The first two amendments from the Seanad read:—
In Section 1 (1) the word "or," line 22, deleted and after the word "day" in the same line, the words "or St. Patrick's Day," inserted.
In Section 1 (3) the word "or," line 38, deleted and after the word "Friday" in the same line, the words "or St. Patrick's Day" inserted.
I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in those amendments, which really means re-inserting St. Patrick's Day as a day of general closing. To that extent it will leave the Bill in the form in which it was originally introduced in the Dáil. I am moving the acceptance of these amendments and I hope that the Dáil will reconsider the decision given here when the Bill was last before the House. I would recall to Deputies that there was a time not very long ago when something approaching the closing of publichouses on St. Patrick's Day was effected. Not with the help of any statute but simply by pressure of public opinion and with the co-operation and good will of the members of the licensed trade, almost a complete closing on St. Patrick's Day was effected. Then, because here and there individual traders defied the public opinion that was so much in evidence at the time and remained open, other traders began to say that when that went on and there was not a complete and uniform closing, they could not afford to be at a disadvantage compared with competitors in their trade, and so the voluntary effort broke down —broke down, not because of resistance or lack of co-operation on the part of the many, but because of resistance and lack of co-operation on the part of the comparatively few.
It was proposed then to come to the aid, so to speak, of voluntary effort with a statute, and to give statutory expression to that public opinion which manifested itself in the country on this question, so that there would not be individual backsliders causing a breakdown, as happened in the past. We know the sources of that public opinion, they were healthy sources. They came from the Gaelic League, from Sinn Fein, from Labour movements, from all those quarters which represented the varied life of the country at the time. It does seem strange now, when we have the power of legislation in our hands, that there has been some kind of lapse, or some kind of change of heart, which causes the representatives of the people in the Dáil to take a different view. It is not too much to ask on this National Festival that we should make that much of a gesture to give expression to our feeling that intemperance is a vice and a national evil, and that if it went on in increasing proportions it would be a national menace.
It would, I believe, be welcomed all over the country, both by men and women electors, if the Dáil were to take a different view on this matter from that which they took on the last occasion. People say that they deprecate "kill-joy" legislation, that St. Patrick's Day should be a day of healthy amusement and so on. I wonder is it seriously argued that there could be no honest, decent, healthy amusement, no real social intercourse without the help of alcoholic beverages. If that is the contention, it should be put in plain language by Deputies arguing against this amendment—that they do not believe there can be pleasure and amusement and proper social intercourse without the assistance of stout, whiskey, Bass, and other liquors of that kind.
The proposal is that licensed traders do not open their houses on that day. People may have drink in their homes, as they may, of course, on any day. But this simply asks that the publichouses do not sell liquor for consumption on the national festival. I have very little sympathy with the arguments put forward on the last occasion that this was tyrannical and a hardship and would be resented by the public. The public has not changed so much in three or four years. I believe that the public wish to see this provision inserted in the Bill and that it is not from the public at large the pressure on this matter comes. The Seanad took a healthier and more enlightened view on this matter.