Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 10 Nov 1927

Vol. 21 No. 12


I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time. In deciding to bring in this Bill, we were influenced by the fact that we believed such a measure ought not to be on the Statute Book at all, because every moment it is on it is a source of public danger. We believe also that it is unnecessary, because all the powers that ought to be required for maintaining peace and dealing with criminals are already provided for. We think it is unjust because it takes away the liberty of the individual, the private citizen, and we think it is unconstitutional, because we hold that the whole way in which the question of its being at variance with the Constitution is dealt with is improper and would probably be held in courts of law to be illegal.

It is difficult to decide in what particular order one should deal with the various subjects that occur to one when discussing this particular Bill. Most of the Deputies have discussed in detail the Act which we wish to repeal, and it is hardly necessary to read the various parts of the Act itself in order to remind them of its provisions. Perhaps the best way to bring them back to realise in general what the nature of the Act is, is to recall some of the statements that were made when it was introduced and after it was passed. Let us take first of all how it was received by the public Press. The "Irish Independent" newspaper certainly cannot be regarded as an organ which was likely to favour the views of Republicans of any section, and here is what the "Independent" said about this Act:

"The Public Safety Act is a far-reaching measure which entrusts the Executive Council with immense powers, far in excess of any previously passed in or for this country. It abrogates important Articles of the Constitution, suspends the operation of the civil courts in certain cases, and imposes a whole series of penalties of exceptional severity."

If, on the other hand, we go across the water, and take such organs as the "Manchester Guardian," we find that the political correspondent of that paper, referring to the Bill on July 25th, said:

"All men with an interest in public affairs are already alarmed by the dangerous, provocative and unnecessary nature of those Safety Bill provisions. It is evident that a single execution for possession of arms would take Ireland at one plunge back into the abyss, and the mere threat is an unpardonable indiscretion."

The London "Times" legal correspondent, referring to the Bill, said:

Mr. Cosgrave has plumped for a good thumping Coercion Act, which would have brought a blush to the cheek of "Buckshot" Forster or "Bloody" Balfour.

These are opinions which were not expressed from these benches. The opinions of Labour are on record in the reports. The opinions of leaders of the other Parties who spoke are there on record, and it is not necessary for me to refer to them. I think that what I have said is sufficient to bring us back to a clear understanding of what is in this Public Safety Act.

Let us take how it deals with the Constitution, to start with. Our attitude to that Constitution is pretty well known. In so far as there is any part of it which can be regarded as having been freely accepted by the Irish people, or their representatives, we accept it. But that part of the Constitution which has been imposed upon this country has always been opposed by us. It is our hope to change all those Articles of it. But there are certain Articles in it which are admirable. They were Articles which were drawn up by Irishmen with their minds turned back to the history of coercion in this country —to deprivation of the rights of the individual in this country, to persecution of the individual in this country in the past, by legal artifices and by the abrogation practically of all common law, as it was understood. It was for that reason that you find in that Constitution Articles such as Article 6, which guarantees the inviolability of the person of the citizen. By the way, as I am looking for this particular Article. I might remark that we get this book which is supposed to contain the Constitution. In future if you want your Constitution you will have to put the Public Safety Act into it, unless we repeal it, because your Constitution is now the Public Safety Act. I shall not refer in detail to a number of Articles that are in this Constitution which are admirable, such as Article 2, which declares that all judicial power shall be exercised in accordance with the Constitution; Article 6, which declares the liberty of the person; Article 7, which declares the dwelling of each citizen inviolable; Article 9, guaranteeing freedom of expression and the right to form Associations; Article 43, depriving the Oireachtas of the power to make acts an infringement of the law which were not so at the date of commission; Article 64, declaring that the judicial power of the Free State shall be exercised in public courts by ordinary judges; Article 65, giving the High Court the right to question the validity of any law having regard to the provisions of the Constitution; and a number of other Articles of that kind which were obviously put into the Constitution by men who had clearly the background of Irish history in their minds, and wanted to safeguard the individual against unjust attacks by the Executive.

We have in this particular Act Section 3, which says:—

"Every provision of this Act which is in contravention of any provision of the Constitution shall to the extent of such contravention operate and have effect as an amendment for so long only as this Act continues in force of such provision of the Constitution."

What does that mean and where is the Constitution, if that is to be accepted as amending it? Is there anybody here going to tell us what the Constitution is now? If that is an amendment, will they tell us where the amendments are? Will they give us the Constitution as amended? Suppose some question, other than a question under this Public Safety Act comes up and we want to determine whether that matter is or is not in accordance with the Constitution, how are we to determine it? There is nobody who knows at the present time what the Constitution is according to this Act. Are you going to pass over your power of making amendments to the Courts of Law, and is it legal to do so? I think nobody knows where we stand with the Constitution as long as that Act is on the Statute Book. It does not give any information whatever as to what Articles are amended and what the amendments are, and nobody is in a position, I hold, to state what at present is the Constitution. This Act in fact supersedes the Constitution, if it is an Act at all, and is the fundamental law.

Then there is another question. It is supposed to amend it for a period of time. It is an extraordinary thing to amend the Constitution in that particular way—amendment for a certain period. The question is, can it be done at all? I say that this Act does away with the Constitution, does away with all the safeguards to liberty that are contained in it and is a public menace. I say that the powers that are given by that Act should not be given to any body of men. Men are not angels as we all know, and I do not think we ought to give to any group of men the powers contained in that Act. But when we think of the personnel of the Executive Council, to which such powers are given, when we remember the past history of members of that particular Executive Council, then those of us who know that history well, and know how they have abused the powers when they got them, and took powers that they did not get, know perfectly well how dangerous to the public safety it is to have an Act of this kind and powers of this kind at their disposal. Let us go back for a moment to May, 1922.

I have no idea of what the Deputy is going to say, but if we are to have the history of the country from May 1922 traversed, the Deputy will realise——

For my purpose——

Let me proceed, please. If we are to have the history of the country from May 1922 traversed, it will give rise to a very wide debate. I have no idea of what the Deputy is going to say. It may be something to which I would have no objection, but, at this point of the debate, I want to say that if the history of the last five years is relevant, the history of the last ten years is quite as relevant, and then the debate would seem to have no limit, and I doubt whether the Deputy thinks it would be any profit to any of us either. I shall hear the Deputy, of course.

My argument is this: that these powers should not be given to any Executive. They are far too dangerous to be given to any Executive Council, and I say particularly they should not be given to the present Executive, because of the fact that they have, by means of arrogating to themselves certain powers, brought about a situation which meant ultimately civil war, and in a way civil war that we could not get out of.

That is just the point. The Public Safety Act is law. An effort is being made to repeal the law as it stands. The Public Safety Act is not only law for this Executive, which, if I may say so, just to make the thing clear, is accidental, which is here for the moment, but law for any other Executive. The position of this Executive, just as the position of any other Executive, may be discussed at the proper time, but the fitness of this Executive for office is not the question that now arises. The question that now arises is whether this Act, which is on the Statute Book, should be on the Statute Book. If the other question is drawn into this debate, as to whether the present Executive is a proper one to occupy office, to which they have been elected by the Dáil, then we get into a realm of argument to which there appears to me to be no end, and no limit.

I suggest we ought not to get into that matter. If the Deputy is allowed to make his point that the Executive is responsible for many things, the Executive, from my point of view, looking at it from the point of view of the Chair, must get equal facilities to defend itself. If we are to have attack and defence on these lines we shall have to travel over an area much wider than that covered by the Bill, the Second Reading of which the Deputy is urging. I think we ought to confine ourselves to the Public Safety Act, and not to the fitness of the Executive for office, which, of course, is a different subject and may be discussed at the proper time.

The whole object and aim we have in bringing in a Bill for the repeal of this Act is that we feel that every moment it is on the Statute Book means danger to the country. I want to point out how particularly dangerous it is at the present time, when we have an Executive in office whose history is known to us. If it were not for that, even though I believe that those who take and those who receive arbitrary powers are both criminal we might not feel exactly as strongly about this or feel that there was such immediate public danger involved. I understand and appreciate, I assure you, sir, the reasons why you do not wish that we should go into this subject. I do not want to go into it if I can help it. I want to avoid doing so as much as possible, but I do want to point out the sequence of events in order that it may be clear to the House what would happen if this Executive, for instance, should take hasty or improper action and we found ourselves in civil war before we knew where we were.

I put it to the Deputy—it is not strictly a question of order, perhaps, but it is a question for the House to decide—that if we are to have the sequence of events since May, 1922, and the Deputy, in the exercise of his discretion, in making his own case begins at a certain date, other people, in making their case, may begin at a different date, and it seems to me that such a debate is one that would take us into a realm altogether outside the matters raised by the existence of the Public Safety Act and its proposed repeal. The recital of events in the last five years for the purpose of pillorying the present Executive, from my point of view in the Chair, means necessarily liberty and latitude for the Executive to enter into the same set of circumstances. I see no limits to such a debate. I see no conclusion to it, and I think it ought not to be gone into. The question at issue is whether the Public Safety Act, which was passed here some short time ago, ought now to be repealed. The question of the fitness of the present Executive for office has already been decided by the Dáil and their fitness for office, now in 1927, can, at any time, be challenged by an appropriate motion. This Executive is the Executive that was appointed here a short time ago, and it is not the Executive which was in existence in May, 1922. As I say, the date May, 1922, is a purely arbitrary date. If the Deputy takes it for his own purposes, other Deputies may take anterior dates for their purpose and the debate will become an impossible one. I do not think we ought to enter into these considerations. We must keep to the other question.

As I have said, I appreciate fully the points you have mentioned, and I am anxious to avoid going into that matter as much as it is possible to avoid it. If we are to deal with an Executive having large powers like those contained in this Act, we ought to be able to go back and point out the dangers that lie in such powers being put into the hands of any Executive, just as we would take any other period of history and point out how, one after another, the sequence of events occurred which brought about certain dangers to the public.

The difficulty is that the Deputy is simply stating his view. He intends to state a sequence of events. I put this to him: he cannot state that sequence of events impartially. Nobody here could state that sequence of events impartially. I do not know whether any body of people in this country at the present moment would accept from any individual citizens if the country a relation of the sequence of events since May, 1922, as veracious history. It is impossible. The Deputy simply purports to state his view of events, and, his view of events having been stated, other people's views of events will then be stated, and then we shall find ourselves discussing, not the Public Safety Act, but the events since May, 1922. I want to know if this House wants to do that? For my part I think it ought not to be done. I have a very decided view on that matter. I think it ought not to be done, because it is not history; it is contention, and contention is a very different thing.

Will the Executive Council, in their defence of the retention of this measure, have the right to recite the circumstances which they consider as being responsible for this Act being in force at the present moment?

I cannot answer a hypothetical question. The Executive will have the same rights as Deputy de Valera, no more and no less, in so far as I am able in my capacity to decide that matter. That is all I can say. I have heard a date mentioned, May, 1922, and I want to know if the House desires to go into events that happened in this country since that date? I do not think it does. The Deputy can make his case without going into those events.

I am afraid I could not. I could not make a case without touching in some way upon those events. I am anxious only to touch on the fringe; I do not want to go into detail and rake up everything, if I can avoid it. These debates have been carried on for four or five years in public. I do not want to go over these if I can avoid it, but I want to give reasons for showing why this Act is, at the present time, a danger to the community. I want to show why its existance is a danger. I want to show what it is designed for and what are the whole set of circumstances with which it deals. How otherwise can we possibly deal with it and try to get—I hope finally—something which will give us public safety very much better than this Act will give it to us? How can we do these things unless we examine the question and deal with how the circumstances of this situation arose?

That is not the debate that I propose to preside over. I am anxious to know at this stage, before the debate begins, whether the House desires that kind of debate. We should have an indication of that. I appreciate the Deputy's difficulty and I also appreciate this: In this House since the Deputy's entry into it nobody could complain of the line of debate that has been followed. At this particular stage, however, if we are to have the history of events since 1922, we will not have a debate; we shall have a wrangle. I am against it myself but, of course, I am only expressing my own views. If the House desires to proceed with the debate on the lines the Deputy is taking I shall have to accept the decision of the House. I am not prepared to agree that the debate should be allowed to continue on the basis of a recital of events covering the civil war, the period after the civil war, and some events that occured before the civil war. I would like to know what the House thinks on the question.

If I am allowed to intervene, I would like to point out that I believe that since the Fianna Fáil Party has come into this House a new atmosphere is being created, not alone here, but in the country, an atmosphere tending towards peace and towards forgetfulness of the sad events that occured in this country during the past four or five years. I believe that Deputy de Valera and the people who support him will be able to make a sufficiently strong case for the repeal of this Act without going to the necessity of rooting certain events up here, and having them debated in a spirit of what must necessarily be bitterness and contention. That spirit is bound to be introduced if these things which occured and which we all regret, and for which nobody in this House would attempt to apportion the blame, are rooted up now. I believe it will not help the case, and I would appeal to Deputy de Valera to make his case for the repeal of the Act, as it can be very strongly made, on the merits of the Act itself, and especially on the new circumstances that have been brought about in the country since Fianna Fáil entered the Dáil. I believe that a strong case can be made for its repeal. I may indicate that as far as my Party is concerned, we will support the case for the repeal of the Act, but we will not support it on the grounds of anything that has occured since so long ago as 1922. The Deputy will have a better chance of carrying his motion in this House if he makes the case for the repeal of the Act on the merits of the Act itself. The arguments are sufficiently strong to have the motion carried.

My only desire in mentioning this thing is to show to members of the House the dangers that lie in this Act. If any Executive is going, for instance, to prevent this House from meeting when it should meet until such time that the spark is put to the tinder and the tinder is sufficiently alight that no power is going to stop it, where are you then? Such a thing happened before.

I am absolutely clear now that this is a question that we cannot debate. If the Deputy would take the Public Safety Act and indicate what could happen under the Act without going into history, it would be better.

I can imagine cases in the future. Perhaps I would be able to do it if I did imagine cases in the future.

All of us have imaginations and memories, and if the Deputy's future bears any marked resemblance to the past, other Deputies' futures will have also a resemblance to other events. I want to keep this debate free from bitterness, because bitterness is futility.

I agree absolutely that bitterness is futility. But I cannot keep myself blind to the fact that what happened before can happen again, and that history has a knack of repeating itself, and that, accordingly, if we want to make provision for the future and avoid getting into such difficulties as we had in the past, we will not keep this Act on the Statute Book, because it gives to the Executive just the powers which the Executive ought not to have. When is this matter ever going to be settled? Yesterday we had treason. The whole question is present every time in the House when any question of that kind comes up. All these questions are there, and my belief is that we would do very much better to face these questions and try to get some understanding about them.

Hear, hear.

