Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 15 Feb 1928

Vol. 22 No. 1


I move:

"Go bhfuil sé oiriúnach Bínse do bhunú chun fiosrú do dhéanamh i dtaobh ní áirithe go bhfuil deabha agus tácht phuiblí ag baint leis, sé sin le rá, gach a mbaineann le lámhach Thaidhg Uí Chochláin ag Woodpark Lodge, Bóthar Dartraí, ar an 28adh Eanair, 1928."

"That it is expedient that a Tribunal be established for inquiring into a definite matter of urgent public importance, that is to say, the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting of Timothy Coughlan, at Woodpark Lodge, Dartry Road, on the 28th January, 1928."

It is probably in the recollection of members of the House that on the date in question this young man, Timothy Coughlan, met his death. From the evidence of the principal witness examined at the inquest, an Intelligence Officer named Seán Harling, it appears that Coughlan and another man followed up and endeavoured to shoot Harling. A coroner's jury inquired into the matter, and they brought in the following verdict:

We find that the said Timothy Coughlan died on the 28th inst. from shock, haemorrhage and laceration of the brain caused by a bullet. We are of opinion that the circumstances of the case should be a matter of further investigation.

In addition to the verdict of the jury, I think it is also a matter of public knowledge that rumours have been circulated around this city and that certain newspaper articles have been written bringing very grave and very serious charges against certain persons. In these circumstances, since these grave charges have been brought against the Guards, and since the jury have brought in this rider to their verdict, I ask the House to consider this a matter of public importance, a matter which should be inquired into, and accordingly I move the motion. I should say that if this motion is carried here and in the Seanad a tribunal will be set up consisting of three impartial gentlemen to investigate all the facts and circumstances connected with this occurrence. I think it is right the Dáil should know the nature of the Tribunal we propose to set up. These three gentlemen will be District Justices, the Chairman being the senior District Justice of the City of Dublin. He will be assisted by two other District Justices. That, I submit, will be a perfectly fair and a perfectly impartial tribunal, which will be able to investigate fairly every circumstance connected with this event. It will be constituted of three trained men, men used to dealing with matters of this nature, men trained to weigh up evidence and to decide upon it.

I move to delete all words after the word "That " where it first occurs and substitute the following words:—

A Select Committee consisting of five Deputies to be nominated by the Committee of Selection be set up to inquire into and report on the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting of Timothy Coughlan at Woodpark Lodge, Dartry Road, on the 28th January, 1928;

That notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in Standing Order 71 the proceedings of the Select Committee be open to the Press; that individuals or other interests affected be entitled to be represented by counsel or otherwise; and that the Select Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records;

That the Committee shall take evidence on oath.

On a point of order, I submit that this amendment is not in order. The motion which I have made is a motion to set up a tribunal under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921. The amendment which the Deputy is moving is to set up an entirely different class of tribunal. It is, I submit, an alternative to my motion rather than an amendment to it, and I submit it is not in order.

The motion on the paper in the name of the Minister is in a common form which, although it does not mention the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921, is understood to be directed towards giving the Executive Council power to set up a tribunal under that Act, having the powers conferred on such a tribunal by the Act. But, on the face of it, the motion is simply a motion for inquiring into the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting of Timothy Coughlan. The amendment is a proposal for the setting up of a wholly different kind of tribunal. I agree with the Minister in that, but it is aimed at an investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting of Timothy Coughlan, and to that extent, therefore, offers an alternative form of inquiry. I think it is in order. It might be preferable if such a matter arose on a substantive motion, but on the whole, seeing that the Minister's motion is for the purpose of setting up an inquiry and the amendment also aims at an inquiry into the same facts and circumstances, the amendment is in order.

In moving this amendment, I would like to emphasise the fact that the facts and circumstances which surrounded the shooting of the late Timothy Coughlan were of such a nature as to arouse very great public suspicion, a suspicion that was reflected in the verdict returned by the Coroner's jury, and which concerns more than the actual circumstances of the shooting itself. The amendment which appears here advocates the setting up of a Select Committee of the House to investigate all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

The facts and circumstances surrounding the incident would include, from my interpretation of them, the methods by which men of the type of Sean Harling are recruited into the police force of the State. The circumstances of the whole affair undoubtedly gave rise to grave doubts in the minds of the public as to the methods which the Government are adopting to preserve order in the State. The fact that these doubts and suspicions do exist—and they certainly exist very strongly in the minds of members of this party—is likely to cast a similar suspicion on any tribunal which the Government will nominate. When the motion standing in the name of the Minister was first circulated, I got the impression, and I think most of the Deputies on this side of the House got the impression, that this tribunal was to be a white-washing tribunal and nothing else. We think that the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of the late Timothy Coughlan are of such a serious nature that a tribunal which may be intended to be a white-washing tribunal, and which certainly might act in that capacity, does not meet the case. The confidence which it is no doubt the policy of the Government to inspire in the people as to the methods of their administration is of such grave importance that the Government should not hesitate to have the most public investigation possible into these circumstances.

We are asking for it.

In our opinion the most public form of investigation would be by a Select Committee appointed by the House, representative of all sections in the House, and exercising the powers laid down in the terms of the amendment. It will be within the recollection of Deputies who read the evidence submitted at the inquest that the witnesses who appeared on behalf of the State, the witnesses at any rate who were in State employment, endeavoured to establish that the late Timothy Coughlan was on Dartry Road on that night for the purpose of shooting Mr. Sean Harling. Mr. Sean Harling, we are told, is an Intelligence Officer. As to what exactly an Intelligence Officer is I am not quite clear. He refused to answer any question as to his antecedents. He refused to state when or under what circumstances he became a member of the Intelligence Forces, and that fact in itself raises a subject for inquiry of very considerable importance. We are particularly interested in the date on which Mr. Sean Harling first became a member of the Intelligence Forces of the State. It is not so very long ago since this individual sought for and obtained a position in the employment of the Fianna Fáil Organisation. Was he then in the employment of the Intelligence Department of the State? Was he drawing money which comes out of the taxpayers' pockets for the purpose of political espionage? That is a matter that deserves investigation. The antecedents of the man himself, his own particular record, the record of those with whom he is associated, those who are related to him, and those who are living with him and whose records are no doubt to be found in the records of the police courts, show that there is something wrong with the system by which men of that character are brought in and placed in responsible positions where they have the lives and property of the citizens under their control.

In comparing the respective merits of the tribunal suggested by the Minister and the committee which I propose I think it very difficult to know what exactly the tribunal is for that the Minister has in mind. Its powers are not defined in the motion. We have been informed now that it will consist of three District Justices. The purpose of its establishment is not very clear. I think the House would be lacking in its duty to the people who sent Deputies here if they adopted this method of investigation into a matter of such grave public importance as this. I think that it is in the interest of all concerned that every possible fact relating to that incident should be brought out into the light of day. It is not too much to ask that there should be no plea of privilege submitted on behalf of any witness. There should be no attempt to keep from the knowledge of the committee any documents or papers relevant to the subject matter of the inquiry which are at the moment in the custody or under the authority of any Department of the State. It is only by letting the broadest possible flood of daylight into all the facts that the public confidence, such as did exist in the methods of the police department, may in some measure be restored. If it is found, as I strongly suspect it will be found, that there are methods in operation in that Department that no decent Government would stand over, then it is the duty of the House to see that some other system of administration is put in its place. I do not think it is necessary to elaborate any further upon the merits of a committee such as I suggest in preference to the tribunal suggested by the Minister, and therefore I propose the amendment standing in my name.

