Private Deputies' Business. - Legal Practitioners (Qualification) Bill, 1928—Fifth Stage—(Resumed.)

Debate resumed on the following motion: "That the Bill do now pass."

The representative character of the Incorporated Law Society meeting has been questioned from time to time during this debate. I think I can set all doubts at rest about the representative character of that meeting by reading for you the following extract:—"The meeting had been summoned by the Council to consider the Legal Practitioners Bill, and 118 members present included representatives of the Sessional Bar Associations throughout the Free State deputed to attend and represent their associations." It has not been questioned that there was not a full representation of those Bar Associations. Lest there may be any other point raised on the matter, I will relieve the mind of any Deputy, who is in need of knowing, that a Bar Association is not coterminous with a county. Somebody may get up here and say, "So many Bar Associations were present for twenty-six counties."

The question arises again, is there a necessity for this Bill? I say there is no necessity for it. I believe it will cause young lawyers a lot of trouble and cause them to spend a lot of their time learning a very difficult language in which they will get practically nothing to do afterwards. There is only the provision made that the lawyers should speak Irish. There is no provision in the Bill, or in any other Bill, that the judge and jury should know anything about Irish. Where a jury is empanelled to try a case I would like to know what will become of the judge and jury while the legal advocates are disputing in Irish? Are they to leave the courts and enjoy themselves any way they like? Deputy Anthony here has sometimes spoken with great courage. He has described many things as shams and hypocrisies. I really believe that we have surpassed ourselves in this Bill.

The Bill is apparently brought in as a fillip in the restoration of the Irish language. Why would we not be more general in the application of this principle of compulsion? On the Second Reading I said that if the Bill in its application were more general I would be milder when speaking on it. I could at least respect the Bill and I could almost support it. But it singles out one section of the community for penal treatment. I am ready to introduce a Bill into this House to make Irish compulsory on every wage-earner. I will have that Bill apply to the plumber, the painter, the agricultural labourer, the farmer, and everybody else. I would not have a very high standard. But my introduction of that Bill will be contingent on my receiving from Deputies an intimation of their readiness to support that Bill. Candidly, I do not expect to get many names. If Deputies were consistent and if they were really concerned about the growth of the Irish language, they would support me in that Bill. There is one very good reason why they will not give me their names in support of such a Bill. They would know the electoral consequences. They would know that if they imposed Irish on the working people of this country they would never again come back to this Dáil.

Irish is a difficult language to learn. We have that on the authority of Deputy Hugo Flinn. I cannot imagine Deputy Hugo Flinn being a success at Irish. He bartered his sweet Cork accent for a gorgeous Saxon one. It is an accent that makes his oratory very attractive, I admit. But still he is not qualified to speak Irish. Deputy Hugo Flinn told us that a man of his age finds it hard to learn Irish. Irish has been imposed on men of as advanced years as Deputy Hugo Flinn. I will refer to that later on. I do not deny the right that Ireland should have a language of its own. We are told the Babel of tongues was the curse of God for the sins of early man. I suppose if Ireland wants to have a distinctive curse of its own there is no reason to object to it.

When it comes to the study of the Irish language interfering with the legal profession in the acquisition of a proper knowledge of law it is quite another thing. The Incorporated Law Society and the King's Inns exist for teaching people the profession of law. When you enter such places your preliminary education is supposed to be completed, and you enter such places to learn the profession of law, just the same as you would enter a plumber's or a painter's establishment to become a skilled tradesman. If, as is provided in this Bill, you make those lawyers learn a very intensive course of Irish it will certainly interfere with them in their acquisition of legal knowledge. Nothing less than a very intensive course of Irish would be any good for a lawyer; that is, if we really mean that he is to plead the cases that will come his way in Irish. I fear, however, that even no matter to what extent he acquires the language, after a year or so he will require constant refreshers to bring his memory up to date so that he could plead with any advantage for his client. I fear that in the end his knowledge of Irish will become so musty that I would not like to see it put at the disposal of the greatest old roué of a tomcat that every stole milk or meat from a pantry.

The legal profession has been insinuating that this Bill is meant more to penalise them than to promulgate the study of Irish. To a great extent I am inclined to agree with them. They, however, make a mistake when they say they are specially singled out. Whilst I agree fully with the impairment it will be to their profession, I would remind them that the medical profession has been infinitely more drastically treated. If you want to form any conception of the impairment that the intensive study of Irish will do to the legal profession, you have only to recall what it has done to the medical profession. At the moment there are rules and regulations made in connection with the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act. I have no doubt they apply to lawyers, but at any rate they apply to medical men of all ages. These regulations give, in the case of some medical appointments, 100 per cent. preference. In other cases they give 25 per cent. preference. In 1,000 marks a man with a competent or incompetent knowledge of Irish—I am not concerned to say which—will start with a lead of 250 marks. That in itself shows you that the giving of so many marks to a man who knows Irish is detrimental to the interests of the people to whose districts he is appointed. Of course, the appointments that Irish is made a condition of—I mean medical appointments— are entirely concerned with officers for the poor. Will any Deputy here, when he requires a medical man for his own family, be satisfied, for the same money, to get a man who is only three-quarters as good as the man who does not know Irish? All that is what is aimed at in this Bill. I see that Deputies find it hard to believe this, but I have a letter here that will give every detail.

