Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Friday, 11 Dec 1936

Vol. 64 No. 9

Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Bill, 1936—Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time." When I introduced this question this afternoon I indicated, I think quite clearly, the reason for the urgency. I pointed out that there would be an anomalous situation existing here legally or rather that it might give rise to anomalous interpretations if when Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and South Africa, when these members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, had ratified the abdication of King Edward VIII and provided for a successor we, while still belonging to that group of nations, that community of nations, continue to have a different King, particularly in view of the fact that there was a convention or an understanding that questions of succession were matters which required consultation and consent in regard to all the members. I think that the continuance of that situation would be in every way harmful and I felt that it was my duty to advise the Executive Council and to summon Parliament to deal with it with all possible speed.

Undoubtedly a very abnormal situation has arisen. No special provision has been made for it in advance. It had to be dealt with. We naturally had to consider how we should deal with it, being careful to maintain the status which we at present have, and in the general interests of our own nation. Some people, I take Deputy Norton as one, undoubtedly think that we should remedy this situation by declaring a Republic for the Twenty-Six Counties. I wonder whether that is precisely what he wanted to say or that we should just leave the position as it is and do nothing. Whatever might be said for the solution of declaring a Republic for the Twenty-Six Counties, I certainly see no argument whatever in favour of leaving the situation in the form in which it would be if we did nothing. The effect would not be in our favour I feel certain, but altogether against it. We would have theorists and publicists trying to explain the situation in which we would be placed by some sort of pretence that the King who was appointed in Great Britain, or whose succession is provided for in Great Britain and in the other States, could somehow be regarded as King here. Australia, Canada and New Zealand had to face a situation somewhat similar to ours. They recognised, too, that legislation would be necessary in order to maintain their status. They did what they wanted to have done to regularise the situation by requesting and assenting to legislation to that effect in the British Parliament.

As I said at the start, that is the one thing that we certainly could not consent to and which I do not think any Government here would be willing to consent to. We had, therefore, to regularise the situation. I did not propose to use this situation to declare a republic for the Twenty-Six Counties. Our people at any time will have their opportunity for doing that. We are putting no barrier of any sort in the way. They can do it, if they want to do it, at any time. I have indicated already that that is not our policy, that what we want ultimately is to see a republic for the whole 32 counties of Ireland. I want to say also that, if I were proposing that we should declare either a Twenty-Six County republic or a 32 county republic an occasion like the present would not be the occasion to do it. Neither is the present occasion one on which we should introduce a permanent Constitution here. That is not proposed either. We had intended at one time to continue constitutional amendments, just like those we have put through in the old Constitution, to bring the law in the Constitution into accord with the practice and the real position. But when we had reached a certain position after some time I satisfied myself that this instrument, or whatever you like to call it, this fundamental law, which is scored through in several places, was no longer a fit instrument or a fit document to be regarded as the fundamental law, and I said the time has come when we ought now, with full freedom of action in regard to it, to consider what should be, in our own circumstances, our own Constitution.

This Constitution came into being under very abnormal circumstances. Nobody denies that the Treaty was accepted here only under threat of force and, consequently, if there is any truth in the statements that are made so often from the opposite benches, if there is any truth in the liberty of action and freedom which nations enjoy whilst retaining membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations, we should be at liberty at least to make a Constitution that would accord with our own aspirations and our own desires and use the symbols which our people desire to see of their power, of their authority, in their own Constitution.

I had to consider what advice I would give to my colleagues when dealing with this situation. It was clearly necessary to bring in some Bill by which it would be regularised, or rather by which—I do not like to use the word regularise, because it would be regular, on our theory at any rate —but by which any ambiguity that it might be possible to import into the situation would be completely and thoroughly cleared up. I asked myself: "How can I do this?" I would not ask the members of our Party, nor would I myself take the responsibility for the introduction of a measure such as the second one here unless it was made clear, side by side with it, what the true situation was. I think that, instead of being regarded as some trick, or something of that sort, by some side-wind to secure some advantages, everybody who is sincerely and genuinely anxious about the constitutional situation here should welcome our bringing in the first measure and putting it side by side with the other so as to show clearly what the true position is.

I have heard speeches this afternoon from the opposite benches and, as I listened to them, I said to myself: "Surely these men, when talking about the freedom that was possessed, never believed that we had that freedom, or they could not talk like that." If any excuse was required for putting through this measure quickly it could be found from listening to some of the speeches that were made from the opposite benches. If it were possible to stir up irritation and to cause trouble it would be caused by these speeches. It is not by the action of the Government that irritation between the people of this country and the people across the water would be caused, but by the false interpretation and misinterpretation of our attitude expressed in the speeches I listened to to-day. In these two Bills we are giving expression to the position as it is to-day, in reality and in practice, and, if we are to take responsibility for Bill No. 2, we are not prepared to do so unless we have Bill No. 1, which makes quite clear what the functions of the King are for whom succession is provided. We think this is the proper time. In the time of King Edward VIII I had indicated quite clearly that we proposed in the new Constitution to make the position of the King roughly as it was in the old Constitution, with these deletions. I said that informally, because I had hoped that these were matters of our own domestic concern, and that we are not obliged to get the consent of any of the other States in the British Commonwealth in order to do what we proposed to do. Informally, and as a matter of courtesy, the British Government was informed, and as it was purely informal, naturally I did not keep records in the way Deputy O'Higgins tried to make it appear. I was asked a question if that was done, and I gave my recollection of what was done. I was then asked where were the documents, and so on. The fact that informal notice or information was given was quite sufficient. I hold that it was not necessary to give formal or informal notice of what we proposed to do.

