Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 27 Mar 1924

Vol. 6 No. 32


Question again proposed: "That a supplementary sum, not exceeding £60,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1924, for expenditure in respect of public buildings; for the maintenance of certain parks and public works; for maintenance of drainage works on the River Shannon, and sundry grants in aid."

I was endeavouring last night to extract from the Minister some information as to how the Board of Works assessed damages long after the occupation of premises by the military. I pointed out that the military occupy the premises some six or twelve months before the Board of Works Inspector or official goes around. It is usually the case that there is no valuation made of the premises, and there is no inventory taken of the furniture and fittings at the time of occupation. During occupation the general opinion is—and I think it is fairly well founded—that the premises deteriorate in value, and in some cases it would require an expert to tell the condition of the premises and the furniture at the time of occupation. An official of the Board of Works goes to assess damages and to see whether the claim is just or otherwise. He has no data as to the value of the premises and the condition in which they were when handed over, or of the nature of the furniture in the premises when the military took them over. He has to go purely on guess work, and I do not think any Board of Works official would be capable of saying what was in the premises in advance.

As far as the official is concerned, it is not a question of what furniture was there, but what furniture should be there. The official says:—"We must assume you had furniture of this or that value—tables and chairs, sideboards and mirrors, of this or that value." The tastes of the official and the owner of the premises in regard to the furniture might be totally at variance, but according to the official mind, their taste must be supreme, and they assess damages accordingly. Take the case of a house being commandeered in the country, and the fuel in the place is used up by the military. The Board of Works Inspector then comes along, and there is a dispute as to the actual amount of fuel used. How can any assessment be arrived at in that case? The real position is that the Board of Works official is sent down to reduce the claim for damages, and something on the Sherlock Holmes principle, he suits the problem to fit the solution.

It is an admitted fact, I think, that a great deal of very unnecessary and wanton damage has been done in buildings that have been commandeered. For some time little was done—in fact, nothing was done—towards dealing with these cases at all. It was only some time ago when the matter was taken up by a sort of Committee representing the Board of Works and the Army authorities that progress was made. So far, they have dealt completely with only about 800 cases. There are 1,207 cases outstanding, and, of course, there are other cases coming in. I can promise that every effort will be made to expedite dealing with these cases. Deputy Cooper drew attention to the fact that buildings, having been damaged to a certain extent, suffered very severely through not having that damage to any extent attended to while the troops were there, which tended to deteriorate the houses at an increasingly rapid rate. It is impossible, of course, for the Board of Works to do very much in the matter. From the 1st April next, under the present arrangements barrack maintenance will be dealt with apart from new works. This would be dealt with by the Army Corps of Engineers. I will take up with the President the question of having the Army Corps of Engineers to do repairs to commandeered premises. That will prevent greater deterioration than is necessary, and it will be done with a view to saving in the ultimate the State funds. I see no reason at all why efforts should not be made, even while the premises are in the occupation of the troops, to do some temporary repairs that would prevent permanent damage to the property being greater than it otherwise would be. I think we could undoubtedly save a great deal in that way. The number of commandeered premises in the occupation of the troops is decreasing. Of course, the object of the Government and the object of the Army has been for a considerable time past to withdraw troops from as many stations as they could possibly be withdrawn from, and to concentrate them in places where there are buildings in the nature of barracks for their accommodation. It has been in some cases found that where they were withdrawn from posts certain activities by the outlaws at large in these districts have recommenced and made it necessary to reestablish the posts. I am afraid that for some time to come it will not be possible to have the clearances of commandeered buildings that we would like, but there will be a diminishing number, and I can promise that the work of dealing with commandeered premises, from the point of view of settling claims, will be expedited. There was an enormous accumulation of arrears when the work was actually taken in hands, and it is only now that the back of the work is beginning to be broken. A great many claims sent in in respect of commandeered premises are very difficult claims to deal with Because they do not deal merely with the question of rent for the premises while these premises were in the occupation of the Army, and a charge for the damage done to the premises while so occupied. You will have claims that will include such items as these—(1) rent for the period during which the Irregulars were in occupation; (2) damage caused by Irregulars; (3) damage caused by attacks on premises by Irregulars; (4) damage caused by troops resisting attacks by Irregulars; (5) looting by Irregulars; (6) looting by the public; (7) looting by the troops; (8) consequential loss arising out of the occupation of the premises; and (9) wanton damage caused by troops. Some of these are properly payable under this particular head by the Ministry of Finance. Others would come under the Damage to Property Act, and would have to be assessed in the method provided by the Courts, so that the claims are extremely complicated, and they are rather difficult to deal with. The Board of Works have no instruction to cut down claims unduly. Their instructions are to give what is fair so far as they can estimate it. But we must remember that in this particular sort of case the claims will be exaggerated. People are hurt in their feelings, and if £500 worth of damage is done to his house the owner feels and asserts that he would not take £2,000 for what was done. It is necessary that some impartial outsider whose sentiments are not involved should review the case. It is also natural that his review should not be fully accepted by the injured party. If any case is brought to notice in which there is genuine dissatisfaction with the award made by the Board of Works, and some clear statement is put in, indicating that that award in all the circumstances of the case is not a fair award, the matter will be investigated and reconsidered. As far as we are concerned. we have no desire that people should be cheated in the matter, but we have to see that exaggerated claims are not admitted and that people are not awarded compensation for anything of the nature of what you might call sentimental damage. This wanton damage by troops is largely a matter of discipline. There have been officers who have been efficient and conscientious and who have prevented damage. There have been other officers who took no efforts to prevent damage, and we read in the paper some time ago of the case of an officer in the early part of the Four Courts fight who took off the stuff to his own premises. I hope we will have none of the latter sort in the future, and that so far as any officer who does not show some conscientiousness in the matter of safeguarding property under his charge is concerned, when further demobilisation will have to be considered, that officer will be amongst the demobilised. We sometimes find officers being demobilised because of certain personal acts of indiscipline and so forth. I think that the officer who allows a house of which he is in charge to be wrecked is also a person whose case should be considered if there is any surplus of officers to be disposed of.