Those on this side of the House have been repeatedly asked what our views on this or that matter are. How can we give our views if, the moment we start trying to give any picture of the thing from the side at which perhaps other members have not looked, we are to be constantly held up. I find it difficult, in consequence of the attitude taken by the Ceann Comhairle, to deal with it, because my whole point with respect to it is what I have indicated there—that with powers like these now in the hands of the Executive, they will present a fait accompli to this House. They will bring about a situation, and can bring about a situation, under which it will be too late for anybody in this House, even including the Executive Council itself, to do anything that would be effective. The fact that this Act has been very recently debated makes it unnecessary for me to deal with the details. We know that it gives the Executive, if they want it, the power to declare any organisation whatever, which in their opinion is treasonable, unlawful. It gives them power to take any particular individual to whom they have a dislike, or who in any way may hamper them, and give him an order to leave the country within 24 or 48 hours. It gives the police force the right to arrest a man or woman and keep him or her in jail, depriving him or her of liberty for seven days. Then a member of the Executive Council can further deprive them of their liberty for two months more. As one High Court Judge said, they have created a new crime, that of being suspect, suspect to any member of the police force. If in the opinion of a member of the Gárda Síochána, a citizen is reasonably suspect, they can arrest him. The reasonableness depends on the particular superintendent of the Gárda Síochána. A person is to be taken away from his home, from his work, and put into prison for two months and seven days at least. Now just again the Ceann Comhairle will probably stop me here, too. We must remember that the police force was recruited at a time which made it almost a certainty that the police force would belong to one party and be a party force. I am not blaming the police for that. Circumstances made it so. The result is that you do find throughout the country the police taking up an attitude which shows they do not understand their position at all as independent of political parties.

The Executive Council has been trying at all times to identify themselves with the State, and when they talk about the State they are really thinking of themselves. The police force has gradually regarded them as the State, too. I have heard this glorification of the State. To me there is something behind the State. There is a nation or society for which the State is supossed to minister. If in any particular case it should happen that the State did not minister to the society, then to me anyhow the society and its interests are above the particular form of State. There are a number of things, as I say, into which I would like to enter, but I am prevented by the Ceann Comhairle. I do not see that any useful purpose would be served by my dealing with it any further. All I have got to say about it is this: that if the House is going to permit these powers to be vested in the Executive Council, and to continue in the Executive Council, this country may find itself in the position in which it found itself in 1922.

I formally second the motion.


I move the amendement under my name in the Order Paper. The motion, I take it, is that the Bill be read a Second Time. My amendment is:

To delete all words after the word "That" and add the words "the Dáil declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill having for its purpose the total repeal of the Public Safety Act, 1927, but is of opinion, in view of the altered circumstances which have arisen since that Act was passed, that its duration might reasonably be limited to two years from the date of its passing."

There has been a great deal of criticism of this Act and, generally, we have heard it suggested that the Act was an extraordinarily drastic one. In point of fact, I do not think that it is a very drastic Act. The powers that it puts into the hands of the Executive Council are, in some respects, rather less than the powers that the Executive Council already have. For instance, the power of deporting is certainly less than a power which the Executive Council already has—the power of internment. The part of the Act which might be described as drastic is hedged round with safeguards. It is impossible to put the last part of the Act into operation without calling the Dáil together, and without the Dáil having an opportunity of deciding whether that part shall remain in operation or whether the Executive Council, which is trying or has tried to put it into operation, shall remain in power.

This Bill does necessarily involve the amendment of certain Articles of the Constitution. It is probable that when the Constitution was being passed people did not advert sufficiently to the difficulties that were likely to arise. It is possible that we were a little too idealistic in the drafting of the Constitution. But in any case we do not want to amend the Constitution permanently and it is for that reason that we put a section in the Public Safety Act which reads:

"Every provision of this Act which is in contravention of any provision of the Constitution, shall, to the extent of such contravention operate and have effect as an amendment for so long only as this Act continues in force to such provision of the Constitution."

We do not want to alter the Constitution. We wanted to allow those provisions which were put in to remain there and to be permanent provisions of the Constitution. But we wanted also to take steps that would prevent this Act becoming, or any of its provisions being declared, invalid and inoperative. The passage of this Act was due to and arose entirely from the assassination of the late Minister for Justice. I believe that since that time conditions have altered substantially and that alteration is substantially for the better. In any country the assassination of a Minister of State must be looked upon as a very serious crime, a crime much more serious than the assassination of a private individual, because the assassination of a Minister is an attack upon the whole public. It was specially dangerous here in the circumstances under which it occurred. It was specially dangerous because a third of the elected representatives of the people were remaining outside the Parliament of the people and were refusing to some extent to acknowledge the existence and the rights of the State. I believed and we believed, that it was only that fact— mind you I do not want to say that there is a single member of the Opposition who was not profoundly sorry and shocked at that crime—but, as I say, I believe that but for the fact that they were outside the Dáil, the atmosphere in which it was possible for men to think that the murder of Kevin O'Higgins would bring down the State, would not have existed.

The people who murdered Kevin O'Higgins were not oblivious of political considerations. I know that they could have killed him any time for two or three years before the crime occured. I myself often walked from this House at 10.30 or 11 o'clock at night with the late Minister and parted with him where our roads divided, and I have seen him walk home alone at that hour of the night. He could easily have been killed at any time. He could have been killed at any time during the general election. He was killed after it, and at a time when people possibly thought that his murder might bring about a great change. When he was killed we felt that we were at a crisis in the affairs of the State. Nothing that was wrong happened after his death, but the assassination of Ministers could not go on without the possibility of this country falling back into the abyss. We felt it necessary to ensure that there could be no repetition of the assassination of a single Minister with the great danger of the country going back into barbarism.

We introduced a Bill for the amendment of certain provisions of the Constitution. We introduced the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, which has now become law, with the object of filling up the Dáil and removing the atmosphere in which misguided people would think that by assassination they could bring down the State. We passed the Public Safety Act to deal with this conspiracy, with those who might sympathise with it, and with those who might urge others to do acts which they might be afraid to do themselves. Everybody knows that during a period of years there was a propaganda carried on against the late Minister for Justice which might be described almost as murder propaganda. It was a propaganda in which the Minister was continually being depicted as bloodthirsty, ruthless, and having his hands dripping with blood. People may have used expressions and used them thoughtlessly and not having thoughts of murder in their mind, but I think others used them in the hope that they would lead to action. We wanted to take steps to make sure that we could deal with those who engage in incitements to murder. Then there was a question of military organisation. There is no need and there is no excuse for any sort of military organisation such as Oglaigh na hEireann now. Any man who induces another to go into that organisation is committing a crime. He is leading men into a path which, if it does not end in mere futility, can lead only to murder.


You led them yourself.

The mover of the motion was heard in silence and we will have to hear the Minister in silence. I think, in fact, we will have to make it a rule to hear everybody in silence—without interruption from any side.

Organisations of that sort can have two objects only, namely, either the bringing about of armed insurrection, the bringing about of war in this country between the people of the country, a new civil war, or if it is not going to lead to that, then it can only lead to crimes such as that which occurred last July. We felt it necessary to take steps which would hinder the work of such organisations. Most of the other provisions of the Bill, excepting only the provisions dealing with military courts, were rather minor provisions. We took powers to prevent the importation of certain papers, and there were certain powers in regard to search orders and so forth, but the main remaining power in the Act is that for setting up military courts.

The attitude of the Executive Council in regard to military courts has often been explained. In any case, the whole matter is within the competence of the Dáil, because the proclamation bringing the third part of the Act into operation provides for calling both Houses of the Oireachtas together. The object of the third part of the Act was not to supersede but to preserve trials by jury. In view of a crime like that which occurred, anyone could see that some steps were necessary. We had a Minister of State slaughtered on the roadside, and if the criminals who slew him were taken, or if one of them alone was taken, does anybody think that an ordinary Dublin juror, with the case before him, could deal with the matter without some measure of trepidation? What we feared was that if these men, or one of them, had been taken, and if there were irrefutable evidence of guilt you would have jurors terrorised into an acquittal. We wanted to see that jury trial was not broken down, because it would be a calamity for the country if, in some case such as that, the juryman who had done his duty was shot on his return home. We brought this particular part of the Bill in as a warning to those who might be inclined to interfere with jurymen in the execution of their duty. It was to preserve trial by jury.

The object of the Bill was not a political one. It was to preserve, and not to take away the powers of the individual and to secure and safeguard his rights. Deputy de Valera talked about provisions that were in the Constitution to safeguard the citizen against the unjust attacks of the Executive, but the Executive has the power to safeguard the citizen against the unjust attacks of his fellow-citizens. We have had examples of that, and the object of the Bill was to protect the ordinary citizen against unjust attacks that might be brought to bear against him. There has been a change, as I have already stated. I believe that, with the Dáil now filled, such crimes as brought about the drafting and passage of this Act are less likely to occur, and I believe, with the passage of time, that the possibility of their occuring will pass away, but we have got to remember that we have men who have done this thing, done it after a good deal of preliminary talk, because we know that there was talk for a long time of assassination of Ministers.

Now they have tasted blood and they have not yet been taken. If the men who did this murder had been taken and put on trial before a jury in Dublin or elsewhere in the Free State one could say, perhaps, the circumstances would justify the immediate repeal of this Act. But they have not yet been taken. They are yet there as a danger, and we ought not to do anything that would let them think there was a weakening in the determination of the State and of the people of the State to put down this thing. We ought to take no action that would be any sort of encouragement to a resort to violence again, because nobody who can look at the position calmly can doubt, and I do not want to say anything that would have an ill effect, that this sort of crime could be allowed to recur without the gravest consequences to the State. As to the suggestion that the powers given in the Public Safety Act will be abused, I do not want to go into history but I say that the Executive have many legal powers. I will start at the period where the civil war ended. I do not think anybody could say that any of the powers we have had were used harshly. On the contrary, the powers in the hands of the Executive were used with the most extreme moderation. We have powers to take people on suspicion and intern them without trial behind barbed wires. These powers have been rarely brought into operation. After attacks on Civic Guard Barracks and policemen were shot a few people were interned for a short time and were released. Except the power given in Part 3 there is no drastic power in this Act. I think the wisest thing to do is to let the Act stand until the change of atmosphere which must arise from the filling up of the Dáil has reached the people who are inclined to resort to assassination and violence, giving the changed position time to affect their minds and thoughts. Let us see, if possible, whether we can get the men who did this murder, because it would be a great matter to do that. A repeal of the Public Safety Act will not make it easier to get them. If there seems to be a change perhaps people who might have information to give would be less unwilling to give it, and perhaps you might have juries who if men were brought before them would be less unwilling to do their duty. I think it would be a most irresponsible act in the circumstances, and in view of the grave danger which the State has just escaped, to repeal the Act. We desire to get back to normal, if possible, and to have only the laws that are in operation in countries where they have had peace and established government for a long time. But we can be too hasty. If there are ill-disposed individuals in the country in abnormal numbers, then the Executive must have abnormal powers. If there are no people, or few people, who will resort to violence, then you do not need to arm the Executive with these powers, the purpose of which is to save the State and the citizens. These powers, are being scarcely used at all, and they will not be used any more than is necessary. There never was the slightest intention at any time of using them for any other purpose than the prevention of the crime of voilence and the saving of the ordinary people of the country.

I am glad we are in the position to discuss the Public Safety Act in a calmer atmosphere than prevailed in July last. I was sorry to notice that Deputy de Valera, although he was willing to bring us back to the year 1922, had no word to say as to the circumstances under which this Act was introduced. Let us again consider what those circumstances were. A leading statesman, a great Irishman and a great patriot, had been foully and brutally assassinated close to this city. With many of his views I did not particularly agree, but I think everybody agreed that he had greatness; everybody bore testimony to his sincerity; everybody knew what a dire calamity had fallen on this country when Kevin O'Higgins was assassinated, and everybody knew that it was the duty of the Executive Council to take all such steps as might be necessary to trace and punish his murderers. In the course of that duty the Executive Council and the members of the Government came into the Dáil and said that they required the assistance of the Public Safety Act in order to carry out the duty which the country expected of them, and which their own conscience told them they should carry out. I would not like to be in the position of having it on my conscience that I would refuse them the powers which they asked for within reason, and which they were entitled to ask. The onus was on them of saying what powers they required. I was prepared to vote for the Second Reading of the Public Safety Bill. It is true it contained many provisions which are no longer in it, and with which I did not agree. Hence it was that when it came to the Dáil it was opposed by the entire Labour Party; it was opposed by Deputy Captain Redmond's then Party— peace to its ashes; and the entire Act was opposed by some independent Deputies, and some sections of it were opposed by myself. What occurred? Sections that were opposed were amended in many instances, and we got an undertaking from the President regarding the putting into force of the powers of that Act which I think left it very harmless. On the passing of the Act we had a censure motion in which the Government were charged as the chief offence with having passed the Public Safety Act. Who did pass the Public Safety Act? It was not passed by the Government. They were unable to pass it as they had not a sufficient majority. It was not passed by the Labour Party; it was not passed by Deputy Captain Redmond's Party, and it was not passed by the Farmers' Union Party or the Independent Deputies. It was passed by over 40 members of this Dáil who remained downstairs and would not come up to vote against it, and the only reason they could give for staying downstairs and not discussing this Act was——

Is not that another and different question from the one we are discussing? Let us take the Public Safety Act and nothing else.


I bow to your ruling. I thought the suggestion for the repeal of the Act should come from some section of the House other than from those who passed it. When the last general election was announced, I had to face it. Deputy de Valera read quotations from English newspapers. I would much prefer to be reminded of the will of the people on this question. I had to go round and face my constituents with the opposition of the Labour Party, the opposition of Fianna Fáil, and the opposition of the Government Party, or, at least, some of them. The only Party that did not say anything against me was the Farmers' Party. I went around alone, and I stood by the Public Safety Act, and my action on it. I stood by the vote I gave against the motion of censure on the Government, and I stand by it now. On every platform I stood, I said, in no uncertain terms, that as I voted before I was prepared to vote again, and that I was not going before my constituents with a word of apology or regret. What was the result? My constituents increased my first preference votes by 50 per cent. within three months. My constituents have no fear of the Public Safety Act, so far as West Cork is concerned. They look upon it, and, perhaps this will appeal to Deputies on the Front Opposition Benches, as a mere empty formula, as far as they are concerned. It does not affect them, and they are not in the slightest degree afraid of it, but I agree that the time has come when the amendment proposed by the Minister for Finance might very safely be acceded to. I would go further, if I may say so with great respect, and I would expect that the Government would further cut down the period. Why not let the Act expire on the 10th July, 1928? That will be a day of general mourning throughout Ireland. We hope that before then the Act will have achieved the object for which it was passed, and we hope before then the necessity for the Act in any part of the country will have disappeared. The country is very much improved within the last few months. There is no sympathy now with murder, and anybody who would do anything to palliate murder will receive no sympathy in this country. I put it to the Government that they might go a bit further than they have gone. They have agreed to cut down the period to two years. Why not cut that period down a little further and let 1928 see the last of this Act? It is open to them if circumstances arise to seek fresh powers, and with the universal hatred of the assassin and the murderer that there is now, I have no doubt, whatever Government is in office would get them from the Dáil.

