Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 29 Apr 1931

Vol. 38 No. 4

In Committee on Finance. - Vote 32—Gárda Síochána.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £1,045,426 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1932, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí an Ghárda Síochána (Uimh. 7 de 1925).

That a sum not exceeding £1,045,426 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1932, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Gárda Síochána (No. 7 of 1925).

This Estimate shows a nett increase of £5,421 on that for the previous year. This increase results from a substantial decline in the estimated amount of the Appropriations-in-Aid of the Vote. The gross total of the Vote is slightly less than that for the previous year.

Sub-head A: Salaries, Wages and Pay.—This sub-head shows a decrease of nearly £15,000 below the corresponding figure for last year. This reduction has been rendered possible by a reduction in the strength of the force effected by not filling vacancies which occurred through wastage during recent years. A number of stations have been closed and the strength of several rural stations has been reduced. The Estimate makes provision for a total working strength of 6,900, plus an average of 40 recruits in training, to fill vacancies normally arising through wastage. This strength of 6,900 is a reduction of more than 300 below the authorised strength of two years ago (7,212). About 35 rural stations have been closed during recent years, and the revised scheme of distribution now provides for 808 stations outside Dublin (as compared with 1,129 R.I.C. stations in the same area). In 370 rural stations the strength of the unit has been reduced to one sergeant and three Guards. No further reduction below a strength of 6,900 is possible without closing other stations, or relieving the Gárda of such non-police duties as the collection of agricultural statistics, or the duties in relation to the School Attendance Act. Neither of these steps is feasible.

Sub-head B: Allowances.—This sub-head shows an increase of £11,466, due entirely to the increased number of men who will be entitled to rent allowance during the coming year. Marriages are taking place at the rate of about 37 per month, and it is estimated that about 2,742 sergeants and guards will be drawing rent allowance by the end of the financial year. The amount paid varies from a minimum of £13 in rural areas to a maximum of £30 in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.

Sub-head C: Subsistence Allowance.

—This sub-head shows a decrease of £750, and Sub-head D—Locomotion Expenses—shows a decrease of £1,000. Sub-head E—Clothing—shows an increase of about £6,000, due to the fact that large issues of great coats, waterproof coats and breeches fall due to be made during the coming financial year. The other sub-heads call for no special observations.

Appropriations-in-Aid. — The estimated appropriations-in-aid show a substantial decrease, as owing to the automatic reduction in the police rate in the Dublin Metropolitan area the amount to be received from that source will be nearly £7,000 less than during the previous year.

I move that the Estimate be referred back.

The Deputy did not give notice of his intention to do that.

We are opposed to the motion. We did not give notice because we did not want to put the Minister in an awkward position. We believe that he will be defeated on the motion, but that it would have given him considerable trouble if our view on that had been put in the form of a negative.

Is the Deputy serious in that?

Quite serious. We are opposed to this Vote on the ground that economies which could have been effected have not been effected during the past year. According to the Minister's statement, economies are not anticipated during the coming year. It is obvious from the Minister's statement that recruiting has again commenced. The Minister referred to forty recruits at present undergoing training. It was clear from the Minister's statement last year that no recruiting was contemplated. He then stated that vacancies arising either from dismissals or resignations would not be filled.

Until a certain strength was reached.

"Strength" was not mentioned. I have looked up the debates on the Estimate. We gathered from the Minister's statement last year that in that way the force might be reduced by the process of time to something like normal limits. During the past year, the vacancies that occurred were: Fifty men from resignations or otherwise, and 12 sergeants. That is the reduction in numbers between this year and last, as disclosed in the Estimate. The previous year the reduction was something like 300 men. That reduction was due to resignations, dismissals or otherwise. We contend that this country could be policed with a much smaller force than there is at present, and that by doing so you would not be taking away from the efficiency of the force.

At the present time we see stations all over the country, in places where there is no necessity for them. Under present conditions of transport and telephone communication, we believe a smaller force could attend to the needs of the community, the protection of property, and so on. It is quite obvious that this country is not able to bear the expense that the maintenance of the present police force imposes upon it. The reduction of the forces is one of the ways in which economies could be effected. We could do with a smaller number of men without in any way impairing the efficiency of the force.