I think it is admitted that there has been great delay in the payment of arrears of rent. I have a case in mind in which there were sixty-four weeks' arrears due in November last. These particular premises were surrendered either in December or January last, but no payment has yet been made. Could the Minister assure us that some steps will be taken to expedite such payment?

I will undertake to try to get the long-standing cases dealt with in order of priority, and before the later ones.

Will the Minister give an assurance in the case of public buildings which have been occupied by troops, such as courthouses and town halls, that the repairs and renewals will be carried out?

Compensation will, I take it, have to be given for these the same as for private houses. I might say that rents are actually being paid in a large number of cases where the military are still in occupation. We hope to arrange to pay rents in all cases very soon.

In many cases a large amount of public money has been lost as a result of an early decision not having been come to with respect to vacated premises. No agreement as to the amount of damage done to commandeered private premises has been arrived at in some cases. In others an amount unsatisfactory to the claimants has been arrived at. The result is that the premises still remain vacant, I assume at the public expense. The premises, as Deputy Hogan said, are deteriorating and rents are accumulating. The Deputy also suggested that there was a sort of Sherlock Holmes method of estimating value. I acquiesce in that suggestion. Men who were sent to make a valuation of damage to premises never took the trouble to consult those who made the valuation on behalf of the owners, and assessed the damage without being in possession of all the details that would have been available if the person first called in to make the estimate had been consulted.

The Minister said that there were no instructions given to Boards of Works officials in respect of valuation. I have made valuations in some of these cases, and my experience is to the contrary. I know of one particular case where the Board of Works officials said that they had specific instructions with respect to painting and paper, that the tenant would not get by any means the value of making good the damage. Paper had been destroyed and painting injured, necessitating renewal. The suggestion put forward was that as it was assumed the paper and painting had ten years' life, if it had been five years since they were renewed, compensation for five years only was due to the tenant. He was, however, compelled five years before the time which, on their own statement, it would be necessary to renew them, to do the work and was to get no compensation for the sinking of his capital during those five years. I will go further than Deputy Hogan, and say that there is a rule-of-thumb method of valuation in a great many cases. If these cases were brought into Court and competent witnesses produced on behalf of the owners, the Government would have to pay a great deal more than if the officials acting on their behalf adopted the commonsense method of consulting those concerned in the valuation in the first instance.

We can understand and appreciate the difficulties confronting the Government in dealing readily and effectively with these matters. At the same time, I submit that there is a great deal of room for improvement in the methods employed. I was called in to make a valuation in respect of a house fitted with high-class joinery of exposed pitch pine. The shutters had to be removed from the windows, and instead of getting a turnscrew to take the screws out, the troops pulled the shutters down and destroyed the joinery. The door was treated in a similar manner. They could not get a key for the lock, and they put a common padlock on it with nails and screws. They would not even take these out carefully when leaving, but dragged them out. You could not replace that door and these shutters in the condition in which they were before this avoidable damage was done. You have big plug holes in the door and big slices taken out of the shutters, In a case of that kind the question is whether the person would not be entitled to absolute renewal, and I believe that if he went into Court he would get it.

After the evacuation of premises by troops there is no further liability either for rent or damage. I would hope that there are not many cases where every effort is not made by the representatives of the Board of Works to find out all the facts of the case. I certainly would not approve of any assessment of damages without the fullest effort being made to find out exactly what the amount of damage was. I do not agree entirely with some of the things that Deputy O'Mahony has said. It seems quite reasonable that the State should not bear the whole charge of providing new wall-paper instead of other wall-paper which was, perhaps, nearly due for renewal. You have to deal with these cases in a reasonable manner. We took care in the Damage to Property Act to see that if people were going to be given a new building in place of one destroyed, account should be taken of the greater value of the new building than of the old one. I think that is reasonable.