I rise to second the amendment. At the outset I wish to state that when I say I agree that it would be better, in the interest of the public, that in the place of Justices members of this House should form the committee, I do not wish to be misunderstood or to have it thought that I had not sufficient confidence in the Justices themselves. I can appreciate and understand that they will administer justice from the attitude from which they see it. But there is this point; these Justices happen to be men of such calibre that they do not believe that there could be such a thing possible as an individual in the police force who would speak any other than the truth. I believe that these Justices do not realise the partial manner in which the C.I.D. particularly carry out their work, that they cannot understand that they are nothing but a political force, a partisan police force. I should like also to make it quite clear that when I speak of the police force in this case I disassociate from it the ordinary police force, against whom, personally, I have nothing to say—the ordinary Guards. I want to connect up here the political body from which the Civic Guard is formed and the political body known as the C.I.D.—the Criminal Investigation Department.

The Deputy must not do that on this amendment. I do not want to have to interrupt him later on. This amendment aims at a particular kind of inquiry, and manifestly when we are undertaking proceedings for giving the investigation into the hands of somebody else we cannot ourselves enter upon the investigation. Therefore, the Deputy is precluded from establishing his point. Of course, I will let him illustrate what he wants to say.

I accept your ruling. There is a point, but it also might be ruled out—that is the attitude of the public in this matter of the mystery surrounding the shooting of Timothy Coughlan. On the one hand, it looks as if in the case of an impartial inquiry the members of the Force might be on trial. I believe that one judicial department trying another Department of State would not tend to inspire public confidence as to the absolutely impartial character of that inquiry.

We on this side of the House raised in the last Session the question of the detention of the man named Ned Reilly for a period of twelve months. It was definitely known that Ned Reilly was an innocent man. He had his own proofs and an alibi, and yet he was detained.

Is he concerned in this?

I want to bring out the point because the Minister might not be too well versed in it. We know that his Department does assert a certain amount of rigid control over civilians because they have certain political beliefs and outlook. Ned Reilly, an innocent man, was detained for twelve months, and in spite of repeated protests, but eventually when he was brought to trial he was discharged. Yet, in that case, we had a member of the Guards trying for two hours to identify this man who he must have known was not the man he was looking for.

We know of the cases of beatings which have been indulged in of civilians by Guards in Waterford. The case came to trial. The civilians went to court and got their decrees against the Guards, and the position now is that they cannot enforce their decrees or get their costs against the Guards who have mysteriously disappeared from the area in which they had been stationed in the service. The Sheriff cannot find them, and the cost, amounting roughly to £400, cannot be recovered. I have here before me particulars——

Ought not the Deputy be satisfied now?

I want to bring this out.

The Deputy has contravened my ruling quite glaringly. I let him go on to a certain extent and I think he ought to be quite satisfied now. He ought to come to the amendment.

It is rather difficult——

Yes, it is very difficult.

It is difficult to get the House to understand why we are asking for a Commission to be set up consisting of members of this House. We have no personal interest in the matter. We have no interest in it other than the public interest, and we believe that the public will be better satisfied if members of this House inquire into the matter and give a decision upon it rather than leaving it to be done by the ordinary Justices. I probably will be ruled out of order again if I bring in instances of C.I.D. men provoking all kinds of disturbances and a case of C.I.D. men going out to the West of Ireland to encourage men to commit bank robberies.

I submit the Deputy is out of order.

I suppose there is no use in going further into these illustrations, but there is the possibility that they will have some bearing on the matter. It is extraordinary that the Army should have in its ranks a man whose records must be known to the Department of Justice and to the Military Authorities, and that this man should be around the neighbourhood on the evening of this shooting. I submit that for the satisfaction that it will give the public this matter should be thrashed out absolutely impartially, not by the judicial servants of the State but by impartial members of this House representing all sections. I believe whatever the result will be it will be received and accepted by the public as nearer the truth of the matter than if it were gone on with in a whitewashing manner where possibly only a certain amount of the report will get out. I also submit that in whatever manner the matter is gone on with that this House should also embody a recommendation that a certain sum be granted to the next-of-kin of Timothy Coughlan in order to enable them to be professionally represented at whatever inquiry takes place. I believe the Minister will see the difficulty that these people will have in being properly represented at the inquiry. These poor people will have against them the C.I.D. who will have all the resources of the State at their disposal, and I suggest that in whatever motion is passed bringing about the inquiry a recommendation will be embodied giving some assistance to those people to enable them to be properly represented.

I think there will be general agreement that the Government have taken a wise step in asking the House to set up a tribunal to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting of this young man. There is no doubt that there have been rumours such as the Minister for Justice referred to, and charges of one kind or another, and also that the evidence as printed in the newspapers was such as to establish the necessity of an inquiry of one kind or another in which the whole circumstances will be brought fully into the light of day. I think, therefore, the only matter for the House to decide is as to the nature of the tribunal to be set up. The Minister wishes to set up one form of tribunal. The amendment moved by Deputy Lemass suggests another. Now, I must say I am not in favour of a tribunal consisting of Deputies to inquire into a matter of this kind. I do not think they are the right kind of persons to inquire into it. I do not think it would be possible for members of this House, to whatever Party they belong, to divest themselves sufficiently of what I may call their political prejudices, to be competent persons to give to the House an independent decision on the facts and circumstances put before them. But quite apart from that, there is even a stronger argument against such a body —namely, that the people who hold an inquiry of this kind should be people of legal training. It is proposed here by Deputy Lemass that a Committee he set up of five Deputies and that the parties concerned have the right to be represented by Counsel. I can conceive Counsel being engaged on the various sides in the case. I do not know how many sides may claim to be represented in this case, but with the various Counsel engaged the whole proceedings might develop into a wrangle between Counsel, and it would be necessary for the Chairman of this Committee to have such legal training as would enable him to keep these legal gentlemen in order. Apart from that, I see strong objection to bringing members of this House directly into a matter of this kind. I think the amendment is open to very serious objection from many points of view.

I think that matters into which a Select Committee should inquire should have some relation to or connection with Parliamentary business or should be in some other way connected with the House, or be matters in which members of the House are involved. In matters of this kind I believe Deputies are not the proper persons to constitute a tribunal. On the other hand, with regard to the tribunal suggested by the Minister, it does not satisfy me. The appointment of District Justices is open to this objection, that they are under the control of the Department of Justice.

No, they are under nobody's control.


They are paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, and they are, to that extent at any rate, different from High Court Judges.


To that extent I maintain they are in a different position from the High Court Judges.

The Deputy is mistaken. They were at first paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, but that was only for a period; then they came on the Central Fund.

Are District Justices now on the Central Fund?


When was that arrangement made?

Last year they were on the Estimates, but it winds up with last year. This year I think they will be on the Central Fund.


That is information given to the House for the first time.

No, that is in the Courts of Justice Act, and was provided by an amendment passed in this House.


In the Estimates, as far as we have seen them, the moneys were provided by a Vote of this House. In any case I maintain that the person who should be appointed to this position ought to have the status of a High Court Judge. The matter is of sufficient importance to appoint a man of that status to carry it out. I suggest that the Chairman should be a High Court Judge and that the other two members constituting the Commission should be men of high legal standing and that one of them at least ought to be appointed by the Government after consultation with the chief Opposition of this House. I think if that is not done, with all due respect to the Minister and the Government, that these suspicions which he is so anxious to allay will not be allayed. It is not that we in this House have any particular suspicion that three District Justices would not perhaps give as fair a verdict as any other three men that could be appointed, but if our object is to allay these suspicions I think we should take account of that fact and leave nothing undone to meet even the foolish suspicions of people who will say that if three District Justices constitute the Court they are in fact creatures of the Government and therefore are set up, as has been suggested, as a whitewashing Committee. I do not say that, but I know it will be said, and I think that we should take steps to see that there will be no grounds for saying it. Therefore my suggestion for a tribunal is one with a High Court Judge as Chairman with two legal gentlemen of high professional standing. With regard to the appointment of one of them it should be made after consultation with the chief Opposition in the House. I believe a tribunal of that kind would give satisfaction. I believe that their verdict, whatever it might be, would be accepted by all parties as the proper, correct and fair one and that there would be no ground for any such suspicions as undoubtedly will arise with regard to the verdict brought in by three District Justices. I am not prepared, for the reasons I have given, to support the amendment, but unless the Minister for Justice is prepared to give favourable consideration to the suggestion I have made I cannot see my way to support the proposal. At least in so far as it sets up a tribunal it has my support, but I certainly think he should give consideration to the suggestion I have made and if it is done it will be in the interests of all parties concerned.

