it seems to me that if that feeling does exist—I am speaking of opposition in general—we should see what appointments are made and those who are aggrieved should put down motions in accordance with the usual parliamentary procedure, to question them. The provision in paragraph (b) is that if the Minister, whoever he may be—I am not talking of the present Minister—proposes to make a Deputy of the Dáil a director of the agency, a motion must be put down in the Dáil stating that Dáil Éireann approves of A.B. to be director of the agency. I suggest that that opens out a very objectionable type of discussion, more objectionable than you could have on any other proposal.
When a member of the Dáil is proposed for Taoiseach, for Ceann Comhairle, or Leas-Cheann Comhairle, the discussion is of a particular character. In the case of the nomination for Taoiseach or the nomination of Ministers, harsh things may be said, but they will be harsh things relating to the politics and policies of the individuals concerned and not relating to their character or their professional competence. If a motion is put down in the Dáil with regard to the competency of an individual to be a director of this news agency or of anything else, the type of discussion that will follow will, in my judgment, be very objectionable—I can find no better word. As a matter of fact, I think the intention is that no member of the Dáil or the Seanad should be appointed, as I do not think a Minister or a member would be prepared to face the type of discussion I mentioned. I am not thinking of the official Opposition in either House. It is very likely that the Opposition Front Bench would discuss a matter of this kind in a reasonable way, but you cannot control a body of 147 members, or even a body of 60 members such as we have here, and ensure that any one of the members will not come in with the kind of discussion that everyone else will find improper and unreasonable.
For that reason, I think it would be much better to delete (b) altogether, leaving the Minister in the position that, if he considers that a particular member of the Dáil or Seanad would be a good director of this body, he may appoint him and would have power to appoint him without first going to the Dáil or the Seanad. When he is appointed, there is a method of parliamentary debate open to Deputies or Senators to raise the matter, and it is for the Minister, having taken his action, to face the consequences parliamentarily in either House or in both Houses. That would be a far better provision than the one we have here in paragraph (b).
On the other hand, I do not want to make it a matter of contention or division in the House. I felt on the last occasion, after Senator Hearne had spoken, that we were pretty well agreed that we wanted to delete (b) and I put down two amendments to allow the type of discussion that I thought the House wanted. If there is general agreement on deleting (b), we can do so. If there is substantial objection, I suppose we can let it go; but if paragraph (b) is deleted, amendment No. 5 will not arise. If (b) is not deleted, I am sure Senators will merely require to have amendment No. 5 explained to them to agree to it unanimously.
On a Bill of this nature, this first amendment raises really a matter of general principle. We have already passed through this House many Bills containing a section of this kind that prohibits, as it were, a member of this House from becoming a member of a State-sponsored board. I think it would not be well that, on a Bill of such a limited nature as this is, in some respects, we should define a general principle already accepted and put into practice. We have the case of the Irish Tourist Board, where a member of that board, because of the fact that he was elected a member of this House had to decide whether he was to continue as a member of this House or as a member of the board, despite the fact that he was elected by the Seanad electorate to this House. There is also the question whether it is advisable that there should be a member of this or of the other House a member of the board. After all, the Minister must be the person responsible to answer for the conduct of the various functions of the board and it might not be in the best interests of the agency that there should be a member of the board, which would be under discussion in the House, also in a position to take part in the discussion. Probably cases could arise where a member of the board would be in a position to have available to him much more information of a private nature concerning the working of the board than would be in the possession of the Minister charged with the responsibility of speaking on behalf of the board to Parliament.
I agree that the Minister should be given very wide scope in appointing the members to operate this organisation. Now that we are rapidly making towards nationalisation through State-sponsored companies, we could arrive at a time when there would be such keen competition in the setting up of the many boards that practically every member of this or the other House would be a member of one or other of the boards set up by the Government.
In view of the many boards we have and may have in the future, I think it is bound to create a certain amount of uneasiness in some circles if the Minister has to make a decision and perhaps turn down recommendations received from various sources on behalf of certain members of Parliament to be appointed to certain boards. This is a major question, not a question as to whether it is best to have a member of either House on a particular board, but whether it is wise national policy that a member of either House should be a member of any board. We have had the Turf Board and other boards where this restriction applies and I think it applies also to the new organisation about to be set up to save the transport of the nation. I would suggest to the House that we should defer further consideration and, if necessary, have a general discussion later on this point as to whether it is good policy or not. That eliminates the first proposal.
We now come to the next point. As a result of the demand made by the Opposition Party in the Dáil, the Minister inserted this amendment providing that a member of either House of the Oireachtas shall not, except with the prior approval of Dáil Éireann, be a member of the board. It was pointed out by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition then that the Seanad would become a bit jealous, on hearing it, that they would not have a say also. The amendment by Senator Hayes tries to act as a gobetween and to say that the appointment will be made only with the prior approval of the House to which the member belongs. That may seem reasonable, but an argument might be advanced against it. After all, this House has very limited functions and it is the Dáil that will provide the money for this organisation. It is quite possible that, having already expressed their desire to have a say in the approval—or the releasing, as it were—of a member to occupy a post under this board, they might also like to have their say as to whether the Minister should appoint any member of this House to the board of directors. If the Minister thought that it would meet the wishes of this and the other House, it might be better if the amendment was again changed to "by the consent of both Houses."
There is just one other point in connection with the section. This particular section deals with the setting up of this board of directors and I would like to know where is provision made for the remuneration of the members. Is there any provision whereby the members appointed to the board of directors will be remunerated out of State funds?
I agree with Senator Hawkins that a large principle is at stake in amendment No. 4. I think the wisest thing would be to postpone discussion until it can be discussed in a general way. At the same time, I would like to express an opinion at this stage. I am in favour of the amendment because I think this principle, that people who are members of the Oireachtas should be excluded from other activities of this kind, may have a very deleterious effect on the whole quality of public life. I think it is a matter which derived very largely from a bad tradition in the past. It goes back, I think, to the attempts of the English Parliament and Irish Parliament of the 18th century to keep public appointments and patronage apart from members of Parliament but, in modern times, with the different type of State we have, the great publicity that Parliament has to-day, and the way in which these public boards are audited, looked after and controlled I feel that the attempt to keep appointments away from Parliament is to some extent outdated.
I think it ought to be re-examined because one evil effect of it seems to be that it might quite easily happen, if carried beyond a certain point, if one board after another and one public position after another was closed to members of the Dáil and Seanad, that certain people might think that membership of the Dáil and Seanad was an unduly expensive luxury. I am speaking from personal experience. This year I had to refuse a very well remunerated post because of my membership of the Oireachtas. I scarcely think it is fair that people should be deprived of performing functions which the Government apparently thinks they are fit for simply because they are trying to play a part in public life as well.
I think the whole question should be very freely debated and fully discussed. I agree with Senator Hawkins that it is not the sort of thing to slip in by way of amendment to a Bill like this.
There are certain cases, with the broadening of nationalisation in various directions, where I conceive that membership of the Oireachtas and membership of one of these boards might be complementary to each other and the expert knowledge which people would obtain on these boards—I do not mean the confidential knowledge—the expert knowledge they would gain in handling some of the technical questions involved in transport and other undertakings would be of great value in debates in this Chamber and the other Chamber. It does seem to me that any type of public policy that prevents the Oireachtas having the benefit of the highest type of technical expertise that may be available is something which— I do not say cannot be justified—but which requires very strong justification. I do not wish to delay the House but I did want to express my own personal opinion on this amendment.
On the Committee Stage of this Bill I agreed with Senator Hayes that it might be better to delete this reference entirely but, on reconsideration, I do not know whether either of these amendments meets the case. The thing is far more complicated. The more we look into it the more we realise that. First of all, I do not like the suspicion with which we regard each other here and in the Dáil. Apparently, we suspect each other's honesty to such an extent that special provision must be made in legislation that we will not get a rake-off on anything. That is a wrong attitude.
Secondly, I do not see that either of the amendments meets the case that has been made. If we accept the Bill as it stands, sub-section (2), paragraph (b) of Section 8 provides that no member of either House shall, except with the prior approval of Dáil Éireann, be appointed a director of the agency. As Senator Hawkins has pointed out, there is no provision whatever in the Bill for any of the directors being paid anything. Therefore, presumably, they will be asked to do voluntary work. Is it right, if there is to be an examination of a man's qualifications, integrity, and ability, that if a member of this House were asked to act, he should go before the members of the Dáil as if they were an appointments commission and state to them what his qualifications and character are? If there is to be any qualification or examination of qualifications, then Senator Hayes' second amendment is preferable because it means that each House would decide for itself whether a member of that House was a fit and proper person to be appointed.
Senator Hawkins more or less suggested in a previous discussion that I might have ambitions to go on this board. I have no ambition whatever and no promise whatever and, if I were offered it, he may be sure I would not take it. The Minister will have great difficulty in getting a staff and a board of directors and still greater difficulty in getting a competent advisory board. The advisory board, in my opinion, will be far more important than the board of directors. Yet, nobody has raised any objection to a member of the Dáil or Seanad, if he were requested and qualified, going on the advisory board.
