Mr. Speaker, there is just a little matter to which I would like to refer before anything else is said. It is this. My private office was raided last night and important books and documents were taken. Is there any member here who accepts responsibility for that raid?
As head of the Government here I must say I know nothing whatever about any such raid.
And as the head of the army I also say that I know nothing whatever about it. That is the first I heard about it.
As the head of the Home Affairs Department I say that I do not believe it necessary to answer any such question, because we would not stoop to such low tactics.
We are the Government of the country and we are responsible for order in this country. I do not see what we are meeting here in view of the threats from Cork. I did not get that threat. It is immaterial to me whether I did or not, and I now move the adjournment of this House until such time as the books are restored to the office, and our police find the robbers.
Perhaps the Minister for Finance has the best means, as far as I know of finding out anything of that kind. If there is one person in this assembly who has facilities for finding out everything about that, it is the Minister for Finance. Now these facilities ought to be put immediately at the disposal of the Minister for Home Affairs, as the information will be necessary for the Minister of Home Affairs to take action in the matter.
Any facilities I have are military facilities and they can be placed at the disposal of my superior, and through my superior to his superior. The Government have these facilities at their disposal always, and if the Government and this House decided that all these books should be handed over at once, they would be handed over at once; and if they decided that any Government property that I have should be handed over, it will be handed over.
Who has done it? What is the cause? Certainly it is not an official action of any kind. The Minister for Finance knows that no one of us here would stand for any such action. It is an action taken by irresponsible individuals. If the Minister of Finance gives us the information, action will be taken.
It is a provocative act of the enemy. I myself do not agree with the Minister of Finance in this. I would be sorry anyone I knew would be guilty of touching anything belonging to him, because we all respect and admire the Minister of Finance for what he has done for Ireland.
It is a most dastardly outrage.
I want to give you information I got this morning. If I am permitted, I am going to give the information to the President. He is my master, and I love him and respect him, and I have given him faithful service, I think, in any case. Mrs. Clarke of No. 6 Harcourt Street, being out of the private office of the Minister for Finance for some time, her husband came to me this morning about 10.25 and said he wanted to speak to me privately. I said all right. He said, "Did you hear that Collins's offices in so-and-so street were raided this morning?" I said I did not. I said, "It is very serious, did Mrs. Clarke touch anything in the office?" He said, "No, she came back and reported to me". "Well", I said, "you better report to Mr. Collins, when I see him I will do the same". That is only word of mouth. It may be wrong, but that is the information.
Did you say the Minister of Defence's office?
No, the office of the Minister for Finance.
That is how the report came to me.
There seems to be great stress on this document that was sent from Cork. Every member from Cork absolutely repudiates this. We would not be a party to anything of the kind, of having raided any office. I understand there is a motion for the adjournment of this House. I say we ought to proceed with the business and I am sure the Minister of Finance will be perfectly able to find out about the raid. If he is not, I say the army and police at his disposal are no use to Ireland.
I do not think the House ought to be adjourned. I received the report a short time ago. There are men investigating the matter at the present moment, and it will be reported officially shortly. As I have made the report, I think the matter may be left as it is until there is something further about it. I have a second question to ask.
Before this thing is finished, in order to make it regular, I suggest that you leave the information that you made, with myself and the Minister of Defence and the Minister for Home Affairs to immediately take action so that official action may be taken in anything of that kind.
The second question that I want to ask is a question of the President. I presume he has now got a copy on which the word "Treaty" is blacked out, to show to us as the delegation, and I suppose the members are entitled to see it too.
Yes, I find that something was blacked out, and I took it to be the word "Treaty". It was the blacking out that drew my attention to the fact that the word "Treaty" did not exist, because I took it the word "Treaty" was blacked out. At the same time, I want it to be made quite clear still that on the only signed copy we have, there is no word "Treaty" in it.
With regard to the blacked out it arose in this way. The head of the document read, "Proposed Articles of Agreement", and when we signed it they became "Articles of Agreement" and the word "Proposed" was struck out.
Do I understand that the British Cabinet definitely understood the word "Treaty" and that it was witnessed by our representatives?
I have the only copy Ireland has got. The only official copy of the signed document which Ireland has got is the document in which the word "Treaty" is not used in the head or in the body of the articles. The only document Ireland possesses the only document bearing the actual signatures of the British delegation is the document in which the word "Treaty" is not mentioned.
We will have to decide the first thing in accordance with the Orders of the Day. We cannot get into irregular discussion about points that will arise casually. The Order of the Day will be as follows:
(1) Report of the Documents Committee;
(2) Statement, if any, by plenipotentiaries;
(3) The proposal of the President brought forward yesterday evening with regard to an alternate treaty.
Now the matter before us is the Report of the Documents Committee.
MR. KEVIN O'HIGGINS: Has an amendment to the motion to ratify the Treaty
That will be dealt with when it arises.
The Documents Committee met yesterday evening and again after the meeting last night. All the members were present and Mr. Childers, who has all the documents, was also present. Before making our decisions we consulted the President and the chairman of the delegation and Mr. Collins. We decided therefore unanimously to pick out four documents: an Irish document of the 22nd November, an Irish document of the 28th November, a British document of the 2nd December and the final Irish draft of December 4th. These are now being got ready for circulation amongst the members of the Dáil. In addition, the secretary's notes of the cabinet meetings were placed at our disposal and we have allowed circulation to the members of the notes of meetings on the 25th November and the 3rd December, in so far as these notes have any reference to the negotiations. The committee received the assistance of the President, Mr. Childers, Mr. Griffith and Mr. Collins and it was handed the documents it required.
There is one most important document which has not been mentioned Mr. Barton's notes in connection with the last two conferences with the British delegation. That document is a matter bearing on the circumstances under which his signature and that of Mr. Gavan Duffy were appended to the Articles of Agreement, the Treaty, or whatever it is called.
The question of Mr. Barton's notes was not introduced. In addition to the documents I have mentioned, we also got this morning all the correspondence passing between the Cabinet and the delegation.
Those are the ones I read yesterday; there is nothing new in them.
If there is any objection to Mr. Barton's notes being circulated
I have none. Of course, it is understood they are not official records.
The notes were mine. On one occasion Mr. Collins pointed out a position some lines which he considered might not be exactly interpreted; it was a certain word, he said. Otherwise I have heard no remarks, commendatory or otherwise, regarding the notes.
Since there is no objection they ought to be circulated.
I hold that as the secretary's notes of the Cabinet meetings are being circulated, these notes should also be circulated.
I submit Mr. Barton's notes are not at all on a par with the minutes of the Cabinet meetings. It is an extraordinary thing, to my mind, we had in the press some days ago a letter from one of the Ministers in which he stated this body here used words loosely. He mentioned one word "plenipotentiaries". Now I do not agree with him that the word was used loosely and the President in his statement here yesterday made it quite clear that the word was not used loosely. The letter was published in the press, and it made us appear in the eyes of the public, not as a class of school children, but as a lot of fools. Now we come to the Cabinet. It was stated here yesterday these notes were not minutes. What are they? Are not they the official records? I ask the President were they the decisions of the Cabinet.
I am quite ready
If they were, they were the same as minutes; they are official records, and they are not on a par with Mr. Barton's private notes.
I hate to be standing up so frequently, but when I am asked a question perhaps it is as well to get rid of the point raised. Cabinet meetings have been held for a long time under extraordinary circumstances. The secretary, who is perhaps one of the ablest men in the position has, at every Cabinet meeting almost, interpreted the decisions of the Cabinet. There are often informal discussions, some agreement is arrived at, and he puts down what he considers is the substance of that. Sometimes I might question one of them. But we did not at the Cabinet meetings take down minutes of proceedings as such. They are not read at the meetings. It was not necessary. It was not necessary. It is only when divisions and difficulties arise that the necessity of these formalities is seen. There is this parallel between Mr. Barton's note and the secretary's notes, and that is that they are both records by one individual of some conference that has taken place. The Cabinet minutes, therefore, are simply a record by the secretary of the proceedings of the conference. For instance, we are discussing the doing of something or other and he puts down, "decided to do so and so". On some other questions, since we had big discussions about the Treaty, I think he wrote down his impression of what most people said. I do not know whether it would be in order to get the secretary to give an explanation. I am sure Mr. Griffith will himself admit we did not check these, and he himself would not consider them a definite representation of what he said or what his attitude was.
This matter was very carefully discussed yesterday. The President and everyone in the House will agree these were not minutes in the sense that they were read and signed. They are being circulated by us under this heading, "Summaries of [recte Secretary's] notes of Cabinet meetings".
There will be no misunderstandings or misrepresentations in the minds of any intelligent member of this House, and why, then, should this discussion be taking place?
The matter that has to be decided now is: are Mr. Barton's notes to be circulated amongst the members of the Dáil? It has been stated by the Minister of Home Affairs, and I agree with him, that these notes have a most vital bearing on the conditions under which Mr. Barton's signature and Mr. Gavan Duffy's signature were put to that document. The chairman of the delegation says he has no objection to the notes being circulated. Is there anyone here now who wants to conceal from this Dáil what two of us here say has a most vital bearing on the question? If no one wants to conceal anything, therefore let them be circulated.
I consider this question of the records of the Cabinet has a much more important bearing on anything we do here than Mr. Barton's notes. All the honour, integrity and responsibility of the Cabinet is at stake. I am a member of that Cabinet and I would not countenance the records of the Cabinet proceedings as being the secretary's impressions. It was never my opinion that that interpretation would be put on them. The Cabinet records have been referred to, accepted and never challenged, and I would certainly feel very much in an undignified position and seriously humiliated if I thought it was a mere impression of the secretary or clerk of the Cabinet, if that was the record on which the Cabinet was to depend afterwards. I feel keenly on this matter because I feel the honour, integrity and responsibility of the Cabinet is at stake, and the secretary and officials should be called before the Dáil to give their explanations (Hear, hear).
Do not let us be taken off the issue of Mr. Barton's notes.
There is a bigger issue at stake a much bigger issue. We don't want to conceal anything. I have no objection to all being circulated.
What exactly are we discussing now?
We are discussing the question of circulating Mr. Barton's notes.
As head of the Cabinet I want to ask the Minister for Local Government this. Would you be ready to take them on [recte as] a definite record of your opinions without looking that book over? Would you be willing to take this as a definite record of your opinions? Would you swear everything in them represented your opinions?
You are out of order.
I beg your pardon.
Those minutes do not record the opinions of individual members; they record decisions.
I hope the Government will show a good example to the rest of the assembly in the matter of keeping in order.
There is an apparent charge being insinuated here that I am running away from something, or that I do not stand by something. I spoke about the Cabinet minutes in the same way exactly as the chairman of the delegation spoke about Mr. Barton's notes. He did not consider them; he had not gone through them and checked them to see if they were in accord with the opinions he expressed. I cannot speak for the minutes of the secretary of the Cabinet, I did not go through them; I do not know whether they are or are not correct from my point of view; neither does any member of the Cabinet. The secretary had not [recte no] purpose in making them other than what he thought had happened. I have said I did not find the secretary wrong to any substantial extent. I found only one note, and that was from the assistant secretary, and it was incomplete in as much as it did not give the detail that was necessary. I want the Dáil to understand that we did not make a practice of [recte at] Cabinet meetings of reading out the minutes of the previous meetings, getting the assent of the members to everything said and getting them signed as proof and all agreed that they were a true record. They may or may not be true as far as we are concerned; they are the secretary's opinions his impressions of what has happened and because he has been a most efficient secretary I have never found out what he had written was wrong. We did not have minutes, as such, signed at each meeting by the Chairman, and therefore binding as being accepted by all the members present. I have only read bits in that book, and not having read it, I cannot
I submit that the President is out of order.
I am explaining a thing that is most important to have explained if you are going to have certain documents presented to you. That is the unknown value of these documents. The Minister for Local Government said these were minutes. I say they are not. They are the impressions of one present at a conference a person who had no reason for putting the result except as it was and putting it to the best of his ability and as he thought it happened.
Could not all this be left over until these papers are before the House?
I want to facilitate all of you. These documents will be circulated and I presume the members have sufficient intelligence to arrive at their own conclusions as to their character. A further proposal was made that the committee which has been appointed to look into these documents should take in these documents of Mr. Barton's along with the rest and examine them. That is the right way to do it (Hear, hear).
I understand Mr. Barton is to make a statement on this particular subject.
From the very beginning I had intended to make a statement. I am prepared to make that statement in private or in both.
As a member of the committee, I may say we have no desire to keep back anything that any single member concerned requires. It was perfectly true there were a lot of papers we could not possibly have gone through. All we tried to do last night was to take the documents asked for on both sides. We did not know about Mr. Barton's notes; if we did we would have included them. If the committee were allowed to retire for a few moments, or if you agreed to postpone the matter until after dinner, we could easily settle the matter. The Dáil is entitled to receive every paper. We have no desire to keep any papers secret from the assembly; no matter whose paper it is it ought to come before us. I think the whole question could be decided by the committee retiring for a few minutes, or having the matter postponed until after dinner.
The point I made was that Mr. Barton's private notes are not at all on a par with the official records of the Cabinet.
I formally propose that Mr. Barton's notes be presented to the committee and circulated amongst the members. Mr. Barton has given no reasons for not agreeing with the plenipotentiaries. He read a very important document. We had a statement from the chairman of the delegation also admitting here that he promised on last Saturday week before he had left Dublin, that he would not sign this document until it was submitted to the Cabinet. We want to know all; we want to hold back nothing. We are deciding the fate of Ireland for good or evil. We want to know if any of the plenipotentiaries signed the document under protest. We want to know why they disagreed with it.
That committee is still in working order, and it has not yet given back its powers to the Dáil and is within its right to get any document it likes. (Agreed).
I want to say one word. I am not going to refer to what Mr. Ceannt said; it is a repetition of what was said here already. I have said Mr. Barton's notes and any document you like can be handed in, but Mr. Barton's notes had nothing official to do with the delegation. I did not read them. I read only a portion of them owing to the fact that all the documents sent to Dublin had been agreed upon. Everything has been submitted to the delegation except Mr. Barton's notes. His record is not to be taken as an official one. That is the only point. I do not want to go back on the other thing about the minutes except to say that for 18 months when the President was in America at least for 12 months I promised [recte presided] at every Cabinet meeting held and I considered it my duty to see the secretary's minute was read, and after the minute was made, I read it to see if it was right.
Just to make clear to you how these notes of mine were written, I will quote to you the circumstances. A letter was written to the Cabinet by Mr. Griffith, referring to the notes, on last Tuesday week. In that he says, "Mr. Barton is making at my request a long memo of events which I shall bring to you to-morrow night". The sequence of events is not clear in my mind to-day. That is how I came to write the notes.