Deputy Briscoe has given us an indication of how just exactly he and his Party look upon certain Departments of State and has also contrived to bring in under Departments of State judges about whose appointment this House was very much exercised, exercised to see that the appointments would be free from any sort of political bias and judges who were put by an Act of this House into such a position that they could act freely and independently of any political party in the State. We are told by Deputy Briscoe that it is going to be the case here, if three District Justices are appointed on this tribunal, of one Department of the Government trying another and we have Deputy O'Connell falling somewhat into the mistake through this error with regard to salary. Deputy O'Connell is responsible for this mistake himself. The Courts of Justice Act, 1924, stated with regard to salaries that the several salaries shall until the end of the financial year ending the 31st of March, 1927, be paid out of moneys annually provided by the Oireachtas and thereafter shall be payable out of the Central Fund and the Deputy was in the House when that was passed. The District Justices are quite as independent in this State as any other judges.

As much and as little.

And yet, according to Deputy Briscoe, one Department of the Government is trying another, and Deputy Briscoe tries to give us himself refutation immediately afterwards when he spoke of certain cases brought by certain people against the Gárda Síochána and of evidence in the Court, and we have been given against those facts the phrase of one Department of the Government against another. The Deputy is afraid that this is going to be a whitewashing Committee. I suppose whitewashing in the Deputy's mind will be always applied to anything in which the police are not given a bad name. Whether the facts are for the police or not, it is going to be a whitewashing inquiry. The Deputy has little faith in evidence produced before this tribunal. Personally I am not concerned with alleviating suspicion of any party in the State, Fianna Fáil or any other, but I am concerned with the alleviating of any suspicion there may be in the public mind. The way to do that is not the matter of the verdict of any tribunal so much as the evidence produced and published in the Press when the inquiry is going on.

With regard to the point made by the Minister just now, does he not consider when we talk of the suspicions here that we are talking of the suspicions in the minds of the people who sent us here?

I agree. Those are the suspicions I want to get at, but when Deputy O'Connell joins that suggestion that when setting up the tribunal one should consult the chief opposition group, then the suspicions that he is seeking to allay are not the suspicions in the public mind but the suspicions in the minds of the Fianna Fáil Party. I do not care what the Fianna Fáil Party thinks about this. I am only concerned with what three independent people think, and with the evidence on which they are to found their judgment. Deputy Briscoe has already tried out the case in his own mind to show them the groove in which his mind was working. He quoted a lot of other evil things, alleged to be done by police and C.I.D., and makes the astounding suggestion that a sum of money should be given to the relatives of the late Timothy Coughlan so that a defence could be provided and his case properly stated. If the Fianna Fáil Party are so concerned in this as they pretend to be, why not let them provide the additional sum out of their conscience money fund for getting counsel briefed for Timothy Coughlan's friends, so that his memory may be cleared of every stain that may cast upon it? I agree with Deputy Lemass and the Minister for Justice that there is a suspicion, a suspicion amounting to a certainty, with regard to a murderous attack made in Dartry Road on that night, and what the tribunal has to find out is all the circumstances connected with that, not that any person is recruited to a force but the circumstances of that night, how that man met his death on that night, and the things immediately concerned with it.

Does the Minister not think that when there are facts, when bank robbers and embezzlers are employed in the police force, that the Government is courting violence of that kind?

I only know we have had a certain amount of talk from Deputy Lemass as to the antecedents of one Harling, and we got out the fact that this Harling was in the Fianna Fáil Party.


Only for a few days.

That is against him if you like.


He did not remain long there.

What I want to make quite clear about this motion and amendment is that the point at issue is what kind of inquiry ought to be held into the circumstances of the shooting of Timothy Coughlan. We are not concerned with the antecedents of Seán Harling, we are not concerned with the question of the general conduct of the police; we are concerned only with what kind of inquiry should be held into the circumstances of Timothy Coughlan's death. Deputy Lemass, in moving his amendment, spoke on that, and Deputy O'Connell spoke on that. Now, I want to keep the Deputies to that subject, and that alone. Deputy Briscoe, in spite of my warning, went outside it. I do not want to hear the Minister for Industry and Commerce either go outside the subject.

Would the Minister not admit that the chief purpose of this inquiry should be to ascertain on whom the murderous attack was made?

Exactly, that is the main thing, and the suggestion made here is that it should be a tribunal consisting of three judges. A question has been put to me with regard to this being a public inquiry, The procedure upon which this resolution is founded ought to be explained to the House. There is a particular piece of legislation under which a resolution can be brought to both Houses of the Oireachtas asking them to agree that the matter is of urgent public importance. If the resolution be passed, then the instrument appointing the tribunal, as well as determining who is to go on the tribunal also determines that certain powers will be given to that tribunal, and the powers are those possessed by the High Court here, all powers with regard to the production of documents and with regard to the enforcement of the attendance of witnesses, powers which Deputy Lemass's amendment does not give.

There is, in addition, the matter as to publicity. It is the intention and the aim of the Minister for Justice to have as much publicity as is possible with regard to this matter. The Minister hopes that the whole matter will be dragged into the light of day, and the Minister believes that the facts can best be looked into and examined by three District Justices. That appears to be the difficulty in the mind of Deputy O'Connell. I hope that point has been cleared up with regard to District Justices being in no way inferior to judges of any other court with regard to their independence. If the Deputy has any other objection to them from the point of view of their work, or from the point of view of the importance of their inquiries let him consider that this type of work is much more in line with what a District Justice does than it is in line with the work of either a Circuit Court Judge or a High Court Judge. It is for the District Justices to find upon the facts. That is not the case with regard to the others. District Justices are marked out for that particular type of work and are the proper people to inquire into the facts. They have behind them a knowledge of law and of what is evidence, and will be able to confine the inquiry to the point that is agitating the public mind, the point that Deputy Cooney spoke of, that is, on whom was the murderous attack made upon that particular night on Dartry Road. There is only between the two motions the question of five Deputies or three Judges. As far as anything else is concerned—publicity, powers and everything else—the Minister's motion gives more power than the Deputy's amendment. It is a matter for this House to consider as between three independent District Justices or five Deputies of the House. I think most of the House will agree at any rate with the Deputy in this, that it is going to be hard to get five Deputies who will treat this as a problem to be dealt with according to the rules of evidence.

Might I ask the Minister will the plea of privilege be permitted?

If it is permissible in an ordinary court it should be permitted.

In his speech proposing this motion, the Minister for Justice referred to newspaper articles. I was one of those responsible for a newspaper article, but I made no charge in that newspaper article. I made the same case as the jury, obviously, had in mind, for an investigation. But it will defeat the purpose the jury had in view when they added that rider to their verdict if the tribunal set up is one that will not command the confidence of every section of the community. Unfortunately for public order in this country, a large section of the community, whether rightly or wrongly, do not believe that the present administration of justice is impartial. I do not pass any comment upon that. It is simply a fact that is known to everyone, and obviously if the Minister for Justice is concerned to remove from the public mind all suspicion which it now attaches to the present conduct of the Criminal Investigation Department, it will only succeed in doing it when it sets up as a tribunal of investigation one in which every section of the community has confidence. It was stated that the tribunal was to be set up as a tribunal of inquiry under the Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Act. That is precisely one of the things which we find objection to in regard to this tribunal, because under that Act the tribunal would have the option of taking evidence either in public or in private. We want to be certain that the evidence in this case will be taken in public.

It would have the option of allowing or refusing to allow individuals or interests concerned to be represented by Counsel. This is clearly a case in which every individual and every interest affected by the inquiry should have the best possible legal advice and assistance that can be procured.