It occurred to me while the Minister for Finance was speaking on the amendment which he proposed that he was making a very excellent case in favour of the total repeal of the Public Safety Act. He reminded us that the Executive Council have powers in some respects greater than those conferred on them by the Public Safety Act; that, in fact, the powers in that Act are less than some of the powers which, prior to its passing, were already possessed by the Executive Council. If that is so, surely it is obvious the point made by Deputy de Valera that the Act, in the first place, is unnecessary, cannot be answered. The Government possesses in the Firearms Act, 1925, provisions which, as far as any Act can do so, make it impossible for any person to possess or carry arms in this State without the sanction of the Executive or its agents. They possess in the Treasonable Offences Act, 1925, power to inflict the death penalty for making war on the State, for conspiring with or inciting any person to do so, assisting anyone who does so, attempting to overthrow the Government by force, or conspiring with or inciting any person to do so. That same Act also lays down very severe penalties for a number of minor offences. In addition to the Firearms Act and the Treasonable Offences Act, they have the ordinary criminal law, and we believe with these powers in their possession, the additional powers, whatever they are, that are conferred by the Public Safety Act, are unnecessary. If, in addition to showing that these powers are unnecessary we can show that they are unjust, and that they are, while they remain in existence, a perpetual menace to the peace of this country, and detrimental to its interests, then the case for its repeal will have been clearly established.

We maintain that this Act confers upon the Executive Council powers which we would not like to see conferred on any body of men in this island. We would not like to see these powers in the possession of a Fianna Fáil Executive. Remember that the memories of some of us are not so short. Some of us have memories we would like to avenge. I, for one, would not like to be placed in a position where the temptation to use that Act would be offered to me, because, if I was in that position, and if the necessary incitement was offered Deputy Wolfe and a few others might find it had ceased to be an empty formula. We believe the powers conferred by the Public Safety Act are such as should not be conferred, even on a government of archangels, because they are unjust. They give, as Deputy de Valera pointed out, power to a member of a police force—which, in consequence of its history is largely a partisan police force—to arrest a man because that policeman believes and can state, not necessarily on oath, that he suspects that man of being guilty of a crime or about to be guilty of a crime. A new crime, the crime of being suspected by a policeman, is created, and any citizen of this State can be taken off the streets and placed in prison because he is suspected by a policeman. It is not even necessary for the policeman to disclose, for a period of seven days, at any rate, the grounds of his suspicion. Under Part Four of the Act, if it is put into operation, unless the decision is over-ruled by the Dail, persons may be tried by special courts, all the members of which may be officers of the Army, one of whom must have a certain indefinite amount of legal knowledge, but everyone of whom holds his position in that court at the will of the Executive Council, and may be a political partisan. These courts, for certain charges, have no power to inflict anything except the death penalty, and there is no appeal from their decision.

I think that when we look at the Act in cold blood we must realise that it is the most audacious piece of legislation we will find on the records of any Government in the world. Quotations were made with reference to this Act from certain English newspapers. I have a quotation from a paper in a country further afield than England that I would like to read, a quotation from an Italian paper:—

"Under the serene and most liberal sky of Europe there has recently been added a new dictatorship to those disgraceful ones in Rome, Moscow and Madrid—a dictatorship more thorough than these, more cunningly devised in every detail; a dictatorship which is neither Fascist nor Bolshevik, nor Spanish, but new in type and promulgated in the name of liberty; a dictatorship with an English trade mark and carried on to the tune of Liberalism. We refer to the dictatorship in Ireland.

"The Government arrogates to itself the right to suppress all associations which it considers anti-constitutional; to suspend newspapers; to inflict severe punishment on Irishmen who refuse to recognise the jurisdiction of its courts; to deport suspects; to arrest opponents; to establish special tribunals which will deal with offences against these laws, such tribunals to be composed exclusively of military men.

"In the Free State of Ireland, then, an absolutely dictatorial regime is being set up."

What is the name of the paper?

"The Tevere," of Rome.

It is a Communist paper?

No, it is a Fascist organ.

It was a Fianna Fáil Fascist who wrote the article.

A Chinn Comhairle, will you please keep the President in order? In addition to the fact that this Act is unnecessary and is unjust, the reading of an extract of that kind from a foreign newspaper raises another point in my mind, and probably in the minds of other Deputies, that is worthy of consideration. We have had debates recently about the advisability or otherwise of importing foreign capital to develop the industries of the country. I would ask any Deputy, with £1 or £100 that he wants to invest, if he would deliberately and of his own choice invest it in a Mexican industry? Would he not think that it would be just as sensible to throw it out of the window for whoever came along to pick it up? And yet the fact remains that whatever information we possess about conditions in Mexico must be very similar to the information which other people possess about ourselves, when a responsible Executive comes to the legislative body and says that an Act of this kind is necessary in order to preserve the peace and order of the State. The Act, we maintain, is a danger to the peace of the country, instead of providing for the safety of the public.

I do not wish to enter territory that has been ruled out by the Ceann Comhairle, but when the Minister for Finance assures us that the powers possessed by the Executive Council have been used in the past with great moderation, we on whom these powers were used can, I think, be excused if we contradict him. These powers were used with anything but moderation. In fact throughout the course of its career this Executive have shown that they can be influenced by panicky considerations, that they can be jumped into taking decisions, the full effect of which they had not visualised, and the Executive, with that record of panic behind them, hold these powers as a perpetual menace to the peace of the country. Again let me mention the fact that this Executive may not always be in office. They have, very wisely, decided that they will reduce the period of the operation of the Act to two years, in the hope, I suppose, that they will last that long. But they may not, and the Government that will take their place—it may not be a Fianna Fáil Government; it may be a Government of other men—may be less scrupulous about the use to which they will put the powers conferred on them by this Act. Under these circumstances and in view of the fact that the Act has already been admitted by the Minister for Finance to be unnecessary, and in view of the fact that it is obviously unjust, I would be very glad to hear what case can be made out for its retention.

There are other arguments also which will have to be taken into consideration. We were told by the Minister that when they were drafting the Constitution of this State they were a little idealistic and that the idealism of five years ago must be abandoned now that we are dealing with hard facts. The Articles of the Constitution which they proceeded to abolish, consequent on their reaction from idealism, are the Articles which, as Deputy de Valera told us, provide that all judicial power in Ireland shall be exercised in accordance with the Constitution. Such unnecessarily idealistic Articles in the Constitution must be abolished. Article 6 guarantees the liberty of the person—Habeas Corpus, etc. Such idealism! These idealistic dreams that we held in 1922 fade away before the hard facts of 1927; the high-flown ideals of the men who drafted the Constitution, which actually provided Articles guaranteeing the liberty of the individual, freedom of expression and the right of association, must be abandoned now, and to-day we must have in its place, erected as the new standard by which the conduct of our people is to be regulated, the Public Safety Act.

In considering this matter I would ask the Executive Council not to take it so much as a matter for Party manoeuring. It is probable that we on these benches realise more clearly than they do the danger to the peaceful progress of this country which the possession of these powers by them constitutes. We are told that the introduction of this Act was necessary consequent on the murder of the late Minister for Justice, but I submit that an Act of that nature, or one hundred Acts of that nature, will not assist the military or the police forces of the country in arresting and having convicted those responsible for that murder. In what way is it going to do it? They have already under their control the powers given by the Treasonable Offences Act, the powers given by the Firearms Act, and the ordinary criminal law, and if the police and the detective forces are as efficient as we are told they are, they should be able to apprehend those who are responsible. The Public Safety Act merely provides for their more expeditious despatch after they have been arrested.

As I said, I do not wish to deal with matters that would arouse bitter controversy, but I am finding it very hard to keep off them. In conclusion I will merely reiterate the points I have covered. The Act is unnecessary, the Minister for Finance admitted that. The Act is unjust; that is obvious on the face of it. The Act is a menace to the peace, the stability and the progress of this country. The Act abrogates the very Articles of the Constitution which justified the drafting of that Constitution at all, and I would ask Deputies, irrespective of Party affiliations or anything else, to take these facts into consideration and to vote upon this Bill to repeal the Public Safety Act in accordance with the dictates of their minds and of their consciences.

In one matter I will endeavour to imitate Deputy Lemass. I will follow the line that he laid down for himself, that is, to speak quietly, dispassionately and without heat or the conscious giving of offence to anybody.

The existing Act has been attacked, in the first place, by Deputy de Valera, and in the second place by Deputy Lemass. I listened to them with considerable care, as I wished to see what faults they had to find with the Act. I found very little particularity, very little going into detail, but I did hear a great deal that seemed to me to be nothing more than empty rhetoric.

Empty formula.

Empty rhetoric I said. If I may, as Deputy O'Kelly has reminded me, get back to the occasions upon which the words "empty formula" were twice used in the debate, I think I can say to Deputy Lemass that he did himself very much less than justice, because I believe that if Deputy Lemass had responsibility upon his shoulders, if he had the administration of this Act upon him, he would rise to the occasion and would administer the Act honestly and fairly and without passion or heat. If Deputy Lemass had responsibility upon his shoulders I think he would find that it would have that effect upon him.

It will not be long.

That may be. I come now to the particulars in which this Act was attacked. First of all Deputy Lemass said that sufficient powers are already in existence. He cited to us certain existing Acts of the Oireachtas and also the existence of the criminal law. It appears to me that Deputy Lemass has hardly read this Bill or, if he has read it, he has entirely mistaken its scope. Law can always be divided into two classes. There is one class of law known as substantive law. That is what lays down what the law is to be. There is the other, adjective law, the law of procedure. In fact, the sections of this Act which have been attacked here are practically methods of procedure, and it is because I think that that distinction has not been kept before their minds by Deputy de Valera and Deputy Lemass that they talked about the new crime of being a suspect.

There is no new crime of being a suspect created by this Act. I understand what they referred to were the powers conferred by Section 16 of the Act. That is the section which says it shall be lawful for a Superintendent of the Gárdaí to arrest any person whom he suspects of having been engaged or concerned in certain offences. The man is not kept in prison for seven days as Deputy Lemass seems to think. He must forthwith be brought before a magistrate, who remands him for seven days, and afterwards if the Executive Council think fit, or any member of it, it can under sub-section (3) make an order directing the detention of such person for a period not exceeding two months. Now that is entirely a matter of procedure. Take the case of an ordinary person not charged with any political offence under this Act, but charged with any common law offence, what is the method of procedure in his case? He is arrested, in the first place, on suspicion. He can be arrested on nothing else, and he is brought before a magistrate. If he is remanded he is remanded on suspicion. Very often men charged are remanded from time to time, but, if they are, they are remanded upon suspicion. They may be sent on for trial in custody or released on bail, but they are sent on for trial on suspicion. The word "suspicion" is attacked in this section. I would like Deputies to know that the word "suspicion" is used in the Habeas Corpus Act itself. If you take Section 15, the 21st and 22nd George III., Chapter II., the Habeas Corpus Act, you will find that there are cases of suspicion, and the word "suspicion" is used. The section is as follows:—

"And because many times persons charged with petty treason, felony or murder, or as accessories thereunto, are committed upon suspicion only, whereupon they are bailable or not according as the circumstances, making out that suspicion, are more or less weighty; which are best known to the justices of the peace who committed the persons, and have the examinations before them, or to other justices of the peace of the county; therefore be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that where any person shall appear to be committed by any judge or justice of the peace, and charged as accessory before the fact, to any petty treason, felony, or murder or upon suspicion thereof, or with suspicion of petty treason, felony or murder, which petty treason, felony or murder shall be plainly and specially expressed in the warrant of commitment, that such person shall not be removed or bailed by virtue of this Act, or in any other manner than they might have been before the making of this Act."

So that the word "suspicion" and sending men on for trial on suspicion is nothing new in this Act. There is no punishment provided for "on suspicion" in this Act. This is merely a method of investigating crime. It is a substitute for the ordinary remand before a magistrate. Instead of there being a remand in order that the police may carry out their investigations, there is a remand by a magistrate for seven days, and an order of the Executive Council, or any member of the Executive Council, making as it were a compulsory remand, because a prisoner is treated as being on remand, for two months or such shorter period as it may seem necessary for the investigation of the case. In the circumstances under which the Act was passed we were face to face with a very serious state of affairs. A member of the Executive Council had been murdered. I do not suppose that any member on the Fianna Fáil Benches would consider that that was not only a terrible but a most dangerous happening towards the stability and peace of the country— not sufficient to shake the stability of the country, but designed for the purpose of shaking the stability of this State.

Persons with money to invest would be more inclined to invest it in a country if when a Minister of State has been murdered the Parliament of that country takes steps to see that murders of that kind shall not be repeated. That is what this measure very largely is. It is a preventative measure. Part 4 of this Act, which cannot be put into force and action until a proclamation has been made under Part 3, is essentially of a preventative nature. The very existence of Part 4 is, to my mind, the safeguarding of the jury system. When this Act was a Bill and was being debated in this House, I put that argument forward, and I adhere to it still. The fact is that men must recognise that they cannot terrorise the country, that they cannot shoot Ministers or expect to escape by terrorising jurymen. These persons, determined to upset this State by force and who consider assassination a legitimate political weapon, must learn that the whole forces of the State will be used against them to restrain them. What other sections in this State were attacked? It is said that this is giving the Executive great power. It does give the Executive strong powers in a great many ways, and it is the duty of the present Executive, as it would be the duty of every other Executive in this country, to make the minimum use of those powers, but though the minimum use of those powers may be made, yet the effect of those powers is there, and the very fact that these powers are in existence is sufficient to deter persons from crime. It is said also by Deputy de Valera that this is entirely unconstitutional, and he praised, and I was glad to hear him praise, a large part, at any rate, of the Constitution. I think there are minor defects in it here and there, a little bit too much of the mark of the doctrinaire, but taking it on the whole, it is a splendid Constitution. That is the measure of constitutional liberty which Irishmen should enjoy during normal times.

Everybody who enters into civilised society must give up a certain amount of his liberty. The amount of his liberty which he gives up varies from time to time, and according to the conditions of the State. In the present circumstances it is necessary that certain powers should be given to the Executive. The Constitution is normal. If circumstances change, if the condition of the country becomes abnormal, then the normal Constitution must, in the interests of the State, be departed from. The people do not exist for the Constitution; the Constitution exists for the well-being of the people, and if a departure from the Constitution is necessary in order that the peace of this society will be maintained, then the Constitution must be departed from. We on these benches are no enemies of personal liberty. We are the very opposite, but the personal liberty that we believe in is the liberty of the law-abiding citizen to carry out his own good in his own way and for the lawful association to continue its work, but the liberty which would give leave to men to plot and plan and carry out political murders is a false liberty which will always find in us, I hope, viligant, certainly implacable, enemies.

