Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 19 Jun 1924

Vol. 7 No. 27


I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I do not know whether Deputies are aware of the fact that within the last six months quite a number of actions have been started in the courts for, or in respect of, property which was commandeered during the period from, I suppose, 1919, up to the time of the Truce. Now, in some cases—I could say the vast majority of cases— the goods were commandeered by order of a higher authority than the person who actually carried out the action. In the case of proceedings which have been commenced there against a person who commandeered any property, and in some cases that have been brought under my notice, very considerable loss will be sustained by those persons who were acting under authority but who are unable to establish that authority in the courts in the absence of some such protection as we anticipate will be afforded by this measure. Considerable unrest has been occasioned by these proceedings and by the decrees which have been granted in respect of them. The Bill proposes to put a stay on such proceedings and establish this method for affording compensation for the loss of such property as may have been commandeered. There has also been a considerable amount of misgiving with regard to certain acts done during that period, and I think it will be within the recollection of the House that from the early period of the setting up of the Free State Government we gave an indemnity to British soldiers, or persons who were authorised on behalf of the British Government, to do certain acts here during that period. This measure only gives the same rights and privileges to those who were acting under the authority of Dáil Eireann, of either the First or Second Dáil, as set out in the first section. There is also a clause dealing with the validation of sentences and the execution of sentences of military tribunals, and Section 4 deals with the setting up of the Committee which I have mentioned. Section 5 deals with the assessment and payment of compensation in certain cases. Section 2, I should remark, sets up the certificates of Ministers as evidence in certain cases. That, in substance, is what is in the Bill. I think it will be non-contentious. I should have expressed regret for not having introduced it long before this, and I hope it will afford some satisfaction to such persons that even at this late hour we are giving authority which should have been given long since.

I am glad that such a Bill has been introduced. It has obviously been necessary, because there have been cases of considerable hardship which can be met only by such a measure as this. After all, we are the Fourth Dáil, and actions have previously been taken by our predecessors. I cover what I have to say by that preface, because the President knows, and I know, that there were cases where action was taken, of which neither he nor anybody at that time would like to have stood in defence, but they probably would be covered by this Bill as it now reads. I am not quite sure how the matter would stand. I will refrain from going into particulars in any particular case, but I will recall his mind to one which was, I think, familiar to him at the time. It came up very strongly. It was a case where life was taken and action at the time pended and did not proceed because of peculiar circumstances that prevailed during those months, but that person could, I think, if the proofs could be available now, still be covered under Section 1, sub-section (1), paragraph (a) or (b). I know that it is not the intention that this Bill should be used as a cover for any action taken at the time under the just reprobation of those in authority, but I am not sure whether the drafting of it—I speak subject to correction—would not lend that colour, as it reads, and, I think, that precautions ought to be taken that actions which were then justly reprobated might not now be covered by any indemnity extended in this Bill.

I find it very difficult to satisfy my judgment on this Bill. I realise that there may be very many cases where some kind of indemnification should be given, but I am afraid that the Bill is so wide that we may be parties to indemnifying acts that we could not, if we knew the circumstances, and knew the cases, bring ourselves to do. One difficulty also which I find in the Bill is that it is leaving Executive Ministers to decide whether a person is to be indemnified or not. I think that that is a blot, and I think that it is a very unsatisfactory provision. It may have been easy when dealing with acts of soldiers of the Army or officers of the State, in the case of the last Indemnity Bill, to say that it was for Ministers to determine whether such a person committing such an act was doing it by authority, but we have a period ending on the 28th June, 1922, defined here. That deals with the period during which there were many actions which have been denounced high and low as being rebellious and irregular. It is apparently to be for the Ministers to say whether a person committing such an act, say from the signing of the Treaty to the 20th June, was acting with authority or not. I am not able to speak very definitely as to the position of the military forces of Dáil Eireann during that intermediate period. I do not know whether it would be said that members of the Republican Army had ceased to be members of the Republican Army at any given date, or whether that date is the 20th June or earlier. I think it is hardly reasonable to say, if an act was committed by any person before the 20th June, that he sided with the Government forces, and that then it is for the Ministers to determine that that was an act to be indemnified against, but that if he happened to be a person who went on the other side, that person was not to be indemnified. It may be urged that we have a right to give full weight to the impartiality of Ministers and that they will give their certificates, no matter which side was taken by soldiers or civil officers. I think it is not reasonable to put that strain upon the public or upon the Ministers. There were acts committed after the Treaty which I think we might find it difficult, if a specific case was put to us, to justify or excuse. Therefore I feel some doubt and hesitation in agreeing to an Indemnity Bill of this character which is so very wide in its survey.