By deferring the matter now and leaving the Bill as it stands we leave this House in a subordinate position; we accept the principle, and I think it is for the first time, that the Dáil has the right to veto a proposed appointment of any member of the Seanad to a position. That is a wrong principle to accept. Therefore, the deletion of that paragraph, in my opinion, would be preferable but the deletion of the paragraph does not settle the principle whether or not a member of Dáil Éireann, because he happens to be a member of Dáil Éireann, is disqualified from doing any other work in the country, voluntarily or involuntarily, if a proposal is put in the Bill to exclude him. In all the circumstances I would prefer the amendment to delete the sub-section entirely but even that does not settle the principle that has been raised and that must be settled some time.
I would like to deal with the second amendment because the first amendment raises the whole general issue and it is preferable that, on a comparatively unimportant matter like this, the whole principle should not be in effect decided. I am in entire agreement with the expressions of opinion that have been made here that, simply because a man is elected to Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann, he is somehow suspect as to what he might do in the case of a board such as is envisaged in this Bill. I do not accept that at all. He may be no better off by becoming a member of Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann. He is certainly no worse off. The deletion of the paragraph would be inadvisable from that point of view at the present stage. Paragraph (b), I understand, was a compromise between an amendment put down by the Opposition and that was as far as the Minister would go. Therefore, it would be inadvisable for this House, unless we felt very strongly about it, to upset that arrangement. To do so would involve the whole general principle. As far as I am concerned I prefer to drop the first amendment and, in the particular circumstances, would favour amendment No. 5.
I am in entire agreement with the view that prior approval is something that could lead to most disagreeable debates. Supposing that Senator O'Farrell thought Senator Crosbie a suitable nominee, the Minister takes the responsibility. In the Bill as it stands, names would be bandied about in Dáil Éireann and, as Senator Hayes stated, there are responsible people who would deal with such a proposal in a very objective way, while some people could not be prevented from being less objective. If the amendment goes, it means that a Senator's name has had the prior approval of the House where he is intimately known, which is all that is necessary. It is with a certain amount of reluctance, accordingly, that I give assent to amendment No. 5 in the particular circumstances.
The whole question concerning members of the Oireachtas in this respect will have to be considered and debated, possibly at length, because there are many points of view. The first matter that comes into my mind concerns Córas Iompair Éireann and the Minister for Industry and Commerce might have to answer certain questions about it. A member of Dáil Éireann has responsibilities and I do not think he is entirely shelving them by not taking part in debate. That is one aspect for consideration. It would be undesirable at this stage to have a general discussion, or to commit ourselves, particularly in view of the fact that the sub-section, as it stands in the Bill, is the result of a compromise.
I think it was the desire of the Opposition in the Dáil that neither a member of Dáil Éireann nor Seanad Éireann would be eligible for this board. In view of the concensus of opinion in Dáil Éireann, I think it would be unwise to delete the paragraph, while it is with a certain amount of reluctance I would agree to amendment No. 5.
This is a matter in which I took considerable interest for some time and on which I have spoken previously. We may assume that Senator Hayes does not propose to press the amendment unless there is general agreement. There is not general agreement and, therefore, as far as the first amendment is concerned, he is not pressing it. I am inclined to agree with what Senator Séamus O'Farrell said, but for different reasons, that that is the wise course to take. I am not convinced, because of a compromise in the other House, that that is a good reason why we should not put in this amendment. Having regard to the fact that there are doubts, which could not be dealt with by a simple amendment, I am inclined to agree that it would be a mistake in this Bill to change the position, except in relation to the second amendment.
As the subject very properly comes up in relation to this Bill, I should like to see some arrangement by which we could, if possible on a motion, raise it for discussion. Perhaps, some members of the Opposition and also on this side of the House might agree to put down such a motion, so that it would not be made a Party issue. It is of importance that this question should be thrashed out after proper notice, so that Senators could form an opinion on it. I am not sure that this is not, to some extent, a stage in our growing up as an independent State. I am not quite sure that the last Government, having regard to the circumstances, had not some good reasons why it was thought better to exclude members of either House from State boards. We have now grown to the stage when Party feeling is not so strong, when we can look at things from the national point of view, and when a time has come when such a provision should disappear, either for present boards or certainly for future boards.
Senator Séamus O'Farrell naturally referred to the question of remuneration. I have no quarrel with what he said. In fact, I agree with most of what he said, except that I think he is wrong in assuming that there will be no remuneration. There has been an idea that a person who gives public service, and receives what the State regards as proper remuneration, is doing something improper if he happens to be in public life and is remunerated for his public service. I think that outlook is fundamentally wrong. Whether a person is or is not a member of either House, he should not be in a job unless he has given service, and he should not be paid more than the job is worth. If he gives service, he should be entitled to payment, and if he does not do the job properly, he should be removed. The time has come when we should adopt that attitude. I do not necessarily hold that there might be some companies in which, because of difficult circumstances, there are reasons why a member of the Oireachtas should not be on the board.
I have on several occasions referred to what I think would be a desirable position, that there should be committees of the Oireachtas consisting of, say, 12 or 15 chosen from both Houses, who would, as nominees of the State, hold one share each and be shareholders of a State company, the directors of which would be able to appear before the committee and be asked questions. If that were done, I see no reason at all why the director appearing there should be precluded from being a member of the House. He, certainly, should be precluded from being a member of that committee. If that were the method adopted and, I think, it will be found a desirable method some day, there would have to be special provision.
My view is, that in general terms, it is not healthy to exclude members of either House from giving public service, even when that public service happens to be in a State-owned company, whether it has remuneration or it has not. With regard to the second amendment I do not see how you can have approval except prior approval. I agree with Senator Hearne that it is highly undesirable. I should not like to think that the Minister would appoint me and then go to the House. That means a vote of confidence in the Government. It is highly undesirable, no matter what Government is in power, that the appointment of a particular individual should be made an issue. Therefore, if you are going to submit it, it must be prior. Now, my experience in business is that it is better to have one person making an appointment. He gets his advice and makes his appointment. Generally, if there is a committee or even a board it is not the best way to make the appointment, and it would take a lot to persuade me that a House even of the size of 60 is a good body to decide and approve an appointment. I would be, certainly, totally opposed to both Houses approving each appointment. That would mean in effect that the Minister goes to Mr. So and so or Miss So and so and says: "I want you to take a position on this particular Board." He discusses with them whether they are suitable and then he says: "Perhaps, I had better tell you that you are going to face a debate in the Dáil and secondly, a debate in the Seanad." How many of us would say "yes" in such circumstances? There might have been a time, when we were very young, and had never been in either House when we might have said "yes". Normally, unless you had a strong sense of duty, or you were keen on the job, you would say "no".
You would hear more about yourself then than at an election.
If you were told by the Minister that you must bear in mind that after you had served there could be a motion for your removal, I think, most of us would say: "Yes, that is reasonable and I must face up to it", but to discuss the virtually unknown merits of a particular person for a position of this kind I do not like. I do not like this idea, but if it is to stand as an experiment, I think any opinion should be given by the House of which a person is a member. I think I can say with a good deal of confidence that if Senator Hearne or I were nominated for one of those positions we would not be debated on Party lines. There might be some opposition and some approval but it would be debated to a large extent on its merits. I do not think that would at all apply if either or both of us were to go before the Dáil. I mention the two names because we have spoken in the debate. As to the second amendment to the Bill, as suggested, we will see what happens. I think it would be better to withdraw the first one in view of the fact that it is not unanimous. I would suggest to Senator Hearne whether it would not be possible in the New Year for a few of us to take steps to get together and put down a motion for discussion. I think quite a useful discussion could take place.
I think the course which has been suggested by Senator Douglas and by Senator Hearne is the best one to adopt. The amendment which was introduced in the Dáil was, as Senator Hearne said, a compromise between the Opposition view and the Government view on this particular question. In general, I would agree with the Opposition that it would be unsatisfactory to appoint under existing conditions any member of the Oireachtas to the board of such a company. But, inasmuch as we are creating an agency which, I hope, will survive and will continue as an institution in the country, I want to leave the door open for the eventuality where there might be an outstanding person in the newspaper world whom everybody would agree was an ideal person to be on such a board. To a certain extent, the constitution of the news agency varies from the constitution and purpose of other boards of a similar nature. You are more likely to get a prominent journalist in the Seanad, for instance, who would be suitable for such a board than in connection with many of the other State-sponsored projects. I can quite well visualise a position where there might be some very eminent journalist who might be made a Senator, a very useful Senator, for instance. I felt in these circumstances it would be unwise to preclude ourselves from availing of his services at some future date.
Actually, I think, journalists are a nominating body to this House.
You can see circumstances where there would be somebody, of whom everybody would say, "obviously he is a person to go on this board." The other matters mentioned by Senator Hearne and Senator Douglas in relation to whether or not members of the Oireachtas should be directors or should be eligible as directors to boards of that kind open quite a wide question and, I think, it is a question that should be examined. I think the Seanad would be the better House to examine it and make recommendations to the Dáil. It is going to arise very acutely from another point of view, apart from whether a member of the Oireachtas may be a director on a State board. The question of whether an employee of a State company, who will be virtually a civil servant, can be a member of the Oireachtas, is going to arise very sharply, for instance, in relation to the Transport Bill. Therefore, the whole of this question is one that will require objective examination. I do not know whether the suggestion Senator Douglas has made is the best method. I do not know whether it might not be better to have a small commission examine it. There is always a danger that a committee of two Houses does not meet often enough and may not work satisfactorily. At all events, I think, it is an ideal suggestion that the matter should be discussed by the Seanad at an early date because, undoubtedly, problems of that kind are bound to arise in the near future.
