Deputy Johnson was speaking when I entered the Dáil, and I just heard his references to those who joined the Army in pre-truce days. I just want to lay emphasis on the fact that to say that men joined the Army in pre-truce days is hardly a correct expression to use, because, properly speaking, there was no Army in pre-truce days. The men who served gave their services freely to the country. Many of them, as a result of the services they rendered at that time, took big risks and lost their limbs. They made these sacrifices without payment of any kind. That is a thing that should be taken into consideration and remembered. It was not as if they had joined the Army and were paid for their services. There was no payment for what they did, but they went and did their duty as they conceived it in the interests of their country, and many of them made big sacrifices.
Naturally, they must be and should be treated in a different way altogether than as if they were paid soldiers who suffered as a result of their action. I do not want to, and certainly will not, say anything that would stop, or block, these Estimates, nor am I going to use any information I gained when I was a member of the Executive Council, but I certainly will say this, that I have gained information since, within the last couple of days, and I do not think it is possible that the President, in his capacity as Minister for Defence, can answer this, but it is well that I should mention, and if possible, get him to promise that he will make inquiries as to how the sums of money granted by way of gratuity, were arrived at in the different cases. My information is this—and it may help him—that certain sums of money were allocated to the G.O.C's in their different commands, and they gathered around them one, two, three or four officers, and they sat down solemnly and divided that money. In the end, they found there was a sum over, and they went back and gave a fiver here, a tenner there, or £20, as the case might be. If my information is correct, something like that has happened. I will keep away from the particular area where I got the information. We will take Kildare, for instance, and that the G.O.C. for that area had around him a number of officers and they were going through a list of men that had been demobbed, who had pre-truce service. The result, according to the procedure that I have been told was carried out, was that none of these officers knew of A. B., and a pen or pencil was drawn through his name and he got nothing. That man might have had an excellent record pre-truce, but he did not get a penny, while another individual, perhaps with half the record, or with no record at all, was known to some of the officers, and he got money. I only got that information within the last three or four days. I doubted it very much when I heard it, but I have since had corroboration of it. I do not expect that the President, in his capacity as Minister for Defence, is in a position to answer that, and I do not think the Dáil would expect it from him, but I think it is well that I should mention it here on this particular Estimate. Further, if it was possible—I am not sure how this could be brought about—the Dáil should get definite information, if not now, at a later date, as to how those particular sums were allocated. I would not have mentioned that particular matter if I thought it would be part of the promised inquiry. I do not see how, under any terms of reference, that could come in. As regards the method of demobilisation regarding efficiency, that is a matter perhaps that might be developed somewhat by the President, as to who were the judges of efficiency in these matters. Who are the judges in the case of whether a clerk, a common clerk, ranking as a Captain or Lieutenant, who had pre-Truce service, and good service, service given to the country without any recompense, should be thrown on a scrap-heap, as it is properly described, and another clerk who had no service, who came in with the ruck in the rush when the money was there, and they were to be paid for their services, should be retained? That is all I want to bring before you, and again I have had to be very careful, and I am not, I definitely say, using any information that came my way while I was a member of the Executive Council. As to whether any of these matters are to be a subject for the inquiry I am not in a position to state, but certainly I do not see how the question about the gratuity and how these men were dealt with regarding efficiency, can be brought in under this inquiry.