There is a point which has not been met by the Minister, that the officials who have been valuing on behalf of the Board of Works have not had time to do the work properly, and, as a consequence, have given awards unsatisfactory to the claimants, and probably not satisfactory to the State, because of the ill-will that such awards generate. I suspect that one explanation is that in the zeal for economy sufficient men have not been made available for this work, and that they have been forced to do work in that rushed manner because of shortage of staff. They have to go from one place to another and be inefficient in their work in all the places. The Minister has not met the point that the methods of valuation and the time spent in inquiries have not been adequate. I would like to hear the Minister speak with some information at his disposal on that point.

I want to come back to the question of painting and paper that Deputy O'Mahony raised, because I cannot accept the Minister's reply as entirely satisfactory. In these times of heavy taxation people having houses are making paint and paper last much longer than they used to in the past. If it was only a question of ordinary wear and tear while in occupation of houses, and a question of the paper being a little dirtier, I should say that there would be no claim against the Board of Works at all. The complaint is that the paper has been covered with cigarette pictures, although I suppose the Board of Works would write that off as an asset, and also with the kind of rhymes you see written in places I will not mention. It is a horrible thing. Some of these things have been written in my house in the wing where my children normally live. I could not let any child go into that wing until it is papered and painted. Where that sort of damage is done, wanton mischievous, filthy damage, I think the owner is entitled to full compensation for the expense he will be put to in having the place painted and papered.

I could only consider individual cases if they were brought to my notice as to insufficient time being spent in doing the work in a proper way by any of these inspectors. Certainly, I have no reason to believe that that is the general practice. They are not being forced to do work in that way. It is no part of Government policy to do that. A complaint was made about the amount of travelling expenses incurred by the Inspectors. Probably they got over a very considerable amount of work, and paid a very large number of visits; but there is not and will not be any pressure on them to take less time at work than is necessary. I will go further, and say that I am prepared to see that they shall do the work in a proper manner. I would not refuse to have any staff that is necessary so that the work might be done properly, and at the same time with some measure of expedition. It is undesirable to have these claims dragging over any longer than can be helped. I would not get that expedition at the cost of not doing the work in a reasonable and fair way.

As the Minister has dealt with the question of expedition, and as I suppose every Deputy is more or less concerned, I know of cases to which my attention was first drawn a year ago, and where I sent letters to the Minister for Defence. I am still receiving letters in respect of them. In one particular case, in the West, I had a letter about six or seven months ago, and I sent it to the Minister for Defence. This lady had written three or four times respecting the matter. Apparently, her repeated demands were so exasperating that she was raided to see if there were any Irregulars in the house, and further damage was done. I do urge that if a certain sense of injustice is to be created, as it will be created in all awards that are given, let that fact be recognised—at least, let the sense of exasperation be brought speedily to an end where it is now only being continued by delay.

I want to ask the Minister if he remembers that last night I referred to premises that are not yet handed over, and if it is possible for the owners to get payment on account? I would like to emphasise the necessity of having inspections carried out in a thorough manner so that the proper amount will be paid and also that precautions will be taken that excessive amounts are not paid. My experience is that the amounts demanded bear no relation to the amount of compensation that should be given for houses that are injured or destroyed. In most cases the claims are excessive, not by 20 or 30 per cent., but sometimes by three or four times the amount of actual damage done. I do not say that applies to all cases, but it applies to some cases, so that I think it is essential that every precaution should be taken so that excessive claims are not paid.

I think it is under this Vote the renovation of police barracks comes.

I do not think so.

This is dealing with compensation for premises commandeered by the military.

Perhaps Deputy Heffernan did not hear me when I said that in a great number of cases the rents were already being paid for premises in which military were in occupation. I hope before very long that payment of rent will be made in all such cases.

Might I ask the Minister on what basis rents are assessed on commandeered property? On what basis is it suggested the rent should be fixed on a hotel that has been commandeered and where there are 50 or 60 rooms? Will the Minister see the advisability of getting such claims settled at as early a date as possible? Otherwise, in view of the games that are to be held in the summer, these hotels will be unable to function, and the country will be the poorer.

In connection with the matter to which I drew attention a few minutes ago, I think, if I am allowed to explain, it will be found that I am in order. I have two police barracks in mind in Wexford that were occupied in July, 1922, by the military.

That would come in under this Vote.

To a great extent the premises were wrecked. The Civic Guard are now in occupation of them, and they are certainly in anything but the condition in which police barracks should be. I think in cases of that kind attention should be paid to them at once. If you want respect for the law you want the Civic Guard living in decent surroundings which will appeal to the respect of the people. I would lay stress on that point and ask the Minister to consider it.

In regard to hotels, the amount that would be fixed would undoubtedly vary with the type and place of the hotel. If it were an hotel that had only a short season, and was half idle or shut up during the remainder of the year, the amount of rent would have to be gradually lowered. I could not, at the moment, give in detail the factors that would be taken into consideration, but in a great many cases the rent has been arrived at by agreement. Certain claims have been put forward by proprietors of premises for rent. Negotiations have taken place, and in a large number of cases agreement has been arrived at as to a fair and reasonable rent.