The two amendments were put down, as I said on the last occasion, without prejudice and without having consulted the Minister. My intention was that if the amendment to delete paragraph (b) of Section 8, sub-section (2), did not meet with general approval it should be withdrawn. There is apparently general approval of the idea of deleting the paragraph, but it is felt, in view of the way in which it was inserted in the Dáil, that it is more expedient at this moment that we should not delete it. I, therefore, withdraw amendment No. 4.
With regard to the general discussion, the Minister has put his finger on one of the problems—it is even greater than Senator O'Brien has indicated—whether members of the Dáil or Seanad can be members of public boards, State controlled boards. There is also the other problem about State or semi-State employees becoming members of the Dáil or Seanad. It applies to the Electricity Supply Board and it might apply to Bord na Móna, to Córas Iompair Éireann and to local bodies.
The suggestion has been made that employees of local bodies should not be members of the Dáil or Seanad and the result is that, while the top is, so to speak, getting wider and bigger, the base on which we are working is getting narrower and smaller. It would be a very interesting matter to discuss here. I think the two matters should be taken together.
I take it there is agreement with regard to amendment No. 5. I thought somebody had made the suggestion that the two Houses should discuss every appointment, but perhaps I am wrong in that. There is agreement that where a member of the Dáil is being appointed, there shall be prior approval by the Dáil, and that, where a member of the Seanad is being appointed, there shall be prior approval by the Seanad. I take it that the amendment will be accepted without any further discussion.
I move amendment No. 6:—
In page 5, after sub-section (4) of Section 16 to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
Copies of items of news and intelligence distributed by the agency for publication inside or outside the State shall be made available by the agency in the Library of the Houses of the Oireachtas for the information of Deputies and Senators.
I put down this amendment in the hope that the Minister, on considering it over the week-end, would be prepared to accept it. All that I ask in the amendment is that copies of the items of news and intelligence distributed by the agency for publication shall be made available in the Library. When we were discussing this matter on Committee Stage, the practical difficulty was, I think, the main difficulty. Experienced journalists here told us that the amount of stuff sent out would be so great that it would be well nigh impossible, and certainly impracticable to make it available, even to people who would go into the local office, not to speak of making it available in the Library.
In the Dáil, I notice that the Minister, in reply to much the same type of request, tacitly agreed that the number of words issued in a day would be about 750, and, even if that amount were issued every day, it would not be very big. I entirely agree with the Minister's expression of opinion that, if we could ensure the publication of even 50 words a day, out of the 750, we would be doing extremely well; but it is with a certain amount of diffidence, because there were very strong expressions of opinion here that it was so impractical that, even with the best will in the world, nothing could be done about it, that I again ask him to accept my proposal. In view of the comparatively small number of words which will possibly go out—and we have no control over what will eventually be printed—the case made that it would be impracticable will scarcely bear examination.
There is another point in connection with making this material available, and it is so important that, even if there were difficulties in the way, difficulties of providing extra staff and so on, it would be far better for the success of the news agency if what I suggest should be done, because—I repeat what I said on Committee Stage —no thinking person here wants it to go abroad that this is a Government news agency, in the sense of being the mouthpiece of the opinions of the Government of the day. It would be most undesirable and would defeat the objects of the news agency from the very beginning, if that feeling were held by a substantial number of people in the country, because eventually that feeling would become known abroad and the news submitted by the news agency would come to be regarded as news from a tainted source. That could apply and be equally as damaging to the nation if the Party to which I belong became the Government in 12 months' or two years' time. It would be just as undesirable then, despite what Senator Hayes said when I made a somewhat similar comment about the main fault being that they were not of the chosen few.
I pressed this viewpoint on the Minister on the previous occasion, and it was not accepted. I am strengthened in my opinion with regard to this, however, by this one example of which I have very particular knowledge of the reason why it is very desirable, no matter what the difficulties, that the news bulletins emanating from the agency should be made available in the Library. The day after our previous debate, I got, through the post, a very fine production, excellently laid out and printed on excellent paper, and, so far as the technical side is concerned, a very fine publication, one which comes out under the aegis of the Department of Public Health and I think the Minister for Local Government is also associated with it. It is an excellent production, but there is a good deal of hard feeling about it that could very easily have been obviated if there had been some prior provision whereby things would be dealt with a little more objectively. It is going out in the name of the Irish people and should be as objective as possible and the same is true of the items that go out from the news agency. This is an example of what should not appear, and which might appear from the news agency.
What is the name of the publication?
"Ireland is Building. Tá Eire ag Forbairt." There is one item to which I would draw attention, which makes me feel that the same thing might possibly happen with regard to the news agency. There are figures here bracketed off, Dublin Corporation figures regarding house-building: "Already built from 1890 to the 31/3/'49, 25,703." That is perfectly correct, but the implication in the paragraph preceding it is that very little was done, particularly during the war years. I think it is well that people should know the exact figures. They should be put down as they appear in the Housing Committee's Report to the corporation, which is an efficient document, readily available; that of the 23,952 houses erected since 1884, 14,554 were erected under the 1932 Act. Not only that, but the report of the Housing Department of Dublin Corporation dated May 27th, 1948, has this paragraph:—
"The last comprehensive survey of housing requirements of the County Borough of Dublin, was made in 1938. It was estimated that the requirements were 21,315 dwellings. Since that date, 9,737 have been provided."
On a point of order, are we discussing the amendment or the document to which the Senator is speaking? If we are allowed to go on like this, we might go on for hours, if not for days.
On a point of argument, was not the document distributed, although it was wrong in the Senator's view?
We can go into it more closely at some other time, but there would be no possibility, if the Minister does not accept this amendment, of drawing the attention of the House to anything that may emanate from the agency. In that document there is, in my opinion, suppressio veri, suggestio falsi and I gave it as an example. I did not know about it when we were dealing with the Committee Stage as I only got it the day after. This is an example of what might possibly happen in regard to the agency and to avoid any such possibility, no matter what the difficulties are in making available script of items of news, it would be desirable to do so from the point of view of the country and of making this agency an Irish agency that will have the support of the Irish people, not of a political Party or of a series of political Parties. If it has not that support at the beginning, it will do not good, but more harm than good.
I do not know precisely what advantage Senator Hearne thinks the Oireachtas could gain by the acceptance of this amendment. The whole thing hinges upon the nature of the activities of this agency. Is it to act as a general agency, as one of the ordinary agencies distributing news of a general character or is it to be a purely Government propagandist agency distributing propaganda throughout the world and hoping that the papers will accept it? I do not think it has ever been made clear whether we are going to sell news or disseminate news and propaganda. If we knew what the intention was in that connection, we might be clearer as to where we are going. If this agency is going to act as all news agencies to be successful must act, it will have to be independent in its activities and as free as possible from censorship on the part of Senators or Deputies. The ordinary news agencies in this country send out four or five rolls of typescript every day to the newspapers that take their news and in the course of a week the Library would be crowded out with the material that the agency issued. Is it suggested that all that stuff is to come in here and that some or all of it is to be subject to question and discussion in the Dáil or the Seanad as the case may be? I think it would be entirely impracticable.
In any case, the deed will have been done, the material will have been issued as in the case of the document to which Senator Hearne referred. All you can do is to express disapproval or censure of what has been done; it cannot be recalled. What is to be the position of the board running the agency if it is to be subject to criticism and censorship regarding its general work, and how is its material to be received by the foreign Press? If, for instance, it is shown here that they have issued biased news or news of a Party character, untrue or in any other way undesirable, surely that is going to discredit the agency in the eyes of newspapers and news editors throughout the world. If we are going to set up a news agency we must give it an opportunity of making good and it is not going to smooth its way if it is to be open to the type of criticism Senator Hearne has suggested. I do not think we can do that with any effect. The possibility is that if this amendment is accepted and in due time implemented, not one in 20 Deputies or Senators would bother their heads to look at the huge rolls of material brought in by the agency every few hours. I think it would be impracticable and I do not think the Senator should press it.
I fear we are labouring somewhat under the fond illustion that because this is an Irish agency, only its version of what happens in Ireland will be accepted by the foreign Press. That is an entirely childish illusion. The fact that it is a Government agency will make it from the beginning somewhat suspect. It will have to take its place in the world market for news with the five other agencies that operate here which have a tradition and a worldwide reputation. No matter what their faults, they will still be looked upon as a more reliable source of information on certain matters than anything sent out by a Government news agency.
I agree with Senator Hearne that our news for quite a long time should be of a general character and that the extent to which we should indulge in propaganda should be extremely limited. We have first got to get the readers of the world to trust in the reliability of what we send out, before we proceed to propaganda. If we are looked on as a suspect source, in the matter of information affecting us, then the number of acceptances we will get in the world news market will be small. Taken by and large, what I feel is this: I do not see why the work of the news agency should be made the subject of questions and debate in the Dáil and Seanad, once it has been established. I think it would be most unfortunate if the objectives of this agency should be frustrated by their being called into question, while it is in existence. Immediately you do that, you destroy its character and its spirit of integrity and independence in the world news market.