The Minister seems to be reluctant to take any step in that direction. Is it that he fears that by doing so he would be throwing men out of employment, and that in the present economic condition of the country he would be unable to find other positions or jobs for them? If that is his attitude, then I say it is the wrong line to go on. We admit, of course, that the economic condition of the country is fairly bad. It is difficult to procure employment, but that is no justification for having a redundant force as we described it before. The force is altogether out of proportion to the needs of the community. We are disappointed that recruiting seems to have commenced again. The Minister has not indicated the number of recruits that it is proposed to take during the coming year. In view of the statement the Minister made last year, that no vacancies would be filled, this seems a backward step.

There is one other matter that I wish to refer to. Perhaps I should have raised it on the Vote for the Minister's Department, but as it had not come to my knowledge at that time I may be permitted to refer to it now. I would like to have some explanation from the Minister with regard to the Clonakilty affair that occurred on Easter Monday evening. If the information that has reached me is correct, it would appear that certain members of the C.I.D. ran amok in the town of Clonakilty on that night. It would also appear that the Guards who went out to try and establish law and order amongst them, who tried to arrest these people and to curb their activities in some way, were unable to do so. When the Minister is replying I would be glad if he would refer to that matter and say whether an inquiry has been held, and what action has been taken by him with regard to it.

In supporting the contention of Deputy Ruttledge I would like to remind the Minister what the police figures were at one time compared with what they are now. In a statement made by the late Minister for Justice in October, 1923, he pointed out, whilst the authorised strength of the Royal Irish Constabulary for the whole of Ireland was 11,844 in January, 1914, that the actual strength at that time was only 7,859. The number in the Dublin Metropolitan Police was 1,124. The total strength for the whole country was 8,983. Suppose we take these as figures which might be in operation in Ireland to-day—which is going very far indeed—and suppose we subtract the figures for the Royal Ulster Constabulary, then, what would be the strength for the Twenty-Six Counties? The Royal Ulster Constabulary numbers 2,934. Even then, when we subtract that from the other figures we get 6,049, so that in actual fact the figures are at present larger for the Twenty-Six Counties. The figures today are 6,944, and, as Deputy Ruttledge pointed out, about 50 or 60 more than last year.

That is not correct.

Actually in police strength the figures are greater now than in 1914. In an interview given at one time by the late Michael Collins he stated that the country could be policed with, I think, a force as small as 500. Even if we do not accept these figures at present there is, at the same time, room for an enormous reduction in the number of police. The Minister has not given any details as to the daily, weekly and monthly work of the various policemen — sergeants and guards—so that we are left without sufficient information. Lest the Minister might try to draw some fine and non-existent distinction between Deputy Ruttledge's attitude and my attitude, let me say that I agree thoroughly with Deputy Ruttledge. I say that apparently there are far too many policemen. One has only to judge by their conduct as one sees them to see that there are a great many more than are necessary.

Apparently they have not a great deal to do. The only thing we can suggest is that there should be a proper enquiry into the whole matter, so that we would know exactly what the duties of these men are. I do not say that they have no duties, but I suggest that their duties could be carried out by a much smaller number. After all, the amount of this Vote is very large. It represents £1,609,426 of the taxpayers' money. It is perhaps one of the largest Votes, and one to which we should pay very great attention, because it is one upon which very great economy could, I am sure, be made.

One of the objections, of course, to the present constitution of the Guards is that they are really drawn from one political party only, and they have shown that in various ways, during election time. We had experience of the activities of the Guards at the by-election in Westmeath Longford. I mention that again in order to get from the Minister an undertaking that the Guards will not be used in future for political purposes.

The Guards are not used for political purposes. This question was discussed on the Vote for my Department, and I suggest that the Deputy is now reiterating what was then said.

When was that by-election? I forget.

Some time last year.

Was it before April?