I wish to state the position of this Party. We intend to vote for the Second Reading. When this Act was introduced the Labour Party opposed it and I do not propose to recount the arguments used by us against it. They are well-known. I should like to say, however, that every member of the Labour Party on these benches made the Public Safety Act one of the prime questions which they put before their constituents at the election and made quite clear on every one of their platforms their position under this Act and their intention to remove it at the first opportunity. The fact that they are here now shows that those who elected them were of the same opinion and in voting for the repeal of this Act they are only representing the people who sent them here. We object to this Act not because it happens that the present Executive are administering it. Our objection would be equally strong no matter what Executive were in power. We do not believe that the powers contained in this Act ought to be given to any set of people. The liberties set forth in the Constitution do not come to us by virtue of that Constitution alone. They were liberties enjoyed by the State for many years and fought for hundreds of years ago. It has been said that our Constitution maintains the rights of the people, but if the Constitution can be abrogated in the way it has been under this Act then it is worth very little to the people in this country. Our greatest objection to this Act lies in that clause under which the Constitution and the rights given in it are wiped away by one stroke of the pen. The Constitution itself contains a special Article providing for its amendment and that amendment of the Constitution has to be made in a very formal manner. That is only right because the Constitution being the foundation of all law should be amended not in a causal way, but in a formal manner. It was known that the powers taken under the Act abrogated several Articles of the Constitution. The Government did not set about amending the Constitution in a formal manner, but by a simple clause in the Act said that in so far as anything was contained in it contrary to the Constitution the Constitution was to that extent amended. I have already referred here to the description which was given to that procedure by a High Court Judge. I want to refer to some statements made by the Minister for Justice. He draws a distinction between what he described as substantive and objective law.


My ignorance of these things must be excused. These things are known only to members of the legal profession. In any case, he simply disposes of it with a wave of his hand and says that the Act is largely a matter of procedure. That may be so. He says there is no such thing as the crime of being a suspect. We have again a statement of a High Court Judge, and it is on that I founded a statement which I used here before, that in fact this Act did create a new crime of being a suspect.


The judge may be wrong, but we will leave it between the lawyers. In any case, it does not matter to the individual very much whether it is a matter of procedure or of what the Minister calls substantive law, if he is deprived of his liberty. It does not matter very much what are the methods used to deprive him of his liberty. We have the fact that a man may be deprived of his liberty without reference to a justice. He is, as the Minister for Justice said, compulsorily remanded, which is a nice way of saying that he is deprived of his liberty for a certain length of time. No discretion is given to the judge to say whether or not he should be deprived of his liberty.

I believe that a new atmosphere has been created in this country since this Act was passed. It has been hinted that because the powers have been used to their minimum—in fact, have not been used at all—that is a reason why the Act should be allowed to remain. I cannot accept that argument. I agree that the Act on the Statute Book is a public blot, as it were. The Minister referred to normal times. Why should anyone try to give the impression outside the country that we are not living in normal times at present? I assert that this country is normal, that there is peace in the country. We can say, just as any country can say, that we are not entirely free from criminal elements. No country is free from criminal elements. The ordinary law is capable of dealing with the criminal elements we have. I think that the Government are doing an injury to the country by creating the impression inside and outside the country that conditions are not normal. We hear a good deal of getting back to normal times. I maintain that we are back to normal times, and that it is something to be proud of that a country, which two or three years ago was in the throes of civil war, has in such a short time reached normal conditions. We should rather be inclined to stress that, and even to strain points to give that impression to others. I would take the line that Deputy Wolfe has taken, and even go further and urge that the Government would be doing what was in the interests of the country if they agreed to the repeal of this Act. It would do a great deal to strengthen the conditions which have been brought about.

I have been in various parts of the country recently, and I believe that I am expressing the views of many people when I say that conditions have changed remarkably within the last two or three months, due to the new political developments. I believe that these conditions would be strengthened if the Government could see their way to repeal the Act, because I hold, and nothing that has been said has altered my views on the matter, that for the purpose of discovering the murderers of the late Vice-President and of bringing them to justice, there are no powers contained in this Act that were not already at the disposal of the Government.

Reference was made to a certain organisation in the country which assumes the title of an army. I would say quite definitely and clearly, with the Minister for Finance, that there is no reason for the existence of such an armed force. But the Minister did not say, and I certainly could not hold, that the Government had not already sufficient powers to deal with that organisation. I believe that the time has come when this Act should be repealed; that everything that has happened since it was passed has gone to show, and as time goes on it will continue to show that there is no need for it on the Statute Book, and that the Government would be doing a good service to the country if they agreed to allow the Second Reading of this Bill to pass unanimously.


I think everyone will rejoice that the state of affairs throughout the land is very much better to-day than it was some months ago and I think without any doubt that the fact that this Bill is on the Statute Book has had a great effect in quieting the country. It has not been necessary to use it and we all rejoice in that; but the mere fact of its being there has had a good effect in my opinion at any rate in improving the state of the country. Of course the advent of the Fianna Fáil Party to the Dáil has, also, been a most important factor in the matter. We all rejoice that the Parliament of the country is now full and that there are no vacancies in the House. But that there was necessity for this Act I for one never had any doubt.

During the late election I never lost an opportunity whenever I spoke of saying that I believed it was the duty of the Government to take these powers in order that the men who so brutally assassinated the late Minister for Justice and thereby endeavoured to strike at the State should be brought to justice and made to expiate their crime. If the Government believed that it was necessary to have these extra powers I maintain that the Dáil was right in giving them to them. The result has been, as far as I was concerned, that having been on the two previous occasions the third of the elected representatives of the county that I have the honour to represent I improved my position by going to the top and, practically, doubling the number of votes given to me on the two previous occasions.

The leader of the Labour Party said that when they were opposing the Bill they would make it one of the planks of their platform during the election. They did, with the result that instead of being 22 or 23 in number they have come back in very much reduced numbers.


What about the Farmers' Party?


At the same time none of us wish that this Bill should be on the Statute Book longer than is necessary. We do not wish to have strong powers always put into the hands of the Executive and the limit has been fixed, and the Government realising that the state of affairs has vastly improved have, in the exercise of their discretion, recommended that the term for which the Act should be in operation should be reduced from five years to two. I think they have come to a very wise decision, because by that time, let us hope, that the great improvement which has taken place within the last few months will continue and that, possibly, even before two years it may be possible to reduce that reduced period to a lesser time. At any rate, I think that the Executive would have been wanting in their duty if they did not exercise the powers given them by every means to bring to justice those people who tried to upset the State established in this country.

Like many members of this Party, I was expecting there would be a little latitude allowed in going back on the history of the last few years, especially having regard to the fact that, in the last debate, that was done. But as it has not been allowed we were more or less taken aback, and I think our Whips should have been informed that it would not be allowed to be conducted in the same lines. I am very glad, and I am sure all the members of our Party are, that a milder spirit is being displayed on the other side of the House than was shown on the occasion of the introduction of this Bill. As some of those who threw out most of the dirty remarks on that occasion are not here now, I need not refer to them. I cannot follow the arguments of the Minister for Justice, not being a lawyer. If the Government Benches were filled with people who had not been previously connected with the movement—men like the Minister for Justice—there might be no necessity to refer to the past or to have much fear about how the Public Safety Act would be administered. Apparently he, as a legal man, has none of the hates of the past, therefore we would not distrust him so much as those we know better. It was taken for granted—we were not in the House at the time—that the late Minister for Justice was killed for political purposes.

I submit there has been no case made for that at all. As the Minister for Finance said, there were several occasions when the political opponents of the late Minister could have assassinated him, if they relied upon assassination as a means of obtaining their object. If I set out to make a case for some other sort of criminal having perpetrated that deed, I could very easily do it. A case could be made against people who seemed to have a private grievance to remedy. Even for the sake of the stability of this State, I do not think it is right to insist that this thing was done for political purposes. No case has been made out for it.

We are all very glad of the change of heart that has taken place. Over here we are trying to change our heart as quickly as we can. I do not know whether they are making any attempt on the other side of the House. I am anxious that a change of heart should be brought about, because we have all to work together as I realise, whether we like one another or not. I may be a little out of order in what I am going to say, but I shall do my best to keep in order. I say that in order that the change of heart may be greater, and that there may be some possibility of working with a better heart, the amnesty spoken of should be made more general; that the attempts to make people criminals, who are not criminals, should be stopped; and that there should be a better spirit displayed by the Government, now that there has been a change in the political atmosphere. There would then be a possibility of having this assembly really representative of the twenty-six counties, which it is not, even though we have these Benches filled, and will not be until this change comes about.

We represent a section of the Republican movement, but there is a large section unrepresented still. I submit there is a case for the Minister for Justice, and those responsible for the running of the State, to reconsider the whole position, and to consider whether it tends for the betterment of this country and the preservation of peace and order to keep on the run forty or fifty people, some of whom are personal friends of mine, for whom I have the greatest regard, and whom no one could make criminals. Now that there is alleged to be such a spirit of goodwill abroad, I think it is time that the Government should reconsider their attitude upon this question. I think they should see whether some attempt could not be made to get people out of a position in which they have been running about for the past two years trying to get shelter. Also the cases of some of the men that are in jail should be reconsidered. I give the hint to the Minister for Justice and also that he should get his police to look in a different direction to what they have been looking for the people who killed the late Vice-President. There may be something doing then.

I do not know that I have any more to say. I suppose the Government has its automatic majority. I just want to say that this side of the House has been more or less taken aback. We know that An Ceann Comhairle has been very fair so far, but I think we should have been informed beforehand that the things that were allowed in the last debate would not be allowed in this. We could then have arranged a different plan. That is why the House has not heard a very different case made by us. We could have done it easily.

You have not done badly now.

A Chinn Comhairle, nuair a bhí an Togha Mór ar siuil i Mí Meithimh an tSamhraidh seo caithte, chuala féin Aire d'Airibh an Rialtais seo dá rá na ndéanfaí oiread agus focal de Bhunreacht an tSaorstáit d'athrú mar mhaithe le haon dream polaitíochta d'fhonn síothchána. Cheapfá uatha an uair sin go raibh an Bunreacht san cho buan-seasamhach le dlithe na Medes.

Bhí a mhalairt de thuairim acu, ámh, mí i na dhiaidh sin. Chuireadar Acht i bhfeidhm a chuir dá alt déag de'n Bhunreacht san ar nea-ní, agus a chuireann an Bunreacht san ar fad ar lár, óir, de réir Alt a 3 de'n Acht chun Cosanta na Puiblíochta "gach foráil den Acht so atá contrárdha d'aon foráil de'n Bhunreacht, oibreochaidh sí agus beidh éifeacht aici, chomh fada le méid na contrardhachta san, mar leasú ar an bhforáil sin de'n Bhunreacht faid a leanfidh an t-Acht so i bhfeidhm agus an fhaid sin amháin."

Cad is fiú Bunreacht an Stáit, má's féidir leis an Ard-Chomhairle é bhrise ar an gcuma san pé uair is maith leo? Deirtear gur d'fhonn cosanta an phobail a ceapa an t-Acht san, ach táim cinnte dhe na dtiocfaidh síocháin ná suaimhneas as Reachtanna de'n tsaghas san. Ní raibh i dtús, agus níl iniu, gá na riachtanas leis an Acht san. Bhí comhacht a ndóthain ag an Rialtas cheana sa Firearms Act agus san Acht um Chiontaí Tréasúnta, chun greim fháil ar dúnmharbhthóirí agus iad a chur chun bháis.

Ní cóir ain-chomhacht a fhágaint idir lámhaibh na hArd-Chomhairle, an Airm ná na nGárdaí Síochána. Cúis imní agus droch-amhrais do chuid mhaith daoine macánta sa tír seo isea an t-Acht san. Tá's acu go bhfuil dhá dream mór polaitíochta sa tír agus is eagla leo tar éis ar thuit amach le roinnt blianta anuas go mbainfí feidhm as an Reacht so chun éagcóir a dhéunamh ar dream acu.

Ní déarfainn na mbeadh Cothrom na Féinne le fáil ón Aire Dlí agus Cirt, ach ní hionann san agus a rá go bhfuil iontaoibh agam as an Ard-Chomhairle uile. Déarfainn freisin na cóir iarraidh ar oifigí an Airm an obair seo do dhéunamh.

I think that before this amendment is taken there is a question that ought to be raised here. We have seen the ground upon which certain sections of this Act propose to suspend certain Articles of the Constitution. That is a very serious matter. I am sure it is the last thing to which any constitutional government ought to resort. But the justification for the action that has been taken, in passing the Public Safety Act through this House was that the murder of the late Minister for Justice was a political crime. That is the implication that underlay the speech of the Minister for Justice. In the course of the debates upon this Act that implication was conveyed to this House time and time again by responsible members of the Government. One Minister went farther than that. He hinted that the members of the Fianna Fáil organisation were accessories either before or after that murder. There is one Minister who has sat silent throughout this debate, who referred to the Fianna Fáil organisation as what he called a catalyzing agent, which, if it were absent, the murder of the late Minister for Justice would not have taken place. I think that now that we of the Fianna Fáil Party are in this House the Minister ought to produce some evidence to substantiate that vile and despicable innucndo, either that or withdraw it.

Does the Deputy understand what a catalyzing agent is?

I do well, and that is more than you do, and it is because I understand it that I object. I understand the innuendo that is conveyed in it, and it is up to you now to substantiate it or to withdraw it.

The Deputy will have to address the Chair and not the Minister.

Now, there is an extraordinary thing about this Bill, and that is, that although it has been in operation for about three months, though the Government have been given extraordinary powers under it, the apprehension of those who murdered the late Minister for Justice has not yet taken place. The detectives and the police forces of the Government supposedly have been engaged in following up every clue. The Act, from the point of view of the apprehension of the criminal, is a futile and useless measure. There is, therefore, from the viewpoint of public safety, no justification for this Act remaining on the Statute Book. The only purpose that that Act will serve, so far as we can see, is in times of political crises to make it easier for the Government, who can exert the powers that this Act gives them, to dispose of their political opponents. I suggest that is the real reason why this Act was introduced in the circumstances under which it was. The Government saw, or thought they saw in the murder of the late Minister for Justice, and in the horror which that crime excited in the breasts of all men, whether they were political opponents of the Minister, or whether they were his political friends, an opportunity for crushing Republicanism in Ireland, and, therefore, the Bill was introduced.

During the passage of that Bill and during the debates here the purpose of the Ministry was scarcely concealed. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture hinted that we in Fianna Fáil were responsible for this murder. He hinted that if they got the powers, they would suppress Fianna Fáil as a political organisation. That is not certain even yet, and one of the reasons why we are anxious that this Act should be removed from the Statute Book is because it is not certain even yet that if circumstances again favoured what would be virtually a coup d'état on the part of the Ministry, that they would not suspend these Articles of the Constitution which grant immunity to the Deputies, and the Government may again be able to create, possibly for the passage of a measure equally severe, the same artificial majority which enabled them to pass this Act through the last Dáil.

I would like again to revert to what Deputy T.J. O'Connell has said. A Judge of the High Court has virtually condemned the manner in which this Bill was passed through the Dáil. He has virtually condemned the terms of this measure, and I suggest that in view of the condemnation and criticism which this Act of the Ministry has met with at the hands of one of their own judiciary that it is impossible for them to maintain their position as a constitutional Government and keep that Act on the Statute Book.

I should not have intervened in this debate this evening were it not for a statement made by my colleague, Deputy Wolfe, with regard to the feelings of West Cork on the question of this public danger Act. He stated that as a result of his standing by the Act during the last campaign and as a result of standing by the vote which he gave to the Government which passed that Act, that he had increased his poll, and not only that, but that everywhere he went, the people down there were apparently quite satisfied with having the provisions of that Act on the Statute Book.