Might I ask the Minister if he thinks the 5 per cent. of capital value would be too much?

I will not give any statement until I know more.

Question put and agreed to.

I move: "That a supplementary sum, not exceeding £10, be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1924, for the Cost of the Army." I think that this matter is really sufficiently explained in the note on the Supplementary Estimate itself. The purpose of taking this Vote is to create a sub-head under which these gratuities may be paid. The amount already voted for the service of the Army is sufficient to discharge these particular payments without any additional sum being granted by the Dáil. However, as these are gratuities which are not in the way of pay, it is necessary that the Dáil should actually pronounce on them. I think it will be regarded as only reasonable in all the circumstances that officers who have given a very long period of service pre-Truce and in the National Army should have some special grant made to them when they are being returned to civil life. Many of these have sacrificed their ordinary prospects by their National service. Many of them gave up their business or occupations, or when leaving school failed to take up business or occupations, because they entered the Volunteers and were engaged in active service. They have gone into the National Army, and now there are some of them who in the new circumstances would not be suitable for retention as officers. Many of them would not be willing, in view of the past, to go into the ranks or non-commissioned ranks of the Army. There are cases of men of this sort who resigned, and it is intended that even those who resigned rather than wait for demobilisation may be eligible for these particular grants that would enable them to do something in the way of preparing themselves for business or undertaking business in civil life. It may be asked why these grants are only being made to officers. The officers are being demobilised. A man with pre-Truce service can, if he chooses, remain in the Army, but the officer, for all practical purposes, is being discharged. There may be officers who have gone down to the noncommissioned ranks, but others cannot and would not, and there might be men who would not be very good noncommissioned officers. A man might have given great service to the country and been a very excellent fighting man, and a very good patriot. Still, for lack of education or other reasons, he could not really be retained with any satisfaction in the Army. It would not be for the good of the Army or for his own happiness and welfare that he should be retained. I have heard of men who had very good fighting records and who had become officers, but who were on the verge of illiteracy. I heard of the case of a man, who was actually illiterate, becoming an officer. It would be impossible under ordinary conditions to retain such a man as an officer. A great many have gone. As far as possible men who gave pre-Truce service, having regard to the requirements and their own capabilities, have been retained. Mistakes may have been made, but, apart from mistakes, any man who would make a suitable and capable officer, who had given pre-Truce service, will be retained in the Army and given an opportunity of serving as an officer in the Army. A considerable number have gone, and it is desired that it should be possible, in addition to demobilisation pay which they will get, that these additional grants should be given to them.

I think what the Minister has said now in a very few words, is the first information which the Dáil has had of the principles which have actuated the Ministry in the matter of demobilisation. We gather now that officers with pre-truce service, who are literate and capable of performing the duties of officers, have been retained. We have also been told that soldiers of the rank and file with pre-truce service and willing to continue service, have all been retained, I take it, unless they had a bad character.

And medical unfitness, of course.

And who are medically fit. That again is information which we have not had before. I wonder then what have been the principles on which the gratuity has been paid. Gratuities vary from £50 to £250. I think we should require to have some information as to the principles on which amounts have been allocated. Is it only service or is it service and rank or is it the conditions under which the demobilisation has been applied to the particular officer? I am inclined to think that we should be told here what we have not yet been told, what was the reason which led the Executive Council to say that there were circumstances connected with the activities of mutinous officers which somewhat tended towards at least minimising the prima facie offence.

We have been rather led by public rumour to believe that questions of demobilisation had something to do with it, that other principles had been at work besides those of bitterness, and that there had, as a matter of fact, been many officers who were qualified by experience, by pre-truce service, by intelligence, and by education, to retain their position in the Army, but who, nevertheless, had been demobilised. I say that public rumour, and more than public rumour, private, well-founded information, has been conveyed to Deputies, that other principles had been at work than those the Minister has touched upon. I desire that before proceeding with the discussion on this Estimate, we should have from the Minister a fuller statement. I hoped that we should have had a full statement yesterday, but it was not forthcoming. This, again, provides an opportunity to study the position with some exactness, and without involving discussions of a character which rather cut across the question. The granting of gratuities does not seem to meet the case of an officer of education, proved ability, pre-truce service, and against whom nothing can be alleged of defamatory character, and yet who has been demobilised. I say we require to have more information, and further, we require to know whether we are right in assuming that the immediate factor, apart from the predisposing causes which led to the eruption in the Army, which led to the Executive Council treating that eruption with more leniency than otherwise would have been applied, was dissatisfaction with the scheme and methods of demobilisation of officers. I say these things in, perhaps, a quieter atmosphere to give the Ministry an opportunity to go more fully into this question, and to satisfy the Dáil on the matter.