I think it was after April. In any case, my purpose in mentioning it is, so that we might get the benefit of debate, so that the conduct that occurred at that time will not be repeated, and that we will have a public statement from the Minister, that in future the Guards will not be encouraged in any way to take any part in political activities, but to remain a neutral body in all these matters. After all, the respect which we have for law depends largely on the non-partisanship and neutrality of the judges and of the police. I had one example of their political activities in Waterford where it was reported to me that detective officers had made special enquiries about my activities in the city, which I think is a most objectionable thing to do about a public representative. It could have been done for no other but political purposes.

[An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the Chair.]

The enquiries were with reference to the meetings I was having. Again the conduct of the Guards recently was most fatuous when they made a raid on certain premises occupied by the Cumann na mBan and seized leaflets which advocated the buying of Irish goods as against British goods. These leaflets were seized and solemnly held for some time before being returned. Surely the Minister could employ persons with at least the capacity to read before sending them to seize whatever they can lay hands on. Of course it is an outrage on citizenship that such a thing should be allowed at all.

Certain statements were made recently by the Commissioner of Police and I hope the Minister will see that the same kind of statements will not be made again. They arose out of a controversy about school attendance, where the Commissioner of Police made an attack on the District Justice in Waterford, and suggested that the administration of the School Attendance Act was not being properly carried out. The District Justice replied that any decision of his that had been appealed had been upheld, and he stated that if there was any other case where the police were dissatisfied, they could have appealed. I hope the Minister will see that in future statements of that sort are not made by the police authorities.

There are other statements which require to be noticed. A particular statement was made which is more calculated to bring ridicule on the police than anything else, and certainly disregard and contempt of certain judges. By way of obiter dicta Judge McElligott at Ennis made remarks in reference to the police. He said that they were buffeted by politicians, they were ballyragged by justices, they were beset by solicitors, and badgered by counsel. I do not know if there is any remedy for that sort of thing, but I think a public protest should be made against such expressions being used by one Department of the State about another Department of the State, and casting slurs on every one concerned.

Last year I referred to the large amount of travelling expenses under sub-head D. I pointed out that the expenses were very high, and asked the Minister to look into the matter. I gathered from his introductory statement that travelling expenses had actually been increased by £1,000. I do not quite follow that, because the Estimate appears to be just about the same. In any case, my contention remains the same, that it is a matter upon which there could be a very considerable reduction.

I also submitted to the Minister last year that he should issue an order that the police should buy Irish manufactures, and that they could, for instance, get excellent Irish bicycles. His answer was that he was not going to interfere with them. That is a most extraordinary attitude on the part of the Department. Here is public money being spent by public officials and it is not to be spent upon Irish manufactures. Surely we are entitled, when it is a question of public money used by public officials, to see that Irish manufactures, where they are as good as foreign manufactures, should be exclusively purchased. It would be very easy if the bicycles did not give full satisfaction from the point of view of police work to arrange for orders upon such an extensive scale as would make it worth while for the firms assembling or making bicycles in this country to adapt themselves to whatever the requirements of the police may be. Some months ago a rumour was rife that a charge had been made against a high police officer in reference to defalcations in connection with the secret service funds. Without going into the details of the matter, I would be glad if the Minister would give us information on it.

Some months ago it was stated that there was a charge made against certain highly-placed officials.

It was made by the Government Department against certain officials. I do not know what happened about it afterwards. I simply mention the matter because it was very widely——

What Government Department?

By the Department of Justice against some of their own officials.

That is the first I ever heard of it.

I am very glad to hear that. I said it was only a rumour, and I asked the Minister if he could give any information.

The information is that it is a completely unfounded lie.

I should like to ask the Minister what is a well-founded lie. I hope the Minister will take the opportunity of clearing up the Stradbally case and of admitting that there was no murder in that case. I should also like to point out that the Minister admitted that his Department knew where the witness Fitzgerald was. It looked as if the Department in some way was responsible for his leaving Stradbally, for his subsequent residence somewhere else, so that people did not know where he was. It was an extraordinary thing that he should have disappeared in such a way, and that no one in the country knew where he was, except the Department of Justice, upon their own admission. I think there is a very strong case to be made for a reduction in the expenditure of this Department.