I find myself in agreement with many of the views I have heard expressed in this debate, and, without expanding on them, I feel that the suggestion which has been made would be quite practicable in many respects. But the criticisms which have been advanced also have a reasonable basis. This agency will be disseminating two kinds of material. One will be news—hot news if you like—in the form of short paragraphs, dealing with current events—the results of a general election, and results, no doubt, of horse races, football matches, or, as newspapers seem to delight in disasters, reports of fires and floods, and things like that. That sort of information must be disseminated very rapidly, often by telegram or telephone, and it has been pointed out that it would be impracticable to keep a record of the various messages sent out in a hurry—messages which, perhaps, might never be written.
I thoroughly agree that it is true that the primary function of this agency must be to carry out propaganda for this country, and I do not mean the word propaganda in the sense in which it is normally accepted. We want to get as many friends as we can for this country. Much of the output of this agency will, no doubt, be printed in the local papers here and there throughout the world, practically in the form in which it is sent. I can imagine that many of the articles distributed will deal with our building of hospitals and houses and other measures to improve the health of the people—I am speaking about the subjects in which I am chiefly interested. The articles distributed by the news agency are, however, bound to be coloured by the opinions of the man who writes them and they will probably deal with the kind of matters likely to be considered critically.
That is the reason why I suggest that the agency be requested to lodge in the Library of the Oireachtas copies of any written material sent out, and that would eliminate, at once, the need for the furnishing of copies of items sent by telegram and telephone. The copies placed in the Library of the Oireachtas would include the less urgent matter sent by post and air mail, and the bulk of it would not be excessive.
It should not involve great labour for the agency. One copy could be sent here, to be available for members of the two Houses in the Library and kept there for as long as they thought fit that it should be retained—perhaps for one or two months. I would urge the Minister to consider the suggestion, and to make reports of the nature I have suggested available for the perusal of members of the Oireachtas. I feel that few members of the House would trouble to read them all through, but if a dispute arises as to the form in which the despatches of the agency appear in foreign newspapers copies will be available so that members of the Oireachtas may see the form in which it was transmitted from this country.
I put forward a similar motion on the Committee Stage because, we as representatives of the people, who are providing £25,000 for the starting of this new agency, at any rate, are entitled to know what the agency is doing. If we take the demands which are being made on us from the Department of External Affairs as a test, I am quite confident that this £25,000 will eventually become £150,000 or £200,000. We are making only a simple demand on the Minister, that a copy of each script, as Senator Professor Bigger has referred to, be sent to the Library of the Oireachtas to be available to every Senator. Senator Professor Bigger says he is prepared to support this motion, provided that it does not involve the making available of every item of matter sent out by wire, phone or cablegram. The Minister has given us the many sorts of news which this agency is not going to deal with, but he has not told us in plain language what it is going to deal with. I cannot see very much trouble in making available to members of this House copies of the news sent out by cable or wire, as many of us demanded last week. Our demand of last week must be strengthened this week by the knowledge that we have received a brochure, prepared at the expense of the Irish people, and sent out in the names of two Ministers of an Irish State, which does not contain facts or truths. This brochure, which is undoubtedly well got up, is political propaganda of the most blatant sort produced at the expense of the Irish people by a Government.
Senator O'Farrell has said that if a script is made available in the Oireachtas Library of the output of this agency, it will induce the asking of questions. I hope that the Minister does not wish to debar members of the other House, or of this House, from seeking information by way of questions on the activities of this agency. That is why I feel that making available a copy of the news bulletins issued by the agency will be the best safeguard the agency can have. I will put it to the Minister in this light: Members of the Oireachtas will be fully alive to examine the activities of the agency, and if they feel that its work should be questioned, they will be in a better position to do it. On the other hand, if this amendment is not acceptable to the Minister we may have the extraordinary position that thousands of millions of words, including those in support of the Bill, are going to be sent around the world, while the representatives of the Irish people are the one people that cannot get a copy of the scripts which will be made available to the people of foreign countries. As has been pointed out, they will have no opportunity of checking whether the script, as sent out originally, is presented in its proper form or as the particular newspaper wishes to present it.
That of itself may induce Senators to put down a motion without its having any real foundation. The most effective safeguard for the Minister and the agency to keep Senators fully informed so that such questions would not be asked, is to enable them to get the full facts by making the script available.
I do not know if the Minister has changed his approach since last week. If the amendment, as worded, does not meet with what he would like to embody in the Bill, we would be prepared to alter it. We regard this as one of the most important amendments to the Bill. I do not want to go into the question of the brochure again, as I hope that on the next occasion the House meets we will have ample opportunity to do so. This amendment is to safeguard the agency from falling into the same political rut as the people who produced the brochure have already fallen into.
It seems to me that Senator Hawkins and Senator Hearne have argued their amendment out of court by quoting the brochure "Ireland is Building". They have given an indication of exactly what they have in mind in connection with the news agency—that there should be microscopic examination of every line written and sent out, and that every line should be subject to censorship. For that reason, they want every line where they can examine it. Surely they can have confidence in some of the journalists connected with the Irish Press? I am sure the “Dáil Reporter” will be able to examine every word of it and if there is anything wrong he will call attention to it. Even if there is, what can one do about it? To quote Omar Khayyam: “Nor all thy tears wash out one word of it”—once it has been written. If everything produced by the agency is left open for examination, criticism, discussion and, perhaps, misrepresentation, one may very often be condemning and protesting against something that, though written, may not have been printed. It may have been sent out, but may never have appeared. It is quite conceivable that, if the paragraph sent out was considered by some people to be unwise or not strictly correct, or one which should have been done differently, they may insist on a correction being sent out. The correction would go to the papers which never printed the original paragraph, and that would be rather ridiculous.
Senator Bigger made a suggestion which could be accepted by the Minister, though it could be put in a different way. I do not want to suppress anything and I am as anxious as any other Senator that this agency should work well. He suggested that certain news should be made available and perhaps that could be done if the agency issued a weekly or quarterly summary of the essential news, not the hot news such as results of races or of by-elections. If there had been an agency in existence at the time of the West Donegal by-election and they sent out a paragraph saying that the inter-Party candidate had won, I can imagine that there would have been a protest because there was no supplementary information, because they did not show that Fianna Fáil had increased its first preference votes. The news itself would not be accepted as sufficient—even if the news would be of no value to people abroad. It would make the position of those running the agency impossible, if every word were subject to discussion subsequently. Senator Hawkins has said we are representatives of the people who are providing the money. We might also be the shareholders in a company. Have the shareholders in a newspaper company the right to demand that every paragraph written, everything sent from the office to the caseroom of their own company, be made available to them? They have to trust the staff and the people in charge and I believe we should trust our staff here.
It is admitted that I know something about journalism and news agencies. In fact, a very left-handed compliment was paid to me by someone who said: "You spoke very well to-day, as you knew what you were talking about." The Bill deals with the publication of items of "news and intelligence"— that is quoted from the Bill itself— and I am not clear as to what the distinction is between news and intelligence. However, news or intelligence could consist of more than the written word. It could be conveyed by photograph and I wonder whether the agency intends to issue photographs as well. A good deal of useful information could be disseminated through photographs, even if we sent out only those of the natural beauties of Ireland—the scenic beauties and not the synthetic ones we have parading for Hollywood. It would be hard to expect that every photograph sent out should also be available in the Library for examination. I suggest that the use of the camera should not be overlooked and also I would say that behind the camera there should be, if possible, an Irish cameraman. Irish journalists and Irish photographers are the proper people to get out the information and the news that an Irish news agency intends to issue.
I would like to compliment Senator Seamus O'Farrell on his contribution to this discussion on the Second Reading of the Bill and to-day. He has, I hope, enlightened the movers of the amendment regarding the difficulties that would confront this agency and its staff if this amendment were accepted. Senator Bigger has given some support to the idea underlying the amendment, but we have to take the amendment as it is, and as it is I think it cannot be operated in such a way as to be acceptable to Senator Bigger. The difficulty that confronts the movers of the amendment is their attitude of mind to the proposal of the Minister. It is an unfortunate attitude. They are confusing two things: they have the idea that this organisation is going to carry out a certain amount of propaganda here at home and they have the feeling that it will utilise its position to do, in their judgment, a political job. I do not think that that is so. It is unfortunate that they make that approach and that is the underlying difficulty in their case.
Senator Hearne illustrated what was in his mind when he quoted from this recent publication. He found fault with it. Apparently, from the speech of Senator Hawkins, we are going to hear more about it. Let us try to look at that document as it is presented. That document is produced for circulation amongst young people outside the country. Surely nobody on the other side of the House would urge that we should produce a piece of propaganda for circulation amongst Irish people outside this country indicating that Fine Gael did this, that Fianna Fáil did that and that the inter—Party Government is doing this. That is entirely contrary to the view we ought to take in regard to the work of this news agency. This news agency should represent the achievements of Ireland to the outside world. If you were to try to divide up the achievements of different Governments and present them to Irish people abroad, the position would be entirely unacceptable. That should not be the mental approach to our people outside in our efforts to bring them home.