With regard to the general question of reorganisation and demobilisation, the Army Council brought up each one of the nine General Officers Commanding the various commands, and together they sat down and considered both the reorganisation scheme and a list of officers for appointment to the various commands, battalions, brigades, and so on, in the entire scheme. With regard to that matter I should say that very few people will criticise the personnel of that establishment, that is, the Army Council or the Defence Council, consisting of the ex-Minister for Defence, General Mulcahy; the ex-Adjutant-General, General O'Sullivan; the ex-Quartermaster-General, General O'Muirthille; and the Chief of Staff, with the other G.O.C's. I will mention the names:—General McKeon, General Sweeney, General Peadar McMahon, General Prout, General Dan Hogan, General Brennan, General Reynolds, General Michael Hogan, and General Daly. Of that number, I think I know personally that certainly ten of them, possibly more, perhaps the whole lot, were men who had been associated with military matters for a number of years, and it was on presentation of the lists of officers to them that their recommendations came before the Executive Council. A list of something like 2,500 officers was submitted to that meeting of the Defence Council and of the General Officers Commanding. It will be admitted it was a very large list, and subsequently their recommendations came before the Executive Council, where some very slight alterations were made. It would be a physical impossibility for the Executive Council to review a list of that sort with any degree of satisfaction from the point of view of alloting to commands different persons from those who were recommended, but taking the thing in its actual setting, I would say it does not appear to me that more satisfactory methods could have been adopted. That there were, and there are possibly, infirmities in the matter there is little doubt, having regard to the large number. The recommendations of the General Officers Commanding the nine various commands were placed before this body, and their recommendations came before us. Further than that, the Executive Council knows no more than those recommendations that were made to them, and I am sure that the fitness, the suitability, and the records of the various officers were considered by that Council sitting together, for a number of days. I believe for something like a week, that matter was under consideration. When I say a week I mean seven days of sitting. It may have been under consideration for a very much longer time. It may be that certain recommendations were made that ought not to have been made. I do submit, from the point of view of the method of dealing with it and of the capability of the persons so engaged, that I fail to see how any better selection of persons to deal with it could have been made. I do admit, as I have already stated, that the recommendations may not have been, in all cases, the best. The percentage, however, would lie, I think, having regard to all the circumstances, in favour of the best selection having been made.

Would the President say if General Vize, who was in charge of the Marine Investigation Department, was consulted in connection with demobilisation, as he had very important pre-truce individuals under his charge?

I cannot say. I am almost certain—I would say I am positively certain—that in considering these cases other persons than the thirteen were consulted in the matter.

Perhaps I put the question the wrong way. I do know that General Vize was not consulted, but in view of the fact that his was a very important Department during the trouble last year, I am of opinion he should have been. As I know General Vize had two men under him who would be looked upon as two of the most important men who took part in the war between Great Britain and Ireland. One of them lived practically all his life in Liverpool. He was an Irishman, but had to go to Liverpool to earn his livelihood, and that man sacrificed all he had in the interests of the Irish nation. At Liverpool he took charge of the ammunition and sent it out to this country. There is another man, I daresay the President knows his name, but it would not be right to mention his name now. He gave up his place, and his successor now is in receipt of 10 guineas a week. These two men have been thrown upon one side. These men made representations to the Government, but they had not the courtesy of a reply.

In the case of the first person whose name is not mentioned, but whose name I know, that case was raised at the Executive Council.

You know who he is?

Yes. As regards the second person, there were circumstances in connection with him which if we live long enough will apply to us all when we reach a certain stage and which rendered him as no longer suitable to be continued in the Army; but it is not to be inferred from that that liberal provision was not made for him. It is certainly the intention, as far as I can gather, of the Executive Council to see that that person shall not be dissatisfied by reason of demobilisation.

That is the point I want to make clear. So far as I can hear, representations were made on behalf of this man, not with a view to keeping him on in the Army, because I know he is beyond the time when he would be of much service, but certain promises were made to him by the late General Michael Collins, and they should be kept. He occupied responsible and dangerous positions in the late war between Great Britain and ourselves, and his grievance is that his communications were not even acknowledged. I am now very glad to hear the assurance given by the President.

I do not remember receiving any representations from the man referred to, but I cannot say that some did not go to the Department.

I cannot help feeling that if we are to discuss individual cases the Minister for Finance will not get his Vote to-night. Deputy Corish's point is, of course, a proper one. It is generally in connection with technical services where the heads are not sufficiently consulted as to different officers that should be retained and those that should be dispensed with. I have heard that complaint made in connection with services at the other side. There are cases of men where their immediate superiors, knowing their work, were very anxious to keep them, but nevertheless they have been demobilised. Now, I think that the various cases have been disposed of, we should get on the general question.