For that reason we feel that the bench suggested by Deputy O'Connell would command more confidence than that proposed by the Minister for Justice; that a tribunal consisting of a Judge of the High Court and two other gentlemen of high legal standing—one to be appointed after consultation, I assume, with the Opposition Parties in the House, would be a more impartial tribunal and would carry greater authority and greater weight than that proposed. We on these benches would be prepared to accept the suggestion put forward by Deputy O'Connell. I do not see any great objection to that tribunal. I suggest that those who compose such a Committee should be gentlemen of High Court has Surely, a Judge of the High Court has every qualification for adjudicating in cases that can be possessed by a Justice of the District Courts. Surely, the peculiar qualifications which the Minister for Industry and Commerce set forth as being essential for those who constitute this tribunal can be found elsewhere than amongst District Justices in Ireland. I submit, therefore, that if the Government wants a full investigation into this matter—and we want a full investigation—that investigation will not be found through the medium of the motion of the Minister for Justice. This is not a simple inquiry. The whole conduct of the Criminal Investigation Department will be under examination. We want to be certain that if there was an attack upon Seán Harling—and we do not believe there was—it was not instigated by those who were in the employment of the C.I.D. I do not want to go into the record of that man—it is a very ambiguous one.

I was not allowed to speak about records and other Deputies should not be allowed to go into records either.

Deputy MacEntee cannot go into that matter. It is a matter for the tribunal.

I agree, but if the records of such a man are to be inquired into, it is quite obvious that the Committee should be impartial and that it should have all the assistance which can be given to it by those who have not been concerned hitherto with the administration of justice in this country.

May I put the Deputy a question?

Has the Deputy who is speaking, and had the other Deputies who have spoken from the Fianna Fáil Benches, the support of that Party in their statements?

Which statement?

In other words, have they made up their minds? I want to put this to the Deputy—he may not have considered it. They ask for an impartial inquiry. I presume they intend to have some of their own Party on that impartial tribunal. I presume they have given utterance to the opinions of their Party. How can they have it both ways—be impartial and have made up their minds?

We will approach this matter with an entirely judicial and open mind. We, unfortunately, know the record of one—I should have said of both of the individuals concerned.

Then the Deputy has made up his mind.

And he has written an article in the Press.

I have written an article, and the only thing I said was that this was a case for investigation.

And the Deputy came to conclusions.

I said nothing more than that it was a case for investigation. I stand over that. What I want to suggest is that the investigation should be complete and impartial. I do not want the dice loaded against the man who is dead. That is the reason why we are asking Deputies to meet us in this impartial manner. We accept the proposal made by Deputy O'Connell. Let the tribunal be presided over by a Judge of the High Court, a man who will be remote and will not have that healthy appreciation of favours to come of which the more lowly lawyers are sometimes suspected. Let the other men who constitute that tribunal be men who are independent of the Government and of the present administration of justice. One at least should be a man in whom we ourselves shall have trust and confidence. I think that is a very fair approach to the Government in this matter.

Then the Deputy is not supporting the amendment?

I am supporting the amendment, but I am at the same time intimating to the Government that I am prepared to accept Deputy O'Connell's proposal. I think I have made myself clear on that matter. If I have not, then possibly it is because I do not speak with an American accent.

Two things ought to be in the minds of Deputies in this matter. One is not to hurt the feelings of those who are mourning their dead, and the other is not to pre-judge the issue. At present, I find myself in a state of considerable doubt, because the views of the Deputies who sit on the opposite benches are becoming successively diversified. I am conscious that there is a danger in my following Deputy Briscoe in all his arguments. I might find myself out of order. But one thing Deputy Briscoe said was in order. When he referred to the amendment, he said that a Committee of the Dáil would provide an absolutely impartial inquiry. It was not ever thus. This admiration for the Dáil is newly-born. Hardly more than six months ago, Deputy Briscoe, and the Deputies who surround Deputy Briscoe, were informing us that no good thing could be expected to come out of the Dáil; that in its origin, its conduct and composition it was the worst assembly in the world. Now, in six months, he has discovered that the verdict of six members of the Dáil would be absolutely impartial.

Might I ask if Deputy Cooper wishes to make out that all Committees set up by this House in the last session were impartial or that they acted with impartiality?

I do not. I would say that Deputy Briscoe is suffering under the intoxication of first love. When he has sat on as many Committees as Deputy O'Connell and myself, he will realise that on many subjects Deputies of different Parties have co-operated in the most praiseworthy manner and that there has been an absence of partisanship and partiality. But that partiality cannot be absolutely expelled from human things. A Committee of the Dáil on a subject such as this, a subject on which a large Party in the State has already expressed its opinion, would find great difficulty in preserving impartiality. I think I have Deputy O'Connell with me on that point. If Deputy Briscoe rightly admires our Committees, would he be prepared to accept a majority verdict? If there were two members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, one Labour member, and two Fianna Fáil Deputies, would he accept a verdict from which his two colleagues dissented? I doubt it. It is not probable that such a verdict would carry any weight at all. I do not quite understand whether or not Deputy Briscoe has seconded the amendment moved by Deputy Lemass. Deputy MacEntee stands up and says that instead of that amendment he is prepared to accept Deputy O'Connell's. Is the amendment withdrawn?

The amendment sets out a different procedure to that suggested by Deputy O'Connell. If we are to get the kind of tribunal that Deputy O'Connell desires, then the amendment must be defeated or withdrawn. Is it being withdrawn?

No? Then, let us compare the powers of a Committee of the Dáil such as Deputy Lemass suggests, and a tribunal set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921. A Dáil Committee is set up and is empowered by this Dáil to do certain things. That Committee is given power to send for persons, papers and records. Deputy Lemass proposes to add that the Committee should take evidence on oath. We have not hitherto—and I would like Deputy Ruttledge to appreciate this—made these powers operative. We may send for persons, papers and records, but if the persons refuse to come and the papers and records are not available, we have no power of obtaining them. Deputies will remember that on more than one occasion the Public Accounts Committee sent for people to give evidence and they did not come. That could happen in this case, because we have no operative machinery to get witnesses to appear before our Committees. The Ceann Comhairle cannot issue a subpoena or a warrant. I believe the Speaker of the House of Commons can. The Serjeant-at-Arms in the House of Commons has certain powers. Our Captain of the Guard, in the eyes of the law, is an absolutely ordinary individual; he has not as much operative power in so far as the ordinary citizen is concerned as a judge's tipstaff would have. If such a Committee as is suggested were set up, and if it were treated with contempt, neither Deputy Lemass nor anybody else would have power without a definite statute to deal with such a situation. A definite statute would be required conferring power on our officials to make this evidence available. Without such power it would be an illusory inquiry.

I and Deputy Roddy were members of a tribunal set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921. It was perhaps a pity that the Minister did not embody that Act in the resolution, as it might have enabled Deputies to inform themselves of its terms. A tribunal set up under it has the powers of a High Court as regards summoning witnesses and administering oaths, and in the event of there being contempt of any kind—witnesses refusing to attend or refusing to give evidence—such witnesses could be brought before the judges of the High Court and could be dealt with there as if they were guilty of contempt of court. That is a very considerable power, and the Tribunal on Prices found it necessary to exercise it.

Deputy Lemass laid stress on two points about the Committee being open to the Press and about representation by counsel at the Tribunal of Inquiry. The Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921, Section 2 (a), sets out that it shall not allow the public to be present unless it is in the public interest to do so. You have had the assurance of the Minister for Industry and Commerce that the Minister for Justice desires this to be an open inquiry. I think that ought to satisfy.

Does the Minister control the inquiry, and can he order them to receive evidence in private?

No. It is a matter for the Tribunal. It worked in the case of the Tribunal on Prices. We decided our procedure would be to take evidence in public, but where traders held that it would be unfair to them if their evidence were given in public, we sat in private.

Is it not obvious therefore that the Minister's assurance is of no value?