I should like to put to the Minister a specific case. The I.R.A. existed until the 28th June, and there had been differences, very acute differences, but there had been some sort of collaboration up to quite a late date in that month. It would be difficult to say, unless we are partisans, which we may be held to be, certainly on this matter— it might be difficult to say so far as a court of justice would be concerned which was the authority in the I.R.A. up to that date. But we have defined that date for a definite reason, the reason being that it was about the time that the attack on the Four Courts was initiated. Acting on the instructions of superior officers, certain motor cars were taken in the City of Dublin, an act which we reprobate. But it might be claimed under this Bill to be an act that is to be wiped off the slate, and it is for the Minister to say whether it should be or not. No charge was to lie against people who entered a garage in Baggot Street unless Ministers say that such a charge was to lie. I cannot reconcile myself to that position. I should like to be able to say that everything has been cleaned up, and that the circumstances are such as to allow us, notwithstanding a knowledge or assurance that guilt, actual moral fault perhaps, was in question, to begin a clean sheet and indemnify all persons generally against the consequences of their acts. But this Bill is so wide in its sweep that it is left to the discretion of a Minister to certify whether such and such an act by such and such a person was justified in the circumstances. That is asking rather much of the Dáil, and I feel it would be necessary to have a good deal more explanation of the necessity in all these cases than we have had. I can understand many classes of case where indemnification of this kind should be given, but I am not satisfied that the indemnity should be given at this date in all cases that may come forward and subject only to the discretion of the Minister who would certify the legitimacy—shall I say?—of these acts.

I think the ambiguity of this Bill and the powers left to the discretion of the Minister certainly warranted that we should have got more information from the President on the Second Reading. It is very hard to understand all the sections in the Bill and their application. And I am wondering what is going to be the position of a person who in the Spring of 1922 supplied goods, such as bread and things of that kind, to troops. I have cases in my mind where people were in the habit of supplying bread and clothes to the troops from the signing of the Treaty up to, say, June or July, 1922; and I have myself presented some of their accounts for payment to the Ministry of Defence, and have met with refusal so far as part of the accounts is concerned. I should like the Minister to make it perfectly clear what the position of such people is to be under this Bill. As I said before the Ministry accepted responsibility for a period during which such accounts were contracted, but have denied and refuse to accept responsibility for another period. I do think that when it became apparent to the Ministry and the Government that certain I.R.A., as they were called at that time, had broken away in certain districts in the Saorstát, the shopkeepers who they knew were in the habit of supplying food and goods to particular battalions should have been circularised, and I also hold that the Ministry should be responsible up to at least the 28th June, that is the date mentioned in this Bill.

I do know, and I am sure that the Ministry know, that some I.R.A. were supposed to have broken away as far back as March, 1922, and in one of the cases which I spoke about at the beginning of my statement the Ministry agreed to accept responsibility in the Wexford area up to that date. I question whether the Ministry were right in that case. Although certain officers from the Wexford area came to a conference in Dublin, and to all intents and purposes severed their connection with the Government at the particular conference held then, it was some months afterwards before the rank and file of the battalion tore themselves away from the proper authority. And in view of the fact that in March, 1922, a conference was agreed to by the Second Dáil, and was held between the two sections in the Army, I hold that anything that happened prior to that should have been accepted as a responsibility by the Government when they accepted that conference as a medium to try and bring the two opposing sections of the Army together. I think that is sound reasoning, and I think it ought to be accepted by the Minister. I should like the Minister to make it perfectly clear what is the position of traders who did supply troops in the different areas during that period.

I must confess that when I first read this Bill I found myself in almost the same position of perplexity as the two last speakers. The measure, as an indemnity one, certainly is of the widest possible character. It amounts in effect to a blank cheque and that blank cheque is to be in the power of an Executive Minister to endorse. Now, sir, I think that the arguments put forward by Deputy Johnson against the Executive or against Executive Ministers having such a power, both from their own point of view as well as from the point of view of the State, are sound.

We find in the Bill that the certificate is to be one signed by an Executive Minister. I presume that that means an Executive Minister of the present or the future Government in existence at the time during which he signs the certificate. Now, on the face of the Bill it really may come to this: that one Executive Minister may from his knowledge—I will not say his inclinations— be inclined to sign a certificate and another Executive Minister may not be so inclined.

