I realise that the discussion on my motion, which is the next on the Order Paper, if moved to-night, would have to be carried over, according to arrangements, until October. It has been agreed by the Whips, subject to the sanction of the House, that the motion be left over and that Deputy Brady's motion should be now taken.
ADJOURNMENT DEBATE. - SCENES IN CLONDALKIN.
If the adjournment is moved now, it must be understood that the debate cannot go on until 11 o'clock. In accordance with the practice here, when the adjournment is moved earlier than the normal hour for adjournment, the subject raised can go on for half an hour and then the Minister has the right to reply at the end of the half hour. The practice has been that the mover and others interested in the question are given a half hour and then the Minister is allowed to reply.
With the consent of the House, I take it that if the Minister consented to distribute his wisdom to the House, Deputies would not be anxious to curtail him in any way and perhaps, in the circumstances, the matter might be allowed to go longer than the half-hour.
It could go on for an hour and a half if there was general consent.
I desire to move the adjournment until 3 o'clock tomorrow.
I stated yesterday that I was not satisfied with the answers I received from the Minister for Justice with reference to the questions I raised concerning the conditions in Clondalkin. He informed the House yesterday that no great disorder was discerned in Clondalkin and there was no general drunkenness. That was the report of one of his officials who was sent specially to the district to see if there was justification for the complaints made. In point of fact I was asked to visit the district by several people in the locality, including the clergymen there, and I paid a number of visits to the place. I presume what I saw there could have been seen by the officers sent by the Minister's Department, if the Minister's Department was anxious to remedy the complaints. I will tell the House briefly what I did see in this district, although I may state that it is a very disagreeable matter. First of all, I would like to point out to the House and to the Minister that, in my opinion, the cause of these scenes complained of in Clondalkin and other districts is the extension of the hours.
I suppose the Deputy is aware of the fact that I have nothing to do with the extension of the hours?
I am just mentioning the cause and at the end I will make a suggestion to you on that point. The publichouses in the Dublin district close at 5 o'clock and in Clondalkin and in other places the licence has been extended to 9 o'clock. Normally, according to the Act, these publichouses should close at 8 o'clock. I understand one publichouse in this district actually applied for an extension of the licence and it was refused, and then, for some mysterious reason, in a week or fortnight the extension was granted. What really happens is, people go to Clondalkin and those other districts already under the influence of drink. They drink up to 5 o'clock in the Dublin area. Then they get on a bus and continue their drinking up to 9 o'clock.
The Minister may point out to me that the Guards have a very difficult task. I admit it. I saw them there trying to do their duty after 9 o'clock and I admit that their task is a most difficult one after that hour. My complaint is that if the Department did its duty those conditions would not prevail at 9 o'clock. It is because duty has been neglected prior to 9 o'clock that the Guards have a difficult task.
I will now relate briefly what I actually saw in this district and what was there for anybody else to see, whether they were Guards or ordinary civilians. I went through the district first of all before the publichouses closed. The conditions were quite normal. I went right through the district and I did not see anything of an objectionable character. At nine o'clock I came back into the village and I saw the publichouses there being closed and the people were literally reeling out of those publichouses. I will say there were up to a couple of hundred people on the street. I myself saw people coming out of those publichouses with drink in their possession. I saw one woman coming out of a publichouse at 9 o'clock and she was badly under the influence of drink and she had half a dozen of stout in her arms. I went then through the laneways after the publichouses were closed and in the laneways I saw men and women lying in the ditches, drinking either bottles of stout or Baby Powers. I saw the same thing in the village itself. Why the Minister's officials failed to see it, I do not know, because I was standing beside them. In the village itself on Sunday week I saw one man who was so much under the influence of drink that he was lying, or rather he had his head, against a wall. This was directly opposite one of the publichouses, about fifteen or twenty yards away. That man was making desperate efforts to get further drink out of a bottle of whiskey, and he found it hard to do so. He was as drunk as a man could possibly be. I saw another man falling twice on the road in an effort to cross the road. At this time there was the usual bus traffic in the district. The scenes were of the most disgraceful character. Men and women were congregated there, and they were more like beasts than human beings. They were dancing and singing and carrying on in the most disgraceful fashion. The noise and scenes were so bad that on one Sunday I was told the Protestant clergyman had to suspend Church services, and both the Protestant clergyman and the Catholic curate patrolled the village and spoke to the Guards about the scenes. In spite of all that, in reply to my question, the Minister for Justice told us on July 10, the report is in column 4: "I do not know anything about the scenes in Clondalkin." Now I admire the innocence of the Minister. If he were dealing with other matters, such as Republican prisoners, he certainly would have been better informed. But, candidly, I do not accept his statement, because although he made that statement upon the 10th July he had received a letter from the Protestant clergyman and the Catholic curate on 11th June.