I want to ask one question. Did the President ever make a practice of looking through the secretary's records? Does he suggest there is any inaccuracy?
I did not make a practice of looking through the secretary's record. We had later a practice of circulating to each Department copies of decisions reached. That had reference to questions where executive action had to be taken on something important. But my statement in reference to those minutes is that not having looked through them, as they were not read or signed, I could not be held as assenting, or having assented at any time to these as a true record.
Is it not a fact that these records were not the records of the secretary but the combined and agreed records of the secretary and his assistant?
If any question in regard to them has to arise, there will be a time for it.
Proceed with the next business.
The next business is the statement of the plenipotentiaries. If the plenipotentiaries wish to make a statement they are now in order.
We are here, I suppose, to answer any question that may be asked. I have already stated the circumstances. I have stated I signed the Treaty and I intend to stand by it. I do not know if this is the time you mean to start a discussion on the ratification. I do not know what is meant by "statement by plenipotentiaries".
Mr. Barton sent in a request to me yesterday evening about making a statement. It was not dealt with yesterday.
That would arise when we have all the documents in front of us and when the members have read them.
We can pass on to the next item.
I would like to ask the chairman of the delegation what would have been the result if the Treaty was not signed.
It was the impression of every member of the delegation they were replying to Ulster that night and it was a question of whether they would break off with us or not, and from their attitude we knew that probably before we got back to Dublin war would have broken out here; not war in the proper sense but somebody was going to be shot on our side, probably someone on their side and the same thing started again. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind the issue there was peace or war.
Did Mr. Lloyd George single Mr. Barton out as the left wing of the delegation and did he say, "The man who is against peace may bear now and forever the responsibility for terrible and immediate war"?
I want first of all to say we were eight and a half hours on that Monday in conference with the English representatives and the strain of an eight and a half hours conference and the struggle of it is a pretty severe one. One, when I am asked a question like that, "Was it or was it not?", I cannot give you an answer. But as regards particular aspects of that question, which I cannot take on oath, I can only give you my impression. It is in my notes that the answer is given, and it is there because it was my impression of that conference. It did appear to me that Mr. Lloyd George spoke to me and I had an impression that he actually mentioned my name; but I could not swear on oath that he mentioned my name, or actually addressed me when he spoke. It appeared to me that he spoke to me. What he did say was that the signature and the recommendation of every member of the delegation was necessary, or war would follow immediately and that the responsibility for that war must rest directly upon those who refused to sign the Treaty (applause).
I wish to refer to the question of the letter of credentials that the delegation got to present to the British Cabinet or delegation. It was not clear whether it was ever presented or not. There was a difference of opinion, and I think it is important. I am given to understand that if they represented the Irish Republic there, they could not, if they had full powers to sign an agreement or treaty, they could not do anything that would in any way break the constitution of the Government they represented. It may seem a trivial matter, but I would like an answer. Did the British Premier, as head of the British body, receive that letter? I thought he had seen it. I do not know the circumstances under which it was offered to him. I am not clear upon the point, and some others are not clear, and they have asked me to make a question. I now ask the chairman of the delegation what happened?
We got these credentials from the President. He gave them to us stating if we were asked for credentials to present them. We were not asked for them and therefore we did not present them.
It was not a question of presenting them. Mr. Lloyd George did see mine. I was asked if he accepted it. We all know he did not accept an Irish Republic if that is what is meant, and the last letter from Mr. de Valera makes that clear: "We have received your letter of invitation to a conference in London on October 11th with a view to ascertaining how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire may best be reconciled with the Irish national aspirations. Our respective positions have been stated and are understood and we agree that conference, not correspondence, is the most practical and hopeful way to an understanding. We accept the invitation and our delegates will meet you in London on the date mentioned to explore every possibility of settlement by personal discussion."
It was stated first of all yesterday that these credentials were presented. That was afterwards altered to the word "shown". It was subsequently stated they were seen by Mr. Lloyd George. The whole question of the power of the plenipotentiaries depends on the use of their credentials with the enemy Government. This document was either presented and accepted or presented, shown or seen, and rejected. If it was seen and rejected they were no longer plenipotentiaries. It was either presented and accepted, or presented and rejected.
This is most unfair.
What is unfair?
It is most unfair, when you had agreed at the Mansion House to give up the idea of the Republic, and now you want to blame (Cries of "Never").
The Cabinet had agreed
The Cabinet should have told the whole Dáil. Anyone who did not answer the challenge must hold his peace to-day. That conference did not imply surrender. It must not be said that we at the Mansion House declared for a compromise. In the name of the dead I defy anyone to show that I voted for the compromise.
Miss MacSwiney said all that yesterday.
What is the position of the Cabinet to-day? They do not seem to be doing their business. They have been the schoolboys, not us. Here we have the question of the minutes not being signed. Why, you would have better than that done at a district council meeting. Is the Cabinet a majority or a minority rule?
If you wish to put the issue to the House you can. The position is this. If I wanted to exercise the constitutional right I have I could have asked for the resignation of the members of the Cabinet who dissented from me. I would have to go before the Dáil with a suggestion for a new Cabinet, and they could remove me if they thought my action was wrong. In order not to intensify the differences of opinion that existed I thought it unwise, when we had no other differences, to take any action. I thought it better to leave the Cabinet as it stands for the moment. If you wish to regularise the matter, so that you will have a regular Government, you may do so.
That is not my reason at all for asking the question.
I did not say I offered to resign; I said in face of the circumstances, my resignation should be asked for by the Dáil.
There seems to be an extraordinary notion amongst responsible members of the Government that it is necessary to answer every matter that is raised. That should not be. When they make a point that point must be kept until whoever is speaking has finished. Mr. McCarthy is still in possession unless he has done.
I am all right.
A point has been raised in connection with the credentials. If these credentials hold good, then the plenipotentiaries had no power to sign any proposals other than those indicating a recognition of the Irish Republic. The plenipotentiaries in London were in this extraordinary position that they had not power to sign the proposals which could be recommended to you by a united Cabinet. I do not think any member of the Cabinet questions that it was prepared to recommend to you unanimously a settlement involving the recognition of the King of England as head of the Associated States to which the Free State of Ireland not the Republic would be externally associated or attached, and to vote to the King of England an annual sum to his personal revenue. If Mr. Etchingham's point is sound, then the plenipotentiaries in London were in the false and extraordinary position that they were not able to conclude proposals which would be recommended to you by the President and a united Cabinet.
It is a waste of time to be travelling over all this ground. President de Valera has stated most emphatically that they acted fully within their rights the rights given to them by the Dáil. I think it is an extraordinary thing that a responsible member of the assembly would get up and try to impugn the bona fides of the plenipotentiaries. The plenipotentiaries should get the protection of this House from such insinuations (Hear, hear). I think we would be well advised to drop these small, petty problems, this spirit of acrimony and get on to the serious business.
As regards the original document which is causing discussion, is there one document in existance that can be shown as having passed between the representative authorities in Dublin and London which definitely includes the word Republic? Is there one document?
We will take the next matter.
I have a question to ask with regard to the exact meaning of portion of the Treaty, and I wish to ask it of the plenipotentiaries. Would it be properly in order now?
There will be the fullest opportunity given, both in public and in private session, for discussing points of the Treaty.
What I desired to ask had reference to paragraph 4, which deals with the oath to be taken by members of Parliament of the Irish Free State. The oath includes this, "I will be faithful to His Majesty, King George V, his heirs and successors by law, in virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain and her adherence to, and membership of the group of nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations". Is that to mean that we promise to be faithful to King George in the dual capacity of King of Great Britain and Ireland, and as head of the group of states forming the British Commonwealth of Nations? What is the meaning?
It is perfectly evident that that question, or any explanation that has to be given on points of that kind, will arise when this assembly begins to get to the business for which it was convoked, which it has not begun to do yet that is the question of the ratification of the Treaty. I want to remind the members of Dáil Éireann of the object for which the Dáil is in session and that is to decide for or against the ratification of the Treaty. We have not yet got to that point, and apparently the action of a great number of the members, though they do not intend it, is preventing us from getting towards it. Now the next item on the agenda is the President's proposal for an alternate treaty. The President will make a statement.
May I ask President de Valera is this document given to An Dáil last evening containing these counter-proposals an agreed statement by the minority in the Cabinet who are opposing the Treaty?
All these questions will come after the President has made his statement.
I rise to a point of order. I was fully under the impression that the representatives who went to London were appointed with full powers from the Dáil. They went to London and made a Treaty and they
That is not a point of order.
At the present moment you impugn the honour of the delegates and two of them
Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the Standing Orders.
Now, Mr. MacEntee. I am in charge of this Assembly, not you. The President will now make his statement.
Before I speak here, I will deal with a question I was asked about this document.¹ This document is a personal effort on my part to try to get something which will enable us to keep, as we have kept, together. It is not an agreed document, it is a document for you yourselves to consider. It will have no value whatever unless we will be able to get on it substantial agreement. It has been said several times that the Cabinet were in agreement on certain things. Now as minorities and majorities in the Cabinet have been referred to, I want to make it clear that on October 26th the Minister for Local Government, who have [sic] spoken in favour of ratification were [sic] agreed that under no circumstances could we recommend to the Irish people to become the subjects of His Britannic Majesty, or to take an oath of allegiance, or to give any allegiance to him. This is necessary in order that the position may be understood, and it has reference to this document. That is why I introduce it. If it was only because they were presented at the last meeting of the Cabinet with a fait accompli that they have taken their present action, and if they were in agreement that a break off would have been better than an acceptance of the proposals brought over to us on the Saturday, and probably would have held by them were it not for the assurance given which settled all affairs out of the Cabinet. In order to explain the genesis of this document, we have been, from the time we started these negotiations, trying to see a way out trying to see how a peace could be made which would be consistent with our position and which would be such that some British political [recte politician], partiularly the Prime Minister, might be able to stand by it with his own people. The two things were necessary. There are several differences between this document and that one. The main difference as you will see at once is that this document could be ratified by this Assembly absolutely ratified because there is nothing whatever inconsistent with it and the position of the Republic. To say the Republic was given away because the name Free State was brought forward is to say that words were changed. We are not dealing with words now. We are dealing with certain facts. I hold that Ireland as an independent State, and we as the Parliament and Government of that State, had a perfect right, if it wished, to make with the nation at war with it a treaty which would be consistent with its position and a treaty of that kind we tried to draw up. As a result of our Cabinet meeting we sent such a draft treaty with the plenipotentiaries to Britain. That was ratified by the discussions, and you saw the treaty they brought with them. This was something like what would have been the proposals I would have suggested making to the public in the case of a break. If they had broken and had come over, and Mr. Lloyd George had published his terms, I would have proposed we should publish those. I do not know if every member of the Cabinet would have agreed with them. I am taking responsibility for it myself, as my own personal opinion as the best thing to be done. Now you cannot make peace on the Treaty sent to you you will not have peace in the country. I say at the same time Britain will not make war on you if you present this as an offer to Britain. I would say we wanted a real peace, and this nation, wishing to be at peace with a neighbouring nation, we are willing to make terms binding for ever, "in order that the same may be established for ever by mutual consent of the peoples of Great Britain and Ireland". That is what will be said of your Treaty; it is something that is to be established for ever by mutual consent of the peoples of the two countries. And it is because I know that the Treaty now recommended would not be accepted by the Irish people as something and [recte that] could be taken by mutual agreement, that I am against it, not that I am against peace. The only way I see out would be that we would try to get a document as close to this, or something like this, as possible, which everyone of us could accept. I will talk about the difficulties in the way and the difficulties of the plenipotentiaries afterwards. This document is to a large extent made from the proposals previously made by the plenipotentiaries. The first of these is,
1. Full text printed in Appendix 17.
"That the legislative, executive and judicial authority of Ireland shall be derived solely from the people of Ireland".
If you take this new Treaty if you accept it the executive authority will be solely derived from Great Britain. The Irish people's ministers will not be the Irish people's ministers but his Majesty's; the army would be taking the oath of allegiance, not to the Irish State as far as I understand it, but will be taking the oath of allegiance to His Majesty. These Irish forces would be taking the oath of allegiance to His Majesty who would be in charge of these forces. You will not have that in No. 1 if it were accepted. It is in fact an act of renunciation on the part of Britain and if they say the Crown is only a shadow why do they want the shadow? Why do they want the shadow, and why should not we have it? Now Number 2 states:
"That for the purposes of common concern, Ireland shall be associated with the states of the British Commonwealth etc."
That means therefore, you have an association for the purposes of the common concern with the states of the British Commonwealth. Number 4 states:
"That the matters of 'common concern' shall include Defence, Peace and War, Political Treaties and all matters now treated as of common concern amongst the States of the British Commonwealth and that in these matters there shall be between Ireland and the States of the British Commonwealth 'such concerted action founded in consultation as the several Governments may determine'."
Therefore their material interests are safe. But I would like you to note particularly the end of No. 4 "that there shall be between Ireland and the States of the British Commonwealth such concerted action, etc." If, for instance, Ireland were associated with the states of the British Commonwealth in the manner in which this document defines Ireland's state, Ireland can, or her representatives can, dissent from anything being carried by a majority vote.
That is the position she would be in under the Act also. In other words Ireland can as a member, or her representative can, dissent from any decision or to anything carried by a majority vote. Ireland must consent in this case as in the other.
"That in virtue of this association of Ireland with the States of the British Commonwealth citizens of Ireland in any of these States shall not be subject to any disabilities which a citizen of one of the component States of the British Commonwealth would not be subject to, and reciprocally for Citizens of these States in Ireland".
In other words I am substituting reciprocal citizenship for common citizenship. Common citizenship would make every Irishman a British subject. Reciprocal does not. We want to keep our nationality distinct. We want to provide that Irish citizens are Irish citizens and not British. That would save it.
The next is the question of association. At a certain time during the negotiations we agreed as a Cabinet that we would be ready to accept that, when Ireland was associated with the states of the British Commonwealth, Irishmen would be ready to accept the King of Great Britain as head of the association not as Commonwealth, because we are not in common. That means, if for instance France, America, Spain and other countries joined together that each of these could if they choose accept the President of France as head of the association and he would be President of France, but he would not be President of America or Spain. He would not be head of these countries but he would be head of the association. Therefore under this arrangement the King of Great Britain would not be our King but he would be head of the association in which we had joined. He would, so to speak, be President of the league of nations which Ireland had joined. The next is that Ireland will defend herself. That is necessary for Irish self-respect so that Ireland was not going to be a member of the association and then sponge on anybody. We are ready as an independent state to do our part in defending our shores, and to bear any expense necessary in our own defence. Now, No. 8. It is obvious that Great Britain at present possesses our ports, and they have the Irish defences in their hands not for Irish purposes but for their own. If Ireland were associated with Britain the defences would be the common concern. As we have not forces of our own in the meantime to take over that defence and do our part in the common protection we would give then the right until we were ready to take over our own defences to defend Ireland. That is a permissive right. That is, that for five years not merely would Ireland provide for her own defence but that she would give an explicit guarantee to repel by force any foreign power or use them for any purpose hostile to the groups of associated states. In other words we would give a guarantee to Britain that we would let no outside nation get possession of our ports as a means of attack upon Britain. That is the statement I made in America that was referred to as the Cuban article of statement. The only thing to which I subscribed is that we were willing to give a definite guarantee that we would not allow any power to Ireland to use the ports in Ireland as a basis of attack.
