In facing this matter, of which I gave notice, we are not dealing with a simple question. We are dealing with the manner in which the Department of Posts and Telegraphs is misusing its powers. In bringing this small individual case forward, it might seem that I am improperly taking up the time of the House, but I hold that the humblest individual in the State, when a wrong is done to him, has a right to have it ventilated. This unfortunate boy spent the last four years working as a temporary postman in Carrigtwohill. During that period he has had foisted over his head two men, whose only claim to those positions was that they served in the National Army. We are told here that there is no coercion; we are told that there is no wronging of any individual, but I have here before me the reply given last week to a question I put down. It states that during the period this boy was in this employment, the performance of his duties was satisfactory. I have here the reply to another question to-day, which states that "his intermittent temporary service of thirty-seven weeks gives him no claim to appointment." What is necessary for a claim for appointment in the postal service to-day? What should be necessary but good, satisfactory service given in that employment? Should not that be the only guide for any appointment? What do we find? We find that this young boy is the sole support of a father, mother, a brother and three sisters, that the few shillings a week that this boy was earning as a temporary postman was the sole support of that family.
We find that his claims have been completely overridden. For what? For a gentleman who we are told has given nine years' satisfactory service—"the successful candidate, in addition to other qualifications, has had over nine years' satisfactory service in the Department." Now, what was the satisfactory service? He served up to 1916, when he joined the British Army, came back in 1919 and served not longer than three weeks, when he threw his bag to the postmistress and told her he was getting a better job. I am not going to deal with the condition he was in when he threw the bag to her. Then we find that in the past six months he has been in the Midleton Union and he came out of it to get this job. He served in the National Army for a short period. He never served in the I.R.A.; he always served where there was pay going. He has no dependents whatsoever. This is the gentleman who was put in to occupy a position which belongs, I say, by every sense of justice, to this young chap who has spent four years as a temporary postman there. Is this matter going to continue? Are we going to have this political patronage; are we going to have this rule that because an individual served for a week, a fortnight, three weeks or a month in the National Army, he is entitled to the position? If that is the foremost condition, the condition which every individual must have before he is entitled to the position, before he is entitled to any position whatsoever in the public service, it is time that that kind of thing was put an end to, once and for all, and we must put an end to it by some means or by any means. We are faced with a wretched state of affairs in this. I have in my mind at the present moment several instances of that patronage in East Cork. I have in my mind at the present moment a young man who joined the British Army, served in it up to 1919, who was driven into that, I suppose, by the plea that he was fighting for small nations, who came home, joined the I.R.A., and refused to be duped by the people opposite who said he had complete freedom.