I would like to challenge that statement of Deputy Wolfe's, and I challenge Deputy Wolfe, or any Deputy here who thinks like him, to go down there and take a referendum of the people on that matter. He would know their views very quickly. The Minister for Justice in the course of his statement in defence of the Bill used one little sentence which I would like him to reconsider. He said that the Act would not be misused and that it was not a danger to any law-abiding citizen. For the past week or so, I have been endeavouring in this House by means of questions to elicit a definite declaration from the Minister for Justice or the Executive Council with regard to the activities of the Gárdai Síochána and the activities of the criminal investigation section of that police force in a certain district in West Cork. I have failed to elicit any definite statement or any definite assurance that there is going to be any direction given or any preventive measures taken to cope with that.

As regards the Act not being misused and of its not being a danger to any law-abiding citizen, I have a case in mind at the present moment, a case about which I put a question in this House last week, and again this week. It is the case of a man who was pulled out of his bed in the middle of the night, a few weeks ago. He was taken seven miles away to a lonely part of the country, placed against the wall of a bridge and told by one of the police officers that if he did not divulge certain information about alleged dumps he would be shot. As a result this man wrote me the information which I in turn gave to the Department of Justice and a further question was asked. As a result of the question I asked on the first occasion a further visit was made to this man's house in the middle of the night also and a statement under intimidation was forced from that man. One of the assertions made by the Superintendent who accompanied the party of Guards was that under the Public Safety Act he would deal with him and he would tame him. The man was so intimidated with the threat of the Public Safety Act, which is like a bogey to the people of this country who hold Republican views, that he signed the statement. Yet we are told that this Act is no danger to a law-abiding citizen. There is the case of one law-abiding citizen and there is one case of the Act being misused, not for any great extraordinary crime and not for any wonderful occurrence that happened in that particular district.

As Deputy Lemass has pointed out, if this Act is allowed to remain on the Statute Book and is going to be enforced in any respect whatsoever, we must remember that there is in this country at present, as the Deputy further pointed out, a Gárda Síochána which, in their inception, were of necessity a partisan force. During the recent election I, and probably most other Deputies on these benches, had experience of the Gárda Síochána. We have found that in small matters there has always been discrimination against those of us who do not see eye to eye with the policy of the Executive Council. We have found there has always been discrimination against Republicans in the conduct of elections, and on several occasions we found ourselves unfairly treated. At the declaration of the polls we were compelled, in returning thanks to the Returning Officer, to make reference to the interference of the Gárda and the C.I.D. We are told that this Act will be fairly administered and that it is no danger to a law-abiding citizen. The forces prepared to administer that Act in the recent election proved themselves so partisan that we were compelled to refer to it practically in every constituency in Ireland, and yet we are told that there is no danger to law-abiding citizens.

Another incident occurred in West Cork a few weeks ago. The police officers who took part in the incident referred to the Public Safety Act as a lever by which they would get their own back. The incident referred to occurred on the main road between Adrigole and Glengariff about 11 o'clock at night. Four men were pulled out of a motor car and they were told they were so and so and stood for so and so and if they did not give these officers certain information they would plug them. As a result of that——

On a point of order, is the Deputy entitled to make these charges against the Guards—ex parte charges? The Deputy did put certain questions to me and I indicated that criminal proceedings should be taken if there was any foundation. The Deputy is now making these charges against the Guards simply on information.

I do not think it is a matter of order. The Deputy is mentioning an incident that he alleges occurred. I think he is quite within his rights in mentioning this incident and connecting it with the Public Safety Act, the repeal of which is under consideration.

Such incidents have occurred, and as this Act, if it remains on the Statute Book of Saorstát Eireann, will eventually be enforced, probably may be enforced soon, if, as Deputy MacEntee, has said, the Executive sees the possibility of a coup d'état. I should like the Minister concerned to remember that the Act, whilst it remains there, is a considerable danger to the peace of the country, and the peace of the community generally, because if people hold Republican views and have a Republican outlook, and if certain officers have a certain spite against them, as in the case on the Adrigole-Glengariff road, those officers will utilise that Act as a lever to get their own back. As other Deputies have said, we do not wish to revive the bitterness of the past five years; we do not wish to revive the horrors of the past five years. But we all have memories, and it would be well if Deputies in this House, when casting their votes in the division, would remember that if ever there is to be peace or stability or security in the State, if ever there is to be a revival of the old spirit of neighbourliness and brotherhood, if there is to be any coming together again amongst the people of our country, it cannot and will not come through coercion Acts, and one of the best gestures that could be made towards a better feeling, towards the coming together again of the forces that were together from 1916 to 1921, would be the absolute repeal of this Act, which is certainly going to perpetuate bitterness if it is allowed to remain.

took the Chair.

For a long time I considered very seriously whether I would vote for the repeal of this Act, as I have suffered under every coercion Act which has been passed here, by the Party opposite. At home I have communications from Lord French, Sir Hamar Greenwood, Mr. Richard Mulcahy, and Mr. Patrick McGilligan and under each of these I have spent terms of my life in prison. I do not know whether I was a very obedient subject of the law, but when I heard a while ago the late Crown Prosecutor for West Cork making a statement in favour of this Act, I looked round and saw comrades of mine who got terms of imprisonment from that gentleman for carrying out the doctrine preached by the President, the Minister for Finance and others. The leopard has not changed its spots, but my friends on the opposite benches have, unfortunately, changed theirs. While this Act remains on the Statute Book it is, in my opinion, a danger, no matter what Executive comes into power. I know the temptation I would have in the morning when I remember that this time twelve months I was pulled out of my bed in the middle of the night, dragged to a police barracks, and from there to jail, where I was kept from my home and my family and from my business for six long weeks under one of these Public Safety Acts.

I remember that, and I also remember that not a month ago in my district men were pulled out of their homes and threatened under this Public Safety Act. Gunmen who are paid for looking after the public peace entered peaceful dance halls in my district and shot them up. That was done under the Public Safety Act, because they were looking for criminals, moryah. Do the Executive Council think that they will achieve their end by keeping this Act on the Statute Book? Do they think that we are going to forgive and forget when we see, day after day, comrades of ours dragged out of their homes, threatened and maltreated under that Act? Do they think that it is going to bring about that comradeship that should exist, and that peace and good order which should prevail among all classes of Irishmen, if Irishmen are country? The first thought that strikes one when looking at this matter is, what is the Act there for? As has been stated here already, several months have elapsed since the Minister for Justice was murdered. Has this Act brought about the capture of those who murdered him? Do the Executive Council think that coercion is ever going to achieve anything in this country except arouse opposition to any ordered state of affairs? Those of us on these benches who have been in the I.R.A. know very well that every act of coercion brought further recruits to our ranks. They know very well that every action of Hamar Greenwood and Lord French for the purpose of coercing the Irish people brought further recruits to our ranks. Do the Executive Council think that further coercion is not going to have the same results?

I do not desire to bring any heat into this debate. I do not desire to see anything here but calm and cool debates, but I expected when these benches were filled that we would see here the representatives of a strong body of Republicans who are still outside. I expected to see a generous gesture on the part of the Executive Council which would, at least, tend to bring that state of affairs about. Do they think that by appointing a Minister for Justice who never had any experience of the political ameliorations in jails, a gentleman who knows nothing about what happens in jails, they are going to bring the strong letter of the law to men who are supposed to be guilty of political offences but who are being treated as criminals? I have had experience of these measures. When I went to Cork Jail last November they tried to make me walk three paces apart. They tried to keep me in a cell by myself and deny me association with anyone else. Several successive Governments tried that and failed, and I can assure the Minister for Justice that this Government will fail also, but do they think that the continuation of this state of affairs and the sending of the C.I.D. into peaceful homes and dragging peaceful people out of their beds will bring about an ordered state of affairs? It will not. The best thing which the Executive Council could now do would be to withdraw the amendment and say: "We are going to make one gesture towards peace. We will remove the Public Safety Act."

As one who, I think, is immune from temptation, and has not gone through the necessary qualifications to be Minister for Justice, I would like to say a few words on this occasion. I happened to be in this House when the Public Safety Bill was going through, and I think it is on record what my opinion of it was at the time. I condemned it. The next best thing to voting against it was to try and amend it. Deputy Lemass referred to the fact that there was no court of appeal. That was true. When the Bill was introduced no court of appeal was provided for, but I take a little credit for having got into the Act the next best thing to a court of appeal, and that is a confirming authority. If Deputy Lemass will read the Act he will find that the confirming authority is, in a sense, a court of appeal. Section 24 says:

"(1) No conviction or sentence by a special court shall be valid save if and in so far as the same is confirmed by the confirming authority under this section.

"(2) The confirming authority shall be an officer of the Defence Forces of Saorstát Eireann nominated for the purpose by the Executive Council and not below the rank of colonel.

"(3) The confirming authority may, in respect of any conviction or sentence by a special court, confirm with or without modification or refuse to confirm the same or order a new trial of the convicted person."

That, to my mind, is in the nature of a court of appeal, and secures against the possibility of what Deputy Lemass referred to as being the quick dispatch. I have not altered my views regarding the drastic powers which the Executive Council have under this Act. I expressed my opinion on these before, but in the interval I have not seen that those drastic powers have been used in the spirit in which I was afraid they would be used. On almost any subject which comes up for debate in this House I claim, as an Independent representative of the people, to have the right to hold and express my own personal opinion. There is one exception. I do not presume for one moment to understand exactly what is going on in the criminal world in the Free State. It is not my job. It is the job of the Executive Council, and if they are of opinion that there are associations, or bodies of men, or individuals, whose conduct is treasonable and likely to be directed against the welfare of the State, it is the duty of the Executive Council to take whatever powers they require in order to put a stop to that. I never was a gun-man. I am a constitutionalist to-day, and I was always a constitutionalist. I fought publicly those who were not constitutionalists, and as a constitutionalist I believe this State can be run constitutionally. I have confidence that whatever Government is in power will take constitutional action. Deputy Lemass mentioned my name. I do not know in what sense, as I had not spoken on the debate. He said, and I think it was rather in the nature of a threat, that I might find this Public Safety Act is not an empty formula. I assume that he meant there might come a time when Deputy Lemass and his Party would be on the other side of the House and that I might be a victim of the Act. As a citizen of the State, I do not care who will be on the Government Benches. I do not care who will form the Executive Council. I, as a citizen, hope to conduct myself in such a way that I will not be brought within the scope of this Act, or any other Act of the kind. I will conclude by reiterating the appeal made by Deputy Jasper Wolfe, that this Act should not be kept in operation, having regard to the changed circumstances of the country, and to the fact that the Free State is represented here by all the Deputies from all the constituencies. Under those altered circumstances I think the Government might agree to modify their amendment to the extent Deputy Wolfe has suggested. If they do so it will be in the nature of the generous gesture mentioned by the last speaker, and may possibly avoid a division. I would gladly welcome that change.

I would remind the House that in asking for the repeal of the Public Safety Act we are not looking for a sop from any Party, but simply for justice. We heard the Minister for Finance say that the Act would be used in the way other Acts have been used. We know very well how the Government have used the powers they possess. Some few days ago a question was raised with reference to the attitude of the Civic Guards, and the Minister for Justice assured us that it was not possible for one of the Guards to do wrong. When we asked for an investigation he said it was not possible for a member of the Guards to do wrong.

Surely I never said anything of the kind. When charges were brought against the Guards I suggested that if they were criminal charges they should be investigated in open court.

I have given the impression I got from the reply.

I am sorry I did not convey myself clearly to the Deputy, but I think I did to the rest of the House.

We have within the last few months abundant proof that it is not a proper thing to give such powers as are in the Act to the present administration. We believe that a repeal of the Act is the right thing, and that it will be best in the interests of the country, and that the Executive Council should not oppose its repeal.

I think it is hardly necessary to say what action I took on this motion. I think it was the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain who made the famous remark: "What I have said, I have said," and as far as I am concerned, having, I think, taken as great a part as any other Deputy, if not a greater part, in the discussion on the Public Safety Act when it was going through this House, there is nothing I have now to add to what I then said. I was against the Act from the very outset. I spoke and voted against it. I proposed amendments most of which were not accepted. I see no reason to-day why I should alter my attitude. I think the Minister for Finance has shown every reason why at least now this Act should be repealed. It was brought in with the avowed intention of preventing crime, particularly of such a nature as that of the murder of the late Mr. O'Higgins. I believed at that time it would have no such effect, and it has not had. I believed that it was unnecessary for that purpose, and that it was unconstitutional as well. I demanded to know what way and where the Constitution was being set aside. I was refused that information. All we know is that there is what I describe as a portmanteau section in the Act which states that wherever the Act is at variance with the Constitution it is the Constitution and not the Act which has to go.

It is the Act that shall prevail and not the Constitution. Well, I object as strongly now as I did then, to the procedure and the method employed in thus setting aside and abrogating some of our most sacred rights under that Constitution. It is unnecessary to go into details about this Act. It may never be used, it may never be abused, but it should never have been there. It is something apart from the ordinary law of the land. Yesterday I voted in favour of the retention of certain words in a Dentists Bill. They were to penalise a person who had been guilty of treason and the fact that I did so strengthens me in my attitude to-day towards the Public Safety Act. It was because I believed this Public Safety Act should not be the ordinary law of the land, and that it was not in that respect a true indication of what the law was, that I voted in favour of penalties being imposed on people who contravened, not the Public Safety Act, but the ordinary common law of this country. There is no reason that I can see why, if the Government were to make this gesture that has been suggested, and repealed this Act now, they could not come along again, or any other Government in their place, and if the emergency or case demanded it, ask for the powers which would be necessary to deal with the circumstances that would then have arisen. Why keep this Act dangling over our heads? Is it going, in any way, to bring about that reconciliation which the President spoke about during the last election? If he is desirous, as we take it he is from his own statements, of doing anything to bring about a better feeling throughout the whole of this State, surely the first thing he might do is to give an earnest of that desire by allowing this Act to be erased from the Statute Book. If the occasion demands it let him come and ask for other powers in future but, as I pointed out so often in the course of the debate on this Act, if it is necessary to preserve peace to have an Act such as this on the Statute Book then, where is the use of having our Constitution at all? The proposed amendment of the Minister, that the period should be reduced to two years, seems to me to give away his case completely. It is a friendly gesture, I admit, but it does not go far enough. I do not see why keeping this Act in existence for two years affects the principle which is at stake. That principle is that this country should be governed by the ordinary law of the land, according to the rights prescribed under our Constitution, unless there is shown, by the responsible Ministers of our Government, to be a grave necessity for departing from that ordinary law. Was anything like that demonstrated even during the original debates? I say there was not. Certainly it has not been done this afternoon. The onus, I say, is on the Government to show why the ordinary law should be departed from, why these rights should be abrogated, and why the Constitution of the State cannot take its ordinary course as laid down in that Constitution. Possibly this is a matter upon which I differ with the Government more than on any other line of policy they have adopted. I differ absolutely from them in the policy of proceeding by extraordinary and coercive measures to govern a country while they have not, to my satisfaction, shown that they require those measures. I think it would be best for them, best for the country, and certainly best for our institutions and our State—meaning thereby the State as established by our Constitution—that we should run this country by the ordinary law, if that is possible. I say it is possible.