No. 8. "That for five years, pending the establishment of Irish coastal defence forces, or for such other period as the Governments of the two countries may later agree upon, facilities for the coastal defence of Ireland shall be given to the British Government as follows:
(a) In time of peace such harbour and other facilities as are indicated in the Annex hereto, or such other facilities as may from time to time be agreed upon between the British Government and the Government of Ireland.
(b) In time of war such harbour and other naval facilities as the British Government may reasonably require for the purposes of such defence as aforesaid."
You note the great difference between that. In the other Treaty you will find that some of these are practically given forever. There is a question of giving them until you are ready to do your own share. The next provides:
"That within five years from the date of exchange of ratifications of this Treaty a conference between the British and Irish Governments shall be held in order to arrange for the handing over of the coastal defence of Ireland to the Irish Government unless some other arrangement for naval defence be agreed by both Governments to be desirable in the common interest of Ireland, Great Britain and the other associated States".
10. "That in order to co-operate in furthering the principle of international limitation of armaments the Government of Ireland shall not build submarines unless by agreement with Great Britain and other States of the Commonwealth."
They are afraid of Irish submarines and it was on that Mr. Lloyd George based his Carnarvon speech, that Irishmen with submarines would block the channels, that they would cut Empire communications of Great Britain. We would give them a guarantee that we would not build submarines unless by the common defence arrangements that would be entered into by this. There was agreement that we should do so. Then as to military defence force I thought at the time it was first mentioned we would get some other arrangement but there is a way out of that.
I am ready to stand over that, that we should not maintain a military defence force the establishments whereof would exceed in size such proportions of the military establishments maintained in Great Britain as that which the population of Ireland bears to the population of Great Britain.
The next is:
"That the Governments of Great Britain and of Ireland shall make a convention for the regulation of Civil Communication by air".
And No. 12 is:
"That the Ports of Great Britain and of Ireland shall be freely open to the ships of each country on payment of the customary port and other dues".
The next is:
"That Ireland shall assume liability for such share of the present public debt of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the payment of war pensions as existing at this date as may be fair and equitable having regard to any just claims on the part of Ireland by way of set off or counter claim, the amount of such sums being determined in default of agreement, by the arbitration of one or more independent persons being citizens of Ireland or of the British Commonwealth".
The only difference between that and the other is that instead of assuming a continuous debt there is an attempt to make the settlement an actual fixed sum.
That is not so.
We can only go by what we have on paper. In order that common words shall have a common meaning I put it in this form that there should be some actual sum for which Ireland would be responsible, if we were judged liable for any share that there should be some actual sum for which we would take responsibility. Of course the counter claims are arranged for here.
The next is:
"That the Government of Ireland agrees to pay compensation on terms not less favourable than those proposed by the British Government of Ireland Act 1920 to judges, officials, members of Police Forces and other public servants who are discharged by it or who retire in consequence of the change of government effected in pursuance hereof".
No. 15 is formed to allay any religious fears that might exist on the part of anybody that we would make laws which would be prejudicial to religion or permit favouritism.
Instead of Provisional Government, in No. 16 we have transitional Government, because there can be no Provisional Government in Ireland until this Republic is disestablished. There is a regular elected Government here and that elected Government until it is disestablished or until it temporarily transfers its powers to other people is a regular Government. This is not a Provisional one and we have passed from the stage of Provisional Government. We have a transitional Government which will secure the same thing, and will not convey the same thing, and will not convey the implication that we had no Government up to this. I put in a rather dangerous thing members elected for constituencies in Ireland instead of Southern Ireland. This is an Irish treaty. Everybody North and South has a right to be present at any decision which has reference to the Irish nation. Everybody should be summoned to such a meeting. If they do not come that is alright. They certainly have a right to be summoned to anything which would be binding on the whole of Ireland any foreign association. There again is a fait accompli that has to be faced. One objection as to the Ulster point of view to the terms of the Treaty is that there is an explicit recognition of the right on the part of Irishmen to secede from Ireland. The difficulty is not the Ulster question. As far as we are concerned this is a fight between Ireland and England. I want to eliminate the Ulster question out of it. As far as they are concerned we will take the same things as agreed on there. Let us not start to fight with Ulster. Let us accept that, but put in a declaratory phrase which will safeguard our right. I am taking 17.
"That without recognising the right of any part of Ireland to be excluded from the supreme authority of the National Parliament and Government nevertheless ..."
There is no need to read the rest. It is practically the same, with an odd verbal change, with the rest. As far as the Annex is concerned about specific facilities I left them the same for the same reason. Regarding the period of 5 years, I would give the whole of Ireland to Great Britain for 5 years if afterwards we were quite free. No. 2 I changed because there was no period referred to.
"A Convention covering a period of 5 years shall be made between the British and Irish Governments ..."
That is for 5 years only the other is forever. I am presenting this to you with one desire only, that we might be a united country instead of having a great part of this country dissatisfied, I will not say the majority. I still hold as I said yesterday and it can be tested that if it comes to an election the Irish people would ratify that agreement. If it came to a plebiscite they would do it under duress, under threat of war. You will have under it a tremendous element of dissatisfaction which will poison the new Government from the start. Mr. Griffith or the Minister of Finance would not like to be referred to as His Majesty's Ministers. You are bound to have recriminations. I never met more loyal colleagues than all those who are with me in the Cabinet. We differ honestly in this matter. I regret more than anything that differences should have occurred on this occasion. But this is a case in which we have to be true to our principles as we conceive them. No matter how good and perfect it was supposing it was something that could have been easily accepted, there is the difficulty and the danger of a snub. They will say you signed the Treaty and now keep it. It is the final effort to save the situation. They know there is a big division in the country. They would not make a treaty with us at all unless they wanted to have peace. We say to them on these terms you can make peace, genuine lasting peace, and to these terms we will be faithful in our hearts and not with our lips. We offer these to the British people. It will be the same thing as far as association is concerned the only thing is you want to humiliate us and we will not be humiliated.
I asked a question, and I think it is very important that an answer should precede what I have to say. I might bring to the recollection of the House that the question I addressed was is this document an agreed statement by the minority in the Cabinet who are opposing the Treaty? He answered with his customary preciseness that it is not an agreed statement but merely a personal statement from himself. Now my interventions hitherto in discussions have been interventions to try and procure decorum and good feeling in the discussion. I intervene now for a different purpose. No private member here has yet definitely taken his side with the Treaty. I am not going to go into the Treaty here today, but I am going to let it be known where I stand. I am going to fight ratification for this Treaty as far as I possibly can, but I want to confine myself to-day to a few observations about this document. We have two documents here the Treaty and the proposals, not of the minority of the Cabinet, but the proposals of Mr. de Valera himself
(Cries of "Order" and "the President").
I beg pardon the proposals of President de Valera. Is Ireland going to go to war for the difference of these two documents?
Yes. I would venture to advise this House very seriously not to gamble on the idea that England does not mean war. I am not saying this as a bogey to intimidate members. Our plenipotentiaries did not commit themselves to what they considered a dishonourable document because they were threatened with war. They knew that the prospect of the menace of war was there if it was not signed, but they did not believe it was a dishonourable document. They believed it an honourable document. If any man here lightly jokes about England not going to war, I say that that man is trifling with serious and grave issues, that will affect not only this generation but many generations to come. England will fight I believe for the difference between these two documents. Are we going to precipitate that conflict? I tell you it is a very serious question. I tell you that war must not and will not be precipitated on account of the difference between these two documents without the will of the Irish people being felt on this matter. Are you going to put these two documents to the country? Let me tell you what you are faced with. You have here in this Treaty a definite practical thing within your grasp. You have in this something which is not a mere suggestion. President de Valera's document is very good and would be splendid if you could have accepted it. If it were a dictated peace with England you might be able to secure it, but remember these men did not go to London to work miracles or to dictate peace to England. I was surprised yesterday by Deputies, in referring to the plenipotentiaries, saying that they did not believe anything like a settlement would come out of the conference, and one of them said he regarded it as a move to gain time. From these two Deputies we heard a great deal about national honour. We heard a great deal about the sacredness of the undertaking we had given here. Do they mean that Mr. de Valera was putting his signature to a lie when he said, "We have received your letter of invitation to a Conference in London on October 11th with a view to ascertaining how the association of Ireland with the community of Nations known as the British Empire may best be reconciled with Irish national aspirations".
They went there I take it, not to gain time, but to secure if they could that which President de Valera said was the purpose for which they went there. They went there for the purpose stated, and they have explored every avenue. All these alternative proposals have been put, and they have brought you back, and they have brought you back John Bull's last word. It is for this Assembly when it comes to consider it to decide whether or not that last word is something which Ireland can accept with honour. If they cannot accept it with honour the only alternative is to reject it. I want to influence your thoughts in this matter. I say that the man who asks the Irish nation to go to war and to plunge the hopes of the nation into distress and chaos on the difference between those two documents I think that man will stand condemned at the bar of history as having committed one of most gigantic blunders Irish history has known. Now apart from this question I am not at all certain that in many respects the Treaty is not superior to the proposals of President de Valera. Of course, there is the saving clause about associated action in peace or war being decided in consultation with the other states concerned; but remember that is a very dangerous clause, if there was a possibility of it going to be accepted, to suggest off hand that you are going to be involved in every war in which England embarks. It seems to be an unnecessary undertaking under the circumstances. From the point of view of independence you have no real difference here. The head of the British State is recognised as the head of the Community of Nations. Let us be serious and face facts. Do not let us go sideways into the British Empire. If we are going to go in let us go in with our heads erect and not try to get in dodging around a corner when no one is looking. If the alternative to war and disaster is honourable association with the Empire, decide it which way you will but decide it like men. Then another thing that surprised me was the statement that there is a definite explicit undertaking that the Irish nation was not to build submarines without the consent of the British Government. I do not think there is such an explicit undertaking in the Treaty. Even this document itself adopts the very words, "If before the expiration of the said month, an address is presented to His Majesty".
That should be "His Britannic Majesty". Corrections can be made in your copies. This was done late last night and I had not much time to do it. That was merely a clerical error and I would ask you to make that correction.
What I think of this whole matter is that President de Valera has a much bigger thing in his mind than the freeing of the Irish nation. I think his idea is to reconstruct the League of Nations. Our idea is to get Ireland free from such obligations to John Bull. It is because I believe that English authority disappears from Ireland under the Treaty that I am going to stand by the Treaty. I do not want you to be led away by rhetoric (Hear, hear). I do not think I am indulging in anything that could be called rhetoric (laughter). I am speaking plain sound arguments and matters of fact. It is for those opposed to me to show that they are not sound, but I tell you that what I have to say here will not be disposed of by gibes or sneers (Hear, hear). If war breaks out again the British army will not be defeated by the sneers or gibes of those bellicose Deputies and I tell you that when war breaks out they will not have to fight or die by proxy, they will have to fight and die themselves (applause). It is a serious thing to have to discuss. I have no purpose but to concentrate your minds on the realities we are faced with. It is not a question whether Mr. Griffith or President de Valera is going to be beaten or win. It is one of the gravest questions or issues that any body of Irish men or women were ever faced with, to decide whether or not at this moment there is a chance of freeing Ireland within our grasp. If there is, do not wantonly or hurriedly reject that chance. Consider it deeply and act according to your conscience and you will do the right thing whatever the ultimate decision might be (applause).
I would like to say with regard to the suggestion of the President that for me his document is, to put it blankly, a way out to avoid a split and all that would follow from such if it occurs in Ireland as a result of the ratification or non-ratification of the Treaty, or Articles of Agreement, or whatever else they are called. I am personally a Republican. I have been that since I was 18 years of age. Some of you will know how I became so. I am opposed to this Treaty for one specific reason for one reason than will not allow me as an individual to give a vote in favour of it, and that is because there is in it an oath of allegiance to his Britannic Majesty. That, I for one will never accept. I made my position clear a month ago [to] the President and others on that issue. I heard accidentally in Paris than it was proposed to give recognition to the King of England provided other things could be got out of the British delegation. When I heard that I at once, on two hours notice, came home to Dublin. I said to the President, I have heard this and I do not know whether it is correct or not, and I said that I as one individual will never stand for that, and I tell you, my colleagues, the same, and I will tell my constituents what my position is. When I came up against the Treaty, immediately I read it in Paris I heard nothing about members keeping their mouths shut until the Dáil meeting or I would not have spoken regarding it and saw that the oath of allegiance was contained in that document, I felt bound to do everything I could as one individual to defeat the Treaty. There is not a man in this room who has a greater personal regard for Mr. Griffith than I have, nor is there one who has worked longer with him than I have. If it was only a question of personalities I would know where I stand. Arthur Griffith I love and respect. Arthur Griffith, I am very sorry to be opposed to you, but in your political history you have not taken the stand I have. On your political record you are inconsistent in what you are doing. In this Treaty if we ratify it we will make Ireland a British Dominion. We are accepting Dominion status. If such a status were imposed upon Ireland at the point of the bayonet, Ireland has not the forces to beat the British army and would have to accept Dominion status; but, as an individual having the power to decide this question by giving a vote one way or another, am I to subscribe to the statement that Ireland is to thrust aside all her distinct national craving for the sake of peace and willingly, and of her own volition, sign away her status and become a British Dominion? I for one will not sign such a document.
I do not like to intervene but I thought we were discussing this document by President de Valera and not the Treaty.
