Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Saturday, 9 Sep 1922

Vol. 1 No. 1


I have now to put before you two Ministers who will not have portfolios—Mr. Duggan and Mr. Finian Lynch. It may be necessary to associate Deputy Lynch to some extent with the Ministry of Education. Under what we will call for the moment the old law—Dáil Eireann and the Provisional Government—there were two separate Ministers for Education. We are now doing away with all this. Mr. Lynch just now is not available for immdiate service in the Government. He is on active service. He was a member of the Provisional Government, and Mr. Duggan, who was the last signatory to the Treaty, was the same. There was a considerable amount of work that required to be done outside the Ministers with portfolios. I ask the Dáil for approval of these two nominations.

I want to protest against this. To start at this early stage of a young National assembly by making appointments which have been generally questioned by old assemblies—the appointment of Ministers without portfolios who will not be responsible to the Dáil I think is a bad procedure and one which we should not support. I am not saying anything against Deputies Duggan and Lynch, who have held office before and have acquitted themselves honourably. If they had been proposed for definite offices, I would be the last to oppose this proposition. I think we should appoint Ministers to perform definite tasks for which they will be responsible to this Assembly.

I associate myself with Deputy Darrell Figgis on this point. I am strongly in favour of his views. This is a strange, departure and it ought to be justified. It looks as if we were to make the appointment first and discover the reasons afterwards. It would be better if we were told of the special efficiency of these gentlemen, whereby one of them must be a General in the Field and at the same time a quasi-Minister for Education. The Department of Education is quite safe in the hands of Professor MacNeill. If help were needed it ought to be secured in a more regular way. Is there a paucity of Deputies possessed of the experience and abilities deemed essential for such office? I would expect Deputy O'Connell, who is associated with education, also to protest against a General who is commanding in the Field holding this office. Efficiency, not persons, is our first concern. In this Dáil we should be honest with each other, and I am determined to speak out upon matters upon which I think it my duty not to remain silent.

Are there any others who wish to speak upon this question?

Anyone who is familiar with the history of the last four or five months ought to be able to put his finger on the exact point we are discussing now. Six or eight months ago the Provisional Government was formed of persons entitled to sit in the Southern Parliament. Two of the gentlemen I have put before the Assembly constituted that Government. There is no provision in the terms on which that appointment took place for either a dismissal or a resignation, and during the period which has elapsed since Ministers of the Provisional Government have had to make many journeys to England. Is it reasonably possible to expect Ministers to carry out their duties in Dublin and at the same time be in negotiations in England? One of these is the last signatory to the Treaty, and he has been on practically every delegation which has crossed to England. If we did not consider, having regard to our experience in the last six months, that these appointments are necessary we would not put them forward. We put Mr. Lynch forward in the confident belief that his appointment is absolutely essential. I believe that those who criticised the appointments did so in good faith, but at the same time I am satisfied that no case has been made to impress the Dáil with the necessity for rejecting them.

Was the reason given that it was impossible not to include these gentlemen? I understand the reason given is that they were part of the Provisional Government, set up by the British Government by the transfer to it of Executive powers, and as there is no provision for removal, withdrawal, or resignation we must accept them. If that is the answer I am prepared to submit to the inevitable, but if not, I consider the arrangement altogether unjustified.

I have not stated at any time that the Provisional Government was set up by the British Government. It was set up here in Ireland and it represents the people of Ireland.

I was going to point that out. The Provisional Government was never set up by the British.

The nominations were approved.