Now, I am not anti-Irish, though I have been treated to every variety of abuse and have been called a West-Briton and a traitor. I learned Irish voluntarily 35 years ago. It was not then necessary for people to be induced to learn it by bribes of appointment. My children are learning Irish to-day. Still, of course, I will be called a West-Briton and a traitor, perhaps. However, such abuse sits lightly upon me. I believe that all this intensive scheme of Irish for lawyers and professional men is simply humbug. It is not fair, and it should be resented by them. I will challenge this House to bring in a Bill making a knowledge of Irish mandatory on every wagecarner. When you do that I will say you are sincere. By simply singling out a profession which will only add seven or eight more members annually to those having a knowledge of Irish in the whole population, I do not think you are going to achieve very much for the language.

Again, I think language should not be made a test of patriotism. In support of that contention I will quote an extract taken from an article written by Arthur Griffith in the first number of the "United Irishman," March 10th, 1899. This is what Arthur Griffith said: "The resuscitation of our national language is a work in which everyone of us should help and at the same time we would regret any insistence on a knowledge of Gaelic as a test of patriotism." I subscribe fully to the principle enunciated by the late Arthur Griffith. I believe every Deputy here subscribes to it; but when you begin to pick and choose simply all the time with your eyes on the electorate, and when you fear to have mandatory or compulsory Irish for the multitude because you know they have the power to express their opinions very forcibly, and you also know they will do it if you impose Irish on them, there you lose your sincerity. I do not think I need say any more. I do not expect to make one convert, but I have satisfaction in showing that this House is not sincere. If it were, it would make Irish compulsory and mandatory for every working man in Ireland. You would tell every working man, just as you would tell the lawyer and the doctor, that he shall not eat the bread of physical life unless he has a competent knowledge of Irish.

I would not detain the House at all only that Deputy Hennessy more or less attacked the ability of the aged to learn the national language. I know one or two people who are not exactly spring chickens, and who have got a very fair knowledge of the Irish language at a rather advanced stage of their existence. Of course, it is not the same knowledge that would be acquired by a young man of 20 or even 25. Still, it is possible. For myself, I can say that at the mature age of 61 I began to learn Irish, and although I have not, I suppose, what would be called a competent knowledge of the language in that I cannot understand everybody who speaks, I can understand some people who speak clearly. I can also read and write it fairly well, to a certain extent. I think Deputy Hennessy was rather unfair towards us, and it is for that reason mainly that I rose.

As regards compulsory Irish all through the country, it is not being carried out with a sweep of the wand. It is being done gradually. In regard to this particular Bill, it will be many years before it will really take effect. It will only affect people of the age of fifteen years in September of this year. Then only will it begin to affect them, and it will be a very long time, as far as I can see, before it becomes operative. I am glad it is so, because it would be most unfair, to my way of thinking.

I would remind Deputy Wolfe that Irish is being made compulsory for legal men at the moment for every appointment even if they were up to 50 years of age.

Of course, that is not in this Bill. It is not being done by this Bill.

I am speaking on the general question of compulsory Irish to which Deputy Wolfe was addressing himself at the time.

I do not want a debate on the general question of compulsory Irish, on the Fifth Stage of this Bill. I know it is a difficult subject, but I would like to have the discussion confined to the Bill. And the Bill is not a Bill for compulsory Irish for lawyers; it is a Bill for compulsory Irish for candidates for the legal profession.

Deputy Hennessy alluded to doctors having to learn Irish, but they are not asked, I take it, to have a competent knowledge of Irish. They are compelled to pass examinations and to understand the language, but the same degree of competency is not expected of them as would be expected from the legal profession in the years to come, according to this Bill.

Irish is the native language of the country, and we all desire that in time to come it shall be in common use. There must be a beginning made. This is the right way to begin, in my opinion—by degrees, and with the profession which is, and always has been, very much to the front in the life of Ireland. No doubt it will spread to the other professions by degrees—I hope it will be done gradually—and in the life-time of our sons, or our sons' sons, the old language of the country will be spoken universally. We cannot, however, expect that to be done at once. This Bill does not bring it into immediate operation. As I said before, many years will elapse before it comes into full operation, and by that time a fair chance will have been given to those who come after us to acquire that competent knowledge, and to make preparation for it, so that no injustice will be done. The morale of the country will, to my mind, benefit by this general study of our language, by the enjoyment of the many beauties which are at present withheld from people who do not understand the language, among the old documents and papers which will then be available to those having a knowledge of the language, I am glad to see this Bill brought in. So far as I can see, no unfairness will take place. A long time will elapse before it will become operative, and by that time any approach to injustice should be made impossible.

Deputy Cooper and Deputy Dr. Hennessy are agreed upon one thing. Deputy Dr. Hennessy in his speech, to which we have just listened, said that he did not expect to make even one convert as a result of his arguments. Deputy Cooper stated that it was a thankless job to argue against the Bill when it was sure of a majority. It will be a very good indication of the return to sanity on the part of those who oppose this forward move for the revival of the Irish language as the spoken language of the country if we can take that acceptance of what will be in the near future afait accompli, namely, the Irish language triumphant over all opposition. I am very much afraid, however, that we cannot.