Whilst a semblance of a case might be made for a reduction in the Army Vote, no case has been made, or can be made, to reduce this Vote. While we have indications of peace and ordered conditions in the country, at the same time, there are occurrences which considerably upset the public mind. There is no need to refer further to the case or cases to which I am alluding. But, if anything were wanting to strengthen my belief in the great need for a numerous and well-paid police force, it is the tragic thing that occurred within the last few weeks.

Certain comments have been made on the conduct of individual Guards. I know of no police force against whom charges of a similar kind might not easily be made. As an Irishman, I feel a certain amount of pride in the fact that this young force has made good in a remarkably short time. It must not be forgotten that in addition to all the duties at one time performed by the R.I.C., this force have to perform point duty in cities and towns where before point duty was not performed. We should also remember that owing to the increase in motor traffic in cities and towns this is a very onerous duty indeed and requires a good deal of training on the part of these men.

I would much prefer to hear, in a debate on a Vote of this character, some comment, for instance, on the unhygienic conditions under which some of these Guards are housed. The Minister must know that in many cases the Guards are housed in unsanitary and unhygienic buildings, and that many of them have contracted tuberculosis as a result of the conditions under which they have to exist in these out-of-the-way barracks. If I had any further comment to offer it would be that owing to the clamours of certain elements around Waterford a Superintendent of the Gárda had to be sacrificed in order to satisfy somebody else. I have heard no comment on that. The Civic Guard appear to be fair game and a cock-shot for every disgruntled member of the community. I know we have a good way to travel yet before we can reach that stage of civic responsibility and civic sense when we will have some of the ordinary civilian members of the community coming to the assistance of the Guards in the execution of their duty. I know that that is not a very popular doctrine to preach to some sections of the community, but it is a doctrine which, if not practised, is advocated by many sensible and good citizens. One thing which makes me feel ashamed sometimes is the lack of moral courage shown by our own people in not saying what I am saying at present. We have had comments made with regard to over-zeal on the part of some of the Guards. I condemn that as much as any Deputy.

The Gárda Síochána is only a human institution, and as such it is bound to have its defects and limitations, but I do seriously suggest that as a police force it is second to none in Europe. Comment was made by Deputy Little in regard to a statement made by a high officer of the Civic Guards in connection with the administration of justice under the School Attendance Act. That officer has replied, in the public Press, and has satisfied me and, I venture to think, every decent-minded citizen, that in what he said he did not in any way overstep his official duty. If I remember rightly, the case to which Deputy Little referred was a statement made by this officer or Commissioner of the Police with regard to the administration of this Act, that he commented, with regard to the administration of the Act, that he and those who were his subordinates endeavoured to carry out the Act as laid down by this House, and that, when they brought a case which they considered a good case, and had evidence at their disposal going to show that they should have got a conviction, they were frustrated in this because of the decision given by a certain District Justice in that case. That was the statement made—I am referring to the case mentioned by Deputy Little.

May I ask the Deputy if he read the reply of the District Justice?

I read the accusation of the District Justice and the reply from the Commissioner, and the reply satisfied me that the Commissioner was right and the District Justice was wrong, and I am satisfied with that. I am not a lawyer.

That explains the Deputy's confusion of mind.

It is quite easy to accuse an official and by a certain process of elimination, and taking things out of their context, to hold up that officer to odium or otherwise to penalise him for giving expression to what he thought to be true and knew to be true. It may have been, if you like, a slight breach of discipline, but I question it, and the officer in question completely justified himself in the reply to the District Justice concerned.

Reference has been made to the Stradbally case. I do not know whether that was quite in order or not, but I am aware of this, that a superintendent was sacrificed over it and I have not heard Deputy Little or anyone else suggest that the officer should be compensated in some way for the blunders of somebody else. Oh no. It was quite sufficient that he was a member of the Civic Guards. That was the damnable thing; it was sufficient to hang him that he was a member of the Civic Guards. While I believe that it is absolutely essential that we should be entitled to bring into review the conduct of any member of this force, whether ordinary guard, superintendent, or chief commissioner, at the same time I feel that in reviewing the conduct of those guards we should have regard to the evidence and to the facts before us.