No. If the Minister definitely gave an undertaking before the setting up of the Tribunal, I can imagine the Tribunal would take some account of that. If we are to start with the assumption that any tribunal set up by the Government is going to be hopelessly biased and is going to commit every crime it can to distort justice, then what is the good of Deputy MacEntee getting up and saying that he is prepared to accept Deputy O'Connell's suggestion?

Will the Deputy say if Seán Harling claims it is in the interests of the State or of law and order that the Tribunal should have power to withhold evidence from the public?

It would be a matter for the Tribunal to decide. Also, Section 2 (b) of the same Act gives power to authorise representation by counsel. In the case of the Tribunal on Prices we thought it well not to have that power. We allowed them to bring their chartered accountants with them but not counsel. Both these matters which are considered in Deputy Lemass's amendment are met by the Tribunals of Inquiry Act. If we are to get the kind of tribunal Deputy O'Connell wants we will first of all have to defeat Deputy Lemass's amendment.

I have no definite feeling with regard to the personnel of this Committee. I have always stood for the independence of the District Justices, and I think they have achieved independence. I believe I am right in saying that in last year's Estimates the salaries of the District Justices appear on the Central Fund and not on the Estimates. They are as independent as any other judge. They have good training for investigating matters of this kind—just as good a training as any other judge, and they are not quite so over-worked as some of the judges. I would certainly object to any proposal for the appointment of a Circuit Court Judge.

I am quite sure we will never get an honest or a satisfactory investigation if it is to be condemned in advance; if it is to go forth from any large party in the State that nothing serious is meant and that this is nothing but whitewashing in order to throw the thing out of the way. I do not believe that is intended, and I believe suggestions to that effect will prejudice the work of the tribunal and cast an impediment in the path of justice.

It seems to me as if certain members of the Party opposite feel the amendment is scarcely defensible, and in proposing the amendment it seemed to me that Deputy Lemass was more interested in the facts and circumstances concerning the life of Seán Harling than in the facts and circumstances concerning the death of Timothy Coughlan. That is a wrong point of view. If Deputies want to get any inquiry into police methods generally they can take steps to procure that inquiry, but to make this death the occasion for a general inquiry into police methods is wrong.

Cause and effect!

No. Let us see what were the facts and circumstances in connection with this death. If it is proven that there was a murderous attack on Timothy Coughlan and not a murderous attack by Timothy Coughlan, then there will be ground for further inquiry. If it is shown, as I personally believe to be the fact, that there was a murderous attack by Timothy Coughlan——


So your mind is made up, too?

I am not going to inquire into it. If it appears from the inquiry that there was a murderous attack on Timothy Coughlan, then there would be cause for, perhaps, a further and wider inquiry. But we have first to see if we can establish what actually did occur on Dartry Road that particular evening. Deputy Briscoe said that his Party had no concern but the public interest. I suggest that members of his Party, if a Committee such as is suggested in the amendment were set up, would find it very difficult to act entirely impartially and would bear in mind anything but the public interest, because Deputies of that Party attended the public funeral given to Timothy Coughlan. If it should be decided that Timothy Coughlan was a would-be murderer and had met a well-deserved fate, then that would be a reflection on these Deputies.


Whips of another Party attended there.

It would be a reflection on them that they had done a thing which was a very wrong thing in itself, and very bad from the point of view of public order.

I would like to make an explanation. I think the Minister is misinterpreting the amendment. It is not merely to inquire into the actual shooting of Timothy Coughlan that I suggest the Committee should be set up. Even if that Committee established that Timothy Coughlan was there for the purpose of shooting Harling, I suggest there is still great ground for investigation as to why he did it. I submit that as long as men like Harling hold responsible positions in the police force, you are going to have provocation given for the continuance of similar assaults in the future. These are facts and circumstances in connection with the shooting which ought to be investigated.

I would not agree that murder could be justified.

What about December 8th, 1922? Can you justify that murder?

There was no murder.

It was not murder? What else was it?

It was necessary execution.

Who gave you authority to execute? You did a foul murder and nothing else.

Why cannot we get on with the amendment? It is quite plain that a great many people have their minds made up on this particular matter. The Minister's argument is relevant to the question of the type of inquiry, and as long as it is relevant he ought to be allowed to proceed.


He is one of the people that has his mind made up.

We are all quite well aware that there are a great many who have their minds made up on a great variety of subjects. What we are discussing here is the type of inquiry, and we cannot conduct the inquiry ourselves. That is what we ought to keep in mind.

I suppose, A Chinn Comhairle, you would prevent me making any further reply to Deputy O'Kelly.

I wish you would.

The reply would be just as much out of order as the Deputy was.

I would be glad to hear you now.

You have heard it many a time.

I have not.

At any rate Deputy O'Kelly is not in charge of the House.

I was not in charge of the firing squad either.

I do not think I need say any more with reference to the amendment. It seems to me that there are probably few people in the House who could approach the thing without some prejudice. Some Deputies seem to have their minds fully made up and others might have their minds partially made up, but few could, I think, approach it without prejudice. That seems to me to be a conclusive reason against having a Committee of this House. With reference to Deputy O'Connell's suggestion, it seems to me that it was thrown out somewhat casually and without having been given full consideration by the Deputy himself. Obviously he had not taken care to inform himself in regard to the facts and in regard to the position of District Justices. It seems to me that the appointment of members of the Bar to the Commission would not tend to give confidence in it. It would be alleged that either of them—whoever was appointed—was looking for favours to come. It would be said that perhaps one of them was hoping to be appointed a Judge by this Government, and it would be alleged that if we did consult with the Opposition groups that the other was hoping to be appointed a judge by some other Government.

It seems to me that a great deal of criticism would be levelled at the Commission if it included practising members of the Bar in view of the political issues that are raised. I do not think it would be desirable, either, that there should be a suggestion of partisanship in the members appointed. It seems to me that whatever members are appointed they should be appointed by the Government on its own responsibility, recognising that it is its duty to maintain the good name of the institutions of the State, as well as to maintain its own good name, in matters of administration, and therefore to appoint people who would be impartial. If one person was appointed as representing one particular side, then the tendency would be to appoint another person as representing another side. It seems to me to be altogether wrong to suggest that there should be a consultation of political groups about any of the members of the tribunal. It seems to me that District Justices, as has already been said, are as independent as any other members of the Judiciary. They are perfectly impartial and they are trained. Their status is not as high as the status of High Court Judges, but the work that is to be done is work which is in line with their ordinary work on the Bench.

There is the question of responsibility for murder to be investigated. Judges of the High Court do not themselves decide on facts in regard to murder. We were advised on a previous occasion —I am referring now to the Public Safety Act—that we ought not to ask Judges of the High Court to find facts in regard to murder, or to find facts in a criminal trial. They preside over the deliberations of a jury. They see that the evidence is properly given and then they sum up for the jury, but they themselves do not find the facts. We were advised at the time, with a view to not impairing the efficiency of the High Court Judges and with a view to seeing that no slur could be cast on any of them in the future, that it would be inadvisable to ask Judges of the High Court to deal with the facts in any case that involved the question of murder or in fact in regard to the actual guilt or otherwise of any person who was charged with a criminal offence. It seems to us that it would be undesirable to ask the Judges of the High Court to undertake the type of inquiry here suggested. The Judges of the High Court might not be willing to undertake it. They might take the view that our law officers urged on us as a Government on a previous occasion that it was undesirable that High Court Judges should undertake this kind of work. If the Judges were not willing to do so, there is no means by which the Government could compel them to do it. So far as the District Justices are concerned, we have consulted them and we know that there are District Justices who will be willing to undertake the inquiry.

Are they picked already?


We know that there are District Justices who will undertake it. Deputy MacEntee or some other Deputy, I think, suggested that the tribunal itself might decide to hold the inquiry in private, or part of the inquiry in private. Undoubtedly under the Act the tribunal itself can so decide, but all we can say is this, that any representative of the Ministry who may appear professionally before the tribunal will urge against any part of the inquiry being heard in private. In view of that it seems to me inconceivable, and also in view of the fact that other professional representatives who will be there will desire to have it held in public, that the tribunal should decide against all advice and decide to hold the inquiry or any part of it in private.