At any rate, I think that the Dáil should ask for an assurance that this signature of an Executive Minister should be the signature of that Minister with the authority or acting upon the authority of the Executive. It is very difficult for an ordinary person to know from perusing this Bill where this indemnity begins and where it ends. It is perfectly true that dates are given, but then it is to refer to "any act, matter, or thing done," which really covers anything and everything. As regards the dates, there is a great deal to be said for what Deputy Corish has said in regard to the period when certain shopkeepers in the country supplied goods to troops when actually those troops may not have been at the moment acting under authority, or under the instructions of the Provisional Government. I have had instances myself where goods were supplied to troops up to the 12th May, 1922, and when these troops were, let us say, the successors—at any rate they occupied the same premises though they had severed their allegiance from the Free State Forces.

The Army of Occupation !

Yes, the army of occupation de facto, but, perhaps, not de jure. However, I would suggest to Deputy Corish, if the Damage to Property Act were properly interpreted, and from my knowledge I believe it is being so interpreted in the districts which I am acquainted with, these people should be entitled to compensation for goods supplied to these troops because, though they may not have been taken by physical force, at any rate, the moral pressure was such that the traders of the town could not very well have refrained from supplying the occupants of the barracks.

On a point of explanation, may I say that that is an entirely different thing to what I spoke about. It is a question of an officer sending down an ordinary application form for goods which was continuous at this time, when the troops were properly recognised by the Government. It was not a matter of commandeering at all.

It was not a matter of commandeering at all; that is just what I was saying. Though there may not have been physical force in the matter, the moral pressure was such that though the trader knew that this officer was not at the time belonging to that portion of the I.R.A. which adhered to the Free State still he practically had to supply these goods. I suggest, therefore, to meet this case it would be well if the President or the Minister in charge of this Bill could make it known that that was the intention of the Government when they passed the Damage to Property Act. if that is not the case, and if the Damage to Property Act does not apply to those cases, then certainly these traders will have, and must have, a genuine grievance. The case that has been made out by Deputy Corish is a just and a proper one, but I think if the Minister will inquire into the matter he will find that at any rate up to the 12th May, 1922, which is the final date of the period covered by the Damage to Property Act, any goods so supplied in such circumstances would be and mostly have been treated by the judges as goods which had been taken, if not by physical, certainly by moral pressure, by Irregulars, and they have awarded compensation or made reports, as is actually the case, under the Damage to Property Act. That being so, that does not get the ordinary Deputy away from the vagueness of this whole Bill. I must confess once more that I do not know what the Bill applies to. I know the period during which it applies. I do not understand what Executive Minister is to be detailed, if any is to be detailed, by the Executive to sign these certificates. I do not know whether if one Executive Minister refuses to sign them that another will be entitled to do so, and I think on these points generally it is not asking too much to ask for some further explanation from the Minister in charge of this Bill.

I do not think, sir, that the Bill is quite as indefinite as some of the Deputies who have spoken would suggest. I can see from the Bill that it deals with the actions of persons holding office under the first Dáil Eireann or under the Second Dáil Eireann or being in some other way responsible to either one or other of those Parliaments. I do suggest that it would be impossible that this Dáil would consider providing an indemnity at the present moment for any persons others than those serving the First or Second Dáil during the period mentioned in this particular Bill. The only other persons who are there to be indemnified are the persons opposed to serving the Government of the time and who elected to serve an Irregular Army Council that was set up after the meeting in the Mansion House in March, 1922, or in the months immediately preceding that, or elected, to serve some particular person in the country who had, as a personal matter, broken away from any allegiance that he may have had to the Second Dáil. I think it would be impossible for this Assembly to consider the question of an indemnity for any such person at the present time. On the other hand, from the point of view of administration, I quite realise that the Minister responsible for giving a certificate may be faced with very many cases in which the allegiance to the Second Dáil, say in the earlier months of 1922, may be pretty indefinite. During that time you had a very mixed-up arrangement in different parts of the country. You had men in organised bodies in different parts of the country who had not definitely disclosed whether their allegiance to the Second Dáil was definitely broken or not. The Minister administering the Bill will have very many cases in which he will have to use his discretion and exercise his judgment. You have it that in many parts of the country the State was well served by persons who were then, or who became definitely Irregular in the meantime, maintaining the ordinary law of the land. It will be realised that those persons, in so far as they served the State, are entitled to indemnity.