Deputy Little himself admitted that he put forward a case on rumour, to quote his own words to the Minister. If that is the policy pursued, to level charges against individual members of the Gárda based on rumour, I submit that it is not cricket, that it is not playing the game, and that it is not sportsmanship. I felt myself in agreement with Deputy Little when he suggested that it should be incumbent on the Gárda, though I would not deprive any man of his freedom, as a civic force to support in every way Irish industry. I have no knowledge of cases where they do not, but I did myself some years ago mention upon this Vote a case where members of the Gárda were supplied with civilian cloth manufactured in a foreign country. I was not slow to mention that case here, and I agree to this extent with Deputy Little, that while the Minister may not be entitled by any Act passed by this House to bring pressure to bear on the Gárda to support Irish industry, at the same time I feel sure that a circular letter from his Department would have the right effect. I do not want to occupy the time of the House too long upon this matter, but I always feel that attacking a force of this kind in an indiscriminate way without any solid foundation for the charges, is not a right or a proper thing to do, especially in view of the fact that these men are in the main fulfilling their duties in a most satisfactory manner—satisfactory to their superior officers, satisfactory to the State, and satisfactory to the citizens of the State. In such circumstances I feel that while they cannot make themselves vocal and have little or no contact with members of this House—they have no Dáil Deputy or Senator to voice their feelings in these matters—I would not be doing my duty to the city that I represent or to the people of this country generally if I did not say what I have said in defence of a force which is one of the finest this or any other country ever had.

On a point of explanation, I would like to say that I am quite ready to make any representation and to have any fair inquiry into the conduct of any policeman concerned in the Stradbally case. If Deputy Anthony suggests that I made any attack on any of those people without having sufficient ground he is making a great mistake. I am quite ready to press for any fair inquiry into the conduct of any men where they court inquiry themselves. At least one does court full inquiry into his conduct, and I am prepared to press for that inquiry.

Deputy Ruttledge and Deputy Little seem to be rather unhappy in their mind about the number of Guards in the country. I, for one, think that something might be said the other way about, and that in certain cases the number is not sufficient. I think if a vote were taken throughout the Free State as to a reduction in the Gárda the overwhelming majority would be in favour of the retention of the present number, or even of increasing it.

I know that when there is talk of doing away with police stations people are very outspoken in their opinions as to the consequences of such abolition. Any action of that kind is most unpopular, so far as I know. I agree entirely with what Deputy Anthony said in praise of the force. I think that it is a force of which we have every reason to be proud and, as he said, I do not think that there is a police force in any country which could surpass it. Young as the force is, and considering the immense amount of work which the Guards have to do, I think that the force is very efficient. Some people seem to think because they see a Guard sitting in front of his barracks that he has nothing to do. Such people seem to have the idea that Guards should work for twenty-four hours without rest. As a matter of fact if the Guards belonged to a Trade Union there would probably be a row about the amount of work they do, and the number of hours they work. There are one or two points to which I would like to draw the Minister's attention. Last year I mentioned that there are some police stations on main roads in which the telephone has not been installed. I repeat the point now, and say that it is most important that all police stations on main roads should have a telephone service. Accidents frequently occur on such roads, and a telephone service is extremely important, especially at night.

Two stations which I have particularly in mind are those at Kill and Clane. It is important that they should have a telephone installation. In the case of Kill barracks which is on the main road where accidents usually occur, it is improper that there is no telephone service, and that the police have to depend on the goodwill of a neighbour for any information which has to be hurriedly conveyed to the station. Another matter to which I desire to refer is the question of vagrancy which is, of course, under the control of the police. It seems that the laws dealing with vagrancy are somewhat vague. As many Deputies know, there has been an enormous increase in recent years in this country, in the number of what are called gipsies or travelling tinkers, so much so, that they are becoming a dangerous nuisance. For a long time I thought that my county was exceptional, but I have observed from reading the newspapers that the nuisance is becoming quite common. Only those in the midst of such counties as Kildare, Louth and Meath realise its extent. These people block up even the main roads, and in some cases stay there for a considerable time. They stay sometimes as long as six weeks on the Dublin road, and when they leave the whole place is littered with rags and bottles, and everything likely to be dangerous. They often leave their animals behind, sometimes in a dying condition, on the road, and they become a great danger especially at night to motorists.