With regard to permitting representation by professional men, everybody knows that all Judges, people who have sat on the Bench, are very anxious to get the assistance of advocates in carrying out inquiries. Judges greatly dislike any person appearing on his own behalf, and I think it is inconceivable that a tribunal, such as is proposed to be set up, should refuse to allow representation to anybody who is interested. Here, by setting up this tribunal you can get people who are in no way officially dependent on the Government, who have no favours to get from the Government, who are trained in conducting this sort of investigation, to carry it out. By no other method can we get such a tribunal. Certainly the proposal set out in the amendment is preposterous. If Deputy O'Kelly wants a dog-fight he can have it by this means, but you could not have anything else.

I am sure that I will not be accused of bias when I state that I claim to be one of those who, like the members of the Coroner's Jury, have not yet made up their minds on this matter. I think that is the position of the great bulk of the people in the country and it is for that reason I welcome the investigation. The exact composition of the tribunal does not worry me very much because to my mind the whole question is whether the tribunal is to be conducted in public or in private. If the tribunal is conducted in public it will be for the public to judge and for the public to return their verdict. It is not an investigation or trial for murder. It is, according to the Minister's proposal, an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting of Timothy Coughlan. This tribunal whatever it may be, will not be entitled to bring in a verdict of murder. This tribunal, if the evidence be taken in public, can be judged by the public on the verdict they bring in and it will be the public eventually who will be judges both of the tribunal and the Government that set it up. Therefore I am not particularly concerned as to whether the alternative suggested by Deputy O'Connell, or the method proposed by the Minister for Justice should be accepted.

I must say I thought that the latter portion of the argument of the Minister for Finance against asking High Court Judges to take on this onerous work. is equally applicable when asking District Justices to do it. We have been told over and over again, only as late as this afternoon here, that District Justices are just as much Judges as High Court Judges. If the argument of the Minister for Finance applies to High Court Judges and if the District Justices are equally Judges, why does not the same argument apply to them! However that may be, what I am concerned with is: will this evidence be taken in public? Unfortunately according to the Tribunals Act of 1921, as we have been told this afternoon, the option will remain with the tribunal. If only we could by some means or another instruct the tribunal after setting it up to take the evidence in public, I think that would go a long way to satisfy public sentiment in the matter. I welcome the statement by the Minister for Finance which is certainly a very solemn pledge on behalf of the Government. That is that any representative of the Ministry who appears before this tribunal will urge against holding the proceedings in private. I take that as a very serious and solemn undertaking on behalf of the Government.

To urge it as strenuously as possible. The Government are passionately anxious for a public investigation.

But solemn as the undertaking is and disinclined as I am to believe that it would be departed from, at the same time it is not the same thing as giving a direct instruction, if that could be done, to this tribunal to have its proceedings in public. I do not care what the verdict of the tribunal is as long as the evidence is given in public, because the people will be able to decide for themselves. The country will come to a conclusion as to the true facts of the case and then both the tribunal and the Government who set it up will have to stand or fall by the verdict of the country. As far as the original amendment is concerned, I personally am inclined to believe that it would not be possible to get an impartial committee of five members of this Dáil. In a committee of five there must be a majority. Is it to be a Government majority or a Fianna Fáil majority? In either one case or the other, from my point of view I respectfully say that the majority would not be an impartial one and therefore to select members of the judiciary— whether they be High Court Judges or District Justices does not concern me— and to ask them to sit in public upon a matter like this, to hear evidence, to have representation from those concerned, relatives of the parties interested, representation by counsel and otherwise as they so desire, to my mind is the important proposal that we have now to decide.

If I would be in order in moving an amendment on those lines, namely that the tribunal should sit in public and that representation should be allowed by counsel or otherwise, I would be prepared to do so, but in the event of it not being possible to move such an amendment I think that the House has only one course to take. Having now got a solemn pledge and undertaking from the Vice-President, backed by his colleague, the Minister for Justice, that every representative of their Ministry will urge, as far as possible, this tribunal to take evidence in public there is only one course for the House to adopt and that is to accept the tribunal. Let the public at large judge what takes place at that tribunal. Let the public at large see for themselves whether this solemn undertaking is carried out or whether it is not. If it is not they will have the remedy in their own hands. If it is, then the investigation will be in public and will throw as much light as possible on the whole circumstances.

With regard to the Deputy's proposal of an amendment to the motion which would enable the Minister, in appointing the tribunal, to instruct the tribunal to hold all its sittings in public, I am afraid such an amendment, if accepted and passed, would not be effective. Therefore I would not accept it. The motion in the name of the Minister for Justice is directed towards giving a Minister power to set up a tribunal under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act. It is quite plain if the Minister sets up a tribunal under that Act, the tribunal once set up will have to function under that Act and it will not be possible for the Minister, it seems to me, to give that tribunal any instructions which will interfere with the statutory powers conferred on the tribunal. I think, therefore, the Minister could not, even if the amendment were passed here, give the tribunal an instruction which would be in fact an amendment to the Statute. In other words the Deputy's proposal is to amend the Statute by resolution and a Statute cannot be amended by resolution.

I quite follow what you say, Sir, in that respect. Perhaps if the House were to give expression to its views by way of resolution that it was desirable that the evidence should be taken in public, that might have some effect on the tribunal.

Presumably the expressions of opinion from various parts of the House, if they come to the ears of the tribunal, may or may not have effect, but it would appear to be very doubtful procedure to pass a definite resolution expressing a view about a judicial tribunal beforehand.

I wish to support the amendment. We are told by the Minister for Justice that a tribunal of impartial gentlemen is going to be set up. This impartial tribunal is to consist of three District Justices who have been placed in their present position by one particular Party and who are dependent on the same political Party for their further advancement. That is the impartial tribunal. I fear I may be put down as having a rather suspicious mind, but I do not believe that at the present day you will get an impartial tribunal of any kind in this country. We are concerned with letting in the light of day, as far as possible, on the true facts of the case. I regret that the inquiry has not a wider scope, because I fear that the public are becoming increasingly alarmed at the number of shooting which are being carried out all over the country by those gentlemen, who apparently are in some manner mentally deranged, and who have the possession of arms and are being paid as the C.I.D. force in this country. We have instances of it all over the country day by day.

And they are not relevant.

I beg your pardon. We are assured by the Minister for Finance that these gentlemen are already picked by the State. I wonder has their further advancement also been decided upon? I do not think that the public will be satisfied with a tribunal consisting of three District Justices who have been put in their position by one political Party. I am afraid we cannot keep political bias out of this inquiry, because apparently it is a political crime, whatever way you look at it. I do not think you can keep political bias out of it, and I do not think you will get an impartial inquiry by three District Justices who were put in their position by a political Party and are dependent for their further advancement on that political Party. I do not think you will get a fair trial of that description at the present day. Therefore I think that a Committee of five members of the House, who would inquire into the matter openly, would be far more concerned with bringing all the facts to light, and that, after all, is the principal thing. They would get all the facts out and let us see where we stand.