On the other hand, you will have cases, such as the case in Dundalk, where men actually in the uniform of the State up to the 28th June and subsequent to that, were actually Irregulars. We had actually to take the barracks from them some time after the 28th June by surprise. We had officers in charge of some of those men there who received moneys from the Second Dáil for the maintenance of these barracks. They may or may not have spent that money in the maintenance of these men, but they left considerable bills behind them.

Are they to be indemnified?

I do feel where there were men and officers in the form of the State holding say, a barracks in Dundalk for the State, that a certain definite responsibility does lie upon the Government for considering any debts left behind by them as soldiers of the State, and in indemnifying traders who supplied them, while there apparently as officers of the State, with food and clothing.

So that in administration, difficulties will present themselves and I do not know any authority that you can put the responsibility on for deciding those things but the Executive Minister, and I think that Deputy Redmond will be assured by the President that there is no question of one Executive Minister as against another Executive Minister. There will be a prescribed Executive Minister who can certify. It will be definitely either the Minister for Defence or the Minister for Home Affairs.

There is just another point; I do not know whether paragraph 5 (3) really covers it. During the summer of 1921, and running into portion of 1922, the Volunteers had camps. Now, it is quite possible that in respect of some of those camps—they did not amount to fifteen in the whole country—legitimate traders supplied them with food regularly and supplied them with clothing regularly. In respect of supplies given in that particular way we may find that there are liabilities to be met by the State. I do not know whether the exact terms of this clause here will allow of it or not but I do hold that the clause should be so drafted as to cover that particular point. In connection with that, I take it that no doubt the President will take into consideration General Order 28 regarding the commandeering of stores issued on the 7th July, 1921, as well as General Order No. 15, that was issued on the 3rd December, 1920. There is another point in connection with the Bill that I do not think is dealt with, and I think it ought to be, that is, that a date at a reasonable period should be fixed by some authority or another, and perhaps covered by the Bill, as a final date after which claims could not be made. Otherwise we would have the matter of claims dragging on for two or three years.

I also, in common with the other Deputies who have preceded me in speaking, view this Bill with mixed feelings. It is not that I want to be taken as objecting to the principle of indemnity. But I think it should be restricted in its application. I see here a passage in the First Section under Sub-section (1) (b) which reads: "Was done or purported to be done for the purpose or in the course of the struggle to bring about the termination of the rule of the British Government in Ireland, and the establishment and maintenance of the First Dáil Eireann and Second Dáil Eireann..." I do not like the implication in that. It is quite possible that that passage could lead to great abuse. Human nature is a very perverse thing, and it is quite possible that a person purporting to act under this Dáil could do wrong to a fellow-citizen, a matter which would have really no bearing on the struggle to bring about the termination of the rule of the British Government in Ireland. As I say, we are not opposing the principle of indemnity. At least I am not, but seeing that the Irish Volunteers were belligerent forces it naturally follows that the recognised international military code must apply to these sentences against spies which were carried out, and these acts must be regarded as just. But then a good many things have been done, and a number of Courts were set up and a number of fines were imposed and sentences passed which could not stand in reason and equity. We should like to know from the Minister is it proposed to indemnify those acts.

There is another section in this Bill— it is Sub-section (4) of Section 1—I would like the Dáil to consider this section. I do not like the principle enunciated there. I do not think the Dáil ought really to interfere with the judgments of the courts. It is retrospective legislation. It is a very bad and a very dangerous principle to admit, and I for one do not like it. There is a further section here which has unfortunately led to very much abuse through the country. It is Section 5, Sub-section (3) (i) and (ii). Of course we must admit that the State is not bound, and that it is not responsible for the acts of those purporting to act in its name, but I should like it to be made clear that that will not prevent sufferers from illegal actions having the right to apply to the Court for damages against the individuals who caused them losses. These are my observations on the Bill.

The general complaint against this measure appears to be that it is too wide and too indefinite. I take it that the real explanation is that we have had no experience in this country of Indemnity Acts. If the Deputies would peruse the Indemnity Act passed by the British Parliament they would find exactly the same indefiniteness and the same broadness. We have got to do the thing decently while we are at it. This measure has to be considered in the light of a great many circumstances and a great many issues, and it is more than possible that by reason of it some things may get indemnity that in ordinary circumstances would not. I think it will be admitted that in war time, in a period of disturbance, many things happen which most people will reprobate and condemn and so on, but for which there is some excuse by reason of the circumstances of the time. As far as the indemnity clauses of this measure are concerned, they have been framed in the light of the experience that we have gained from the British Indemnity Act, which was most exhaustive, and afforded the maximum of security to any of their forces and any persons acting under their orders.