I see no reason advanced by the Government to show why criminals cannot be tracked, why crimes cannot be kept down, why the country cannot be governed by the ordinary criminal code already in existence, and I see no reason for a continuance of this penal statute. I think it is an eyesore, and a blot upon our fair name throughout the world. I think there is no necessity for it. If the Government have come some of the way by the terms of their amendment, as suggested by their supporter, Deputy Wolfe, why not go the whole way? What is to prevent them? I say nothing but pique; nothing but pride. They passed this Act when there was no necessity for it, and now they do not like, by allowing it to be repealed, to give the appearance of having been unnecessarily in the wrong. That is the only reason I can discover why they will not come the whole way and accept the proposal to repeal this coercive enactment. I did not intend to elaborate what I have already said so often, but, at the same time, the Government have got a chance now of showing their desire, as expressed by their leader during the last election for appeasement and reconciliation.

Might I intervene for a moment? We have at the moment the Financial Resolutions debate not yet finished, and we have this motion——

I am finished.

I take it that here will be agreement about having he division before 8.30, because otherwise I would move to sit late. If there s an understanding that the division is to be taken before 8.30 I do not want to sit late. If not, I move that we sit Later than 8.30 and that the motion for the adjournment be taken not later than 10.30. I think there is a general desire on the part of Deputies not to be kept here to an unreasonable hour, and this is a matter for accommodation. Very few Ministers have spoken on this question. I put it to the House that we ought to have the division taken before 8.30.

The proceedings must be interrupted before 6.30 if a motion is to be made to sit late. It would not be in order to move to sit late after that hour.

Táim sásta deire a chur leis an díospóireacht roimh 8.30.

It is decided, therefore, that the division will be taken by 8.30. That would involve Deputy de Valera being given an opportunity to conclude.

At what time?

It would depend on the Deputy himself— at eight, at least.

Perhaps the President would agree to repeal the Act now and thereby save time.

I will make an offer which is characteristic of this Executive during its entire administration. I would agree to modify the amendment to read the "31st December, 1928." That is a big gesture; it is much further than Deputy Redmond is prepared to go. If that is accepted I suppose we can finish the business now.

So far as I am concerned, I would accept that.

As one who voted against the measure all through, who feels that probably the greatest wrong that could be inflicted by having the Act applied to political opponents is happily removed at the present time, although I came here prepared to vote for the Bill, after the President's suggestion I certainly will not vote for it. I think that once an Act is on the Statute Book it is bad policy to repeal it, particularly when the constitution of the House is such that at any time we can make that Act inoperative. My view at present is that if that Act were unduly pressed against any people, no matter who they were, there would be a majority in the House for a Vote of No Confidence. Consequently I see no danger at all in the Act, particularly when the President has offered to shorten the time during which it will operate to the end of 1928. I do not see any reason why there should not be general agreement on that.

As my offer is not accepted, I suppose I may address the House. Silence gives consent, but I am afraid that that is not so in this case. A very poor case ahs been made for the repeal of this measure. I was rather astonished at the poverty of the case, and that poverty seemed to have distinguished practically every speaker. Nevertheless, I congratulate Deputy Lemass upon the tenor of his remarks, with, possibily, the exception of a few infermities that were in his speech. He certainly seemed to address himself to the matter in a much finer spirit than that of any of the other member of his Party who spoke.

The present negation of policy must be having its effect if we are improving now.

I would not say so. I think there is material there that is perhaps not so widely distributed amongst other members of the Party.

You missed your vocation. You should have been a secondary schoolmaster.

For the Deputy's information I might say that I left school rather early, but that I was able subsequently to obtain what I missed in the earlier years. The weakness of the case against the Act appears to me to be this, that in order to prove that the Act was not a creditable one to have on our Statute Book we get what was stated in two English newspapers regarding it. One of those naturally said that it was much more severe than any Act that had been introduced by a Mr. Forester, I think, and Mr. Balfour —not exactly the people that I would go to for an expression of opinion regarding an ideal Irish Ireland. It is an extraordinary thing that we cannot make up our minds ourselves on a subject and give our views on it without soing to the British Press to see what their opinions are and now we could best suit them. (Interruption.) I certainly did not interrupt the Deputy. I do not know what his name is or what he said.

It is very hard to hear yourself.

I will try to speak more plainly. One Italian newspaper was quoted. We happened to learn something in the last ten years about what one could get into continental newspapers, and we happen to know something about having people in foreign country capable of providing continental newspapers with something that would be very useful to quote on a platform, and perhaps in the Dáil. I am not in the least interested as to what a particular contributor to a continental newspaper say regarding any Act which this Dáil passes. The Act was designed to deal with a situation which arose out of a terrible crime. It may be that I have not read all that has been said by the Fianna Fáil Deputies, and it may be that I do not hear all that they say, but my recollection is that no Fianna Fáil Deputy has expressed a desire to see apprehended the person responsible for the assassination of the late Minister for Justice. We are charged with identifying various national insituations with the State. We are told that the Civic Guards are our Guards. Deputy MacEntee went a step further and referred to "their own judiciary." There is something wrong in the Deputy's mind when he states such things as that. The judiciary is the judiciary of the state; it is not ours; it s as independent of us as any judiciary in any state is independent of the Exeautive of that State. Much the same case is made with regard to civil servants. Civil servants are independent; they have consciences; they have minds, and the same thing might apply to them.

on one point of order——

I am absolutely sure it is not a point of order.

How do civil servants come into this debate?

I was dealing with the statement that was made that by reason of his Government, or some members of it, having been in power foe a considerable time, the institutions that they built up were not State institutions but were rather institutions of a particular Party, and I was showing the fallacy of that argument. The thing that astonished me most and that convinced me that I am going to see the Fianna Fáil Party on the benches opposite for many years to come is the fact that they themselves would not have confidence in themselves if they were entrusted with government.

This is an Act which they say should not be given to archangels—powers that should not be given to archangels. I happened to address myself here to the Labour Party on one occasion, and said that, in my opinion, they lacked that experience of the exercise of authority which is one of the fundamentals of proper administration. I say that is lacking, too, in the speeches of members of the Fianna Fáil Party in connection with this Act. Deputy Corry made a case not against this Act but against others. I am delighted to see that the Deputy, notwithstanding the many inconveniences to which he said he was subjected during the last few years, shows evidence of being perfectly restore to normal health, and I hope he will long continue to enjoy the best of health. But we did not apprehend or interfere with the liberty of Deputy Corry in connection with this Act. The disabilities under which, as he informed the House, he suffered for a long time were really under some other Acts, and these Acts are not being repealed by the motion now before the House. This Act been in existence since August last. The real case against it is that it interferes with the liberty of the citizens of this State. We here about coercion. How many cases of coercion have been cited to us in respect of the administration of this Act? I would like Deputies on the other side of the House to know that we have learned something during the last five years. We have learned a lot about administration and learned something about the futility of internment. There is nothing about internment in that Act.

What about deportation?

Is there any citizen of this State suffering from deportation under this Act? The fact of the matter is, and we might as well be honest about it, that we know that this is a political manoeuvre—the proposal to repeal this Act. That is what it comes to, to give an opportunity to people of saying what they would like to see in the Constitution and so on. This Act, as far as its appearance on the Statute Book is concerned, gives more pain to us than is does to Deputies on the other side. It gives more pain to us that it should be necessary to have such an Act on the Statue Book. Its real purpose as a deterrent is proven by the fact that during the last four months you have had no attempts made, such as were previously made, against the institutions of the State, and in that sense the second Minister of the State was one of the institutions of the State. When the previous Act, about which Deputy Corry spoke, was introduced it was brought into deal with a situation which it was quite evident had for its object the shaking of public confidence in the Gárda Síochána and shaking the Gárda Síochána itself. As an answer to that an Act was introduced to deal with it. This Act was introduced to deal with what one may call a new departure, something which had not occurred previously, an attack upon a person who had been returned by an overwhelming majority of the people in one of the constituencies of this State and who had also been nominated as a Minister of the State by a considerable vote of this House. If there is a case against this Act the case should lie in proving, when people talk of coercion, some coercive Act which has interfered with the liberty of a citizen of the State or which has interfered with his activities as a citizen of the State.

We have made a fair offer with regard to the matter. The offer is that the Act should last until the 31st December, 1928. The Act, as I have stated on many occasions, was never designed and never thought of to be put in force against any political party. I do not mind much a Deputy lacking the experience of Deputy MacEntee saying that it was designed at any time in the minds of any persons to be used against Fianna Fáil.

If that be so, what is the meaning of a member of your Ministry starting and referring to Fianna Fáil as the Party of assassination?

I have responsibility for the Executive Council in a collective manner. I have responsibility for the statements of Ministers in this House, but I have not responsibility for the published speeches of Ministers.

He is an irresponsible member?

I have not said so. I would like, in a manner of that kind, not to get a particular sentence of a speech, but to take the whole speech, and I have not heard or read of the speech in question.

I must accept what the President has said—that he has not heard it. I have a recollection that the late leader of the Labour Party referred to it in this House.

It is quite possible that he may have, but I can assure the Deputy that I have not got time to read speeches to the same extent. The Deputy, I understand, addressed his constituents the other might, and I did not read a single line of his speech.

You missed a good deal.

I was so informed, and in consequence I did not read it.

I would like to ask the President if this Act was not intended to be used against the Fianna Fáil organisation, why did two members of his Government, during the debate upon the Act as a Bill, specifically identify and mention Fianna Fáil in connection with the murder of the late Minister for Justice?

Has the Deputy any quotation from the debates to support that?

I do not recollect it.

The Minister for Local Government, whom I challenged and asked to reply on the matter, has left the House. He referred to us as a catalyzer in a combination.

I think the Deputy would have some difficulty in proving that that was an exact parallel to the charges he made a moment or two before. To me it certainly is not. There is very great difference.

We will get a dictionary for the President.

I happened to know what it is. I may not be able to pronounce the word, but I have an elaborate explanation of it, and will send it to the Deputy typed or in my own handwriting before the Dáil adjourns. Now, I do not know whether Deputy MacEntee is satisfied that it was not intended to proscribe the Fianna Fáil organisation, but it does appear to me from what I have heard here this evening that if that be the view of other members of his Party it is a view which will certainly be dissipated in time in this House as well as the views that were mentioned by, I think, Deputy de Valera and Deputy Lemass—the fact that it was dangerous to give an Executive this authority. If they had the experience of Executive administration they would certainly know more about the limitations and restrictions consequent upon that.

If I had been allowed, the President would have had plenty of time to answer some of these questions as to what I could do and what experience Fianna Fáil had. I ask Deputies on this matter: let us go into it fully and we will see whether we have experience of people acting in that matter or not.

Could we be shown the list of people that was shown to Deputy Johnson—of people whom it was purported to deport?

On what authority does the Deputy make that statement: that any list was shown to Deputy Johnson?

We had it in the Press.

I never heard of or saw such a list. I never heard of the names on such a list. I never heard of a single name in respect of any list.

I have been taken to the Civic Guard Headquarters and been told by a responsible member of the police force that I am one of the members of our party on the list of reprisals. I have again been interviewed by members of the police force, and I am prepared to give details of this to the Minister for Justice. I was led to believe by responsible members of the police force that such a list was in existence and that I was one of the members named in the list. I was told only recently to sleep in warm clothing as the nights were very cold, and as they would be calling for me any night as a result of this Public Safety Act.

Would it not be better for Deputies to put a question like that down at question time and find if authority was given to Guards to talk this way to outsiders?

All I can say about what Deputy Briscoe said is it reminds me of the old quotation "Dubhairt bean liom gur ndubhairt bean léi." It is beyond me to make inquiries into such a case as I mentioned. At the time this Act was under discussion in the Dáil, it was mentioned by some Deputies in the Labour Party that there was a danger of trades unions being proclaimed as unlawful associations. I would like the House to consider what the position of the Executive would be in such a case as that. Let the House consider for a moment, even if the events which have occurred since had not occurred, what the position of the Executive would be in the House after the proclamation by a political party of Trade Unions. Does anyone think for a moment that such an action as that would go unchallenged in the House? It would be political lunacy to say nothing more of it. Examining or remembering as well as one can, the various speeches made, one finds very little reference to any sections in this measure other than the simple term "coercion" and an endeavour to make a comparison between what is called a coercive measure in this case with coercive measures introduced in an alien Parliament by an alien Government without the authority or sanction of the people in this country. This was designed to meet with a specific danger affecting the State, and an endeavour to overthrow the Government of the State by unlawful means. Practically every clause of the Act is a deterrent against those who would be so inclined. It is not meant and was never intended to deal with any other in the community than conspirators or the perpetrators of those crimes. It was so stated in the course of the passage of this Act through Dáil. Its administration bears out the statements made by the Government during its passage. It was passed in good faith. It is not coercive upon any citizen of good faith in the State and no patriotic citizen can have the least apprehension about that Act and need have no apprehension regarding any limitation of his liberty while that Act is on the Statue Book.

Until the President got up it seemed as if the Government Benches were going to observe the silence which showed, in some way, the want of desire to go into the terms of this coercion Act. The case made by the President and the Minister for Finance is, I submit, no case. The Minister for Finance, introducing the amendment, starts off with the policy that this is not an extraordinary Bill, and in the next breath he tells us that the conditions under which the Public Safety Act was passed have altered. Indeed in the amendment that has been tabled to this Bill, he states that in the altered circumstances the Bill can become inoperative at the end of two years. It has been stated about the President and the Minister for Finance that as to this Public Safety Act, they have no political objective. The Minister for Finance. at the same time, says by innuendo, if not by direct statement, that the fact that Fianna Fáil were outside this House at the time the late Minister for Justice was killed, contributed to that unfortunate event. Thus he tried to connect us in that way by an innuendo which he made use of an political platforms afterwards and which he does not feel sufficiently safe to put before this House since it seems now the policy to say that Fianna Fáil had nothing to do wit it, thus running away from all the statements on public platforms in the country. That was an attempt to lead by innuendo and implication to the fact that Fianna Fáil had something to do with it.

