ADJOURNMENT DEBATE—CO. CORK POSTAL APPOINTMENT.

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.

You would not say these things down in East Cork.

After refusing to be duped in that way he got twelve months in Newbridge Internment Camp. He has been four and a-half years idle, and he is the sole support of a wife and three children.

Is it fair to be ridiculing people's families?

Let the Deputy proceed.

Is that the kind of treatment we are going to have doped out? Is that the patronage we are going to have doped out? I state that the claim to employment in any public service to-day in the first place should be when a man has already given satisfactory service in that employment. I think that the Parliamentary Secretary must have been misled in this matter when he told us that this gentleman has given satisfactory service, and I would advise him to refer it back and find out a little more before he makes appointments of that class. This position is not worth so much that it should be made a political job of, but I think he should give it to the unfortunate boy who has had four years' satisfactory service, and who is the sole support of a family of five.

The case made by the Deputy resolves itself under two heads: one, the particular case of this appointment which was made in the Post Office in question; and the other, the broad general question of the employment of ex-members of the National Army. To deal with the particular appointment made here, I want to assure the Deputy that appointments such as these are not normally made directly by me, so that the question of promiscuous power and political patronage does not arise. Appointments of a minor nature are made by the local postmaster. They are made subject to certain definite regulations and rules. That particular appointment, like all such appointments, would be made without reference to me, and no reference was made to me until the Deputy himself raised the matter in the House. On the question of McCarthy's qualifications, as against the qualifications of the man who was recommended by the Deputy, on service alone, and it is upon that point that the Deputy is making the case, undoubtedly the man who got the appointment was the deserving applicant. He had nine years' service in the Post Office. His record is shown——

I would point out to the Parliamentary Secretary that he does not even know the man's name.

His record shows that his work during all that time was satisfactory and as stated in my answer. That was placed against the case of a man who had only thirty-seven weeks' temporary service. Undoubtedly, on this ground alone the case of the man who got the appointment is made. The Deputy says that two auxiliary postmen have been appointed since this man made his application.

I want to make the point clear before the Parliamentary Secretary leaves it. The case in question, as I understand Deputy Corry wished to put it to the House, was this, that in the one case there was a temporary postman with service amounting to thirty-seven weeks, over a period of four years, who, on the admission of the Department, has given satisfactory service. On the other hand, in the case of the postman who has had nine years' service, Deputy Corry definitely suggests that the Parliamentary Secretary may not be aware of the fact that this service was not quite regular, was not good, that he had left the service in a fit of temper in a certain condition. When the Parliamentary Secretary replied that his service was regular and good, is he aware of this particular instance, and would he call that good service?

If my recollection is correct, that is the case that Deputy Corry made.

I quite understand the case made by the Deputy. The service of this man, during his period in the Post Office was regarded as good. He started as a boy messenger. He continued up to the time he joined the British Army. His record during that time was quite good, and it was continuous service. That was placed against the record of the man who was on temporary duty from time to time——

And who did not join the Army.

I quite understand the case. He was employed on temporary duty, and his total was thirty-seven weeks' service, as against a man who had previously been employed for nine years, but who was not employed at the time the appointment was made. That is the case as I understand it.

He was an old employee of the Post Office.

Deputies are able to place the Chair in a very awkward position on the Adjournment. The idea is that a Deputy makes his case. Deputy Corry made his case, but Deputy Briscoe considered it necessary to make the case all over again by way of interruption of the Parliamentary Secretary. If interruptions of the Parliamentary Secretary continue, the only option I have is to adjourn the Dáil. If I adjourn the Dáil, the result will be that Deputy Corry will not get an answer, and, if he wants an answer, I presume he would be hurt if he did not get it. If the Parliamentary Secretary is interrupted he will not be able to make his case, so that Deputies who interrupt are acting in an unfair manner and are preventing him from making his case. Let the Parliamentary Secretary make his reply without interruption.

In regard to the statement of the Deputy that two other appointments were made during the same intervening time and that this man applied for a permanent appointment, it may be so, but I have no official information at my disposal at the moment about it, and the official files do not contain records of these temporary appointments. I assume that the two temporary appointments were made in the same way as this other appointment was made, because the applicants had the necessary qualifications. If that is not so, it is open to the Deputy to raise the matter again in the Dáil or ask a question in regard to the qualifications of the two postmen appointed in the meantime. The case is made by the Deputy that this particular man in whom he is interested should not get the appointment, as he is in receipt of a pension of 16/- a week from the British Army. On that particular point I have no information, and it is not a point on which we make inquiries. I am rather surprised that the Deputy should make the case that this man should not get the position because he was in the British Army, in view of the vote that he gave here the other night.

I did not make that case.

By giving that vote the Deputy said, in effect, that we were not dealing fairly with ex-British Army men.

I did not make that case. I said that he returned to the service and was thrown out.

The Deputy cannot deny that he gave his vote as a protest against our treatment of ex-members of the British Army.

And would do the same to-morrow morning.

The Dáil stands adjourned till to-morrow at 3 p.m.

The Dáil adjourned at 8.45 p.m., until 3 p.m., Thursday, 24th November.