Deputy Cooper put his finger on the kernel of the whole matter when he stated that there was a majority in the Dáil for the Bill, a majority that was certain. The vote on Second Reading proved that. I have no doubt that if a division is taken on the Report Stage the majority will be just as high in favour of the Bill as it was on the Second Stage. If the comments made in regard to Deputy Conlon's speech on the Report Stage are to be taken as an indication of the strength of the opposition then it is very weak indeed. There seems to be no real punch behind the fight put up against this Bill. Deputy Cooper said if there was to be compulsory Irish let it be a real and thorough knowledge of the Irish language and not eye-wash. For once I am in agreement with the Deputy, and I am sure that everyone who is in favour of the Bill is in agreement with him. We do not want it to be eye-wash. We are not supporting the Bill because it is a gesture in favour of the language which a number of people believe to be either dead or dying. We support it because we believe it can be made an instrument whereby at least, one profession will be persuaded to adopt the native language as an everyday medium of communication. We support the Bill also, in the words of the preamble to the document issued by the legal profession, namely, "If the Bill is to be effective for its ostensible purpose it must be assumed to be the forerunner of attempts to make Irish compulsory in all walks of national life." Deputy Doctor Hennessy said that he would be very glad if some Deputy introduced a Bill applying the same principles to members of this House, but that he did not believe there was much possibility of getting the same support for such a Bill because of the fear of what the electorate would do at the next appeal to the people. Deputy Doctor Hennessy, I am sure, realises that the people—no matter how certain persons may try to camouflage it— have made up their minds that Irish has come to stay and that the revival of the Gaelic nation, about which there has been so much talk and so many articles written, is not going to be used merely for propaganda purposes but is going to be made a practical and economic reality so far as it is in the power of the present generation to do so.

Deputy Cooper said that this was legislation in a hurry, and that there was no urgency for it. "Legislation in a hurry" is a phrase which makes one smile, in view of the fact that Deputy Cooper was a member of this House for five or six years and is thoroughly acquainted with all the enactments of this Dáil, and with the declared policy of the Government of Saorstát Eireann in setting up the Gaeltacht Commission recommended by the President, and the declared policy of every political party worth its salt in this country for the last fifteen or twenty years, and also, no doubt, the declared policy of the two great political parties at every election since the Treaty—the revival of the Irish language. This is one way in which the language can, if you like, be commercialised and made the medium of expression through which the professions will be able to conduct their business, and through which the people will get a high regard for the language which many of them have not at present. Call it the slave mind if you like. As some people say: "The better people do not use it." They will be made to use it.

Perhaps I may interrupt Deputy Mullins by way of personal explanation to say that I bought the first book of O'Growney twenty years ago.

I am not referring in any way to Deputy Cooper's love or otherwise of the Irish language. I accept his statement that he bought his first book of O'Growney twenty years ago. I do not quarrel with that statement. He states that by passing this Bill we will be perpetuating the partition of the legal profession in Ireland. We heard talk of partition during the Second Reading of this Bill, and now we have had that statement again, both in the document issued by the legal profession and in the speech of Deputy Cooper. There is no doubt, to put it plainly and candidly, that it will perpetuate the partition of the legal profession so long as one section of that profession is pigheaded enough to come up against cold, hard, metallic facts, which, in the words of Deputy Flinn, mean that there is in the South of Ireland a permanent majority in favour of nationalising the country. So long as that section of the legal profession is content to pit itself against that hard metallic fact there will be partition among the legal profession. It will not be caused in any way by any action on the part of the people but by the pigheadedness of that section itself.

Deputy Redmond asked whether it was ever suggested that anything in the nature of compulsory Irish would be instituted against one particular profession in this country. It was suggested. It was often suggested in speeches, in newspaper articles, and in many reports submitted during the past five or six years. It was suggested that it should apply not to one profession in particular, but to every branch of educational and economic activity in this country. Deputy Redmond should realise that in his own constituency of Waterford, within which there is part of the Gaeltacht, the two great political Parties at the last two elections made no bones whatsoever about their attitude towards the Irish language and towards many recommendations of the Gaeltacht Commission. He stated, further, that he did not see why this Bill should be brought in referring to future solicitors or barristers, and why this or another Bill should not bring about the same conditions for other classes, and he described it as the thin end of the wedge. Undoubtedly, it is the thin edge of the wedge. Undoubtedly we hope to see, not a Bill such as this Bill, but a comprehensive Bill which will fulfil the hopes of Deputies Dr. Hennessy and Cooper, involving even membership of the Dáil and the Seanad. Undoubtedly we hope to see such a comprehensive Bill, and I will be only too pleased to support it.

The Minister for Justice approved of the Bill, but there was one statement of his with which I should like to quarrel. He said he was glad that nobody could say that Deputy Flinn was typical of the Gaelic League or the Irish revival mentality. I do not know whether he would class me as a nobody or not. I am one body who can say that Deputy Flinn's remarks, in particular two paragraphs of them, were certainly typical of the Gaelic League and Irish revival mentality which every honest-togoodness man who does really believe in the revival of the Irish language and who is prepared to stand for adequate measures to bring it about, should be prepared to stand over. One of the things with which the Minister for Justice quarrels, and which Deputy Flinn said was: "I ask the House, in this particular small matter, to start doing what it will be its business to do, in relation to membership of the Dáil and membership of every profession in this country, and in relation to every commercial and educational activity. Certainly that is the Gaelic League and the Irish-Ireland revival mentality, and nobody can quarrel with it." He stated further, dealing with the attitude of a certain section in this country in relation to the nationalising of the country, that "they must face the fact that there is in the south of Ireland a permanent majority, however otherwise divided, which is determined, that in this matter, and in all matters, not merely the tendency of movement but the actual movement, shall be in that direction, and that the forces which are going to measure themselves against that must be prepared to measure themselves against the vast majority of the people and to take the consequences of deliberate obstruction of that movement."