He tells us the object of the Electoral Amendment Act is fill the Dáil. If the objective of those Bills is to fill the Dáil has not the objective, apparently to his satisfaction—I hardly accept it— been realised? He complained about the propaganda against the late Minister. Much complaint could be made in this House as to the propaganda against certain Deputies on this side, not to speak of other things, which an unjust and partisan Executive tried to inflict upon them. The President complains that we have been going to British newspapers. It would be much better for this country and for the Irish people, and there would be a higher national spirit, in the country to-day if the Executive, on the opposite benches had only bothered about English newspapers and neglected to bother about other things English. The Minister for Justice has spoken about empty rhetoric and talked about emptiness, so far as putting into effective operation this Act, tried to leave Deputies in a maze or haze as to legal questions, as to substactive or adjective law. He has tried to convince the House—I hope he has convinced himself; feel he has not convinced anyone else—that this Public Safety Act means nothing but is only a question of procedure. I may remind the Minister for Justice that under the powers of this Public Safety Act an individual who he was satisfied was out of the country on the day the late Minister for Justice was killed was arrested, taken before the District Justice after seven days and remanded, I think, on some order, strange to say, of the Minister for Local Government. I do not know what he has got to do with it, or under what provision of the Act the power devolved upon him. At the end of practically two months, we are told by the Minister for Justice, Mr. Sean MacBride was released, because the rapid investigation of the Minister's Department had been completed. There is much talk about the liberty of the subject, but that is an example of the Government's interpretation of what the liberty of the subject means when it is concerned with a political opponent. The Minister for Justice is well aware that when a person is arrested under the ordinary law and sought to be charged, he brought in a very short time before a District Justice or somebody of that sort, and that District Justices time after time have refused to remand unless there was sufficient possibility of evidence being forthcoming. He is also aware, and it would be only fair to have told the House about it and not try to leave anybody in the dark, that no District Justice has power to return the trial under the ordinary law unless he is satisfied that a prima facie case has been made out.

I never said anything to the contrary.

It is what the Minister left unsaid.

The Minister presumed that Deputy Ruttledge knew a little law.

It is a matter of common knowledge.

I do not want to have anymore jocks about it. We have, of course, been lectured in the usual way by the President, who always assumes that air of conceit which is so often assumed on the Government Front Bench—a kind of "We know all things; nobody in the House knows anything but ourselves." It is only natural that that air should be assumed by people who are used to going around the country saying: "There is nobody able or fit to rule this country but five or six of us." The President, time after time, has told us about impartial administration. We hear about an impartial police force, about everything else that has no political bias behind it, and no political objective before it. But this House is well aware that there are various organisation in this country which, because they are closer akin to king than to nation, are quite entitled to go on peacefully without any interference. This House is well aware of the existence of such an organisation as the British Fascists. We had an example the other evening of the latitude that is given to the Bedan-Powell Boy Scouts. according to the so-called impartial Executive council, that latitude should not or could not be given to Fianna Eireann Boy Scouts. Similarly, although it has been denied by the Minister for Justice that he made any statement in this House showing implicite, absolute and unqualified faith in the impartiality of the Gárda, if he goes back to the reports of the debates a few days ago he will find that it was mentioned in this House that a certain thing had been done, and when he was asked if he would investigate it he shut up the Deputy who asked the question by saying: "I do not believe that such a thing could have happened." That is the faith that the Minister for Justice has in the Gárda, and I am sure that he is speaking for the Executive Council, notwithstanding the fact, which the Executive Council cannot dispute or deny, that there are people who have been permanently maimed as a result of the intolerance and political bigotry of the Gárda, and that time after in this House examples have been given of the biased attitude and actions of the Gárda.

These are the people who are to be given the powers of saying under this Act whether a person is a suspect or not. Is it any wonder that we on this side of the House must have feeling of distrust and suspicion as to the way in which this Act be carried out? On the new occasions when the Act was applied, it was applied to Republicans. It was not applied to ex-Army officers who the Executive Council are well aware are going around the country armed with guns. when, on the 14th November last, ex-Army officers turned their guns on a peaceful citizen outside Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, and kept him under fire all night, they were not arrested under the Public Safety Act, but under the ordinary law. The ordinary law was sufficient to deal with persons who had been in the National Army and who were allowed because of that to trot around the country with guns in their pockets, as hundreds of ex-Army men are to-day doing, and the Executive Council know it.

We are told by the Deputy O'Hanlon that this Act has lost its harm, its fire, and its danger, because he git introduced into it a provision for a confirming authority. I have yet to learn of courtsmartial that are not subject to a confirming authority. During the period of the civil war, and during the period of the Anglo-Irish war, we always understood that there was such a thing as a confirming authority. If that is the only reason that Deputy O'Hanlon feels satisfied about the Act, I think it is no reason. The Deputy knows that that confirming authority is similar to a member of the court that tries and convicts. He must belong to the Army. He must perhaps be a colonel, or something like that, but he is a member of the Army from which is constituted the courtmartial which sentences the individual brought before it under the Act. As to Deputy Bernnan, I am afraid I have no argument that could possibly meet him, be cause the only argument he has put forward for retaining the Act is that he thinks it is a bad policy to repeal any Act. If that is what he considers a sound and logical argument, I am afraid I cannot answer him.

Deputy Jasper Wolfe complained that the Act was passed because the Fianna Fáil Party would not come into this House. Apparently, according to his argument, the Act must remain upon the Statute Book because they have come in. He does not like, he says, to hear us talking about English newspapers. I was very glad to hear that, and I am sure, at Deputy Wolfe's rate of progression, that he will probably be found one of those days knocking at the doors of Fianna Fáil. No argument for the maintenance on the Statute Book of this Act has been put forward. The arguments that I say have not and cannot be answered in favour of the repeal of this Act are—first, that for three months nothing has happened; second, that the Ministry had been prepared first, according to the amendment on the Order Paper, to limit it to two years, and third, the President, when he got into a barganing fashion, said he was prepared to reduce the period of its operation to the 28th November or December next year; that is, reducing the period first from five years to two years, and then from two years to one year. It is quite clear that the Executive know that they have no reason for keeping this Act on the Statue Book. They cannot show any cause why it is there. It is there, and not being able to show any cause for it, they think it would be some sort of weakening on their part if they gave way on this Bill. That of course, is typical of their Party spirit and typical of the action they generally take up.

I submit to this House, it is a question on which Deputies should not allow themselves to be put in the position of being described as worse than, "Bloody" Balfour and "Buckshot" Forster, and that in view of the attitude of the Executive not being able to put forward any sufficient or strong reason for the retension of this coersionist measure, they should make up their minds to vote as individuals and not as automata or as a party machine. There can be no argument as to its being used as deterrent. I submit there is nothing in that argument. We are told some of the Act never was intended to put in operation. According to some of the statements of the President, he boasted, going round the country, that he intended to put the Act into full and effective operation. I know the President has these little habits. He boasted of winning one little war, and apparently he would like to provoke another little war. There is not much in that. He ran away from that statement since. He said that when he talked of putting the Act into full and effective operation he did not mean a certain portion of the Act. Apparently the electors did not like some of the speeches made, and accordingly the President abondoned some portion of it.

Much point is made out of a particular Section, 20, I think of the Act. We were told that Part 4 would not be put into operation except by proclamation, but that gives the same powers to the Executive. It is not the Dáil that will issue the proclamation; it is the Executive Council that will issue it. In the same way you are giving to the Minister for Justice power to expel people out of the country. I think everyone agrees that the Government opposite is practically on the verge of defeat, and we contend, from its past history, therefore, that we may expect anything in the way of an dying kick from that Executive.

The offer made by the President has a certain element of danger in it, because the atmosphere created by the Act itself is so dangerous. The atmosphere is such that it gives everyone who is unruly, or a bully and is in the position of being a policeman, an opportunity of terrorising the people. It is also there to create an atmosphere for elements such as people known as the British Fascisti and other people of that sort who avail themselves of the atmosphere created by that Act to get acts committed which will lead to the continuation of this Act. It would be far better for the President to have said that he would continue the Act for the full period of time. That, at least, would have shown conviction and strength.

If there was no reason for it then he should give rid of it altogether. The shortening of the time, first to two years and then to one, shows it is put up merely to get a mojority in this House. Obviously there are men with different points of view within the ranks of Cumann na nGaedheal. There are men who do not take quite so voilent a view of things as, perhaps, the Front Bench, and it may be it is necessary in order to hold a majority of his various allies to compromise. But there is in his action nothing in the nature of grace or generocity. We, from our benches, have made every approach to submerge the interests of the party to the interests of the country as a whole. But from the other side we get no approach except jeers and the using of our attitude in order to make political play of it.

President Cosgrave takes up the attitude that he never heard of persons such as Mr. Forster and Mr. Balfour. Well, if he asks any of the old people in Ireland they will tell him what these men and there coercion Acts meant in suffering to the Irish people. When a paper like the London "Times" stated that the present Act was worse than the Acts passed by those men these words will be well understood by the Irish people if they are not appreciated by President Cosgrave. The President seems to have no capacity for appreciating the sufferings of his own victims. The best he could say when Deputy Corry mentioned his sufferings during imprisonment was to offer a gibe that he did not look any the worse for it. That attitude of mind towards individual freedom shows that the President of this Assembly does not understand what freecom is, and that it is a shattering of the Constitution to take away unjustifiably the liberty of the individual for any period of time at all.

When the leader of a House like this has not got that careful appreciation of what a treasure individual liberty is, he has not the right to be a leader of a House like this, or, perhaps, I should say that this is just the kind of place ofr that sort of person. The present position of the Constitution reminds me of a story I used to read long ago about a cat. The cat in "Alice in Wonderland" had a curious way of sitting on a tree and suddenly smiling and disappearing. All you could see was the grin in the gloom. Which is the grin and which is the gloom, you can settle for yourself if you think of the Constitution and the Public Safety Act. When one is not appearing the other is , and between the two of them there is really no Constitution in this country. Discussing it seriously with lawyers. I find that some of them will say that the Public Safety Act is not valid and that nothing can set aside Article 3 of the Constitution. Others say that it does not set aside Article 3 of the Constitution, and, that if it does, it sets aside the whole Constitution. The position is such that any-respecting individual must feel that he is living under conditions of things which are not the conditions of a normal citizens, and that he must feel self-reproach in tolerating that sort of thing to continue. A protest was made at one time during the nineteenth century against a Coercion Act passed for the benefit of Ireland. A distinguished writer at that time said something which applies just as well as now the Public Safety Act. He said:—

If you suspend the Constitution you suspend for all alike. You make no exception from the dread ban of general excommunication. You subject the innocent and the guilty alike to the spies and informers, to the arbitrary operations of suspision and those dark uncertainties of terror in which every man must stand in fear neighbour. You give temptation to the accusation of private revenge, you give a field to the mercenaries and the malignants and to individual motives which are ever brought into operation by the suspension of law and the insecurity of political freedom. When this law is in force it may be turned by the most fearful purpose.

That seems to be more or less the contention of those who are against the Public Safety Act. It is the possibilities of it and not the actualities. I think it was the President who argued that, because the Act was not now being put into force it was no danger. In other words, that because it was not at present actively operated it did not exist. The whole attitude this evening has been an apologetic attitude. One of the difficulties in this debate has been the empty benches on the Ministerial side.

What about your own side?

An extremely small amount of defence was put up for that Act. I suppose we must argue that they have nothing to say in its favour. They are simply holding on to it to save their faces. The only argument that I can think of in favour of keeping that Act there is that is does not prolong the life of the present Government. If they were to take up a sane and generous attitude towards this measure, if they were to wipe it off the Statute Book to-night they would probably gain back some of that support of which they have lost so much lately. But it is not likely that they will do that. It is not likely that at this stage they would have sufficient common sense to let the Act go, to trust the Irish people, and to trust to the spirit of Irish nationality for their safety. They should not trust to those acts which have always been the mainistay of those who have coerced Ireland for the past century and a quarter. The spirit, and the only spirit, by which Ireland will be properly ruled will be by some spirits of national confidence. The spirit of national confidence which leaves out the spirit of what is called the extremists is not a spirit of nationality. When Parnell was at his greatest strength, although he was a strong constitutionalist, and purely a constitutionalist, he did not take up an attitude of antagonism towards extremists. And so, through all the line of history, those who took up the line of moderate constitutionalism, if you like, and at the same time allowed inside that the fair understanding for an extreme view of Irish nationalism, are the people who are the real leaders of Ireland, The people who would be actuated by that spirit would be the people who would set Ireland upon its feet again.

I rise to a point of order. Deputy Little reffered to the President a while ago. His observation was not quite clear to the Deputies on this side of the House. His reference to the President was previous to the sentence in which the Deputy was relating the story of the cat. He spoke in an undertone, reflecting on the President in some manner. Would he give us a clear indication of what he ment? It was not audible here, but I saw him laughing directly after he made that reference.

I did not hear the Deputy saying anything offensive about the President. If it was not audible it was not said, from my point of view.

I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but the Minister for Justice stated on two occasions, I think, that any individual who had been ill-treated by the Civic Guards could bring an action for damages in the courts. I have a statement before me made by prisoners who were ill-treated in my county. Of course I may be asked why do not these men proceed through the civil courts for redress. The reason was that they were threatened that if they dared to take proceedings for redress they would be summarily dealt with. One of the greatest dangerous in this Public Safety Act is this: somebody stated here lately that all men were not archangles, and I regret to say that in the ranks of the Gárda Síochána and amongst the ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department are men who are anything but archangels. If I were to read the treatment meted out to men in my county by some of these archangels I would shock the House.

As long as men of this description are allowed to remain in authority in this country, the Public Safety Act is going to be very dangerous and very serious to many people. The men who were ill-treated were guilty of no crime. They were pulled out of their houses at night, savagely kicked and beaten, and nothing whatsoever could be proved against them. Unless some action is taken against these men, unless we know that they will be summarily dealt with by the Executive Council, where do we stand and when what security has any one of us? I asked here the ather day when and if the result of the inquiry to be held into this matter would be published and I was told it would not be in the public interest to publish it. Is it in the public interest that these men are allowed to retain their positions? I desire to add my voice to the voices of those who call for the repeal of this Act, and I think that incident is one of the strongest I could put forward in favour of its repeal.

I regret very much the crime that has occasioned the passing of this Act. I detest that Act very much indeed and I regret that the occasion should arise for such a measure to be placed upon the Statute Book of an Irish Parliament. But however much I detest the Act, I detest all the more the crime that brought it into existence. I detest the crime that gave birth to that Act and gave death to a son of the Irish nation. Here was a man who had striven all his life for the establishment of the Irish nation and at the consummation of his life's toil his blood was shed; this man was murdered at the very birth of the nation. Much as I detest the Act I trust it will remain for a little time at least as a monument to the horror of those people who perpetrated the deed. There is no reason why it should be repealed because of the entry of our friends on the other side or because they ask it to be repealed. It is only reasponable and it is expected of the Irish people that there should be some little tablet, some memento held before out eyes for a time in order that we may show our reprobation of the crime.

I do not consider the Act should be repealed one moment sooner than the time the president the President of this State asks it to be repealed. I have no fear of Irishmen and the people of this country have no fear of Irishmen in general because they are on each side and they are capable of dealing one with the other when the occasion arises. The Acts of Buckshot Froster or Bloody Balfour may be sever and may be strong, or rather were, but here we have on each side of the House Irishmen who understand one another and who are capable of dealing with any situation that may arise and who are prepared to insitute Acts to maintain the rights of the people in general.

I think it is only reasonable to be expected that the members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party will support the Government if for no other reason than that they supported the Executive in the elections. They are supporting the Executive because they do not regard the Acts as detrimental or as a stigma on the nationality of the Irish people. They support it because they abhor the crime that was committed, as it were, in the name of the rights and liberates of the people of Ireland. That crime was not committed in the interests of the Irish people. It was committed in a most heinous manner. The members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, the Labour Party and the Independent Party will, I am sure, support this measure. On the other hand, it will be the duty of Fianna Fáil to see that the measure is retained at least for a time in order to show their reprobation of the crime that was commotted. Along with that memento to the dead son of Ireland, we have also a memento on the other side in the appearance of Fianna Fáil Deputies here. I think that is a fair contribution of their detestation of the crime.