I wish to address a few words to the general subject. I think the statement made by the President a little deepens the general mystery. I agree with him entirely that the tribunal appointed was, I will not say the best, but there was really no other tribunal that could be appointed to deal with the subject. Nevertheless, complaint has been made and fairly widely circulated, and has been brought to the attention of several Deputies, that discharges and demobilisation did run along the lines of the earlier party cleavage—the kind of party cleavage which the Minister for Home Affairs referred to last Wednesday. That, and the letter that was described as the ultimatum, seemed to give countenance to that general rumour and that circulation. How exactly did that come about, in view of the fact that in addition to the members of the Army Council, as it then existed, the general officers commanding should have been called into consultation, I frankly confess I am not able to see. But there is that suggestion, and it is made and widely circulated, and in view of the fact that the tribunal operating decided which officers should be retained, was a tribunal of the kind mentioned by the President as the only possible tribunal, it would be interesting to have some fuller information as to what led to the dissatisfaction that has been expressed, and which is that the demobilisation was not impartial, and where it has actually been said, and said fairly publicly, that officers that have been demobilised have been drawn from the ranks of those who endured the contest as between England and Ireland pre-truce, rather than from those who joined since.

The Minister, for Finance spoke of the rank and file, and rather tried to anticipate criticism that might come in regard to the gratuities to officers and not to the rank and file. He said that those with pre-truce service and good character were free to remain in the Army, and then said provided they were medically fit. There is the rub. Many of these men are medically unfit because of Army service; many of these men are being demobilised and are not allowed to remain in, although they may desire to do so, because of Army service; many of them also sacrificed possibilities in trades, and, perhaps, professions, and joined and served in the Army pre-truce, and have been rendered medically unfit, and yet are not sufficiently unfit to go into the category of wounded; they are medically unfit from a service point of view, but not medically unfit from a medical point of view. There is, I think, required equal consideration for members of the Army who were not officers. We have not had an answer to the question as to what are the principles upon which this gratuity is going to be allocated. Is it strictly confined to length of service or length of service plus rank, or are other considerations allowed to enter? Is it family requirements or dependency? I think we should be told what are the general principles to be applied in the allocation of these grants which will range from £50 to £250, and are we to understand that every officer who has been demobilised after having prolonged service, is to receive a grant in addition to the three months pay?

The President told us that there was a Council appointed, comprising the Army Council and the General Officers Commanding the various districts. It met for a week to go through a list of 2,500 names, with a view to selecting those who should be demobilised, and those who should be retained. One might naturally assume that that was the reasonable, almost the only method of selection, but unfortunately, it depends upon whether the General Officers the Army Council brought in to consider this matter, are entitled to the confidence that would be required to consider it. It appears in the sequel that the Army Council was not entitled to that confidence, and I want to know whether it is a fact that one of the reasons for lack of confidence was the method of selection of officers for demobilisation? Something has not been told us that ought to have been told to us. The Army Council was scrapped, and the Minister for Defence was scrapped. The incidents which led to that scrapping appear to have been of long standing, but it appears, although we are not being told it, that the immediate cause was dissatisfaction within the Army as to the methods of demobilisation and the methods of retention, and as to the principles which actuated the Army Council in demobilising certain officers and retaining certain other officers.

I am raising this because I have a fear that unless we are told something more than we have been told that the rankle will remain, and that many officers who have not resigned will still feel a grievance, that men are feeling a grievance, and are showing the grievance, and are exhibiting dissatisfaction and discontent because of the retention of certain officers and the demobilisation of certain other officers. It may be said that this is one of the matters that will be the subject of enquiry. Is it? We do not know. If the methods on which the Army Council proceeded in demobilising is to be the subject of enquiry, how soon will that enquiry be concluded in that section of its work? Can we have some knowledge as to what the intentions of the Government are regarding the scope of that enquiry, and is this one of the questions for submission? I hope that the Minister will give the Dáil some information on this point. I am not raising these matters for the purpose simply of rooting out putrid matter, but because I feel it is essential to an understanding of the situation, and that the Dáil should understand it, and that there should be some confidence within the Army that the interests of the soldiers in the Army who have given service in the Army have been considered by Deputies in the Dáil—in the Dáil, I say. If there was confidence that that interest was being considered and conserved, I have little doubt that the kind of, shall I say, sedition, that kind of sedition which has been bruited about, would not occur and would not continue. It is essential, I maintain, that we should have matters of this kind fully ventilated, and where a reasonable ground for complaint arises these complaints should be made publicly. As it appears reasonable grounds of complaint have been made and have been accepted as reasonable by the Executive Council, we should have some explanation of what these complaints were, and whether in view of them they are satisfied that the principles upon which the Army Council, after consultation with the General Officers Commanding in the various areas, were fairly applied, and that injustice has not been done in many cases, and that regard has been paid to the circumstances of the country and of the Army and the public requirements.

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.