With regard to the other matter that will be presented by this agency, of which the movers of the amendment want to keep records, I say that if that work of the agency is approached from the point of view of political propagandists in Ireland, its work will fail. You must have people in this agency who can rise to a higher plane than that, people who are accustomed to regard Ireland from the outside and to consider how they will present Ireland's case—not the case of a political Party —but the case of Ireland as they see it, with all its possible developments and achievements. If the Minister and the agency cannot be trusted to do this work efficiently, and have to be called to account for every word they print, their work will fail. That sort of carping attitude at home comes from people who do not want the agency to succeed. I hope there is a better spirit on the part of some of the speakers than that. I believe there is. These impossible demands should not be made upon the Minister or the small staff that will be maintained at an expenditure of £25,000. If, as the Minister says, our Irish papers take the copy of the bulletins that are being circulated, we at home will know what is being sent. We will have plenty of opportunity for that. I have not the slightest doubt that the Irish Press will take everything the Minister sends out, and for a very good reason.
They will not get it. It will not be sent to them.
They can buy it.
It appears to me especially in view of what Senator Hawkins said, that the purpose of this amendment is to maintain some measure of control over what is being sent out. They will see the script in the Library, I take it, after the copy has been sent out to every part of the world and, as Senator J.T. O'Farrell said, it is difficult to know what can be done then. It would appear to me that if the Senators who are proposing the amendment wished to be logical, they would ask that the script would be in the Library before it was sent out, that it should lie on the Table a certain number of days or weeks before being sent out, so as to give those who wish to criticise, an opportunity of seeing it. That, of course, is a position which can only be described as absurd. That would seem to me the logical conclusion to the proposal put up.
I referred, on the Committee Stage, to the effect which this sort of supervision, as it were, over what is being done would have on the journalists and others who would be responsible for preparing and sending out news and articles. If they felt they were continually subject to possible criticism of this kind, they would undoubtedly resent it and, if they were to do anything at all, what they would prepare would be wishy-washy stuff, not worth sending anywhere. I think it was Senator Hawkins who said that this was intended to safeguard the agency. I think it would have the opposite effect and would make the agency something that would be quite useless and worthless. As has been pointed out, a very small percentage of what is sent out will ever be published but it is quite possible that if the full scripts were in the Library, criticism would centre around something that was not published and that would never be published. Again, that would be useless procedure.
I suggested, on Committee Stage, that if something appears to be published that a Senator or Deputy thinks should not be published, the Senator or Deputy will be in a position to question it. It has already been pointed out, of course, that an item of news may be presented by two different newspapers in entirely different ways. We have an example of that in this morning's Press in connection with a document prepared and issued by the Department of Social Welfare. If one read the Irish Independent and the Irish Press one would infer from the headings in connection with that document that they were dealing with two entirely different documents. That is bound to occur in the case of news sent out, even in the case of factual news, which might be presented from the point of view of the particular paper publishing it according to how their sympathy lay. The only safeguard we can possibly have is that, if something is brought to the notice of a Deputy or Senator as being published and as coming from this agency, the Minister can be questioned about it, and if he is in a position to say that what has been published is not what was sent out, that ought to be sufficient to satisfy Deputies or Senators that the item was not sent out in the particular way in which it was published. As has been pointed out, the Irish papers here will get it and they will be in a position to know whether or not the Minister is making a correct statement.
Is there any indication as to whether it will be necessary to sit to-morrow?
We have some business to do here which must be done either to-day or to-morrow. I understand the Minister wants the Increase of Pensions Bill by the end of the year and that the Dáil will pass it to-day. I will take steps to have information on that question on the resumption.
This matter was fully discussed on the Committee Stage, and I am afraid I cannot accept this amendment or a similar amendment. The reason that such an agency is formed as an independent corporation is to leave it freer of red tape and the cumbersome procedure of the Civil Service. It would be impossible to run the news agency efficiently if it was to be part of the Civil Service machine. Therefore, I could not agree to anything that would make the work more difficult and more cumbersome. It occurred to me, while Senators were speaking on the amendment, that they seemed to assume that a Government Department or anything connected with Government, was to be the subject of censorship publicly or by members of the Oireachtas. It also occurred to me that each Government Department writes many letters, makes a great many orders, and that every Minister issues a great many directions every day. It would become completely impossible if that were to be done. I have sixteen officers from my Department abroad at the moment. Every day, there are directions of one kind or another going to these officers, and reports of one kind or another coming from them. It would be perfectly impossible to work a Department if all these reports had to be laid in the Library of the Dáil. In fact, the Minister in his Department has very wide powers to avail of his position for improper purposes, if he so desires. The Oireachtas has to trust him that he is not going to do that. If the principle contained in the amendment were adopted, I think, on the same basis of reasoning, it could be suggested that every letter written by a Minister and his Department to his subordinate officials should be put in the Library of the Dáil.
Is that not complete nonsense?
Possibly, that is the Senator's view. I think I might apply the same kind of adjectives to the Senator's remarks. I do not know that that would get us much further. Quite apart from Party differences, quite apart from differences in political views, no five Senators in this House would ever agree to any one news item. They would all have different views. Quite apart from politics, they would have different ideas as to how it should be presented, and as to what particular news item was of value and which particular item was not of value. You must leave that decision to the people whose job it is to run the news agency or the particular Department.
Now, I would oppose this amendment on two specific grounds. First of all, I do not think it would be practicably possible to carry out the suggestion made, not even the suggestion made by Senator Bigger. Let us examine, very briefly, how such news agencies work. We will have an office in New York. If that office is doing its work properly, and if it has been successful, that office will be run right and whenever a paper that takes its service wants information on some particular angle of Irish news it will ring up the office and ask for some background information. If the office has not got it, it will have to get it. Then according to this proposal, if given effect to, it will mean the copy being transcribed and being sent back here. That would be completely cumbersome, even if we attach wire recorders to the telephones. I take it there would be a great many telephones, and I can see the rolls of wire mounting up.
I withdraw that suggestion.
I use a wire recorder myself. We use some in the Department. I do not think it would be practicably possible to work it, at least, without considerable additional staff and much more expense. Another thing, I hope, that will happen in probably two of our offices— in New York and London—is that a certain amount of that information will be sent out and will be relayed for distribution locally, so that from the practicable point of view, I do not think it would be feasible. The other objection is based on the ground of desirability. I think it would be highly undesirable to lay in the Library of the House, even if it were feasible, a copy of all the copy sent out.
I was at the Bar for a good many years, and I think some of my lawyer friends here will probably agree with me that, whenever you want to annoy your opponents in the case, whenever you want to get some additional material against your opponent, you apply for an order for discovery, in the hope that in the documents discovered you will find something you can throw at your opponent. I have no doubt that in any day it would be possible to pick out some sentence out of some report sent out, that some Deputy on one side or other of the House could utilise for the purpose of developing a grievance. That is inevitable because no two Senators, no two Deputies, will agree as to how particular items should be presented. You have to rely and trust to the bona fides of the news agency, the journalists working on it, and the Minister responsible. There is no other way of dealing with a position of that kind. If that is abused, put that Minister out, put out that Government, change it, and get a new Government. I am afraid the Opposition will have to appreciate that in a matter of that kind that is the only way of dealing with it. The present Government is entrusted with the responsibility of Government and a certain amount of discretion has to be left in their hands. You have to hope and trust that they will discharge that responsibility honestly, and in the interests of the country. May I just, in passing, refer Senators to one instance? At the moment we issue three separate bulletins every week from my Department and circulate over 10,000 copies of them. That, in itself, is quite an undertaking. We do that from the Department. There is no obligation on us to lay that in the Library and I have not heard any complaint about it.
I have not seen one, Minister.
Of course the Senator has not. They circulate in other parts of the world. They circulate in America, in Australia, and some of them circulate from here. Some of it was done before my time; very little, but some of it was done. I think the amendment should be rejected, first of all, on the ground that it is not practicably possible to carry it out without impairing the efficiency of the news agency and secondly, on the ground that, even if it were possible to carry it out, it would be highly undesirable to make every line of copy sent out by this news agency subject to what I would call nuisance points.
I regret very much the approach of the Minister to my amendment. His last phrase about "nuisance points" is not one that should have been used. I repeat, my desire in putting down this amendment was to ensure that anything emanating in the name of the Irish people would at least have the approval of the people, in so far as the people know what is going on.
Now, what has happened? I desire to see this Bill and the agency a success, but the Minister, in refusing to accept an amendment of this type, is arrogating to himself and his Department and handing over to the news agency the responsibility for sending out material in the name of the people about which the people know nothing. That is my objection to the Minister's approach to my amendment. I regret further that the attitude of the Minister, who, at times, can be very objective—his contribution to the discussion about members of Oireachtas Éireann being members of State bodies was very useful, objective and without political bias—seems, so far as my amendment is concerned, to be that political use will be made in this country of material which may be sent out by the news agency. If political capital can be made out of matter which emanates from the news agency, there is something wrong in the matter going out.
It depends on the twist it gets.
I am as good a politician as Senator Baxter——
I hope more successful.
I do not claim that I am any more successful, but there is this to be said that any twist which I from this side may give to anything is far less than the twist which Senator Baxter can give to things.
That is a matter of opinion.
