I rise to propose the following resolution:—"That the Dáil returns thanks to the Governor-General for his speech, and approves of the legislative programme of the Government as outlined therein."
On the last occasion on which this resolution was proposed, the country was confronted with dangers of a very serious and threatening kind. It was a time of doubt and uncertainty for all of us, a time when no one could say that the future was secure. We are not yet out of the wood. The dangers which confront us are still serious, though of a different nature, but by continuing to follow the path we treaded in the old days and in the manner outlined in the Governor-General's address, by continuing to tread that path cautiously and warily, but withal firmly, I believe that this Dáil and the nation it represents has every reason for looking forward with confidence to the future.
I am particularly pleased to see here that this historic nation is now a member of the body known as the League of Nations. It is only an embryonic institution at the present moment, but in it are the seeds of great things for the world and for humanity. Ireland before played a very important part in international affairs when her scholars went all over the Continent spreading the light of reason and the light of Faith, and it is a welcome thing to us to see that we are about again to take part in the same or a similar task. It is also a good thing that we have participated in the Conference of the States making up the British Commonwealth of Nations. That will strengthen us, I am sure; it will strengthen our financial position, which is a matter to be very seriously considered at the present time.
The enactment of the Electoral Act, I am sure, was gratifying to all the people who have democratic ideals before them. By the adoption of adult suffrage our Constitution takes its place as one of the most democratic in the world. We are also about to put into force a new Act which embodies reforms in the administration of law and justice. The Irish people were, in the past, reputed, even by their enemies, to be a people that held justice and law and order very dearly, and it was the abuse of law and the abuse of justice in this country that was responsible for a great deal of the disorderliness and the lack of that law-abiding spirit that we found in other countries; but those remedial measures in our judicial system will bring about a return to the old ideals in this matter. It has been an excellent thing that in the very difficult crisis through which we have passed we have been able to organise a police force. I think it was one of the most creditable performances of the last Dáil that we were able to organise such a force in the face of such tremendous difficulties. Our military forces are after going through a very critical period, a period during which, in many respects, they had to take on the character of guerillas and which is now over. We can say with confidence that we have a regular army which, from the point of view of courage and efficiency, is second to none in Europe.
The problem of unemployment confronts us. It is a problem of course that has been made, to a very great extent, by the Irregular campaign in this country. It is a problem we have to tackle with all our energies, so as to see if we can overcome it, and I am sure, if the same capacity is shown in handling this difficulty as was shown in handling other difficulties during the last Dáil, we will have no difficulty in surmounting it.
I am glad to see that a measure for the encouragement and development of agriculture has been outlined. This, as we all know, is the key industry of the country. It is at the present time, I am sorry to say, in a very serious condition, and it behoves us all, every interest in the country, whether commercial, labour or professional, to put our heads together and to see how this great industry can again be put on a sound and paying basis.
I have only looked over the Governor-General's address, and I am sorry I cannot do full justice to the various points mentioned. I will leave it now to the seconder to perform the part that I should have performed.