I expect that if matters were reversed and if it was a thing that a representative of Fianna Fáil was murdered in the same manner, the people of this country would protest in the same vehement fashion as the Irish people have protested against this crime. I have very great respect for the men on the other side, but on this side of the House we have men who tried to consummate the aspirations and the wishes of the Irish people on every occasion.

The Deputy is travelling outside the Public Safety Act now.

I am giving reasons why it should be maintained at least for a time. I would be pleased to see Fianna Fáil giving some rational reason for the removal of the Act by lending a hand to the Party on this side to carry out the wishes of the people in general.


Dubhairt an tUachtarán na raibh sé in a aigne, no in aigne an Rialtais, an Acht so do chur i bhféidhm i n-agháidh Fianna Fáil. Ach tá na Teachtai ar an dtaoibh seo den Tighe lán tsásta go raibh duil aige agus ag an Rialtas an Acht do chur i bhféidhm go dti go dthangamar isteach annso. Do réir deallraimh, tá a mhalairt de thuairim ag an Rialtas ón lá san i leith agus is maith an rud go bhfuil sé mar cx32atáagus go bhfuil an méid sin céille acu. Ní gá dom nios mó a rána go bhfuil sé buailte isteach in ar n-aigne an Acht so do chur ar leath-taoibh.

Your ruling, I am afraid, has caused this debate to be very unreal, and by excluding a certain part of the argument which was necessary in order to make it conclusive, in my opinion, you kept the arguments on the whole question of why Act should be replaced on the mere fringe. I am not going to complain of your ruling because it is probably, in the long run, wise that we should not go too much into detail in this matter. I did not purpose opening up that particular part of the argument with a view to having bitter controversy here. I felt it was absolutely necessary if we were going to understand this question at all to recognise the circumstances under which this State that we all talk about here was founded, and to understand the minds of those who are outside in whom I am interested and again whom, mainly, this Act was directed. There is no doubt from the speeches made by the Ministers and others that it was the intention of the Executive Council to use this against their political opponents. If words mean anything, and if statements mean anything, it is there in black and white. I do not know that, at this stage, it is worth while going into that. SOfar as I am concerned, and I think I can speak for all members of our Party, it was not because of anything that was directed against us personally in this Public Safety Act that we care a thraneen, but because of what was going to happen generally to the country as a result of its operations and, particularly, to a section of our people. The young men in whom I and members opposite should have a special interest were enrolled originally in the army of the Irish Republic and they were sworn publicy, so far as it was possible to do it, in the most solemn manner to uphold that State against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and what we are anxious to do is to try and interpose between two men, whose crime is that they have been faithful to the ideals with which we all started—whatever we may have come to now—and save them from being driven into despair, and into a despairing course of action by trying sympsthetically to understand their point of view. That point of view ought easily to be understood by members on the opposite Benches. There are men in this House who never can and never will understand it.

I have no doubt that there are men in this House who would call Padraig Pearse a traitor and who agree with Lord Norbury when he called Emmet a traitor. Treason, as defined in law, has never been accepted as true treason by those who believe in Irish Nationality and whose ideas of treason are prompted by their feelings. When members talk of this State and their loyalty to it and when we object to the term "treason," they ask us what is treason. We and, I am sure, these young men are as much against treason if we understand by treason the definition which, for instance, Deputy Redmond gave of it, namely, treachery against the community as a whole, as anybody in the House. The whole question is, what is treachery? What is this treachery against the community as a whole? The difficulty is that we here and some men outside do not understand that word in the same sense. They think that they are the loyal people and that we are the traitors. They think that they are loyal to the State which they swore to defend and for which their brothers died, and they are not going to believe that Liam Mellowes and Cathal Brugha, no matter what laws are passed here, were traitors to the Irish nation. I do not believe that it would have been possible to have regard this State in the narrow way in which it is regarded by members here if the House had been filled from the begining, because the other point of view would have been clearly expressed, and if I had had an opportunity I would have shown from the start why this House was not filled from the beginning. What I am anxious to come to is that from my point of view, this Act is a continuation of the wrong method of dealing with the situation.

I take that we all want to see the country progress and to see the aspirations of the Irish people achieved some time somehow in some way. The question for us all is how to do it. Is it to be done by continuing in the old British way by Coercion Acts? As pointed out by some Deputies, these Coercion Acts have not affected the people against whom they were directed. They have not changed them a bit, and I have a list which I made out when I was in the United States of the Coercion Acts passed by the British Government. They begin in 1801 with the suppression of the rebellion, and go down along almost every year until 1887, when they passed the Perpetual Coercion Act. In 1920 they had to pass another Coercion Act. What is the lesson to be learned from that? The lesson to be learned from that is that the law was not in the accord with the sentiments of the people, and that there was no natural loyalty to the law from the people, and if you are going to continue and keep the law remote from the sentiments of the people, you will have to pass Coercion Acts until the Treaty is repealed, just as the Act of Union was repealed. Can we not start and try to get at the right end of this? Can we not approach this question in such a way that these Coercion Acts will not be necessary? I can say honestly for myself that my one endeavour since the Treaty was passed has been to try and get some basis on which those who have a national outlook can get together and work together and have some policy by which the nation can advance without being in conflit with each other to such an extent as to make all progress impossible. What can we do to-day about that? I have been asked by Deputies on the Labour benches what is my view, what is the position of the Party here? I will tell them as simply as I can. Speaking for myself, I am here recignising this House because of its personnel, and for nothing more, as an Irish assembly, and I am prepared, as a rule of order and for no other reason, to accept majority rule as defining national policy for the time being. The Constitution which has been imposed on us from outside, in so far as it has been imposed from outside, I regard as null and void, so far as the Irish people are concerned. In so far as it represents the real desire of the Irish people, I will probably be found maintaining that part of the Constitution as loyally as I tried to maintain another Constitution in another sphere, but we will not get anywhere if we do not understand that.

If we want to go back and re-unite the Irish people and make them loyal to the laws made by the representatives of the people we muse have this House properly filled up. You say the seats are filled. The seats could have been filled, but the new Acts went through, and the members on these Benches were excluded. There are people excluded at present. The personnel of this House would not be the same as it is now if there were not barriers put in the way. Those who do not regard this State as having been founded on the free will of the Irish people are never going to put a barrier in their own way of moving further, in taking the oath of allegiance to it. That is a barrier, and I say all those who got the Treaty accepted on the basis that it is going to be a stepping-stone have a duty to these people and should not leave them in the desert, or drive them across the sea, or deport them, because they have digested thoroughly and assimilated and made part of their being the doctrine preached from the opposite Benches at one time. I say we have a duty, and it is because of that duty, and not because any member of our Party is to be affected by it that I moved the repeal of this Act.

I ask Deputies in trying to approach this question not to imagine that because you do not want to look at a thing that it does not exists. The same situation that was there in the past exists because the same sence of grievance exists. The fact that you have prevented by superior force a certain section of the people trying to maintain the State to which they pledge their loyalty—the fact that you did not see that operative—ought not to blind you to the fact that it was there at the bottom all the time. You have the Minister for Finance over there . Read up what he wrote on a former occasion, and ask yourselves whether there are not young men in Ireland to-day who think the things he thought then, or wrote about, and who believe that they are acting patriotically and in the best interest of the Irish community and the Irish nation in following in the path he indicated as being the right path. Then we can, I believe, without Public Safety Acts, in fact, very much better without them, without coercion, get on a basis in which the laws would be supported loyally by the people, because they will regard them as their own laws made by their own representatives. It is far that reason we did not want—if you. A Chinn Comhairle, would not regard it as out of order to refer to it— the oath of allegiance here, because we wanted the Benches filled up proprely so that the men and women who would sit on them would represent the Irish nation as a whole, or that portion of the nation we have in the twenty-six counties. We wanted it removed because we regarded its removal as the greatest safeguard against the public disturbance. I hope when the time comes to deal with that, that what I say now will be borne in mind by the Deputies, that it is not Party advantage, or Party tricks of that kind we seek. There are a number of us who dislike this kind of work altogether, and we are here at present simply because we have a duty in tyring to make a final peace possible, and to keep people from being driven into the desert and across the seas, the young men who entered originally into the Irish Republican Army under our teaching and instruction. I think that to pass Public Safety Acts that is turning your back upon them, and throwing them out when you have used them, and they naturally resent that.

I do not know what I could say further to show you what my attitude is. I believe that if we start to get people to accept this Assembly as an Assembly for the twenty-six Counties, with no barriers, so that all parts and all the people would be represented, we can get an acceptance of majority rule as determining the national policy of the moment, there being always understood this, that the sovereignty of the nation ultimately resides in the people. You could have got that. I believe there was a time when I could have got that particular viewpoint accepted. At the time of the "cease fire" order I put in a definite set of proposals. They were turned down because the military spirit was too strong. It was a question with them "We wanted to complete our victory." That victory will not be completed if the same method is continued. No matter how long it takes, as long as grass grows, as a Bishop of Limerick said, and water runs, as long as this country is not completely free you are going to get young men to dare and die to free it. That is true. We know it, and the young men know it and no people know it or ought to know it better than those in the opposite benches. Therefore you have to have a constitutional path open, or else the other will be tried. When I said "tried" I do not mean that as a threat, or a determination on my part to make sure that it will be tried. I am simply stating the fact. It is as certain as that grass will grow, and as we used to sing "You are not going to stop the blades of grass from growing as they grow" by any laws that you pass here. Therefore, if you want to have real peace in Ireland, if you want the State, and by the State I mean the particular form in which the community organises itself for government purposes, if you want that effective, then you will have that done by an authority accepted by the majority of the people and never by coercion.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 77; Níl, 71.

  • William P. Aird.
  • Ernest Henry Alton.
  • James Walter Beckett.
  • George Cecil Bennett.
  • Ernest Blythe.
  • Séamus A. Bourke.
  • Micheal Brennan.
  • Seán Brodrick.
  • John Joseph Byrne.
  • Edmund Carey.
  • John James Cole.
  • Mrs. Margt. Collins-O'Driscoll.
  • Martin Conlan.
  • Michael P. Connolly.
  • Bryan Ricco Cooper.
  • William T. Cosgrave.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • James Crowley.
  • John Daly.
  • Micheal Davis.
  • Micheal Jordan.
  • Patrick Micheal Kelly.
  • Myles Keogh.
  • Hugh Alexander Law.
  • Patrick Leonard.
  • Finian Lynch.
  • Arthur Patrick Mathews.
  • Martin McDonogh.
  • Micheal Og McFadden.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Joseph W. Mongan.
  • Richard Mulcahy.
  • James E. Murphy.
  • Joseph Xavier Murphy.
  • James Sproule Myles.
  • Martin Micheal Nally.
  • John Thomas Nilan.
  • Richard O'Connor.
  • Bartholomew O'Connor.
  • Peter De Loughrey.
  • Eugene Doherty.
  • James N.Dolan.
  • Peader Seán Doyle.
  • Edmund John Duggan.
  • James Dwyer.
  • Osmond Thos. Grattan Esmonde.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • James Fitzgerald-Kenney.
  • John Good.
  • D.J. Gorey.
  • Alexander Haslett.
  • John J. Hassett.
  • Micheal R. Heffernan.
  • Micheal Joseph Hennessy.
  • Thomas Hannessy.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Mark Henry.
  • Patrick Hogan (Galway).
  • Richard Holohan.
  • Timothy Joseph O'Donovan.
  • John F. O'Hanlon.
  • Daniel O'Leary.
  • Dermot Gun O'Mahony.
  • John J. O'Reilly.
  • Gearoid O'Sullivan.
  • John Marcus O'Sullivan.
  • Patrick Reynolds.
  • Martin Roddy.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.
  • Timothy Sheehy (West Cork).
  • William Edward Thrift.
  • Micheal Tierney.
  • Daniel Vaughan.
  • John White.
  • Vincent Joseph White.
  • George Wolfe.
  • Jasper Travers Wolfe.


  • Frank Aiken.
  • Denis Allen.
  • Richard Anthony.
  • Neal Blaney.
  • Gerald Boland.
  • Patrick Boland.
  • Daniel Bourke.
  • Seán Brady.
  • Robert Briscoe.
  • Henry Broderick.
  • Daniel Buckley.
  • Alfred Byrne.
  • Frank Carney.
  • Archie J. Cassidy.
  • Patrick Clancy.
  • Micheal Clery.
  • James Coburn.
  • James Colbert.
  • Hugh Colohan.
  • Eamon Cooney.
  • Dan Corkery.
  • Richard Corish.
  • Martin John Corry.
  • Fred Hugh Crowley.
  • Tadhg Crowley.
  • William Davin.
  • Thomas Derrig.
  • Eamon de Valera.
  • James Everett.
  • Frank Fahy.
  • Hugh Flinn.
  • Andrew Fogarty.
  • Seán French.
  • Patrick J. Gorry.
  • John Goulding.
  • Seán Hayes.
  • Patrick Hogan (Clare).
  • Samule Holt.
  • Patrick Houlihan.
  • Stephen Jordan.
  • Micheal Joseph Kennedy.
  • William R. Kent.
  • Frank Kerlin.
  • James Joseph Killane.
  • Mark Killelea.
  • Micheal Kilroy.
  • Seán F. Lemass.
  • Patrick John Little.
  • Ben Magurie.
  • Thomas McEllistrim.
  • Seán MacEntee.
  • Séamus Moore.
  • Daniel Morrissey.
  • Thomas Mullins.
  • Timothy Joseph Murphy.
  • Thomas J. O'Connell.
  • Patrick Joseph O'Dowd.
  • Seán T. O'Kelly.
  • William O'Leary.
  • Matthew O'Reilly.
  • Thomas O'Reilly.
  • Thomas P. Powell.
  • William Aecher Redmond.
  • Patrick J. Ruttledge.
  • James Ryan.
  • Martin Sexton.
  • Timothy Sheehy (Tipperary).
  • Patrick Smith.
  • John Tubridy.
  • Richard Walsh.
  • Francis C. Ward.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle. Níl: Deputies G. Boland and MacEntee.
Amendment declared carried.
Motion, as amended, proposed.

Might I ask now for the leave of the House to carry out my undertaking and to move to amend the motion as now amended by deleting the words "two years from the date of its passing" and inserting the words "the 31st December, 1928."

Is there any objection to that amendment? the motion, as amended, would then read:

That the Dáil declines to give a second Reading to a Bill having for its purpose the total repeal of the Public Safety Act, 1927, but is of opinion in view of the altered circumstances which have arisen since that Act was passed that its duration might reasonably be limited to the 31st December, 1928.

I would like to make it clear that, of course, our opposition to its continuance is unaltered.

Leave to amend, as applied for granted.

Motion, as amended, put and declared carried.
The Dáil adjourned at 8.15 p.m.