In this document there is not a suggestion of Ireland becoming a British Dominion. There is a suggestion which I would be prepared to accept for the sake of unity and an honourable peace. I would be prepared to accept association with the Empire. As I understood it, in the negotiations, both sides the British and President de Valera and his colleagues agreed to a formula for conference associating Ireland in some form consistent with national aspirations with the British Commonwealth of Nations. I realise that at such a conference it would not be possible to come out with the Irish Republic recognised. Once we went into the conference there would be no such outcome but I looked forward to an outcome that would take us a long way on the road. I thought we might make peace and not have any dishonour put upon us. In the Treaty we would have it put upon us and I have indicated lies the dishonour. There are in this statement of Mr. de Valera things that I as an Irish Republican strongly object to. I object to Ireland being forced to give in any way the right to any foreign power to use her ports and harbours. I object to the right being given to any foreign power to interfere with our right of building submarines or submarine chasers, or any kind of arm or weapon necessary for our defence. But I realise that, as we are not in a position to fight or beat her in the field or sea, we will have to make some arrangement which will safeguard the point of view that she will be left without food if we build submarines, that she should be at our mercy if we do not come to some agreement. I would be prepared to accept some arrangement whether it came from the delegation or President de Valera, if that was the only objection in the Treaty proposed for ratification. There are other points in that Treaty I object to, but of course they are objected to by a number of people and I am not going to enter into details on one side or the other. In President de Valera's statement there are a number of things if I were free I would not recommend for acceptance. These are two issues, one of which deals with the enemy and one of which deals with our fellow-countrymen. If we get the enemy out of the way there is nothing in giving something away to make an amicable arrangement with our fellow-countrymen. A number of points which were objected to by the last speaker I would be inclined to pass over. I would say in recommending the acceptance of President de Valera's document to this House that it gets rid of England out of Ireland. England is planted, in my opinion, in Ireland by our will and wish and signature but in President de Valera's document England has no power in Ireland. She has only power over us as a dominating power as she has power over France. In the same way she has similar power over us, but we do not willingly give the right to her to interfere in any way with our affairs, internal or external, except in so far as we agree specifically in that proposed document. We say to her that in matters of vital world concern our voice as a free and independent nation must be heard and listened to. We do not give her the right to call us to her council table to be dictated to as to how His Britannic Majesty wants Ireland to be directed in case of war or perhaps in case of peace. That document of President de Valera wipes out in the most decisive fashion the power of England to interfere in any way with the internal affairs of Ireland. It is by no means a free Irish Republic but it certainly does secure that if we make peace there would be peace. There would be a political party in Ireland fighting for the recognition of the Irish Republic. It does deprive the King and his Ministers, both of them, of the right to decide by a majority of the Council what our action in external or internal affairs is to be. That final or almost semi-final letter from President de Valera and our Cabinet to Mr. Lloyd George which was afterwards the basis of negotiations did make it clear that they were endeavouring to reconcile Ireland's national aspirations with an agreement to secure an alignment of Ireland with the British Government. In my humble opinion the Treaty that has been signed does not do that. May I for a moment mention that I look upon the Minister of Finance and those who are associated with him in this matter, some of those who signed the document, as as good Republicans as I am. I believe that for the last few years they were fighting for an Irish Republic. I believe and I put it to them that they departed from that position in accepting the Treaty terms.
Not one jot. If anything in fact we get there quicker.
Every man here must decide that for himself in consultation with his or her own conscience. I believe that the Minister for Finance I give him every credit for it and the others associated with him explored every possible avenue during the conference. They did work which is a credit to them. They achieved many things and they also achieved some things to which I as an individual cannot put my name. I do not really believe that it is impossible to get more out of them than has been got without war. I do not believe that if this document of President de Valera were substituted for the other document and put to the people of England, I do not honestly think that war would be the result. I would say to this Dáil, try it and see what comes of it. If President de Valera's document is not accepted by the Dáil or not accepted by the other side, I with the further threat of war as one individual would refuse to sign or give my vote to any agreed document which would include the oath of allegiance. I do not like the idea of Ireland being [gap in original] into war. I must acknowledge that I have not seen and do not know personally except through my family and the newspapers the worst of the war. I was away but I was away by orders, and I would have been at home if I was ordered to remain at home. I am a soldier. While I was in the Volunteers I was an humble private and took my orders and I would do the same again. I do not think anyone would suppose me to be a very able soldier or gunman, but I would do whatever in me lies. I could do no more. I could do no more. Personally I would accept the orders of the captain of my company and go out and fight in case war comes. In case I am told by the President to go to Paris or Timbuctoo I will do so and act to the best of my ability. People say, "You have a soft job away and you come home and ask the people to go into war." All I will say is, "I do not ask any man or woman to do more than I am prepared to do myself". I remember in a speech which President de Valera made at one of the Dáil meetings on the 17th or 18th August, he said that we might be beaten in the negotiations and we might have to go to the war again. But he said whatever the result of the negotiations might be, whatever our plenipotentiaries might bring back to us, if it was not satisfactory, if it did not square with our aspirations and pledges, let us not try to save our faces. I am not quoting his words. We cannot pretend that we have got something that we have not got. I want to say fairly and squarely that if the plenipotentiaries said to us, "We have got something here that we took under duress; we believe that Ireland could not make war at this moment; we took the document under duress", it would influence me materially. I would not personally accept the oath of allegiance but that has not been said. An effort has been made in the public Press to get the people of Ireland to believe that their national aspirations are coupled within this document; that the Dáil is to accept this document because it squares with the pledges given to the country. Personally for one I say that it is not any such things. It infringes our honour.
On a point of order a vital point of order we are discussing not the Treaty but this document. It is this document, yes or no. A document was put up to me and I had to say yes or no. Let everyone here say yes or no to this document.
I will say yes or no but let everyone know how I stand. I made it fairly straight what my views are. No one need have any doubt. I have shouted as loudly as I could from the house top. But I say with regard to the proposal of President de Valera that in order to save Ireland from the consequences of a Parnell split or worse and it would be worse from this point of view that our men are armed and equipped now and, despite the discipline which the Minister of Defence might endeavour to enforce, incidents would occur and would be ugly to save Ireland from work of that kind and its consequences, I urge the unanimous acceptance of President de Valera's document as a way out. It would unite the country and unite the Dáil. The plenipotentiaries were bound to stand on their document. We will concede them that right and that honour. Others of us are not bound and are free to do what we believe the right thing. I urge you to accept that document which you can do without dishonour to your pledges and try and give the President as he asked one more chance to unite the country, and as I say to preserve his services to the nation, for if this thing is turned down he goes down.
That has not any bearing on it.
It has for me.
Preserve the services of all the Cabinet.
Yes, each and all of them are of extreme value to the nation. I appeal to you to earnestly consider whether you cannot accept this document and try and retrieve the position that we have lost owing to this unfortunate division.
I am going to exercise the privilege of speaking and I ask the Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
Mr. Brian O'Higgins, Deputy Speaker, then took the Chair.
The last speaker seems to make a good lawyer on his training. He must have felt uncomfortable speaking from his standpoint and pledging this Assembly for the acceptance of the document put forward by President de Valera. I am going to speak to you and you know exactly how I stand. I never claimed to be what I am not. I am a follower of the President, only it is a long way ahead of him in this respect that I am an opportunist. I am a Republican. I believe in Irish independence. I have always advocated that Ireland must be as free as any other nation and in advocating that I have taken at all times the stand of the opportunist. I make no pretence. Some of you may look on that definition with contempt. It doesn't matter to me. That is the line I take and I deceive none. As an opportunist I could say something on behalf of that document. But from the standpoint of an uncompromising and irreconcilable Irish Republican and separatist at all moments and all times I could not advocate that document. I cannot imagine how any person who takes that stand can express approval of it. If it is approved of on any of its merits it will be approved of for a purpose. I will explain to you what that purpose is. I don't say that is the President's purpose. I am sure it is not. But the only purpose for which that document will be voted for here if a vote can be taken and I don't think it can
The only vote that can be taken is for or against the Treaty ratification or non-ratification. If a vote were to be taken on this document what would it mean? I remember on one occasion in the early history of the Volunteer movement, before the Volunteers started, The O'Rahilly and Seán Fitzgibbon came to me and I explained the position and they reproached me with being an opportunist and I admitted I was and I have remained so since. Some of you may remember at a later stage, though few know so much about it as I do, that an attempt was made to bring the Irish Volunteer organisation under the authority and control of the British War Office. You may remember there was a great deal of talk about that. The attempt was made and I opposed it. It was made in a second form, first through the War Office official connected with the Volunteers and through the British military authorities in Dublin. On the second occasion they came direct from the British Ministry through John Redmond and what I did on that occasion was and I did it deliberately because I was dealing with an enemy, but I could not have done it if I was dealing with a friend I deliberately took up their first proposal and ran it for a time to kill the second, and with the deliberate intention of killing the first one. Now I say I did that with an enemy. Is it going to be done here with us now? Is this document going to be run for a time to kill that document; and is this document going to die the death afterwards?
That is not the idea.
I have acquitted the President of that form of strategy, but if others take it up it can only be on these lines because their hearts and consciences are not in that document. I would like to ask the people who are not like me and I may not know the strain of opportunism in their composition, do they approve of a single line of that annex from beginning to end a British dockyard port at Berehaven?
And it is going to be be five years. Where is the guarantee that they are going to leave at the end of five years? These things have happened before. Every concession that China made to the different powers it was for five or ten or some other number of years. And they are all there yet, except one has kicked another out, but China never put any one of them out. That has happened all over the world. I say that it is impossible for people on principle to reject the Treaty and accept that. If any person is making a stand on principle he cannot accept the one and reject the other. The difference is that the substance in them is the same. The powder is the same in the spoon but there is more jam in one spoon than in the other.
From the beginning a totally wrong interpretation has been, so far as I can pick up, running through the minds of this Assembly with regard to the character of this document. It has been spoken of and treated as if they were what? not a Treaty regulating the relations between two countries but a document setting up a constitution for Ireland a new constitution for Ireland. They cannot have that aspect. Not a single member of this Assembly can possibly attach that aspect to them. Why? If you do, if you regard either of those documents as a document creating a constitution for Ireland the sooner we all go on a pilgrimage to John Redmond's grave the better, because why he and his followers fell was because they admitted the right of the British Government to fix a constitution in this country, or the right of the British Government conjointly with Irishmen to devise and create a constitution for this country. It was not in the power of our plenipotentiaries to create a constitution and a constitution does not exist within the four corners of the text. But as a matter of fact the very first article of the President's document is an article which should not find a place in the Irish constitution "That the legislative, executive and judicial authority of Ireland shall be derived solely from the people of Ireland". We don't want Lord Birkenhead's signature to that. The position in which we stand at present is clearly defined. You will find it defined. I don't know whether it is a slip on Mr. Lloyd George's part or not and I don't care. It is there in print. Article 10, page 4 of the printed document, "The Government of the Irish Free State agrees". I think that disposes of the question of credentials. "The Government of the Irish Free State agrees" and the British Government at the end of article makes another agreement. There is an admission there that cannot be gone back on that this is a treaty between two Governments. Let there be no mistaking it. When any of us have to control a treaty and you have to bear in mind this because the opposite has been put before you when the representatives of a country have to place a construction on a treaty their invariable practice is to construe every item of that treaty in the most favourable manner to themselves. And that is their right as universally acknowledged and it is a totally wrong aspect to put before you that this or that item with [recte in] a document can be construed in an unfavourable [gap in original]. It is our right to construe it in a favourable way. The material point which I ask you to bear in mind with regard to the whole position is this, that the Irish constitution has not yet come into existence. We are working on an implied constitution in Dáil Éireann, not on a drafted constitution or an agreed constitution. We are working on an implied constitution and it is within the four corners of that document, entirely in our power to draft the constitution of the Irish Free State and when that is drafted
Pausing here THE SPEAKER said: I would like to see that covering letter from Mr. Lloyd George if it is on the premises.
The letter having been handed to him THE SPEAKER went on (reading) "It is our desire" so and so We don't care, we want our desire "That Ireland shall rank as co-equal with the other nations of the Commonwealth, and we are ready to support her claim to a similar place in the League of Nations as soon as her new Constitution come into effect. The framing of that Constitution will be in the hands of the Irish Government subject to the terms of the agreement." In other words that is what he says, that the constitution will be subject, that is, it will embody in some shape or form the terms of the Treaty. I venture to say it will not embody a single line of that Treaty and I find it impossible to imagine that the constitution of the Irish Nation will be drawn up in which the name of Great Britain is even once mentioned any more than the name of any other country. The drafting of that constitution is going to be, as Mr. Lloyd George says, in our hands and as he admitted last night in the course of the discussion it is to be in our hands. So far as certain things by implication may be construed against us in the Treaty, it is in our power very largely, if not entirely, and as effectively as is done in this alternative proposal of the President's to remove the objectionable implication that may be [in] any of those things. The President told you that under this Treaty in future those whom you would elect to represent you and discharge your business will be called His Majesty's Ministers. By whom? Who is going to call them His Majesty's Ministers?
Legally I think they are.
Where is that provided?
In the Dominion status.
Wait till I show you how far that carries you "Ireland shall have the same constitutional status in the Community of Nations" that is to say her position with regard to the other nations shall be so and so and so and so. There is not in that a word stating that the internal conditions of the Irish constitution shall be the same as those of Canada.
In the Treaty, Clause 2.
I see Clause 2 and it is undoubtedly a very weak point. I will face these things broadly. "Subject to the provisions hereinafter set out the position of the Irish Free State in relation to the Imperial Parliament and the Government and otherwise shall be that of the Dominion of Canada". I again insist that it will be our duty to construe that in the way most favourable to ourselves. It says the "position" of the Irish Free State not the constitution and "position" is a relative term and can only mean in relation to other bodies.
Read the rest of the clause.
"Shall be that of the Dominion of Canada, and the law, practice and constitutional usage governing the relationship of the crown or the representative of the Crown and of the Imperial Parliament to the Dominion of Canada shall govern their relationship to the Irish Free State." Very well I have a good authority on the present condition of Canada. A Canadian who has held high ministerial rank says the position of Canada embodies at present, although not in her constitution, the right to secede
Three thousand miles away.