It is intended to indemnify persons who acted under the First and Second Dáil, and both the First Dáil and the Second Dáil had a number of Ministries, each one of which might have initiated or carried out or ordered certain acts which, in the light of the circumstances of to-day, this Dáil would not consider or order or direct to be done, functioning as it is in the open day. Take, as an instance, the Belfast boycott. Very few people here would have the temerity to recommend the enforcement of a decree against any country or against any county in that country as was done at that particular time. But you must recollect the circumstances of that time. Practically all the people of one particular religious denomination were driven from their employment and a pogram was instituted against them. The people of the rest of the country were not in a position to assist directly, and they took the only obvious method known to them at the time and instituted a boycott.

Very few people in a democratic assembly would take up that attitude under normal circumstances. We must not lose sight of the fact that there were special circumstances at that time which necessitated that order being made and carried out. Are we now to refuse to give an indemnity to the persons who acted under those circumstances? At the earliest possible opportunity the Provisional Government took-off that particular decree against Belfast. It had an excellent effect there, and nobody, I am sure, is better pleased than citizens of the Saorstát now that that action was taken, although there were criticisms at the time.

The Ministry of Home Affairs when it was functioning in those days ordered certain things to be done, and so did the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Local Government. Those things were not done under the strict letter of the law of Dáil Eireann, because Dáil Eireann was not functioning, though it gave power to the Ministry or the Executive to issue those orders or carry out such acts as were necessary during that period.

Certain reports might have received sanction, but if we were asked to point to a Statute under which those men carried out orders, we would not be in a position to point to such a Statute. We are now giving an indemnity in respect to those things, and it is an indemnity which those people are entitled to. Orders were carried out then in good faith, and acts were done, or purported to be done, in order to bring about the termination of the rule of the British Government.

Can the President tell me if this Bill will indemnify county councils against claims of rate collectors who were dismissed under decrees of Dáil Eireann?

It will not, and I do not know if it was ever intended by the Dáil, or that there were instructions given that the councils were to be indemnified for that.

You were Minister for Local Government then?

Did the county councils act in good faith?

I did not quite catch the Deputy's question. As I say, we lack experience of Indemnity Acts. This, as far as our people are concerned, is the first measure we have had to deal with. Supposing some officer exceeded his duty, or was sent out to do some duty, he has a right to complain now if we do not afford him that protection which I think he is entitled to claim from us. It has been mentioned that the Executive Council itself should deal with those cases. I have mentioned instances in which a member of the Executive Council might not be in a position to decide upon a case. He gets information from his Department. If we were to appoint the Minister for Justice in this connection, he would be bound by whatever information he would get from the Minister for Defence. The Minister for Defence would be a more suitable person in connection with things affecting his particular Department. The same would apply to other Ministries.

Deputy Connor Hogan mentioned a case dealt with under Clause 5, sub-section (3), part 3. It is not intended, as will be seen by that section, to compensate for the billeting of troops. I should mention that one particular claim came in in respect to the billeting of troops, and it was for three guineas a week for a certain number of months in the year. It turned out that the person in respect of whom the charge was made was the son of the man who made the charge. Other cases occurred in which pretty considerable bills came in for the billeting of people, and the rate charged was three guineas per man per week. An ordinary man would be kept as a paying guest in a place of that sort at, I suppose, a guinea a week.

It was not in Dublin.

It was not in Dublin, for Dublin people are very honest.

I mean that the guinea a week would not be the charge in Dublin.

Where there were any genuine cases they have been given consideration. I quite admit that the point made by Deputy Mulcahy is a very good point. There must be some date on which applications should finally be sent in. I mentioned already to-day that there were eighteen thousand cases of billeting claims cleared off by the end of March. But claims are coming in still, and at a fairly rapid rate. I understand they are coming in very rapidly from one quarter of the country where a demobilised officer has recently taken up his residence. Now we are prepared to discharge liabilities that were undertaken by the State, other than those which are excluded in all fairness, but we are not going to salt the State in order that certain persons will benefit by it. I do not think the case mentioned by Deputy Mulcahy is covered. That is the case of the camps. If it be not covered I would be prepared to accept an amendment in order that such cases should be included. I do not know the terms of General Orders 28 or 15, but I will undertake to look them up.

Will the Minister put them on the Table?

I do not see any objection to that. They were issued before this Dáil came into existence, and I think the date mentioned was December, 1920. That is the reason why they are not on the Table, but if Deputy Johnson would care to see a copy I would send him a copy.

