Being the only Deputy on this side of the House who voted for the Treaty on the 7th January, 1922, it would be very undesirable if I were to give a silent vote on this question. I voted for the Treaty, and I have not had any qualms of conscience since then as to whether I did the right thing or not. I listened to Deputy Redmond yesterday evening speaking about the Irish Party. He talked about the associates of the Ministry. When the Treaty was signed, I happened to be one of their associates. The whole tenor of his speech yesterday evening was: "I told you so," and he told us that the Irish Party in 1914 could have got a better settlement than was brought about by the Treaty. If that is so I cannot understand why the Irish Party did not get us that settlement. They had a magnificent opportunity in August, 1914, before Mr. Redmond in the House of Commons pledged this country to England for the war. Deputy Redmond told us that when partition was mentioned then it was only agreed to in a temporary way. But could he have given any guarantee that if partition had then been accepted in a temporary way by both sides, that he would not have had the same position confronting this country as that which confronts it now?
I think it is only fair to myself and to my associates of the time I speak of that I should state my position in that connection. I am absolutely opposed to this Agreement, because I consider that the Executive Council have exceeded their functions in the matter. I consider that the Government has gone as far as to break the Constitution; I consider that the Government has gone as far as to break the Treaty which they have been praising for the past three or four years. Deputy Dr. MacNeill, who was appointed by the Government as a member of the Boundary Commission, told us two or three weeks ago, in the greatest confession of failure I have ever heard a man make, that he pledged himself to secrecy with two men whom he knew very early in the proceedings were absolutely opposed to the aims of the Free State. He told us that early in the proceedings of that Commission it was clear to him that his colleagues were not putting a proper interpretation on the Article in question. I do not care what his conception of honour may be; I believe that he should, there and then, have told them that he considered it his bounden duty to come back and tell this country of that. The honour of Deputy Dr. MacNeill is a very small thing compared with the future of this nation. The honour of Deputy Dr. MacNeill, great as he may think it is, is a very small thing compared with what the Nationalists of Tyrone and Fermanagh have gone through and will go through.
I find it very hard to believe that Deputy Dr. MacNeill kept all this from his colleagues. From every platform upon which members of the Executive Council appeared for the past twelve months we were told: "All goes well with the Boundary Commission." The Nationalists of Tyrone, Fermanagh. Derry City, Newry, and those other places which would have been affected by the Boundary Commission were told, time and time again, that their destinies were safe in the hands of the Executive Council. Deputy Dr. MacNeill resigned from the Boundary Commission after a debate had been initiated here by Deputy McCullough, who seemed to get a little panicky be cause of certain information that had leaked through from the Boundary Commission to the Morning Post. I suppose we may assume that were it not for the fact that East Donegal was about to be taken Deputy McCullough would still be silent and Deputy MacNeill would still be on the Boundary Commission.
When Deputy MacNeill resigned the President was asked here to make a statement, a perfectly reasonable request, I submit, from a representative of the people. The President, in a very irritable manner, told us that he had no policy, but that the question was engaging the attention of the Executive Council and would continue to do so. We asked on Thursday last what was the policy of the Executive Council, and we received the same answer. The first medium through which the policy of the Executive Council was made known to us was through the much-hated British Parliament. Mr. Baldwin, Prime Minister of England, was the first to communicate to this country what the policy of the Free State Executive Council was. Surely the representatives of the people are not children. Surely the representatives of the people on both sides of the House know what their responsibilities are, and are prepared to shoulder them when the time comes. The President told us that this agreement was the best that could be got under the circumstances. What are the circumstances? We have not been told yet what they are. We have not yet been told what happened since the time Dr. MacNeill left the Boundary Commission until the President arrived home on Saturday morning. We know nothing. The President said on Monday last: "You asked me for my policy, here it is"—a Bill, a fait accompli, an agreement, that had been arrived at between the three Governments without the Irish people having a voice in the making of it. I ask the President and the Executive Council is that the proper way of treating the people of the Free State and of Tyrone, Fermanagh, Derry City, Newry, and those people who have suffered so much in the Irish cause for generations?
The President talks about the Feetham-Fisher award. We have not been told yet what the award was. And if we believe what Mr. Baldwin said in the House of Commons the President does not know what that award is. Mr. Baldwin stated yesterday in the British House of Commons that neither of the two Premiers saw the award. If they did not see it what is all the panic about? Why did the President agree to the cancellation of Article V.? I think the House is entitled to know who initiated the discussion on Article V., and to know what representations were made in connection with that Article. We have been asked for an alternative. I can quite understand that it is not easy to give an alternative. It is very hard to suggest any alternative when we are not placed in possession of the facts, and we should have been placed in possession of them prior to an agreement being signed by which the Nationalists of Tyrone and Fermanagh have been sold to Northern Ireland. Deputy Egan said yesterday that it was absolutely necessary that we should find out what our liabilities were under Article V., and that the uncertainty that has prevailed in financial matters was responsible for keeping the country in a stagnant position.
I am prepared to go a long way with him so far as that opinion is concerned, but we can pay too high a price for this also. I think it is too big a price to pay to sacrifice the thousands of Nationalists we are sacrificing in Northern Ireland by this Agreement. I suggest that we do not know what the Feetham-Fisher line is like. The President, as I say, if we take Mr. Baldwin's statement, does not know what it is like, but if we take the forecast of the "Morning Post" as accurate as regards the Boundary line the greater part of Tyrone and Fermanagh were to be transferred to the Free State. If that is the exact position I would like to know what authority we have for refusing to accept the Nationalists of Tyrone and Fermanagh into the Free State? The Minister for Finance is always able to smile at everything, but I daresay if he went back to Monaghan now he would not smile.