I quite admit the validity of the interruption "the right to secede" because she is three thousand miles away. Could Canada not agree and do things differently from us because she is three thousand miles away? I wish those who make the interruption would have in their minds the difference between sixty and three thousand. It is a useful argument on one occasion and capable of being forgotten on another. I am not making a debating society point that the three thousand miles and sixty miles argument cuts both ways. Therefore that idea that men in the future Irish legislature will have to describe themselves or will be compelled to be described as His Majesty's Ministers that is construing the thing from the British point of view it does not require any prophet to know that the term "His Majesty's Ministers" will never be applied, nor will the term "His Majesty's Officer" ever be applied to the officers of that Ireland. If applied it will be on the other side of the Channel. It won't be on this side. You have two things to accept. The substance is in one that is in the other, or if there is any difference with regard to the whole substantial part of the two of them it is not a difference in principle that is, it is the descriptive part, the phraseology, that differs in the two; the substance is identical. Then as to the other point the last speaker mentioned; he suggested that the substitution of Document No. 2 for Document No. 1 would unite Ireland. I say on the contrary, that beyond all possible doubt, [if] there is any certain way for throwing the Irish public into confusion it will be by substituting that document for the other one. That is as certain as the sun shines. Because those who have endeavoured to explain the thing here near to us, will find it utterly impossible to explain to the satisfaction of the Irish public that this one should have been rejected in favour of that one. What will be the consequence? What is going to happen? We are told that possibly if we agree on this document that we will be able effectively to substitute it for the other. And possibly not. I wonder what the chances are? I should like to know if you could get the intelligent betting man to size up what odds he would give in favour of this solution being successful if you side-track the other one. I know the Irish public as well as most people do and I tell you that instead of leading to union you will throw the whole Irish position into the melting pot if you substitute Document No. 2 for Document No. 1. If you want to divide on Document No. 1, take the straight course against it and then there will be no confusion and the people will know where you stand. But you are going to lead them into a play of will-o'-the-wisp if you attempt to do that by substituting Document No. 2 for Document No. 1. There is an element I have to speak for here that many of you have left out of account. I will point it out in the letter of the President which was afterwards published while these negotiations were going on. The people who were negotiated with on one side were engaged in civil war on the other side, and they were and are still, and that is the situation you have to face again. It won't be the melting pot here and there in Dublin or in Cork and gradually growing up to a war. It will be civil war in the other form with practically the entire I don't know how to describe them but the entire Orange population in Northern Ireland at present armed to the teeth, supplied with arms by the British Government during the time when it was negotiating with our representatives. That is what you will have to face and you will give the best of all excuses for the war. Whereas if you go ahead and accept this Treaty it is just as unpalatable to me as it is to the most uncompromising men here. I don't like a single item of it. It is unpalatable in the sense that it is not pleasant. It was put up to me that it was a dictated Treaty. It is not as bad as all that. My friend said, "Then it is a voluntary Treaty". I said no
Are not we discussing this document, not the Treaty?
I suppose it is up to me to show a good example at all events. I have said all that I have to say. I put it to you now that this document I don't say that the President intended it that way is a red herring. I say this, that it is a proposal which those who are supporting the President on other grounds cannot logically support. They have to take a vote, yes or no, and stand by that. It will be thoroughly satisfactory, as a thoroughgoing opportunist, that this position is taken that there is an outstanding Party here in Ireland who will have no approval, and have expressed no approval, for the British connection in any shape or form. That is right and it will be and should be done in the clearest way, and it would be unfortunate if these straight men whose minds I understand, if they, instead of taking that stand which will be clear to everyone and may be the greatest protection for this country, were to act so that every man, woman and child will understand that they took their stand under President de Valera's document.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
Is it the wish of the meeting that we continue the discussion or adjourn?
I got a telegram from Mr. Harry Boland which I think it proper to read. It is:
"Washington. To Eoin MacNeill, Speaker, Dáil Éireann, National University Council Hall, Dublin.
As I cannot reach Dublin in time to take part in the Treaty discussion I must insist upon my right to vote. Having no official information am compelled to take my decision on the text as published here. I desire to record my vote against the Treaty and pray that Dáil will reject the instrument drawn up at London. Acknowledge.
Harry J. Boland, Deputy, Roscommon, Mayo".
The meeting adjourned for luncheon at 1.55 p.m.
After the adjournment for luncheon the Speaker took the Chair at 4.20.
Now with regard to the course of the discussions we will act on that arrangement that I announced to you earlier, that is those who wish to speak will give in their names to any one of the four Whips and we will then have the discussion in order. They will pass on the names to me and it will be arranged different members of Dáil will speak.
I wish to appeal to the Dáil for a very close, earnest and dispassionate consideration of the terms of the document, which the President has laid before you, with a full sense of the importance attaching to it and the possibility that unity may be reached upon it, and with the fact that the future of Ireland for generations to come may depend upon the choice given by this assembly between the proposals laid down in that document and the terms of the Treaty signed in London. I do not think so far from the speeches that have been delivered to you that close and dispassionate consideration has been given. Of course the time has been short. It has only been before you for a short time. Nevertheless it seemed to me that there were certain judgements passed upon the President's document which were [gap in original] and ill-considered, and delivered without full cognizance of the immense importance attaching to it. It has been said by more than one speaker that broadly speaking there is no difference between the document presented to you by the President and the Treaty as signed in London broadly speaking I say. At any rate the opinion has been expressed that the difference between the two documents was not appreciable enough to influence the action of the nation at this grave moment of crisis. I ask for a reconsideration of that judgment and for a close discussion of the terms of the document before you. I shall endeavour to prove to you that, so far from the being the same document or approximately the same document as the Treaty signed in London, it is a document differing in vital and fundamental respects from the Treaty signed in London. And in saying that I should like to say two other things. The first I think I can say justly as having been secretary of the delegation in London. I think I am entitled and I think the other members of the delegation will think I am entitled to make this general statement. This document of the President is founded on proposals made to the British government in London. It is founded on that. In no fundamental respect does it differ from them. Now I am correct in saying that, throughout the proceedings in London, no suggestion was heard from the Irish side or from the British side that the terms of such proposals I am referring now to the proposals made in London upon which I again say the President's are founded did not differ vitally and fundamentally from the British proposals. They differed in this respect and both sides knew and said they differed in this respect that the British proposals left the King of England King of Ireland and Ireland within the British Empire; and that the Irish proposals took away from the King of England, and therefore it is extremely important from the British nation authority over Ireland and placed Ireland outside the British Empire. These points were perfectly clearly understood. And here in Dublin when the point is raised that these two documents do not vitally differ, I venture to say that those who would press that opinion have not studied them closely themselves, and I venture to say this further that all the delegates in London will substantiate what I am saying and tell you that they differed vitally. There is a further point. The opinion has been expressed here that if you don't take the President's proposals you might as well go back to the bare unqualified form of a Republic. We will express it in that form an independent Republic, an isolated Republic and no more. I ask the Assembly to remember this, and every member of it knows that the delegation was sent to London with an expressed intention. It was sent there under the terms of the letters which were passed, and of one letter in particular which the Dáil itself was solid on, to which it gave its unanimous assent so that they should go to London to consider and discuss how an association could be formed with the British Commonwealth which would satisfy national aspirations. There was no question under the terms before the Dáil, or before the delegation, of an absolutely isolated Republic. The question was, could terms be obtained in London which would satisfy that formula and meet the national aspirations of Ireland that is to say, could the national independence be maintained and an association formed with the British Commonwealth satisfactory both to Ireland and to that Commonwealth? That was the issue. Now this document submitted to you by the President appears to me to be a faithful and truthful presentation of a means of carrying out that undertaking and of associating Ireland retaining her freedom as Ireland with the British Commonwealth in all matters in which the British Commonwealth and Ireland could jointly act in cooperation. Now I call your attention your very earnest attention to clause I of the President's document: "That the legislative, executive, and judicial authority of Ireland shall be derived solely from the people of Ireland". That clause represents that side of the undertaking to which I have just called your attention in which the national aspirations of Ireland are referred to. That clause confers or rather recognises and in our view it is a case of recognition the independence of Ireland, and I defy anyone, constitutional lawyer or humble layman, man in the street or whoever it is, to pick a hole in that definition of independence. There are two ways of expressing independence of course. On the one hand a power which claims authority over another can renounce its authority over that other. The other way of reaching the same result is for the nation which has been under the authority of the other to declare its independence. This clause takes a later [recte the latter] form. I was amazed to hear you, Sir (the Speaker), in your capacity as a member of the Dáil speaking just now, referring to that clause in a very light and casual manner, as it seemed to me, and saying, I think, that it was a clause which should appear in an Irish Constitution and should not appear in an agreement with Great Britain. I confess I am altogether unable to understand that way of presenting the case. For 750 years, whether we like it or not, England has exercised authority over this island. There is no getting away from it, and when Ireland is making an agreement with Great Britain, an agreement to obtain her freedom simultaneously with an association with Great Britain, there surely must be some declaration of independence in that document apart altogether from the Constitution which Ireland proposes subsequently to set up. There must be an expressed statement somewhere that Irish authority belongs to Ireland and that the King of England's authority does not run in Ireland. And that is contained in Clause I of the President's document. Under the British law the King holds and under the Treaty will still continue to hold legislative, executive and judicial authority in Ireland. In Clause I of the President's document he does not hold, and Ireland and the Irish people alone hold. You have to contrast that first clause with the second clause of the British Treaty: "Subject to the provisions hereinafter set out the position of the Irish Free State in relation to the Imperial Parliament and Government and otherwise shall be that of the Dominion of Canada" now "and the law, practice and constitutional usage governing the relationship of the Crown and of the Imperial Parliament to the Dominion of Canada shall govern their relationship to the Irish Free State". That is the clause you have to compare with the one I have just read to you. Nobody could be in any two minds about the difference between the two, lawyer or layman, I should think. Nobody should leave this Assembly without having made his mind up clearly on the subject and seeing the significance attaching to it. Under the law which runs in Canada the King of England will be King of Ireland and British authority which stands behind the King of England will be British authority in Ireland. Never forget to associate these two things together. The King, a constitutional King, has in fact very few functions having power but he acts through a ministry which does wield power. Wherever you see a King of England acting anywhere throughout his dominions behind him lies the British authority. The King in Ireland will be part of the legislature in Ireland. I am referring now to the legislative function. The Parliament of Canada consists of the King and the two Houses of Parliament and the King exercises functions in that Parliament. He exercises a very important function of giving assent to Canadian Acts of Parliament. He exercises that function through the Governor General who is in Canada as the representative of the King and who in all matters where King's authority is concerned represents the King. Before I leave the legislature, the King or rather, in this respect, British authority has another important power in Canada. The Imperial Parliament sitting at West-minister of which again the King is part; the King, Lords and Commons, can pass legislature [recte legislation], can pass laws of its own in London and by law mind you I am not going to be unfair for a moment which, by law, can bind Canada. There is no question of that. The liberties and laws passed by the British Parliament in the past have bound Canada and applied to Canada to this day. The same constitution by law would apply to Ireland, namely, that Acts of the British Parliament could by law bind Ireland without Ireland's assent, and without Ireland's knowledge even of they having been passed. That is in addition to the royal power to give assent to the Acts of the Canadian Parliament, which would be transferred in the case of Ireland, giving assent, through his Governor General or representatives or whatever he may be called, to Acts of the Irish Parliament. The King has also an executive capacity. I would call your attention to the second of the President's clauses, "executive". Under the law all executive authority in Canada belongs to the King of England. All executive acts are done in his name by whomsoever so performed. Here again, the Governor General acts for the King, and in Ireland whoever takes the place of the Governor General, or whatever he is called, will act for the King of England. Under the Act of Parliament and I might remind you here that the liberties of Canada, the constitution of Canada, and what is called the position of Canada in this Treaty are regulated by an Act of the British Parliament and in my opinion the British government, if this Treaty were to be carried out, would endeavour to place the position of Ireland under a similar authority, namely an Act of the British Parliament. The Governor General acting by authority of the King has appointed [sic]. It is bound to ask his advice and consult him; but he is not bound by law to anything and is not bound by law even to ask it, only in certain cases, as for example the dissolution of Parliament and appointment of Ministers and some other matters. That is the law. Every executive act in Canada is done under the authority of the King and every executive act in Ireland of the Irish Government would be done legally under the authority of the King of England. I call your attention next to the word "judicial" in the first line of the President's draft. Under the President's address all judicial authority like all executive and legislative authority would be derived solely from the Irish people. That is not so in the case of Canada. There is a judicial link between Canada and Great Britain in the form of an appeal from the highest of the Canadian courts to the Privy Council of England, a body called the judicial committee of the Privy Council. That exists in the case of Canada and of Great Britain. I am not laying particular stress on it but I have to call your attention to the terms of this document and to show you what is meant by that word "law" in the British Treaty. As regards the army, in Canada the King of England is Commander-in-Chief of all Canadian forces and with the same law, carried out under the Treaty in Ireland, the King of England would be Commander-in-Chief of all Irish forces. The question of military and naval defence. Now under the law in Canada, and I again remind you that I am later going to speak on what is called "constitutional usage", the power of the King of England and therefore of the British government are practically supreme over Canadians. They can undoubtedly under the law conscript Canadians. They can conduct a military occupation of Canada and use the resources of Canada over any country in which they are engaged at war and they can implicate Canada by law in any such war. Every possibility of that kind is ruled out by this document of the President. In that connection I shall have to refer to later clauses of it but this is relevant in connection with the first clause because that states, "that the legislative, executive and judicial authority of Ireland shall be derived solely from the people of Ireland." We shall come later to the method of association with the British Empire. I must draw your attention now, because they are directly relevant to the matter I am discussing, to the clauses 6 and 7 of the Treaty referring to this matter of defence to which I have just alluded. It would be easier if you would turn your attention first to clause No. 7, "The Government of the Irish Free State shall afford to His Majesty's Imperial forces:
(a) In time of peace such harbour and other facilities as are indicated in the Annex hereto, or such other facilities as may from time to time be agreed between the British Government and the Government of the Irish Free State.
(b) In time of war or of strained relations with a Foreign Power such harbour and other facilities as the British Government may require for the purposes of such defence as aforesaid."