We approached this question from the point of view of certain serious rumours which have been afloat. In addition to that certain evidence was given at this inquiry that fixes responsibility on certain people. We do not want to attack this question as if it was a matter that was sub judice, but we want to see that whatever tribunal is set up will be a tribunal that will have the confidence of the people. A good deal has been said as to the powers of that tribunal. A good deal of whitewashing has been attempted to be done as to what some particular person or Minister on the opposite benches might think that the tribunal should take notice of. There is nothing like that in the motion or in the rules or powers, as far as I know them. But that is one of the latest suggestions hopped out across the floor. We know that under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act whatever tribunal is set up has power to take evidence either in public or in private. That is the power vested in them, notwithstanding any little suggestion that may be hopped across the few intervening streets or roads between Leinster House and wherever that inquiry is to sit. We also know that they have power under that Act, no matter what is said here, to try to whitewash or deceive people, to refuse to allow counsel to represent any particular person. When the question was mentioned here of counsel being assigned to represent any particular person or to appear for particular persons, we had the Minister for Industry and Commerce getting up astonished and astounded that such a preposterous suggestion should be made. So far as I know the memory of Timothy Coughlan has not so far been stained with the suggestion that he was a criminal or that those people who may require to be represented at the inquiry are criminals. As the Minister for Justice might inform the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the meanest criminal in the land is entitled to have assigned to him in a criminal court, and it has always been the practice to assign to him, counsel and solicitor to defend him. However, I give to the Minister for Industry and Commerce whatever value he can take out of his cheap sneer.

It may be suggested that we are, perhaps, a bit too suspicious about this tribunal. How can we regard it otherwise than with suspicion when we are told by the Vice-President that the members of it are already picked? It is perhaps in keeping with the practice of people who have got into the position of thinking that they are the end-all and be-all and the dictators in this country. Just as two or three people may decide on a general election, in the same way they may come with things cut-and-dried to this House and the House must calmly lie under them. In this case, which appears from the Government point of view to be a very small matter, we have the practice pursued and followed up that the three people who are to constitute this tribunal are picked beforehand. Of course we are told that they are going to be absolutely impartial. The Minister for Justice knows that there is such a thing as promotion for District Justices, and that there has been promotion for a few.

There has been promotion of a District Justice in the country to be Senior District Justice in Dublin.

And another District Justice also to be a District Justice in Dublin.

Perhaps that does not seem promotion, but you are taking him out of the country, out of some out-of-the-way place, to be Senior District Justice in Dublin.

What does the Deputy suggest?

There is nothing to prevent a District Justice from being promoted. If High Court Judges are incapable, or if people on the benches opposite are so careful lest they might in any way dim the halo that hangs around them, or darken it, or in any way lower their prestige, perhaps also they might have regard to the danger of dimming the halo, if it ever existed, of the District Justices. I heard an argument between Deputy O'Connell and some member on the Government Benches as to District Justices being practically in the same position as High Court Judges. High Court Judges are incapable, according to the Government view, of acting under the Public Safety Act. Some of them may have some independence, and, therefore, would be incapable of acting in a partisan and whitewashing inquiry of this sort. We regard this inquiry as whitewashing; we regard it as a star chamber business; an attempt to get the Government point of view before the people, and nothing else. If it was any other man except a man with the record of Harling, who is a member of the police force, and against whom statements and charges were made in the progress of the Coroner's inquiry, he would be in jail to-day. I do not want to go into matters that are sub judice, but the Minister knows that when the Coroner's jury suggested it was a case for a further inquiry, if the Government were sincere about it and did not want to further cloak him, he would be in jail.

He would not; he is a man against whom there is not a tittle of evidence.

I thought there were no people with fixed ideas about the matter except people on those benches.

I have fixed ideas.

Apparently the Minister for Justice has fixed ideas about it.

I am glad to hear that. We were told he was impartial. We propose an amendment that seems perfectly fair. It is criticised from various points of view, but, at any rate, if it was carried, it would provide a body which this House itself had set up. This House having set it up, and its having received the approval of the House, and consisting of representatives of all Parties in the House, I do not think we could afterwards say it was a whitewashing inquiry, or that anyone could say so.

Subsequent to this amendment being put forward, a suggestion was made by Deputy O'Connell that, to our mind, would be a means of elucidating some of the facts which we believe would be otherwise suppressed. It would be a means by which the public would be able to view the facts that otherwise would be kept out of view. We welcome it as the next best thing to the amendment we propose, and we are ready to support it. We are touched with the meticulous accuracy or the technical accuracy of the President as to what exactly we propose or stand for. We have proposed an amendment. We are ready to deal with the matter not on miserable little points but on the broader aspect—to set up here a tribunal in which there will be confidence and which will not be regarded, as we regard this tribunal proposed by the Government, as an already picked affair. It is a Star Chamber affair, already picked and devised for the purpose of whitewashing the direction from the coroner's jury that there should be further inquiry. If it is set up in that way we believe it will fail to get the respect of anybody, even the Government supporters. Certainly it will not receive the respect of the people.

The Deputy who has just sat down stigmatises this proposed inquiry as a whitewashing affair. Who is to be whitewashed? The Deputy has not told us who is to be whitewashed. It does seem to me that if there are any persons in need of whitewashing, arising out of this affair, it is not the persons who sit upon this side of the House but the persons who sit upon the benches opposite.

More fixed ideas.

Now, there are two matters before the House —a motion and an amendment. There are two alternatives. The motion is to set up a tribunal under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act. I should like to deal with a couple of points which Deputy Redmond made upon that Act. He said, and said, of course, correctly, that the tribunal set up, to be an impartial and independent tribunal, could not be under the control of any Minister. That is perfectly accurate. It would not be impartial and would not be independent if it were. But he said that, possibly, this tribunal would decide upon hearing part of the evidence in private. I would like to call the attention of the House to the section. It says:—

"A tribunal to which this Act applied as aforesaid shall not refuse to allow the public or any portion of the public to be present at any of the proceedings of the tribunal unless in the opinion of the tribunal it is in the public interest expedient so to do for reasons connected with the subject matter of the inquiry or the nature of the evidence to be given."

Therefore, unless, in the opinion of the tribunal, it is in the public interest expedient that the inquiry should be held in private, it is to be held in public. What is there here in the public interest that can possibly lead an impartial, fair-minded tribunal to come to any other conclusion, except that this inquiry should be held in public? What argument can arise in their minds which would lead them to come to the conclusion that the proceedings should be held in private? I think the Deputy may take it for certain.

I agree with the Minister, but the tribunal may not think so.

I am pretty certain the Deputy may have his mind quite at case that this inquiry will be held in public. He also has our undertaking that if the court does suggest that the inquiry should be held in private whoever represents us will argue as strenuously as possible against that position being taken up.

I do not want to interrupt the Minister, but may I ask him, if he is so anxious that the proceedings should be held in public, why not scrap the Tribunals Act altogether and set up a tribunal ad hoc with definite instructions from this House that they should hold their inquiry in public and that they should allow counsel to appear before them? What is the necessity for proceeding under the Tribunals Act at all? Why not set up a special tribunal here and now, and give that tribunal power similar to those enjoyed by the tribunal the Minister proposes, and as well as those powers, give them instructions that the proceedings shall be in public?

In order to set up such a tribunal it would require a special statute. It cannot be done by a Resolution of the House, but requires a statute. This is the only statute under which a tribunal with power to take evidence can be set up. Also to enforce the attendance of witnesses. Now, take the personnel of this tribunal—three District Justices. District Justices are persons who are engaged daily in the investigation of crime and charges of crimes. That is their duty. That is a part, and a big part, of the business which they have to perform. Who are better able to decide matters than those persons who are daily conversant and daily dealing with similar matters? It is said that these three District Justices may be unfair, may be biassed, may be anxious to sin against the light of their own consciences, may be anxious to do wrong in order to curry favour with the Government. There is nobody in this country, or in the rest of the world, who stands so high but that a certain class of tongue may not be found ready and willing to vilify him. It will not surprise me if the three District Justices who will constitute this court, if this resolution be passed, are attacked and vilified, but none the less their reputation, their honour, and their good name will survive and triumph any cowardly attacks that may be made upon them. We are told here that they have been already selected, and, therefore, there is something corrupt and queer about the selection of them. They have been asked to act. Of course they have been asked to act. Here are grave charges brought against the Guards, grave charges indeed. Is there to be delay or hesitation about the investigation of these?

Am I to take it that it is the charges against the Guards, rather than the death of Timothy Coughlan, that is going to be investigated?