The people have given their opinion of the various twists of Senator Baxter time and again I am sincere when I say that I am disappointed in the Minister's approach to my amendment. There is a cast-iron majority here which will ensure the defeat of my amendment. Might does not make right at any time. Senator Baxter, when he sat over here, was very vocal on that point.
He was right—that is why he is over here.
How he got there is another question.
Then the whole thing is to get there, no matter what principles must be sacrificed. There are some of us on this side who do not agree with that outlook. There are Government amendments to this Bill which will be carried and the Bill will go back to the Dáil. Perhaps, in the 59th minute of the 11th hour the Minister will reconsider this matter. I repeat that I desire to see this news agency a success, a complete success, something to which, even if all the existing Parties disappear in the next five or six years, the Irish people can look with thankfulness. I am not asking anyone here to accept that. That is my belief but, if people do not believe it, I can do nothing about it. In that spirit, I say to the Minister that different political Parties have sent representatives to international conferences. These political Parties differed very much here and I think it is true that political differences in this country are accentuated beyond what they should reasonably be.
I find that, on a good deal of fundamental matters, there is agreement, and I find further that, when these representatives, chosen, as they are, from different political Parties go abroad, they do credit to the country and not a word they say there can be picked on and used by political Parties in this country for the furtherance of their objectives. I will quote an example which comes readily to my mind, because some of our public men either have gone, or are on their way, to the Continent. This Government sent representatives chosen from all Parties to the Strasbourg Convention. I entirely applaud the Government's approach to the choosing of these representatives. It is quite true that the Government could have chosen these representatives from the Parties supporting the Government. That has happened in the case of a very large and important country on the Continent of Europe, and it is commendable that this Government approached the matter from a different viewpoint. We find that the representatives who went to Strasbourg were agreed and spoke in the name of the Irish people so far as our big internal problem, Partition, is concerned. The Minister himself paid eloquent tribute to the manner in which that delegation, consisting of representatives of all Parties, spoke on that matter.
On the broader issue of the fundamental rights of human beings we find that that delegation, chosen from Parties violently antagonistic at home, were at one. That is something which has earned the approval of thinking people from one end of Ireland to the other. In that connection, may I crave your indulgence, Sir, to say that the speeches of the two members of this House who went to Strasbourg, Senator Crosbie and Senator Finan— they are both political opponents of mine, and, so far as they can and in all sincerity, would probably try to ensure that I would sit, if I were elected, permanently on this side of the House —not only met with the approval of the members of their own Party but with the entire approval of this House, and, so far as one can get it, the approval of the vast majority of the people of Ireland. I am only doing justice to these two Senators when I say that they deserve well of the country and that this House of which they are members particularly is thankful to them for the manner in which they spoke. That is the type of thing which I hope will be the background to the agency. If that is the background it can be a success. It can be the success that not only national Ireland believes it can be but also the people who formerly differed with those who believed in national Ireland and who now take their part and proper place in the Government of the country. They, too, should approve of anything that is done by the agency.
From a practical point of view there is very little more I can say. Perfectly obviously the Minister is not willing to accept my amendment. I again apologise, Sir, through you, to the House, for the fact that I have no control over my throat, but there is one point which I should like to make before I sit down. The Minister rebutted my claim that my amendment should be accepted on two grounds, that it was impracticable and undesirable. At present he is issuing these bulletins. I have never seen them and do not know whether they are good or bad, but my ordinary natural inclination would be to believe that they are quite good. The Minister may believe that or not; it is a matter which I cannot compel him to accept. He went on to say that if the principle enshrined in my amendment were accepted every letter written by a Minister should be tabled and subjected to criticism. In the course of his duties as Minister for External Affairs he has to make many Orders under various Acts, Orders which are far more important than day-to-day letters. Responsibility is placed not only on the Minister but on the Department officials for the ordinary day-to-day letters, but Orders that have the force of law must be tabled. It is a fight we have had for a long time.
I may have expressed myself badly. I did not mean statutory Orders, but every day I have to give orders and instructions to our representatives abroad which are far more important than the contents of news items.
I took it up wrongly. I thought the Minister was referring to statutory Orders. Provision is made for tabling these and, if necessary, for their annulment without prejudice to anything that might have been done previously under them. I fully appreciate that the Minister has occasion to give important instructions to our representatives abroad in the course of his every-day duties and that these would be far more important than most of the stuff that would emanate from the news agency, but that responsibility is the Minister's. He is responsible to Dáil Éireann and Dáil Éireann can by motion challenge the Minister for doing certain things. But in this case we have no knowledge if the Minister does not accept the amendment.
In any case the Senator would have no more knowledge. He does not see the letters or instructions I send out. He must trust me.
Of course, I must. On this occasion, however, we are asked to pass a Bill giving authority not to a Minister, but to outside people, and the only way we can get to those people is through the Minister. I can see practical difficulties with regard to seeing copies sent out, but the Minister must take it that 99 times out of a 100 there would be no criticism. Some months ago this House set up a committee to examine Statutory Rules and Orders made by virtue of powers given to Ministers and to the Government. To a vast number of these no objection can be taken and they are perfectly correct. In a very few instances the committee in its two reports has had to comment somewhat adversely on the practice that has grown up—I make this a present to my political opponents —during the previous Government's régime. If I am challenged on that by a person like Senator Baxter, say, I can argue that there were reasons then, that the safety of the State was at stake. Certain powers had to be given to the Government that could have been abused—I hold that they were not abused. Now, however, that we are coming back to normal times, the ordinary authority of Parliament should be paramount and the abrogation of powers by Ministers should be circumscribed by the people who are elected to do so. I have a feeling that if half a dozen people could sit down and talk about this Bill objectively we could make it a much better Bill than it will be when it leaves this House.
This amendment was rendered necessary by reason of a statement made by Senator O'Farrell, who drew the attention of the House to a very vital omission in the Bill, as drafted. It is an instance of the usefulness of the Committee Stage and of debate and discussion in this House. In the Bill, as drafted, there was undoubtedly an omission, in the sense that the term of office of the members of the advisory board was not provided for. The amendment, I think, is in the usual form in such cases. It provides that members of the advisory board shall retain membership of the board for one year unless they die or resign before it, and that they should be re-eligible for appointment.
The question I am going to put to the Minister has no connection at all with the amendment, but it relates to the former Section 8. I am not sure if the Minister replied to my question as to the provision for remuneration of members of the board?
That will be provided for in the Articles of Association, which is what, I gather, is done usually.
This amendment provides that the remuneration, if any, of the members of the advisory board shall be determined by the Minister for External Affairs, after consultation with the Minister for Finance. In other words, it takes that right away from the board of directors. It was felt that it was better that that should not be vested in the board, but should be vested in the Minister concerned.
By the amendments that the Minister has proposed, we have provided for the removal from office and for the remuneration of the members of the board. On the Committee Stage I referred to what was very important, that this advisory body is being set up to give advice in general, but that the advice will only be made available on request. Despite that, we assume, now that we have made provision for their remuneration, that that remuneration will be on a standard basis—yearly, half-yearly or quarterly; or on the basis of attendance at meetings or on the number of times they will be called on to give advice. There is still a flaw there, and between this and the Final Stage I would ask the Minister to look into the matter. Sub-section 1 of Section 18 says:—
The Minister may by Order establish a board (in this section referred to as the advisory board) to advise and assist the agency in the conduct of its functions as and when requested by the managing director of the agency.
It is only when requested by the managing director that they advise, despite the fact that we are providing for full-time or part-time remuneration.
On the amendment proposed by the Minister, there does seem to be this curious position. I do not think it would arise, but it is possible that it might arise. The Minister, quite rightly, is providing for remuneration if, in consultation with the Minister for Finance, it is deemed advisable that members of the advisory board should be paid. It is a principle to which I subscribe entirely—that members who give their time should be compensated.
I am speaking with some experience of this, as I have had the honour, after the formation of the new Government, of being asked by the Minister for Local Government to become a member of the Dublin Housing Consultative Council. It is unpaid. There is a very considerable amount of our time taken up and there is a very big attendance. All the members are very anxious and, although they are in the main very much opposed to me politically, they contribute very valuably to the solution of the housing problem in Dublin. Possibly I might have to consider my own position if there were a question of payment. However, on the general principle, I think it is entirely wrong nowadays to ask people to undertake duties in the public interest without remuneration. A peculiar position could arise, in the event of this amendment being accepted, that is, that the Minister for External Affairs, in consultation with the Minister for Finance, might decide on remuneration—so much per annum—and that the managing director of the agency might never ask them for one word of advice.
He would have to be changed.
I anticipated some reply like that when I said it was extremely unlikely, but it is still possible that such a thing could happen. I do not think that the Minister would like to find himself in a position of having to take steps against the managing director of an agency who might take the bit between his teeth and say: "I know all about it and can do it myself without those fellows." This House is being asked now to pass an amendment whereby members of an advisory body could be paid a certain amount, and after their first meeting they might never meet again.
Long experience has made me feel the utmost confidence in the Department of Finance. Senator Hearne is predicting a miracle—that the consent of the Minister for Finance, whoever he is, will be obtained to the payment of people who are doing no work. The trouble about the Department of Finance is that they will not even pay people actually doing work.