I might just state the terms of reference that were given to those officers who were allocating grants. "(1) The particular services rendered in pre-Truce days by the particular officer; (2) The period over which these services extended; (3) The extent and result of his loss and the consequent upset in the ordinary course of his life; (4) Services rendered in the National Forces; (5) The man's general character and the good use likely to be made of such amount towards re-establishing him in civil life." There was a proviso between the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Defence that in cases where over £150 was granted a formal statement of the reasons for the proposed grant should be submitted to the Minister for Finance for formal sanction so that the case would be specially considered. The other cases were given at the discretion of the Minister for Defence alone.

Might I ask the Minister for Finance why there should be a differentiation between officers and privates? The gratuity is not given to men who might happen by luck or certain circumstances to be placed as a private.

I stated that before the Deputy came in. The officers are being discharged, but privates are not being thrown out.

Well, for privates who are being discharged and have pre-Truce service—why is it no provision has been made for these?

It would depend upon the circumstances under which they were discharged.

Will the Minister say, if the circumstances are similar to the circumstances which led to the officers' discharge, they will be treated in a similar manner, if not exactly in an equal manner? If they are inefficient by virtue of failure to attain a standard of health which the new medical examination requires, and they were capable of doing service for the last three or four years, will they be treated as the officers are being treated?

I think that that is a matter that would have to be dealt with in some deliberate way. I think there is not anything like the case for privates that there is for officers, and while I had no hesitation in agreeing to the proposal of the Minister for Defence that this thing should apply to officers, the matter of provision for privates is another thing that would have to be considered.


I take it that the Minister for Finance is responsible—indirectly responsible, at any rate—for seeing that these gratuities go to the people to whom it is intended they should go. But I would like to know what steps he has taken to see that the regulations are such that the state of things which Deputy McGrath tells us is happening could not, and will not, happen. He has told us what the terms of reference are, but what steps, if any has he taken to see that the conditions laid down there are carried out? For instance, is it necessary that those who are disbursing this money should get particulars, say, from each demobilised officer, of his pre-truce services, and to have forms of applications filled up, and which should be before the Council when making the grant? Surely, if the state of things is as Deputy McGrath states, where a body or Council concerned simply take a list of men and make grants in a more or less haphazard way, I think the responsibility rests in the long run in any case with the Ministry of Finance to see that the grants which are provided for in this Estimate are distributed fairly and impartially to the people for whom they are intended.

I would like to ask who will be responsible for the Terms of Reference of this enquiry which is going into the whole Army administration. These Terms of Reference should be broad enough to take into account these sums that have been paid out to these officers, and in the cases where it is discovered and proved that officers have not been fairly dealt with there should be power to give these officers gratuities according to what they would be entitled to for their service in the past.

Deputy O'Connell raised a very important issue, and that is as to whether the claims of all demobilised officers were considered, or whether the names were only submitted to the Council referred to by the President or the Committee of Officers, or whether only the names of special officers were submitted to that Committee. I have a case of a demobilised officer in my district, who was treated very badly. He was a very active factor in the Anglo-Irish war. He gave valuable services, and as a result of his activity he finds himself on the world without anything but the miserable three months' pay, and his family are suffering so severely that their position as farmers is jeopardised also. That is the case. I do not think the man himself wants to push his case. If only specific cases suggested at the meetings of the Committee of Officers were dealt with, then I say the question of reconsidering grants in favour of officers who were not considered ought to be gone into. I think the issue raised by Deputy O'Connell is very important, that all cases of officers who had pre-truce service, ought to be considered, and that their cases should be considered whether they have already been considered or not, and if not considered, that it should be open to the officers to make a case before this fund is finally distributed.

I want to press for an answer to my question. One of the considerations which led to the transfer, or shall I say the scrapping, as the word has been used, of the Army Council, was the method whereby the officers had been demobilised. Is that a consideration which led to the decision of the Executive Council to call for the resignation of the Army Council, and eventually to ask for the resignation of the Minister for Defence? If that is so, if that is one of the reasons for want of confidence, then I say you cannot rely on that Council, that Committee of General Officers who were appointed to act under that Council, and of which the Council was presumably the dominant and finally deciding authority. You cannot say that that tribunal which decided the allocation of these gratuities was a fair one, and that fair principles actuated the allocation, otherwise why was the Army Council disbanded, removed? We have not yet been told, except in a general way, what were the circumstances which led immediately to the disbanding of the Army Council, except the incident in Parnell Street, and we ought to know whether there is satisfaction in the Executive Council with the method of allocation of gratuities, the method applied to demobilisation, and are they confident that that demobilisation is carried out fairly and with full regard to the highest public interests?

Referring first to what Deputy O'Mahony stated, I think that the amount being voted now will not cover all the gratuities that will be paid, and that an additional sum will have to be found next year. In regard to the question whether the Army Council was dismissed because of lack of confidence in its method of selection of officers for demobilisation, I have to say that that is not the reason why it was dismissed. The decision was come to, as stated by the Minister for Home Affairs, on account of a particular incident, and on account of dissatisfaction in regard to many matters felt by various members of the Executive Council, in some cases for a considerable period, but the question of the method of selecting officers for demobilisation was not one, I think—certainly not in my mind— and it was not stated to be in anybody's mind, as one of the reasons for causing the Army Council to resign. Different views may be taken, but my view is, while I believe, and in fact am fairly certain, that there were some cases of men being demobilised who deserved to retain a place in the Army, they represented a very small portion indeed of the total number of officers demobilised.