I think I stated something similar in the course of the Second Reading, that the time had come in this country when those who were against the question of the revival of the Irish language must make up their minds on one of two things— either to accept it definitely and irrevocably, or to fight it by every means at their command. I stated further, and it will be no harm to state it again, that because the Irish language was killed by a variety of forces, and as it was brought into its present precarious position as the result of long continued coercion and persecution by every available force that could be used from outside, to ensure that that object would be achieved, if it were necessary, and I do not believe it is, I see no reason in the world why we should not stand for a policy of the same kind and for the same methods that were used to kill the language in order to bring it back. I see no reason why a penalising of Irish professions should not be applied, in fact pursued, if these professions refuse to recognise the fact that much water has flown under the bridges of Ireland for the last seven or eight years. I see no reason to be ashamed of it, if it were necessary to institute something approaching the penal laws. Probably the Minister for Justice will describe these remarks as being as injurious to the cause of the revival of the Irish language as Deputy Flinn's speech. I see no reason why we should not stand for laws which might be described by Deputy Dr. Hennessy as penal if the Irish language were in such a condition that such laws were necessary to bring it back. I believe when the legal profession sets its back against this measure, which does not effect present solicitors, it is setting itself against the two big political Parties which are united on this issue and have been united always despite the opposition and the troubles of the last four or five years. It has always been possible to get men of the most diverse political opinions to agree on that issue, and while they are capable of being united on that one issue, there is certainly hope for a national revival movement that will have as its basis a Gaelic-speaking Irish nation.

Some remarks were made by Deputy Jasper Wolfe, my colleague from West Cork. His speech was more correctly described by Deputy Davin as a little bit of laundry work which should be done outside this Dáil. In the course of it he made great play of the fact that most of them believe that no good comes out of anything in the nature of force and that coercion has always done, and will always continue to do, harm. I only wish that Deputy Wolfe, and those who believe with him, would carry these theories, which he expounded in the course of that statement, into practical effect by not supporting this idea that nothing good comes out of anything in the nature of force. He is inconsistent, and those who believe with him are inconsistent, in that many things that they believe to be good came out of this idea of force. This is a measure which the majority of the elected representatives of the people believe to be good for the country and for the future welfare of the children of the country, and yet he will not support it. I hope this Bill will be passed by such a majority as will give to the opposition to it a death-blow in this part of the country anyway. Remember that no later than a few weeks ago there was a meeting held in the City of Dublin in regard to the Gaeltacht. Some Deputy asked what was the urgency of the measure. At that meeting the necessity was pointed out for some action to be taken if the Gaelic-speaking people were to be saved. It was pointed out by one of the Deputies who spoke at the meeting that the Government had done all in their power to put the recommendations of the Gaeltacht Commission into force. This is one way in which people in the Dáil can demonstrate, without any fear of contradiction, that they meant what they said when they ratified the Constitution of Saorstát Eireann, which in one of its Articles stated that the Irish language was the official language of the State.

Except for T.D.'s.

Certainly I will vote for that Bill if you introduce it. That is one way in which Deputies, particularly the members of Cumann na nGaedheal, can demonstrate their support of the policy adopted, for instance, by the Minister for Local Government when he states that after a certain period secretaries to county councils in certain areas must possess a competent knowledge of Irish. The legal professions are not going to be made the lambs on the altar of sacrifice. The same policy is being applied in every department and every walk of life. If the Bill which Deputy Hennessy envisages as the logical outcome of the passage of this Bill comes off, the same policy will be carried into effect in every walk of public life. I hope this will be the forerunner of that Bill, and I shall certainly vote for the Bill, and I hope that Deputy Hennessy, even if he votes for it out of spite, will give it his support when it does come forward.

I must protest against the passage of this Bill into law. No case, in my opinion, has been made for it. As I said on Second Reading, I consider it is tyrannical legislation which imposes an unnecessary disability on the legal profession. It is, as some Deputies have said, legislation in a hurry. I do not think there was ever a case in which the motto "Hasten slowly" was more necessary. It is unnecessary interference in the settling of their curriculum by a professional body who ought to have control of their own curriculum. I have no doubt that it means the lowering of the standard of legal knowledge. Deputy Conlon stated that Irish had been included in the programme of all the political organisations for many years past. I admit that, but I do not think that there ever was in the political programmes compulsory Irish, and it is only to the compulsory part of it that I have any objection.

In my professional capacity I see people from all parts of the Free State, people of different shades of opinion and of different social status, and I can say quite honestly that I have not found amongst all these different classes of people any desire for this measure. I believe that the present policy of compulsory Irish is not acceptable to the great majority of the people. Unquestionably, this rushing of the matter is not going to produce the effect that its supporters hope for. I want to say, at the same time, that while I meet people of all shades of opinion and varieties of social status who tell me that they are opposed to it, I have not found amongst them one single person who has any objection to the fostering or furthering of the Irish language. As I stated before, I am one of those who believe that the study of Irish should be fostered and encouraged in every possible way, but I cannot agree to compulsion in the matter. On the other hand, I have to admit that while the public generally know something about the principle of compulsory Irish, they have not very much knowledge of this Bill. Therefore one would not expect very much criticism from them. We do expect criticism from the people who are most severely hit or to whom the Bill is going to apply, and we have received the criticism of these people. The Incorporated Law Society, as we have heard, had a meeting to which 110 people took the trouble to come and record their opposition to the Bill, but no such number of people came to declare their adherence to the Bill.