I may say that, in the interest of members of this House, I struck oil from the Department of Finance when they tried to deprive members of this House of remuneration to which they were entitled under the Constitution.
Does that not bear me out when I say that they are not going to pay the board for doing nothing?
I think that Senator Hearne has not suggested that people wish to be paid for doing nothing. He has suggested what I suggested when first discussing this Bill, that they may never be asked to do anything, which is the equivalent of never being appointed. That is a flaw in the Bill. If sub-section (1) of Section 18 were drafted without the last few words, we could say that the advisory board would come into existence and would do something. It would read:—
"The Minister may by Order establish a board ... to advise and assist the agency in the conduct of its functions."
That would be definite and clear. When it goes on, however, and says they shall do so "as and when requested by the managing director of the agency," it puts the managing director in a superior position. He has only not to request the information and it will not be given. The arrangement made in the amendment may never have to come into operation, as if they are not appointed they will never have to be paid, and sanction will not have to be sought for payment. The weakness in the section seems to be that the managing director has the right to say yea or nay, whether there shall be an advisory board or not. If the sub-section ended at the word "functions," it would be much better. It would not prevent the amendments proposed to-night being passed.
Senator Hawkins raised the point, as did I, as to how the board itself would be paid. I gathered from the Minister that it will be composed, mainly, if not wholly, of civil servants and that seems to solve the question of payment. However, if they are civil servants, will they act under the direction of the Minister or will the Minister have to act under their direction? The managing director may be a civil servant and we will be placed in the position, by the way this is drafted, that it will be for him to say to the Minister whether the Minister shall have the advisory board or not. That is setting up a new precedent, where a civil servant may say to the Minister: "Thus far shalt thou go and no further."
I do not know whether we are intended to preserve any rules of order in the discussion of this amendment. We have an amendment dealing with one specific matter giving power to the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to determine the remuneration of the advisory board. Two or three speakers have gone back to discuss sub-section (1) of the same section. If there was a weakness and possibly there was, the proper course was to table an amendment on the Committee Stage or on this stage. If we discover flaws after that, the time has passed and it is impossible to make any alteration. I suggest that the discussion should be confined now to the amendment before the House, as there is nothing we can do about the remainder of the section.
If there is an advisory committee, there must be some provision whereby they can be paid. If it is decided to pay them, the proper person obviously is the Minister for Finance, on the suggestion of the Minister. There seems to be an attitude towards this Bill which is not altogether uncommon, that is, where you decide to do by means of a State company what you could do, or what might have been done, by a private company; and then you proceed to try by legislation to hedge it in by conditions that no competing company would have, and in that way you, possibly, cripple it. I do not think that there should be anything in the Bill which forces the Minister to use the advisory committee nor do I think that he should be absolutely forced to have an advisory committee at all. I think it is necessary in the Bill to have provision so that he may create one but, if it is to exist, I could not agree with Senator Seamus O'Farrell that it should have the right to go in and advise on everything, from the office boy upwards, which it would have unless it was provided as to who should decide on what it was to advise. A managing director of any body of this kind would be quite incompetent unless he could manage the business generally himself. On certain matters he might want advice, particularly in matters of difficulty. I think it is a practical proposal that the managing director should ask for that advice, if it is considered fit and wise to have an advisory committee.
We must realise that many of these matters are new and of an experimental character. I would hate to see—this applies to other matters—conditions in the articles of association of this company that no set of individuals creating a private company would look at for five minutes. If we are not satisfied, and we have to make provision because it is a State company, let us come in afterwards, first by criticism and afterwards by legislation, but do not let us start off something that is experimental hedged in with something which would be crippling.
I think this proposal is very well worded. It says:—
"The remuneration, if any, of the members of the advisory board, shall be determined from time to time by the Minister."
It has to be loosely worded like that, because of the fact that it is an advisory board. Some people seem to think that it is a controlling board.
The point has been put up that the managing director may never call this board into operation. He need not. He only wants it there and, if he does not want advice, he will not call it into operation. There is no reason to confuse that with a managerial board. If they are not called in to give advice, they need not be paid and it is at the Minister's discretion.
The general framework of this news agency is somewhat different from standard companies that so far have been set up. It provides for two bodies, a board of directors, on the one hand, and an advisory board, on the other hand. That is an experiment in these companies. As I pointed out, I think, on Second Reading, we had to avoid creating a position where these two bodies would clash. Such a position would be likely to develop if you had an advisory board free to meet and to interfere in the affairs of the news agency when its advice was not being sought. You would be setting up two rival bodies and, inevitably, sooner or later, you would have a clash between them. Therefore, it was necessary to determine some machinery for the calling into activity of the advisory board. There were two or three different alternatives open. They could be called into life by the directors. They could be called into life by the managing director or they could be called into life by the Minister. I examined each of the three alternatives and came to the conclusion that the best person to call them into life was the managing director, the man doing the actual practical work, who would know when he required advice and help. I think the Minister should keep as far away as possible from the news agency. Let it go ahead and do its work and let him keep out of it. Apart from anything else, he may be too busy. He may not know very much about the affairs of the company. It is much better to let the man doing the actual work determine when he requires the assistance of the advisory board. That is why that power was given specifically to the managing director and not to the Minister.
Although the amendment provides that the remuneration, if any, will be fixed, not by the directors, but by the Minister for External Affairs with the Minister for Finance, it was quite open, as the Bill stood, that remuneration should be fixed by the directors, who could pay them anything they liked. I felt that that would not have been wise, that members of the advisory board might have felt a grievance with the directors if the remuneration fixed was not enough or if no remuneration was fixed. It was better to leave that particular matter to be determined by the watchdogs of the public purse who would ensure that there was no excessive remuneration fixed and leave the position so that the directors of the company could not be blamed, criticised or attacked by the advisory committee if they were not satisfied with the remuneration they were getting.
Could we take the Fifth Stage now? If we do not, these amendments may not be able to be considered in the Dáil, which is adjourning to-morrow. If we do the Fifth Stage now, the amendments can be considered in the Dáil. I do not think they will give much trouble in the Dáil but they should be available on the Dáil Order Paper to-morrow, if possible.
In view of the approach of the Minister to the attempts from this side of the House to improve this Bill and to make it something which might serve the purpose which the Minister has in mind, we were anxious that the Minister would have another opportunity of reconsidering the position and, between this and to-morrow, making up his mind to go some part of the road to meet our wishes and thereby enable the Seanad to give the Dáil a better Bill than we could give it to-night.
Nobody can amend the Bill any more now. The Bill has gone beyond the stage for amendment. The Fourth Stage is the last stage on which amendments can be offered. The only other amendments that can be made are drafting amendments. Therefore, the Bill has gone out of the region of amendment, either here or in the other House. The only thing the other House can do now is to amend our amendments in a relevant manner as allowed in the other House. Therefore, I think Senator Hawkins is not correct there.
I would appeal very much to the House to give me the Final Stage of this Bill to-night. As the House knows, the Dáil is adjourning to-morrow until some considerable time after Christmas. This Bill is, in my view, an urgent measure, to deal with a particular situation. The House knows that, whatever happens, the Bill will become law. I would ask the House to be generous about it and to give it to me to-night, to give me an opportunity of getting it through the Dáil before the Dáil rises so that the work that will follow can be put in train. A considerable amount of work will have to be done to form this company, draft memorandum and articles of association, and so on. It will involve considerable delay if the House does not give the Bill to me to-night.
Agreed to take Fifth Stage now.
Tá cúpla focal le rá agam sul a bhfágaidh an Bille an Teach. Sa chéad dul síos, ba mhaith liom go mbeadh m'ainm ar an tuarascáil oifigiúil ar an gCéim dheiridh seo mar dhuine de na Seanadóirí atá mí-shásta leis an mBille ann féin agus atá mí-shásta leis an dóigh ar láimhsigh an tAire an Bille ins an Teach. Ba mhaith liom a rá chomh mí-shásta, sa chéad dul síos, agus atá mé mar gheall ar an iarracht a rinne an tAire ar beag is fiú a dhéanamh de thábhacht na Gaeilge i gcás an Bhille seo.
Taobh amuigh de sin, ba mhaith liom a rá chomh mí-shásta agus atá mé gur facthas don Aire go mba cheart dó a rá gur "obstruction" a bhí ar bun againn anseo nuair a bhíomar ag iarraidh an Bille a leasú ar an mbealach ar cheapamar go mba cheart an Bille a leasú. Ba mhaith liom a chur in iúl don Aire, tríd an gCathaoirleach, nach raibh ar intinn againn d'aon turas ná ar aon tslí eile, cur i gcoinne an Bhille ná i gcoinne aon chuid de, ach d'aon turas an Bille d'fheabhsú. An chéad uair eile a thiocfas an tAire os ár gcomhair, tá súil agam go dtuigfidh sé go bhfuil dualgas orainn agus cearta againn agus muna dtaitníonn céard tá le rá againn leis go gcaithfidh sé bheith foighdeach agus éisteacht leis, agus má tá agóid againn, má támuid mí-shásta le aon rud, go gcaithfidh sé féachaint le freagra ceart béasach a thabhairt dúinn ar na h-agóidí sin.