In their caravans there are generally an enormous number of people. In three caravans, I was informed some time ago, that there were between twenty-five and thirty-two children. That state of affairs should not be allowed to exist. These people must be evading the School Attendance Act, and it is to the detriment of the State that such a state of affairs should be allowed to go on. I certainly hope that something will be done to stop it. Very often at night these people drive their horses into fields where there are growing crops, and great damage is done. This nuisance is becoming common, and some law or by-laws will have to be put into force to deal with it. It is a national loss that the children of these people should be exempt from any humanising effort to make them better citizens. It is very undesirable that a lot of people of a very low class of society should be allowed to ramble all over the country without, apparently, very much supervision. I think that the matter requires to be seen into and dealt with, and I hope that the Minister will do something in regard to it.

I would like to take the opportunity afforded on this Vote of paying a well-earned tribute to the Gárdai. They are a popular, efficient and impartial body of men, and a credit to the country that gave them birth. They enjoy the confidence of the vast majority of the people in this country, that is, of people who desire law and order. They are, of course, unpopular with people who do not like law and order. On many occasions, in this House and outside of it, lying charges have been made against them, charges which could not stand the light of day when they were investigated. They are a force which, in my opinion, has been a wonderful success. They are unarmed, an experiment which certainly seemed doubtful when they were established. We all know the conditions which prevailed in this country when the force was first set up. It seemed to be taking a great chance to leave the Guards unarmed, but it has proved highly successful. They are an assurance that the peace established in this country at a terrible price will be maintained. They are, and always will be, a living tribute to the memory of the late Minister for Justice, who was responsible for their establishment. They are the admiration of the country and of people out side it. Deputy Anthony, I think deserves great credit for having spokes about them as he did, and every Deputy who does not agree with the foul charges made against them should get up here and say what he think about a body of men who established peace in this country.

Who attacked them as a body?

You people.

As a body? You must be asleep.

Mr. Hogan (Clare):

With regard to the training of the Gárda, most of us are aware of the congested state of our streets and of the attempts to regulate traffic. What I observe about the control of traffic by the men on point duty is that they seem to concentrate their attention entirely on vehicular traffic. They seem to take into account all sorts of vehicular traffic, but concentration on the pedestrian is almost negligible. I believe that that is due to their training. Some consideration should be given as to how traffic is controlled in other places. I am sure that the Minister is aware of traffic conditions elsewhere. In other cities he can see the police on point duty holding up the traffic in the street in order to allow a woman with a child to cross the street and taking particular care of pedestrains. Pedestrains, however, in this city seem to get little attention. Certainly they do not receive a tithe of the consideration which they deserve from the men on point duty. This matter should be brought to the notice of those who are responsible for that training. I do not know whether these Guards have got training in other centres in order to see how traffic is conducted there. Certainly they should give more attention to pedestrians than they do. If the Minister stood at any street corner he would see how vehicles get all consideration but pedestrains little or none.

The debates on this Estimate have always one feature in common, the senseless attacks launched by the Fianna Fáil Party against the Guards. We have had Deputy Ruttledge coming along to-day and saying, as usual, that the Guards should be reduced in numbers because there are too many of them all over the country. I suppose that Deputy Ruttledge happens to think that that suits his Party's political policy for the moment, but I can tell him that that is not the view even of members of his own Party, and that wherever barracks have been shut down protests have reached my Department, and they have not by any means been confined to our political supporters. There is necessity, and great necessity, for Guards in this country. Every ratepayer is entitled to have his property and his person protected. Every inhabitant of the country is entitled to an adequate police force to protect him. That is the main object of every Government, and the duty of every Government is to provide an adequate police force that will restrain crime. Deputies opposite may not like that, but it is the duty of every proper Government. The Deputy went on to talk about the Clonakilty affair. I do not know what he means by the Clonakilty affair. No complaint has reached my Department about the Clonakilty affair. If the Deputy wished for any information on that subject he should have put down a question. If there are charges to be made against the Guards, that is not a new procedure. It is an old procedure, but apparently the Deputy prefers to come along here and bring charges against the Guards.