I beg your pardon, I received no letter from them.
Pardon me; the Minister's Department did.
I beg your pardon, it did not.
Well, I am quite convinced that when this question was raised the Minister's Department made inquiries, as they usually do, and I am quite convinced that they had knowledge of the fact on the 11th of June, the Superintendent of the Gárda had received a communication protesting against the thing. If he did not, it shows that the Department neglected its duty.
I mentioned yesterday in reply to the Deputy that the Chief Superintendent had received such a letter.
I know that the Minister had received it then. That was in reply to a different letter. However, the fact was that on the 11th June last these two clergymen there were so disgusted with the conditions in the district, so disgusted that in spite of various protests nothing had been done to remedy matters, they wrote to the Superintendent of the Gárda complaining of the deplorable conditions prevailing in the district. As a result of the conditions, as a result of the abnormal drunkenness in the district, it is common knowledge that numerous prostitutes visit this particular place. Parents in the district have appealed to both the clergymen. The scenes there are so bad and so open that the parents have frequently appealed to the clergymen to do something in order to enable them to bring up their children decently. I have seen things there myself right opposite the post office in Clondalkin of a most revolting nature. One man said to me: "Not only would you want to keep your children in the home, but you would want to pull down the blinds if you wanted to keep your children from seeing some sights."
The only object I have in bringing forward this matter is, not to find fault with the Gárda, not to make their task more difficult, but to make the Minister realise that the conditions there are very bad and to urge upon him the necessity of remedying the matter.
If the extension of the licence is refused.
I have no control over that.
Surely the Minister can recommend to his Department or to the Gárda when the case for a renewal comes up to refuse or to do their best to prevent the licence being extended. It is quite possible that the Minister has been misled on this particular matter. I am quite convinced that the Minister believed in the figures given to me for instance when I asked for them. According to the information I got on the 10th June, there was one arrest in Clondalkin. Well, I pointed out to the Minister although I believe that he gave these figures in good faith that these figures are absolutely wrong. I know it myself. On that particular day there were fourteen people arrested, or at least—I do not know whether there is a legal distinction between arrest and being brought to the barracks, there may be—but on that day there were fourteen people arrested.
Will the Deputy give me evidence of that?
I will. I do not think it would be fair to give the evidence here. It would mean mentioning the names of other parties. I certainly will be prepared to give the evidence that there were fourteen arrested on that particular day. I myself spoke to the sergeant there on last Sunday and he told me that they had no accommodation there, that they are not supposed to have prisoners. If he arrests two or three men he must put in a number of Guards to see that they do not get out through the window and that means that the Gárda could not possibly do their duty on the streets.
A drunken man could not get out through the window.
A drunken man could not get out through the window. He might fall out. I would like to say now that the conditions there are very bad. I have spoken to all classes there and even to the men in charge of the buses and they say that they hope to goodness that something will be done to remedy the conditions down there. What really happens is that when the publichouses close the Gárda rush the bus as it comes into the village and they try to get the people out of the village. That is what the sergeant told me himself. He wants to get the people out of the village and that means handing on these drunken people or people under the influence of drink to the bus driver. The conductors of the buses find it not only impossible to collect the fares but it is quite a common thing to find that these people smash the glass and try to smash the seats as well. I do not want to keep the House any longer but I would point out to the Minister as strongly as I possibly can that this situation exists in Clondalkin and I believe in other places and that it is a very serious matter. The people of Clondalkin are a very law-abiding people. I am satisfied that one Gárda would be quite sufficient for a place like Clondalkin or at most two. In point of fact we have six Gárda there, I presume at somewhere about £3 a week each. That extra expenditure is put on the people in order to accommodate two publicans. The people have to bear this extra expenditure for the services of the Guards there.