Nobody was in favour of it.

At all events, my point is clear. I understand it was a delegate meeting. As I say, 110 people took the trouble to record their disapproval of the Bill, and that is surely a very much stronger argument than the fact that not one turned up to support the Bill. This Society says that the Bill is not wanted either by the public or the legal profession. We must surely give them some credit for knowing what they themselves want. They say that it is oppressive and unworkable; that it must lead to inefficiency and that it should not be made compulsory.

I think the most extraordinary statement was made by Deputy Flinn. Believing these facts, as these solicitors did, Deputy Flinn would have them either hold their tongues or agree to the Bill. He would not have these men coming forward and expressing their opinion, any more than he would allow me, if he could shut my mouth, to express my opinion now. At all events, the opinion of the people intimately interested ought, in my opinion, be seriously considered. I do not think it is fair for a body here, three-fourths of whom know nothing whatever about the Irish language, to make Irish compulsory as regards the legal profession. With regard to Deputy Flinn's statement, that those who are opposed to this measure are anti-Irish, one of the reasons I stood up was to repudiate that statement. It is absolutely untrue and it is pure bunkum. When people repeat a statement often enough they come to believe it, but that statement is not a statement of fact. I do not think that I ever heard a more futile argument than that used by Deputy Flinn, when he said that because he himself had been unable to learn Irish, therefore other people should be compelled to learn it. It is a comfort to know that his children are going to teach him. It is said somewhere, I think it is in Holy Writ, that out of the mouths of babes and sucklings cometh wisdom. We are all very glad that Deputy Flinn is going to benefit by the instruction of his children.

I think one of the most objectionable provisions in the Bill is that it places on the Chief Justice the right to determine whether or not the standard of Irish possessed by candidates is sufficient. I think it would be a most deplorable condition of affairs to give either the Chancellor or the President of the National University or the Chancellor or the Provost of Trinity College the right to decide whether candidates in connection with any school, whether legal, medical or Divinity, have a sufficient knowledge of their subjects, and I hope, if the Dáil do not see their way to change this, that something will be done to prevent it. Who knows whether the Chief Justice knows any Irish?

Mr. Byrne

He does.

It is a question of a Chief Justice, not the Chief Justice.

I am talking about a Chief Justice. The fact remains, as pointed out by Deputy Cooper, that on another occasion when a Chief Justice is being appointed it is quite possible that the Executive Council will have to take into consideration whether a man has a good knowledge of Irish or whether he has good legal knowledge. I would not for a moment put the two things on an equal footing. I am opposed to the Bill because it shows we are in far too great a hurry, and I think the Dáil would have been better advised to wait a little until a little more had been done. I should like to reply to certain remarks made to-night, but I do not wish to enter into any contest about penal laws being established against those opposed to the Bill. It is not a good way to talk when we can show that institutions with which we are connected have been doing work for the Irish language for hundreds of years while other people were doing nothing for it.

I am opposed to this Bill because I think it is a very harsh and unnecessary measure for the legal profession. I am not opposing it because I want to throw cold water on those who are so enthusiastic about fostering the Irish language. I am opposing it because I think it is an unnecessarily harsh measure. I wonder if the Deputies who introduced this Bill think they have any real mandate from their constituencies to bring forward a measure of this kind. I have no such mandate from my constituency, but rather the reverse. I think if it were possible to have a general election fought on the one issue whether or not compulsion of this sort should be introduced into any profession, the anti-compulsionists would win.

Listening to the greater part of the debate on this stage of the Bill, and accepting completely the statements of those who are opposed to the Bill and who say that they are not opposed to the preservation and fostering of the Irish language, I must say I am quite at a loss to understand their position. I am unable to understand why these particular Deputies have been able to generate in themselves the amount of feeling and even heat against the Bill that they appear to have generated. I think the Bill is by no means a harsh Bill, and I do not think the passage of the Bill can be described as "rushing the matter." If it had been introduced three or four years ago, one might have said that there was some rushing, but, since early in 1922, we have had the policy of having Irish taught in the primary schools. Then last year or so, Irish was made a compulsory subject of instruction in the secondary schools, and, consequently, nearly all the people likely to be affected by this Bill will have been taught Irish in school, and, if a reasonable standard is set in the entrance examination—a standard somewhat equivalent to the Leaving Certificate standard—a solicitor's apprentice, for instance, need really do no very arduous work in the way of improving his knowledge of Irish during his apprenticeship. He will have five years, if not a University graduate —if he comes direct from school.

Well, four years' apprenticeship and five in some cases. If he starts that apprenticeship with a good foundation knowledge of Irish, such as he ought to have, in view of the schools programme now in operation, he would only require to give a quite reasonable amount of time to the study of Irish during his apprenticeship in order to obtain the standard set down in the Bill.

Deputies have said that there is no mandate for this Bill. Of course, the Bill is a matter of detail. It is not one of those matters of importance for which any Deputy could have a specific mandate. Deputies can only say they have a mandate about something of major importance, some measure of very great importance. No Deputy can have a mandate for some matter of detail. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that most Deputies have a mandate to do what seems to be necessary to preserve and to foster the Irish language. As has been stated, it has been on the programme of the great political parties for a considerable time.