Does the Minister say the report in the "Cork Examiner" is not correct?

The Deputy has not put down a question. I suppose he thinks he will be able to spring a surprise here.

I explained that.

I will leave Deputy Ruttledge and come on to Deputy Little. Deputy Little started off by saying that the Guards are not impartial. The Guards are impartial. The Guards do their duty irrespective of who a person is. Deputy Little talked about Longford-Westmeath, and said that the Guards were not impartial during the election there. Certain charges were made in this House. I investigated the charges, and I am perfectly satisfied that the charges were made without foundation. The Deputy went on—and here is where Deputy Anthony brought him to book and very rightly brought him to book —to say that he had heard some whispers, and because they were whispers against the Guards it would have to be true, that there was speculation in regard to the Secret Service Fund. That is absolutely untrue. He went further and said that my Department had brought charges. That is absolutely untrue. The Deputy does not give the source of his information, but I think we can fairly gather what persons the Deputy associates with, persons who invent lies of this nature.

You would be surprised if you knew them.

The Deputy went on to talk about the number of Guards at the present time compared with the number of R.I.C. in 1914. The Deputy said something about the Guards not being able to read documents and about taking them away because they could not read them. The Deputy may be able to read, but I am afraid from what the Deputy has shown us here that he is wanting himself both in reading and arithmetic. Let us take his arithmetic. He arrives at figures and he comes at them obviously by first taking the number of R.I.C. that were in the 26 Counties in 1914 and subtracting from those figures the number of police now in the Six Counties and says that the result is the number of Guards we should have here. The real figures are, leaving out the metropolitan area, and taking the rest of the 26 Counties, that in 1914 there were 7,859 R.I.C. men there. If you take the number of Guards at present in these counties, you will discover that the figure is something like 5,600, or something like 2,200 less than there were in the 26 Counties, leaving out the Dublin Metropolitan Division, in the days of the R.I.C. So much about the Deputy's arithmetic. The Deputy talked about transport, and he said that there was no reduction in locomotion expenses this year from last year. In fact, he gave me the credit of saying that it was increased when I had said that it was decreased. Yet, if the Deputy looked at the Estimate he would see that there was a decrease of £1,000 under that heading. He has very large notions indeed if he says that £36,500 and £37,500 are identical figures.

On a point of information, I was looking at the figure for allowances to officers and inspectors for the use of their own motor-cars. That is the particular item I had in mind.

I do not know what the Deputy had in mind. I can only judge the Deputy's mind by the Deputy's spoken words. Deputy Anthony spoke about the unhygienic conditions of certain barracks. I must admit that even now, although a great deal has been done to improve the conditions under which the Guards live, there are to this day certain barracks which are not really fit to be inhabited by Guards. We are doing what we can to bring the barrack accommodation up to the standard at which it should be. Deputy Anthony also spoke about a superintendent being sacrificed over an affair in Waterford. I cannot agree with the Deputy that there was anybody sacrificed there. There were dispensed with an inspector, a very excellent officer, a man with a very good record, and some other men who unfortunately overstepped the bounds on one occasion, and the Guards lost very excellent men. As I have stated here before, it was found by a jury that these men, though they had been excellent men up to that, had on this occasion used third degree methods, and third degree methods are entirely against what the Guards are instructed to use. Strong measures had to be taken against these men.