I cannot get any explanation as to why certain publicans can do certain things, because I am sure that the majority of publicans would be against that kind of thing if they have any respect for their business or have any desire to get any protection from this House. I am sure that even the publicans themselves, decent publicans, in their own interests would condemn this conduct as strongly as we do. Whether it is that certain individuals in that trade have a certain influence or pull with some people in authority I do not know, but I failed to find any explanation for the continuance of these scenes of disorder. I would appeal as strongly as I can to the Minister to consider this information which I have given him. I have actually seen the incidents myself, and I am giving the facts in as unbiassed a way as possible. I trust that the Minister will realise that the conditions there are not what they should be and that he will institute inquiries and see that matters are remedied.
Deputy Brady has spoken not only with the force and eloquence which we who opposed him on platforms knew him to possess, but also at some length. This is an evil—I agree with Deputy Brady that it is an evil— but it is not confined to Clondalkin. It is a consequence of the present licensing law, which makes it possible for people who wish to do so to make a pilgrimage on Sundays in search of drink. The remedy cannot solely be found in prosecutions by the Guards, which prosecutions would probably be attended by only small fines, but in a revision of the licensing law which will give reasonable opening hours on Sundays and make them uniform in the cities and in all districts in the neighbourhood. Then you would get away from this rushing out to suburban districts to get drink.
I do not wish to interfere with the time of the Minister.
The Deputy can speak until 9.30, when the Minister will reply.
If I can anticipate the reply of the Minister, I desire to point out that there is a simpler remedy in his hands than that which Deputy Cooper suggested. Apart from the desirability of having uniform opening and closing hours on Sundays throughout the whole of the Saorstát, or at least in the big cities and their immediate neighbourhood, a suggestion that I think is very desirable and which in my opinion would end the scenes and complaints of which we have heard, namely, that the Minister should instruct the Gárdaí to enforce the present law with normal vigilance and attention, and if he did so they would be able to cope with the situation. As Deputy Brady pointed out, these people come reeling out of the publichouses through the effects of drink. Some of them were so drunk that one person, at least, had to be removed to hospital. These people do not become intoxicated inside without drink being served to them there. Surely, it is a crime to serve these people on licensed premises and allow them to remain there. Instead of visiting the crime on the unfortunate people who cannot control themselves as regards drink, thus becoming a disgrace to civilisation and humanity, it would be better to proceed against those who profit by their weakness and to compel certain publicans, who enjoy certain privileges over and above those possessed by their fellow-tradesmen, to conform with the law, thus making certain that the privileges given to them will not be abused.
I think much of the ground for complaint would be removed if the licence-holders themselves were careful not to serve people who are under the influence of drink. This question of serving those who were formerly known as bona-fide travellers is a very vexed one. It is a traffic which is very difficult to handle. It is a traffic with which most self-respecting publicans do not want to have anything to do. I think that Deputy Brady was speaking from the book, speaking accurately, when he said that most self-respecting publicans view that traffic with great disfavour and are strongly opposed to its continuance. It can only be handled without abuse by publicans who are scrupulous not to serve persons under the influence of drink or permit such persons to remain on their premises. If the fact were known that that would be the attitude adopted by publicans in places like Clondalkin, I am certain that most of the attraction which places like Clondalkin possess for the Sunday drunkard would be removed and people would not be tempted to go out there sober and come back drunk. The real cause of the scandal is the fact that they are permitted to get drunk in these villages.
The residents in the district who have the misfortune to be subjected to these scenes are very strongly opposed to the continuance of these concessions to the local publicans. Such people have responsibilities to themselves and their families, they have to live in these villages and they are entitled to be protected against such abuses, so that persons living in Clondalkin should be as immune from them as persons living, say, in Rathmines or Dun Laoghaire. If there is no other way of protecting them then the special concessions which have been granted to publicans in such districts ought to be removed. The Minister in his reply to Deputy Brady's question stated that the Superintendent of the Guards had received complaints from two clergymen in the district. I am perfectly certain that complaints of that description were not lightly lodged by these two gentlemen and that there must have been strong reasons that compelled them to lodge such complaints. If I understood the Minister aright, the fact that after the complaints were made the conditions improved is in my opinion a very telling indictment against the Guards. If the conditions improved after the complaints were lodged then surely the conditions that prevailed prior to that were unjustified.