I wish to ask whether it is the same Committee that dealt with the selection of officers for demobilisation that also dealt with the reduction of status of the various officers. A large number were reduced from positions they occupied to minor positions, and I would like to know if they would have an opportunity of putting forward their cases. In the particular area I come from there was one man I am aware of who did service during pre-Truce times and afterwards, and I have no hesitation in saying he did five men's work. He is reduced from the position of Captain to a Second Lieutenant, and I would like to know if it is the same Committee that made the selection as regards the reduction of status that dealt with the reduction of the number of officers.

This would be a completely different question from the question of demobilisation and gratuities.

This is a matter of very great importance, but at the same time we would like to know the magnitude of the financial operations which will be necessary. I am rather unacquainted with matters in pre-Truce times, but as far as I can under stand there were not two thousand fighting men in the pre-Truce times

Now, provision is made here for £120,000. Surely some of those two thousand fighting men must be officers, and they cannot all be scrapped? Therefore, I would like to understand why sufficient accommodation cannot be given to those men who are not continued in the Army, having regard to the amount voted. There is £120,000 to be voted, and that, amongst 1,000 officers, would mean £120 each. I can hardly understand how such a number of men, with fighting service in pre-truce times, could be scrapped. I would like to understand the exact magnitude of the financial operations, and why all these men who had claims could not send them to a Board for consideration. The country is quite willing that they should get proper consideration for the services they rendered, and they undoubtedly rendered good service.

Arising out of Deputy Johnson's question, I would like to be told was it the Executive Council that was responsible for determining that the Divisional Officer Commanding and the Army Council should make these selections of officers who were to stay and those who were to be demobilised, or was it the Army Council?

It was the Minister for Defence. Deputy Johnson raised some question about the terms of reference of the inquiry. The terms of reference of the inquiry are as follows:—

"To enquire into the facts and matters which have caused or led up to the indiscipline and mutinous or insubordinate conduct lately manifested in the Army."

With that statement was the following covering letter:—

"To enquire into and report to the Executive Council upon the facts and matters which have caused or led up to the indiscipline and mutinous or insubordinate conduct lately manifested in the National Army, and generally to investigate and report upon the state of discipline prevailing amongst all ranks in the Army, and any facts or circumstances adversely affecting discipline, as, for example, the existence of factions, conspiracies, secret societies, or political organisations or groups amongst the officers and men, the considerations determining the making of promotions or appointments, and to enquire and report whether the discontent amongst certain officers and men shown in the recent threat of mutiny and insubordination is justly and fairly attributable to `muddling, mismanagement and incompetence in the administration of the Army'; and, in addition, to report on such specific matters and reply to such specific queries as may from time to time be referred to them by the Executive Council."

That is the covering letter, and I assume it disposes of the questions raised by Deputy Johnson and others on that point. With regard to the next point, the Ceann Comhairle has stated it is rather outside the scope of the matter that we are immediately concerned with.

I am allowing scope for an open discussion on the matter of demobilisation.

It was decided that there should be a lowering of rank. The original intention was that every rank in the service was to go down one step. That was altered afterwards. I think there were eighteen Major-Generals in the Army when it consisted of something like fifty thousand men. I believe under the re-organisation scheme the number would be seven, so that the real reduction started at the top. I expect that in any such re-organisation there would be discontent on that account, but because eighteen men had given excellent service as major-generals, to ask us to still continue the same number would be most unreasonable. The tribunal which dealt with the grants in the first case up to the 7th March—that is with officers who were demobilised prior to the 7th March—consisted of Major-General Dan Hogan, Officer Commanding the Dublin District; Major-General P. McMahon, and Major-General Reynolds. The recommendations were in all cases subject to the approval of the Minister. I have four such specimen cases here, but I do not think it is necessary to read them.

Will you read the terms of reference to that Committee?

I think the Minister for Finance read them. They are as follows:—"As indicated in the letter of the 7th September, it is intended the amount of these additional grants would be based on (1) the particular services rendered in pre-Truce days by the particular officer; (2) the period over which this service extended; (3) the extent and result of his loss, and the consequent upset in the ordinary course of his life; (4) services rendered in the National Forces; and (5), the man's general character, and the good use likely to be made of such amount towards re-establishing him in civil life."

Recommendations for supplementary grants to any officer demobilised on the 7th March were left to the individual G.O.C's. I must say I am not altogether at home in dealing with these matters, because I have scarcely taken up the duties of the office yet.

Scarcely taken off your coat, so to speak.

Some question was raised about Army Pensions, but they deal only with wounds. Ill-health does not come within the purview of that particular Act. I think we should now move to report progress.