Some years ago, when the National University was founded, undoubtedly the population of the country was in favour of making Irish compulsory at the matriculation examination. Much the same arguments that are being put up against this Bill were put up against making Irish compulsory in the matriculation examination of the National University, yet very clearly the country showed it was in favour of using such a measure of coercion as was involved in making Irish compulsory for matriculation. For my part, I have not the slightest doubt, if this were an issue big enough to be put to the country, a verdict would be obtained, and very easily obtained, in favour of the Bill, and in favour of a more drastic Bill, and many more Bills of the same character than this. I have not the slightest doubt that a big majority of the electors of the country would favour all reasonable measures for the preservation and restoration of the Irish language. I think this is an eminently reasonable measure. It is laid down in the Constitution that Irish is the national language. It is provided that any person who desires to use the Irish language in the courts may do so. We ought to make it easy for anybody, either in the Irish-speaking districts or outside, who cares to use Irish in the courts to do so. We ought to see that the machinery in the courts is as quickly as possible adjusted to give full effect to the Article of the Constitution dealing with the Irish language. There are places where witnesses and litigants would be willing to use Irish, and where they cannot use it because, as was indicated in the Gaeltacht Commission's report, there are no lawyers able to conduct cases in Irish. Some people have asked: "What is the use of lawyers having Irish when the judges have not Irish?" We will not have judges who will have Irish unless we begin by having lawyers who have Irish. I think this matter, having been delayed until now, cannot be described as "rushing" or "drastic." It imposes no undue burden upon any student.

If a student's parents had chosen to send him to an English school where he learned no Irish, of course, he may experience some difficulty. He may have to lose a year before he can take his final and qualify, but as far as the average boy, brought up in an Irish school with the programme that is in existence, is concerned, he should not have to lose a year. I think, even if it were a fact that a considerable number of people had to lose a year before they could enter the profession, it would be necessary that a sacrifice should be made, as the position of Irish in the schools is being strengthened. The teachers are becoming more competent in that matter. Teachers who are better trained to give instruction in Irish and in subjects through Irish are entering the ranks of the profession. With that development it will be soon quite easy for any boy who went through a secondary school here to pass the examination required by merely improving, by a moderate expenditure of time and energy, the knowledge of Irish he had in the school.

That is not what the Bill says.

I think so. The Incorporated Law Society said it would be impossible to argue certain cases through the medium of Irish. I do not agree with that at all. I believe a person with a good knowledge of the Irish language can argue any case through it. It may be that he would have to quote certain judgments that were delivered in English. It may be that he would have to use certain English words, just as now he sometimes uses some Latin or French words which have some technical meaning or which have been the subject of adjudication or judicial interpretation. There is no reason, apart from the quotation of judgments or the use of occasional phrases in the same way as Latin and French phrases are used, why the arguments in any case should not be all conducted in the Irish language. I do not believe this thing is going to reduce the number of lawyers, the competence of lawyers, or their efficiency.

The question of whether a particular Chief Justice has or has not Irish is of no consequence. I do not assume that any Chief Justice operating under the Bill would himself carry out an examination in the Irish language. What a Chief Justice would do if he were not satisfied with the examination, conducted for instance by the Incorporated Law Society, is: He would appoint other examiners with whose standards he would be satisfied to conduct the examination for him. I, for one, if a reasonable attitude had been taken by the Incorporated Law Society in connection with this Bill, would have been prepared to acquiesce in amendments in matters of detail. I think the attitude that was actually taken up by the Incorporated Law Society was unjustified and unreasonable, and while I felt when this Bill was before the Dáil on Second Reading that it was a little difficult, at any rate, to defend the introduction of the Bill when the Incorporated Law Society had not been consulted, I feel, in view of the resolution which they subsequently passed, that really the neglect to consult them was something that could easily be overlooked, because consultation with them could not have resulted in anything useful at all. Members of the legal profession are not really being singled out. People cannot enter the Civil Service now without having a knowledge of Irish, and the standard is being raised year by year. It was a low standard to begin with; it has become higher, and it will, I presume, become still higher. People cannot enter the teaching profession without a knowledge of Irish at present in this country, and I see no reason why any particular feeling should exist against those requirements in connection with lawyers. I do not want to do more than to touch on the general policy in regard to Irish, but we cannot consider a Bill like this without having some regard to what is national policy. It is perfectly true that the Irish language was driven out of the major part of the country and reduced to the position in which it now is by extreme official discrimination against it. I think it is necessary, if it is to be preserved and restored, that there should be some reasonable measure of official support and encouragement for it.