What is your authority for saying that they have improved?
None, except the Minister's statement.
The statement in which the Minister implied——
I implied nothing. I stated the facts straight out.
Do I take it that, notwithstanding the complaints of the two clergymen, the conditions in Clondalkin remained as they were before and that there has been no improvement?
And, therefore, the Minister does not propose to deal with the complaints at all? Perhaps he proposes to disregard them.
They have not been disregarded.
I would like to get at the bottom of the Minister's argument. I would like, if I could, to anticipate it, because it seems to me that the Minister is going to shelter behind the statement that he can do nothing, but he can, at least, get the Guards to enforce the law as it is, and prosecute publicans who allow persons to be drunk on their premises, and he can instruct the Gárdaí to oppose the renewal of the concessions given to these publicans. He can also instruct officers of his Department to investigate the conditions in Clondalkin. I would like the Minister, in his reply, to say whether he is prepared to do that.
I think that Deputy Brady to a certain extent has done a good deal of useful service in bringing up this question, though I wish that the case which he and Deputy MacEntee have put had been put a little more moderately, with less inclination to find fault with persons they dislike, and with a little more effort to see what might be done to obviate what is undoubtedly a very trying state of affairs to the inhabitants, not only of Clondalkin, but, as Deputy Cooper pointed out, also to persons in Lucan and other places in County Dublin. There can be no doubt that persons who live in some of these, what I might call semi-suburban villages, have on Sundays got to endure a very unpleasant state of affairs. These are quiet little villages, pleasant to live in, and on Sundays they are invaded by a pack of trippers who behave themselves in a very improper fashion, who are noisy and rowdy, who sing songs on the street and make the whole village extremely unpleasant. That is a very disagreeable state of affairs for the inhabitants of these villages, and if I were living in one of these villages I am perfectly certain that I would be seething with indignation against those persons who interfere with the ordinary amenities of my life for an hour or two on a Sunday evening. If the Deputies had stopped there—and I am entirely with them so far—I think they probably would have helped their case a great deal more than they have now done, because, in my opinion, the way in which this evil can be checked, if not entirely crushed, is only by force of public opinion. By concentrating public opinion on this, in a quiet fashion, I think it might do a great deal to stop it, but the Deputies, however, have gone further and have attacked——
I would point out that it is not a question merely of the amenities of life being disturbed, but of scenes of positive indecency taking place in this village and immediate neighbourhood. People who have to bring up families there are subject to these atrocious conditions.
If there are any acts of public indecency, acts of gross indecency in a public place, then it undoubtedly becomes the duty of the Guards to arrest the people who commit these acts of gross indecency. I have not evidence that any gross indecency is taking place there. There has been no such case made, nor did Deputy Brady make the case that acts of gross indecency were taking place in Clondalkin. What Deputy Brady stated was that there were persons there who were very disorderly. He also said that there were women whose reputation—I might put it this way—is very shady who frequent Clondalkin. I think that is highly probable, but they cannot be arrested, or they cannot be dealt with by the police, no matter what their reputation may be or no matter what conclusion you may draw from their appearance as to their profession. The Guards cannot deal with these women. They cannot arrest them unless they become drunk. There was one case of a woman there who certainly was very drunk on a particular occasion. She was arrested and brought to the barracks and made a very great scene. That was the case which occurred on the 11th June, which caused the letter written by those two clergymen. The Guards did what they could on that occasion. This woman was brought to the barracks, and on the next day she was convicted of window-breaking in the city. She served a month's imprisonment, and the charge of being drunk in Clondalkin is still hanging over her head. She will be prosecuted for that. What else could the Guards do? They found this woman misbehaving herself on the streets. She was very drunk. They brought her to the barracks and she created a considerable scene, which looked very bad. There are a number of people who go to Clondalkin who are undoubtedly under the influence of drink, who are what one, to use a colloquial term, might call "tight," but unless they are drunk and incapable or drunk and disorderly the Guards cannot arrest them. When the Guards find persons in that condition they do arrest them. I understand that last Sunday, the day on which Deputy Brady was in Clondalkin, four arrests were made of persons who were drunk, and these were the only cases which the Guards saw.