Maidir le cúspóir an Bhille, más é cuspóir an Bhille clú agus cáil a bhaint amach d'Éirinn, más é cuspóir an Bhille cuidiú le Éirinn a cearta a bhaint amach, tré chabhair náisiún coigríche, guidhimse agus guidhmuid uilig gach rath agus beannacht ar an mBille. D'ainneoin aigne an Aire i dtaobh an méid a bhí le rá againn, tá súil agam agus tá súil againn go léir ar an taobh seo den Teach go n-éireoidh leis an mBille an oiread a dhéanamh agus atá beartaithe ag an Aire agus ba mhaith linn a déanfaí faoi.
On the Second Stage, the Minister asked us to give unanimous support to this Bill. I think we loyally did so. We all recognised and accepted the evidence that such a news agency was necessary to counteract the effects of wrong statements about Ireland. Speaking for myself and, I think, for most of my colleagues, we supported the principle of the Bill and the Minister ought to have been pleased with that. I agree with Senator Ó Buachalla that in everything we have done since our aim has been to improve the Bill. I personally wanted to save the Minister from making what I considered was a terrible mistake. He had the opportunity of accepting a splendid name, a striking name, for this agency, the name suggested by Senator Summerfield, "Scéal". All over the world that name would have aroused echoes and there would have been no misgivings about it, any more than there are about Radio Éireann. Everybody knows what Radio Éireann is, and although the news is given out in English as well as Irish, the name is Radio Éireann. Why should this news agency not be called "Scéal"? I am very sorry that the Minister was adamant on that point and has got off with his Bill to a very bad start by accepting the colourless title—I.N.A. or Irish News Agency. Compare that with "Scéal", which is a magnificent word, and which the Minister should have welcomed. If it is at all possible, I wish he would reconsider it.
Further, when we asked to have some opportunity of "vetting" the sort of news sent out, he should have understood that we feel a responsibility in relation to the news agency, because we support it, and therefore want to know what it is doing and what sort of news it is sending out. The main misgiving of the Opposition in the other House, and perhaps in this, was with regard to the use of this agency for Party propaganda for the Government now in office. There is a grave danger of that, human nature being what it is. My own fear in that respect was rather augmented, because I happened to see cuttings of some syndicated stuff sent from Ireland by a certain well-known journalist which appeared in American papers. These cuttings were sent to me by an American and it appeared from them as if nothing was ever done in this country till the present Government came in. There was not one mention of the preparation the previous Government had made. The scheme of rural electrification—it was only this Government thought of it; the housing programme—it was only this Government thought of it. That is not right.
I think that when we were in office we did not give credit enough to the previous Government. I am getting old in public life, as well as in years, and I am beginning to see that, if we are to make a country of Ireland, we must all try to work together, and, if any good work is done by one side, the other side should be big enough, should be magnamimous enough, to give credit for it. We hope that this news agency will remember these things. There were kings in Greece before Agamemnon and there were people who did something for this country before this Government came into office, and this Government must not take credit for the things the previous Government toiled over, but which circumstances during the emergency prevented them from putting into operation.
It is not perhaps exactly germane to the subject, but we do not always have the Minister for External Affairs here, and perhaps you, Sir, will be patient with me and will allow me to make a suggestion to him, before the House adjourns at Christmas. This House is full of history, but we do not do credit to those who gave it its historical value, and, before we adjourn, something should be done to get for this House pictures of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, of Pamela and the Duchess of Leinster. I did intend writing to the Minister about it, because I think he has more imagination than the ordinary run of politicians, and would see the value of these things from an international point of view. We ought to have some big occasion in connection with the unveiling of these pictures or statues. That would be grand news for "Scéal."
I want to assure the Minister that we on this side are as anxious as he is that the news presented abroad should be a true reflection of Irish life and should do justice to this nation.
We regret very much that the Minister has not seen his way to accept the first amendment we put down, firstly to have the agency known by the Irish term, and secondly that he has not seen fit to accept what we considered to be essential safeguards. The Minister has a majority in the House, and refused to accept the amendments and now on the Final Stage I make one plea to him. The amendments we put down provided safeguards, as we were as anxious for the success of this undertaking as those who supported the Bill blindly, just because it was a Government measure. If this organisation is going to succeed, I repeat, everything possible should be done to avoid the necessity for any member of this House or the other House putting down a question or a motion in criticism of a statement or an action of the board.
I feel that there would be nothing more damaging to this agency than a responsible member of this House or of the other House having to question some article that was sent out. We proposed certain safeguards that may not have proved effective, but they were something which would ensure that the information given was correct. The Minister having refused to accept such safeguards has taken upon himself a tremendous obligation towards this and the other House, and to the people, of ensuring that the agency will be used for the purpose for which it was set up. We made reference to what might be small things in relation to the damage that could be done if something should go forward from this agency on the lines of the brochure that was issued by Departments last week. Very serious damage could be done by people who issue such publications.
The Minister, having refused to accept what we considered to be safeguards, has taken upon himself the responsibility of ensuring that this organisation will do what this House, what the other House, and the people who will have to pay the piper, making money available, believe it was intended to do. If we are not to have questions in the other House or a motion in this House, it is all the more essential that the Minister should keep a very keen eye on the activities of the agency. How is he going to do that? The success of the agency must depend on the people he is going to appoint as directors, and secondly, on the advisory board, as well as the everyday routine work of the agency. If there is any suspicion whatever that those appointed to the board would use it whenever the opportunity presented itself, as it will every day in such an activity, either to support a Government or a Party, or even the Government of the day, then those who propose to carry on in that manner are not going to serve the purpose for which the organisation was set up.
The Minister is responsible for appointing the board and ensuring that they are people in which not alone he, but members of all Parties will have confidence, and that they are going to do honestly and fairly the job for which they were appointed. By refusing to accept the safeguards that we offered the Minister has undertaken a double obligation and I hope he will carry it out.
I appreciate very much the concluding remarks made by Senator Mrs. Concannon and also the remarks made by Senator Hawkins. Of course, this agency would defeat its purpose if it acted unfairly or unless it sought to put forward the national viewpoint. It would be entirely destructive of the purpose of the news agency if it were to be subject to constant criticism, either in this House or in the Dáil, if it is to do its job as well as it can and do it objectively. Having said that, I appeal to the House, and through the House to the other House, and to the public in general, not to be over-sensitive. Certain things are bound to happen that, I think, are often misunderstandings, or not appreciated by political opponents.
It does not matter who is the Government or who are the political opponents. Things are bound to happen naturally on questions of policy. The policy of the Government of the day has to be the policy of the country. If national pronouncements made by the Taoiseach or by myself have to get pre-eminence, compared with pronouncements made by the Opposition, that is lawful in every country, and is unavoidable. I beg members of the Opposition to bear that in mind. In so far as I can ensure, news will be presented fairly and objectively.
Senators have referred to unified action to obtain unity in certain fundamental matters. I think that is very essential. I feel that we are generally getting into a position where it should be possible to have normal political developments, wherein we have certain fundamentals agreed on, whereby a position is reached in which we can discuss our own internal problems reasonably and objectively.
Some references have been made here in the discussion on a publication issued by the Departments of Health and Local Government, as if it was a piece of propaganda. I think if Senators examine it they will find very little in it that they could quarrel with. I was reading this publication during the debate and I found that it dealt with housing in Dublin. It says:—
"Freedom in the Twenty-Six Counties allowed Irishmen to set about the rebuilding of the city. Already under successive Administrations immense progress has been made."
I have been particularly careful to ensure in our representation and dealings abroad that no Party issue would be allowed to intervene. I have taken a number of steps in that direction. We have, as I think Senator Hearne remarked earlier, this representation to the Council of Europe. I think it was the first time any united delegation went from this country outside the country. We have an All-Party Committee dealing with Partition. These are steps forward, and these are steps which we should develop. I have, on more than one occasion, suggested in the Dáil that there should be a Committee on Foreign Affairs of all Parties. I think that would be helpful to me and to the country. So that, from that point of view, the House can rest assured that, so far as I can, I will ensure that approach in the administration of this Bill.
Senator Mrs. Concannon suggested or made a reference to the possibility of having either a monument or some pictures of Lord Edward Fitzgerald hung in the House. I know that a proposal of this kind has been discussed by the Cultural Relations Committee of the Department of External Affairs. I do not know how far it has got, but I know it has been discussed. I know, also, it has been discussed by members of the Dáil. I think it is a thing well worth considering, and that it should be done, but I should like to see it approached by members of both Houses again on a non-Party basis and not as a contentious issue. So far as I can give a proposal of that kind any support I shall be prepared to do it. The difficulty I see about the Cultural Relations Committee of the Department of External Affairs undertaking the carrying out of such a proposal is that its function is to develop cultural relations with other countries, not internally. There is a mistaken idea in the minds of people who send us proposals that its function is to promote cultural activities in Ireland. Its function is to develop such cultural activities here as a link with the outside world. Very often some very good proposals are sent to us, but they do not happen to fall within the ambit of that committee. I think that it would be a good thing if we had a cultural committee set up to promote cultural development here if we could persuade a Government, or some Dáil to vote sufficient funds for its work.
It would be well worth it.
It would be worth it, yes. I am sorry to have kept the Seanad so long on this measure, and I want to thank the Seanad for their courtesy to me.