I think it is necessary, if the Irish language is to be saved, that the learned professions and people in official positions—all whose habits are going to influence people, who are going to be looked up to, to some extent, as models of conduct and all that sort of thing—must not have the attitude of mind in relation to the language which almost everybody who is ignorant of it has. My experience is that while a man who does not know Irish may frequently express very favourable opinions in regard to it and in regard to its preservation, when it comes down to practice he really is very hostile to any attempt to use it. He dislikes people making speeches that he does not understand. He dislikes even seeing advertisements and notices or documents which he does not understand. In practice, with the best will in the world, most people who do not know Irish are against its actual use. They may be in favour of its preservation, theoretically, and perhaps very sincerely, but when it comes down to hard tacks the man who does not know Irish is nearly always out to kill it. And if you do not see that the members of your learned professions and other people of influence in the future have some knowledge of Irish, their actual operations and influence on the community will be in favour of killing it. I think this sort of Bill is consistent with the general policy that has had support in the country, beginning, if you like, with the movement to make Irish compulsory in the National University and coming on to the action that was taken to make it compulsory in the Civil Service. It is consistent with the general policy. It is very reasonable. It only applies to people who are under fifteen. It gives them time, and I think it is absolutely necessary, if the expenditure in money and in energy on the preservation of the Irish language is not to be entirely wasted.

As I say, I think the attitude taken by the Incorporated Law Society in regard to the Bill was unjustified and unreasonable. But I feel quite satisfied when the Bill has been passed and has become an Act, as it will, that they will recognise their duty in the matter and will loyally do what they can to give effect to the enactment of the Oireachtas, both in the letter and in the spirit. If they do that, then I think nobody will want to interfere with them, and there will be no danger that the Chief Justice or anybody else will try to penalise anybody.

It is too late to say that now. You got the chance before.

If the Incorporated Law Society were to be so foolish as to try to thwart the intention of the Oireachtas, it would be easy to deal with them.

The jack-boot.

Exactly, the jack-boot, and two of them.

If I had not intended to make any remarks on this stage of the Bill, I should have felt it my duty to do so after the various things that have been said for the last few days. The Minister has deprecated the introduction of any heat into this discussion, and has wondered that there was any heat in it. I hope I shall not speak in a heated way, but I think if he had heard some of the remarks that were made he would not have been surprised that Deputies spoke with heat and resented the charges and imputations that were made against them. One Deputy went so far as to say that the Government should have a policy, and should indicate to anyone who disapproved of it that they were going to carry it out and that he might say nothing but make up his mind to put up with it. I do not think that muzzle policy will find favour with many Deputies in this Dáil. I willingly admit that it has not found favour with the Government. The Government have, I gladly admit, patiently heard the views that the minorities, on various occasions, have thought it their duty to express. They have been prepared to discuss the views held by these minorities, but that they should tell these minorities that they are not entitled to express their opinions is, I think, a new doctrine in this Dáil, and one that I hope will not be repeated. I protest against that, and I further protest most strongly, as my colleague, Deputy Sir James Craig did, against the imputation that opposition to this measure indicates an anti-Irish attitude.

There has been a general fallacy in the reasoning of various Deputies here that opposition to this method of fostering the Irish language must be anti-Irish. The confusion in thought is: It is one thing to foster the Irish language; it is quite another to approve of any method that may be suggested to foster that language.

It has been said that there is a strong, convincing weight of opinion throughout Southern Ireland in favour of compulsory Irish. I deprecate the introduction of that general question into this particular Bill, which merely deals with candidates for the legal profession, but I do not think it is quite possible to separate the general policy from discussion on this Bill. It has been said that there is a marked weight of opinion throughout Southern Ireland in favour of the fostering of Irish. I might be prepared to admit that. I would not oppose it, but when that statement is carried on to say there is a marked weight of opinion in favour of compulsory Irish I challenge it altogether. I challenge the Minister's statement. If a plebiscite were taken throughout Southern Ireland on the question of whether the country wanted compulsory Irish or not, I challenge the Minister's belief that there would be a majority of the country for it. I go further. I say the time will come, and come sooner than most people think, when this policy of compulsory Irish will be condemned. It will be only the next generation that will bring condemnation on the Government for their part in the matter. I ask those who wish to look at the matter calmly to consider what has been the effect up to the present of compulsory Irish. I say it has given a smattering of Irish to most young people in Southern Ireland, and most of those who have got that smattering have forgotten most of it inside twelve months. It has done more than that. It has interfered with the standard of education that most of those children have had when they left school. I do not think there is any question about it. I say this Bill is suicidal for those who want to reintroduce the Irish language into this country. It is suicidal to the Government themselves. They are damaging themselves throughout the country. They have brought here a united profession against them. They have lost weight by the support they have given to this measure. It is no use in saying that the meeting of the legal profession did not represent the whole legal profession throughout the country. It did. One delegate alone was authorised to speak and vote for 40 members of the legal profession. I believe every county in the Irish Free State, except one, was represented at it, and that county sent a letter of the strongest kind, because it was not able to send a delegate.

I say the Bill is suicidal from that point of view, but it is not from the political point of view that I want to discuss this matter at all. I say it is suicidal from the point of view of those who want to encourage Irish. It will bring rather hostility to the language than a love of it. The growth of Irish is like the growth of a delicate plant. It will have to be nurtured carefully, and with wisdom. If you try to force it you will kill it as you are doing now. If I were anti-Irish I would gloat over compulsory Irish and over this measure of forcing Irish as a compulsory language on the legal profession, because I honestly believe that the effect of this Bill, and of the compulsory Irish policy generally, will intensify feeling against Irish. I am not anti-Irish. I did not oppose, and the University for which I stand has never opposed, the fostering of the Irish language. Its methods have been different, and are different from the methods for which the great majority of this Dáil stand, but the majority of the Dáil in the vote they have given, do not represent the great weight of opinion throughout Southern Ireland, and if a plebiscite on that matter alone could be taken I believe the result of it would be very different from what the Minister for Finance believes. The point of view from which I would prefer to criticise the measure would be the educational one. I am bound to say that those who are bringing forward the Bill, to my mind, are asking an impossible task of those whom they wish to study for the legal profession. The Bill, as it comes back to us from Committee, is changed in two ways. One of those ways makes the Bill less drastic; the age has been reduced from sixteen to fifteen. The other makes it much more drastic, because it states explicitly, what was left ambiguous in the Bill originally, what standard of Irish is required for members of the legal profession. It is definitely to be a standard that will enable them to do a very difficult thing, to conduct a case in Irish.