No; the death of Timothy Coughlan is a question that is going to be investigated, but certain charges have been made against the Guards, and I take it these persons who make these charges against the Guards will endeavour to substantiate them, and certainly those charges are going around, and may go around until they are thoroughly investigated by the tribunal, and it is only fair and just that this tribunal should be set up as quickly as possible. Therefore, instead of waiting until this was passed and then going around and discovering who is going to be willing to act. I took such measures as I considered right to discover, first of all, what would be the correct, fair and impartial tribunal, and then see what persons would be willing to act. Deputy O'Connell has made a suggestion that a tribunal which would be set up under this Act should be a tribunal consisting of a High Court Judge and two barristers, I think he said, or at any rate leaders of the Bar or solicitors.

We heard it stated that a District Justice cannot be impartial. Because a District Justice once was promoted from being an Assistant District Justice to a Chief District Justice, therefore his honour is gone for all time. Suppose now that a member of the Irish Bar or a member of the solicitor profession were appointed to this tribunal, would it not be denounced from the benches opposite as being the appointment of place-hunters and all that? Is not that precisely the attack that would be made? With regard to the question of a High Court Judge, it has already been stated that High Court Judges have got other work and that they investigate crimes with the aid of a jury, while here they would be investigating without the aid of a jury. Besides, who knows that this inquiry is going to be the end here? This tribunal will report to the House. Probably there will be further litigation arising out of this matter. It will probably come before some of the High Court Judges. I think it is better that no High Court Judge should be concerned in this preliminary investigation—an investigation which may lead to a Court of Appeal case, because, as I say, when this report is laid upon the Table it does not by any means end the matter. What is the alternative and the only alternative before the House? A Committee of five selected by the Selection Committee. What you want in an investigation of this kind is an impartial tribunal, a tribunal trained to weigh evidence and, above all things, a tribunal constituted of men who have not made up their minds. Is there anybody on the Fianna Fáil benches at the present moment who has not made up his mind?

Is there anybody on the Government benches?

I happen to have read nothing whatever about the case.

Deputy Walsh has not made up his mind. That shows that Deputy Walsh has got sufficient sense either not to read or differ from certain articles written by one of his confreres. I congratulate Deputy Walsh on that.

Has the Minister for Justice made up his mind?

Yes, absolutely. I have considered this case in every single bearing. I have weighed every single bit of evidence that could be brought to bear upon it, and I have come to a clear and definite conclusion. For that reason I should not care to be appointed a judge to investigate it.

A Chinn Comhairle—

I am going to hear the Minister to a conclusion. I am not going to allow further questions to be asked.

Has the Minister conveyed his impression to the District Justices?

We have here before the House the consideration of a very grave matter. In the first place, human life has been lost and that must be investigated and investigated to the full. Consequently, as I have said, if bitter charges have been brought in such a grave matter they must be investigated to the full and investigated speedily. I do appeal to the House to pass this motion in order that a fair, impartial and learned tribunal may be able to inquire into these matters.

On a matter of personal explanation, the Minister has singled me out for attack in this matter. He has conveyed by statements to this House that I have already made up my mind in regard to this matter. He referred to an article written by me. May I, for the information of the House, state exactly what I wrote in the article?

If the Fianna Fáil Party comes into power—

Would the Minister not interrupt me. Manifestly, I cannot allow Deputy MacEntee to tell what he stated in the article. I think Deputy MacEntee will realise that.

I have been accused of having already decided that a certain person was guilty of murder. It is unfair.

I will allow the Deputy to disclaim any intention of that. I think in his speech to-day he did so, and stated that his article came to the same conclusion as the coroner's jury, that it was a case to be investigated.

I asked that the Minister for Justice should carry out an inquiry and that the conduct of the inquiry should be entrusted to independent investigators.

Would I be in order in suggesting that the article of Deputy MacEntee be laid upon the Table of the House?

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 56; Níl, 87.

  • Frank Aiken.
  • Denis Allen.
  • Neal Blaney.
  • Gerald Boland.
  • Patrick Boland.
  • Daniel Bourke.
  • Seán Brady.
  • Robert Briscoe.
  • Daniel Buckley.
  • Frank Carney.
  • Frank Carty.
  • Hugo Flinn.
  • Andrew Fogarty.
  • Seán French.
  • Patrick J. Gorry,
  • John Goulding.
  • Seán Hayes.
  • Patrick Hogan (Clare).
  • Samuel Holt.
  • Patrick Houlihan.
  • Stephen Jordan.
  • Michael Joseph Kennedy.
  • William R. Kent.
  • Frank Kerlin.
  • James Joseph Killane.
  • Mark Killilea.
  • Michael Kilroy.
  • Seán F. Lemass.
  • Archie J. Cassidy.
  • Patrick Clancy.
  • Michael Clery.
  • James Colbert.
  • Eamon Cooney.
  • Dan Corkery.
  • Martin John Corry.
  • Fred Hugh Crowley.
  • Tadhg Crowley.
  • Thomas Derrig.
  • Frank Fahy.
  • Patrick John Little.
  • Ben Maguire.
  • Seán MacEntee.
  • Séamus Moore.
  • Thomas Mullins.
  • Patrick Joseph O'Dowd.
  • Seán T. O'Kelly.
  • Matthew O'Reilly.
  • Thomas P. Powell.
  • Patrick J. Ruttledge.
  • James Ryan.
  • Martin Sexton.
  • Timothy Sheehy (Tipperary).
  • Patrick Smith.
  • John Tubridy.
  • Richard Walsh.
  • Francis C. Ward.


  • William P. Aird.
  • Ernest Henry Alton.
  • Richard Anthony.
  • James Walter Beckett.
  • George Cecil Bennett.
  • Ernest Blythe.
  • Séamus A. Bourke.
  • Michael Brennan.
  • Seán Brodrick.
  • Alfred Byrne.
  • John Joseph Byrne.
  • Edmund Carey.
  • James Coburn.
  • John James Cole.
  • Mrs. Margt. Collins-O'Driscoll.
  • Hugh Colohan.
  • Martin Conlan.
  • Michael P. Connolly.
  • Bryan Ricco Cooper.
  • Richard Corish.
  • William T. Cosgrave.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • James Crowley.
  • John Daly.
  • William Davin.
  • Michael Davis.
  • Peter De Loughrey.
  • Eugene Doherty.
  • James N. Dolan.
  • Peadar Seán Doyle.
  • Edmund John Duggan.
  • James Dwyer.
  • Barry M. Egan.
  • Osmond Thos. Grattan Esmonde.
  • James Everett.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • James Fitzgerald-Kenney.
  • John Good.
  • Alexander Haslett.
  • John J. Hassett.
  • Michael R. Heffernan.
  • Michael Joseph Hennessy.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Mark Henry.
  • Patrick Hogan (Galway).
  • Richard Holohan.
  • Michael Jordan.
  • Patrick Michael Kelly.
  • Myles Keogh.
  • Hugh Alexander Law.
  • Patrick Leonard.
  • Finian Lynch.
  • Arthur Patrick Mathews.
  • Martin McDonogh.
  • Michael Og McFadden.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Joseph W. Mongan.
  • Daniel Morrissey.
  • Richard Mulcahy.
  • James E. Murphy.
  • Joseph Xavier Murphy.
  • Timothy Joseph Murphy.
  • James Sproule Myles.
  • Martin Michael Nally.
  • John Thomas Nolan.
  • Thomas J. O'Connell.
  • Bartholomew O'Connor.
  • 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.
  • William Archer Redmond.
  • Patrick Reynolds.
  • Martin Roddy.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.
  • Timothy Sheehy (West Cork)
  • William Edward Thrift.
  • Michael Tierney.
  • Daniel Vaughan.
  • John White.
  • Vincent Joseph White.
  • George Wolfe.
  • Jasper Travers Wolfe.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies MacEntee and Boland. Níl: Deputies Duggan and Doyle.
Amendment declared lost.
Motion put and agreed to.

We have already shown that this Committee has not the approval of this side of the House.