That clause gives the British government a permanent army of occupation in certain parts of Ireland referred to in the Treaty. And apart altogether from that it must be understood from the provision in section 2 which refers to "constitutional usage". That will clearly be understood from the terms of the Treaty. Clauses 6 and 7 are exceptions to Dominion Status a permanent army of occupation at Irish ports and (a) permanent implication in British war waged for whatever object or purpose because under this clause, "In time of peace such harbour and other facilities as are indicated in the Annex hereto or such other facilities as may from time to time be agreed between the British Government and the Government of the Irish Free State and (b) in time of war or of strained relations with a Foreign Power such harbour and other facilities as the British Government may require for the purposes of such defence as aforesaid." That indicates that not only the ports referred to in the Annex but any docks or facilities of any sort whatsoever throughout the whole island will be at the disposal of the British government. And if the ports and facilities of an island are under the disposal of a government at war that island obviously and necessarily is engaged in that war whether it likes it or not. The provisions of that clause are permanent and are not affected by any qualification of the constitutional status. I am referring now to the corresponding clauses under the President's draft, numbers 7, 8, 9. I should have referred, before I pass to that, to clause 6 of the Treaty. Clause 6 says: "Until an arrangement has been made between the British and Irish Governments whereby the Irish Free State undertakes her own coastal defence, the defence by sea of Great Britain and Ireland shall be undertaken by His Majesty's Imperial Forces, but this shall not prevent the construction or maintenance by the Government of the Irish Free State of such vessels as are necessary for the protection of the Revenue or the Fisheries". Now I think it should be understood exactly what the meaning of that clause is and why it is separated from the other one. Substantially it means nothing legally as a binding undertaking more than is contained in the original proposals of July 20th in a certain clause there which stated that the Royal Navy was to have exclusive control over the coasts and seas of Ireland. "Until an arrangement has been made between the British and Irish Governments" no arrangement ever could be made without the agreement of the British government. The only qualification is that Ireland may construct and maintain such vessels as are necessary for the fisheries. Those of course are not defence vessels, properly speaking they are not part of the Navy at all. In that paragraph is contained a prohibition of Ireland from having a naval defence force naval ships I should say of her own because [of] the sense and meaning of the clause referring to ships. The latter part of the paragraph says: "The foregoing provisions of this article shall be reviewed at a conference of Representatives of the British and Irish Governments to be held at the expiration of five years from the date hereof with a view to the undertaking by Ireland of a share in her own coastal defence". That commits the British government to nothing whatever and, if there was any result, it would only give Ireland a share in her own coastal defence. Turn to clauses 7, 8 and 9 of the President's draft. It ought to be clear to everyone here that national independence is impossible in the true sense unless the right of Ireland to defend herself, her own coasts and her own shores is admitted. If that right is not admitted no number of treaties or agreements or stipulations can get over the fact that Ireland is restrained from expressing one of the fundamental and essential functions of an independent government. To say that we cannot construct a navy is to make it a protectorate of the country which issues that order. Clause number 7 of the President's draft states the true principle the principle that every independent nation in the world makes and must make whether it is stated on paper or not, "that, so far as her resources permit, Ireland shall provide for her own defence by sea, land and air". And the latter part gives the further undertaking, "and shall repel by force any attempt by a foreign power to violate the integrity of her soil and territorial waters, or to use them for any purpose hostile to Great Britain and the other associated States". That is meant to give a security to Great Britain and at the same time it expresses a duty and responsibility on the part of Ireland. No such clause appears in the Treaty as signed, and in substitution for that clause appears paragraph No. 6 in the Treaty prohibiting an Irish navy. Clause No. 8 in the President's draft makes some qualifications. There is not the slightest doubt in negotiating with England it had to be made and has to be made. They feel tremendously on the subject of defence and the question before any one negotiating with them would be to meet them in that respect, to meet them without sacrificing the national status and without formally giving up what is the fundamental right of every free nation. Clauses 8 and 9 carry out that principle, it seems to me, as well as can be carried out. They say, "That for five years pending the establishment of Irish coastal defence forces, or for such other period as the Governments of the two countries may later agree upon, facilities for the Coastal ". "Or for such other period as the Governments of the two countries may later agree upon" that is to say there must be an agreement to change that "facilities for the coastal defence of Ireland shall be given to the British Government as follows". Both those paragraphs are taken almost entirely from the British Treaty, as you will observe, and they are covered by a five years condition in the first part of the paragraph. And the purpose of that is explained clearly on the face of the document, "pending the establishment of Irish coastal defence forces" that is a very national qualification because no such thing exists now in the meaning intended, that is the naval sense. The army actually does exist but no naval defence exists at this moment, so that it is a national condition to be thought of in these arrangements that, within a certain time, when Ireland has had time to prepare her own coastal defence force that time 5 years is a fairly reasonable time, rather a long time in my opinion, but by a period laid down and that, at the end of five years, British authority in these matters would end and Irish authority would be paramount. No. 9 provides for a representative conference to fulfil that final handing over of the defences from one government to another. It makes it perfectly clear. I think this point was rather lightly made by the Speaker I think it was you yourself, Sir. I think it is perfectly clear that the function of that conference is to hand over the coastal defence of Ireland to the Irish Government in default of some other arrangement arrived at by agreement. It leaves the hands of Ireland perfectly clear. If it is not clear that at the end of five years they must hand over those defences and [sic] nothing could be easier than to find other words making it clear, but in my opinion it is clear from that. That is the contrast to be drawn between the President's draft and the draft Treaty. There is one other point to be noted. The President's draft No. 10 contains an additional paragraph with regard to the naval defence. It says, "That in order to co-operate in furthering the principle of international limitation of armaments, the Government of Ireland shall not
(a) build submarines unless by agreement with Great Britain."
That appears to me to be a useful provision and I am glad it was added. Any free nation has a perfect right to make that arrangement with another nation, nor is its status appreciably qualified thereby. Only the other day at Washington an agreement was proposed for the elimination of submarines altogether in view of their use in modern war. Ireland sacrifices nothing in the way of status by that simple declaration that, unless by agreement with Great Britain and the other States of the Commonwealth, Ireland will not build submarines, a particular class of naval craft. The last paragraph of the same clause refers to military defence and says that Ireland shall not, "maintain a military defence force, the establishments whereof exceed in size such proportion of the military establishments maintained in Great Britain as that which the population of Ireland bears to the population of Great Britain". Only the other day at Washington an agreement was come to between several powers of a very similar character that is to say a mutual agreement to limit their naval forces in certain definite proportions, one to the other, 60 per cent, 80 per cent and so on. I need not say, and I don't suggest anybody need say who is a Republican that provisions like this would not be disliked [sic] if the matter could be avoided altogether. I don't suppose anyone would say that they prefer to have any such provision of that kind in a Treaty with another power if they could avoid it. But this is a worthy fact that in the making of an arrangement of this kind the effort must be in negotiation to go as far as you can to meet your adversary without sacrificing in any essential particular your own national position. That is the time to give in. This defence clause of the President which I hold in my hand will succeed and if it does not succeed it should be pointed out clearly what the resources are. Similarly I should say clauses 6 and 7, the defence clauses, of the Treaty as signed in London do absolutely annihilate Ireland's rights in this vital matter of defence providing for a permanent occupation of Irish shores and for a vital prohibition of an Irish navy. I have had to enlarge somewhat upon that defence matter and proceed into a latter clause necessarily [more] than I should naturally have done if I had taken the document through because they arise from a consideration of the executive power in Ireland as it would be held under the President's draft and the executive power in Ireland as it would be held under the Treaty signed in London. In that respect as I have pointed out before there is no question of the constitution status of Canada and I would like to repeat it again. In these respects the constitutional status of Canada is ruled out. There are exceptions to that rule and therefore the King's authority and the executive authority of Great Britain remain absolutely permanent. Now about that word "Constitutional" in paragraph 2 of the Treaty, subject to the provisions hereinafter set out the position of the Irish State in relation to the Imperial Parliament and Government and otherwise shall be that of the Dominion of Canada, and the law, practice and constitutional usage governing the relationship of the Crown and of the Imperial Parliament to the Dominion of Canada shall govern their relationship to the Irish Free State". "Constitutional usage", "constitutional practice" the word "practice" I don't know the meaning of it at all. "Constitutional usage" is fairly well understood. I suppose the best construction to be put upon the Treaty is that the law, as I have described it to you as existing in Canada, and the law, as I have described it to you as it will unquestionably exist in Ireland, are in a certain sense abolished or qualified doubly by the use of the word "constitutional usage" in this sense, that as everybody knows I suppose at least everybody knows the Dominion of Canada and the other Dominions of the British Crown have in the course of their recent history acquired a very large measure of liberty. That is not putting it strong enough. They have acquired, I am perfectly willing to say, a virtual independence of Great Britain not under the law for the law remains precisely the same. By law the subordinate dependencies of the British Crown hold their power under Acts of the British Parliament. That law remains the same but by constitutional usage they have escaped from the letter of that law and, in my opinion, based on a close study of modern development, they have escaped from it to the extent that they are virtually independent nations, exercising full executive rights of their own within these borders, full legislative rights, and in vital matters like peace and war, treaties and so on, have obtained a position in which they can make their voices heard to such extent as to influence Imperial policy. Further than that and this is not a matter of demonstration at all, this is merely a matter of opinion that they have practically reached a point at which, as Mr. Bonar Law I think pointed out, if they differed in any vital matter from Great Britain in a matter of policy could secede from the British Empire. I don't think it is at all too strong to say that. At any rate in these matters I have been stressing, as regards the law in Ireland, questions of fact the Canadian Acts by the Crown in the person of the Governor General is in the ordinary normal course of things given on the advice of the Canadian Minister of the day and that the Canadian forces are under Canadian control. They have indeed expressed agreement to that effect. The conditions such as appeared in the draft of the Treaty upon defence have no application to the Dominions at all. But the Crown functions in Canada with strong sentimental force that is of great importance when you are considering the corresponding position of Ireland and that the British government representing the Crown also possesses a strong sentimental force but that, in their positions as Dominions, Canada and the rest have achieved a virtual independence. The question is, can that position under this Treaty be given to Ireland, and I ask the consideration of this Assembly very seriously to this matter. Everybody knows how the Dominions of the British Crown have obtained their modern position. They have attained it for two reasons, the first of which is the greatest and most important their vast distance from Great Britain, a distance which has made it physically impossible to exercise coercion over them, or to carry out the letter of the law which always exists and still exists over them. No such consideration applies to the position of Ireland. The second reason is that they are united by a blood tie with Great Britain. For the most part their inhabitants are connected by blood affinities with Great Britain. That strong sentimental association with the people of Great Britain, that, added to their vast distance, has made it natural and almost inevitable that they should acquire the independence they have acquired. No such consideration exists in the case of Ireland. An ancient and separate racial entity at perpetual war with Great Britain war, trouble and dissension of some kind for 750 years and at war for the precise reason that there was no racial affinity and no common national tradition with Great Britain and Great Britain sought throughout the whole of that period to impose her racial characteristics and racial authority over Ireland. Now are you going to stake the destinies of Ireland in the two words in that Treaty, "constitutional usage"? Who is going to interpret those words, what court or by what method, or who is to say what is "constitutional usage"? I know of no court or any method or any tribunal by which this vital question could be answered in a manner that would guarantee the independence of Ireland. What I do know is that the King of England will still be King of Ireland through his representative in Ireland with the functions he exercises being exercised in Ireland from day to day in every particular of the national life in legislative and executive matters. That is what I know. I know too that there has been an internal conflict in Ireland in respect of the exercise of that legal authority between the Irish people and the British people and that Ireland lies within a few short miles of England. So that the Governor General, representing the British King, can communicate by telephone with Downing Street and that the performance of all his functions are legislative and executive. And that the Governor General, do what you will, will not be sitting as he sits in the Dominions 3,589 miles away from the centre. But here in Ireland, close to England in direct contact with all British influences, British statesmen and unfortunately what will still remain pro-British influences gathering around that Governor General, as will surely happen, when he forms his court in Ireland and [gap in original] the centre and focus for the British influences in virtue of the British authority which he will carry from the exercise of his functions under the British Crown. You will not persuade me that Ireland under these two words "constitutional usage" is going to have the freedom of the Dominion of Canada or anything approaching it. As to the Oath I have to say very little. A great deal of importance is attached to it very naturally because so to speak it crystallises and symbolises a certain physical state of things but only a very few people take the Oath, a hundred or two going to the legislative assembly. They are not more bound by the taking of that Oath than any of those sent into Parliament or any citizen of the Irish State or rather, I should say, a subject of King George's because under that Treaty every Irishman and every Irishwoman will be, don't mistake it, a subject of King George. But the Oath as I say sums up the position in a few words for those who are to go to the legislate [sic]. Every citizen of Ireland will be in this situation. He will be a subject of King George and he must be loyal and faithful to that authority which carries with it British authority or he must be a rebel to that authority. There is no choice between those two positions. Now I have dealt with the implications and the direct meaning of clause I of the President's draft. I ask your attention now to clauses 2, 3, 4 and 5 which deal with a parallel subject of great importance also the association of Ireland in the British Commonwealth an association to which the Irish people, at any rate Dáil Éireann, is committed to the possibility of making, and if anyone felt himself not committed to it he should have spoken upon September 13th. But no such word was spoken. These clauses provide for that association and it is clearly necessary it must be necessary to all who understand the subject to lay down some rules and conditions governing the terms on which Ireland enters the association because the entry to that association might mean more than one thing. It might mean that Ireland would be bound by the majority vote of the members of this body to which she associated herself. Under this draft Ireland is associated with the British Commonwealth. She might be bound by the majority of the votes of the states composing that Commonwealth or by some central autocratic authority like England which is itself the strongest and most important state in the Commonwealth. Therefore it is necessary to define Ireland's status in the association and the terms on which she would enter that association. Those objects are carried on the clauses 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of that document. I would draw your attention to the second clause. It reads, "That, for purposes of common concern, Ireland shall be associated with the States of the British Commonwealth, viz. the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa."
Why didn't you put in the Dominion of Ireland?