If the measure required a high standard of Irish for anyone who proposed to enter the legal profession, I could have said much less against it from the educational point of view than I could say now. But it does not stop there. It requires, in the period of the student's course, that he should devote himself not merely to what ought to be at that time his primary object—to make himself adept and fully qualified in legal matters. To do that properly his whole time would be taken up in the years of his study, whether these years be three, four or five; they are not found at present to be one jot too much. These years are really found to be too short for the student in order to develop the adequate and proper knowledge of legal matters which are to be attained. But if, in addition to that, you are going to put upon the student who may have a moderate knowledge of Irish—a knowledge which he could have forgotten in twelve months—the task of improving his knowledge so as to enable him to use the language in working his cases in court afterwards, I say you are asking an utterly impossible thing. If you require him to make himself efficient in legal matters when the time comes for him to enter the profession, you are making it utterly impossible for him by this compulsory Irish. I know what it means when a young man tries to do two things together. The result is that he does both badly. If you insist on doing this, then you are taking steps to make the legal profession an indifferent profession later on, and I maintain that what you want most in the legal profession is a profession of eminent and well-qualified lawyers.

The Minister said he favoured and the country favoured all reasonable measures. I quite agree. Where he takes a big jump, and takes it in his stride, and does not see that there is any great argument required to pass from one stage to another, is when he says that this compulsory introduction of Irish is a reasonable measure. That is where I differ from the Minister and where I believe that even at the present time and in a few years a great many more will differ from him fundamentally. I regret this Bill very much. It is a backward step instead of a forward one. I think it will damage what those who introduced it desire most to encourage. I think it will damage the status of the legal profession. I think it will damage that profession even abroad and in Northern Ireland. I regret that, but I do not want to labour or stress the political side of the question at all. I do stress that I consider it is regrettable that this sort of Bill should be brought in, that a measure of this kind should be brought forward which tends to sharpen rather than to slur over the line which at present separates us from those we would like to have with us.

I listened with great regret to the speech delivered by the Minister for Finance. It was an exceedingly unwise one to utter with regard to the great learned profession of the law. The threat by the Minister for Finance, occupying a responsible position, is a threat that I must regret. I believe, as some of the speakers in the course of this Bill have said, that this Bill, so far from developing or promulgating the interests of the Irish language, will do considerably more harm than good.

The Minister for Finance was a guest at the Law Students' Society meeting some time ago. He knows from his presence there what occurred as far as speaking the Irish language was concerned. An address was delivered by the Chief Justice in Irish, and the Auditor read a paper at considerable length in the Irish language. The mover and seconder of the address spoke at considerable length in the Irish language, and the Minister knew that as far as the spoken tongue was concerned in that particular Society there were plenty of Irish speakers. Those who are opposed to this Bill have asked: "What is the need of the Bill?" They have not been met with a satisfactory answer. Anybody connected with the legal profession will tell you that not alone are there sufficient men to handle anything that may arise as far as dealing with legal matters in the Irish language in court is concerned, but that there is actually an overplus of these people existing in the higher and the lower professions of the law. I have said before here that if anybody who desired to foster the language by means of the legal profession has got a brief to deliver, if he will only mark that brief, "This is to be dealt with by an Irish speaker," there are plenty of speakers available to do all that is required.

The Minister suggested that in his opinion there were not sufficient lawyers to conduct cases in Irish. Speaking with some little knowledge of the legal profession, I say that not alone are there sufficient lawyers but there is an overplus I assure you a very large section of them will have been done an immeasurable amount of good if the suggestion that I make to the House is carried out—that the briefs be sent to the Law Library marked "Irish speakers only." Some of them who do not get a great deal to do now would possibly become very busy. No harm will arise if the Minister wants to test this particular fact for himself. I think the words quoted by Deputy Hennessy cover the whole situation —the words of Arthur Griffith. He said that people would resent any knowledge of Irish as a test of patriotism. What does the whole thing amount to? It means that an undue preference is being given to those with a knowledge of the Irish language as against the majority of the people who have no knowledge whatever of it. Is that not a test of patriotism? Is that not a bribe for the propagation of Irish?

Have we not sufficient confidence in the nation as a whole to believe that the people of the country will do things voluntarily that they will not do by compulsion? How was it possible for this thing to be achieved in Wales? Was there compulsion on the Welsh people? I passed through Wales and I know that Wales was practically a bilingual country. I met there men who were unable to converse with me in the English language. I found in the Welsh law courts that lawyers were not forced to practise in the Gaelic language, and I did not find them compelled to utilise Welsh for commercial purposes. Wales accomplished all this thing, and it dealt with the same apathy amongst the people and had the same difficulties as confront this nation. We could easily deal with the situation in the Saorstát if we were content to wait for a little while. As Deputy Sir James Craig says, we should progress slowly. I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 8.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 14th March.