It has been mentioned by Deputy Mulcahy as a matter of importance in respect of the Bill, and it is necessary, I think, that we should have some opportunity to read them.

I do not know that there was any other point urged in connection with this Bill, except some matters that were mentioned by Deputy Redmond. The Damage to Property Act does make provision for certain claims. I believe that it is possible that quite a number of these claims were not made, but I think that there is a provision in the Act which would entitle the persons concerned to make application to the judge to extend the time.

Will the President explain the meaning of the date "28th June," and what was the position as between the date and the approval of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty? When did the authority of the Second Dáil cease, and the authority of the officers appointed by the Second Dáil, and why?

I do not know that the question of the dates of the Second Dáil would come in. The reason why the 28th June is mentioned is this: there was no statutory authority for the troops that were in uniform and acting under the Provisional Government, or the Second Dáil, at that particular time. Let us suppose for a moment that they had a man under arrest, that he attempted to escape, and that he was shot. In that case, while they were acting under orders, there would have been no statutory authority, I take it, for firing. It would have been their duty to do it, and possibly the officer in charge, or a soldier, would fire a shot, and if the man were killed, an action might lie against him, or a prosecution, and as the other Act, the Indemnity Act of last year, started. I think, on the 28th June, the whole of the period comes in now under either one or other of the Indemnity Acts. The first would have started in January 1919, and run to the Truce; this one now takes it up to cover the whole of the period, so that while those troops or officers of the State, or persons employed, might not have had the statutory authority behind them we are covering it by this indemnity Bill.

The particular kind of case to which I was attracting the Minister's attention, and to which I would like to have an answer, is one that I think hardly he himself desired to cover by the provisions of the Bill. I am dealing with the kind of cases which the protection of the Government of the First Dáil at the time the acts were committed would not cover.

Then it would not be covered by this, I take it. If the Deputy would give me a description of the cases I will answer that.

I will give a description of a case that occurred early in 1921, that came up before the Government of the First Dáil at the time, and came up before the Executive Committee of Sinn Fein, where under section 1, sub-section (5), paragraph (a) it would be the duty of this Government to institute criminal proceedings but the file was lost. The file went away and it is not now recoverable because it is in the possession of the person who was then Minister for Home Affairs. Certain damage was done which it appears to me—I speak subject to correction—the provisions of this Bill will remove from any action for recovery of consequential or collateral damage.

I think I know the case that the Deputy has in mind. I believe that we gave instructions that a prosecution should be entered. I do not know whether or not there is now sufficient information to enable us to enter a prosecution. It would not be entered in any case.

Would the President answer the question I put to him as to what is the position of certain shopkeepers who supplied goods to the troops? It is certainly a serious matter. Deputy Redmond appeared to think that it could be dealt with under the Damage to Property Act. As I understand it, cases of this kind are dealt with by a court, and when the court has deliberated upon them a report is made. The person who makes the application does not know what award is made; it is merely a report that is made, and an ex gratia payment is made to the person if it goes in his favour. I do not think that that is the way to deal with transactions of that kind.

In those cases in which a report is made, the amount is always stated by the judge. At least I have noticed that Mr. Justice O'Shaughnessy, when he was Recorder of Dublin, always mentioned the amount. I do not know whether that applies to the cases that the Deputy has mentioned, but if the Deputy would give me particulars I would undertake to inquire into the matter before the Report Stage.

That is to say, that the President is prepared now to receive representations from those people who consider that they have grievances?

No. I am prepared to consider the merits of the cases the Deputy has mentioned to see whether or not provision is made for that.

I know, but I have a case in mind where a person contracted to supply bread to the Army for a definite period, I think from January to May. He did supply during that period, and he made applications for payment to the Government. They only paid him up to March and told him that it was a final payment. I want to know if a person like that can re-open the question with the Government. Also, I would like to know why it is that this Bill does not indemnify county councils against the obligation to pay rate collectors who were dismissed in consequence of an order sent down by the Government in the year 1920.

Because the struggle between the county council and the rate collectors was a struggle to prevent damages under the Criminal Injuries Acts being secured against the county council, and having secured that, then the county council must honour their obligations on the other side.

In respect of Section 3, will the Minister say whether there is a record available of the sentences of the various courts that are referred to in the section?

Not that I am aware of.

Then how will it be possible for the Minister to issue certificates?

I should say that each case will have to be examined as it arises. I do not know that there is any such record of these proceedings, but I cannot say for certain.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Thursday.

took the chair.