That clause that I have just laid stress on indicated in more confirmatory manner the quality of the status with Great Britain and if she has equality of status at least in rights no less than those enjoyed by any of the other states. This clause defines the position of Ireland when acting in co-operation with these states as follows, "That the matters of 'common concern' shall include Defence. Peace and War, Political Treaties, and all matters now treated as of common concern amongst the States of the British Commonwealth, and that in these matters there shall be between Ireland and the States of the British Commonwealth 'such concerted action founded on consultation as the several Governments may determine'." I would draw your closes attention to those words, "such concerted action founded on consultation as the several Governments may determine." You will see those words are in quotation marks indicating that they come from a certain document which was agreed to in 1917 by the states of the British Commonwealth, including Great Britain, at an Imperial Conference which considered the "Constitutional position of the Dominions". The Dominions at that time had just been committed to the war without their consent. They joined in it although they had been committed to it without their consent, but afterwards a strong complaint was made that they should never be committed without their own consent. That was felt so strongly that the matter was brought up in explicit form before the Imperial Conference and they stated their position not alone in that matter but in all matters by [gap in original] which appears at the end of that clause, "Such concerted action founded on consultation as the several Governments may determine". In other words they enter in future such a conference with their hands free and they are not to be bound by a vote of the majority, least of all by the direction of Great Britain. They are to consult with each other and each of them take such action as their own government might determine. When I spoke of the virtual independence of the Dominions I had in my mind that particular clause. That sums up the modern constitutional evolution of these countries. It sums it up in a better and more authoritative manner than anything that can be expressed. There is no legal authority behind that resolution. It did not alter the law governing the relations with Great Britain; nevertheless it would have a binding effect on their future relations. Under this proposed Treaty by which you enter into an association with that Commonwealth it was necessary to define these relations. It commits Ireland to nothing more than that consultation with the other states of the Commonwealth including Great Britain with the right to take any action determined by her own Irish Government. I want you to compare that clause with clause 1 in the draft of the Treaty. It is the corresponding clause in the Treaty which defines the position of Ireland in relation to the Commonwealth and Great Britain. You will observe there is nothing stated there as stated in the President's draft. The only nations named are the Dominions; the Dominion of Canada, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa. The Commonwealth is not defined as comprising Great Britain and the Dominions and nothing is added further than that constitutional form defining the relation of Ireland to these other states. I think it was not inserted for a very good reason. Words like these might be inserted. Those were actually proposed to the British government on more than one occasion as you will know when you read the document which the publication committee has selected and will lay before you [and] was refused in conjunction with other proposals. It is useless to say that Ireland would have the same position as the other states in vital matters of common concern or that her Government will be able to determine her own action in these vital matters after consultation. I will tell you one very good reason why that would be impossible, if for no other reason that would arise from the proximity of Ireland to Great Britain which in itself would tend to limit and abolish these constitutional safeguards and privileges without any consultation whatsoever. Apart altogether from that no such equality of position could exist with the defence clauses which exist in the signed Treaty. You will now probably recognise their significance in the subject I am discussing. The matters of common concern in the President's draft are defence, peace and war, political treaties. They are mentioned there, some of them, because they are important. After 5 years, under the provisions in the President's draft and I have explained to you why this interval of 5 years was necessary Ireland will have a completely free hand to act in accordance with the terms set out in clause 4, that is to take "such concerted action founded on consultation as the several Governments may determine". Under the defence clauses of the President's draft Ireland would have a free hand at the end of 5 years in these matters but under the clauses of the Treaty signed in London never, never. If Ireland is to be permanently occupied by British troops with permanent positions which can only be altered by the will of Great Britain, it is obvious that matters of defence, peace and war, and political treaties which may involve this country in war cannot be matters of common concern in which Ireland will have freedom of action. That should be obvious. It is useless to suppose that Ireland will have the same constitutional status as the Dominion of Canada much less the same status as Great Britain which is said to be their equal under the terms of the Treaty. Everyone here should realise the step they are taking. You should cherish no illusions. Face the matter and ratify if you will but you should not be under any silly illusions. Ratify if you will but do so with the full knowledge of what it means. I have laid my principal stress on those vital preliminary clauses of the President's draft and the Treaty signed in London because they are matters which must determine the decision of this House. There are other matters but they are of less importance than those referred to. They can be dealt with rapidly. In 11 and 12 of the President's draft which I am taking as a text(?). For this statement in accordance with the system of debate pursued it arranged for civil communication by air and for the free entry of ships to and between the ports of Ireland and Great Britain [sic]. Clause 13 hardly needs much reference. As the President points out very fairly, under this clause he is agreeable to the setting up of an arbitration tribunal to determine Ireland's liability for the present public debt of Great Britain and Ireland as might be fair and equitable, leaving it open to Ireland, if possible, to take over her obligations as a lump sum and free of further financial obligations to Great Britain. Clause 14 is substantially the same as that in the Treaty signed in London. Clause 15 is also contained in the Treaty, though in a different place, and certainly guarantees against any kind of religious tyranny; a kind of clause which appears in many nations. Clause 16 I shall say little about because the President has dealt with it. He pointed out the changes it contains as compared with the Treaty in London. They are vitally important for the constitution of Ireland as it exists at present. The remaining clauses refer to Ulster and are without any substantial alteration for those contained in the London Treaty with the exception that the important declaratory clause, No. 17, declaring the essential unity of Ireland as a principle is not continued in the London Treaty.
Then there is the last clause of the President's draft, No. 23, which reads: "That this instrument shall be submitted forthwith by His Britannic Majesty's Government for the approval of the Parliament at Westminster and by the Cabinet of Dáil Éireann to a meeting of the members elected for the constituencies in Ireland set forth in the British Government of Ireland Act 1920, and if approved shall be ratified by the necessary legislation." That brings me to the end of the President's draft. I would only ask you to compare it as a whole with the Treaty signed in London and form your decision between the two. In my opinion the decision should be the President's draft truly carries out an honourable arrangement that can be made with England, reconciles Irish national aspirations with the association of nations comprising the British Commonwealth. The Treaty signed in London does not carry that out. It will create a position that is not true a false position in which Irishmen the moment it is signed and for generations to come will be forced to act a lie, giving allegiance and obedience to an authority which they by their own act have repudiated and which it was the object of the creation of this assembly to repudiate. They cannot truthfully abide by the terms of the Treaty. On the other hand they could truthfully abide by the terms of the President's draft. It is of the most enormous importance that this fact should be realised here and realised also by England because it is to the interests of England to make an arrangement with Ireland not based on any falsification of fact or ambiguity or misunderstanding but on the truth on which both sides have long quarrelled. When Ireland comes to an honourable agreement with England then can the two countries go forward in peace and amity.
I am not the next speaker but I want to say two words here with reference to the last speaker. I was chairman of the delegation of which Mr. Erskine Childers, not with my approval, was appointed secretary. Mr. Childers said there should be no illusions and there shall be none amongst the members. Mr. Childers made a long and laboured argument to point out that the Treaty signed in London in referring to Canada does not mean that Ireland in law as well as in fact will have the same powers as Canada as implied by the words "constitutional usage". That phrase was made by Mr. Chartres and Mr. Childers to secure that every power enjoyed by Canada should also be given to Ireland and now he makes an argument against it. I say that is a dishonest argument (cries of, Order, order). Mr. Chartres and Mr. Childers were the two men who made that phrase "constitutional usage" saying it would cover every possible power Canada had. We went to the conference, we fought upon it and we got it put in. Now Mr. Childers comes along and tells you it means nothing. He knows the authority we have to appeal to is the League of Nations of which are a member [sic]. I say that argument from beginning to end is utterly dishonest.
Am I to be allowed to answer?
You will be allowed to reply especially when the word dishonest was used. Terms of that kind must not be used by the members of this House.
I find myself in a great difficulty. Mr. Griffith, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has alluded to matters that went on inside the delegation. I have not. Of course I was secretary of that delegation and I was cognisant of the opinions expressed by the delegates. I was permitted I had the honour to attend all their meetings though I was not present at the negotiations except at the first few of the preliminary conferences at which hardly any progress was made. Mr. Griffith made allusion to my action at a certain stage in these proceedings. I want to know what is to be deduced from that. Am I to be allowed to explain fully what took place at those meetings which led up to the point he was making against me on which he founded the accusation that I was making a dishonest speech? I don't know what to do, I honestly tell you. I think it is monstrous.
I made a straight statement. I said the phrase "constitutional usage" was coined by Mr. Childers and now he gets up and denounces his own phrase.
I do not know how far I can go in this explanation. I may say this; I am entitled to say it in view of what the Minister of Foreign Affairs said. I, as he knows perfectly well, took strong line on the whole matter from first to last. I was permitted to share in debates
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order
I have made a certain statement about Mr. Childers, he is the author of that phrase.
I of course will have to explain also but my explanation will be at the public session of the Dáil. I said on all occasions that I was befogged by constitutional and legal arguments. I did not understand them then. I don't now. I didn't care for them then. I don't now.
I was fundamentally opposed to the document presented to us by the British Government?
Does Mr. Childers deny the phrase?
Surely if Mr. Childers helped Mr. Griffith to find a phrase, surely that does not preclude him from denouncing the whole document.
A statement has been made in grave language against a member and he must be allowed to make an explanation.
It was my duty as secretary, and I considered that the worst possible document, to help so far as I could in improving it. The words "constitutional usage" did not appear in point of fact in the first draft. In an attempt to get some kind of result from the document submitted to us by Mr. Griffith we put in those words. To brand me as a dishonest man because I endeavoured to improve a rotten draft by some word that may be a little better is a monstrous thing.
That does not answer my question.
If there is anything about the position or any points to be spoken of here about the delegation I am willing and anxious that all documents and all letters should be put before the members of this Assembly. I did take a strong line on some things because I was sick and tired of legal arguments.
I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that a rule should be made upon the time allowed to each speaker. A number of us here from the country, only plain ordinary men, are entitled to a voice in the proceedings as well as anyone else.
I have listened with considerable attention to Mr. Childers' erudite eulogy of the President's draft and I am sorry it has fallen to my lot to bring this Assembly back to earth from the rarified atmosphere of the top storey of Mr. Childers' castle in the air. I have to remind you that this draft of the President, if you swallow it, involves the rejection of the Treaty. I have to remind you if you swallow this draft of the President that it is very doubtful if the country will, more particularly if the swallowing of the draft involves the resumption of war against fearful odds. Mr. Childers made a certain case for the draft which differs somewhat from the case made by the President. Mr. Childers' case was that it is a very considerable improvement upon the Treaty. The President's case was that it differed so little from the Treaty that rather than make war the English Government would give way. He (the President) spoke of the difference as one merely of shadows and said we were entitled to shadows. Mr. Childers at some considerable length went about showing that there were very real and very grave and very fundamental differences. Between two such eminent authorities on constitutional matters as the President and Mr. Childers it is hard to choose, where the main thing to bear in mind is that the adoption or approval of that draft for the President involves rejection of the Treaty. I wonder does the President mean to say he is gambling? Well, gambling is a legitimate thing up to a point but we selected 5 men of judgment, 5 men of outstanding worth, and we sent them to London and those men signed a Treaty believing they were getting the last ounce that could be got from the British Government and believing that the alternative would be terrible and immediate war for the country. Now we are asked to say that it is not the last word in war and that if we stand on the draft of President de Valera the British Government will give way. I say it will be an insult to the men you sent to London, an insult to the intelligence of the Dáil and an insult to the country if you ask them to back you on such a proposal. The scene preceding that Monday or Tuesday morning was this; a deadlock was reached on Sunday night, what was practically a break was reached on Monday, in a last desperate effort to reach an agreement the pleni-potentiaries or some of them again met the British representatives, it is true, at the request altogether of the British representatives. They had the treaty of Saturday before them. That treaty contained very grave defects. There was an objectionable trade clause and a defence clause and an objectionable clause relating to Ulster all of which were amended. And then we have all this about why didn't the President see the final draft? Why didn't the captain of the ship see it? That is hollow and foolish. He could never have seen it. Lloyd George said, "If I am going to fight again I am going to keep my friends both in Ireland and England and I will not give these things unless you sign." The train was waiting and the gunboat ready to bring a letter to Craig either sending the new proposals or telling him the negotiations had broken down. They were faced with a choice and if they had shirked their responsibility they would have been false in their duty to the Dáil and the people of Ireland. And because they did not do it they are placed here like men in the dock this because they fulfilled the trust placed in them through you by the people of Ireland. Great latitude has been allowed in the discussion on the President's draft. In it the President has been trying to find a way out of the welter he has created. So hasty, so precipitate, so eager was he to take action in this matter that the Minister of Local Government and myself had the very greatest difficulty in persuading on him to wait till the delegates arrived before he hurled a bombshell that split the greatest political movement, the solidest the world has ever seen. He waited for 24 hours and the next day the fateful Cabinet meeting was held. Even some people who were not entitled to speak at that meeting spoke to the President and implored him to consider what he was doing and to consider the consequences of his act but we might as well have tried to hold the west wind. Now the time of the session of An Dáil called to consider the document brought home by their representatives was taken up with reading of a document which represents the President's way out. Last October the Minister of Local Government and myself came deliberately to the decision that we would not recommend any settlement involving allegiance to the King of England. That is true, but I am not ashamed to plead guilty to the fact that I consider political realities and the consequence of my vote. It would be well for Ireland if the President considered most carefully the consequences of his action and if he faced political realities. I would have gone back to war rather than recommend a settlement involving allegiance if the Treaty had not been signed. But I face the political situation and realise that some of the biggest personalities in our movement men who did more for the country than any other men that they have considered this is the last ounce could be got from England, and who, knowing the situation better than I do, attached their names to that document. In the face of that we could not ask the country to go back to war and if you do what will you have, a demoralised, dispirited, disunited country and, with due deference to those in authority, a demoralised, dispirited army, an army many of whose members would say, "What was good enough for Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins is good enough for us. Why should we be hurled back to war again on a whim?" Now, Mr. Childers on speaking of this draft of the President's and comparing it with the other Treaty signed in London spoke of it rather in the tone of a man who was saying, "You could have either if you reject this Treaty". I do not know what reason he has to suppose that the English Parliament and the English Government are going to swallow the difference between the Treaty and Document No. 2. My own view is that Ireland would have to go down on its knees to see what the difference Mr. Childers says does he think England because the Dáil says we won't have this that England is going to give. Does he not think that England knows if she resumes war that Ireland will be at her mercy with her people disunited and broken up into fractions? Mr. Childers made another statement that Ireland will be the bond-slave of England and the English King under the Treaty. I will appeal against that to an authority and that is the authority of Mr. Childers himself for which I am sure he has the greatest respect. I want to refer to a document he put in himself, "Law and Fact in Canada."
May I ask that the whole of the document if part of it is read.
It is in 2 parts. If Mr. Childers insists I will go through the lot of it.
It is a question of giving fairly and fully what is in that document.
In the Treaty we come here to the end of Clause 2 governing relations of the Crown and the Irish Free State. I do submit the words "constitutional usage" are there for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to neutralise and nullify the word "law". They are put into that clause with that purpose and they are the safeguards our constitutional experts advised. The British representatives spoke of the Crown merely as a shadow but it was such an important sentiment to the English people that they would never, and no government could ever, carry those proposals if it were not put in, but they agreed to put in any safeguard and [recte that] the Crown would have no greater authority in Ireland than in Canada. The insertion in the Treaty of the words "constitutional usage" were then put in on the advice of our experts, whether Mr. Childers or Mr. Chartres, or Chartres-cum-Childers, I don't know which but at any rate these words, following the word law, "practice and constitutional usage", was what they decided to put in to ensure that the Crown would have no greater powers than in Canada.
Not to ensure.
Mr. Childers asked who was to be the judge. My answer is, not the League of Nations. We are to be the judge and we to be the court. I say and [recte that] the fidelity in the Oath which we say will give to the King of England is contingent on England respecting to the full the terms of this Treaty. If she tries to infringe on those terms then, in so far as that Oath was taken at the cannon's mouth, its binding force disappears. We are the judges how far the words "practice and constitutional usage" are binding. Then we would have an army.
Would you go to war in defence of your opinions?
We would have no enemy in occupation then. These safeguards were put in to ensure that the power of the Crown would be no greater in Ireland than in Canada. Members talk of a way out. I do not see any way out. I do not see any way out now. There was a way out last Thursday and, if the President gave as much time and thought to the matter then as no doubt he has given to it since, a way out no doubt could have been found. The President as representative of a weaker nation up against the alternative of war could have issued such a document which, while it prepared the nation for acceptance, would still remind them that it was not recognition of their independence. He could still with grave dignity have accepted but he could have said, "The alternative for my country is war". He could have said our representatives in London were threatened with terrible and immediate war if this document were not accepted and signed. In that spirit and in that spirit only Dáil Éireann will accept. It could have taken this Free State in such a way that this Treaty would have no binding force in Ireland. But instead he split the finest, the solidest political movement the world has ever seen from top to bottom.