Deputy Anthony said he was in agreement with Deputy Little about foreign clothing. There is no foreign clothing supplied to the Gárda, and bicycles are not supplied to the Gárda either. The Gárda are allowed a certain cycling allowance, out of which they purchase their own bicycles, and they are perfectly free to purchase whatever bicycles they like. I may inform Deputy Little that I do not know that bicycles are manufactured here—they are only assembled. But assuming that they are manufactured, I think that is a matter that can be left entirely to the Gárda. They want no circular from my Department or from any other Department telling them to be good Irishmen. The Gárda are good Irishmen. They are infinitely better Irishmen than Deputy Little, who prates about his patriotism but whose patriotism consists in seeing where he expects he can get Party advantage. He would sell this country one hundred times over for Party advantage. It is not for the Fianna Fáil Deputies to endeavour to tell the Gárda Síochána what it is to be Irish.

Deputy George Wolfe talked about telephones. We are endeavouring to have telephones in every Gárda station in the Free State in which the cost would not be prohibitive, and we are getting them installed as quickly as we can. I cannot just now inform the Deputy of the stations in which there are not telephones, such as Clane and Kill, but we are getting telephones fixed up in as many stations as we possibly can. Deputy Wolfe has also talked about the Vagrancy Acts. This is the first complaint that has been made as regards not enforcing the Vagrancy Acts to the full. A great many of the abuses to which the Deputy refers are, I am sure, existing, but, I think, tinkers, in my county at any rate, are fewer than they used to be. Perhaps they migrate to richer spots, but if they are breaking the law we will, of course, see that the law is properly observed by them just as by anybody else. Putting their horses into people's fields at night and stealing people's hay are matters which the Gárda will endeavour to check. In that respect, possibly, the real remedy lies in a man's own hands. A man must, to a large extent, protect his own property.

Reference has been made by Deputy Hogan that the Gárda do not do their duty well in the matter of traffic and that they have no regard for pedestrians. That may be a matter on which opinions will differ. I do not myself agree with Deputy Hogan that pedestrians are not regarded at all. I know what happens here and elsewhere where the traffic is held up in certain directions. The traffic is held up and the pedestrian passes over while it is being held up. Then the traffic is held up in another direction and the pedestrian crosses over. The whole traffic is held up for appreciable periods. I certainly do not see any necessity at the ordinary street crossing for aged people or anybody else to hurry across. They seem to be able to cross without any scurrying and without any danger. There is complete control of traffic in every instance where it is required. I venture to think that street control of traffic is very well attended to. We have practically no accidents.

Vote put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 77; Níl, 47.


  • Aird, William P.
  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus A.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, Henry.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Byrne, John Joseph.
  • Cole, John James.
  • Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
  • Conlon, Martin.
  • Connolly, Michael P.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Craig, Sir James.
  • Daly, John.
  • Davin, William.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Doherty, Eugene.
  • Dolan, James N.
  • Doyle, Peadar Seán.
  • Duggan, Edmund John.
  • Dwyer, James.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
  • Everett, James.
  • Finlay, Thomas A.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Gorey, Denis J.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Hassett, John J.
  • Hennessy, Michael Joseph.
  • Hennessy, Thomas.
  • Hennigan, John.
  • Henry, Mark.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Jordan, Michael.
  • Kelly, Patrick Michael.
  • Keogh, Myles.
  • Law, Hugh Alexander.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
  • McDonogh, Martin.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James E.
  • Murphy, Joseph Xavier.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • Myles, James Sproule.
  • Nally, Martin Michael.
  • Nolan, John Thomas.
  • O'Connell, Richard.
  • O'Connor, Bartholomew.
  • O'Hanlon, John F.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Reilly, John J.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Reynolds, Patrick.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Shaw, Patrick W.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Tierney, Michael.
  • Vaughan, Daniel.
  • White, John.
  • White, Vincent Joseph.
  • Wolfe, George.
  • Wolfe, Jasper Travers.


  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Daniel.
  • Carney, Frank.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Clery, Michael.
  • Colbert, James.
  • Corkery, Dan.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Mullins, Thomas.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
  • O'Kelly, Seán T.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Reilly, Thomas.
  • Crowley, Fred Hugh.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Fahy, Frank.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Sean F.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sexton, Martin.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Tubridy, John.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle; Níl: Deputies G. Boland and Allen.
Question declared carried.