The Minister stated that I really proved no case of gross misconduct. I think it is quite obvious why I did not give the actual details, but I certainly am willing to give the details privately to the Minister. With reference to the question as to whether a man is actually drunk or not, I think I stated one specific case where a man was so positively drunk, and I presume that is a thing——
The Deputy cannot make a second speech.
I referred to a particular case where a man was not able to stand.
Was he one of the four who were arrested?
No. As a matter of fact if there were four arrested last Sunday it is a most extraordinary thing, because everybody in the village remarked that last Sunday was the quietest Sunday they had ever known in Clondalkin.
That is very likely. The two things are not in the slightest way inconsistent, because very often when a man gets into the condition to which Deputy Brady refers, he is not disorderly. He has gone beyond the rowdy stage.
He is incapable.
He is drunk and completely incompetent. I can assure Deputies that the Guards have looked into the matter very carefully; they are doing everything which they can do to keep this down, not only in Clondalkin, but in various other villages in which the same class of complaint has been made. They are doing everything they can to keep those places in order. Lucan has not received the same advertisement that Clondalkin has received. Possibly Deputy Brady spends his Sunday round Clondalkin and not around Lucan. From what I gather, because I received complaints from other quarters, if Deputy Brady visited Lucan we possibly would have a question on the adjournment about Lucan. However, the Guards are quite alive to the evil and they are doing whatever they can, but all the Guards can do is to arrest persons who are breaking the law, who are a nuisance, having sing-songs on the public streets.
What about visiting the premises?
About visiting the premises. As a matter of fact here the premises are very carefully visited and the hours that it is necessary to visit the premises in Clondalkin are between 8 and 9, because Clondalkin, like Lucan and other places, is one of those villages or townships in which the hour has been extended to nine o'clock. I might just inform Deputy MacEntee, if the newspapers are correct in reporting him, that he made a slip of the tongue yesterday, because he was reported to have said "Clondalkin publicans are entitled to open an hour earlier and remain open an hour later." The law is that the publichouses on Sundays can remain open from 1 o'clock until 8 unless there is a special order made by the District Justice, in his discretion, which enables those publichouses to remain open from 2 o'clock until 9. The two publichouses in Clondalkin remain open from 2 o'clock until 9. They have that special arrangement. They do not open at 1; they open at 2, and remain open from 2 o'clock until 9. As a matter of fact when the first application was made for an extension from 2 to 9 the Guards opposed it, but when it was given to one of the licensed premises the Guards did not oppose it in the case of the other licensed premises, because it was obviously better as there were only two publichouses in Clondalkin that one should not be open from 1 o'clock to 8 and one from 2 to 9. They are both now open from 2 to 9. That had the effect of bringing some persons who had been in the 8 o'clock closing area into the 9 o'clock area.
That is a matter in which I have no jurisdiction. It is difficult for the District Justice to decide the bona fide needs of travellers. I have no reason to think that the District Justice did not decide what he really thought was best in this particular matter, but as far as the administration of the law is concerned I have gone into these reports very carefully and have satisfied myself that the Guards are doing what can be done to check breaches of the law, but to check unpleasant things which are not breaches of the law the Guards cannot do it, though I have a great deal of sympathy as I have stated with the persons who live in all those townships and I can quite understand Deputy Brady's attitude. Deputy Brady sees things which are very annoying. He does not think the thing completely out but says why does not the Government stop it. There is nothing the Government can do or the Executive can do to stop unpleasant scenes which they are not doing, but a huge number of things take place that simply we are powerless to deal with. The collection of a large number of people at a place, the tripper element and an objectionable class of tripper, the Sunday tripper going to a place, will always make the place very unpleasant for the persons who reside in it, but until they make active positive breaches of the law they cannot be interfered with.
The Dáil adjourned until 3 o'clock on Thursday, July 19th.