I must protest.
It is most undignified that any member should get up and abuse the President without any protest from this House. The President's action is not under discussion.
This Document No. 2 is being commented upon.
It is just as well face it now before we go into public.
The President's way out is no way out. It involves rejection of the Treaty and brings a demoralised country back into war unless England is so foolish to give the difference between this document and the Treaty. I submit that, knowing well the conditions existing in the country, they will not give the difference.
Some men could not see principle if they had a microscope.
It has been said that to ratify this Treaty involves an abandonment of principle, that it is a betrayal of the principles of the men who died for independence in the past. When a country went to war in a just cause, or when an unjust war was forced upon it, must it continue that war? Has it no right to make terms? I submit that the men who went out in 1916 went out in the spirit that a military victory was out of the question and that they had to take terms in the interests of the nation that fell short of independence. Does anyone submit they would have fought on for a recognition of Irish independence? Are we to be denied that right to make terms in their name today? If the principle of Irish nationality is not immortal then it has died many deaths because the chiefs of the Irish clans swore allegiance to Henry VIII, the members of Grattan's Parliament sat in allegiance to the King of England and from 1800 we have been sending members to sit in the English Parliament at Westminster; and yet when Pearse went out in 1916 and proclaimed a Republic would anyone say he was acting dishonourably because the Irish chiefs gave allegiance to Henry VIII, because Grattan's Parliament sat in allegiance to the King at the time, or because John Redmond and his Party took an oath to the King of England? Parnell in his fight for freedom took an oath to the King of England. The struggle was a constitutional one and Parnell said no man had a right to set bounds to the march of a nation or to say thus far shalt thou go and no further. We who stand for this Treaty stand for it in the full truth of Parnell's dictum (applause).
I would like to say that in my reference to Mr. Childers I did not wish to imply that he himself is dishonest. I did not mean the man himself, I referred to his argument.
On resuming at 7.20 p.m. on Thursday 15th December THE SPEAKER said:
I understand there is a motion to come before us for adjournment. Several members have sent me questions and I have them in hands for some time and perhaps it would be well before we take this adjournment that the questions should be asked. I take these questions now. The first is from Seán O'Dea¹. It is:
1. This is an error. There was no Deputy of this name.
"I desire to ask the chairman of the delegation of plenipotentiaries whether there is any written undertaking as to the length of time the process of evacuation of the British forces is considered or expected to take?"
MR. SEÁN O'DWYER (?)²
Before you ask that, I would like to say this that before we begin for every reason I hope you will make an appeal to all of the members to conduct this discussion with decorum and good feeling and with respect for one another.
2. Question mark is in original. There was no member of this name.
I am sure it should not be necessary for me to make any such appeal. But I put it on this ground that any divisions that exist here and might take an unpleasant form are certain to be reflected in an aggravated form in the public outside, and that I am sure is what every single member here desires namely to avoid the division of our country in the face of the enemy of our country into two hostile camps. I hope that the circumstances will not be denied that we are still in the face of the enemy and that our division into two hostile camps is the most fatal thing that could happen to us, because it would not be only disastrous to us but would dishonour us before the entire world. Now the best means that all of you can take to avoid that is to avoid it between yourselves, for any overstrain of feeling that is exhibited here is reflected outside. You are the pick of the nation sent here as representing the nation. Any overstrain that is shown here I know people can't help feeling the strain but it is their business to restrain themselves outwardly any strain here will be aggravated in its reflections on the nation; and therefore I would ask every single member when speaking to bear that in mind that a degree of difference here between you is certain to be reflected in an aggravated degree in the country; and the result of that will be more and more to divide us into two camps in the face of the enemy. Now it is not necessary for me to enlarge on that. I hope it is not. I myself, I suppose, feel the strain as strongly as any one does. I feel the crisis that we are in perhaps as strongly as anyone does here and I do my best not to allow myself to exhibit that in my personal feeling towards anyone; and every single one of you can do the same and not only can you do it but you must do it. You are bound in duty to the country to do it and every person who transgresses that duty at this time commits a very serious offence against the good of the country and against the interests of the country. It is not consistent with fidelity to our national ideals to forget ourselves, to indulge in any fierce recrimination amongst ourselves.
On the evacuation question Mr. Lloyd George said to us, and in his letter he repeated it, that immediately on ratification of the Treaty he would start the withdrawal of the Crown forces from Ireland. He said it would take about a month. In about a month they would be all out. Are these other questions to me?
Would it not be well I saw them?
Yes, I think you are right. I should pass these questions to the Ministers. Here is a question addressed to the President, "Has the President received any report from the Chief of Police as to the burglary from the office of the the Minister of Finance?"
I have been told by the Minister of Home Affairs that the police are investigating the matter and I also spoke to the Minister of Finance and he said I need not bother about it. Is not that so?
Arrangements are being made for men to be put in there to-night.
A word or two with reference to the remarks made by the speaker who spoke just before the adjournment, with reference to the saying there is an inconsistency between Deputy Childers' statement and mine. It is only an apparent inconsistency. If constitutional usage were to cover everything we have no guarantee of that there would be very little difference. There would be of course vital difference on the allegiance or the acceptance of the King as the King of Ireland. There is one further vital difference, that is the difference between the permanent occupation of Ireland, of Irish ports, and so on which is possible in one case and is not possible in the other. Now I must protest against accusation of causing a split. I had either to do my duty or not. Once before, when another political movement asked me for unity when conscription was on, I agreed to it. If people are going to hell I never think it useful to be with them going there. I felt it was my duty not to do that as regards the division in the Cabinet which originated not with me. The Minister for Defence here put it up to Mr. Griffith when he was going back, when he thought there was a possibility of accepting the Crown, that it would mean a split. Mr. Griffith said he could not break on that; he thought there would be a split. Mr. Griffith said he could not break on that; he thought that there would be a split anyway. Then he undertook to bring it back to the Dáil. I was not responsible for the split so I did let it appear that the document for which I was in agreement I did say that that was Government policy and they have to pass it afterwards and I would be told why didn't you say so at first.
I say nothing against what the President said: "If we break on the Crown we would also have a split in the country". But the President got the option of coming to London.
There was a principle to gain so I was making up my mind whether I would go or not. I explained it when Mr. Griffith gave the undertaking that he would not sign it, that he would put it before the Dáil. I felt it was not necessary; I probably would have gone.
As a result of some of the remarks I made the Minister for Finance offered after the five of you came back five others would go. I would have accepted that only for the undertaking given by the chairman of the delegation that he would sign nothing, that he would tell Mr. Lloyd George that he would come back here and leave it to the Dáil.
I think it only right to say there was a document there and Mr. Griffith said he would not sign that document and a different document was signed. Whatever we may say to the fundamentals we can get right on this. If it is to be suggested that I for one would be responsible for any split that is not the position. I have suggested to the Dáil to ask for my resignation. If the Treaty is rejected I am not going to make a split. I will follow in the position that I should be in and you can get over it by being men, by accepting or rejecting and finishing it.
I only want to say this. As far as the split is concerned I say the preliminary to a split first occurred when the Treaty was published. I myself would not have ratified that Treaty when I read it first and not only I but other people that I have spoken to. Therefore I maintain that any difference of opinion that could possibly lead to a split occurred when the Treaty was first published, not after our President's answer appeared in the paper.
Is there any use at all in this talk on the resolution that we go into private session to-morrow at 11 o'clock? We will hear all these arguments again.
I hope not. There are two questions before us that have been raised that is to say the question of personal responsibility as to what has happened and the future question as to what the Dáil itself is going to do. These are totally different questions. I don't want to sidetrack either of them. But I want to know would it be possible to deal with this as a matter of personal responsibility because they are not the same thing. The merits of the decision you have to come to are absolutely independent of the merits of the action taken by people in coming to that decision. There is no connection between the two at all. You will do wrong, if the Treaty is wrong, by adopting it. You will do right, if the Treaty is right, by accepting it and it will make no difference to you if other people have done right or wrong before you. I appeal to the people on both sides to weigh this. The question of responsibility could be dealt with in some other way because it is a challenge to us. We have been holding a kind of trial or impeachment in this matter. That is not what the public is interested in and it is not the crucial point. It's the Treaty or no Treaty. I am throwing that out for you. Reflect on, between this and our next meeting, that there is any other way of dealing with these charges and counter charges besides talking at this meeting.
I propose that we now adjourn
I second that.
I oppose it. We have a lot of preliminary work to do before we come to the real work we have to do. And I think there is good time being lost tonight if this House adjourns without having done something. And I think it would be a great mistake to adjourn. I say we can sit on here till 10 o'clock tonight and do good and useful work for the nation.
Before you put that motion I would like to ask you what is the business for tomorrow's private session?
In my position as President and Leader of the House I speak. When the motion was moved my object in seconding it was that we would not be able here tonight to come to any decision as regards the private session we would want to discuss this matter further and that would mean that we could not begin a public session tomorrow. If you have a half a day off it will do you a lot of good to be able to approach the public session then.
I would like to know what's the necessity for any further private session unless to arrange for a public session. We have talked and talked. Might we not as well have dealt with the matter at a public session and gone straight for a straight issue acceptance or rejection and let us have that finished with. The issue of course has been cleared considerably by the document that the President has put in. But otherwise I don't think we have advanced one bit from where we adjourned the public session.
The private session was decided upon so that we might clear the air. The air is not cleared yet as the large body of the private members have not expressed their minds at all. The documents which the committee have decided to put before the House have not yet been put before the House. In the circumstances I do suggest that you should give ample time to this Assembly to discuss the matter and that you should do something tonight and give the whole of to-morrow to the private session.
The documents can't be ready tonight, and if we could start with them at 11 o'clock in the morning we might do some good.
First and foremost we are here all day listening to certain statements being made on one side or another statements which I contend are not connected with the issue here and things that should be settled between the Cabinet and certain members of the delegation in London. It is my opinion and the opinion of others that heard for the first time some Cabinet secrets that we were never told before, and it would be to the advantage of the whole country if we had been told them in the past. We come up here and we are in no particular hurry about this Treaty at all. On its acceptance or rejection, it happens, rests interests of the country and nation and we are prepared to remain here for twelve months if necessary to prevent a split in the country. Now I propose adjourning into a private session tomorrow because I fear that if we go into a public session the things that we have been listening to it is not a split in the Dáil but a split throughout the country, a split in the army and a split in the Sinn Féin organisation and the enemy taking advantage of it. And I think it is the interest of every one in this Dáil to prevent such a thing happening at this time. Why I propose we don't go on tonight is because we have had quite enough of the things that we have been listening to this day. And if there is anybody in authority in the Dáil I think it is their duty to put it before us in the Dáil if we are a Parliament some Orders of the Day, some procedure to discuss and not a few cries across the floor of the House. If we are to regard ourselves as a Parliament I think that should be done tonight. So that when we go into private session tomorrow we know what we are discussing.
I am told by the secretary that the documents will be ready in the morning and they could not be given out to anyone but to the staff of Dáil Éireann. With these documents in your hands in the morning I speak in favour of adjourning now provided an agenda is produced for the private session. The agenda paper yesterday was not kept to. The first motion was a private session. We discussed at one and the same time yesterday the President's speech and the motion to go into private session and the amendment to the motion and a further amendment at one and the same time. If there is any government in this country and if there is anything to be done at a private session why not have an agenda? And I make this suggestion that the whole Cabinet comes together (nobody has resigned) comes together to draw up an agreed agenda for a private session and that we should keep rigorously and absolutely to that agenda. At the public session we have only one thing to discuss, that is the motion for the ratification of the Treaty and the things arising out of that. I don't like to speak of the two sections of the Cabinet. If the Cabinet as a whole put before us an agenda it would be a help to everybody. If any question arising out of these documents have to be discussed surely the Cabinet is capable of drawing up an agenda for us and keeping to it. Here yesterday we had only one thing. We got a definite statement from the Minister for Defence that he would make a certain investigation into certain things. We had today the President's document. I challenge anybody in this House to know what we are doing with it. In point of fact the Speaker told us it would be out of order to adopt it. Can't the Cabinet as a whole get a decision and tell us and we will do it. But if we are going into a private session tomorrow at 11 o'clock with every member of this House supplied with documents which he can't read in two hours and they will adjourn again. The country wants to know. Therefore I suggest as a definite amendment to the motion that we adjourn into a private session and that the Cabinet provide an agenda for tomorrow.
A matter to be discussed in private before this meeting is what are we going to do if we reject the peace terms or what are we going to do as a body if the Treaty is accepted by a majority? That to my mind is most important. It is more important for us to know, say, if the necessary steps be taken. What this body wants is to safeguard all Ireland and I think some decision should be made by the Dáil and get some inkling of how we stand in the matter.
I withdraw my motion in favour of the one proposed, adjourn until 11 a.m. and in the meantime a proper agenda should be prepared and put before us tomorrow. And the thing being so I would like to take a direct negative to the attitude taken up by the member for Cork when he states that it would be well for us to continue here in a lengthy session and I maintain, if we do, the country will split no matter what we will do. And I maintain that we would be making a very serious mistake if we had a protracted private session when the country wants to know what we are talking about. We came here definitely to decide for or against the Treaty. I am for tackling the Treaty at once and each man give his reason publicly for and against.
I would like to say something between the twelve months session and the feeling of the Minister of Finance for instant decision. It seems to me people do want to have time to express their opinions. It seems to me that if we adjourn tonight there would be a good deal of talk. It might do quite as much good.
Or harm (laughter).
Yes, or harm. Therefore I should like to second the proposal of Professor Hayes. I do not think it would be wise though I can sympathise with the irritation felt about the prolonging of the private session. Still I think it is not wise to prevent as many things being said as reasonably possible. It is for everybody to make up his mind on this; on the question of instant decision
I did not say instant decision. I said instant tackling.
I am opposed to this motion. I agree with Mr. Dolan. I know the country too. If we defer our decision beyond Saturday at the latest you will have trouble in the country. I think we will have to hold a public session on Saturday. If we go over the week-end people will get impatient and they will cry out why has not the Dáil been able to make up its mind. I think it would be better to adjourn. We would be fresher in the morning. I think the best thing to-morrow would be if we as Cabinet Ministers hold our tongues and the other members can thresh it out.
I withdraw my objection to the adjournment.
Is my motion being put to the House?