What we are doing is nothing but what the people of Ireland anticipated we would do, and what we said we would do ultimately with regard to this matter. We are making clear what is the fundamental position in practice. It should be well known now, at any rate, that those who take responsibility for any action and decide the policy in regard to it, even where the King is the final instrument by which effect is given to it, are the Executive Council. They have in fact the authority, and as they have authority, it is right that it should be fully and formally expressed here on the face of the document, so that there may be no possible misrepresentation or misunderstanding. We propose to continue the King for the functions which he in fact directly exercise and for these only. The functions provided for here are the only functions which in fact the King exercises. We are providing for the continuance of these functions on the advice and authority—as in the past and in the future—of the Executive Council. We are clearing up the political constitutional situation. We are making clear to everyone what the situation is, and we are removing fiction. Whatever justification there might be in British history or British constitutional theory for such fiction, there is no justification in our case. It is very much better that our people should see clearly, with no fog and no mist of constitutional theory about it, what the situation is. That is what is being proposed in this Bill.

What is happening, then is that from the King are being taken away any functions internal, either direct or indirect, in the Administration of the Government and in the internal Executive of the country, and we are retaining the King for those purposes for which he was used hitherto. He is being retained for these purposes because he is recognised as the symbol of this particular co-operation in the States of the Commonwealth. If the Irish people do not wish to continue him for these purposes they can end that by legislation. They can end the whole situation by law or limit the exercise of these powers by law. What is given in the Bill is permission to continue to use the same instrument. Somebody objected to the word "organ." I think it is as good a word as organisation, for instance. In the Constitution it is stated already that Executive authority will be given effect to by certain organisations, one being the King. If the King can be called an organisation I think he can be called much more properly a constitutional organ. With regard to any impropriety in the expression, I think it is only people who are looking for difficulties will find them. All this talk is in keeping with the attitude of people who talked about "slaps in the face" and that sort of thing. We are administering no slap in the face to anybody, but we are asserting our right, and so we are doing this positive act of our own, and doing it under certain conditions, clearly setting down what those conditions are, so that there can be no misrepresentation. That is the purpose of the two Bills. That is why they are linked together. I certainly —and this Government—would not take responsibility for one without the other. There has been too much misrepresentation of the situation, and too much of an attempt by foreign jurists and theorists to try to give the situation here an interpretation for which we do not stand, and which we think in law is not warranted.

I do not think it is necessary to go through the Bill in detail. The effect simply is to eliminate the King from all those Articles of the Constitution which seem to give him functions here in our internal affairs. We are taking these out. The whole purpose is to do that. In the case of the Governor-General, the appointment and executive powers provisions are being deleted. Whether the Governor-General is immediately ended by that is another question. The amendment does not expressly state what functions in connection with legislation disappear. There are certain statutory functions which would require a consequential Act to clear up. We do not propose to do that now. We can let the situation rest at the moment. If it should be necessary to bring in a consequential Act to deal with it, we are prepared to do so. We have not the list made out of the places where the Governor-General has some functions. There does not appear to be any urgent need. I feel confident, notwithstanding speeches that were made, whether by Deputy Norton, Deputy Thrift or Deputy O'Sullivan, that these speeches were clearly made by people who understand the situation, even though they tried to over-emphasise a particular aspect of it. I shall leave it at that. They thoroughly understand the situation. Those who say we are doing something desperate at the moment, that we are taking a mean advantage of the Irish people, know that, in fact, we are making clear the position as it is. I am quite confident also that if Deputy Norton reflects a little, on his suggestion with regard to leaving matters alone, he will be satisfied that they could not remain in that condition for any length of time. Finally you would have to clear them up, and you would clear them up under much worse conditions than you can clear them up now. You would have considerable irritation created by the misrepresentations that are bound to be made on matters of this sort by people who do not thoroughly understand them, who do not understand the need we have for them or the purpose behind them. I am satisfied that to leave the situation to continue for a considerable time would be to do harm rather than to do good. I move the Second Reading of the Bill.

The President is much concerned with the fog which has been generated about the constitutional position in this country. The President is very anxious about the misrepresentations that may occur even in this debate with regard to what he is now seeking to do. The President states that, if the situation was not cleared up in the particular way he proposes to clear it up, publicists and theorists might not judge correctly of a matter about which they have exhausted their ingenuity. Does he imagine that, in a matter so vital to the future of this country, the speech we have just listened to is an adequate contribution even in the hurried circumstances in which he says he was forced to act? I should have thought that the guillotine resolution, which we have just passed, would be a sufficient gag on the mouths of people speaking in this, the only deliberative Assembly in the country, without anything being added to it. The President is not content. He indicates that he anticipates trouble, and, as a further gag to the mere limitation of time, he warns us that, if trouble does arise, we must bear the blame for it. That is one of the well-known gags of the President. We have had frequent examples of it—the falsehoods uttered in this House as arguments by the President to meet very definite statements and positions put to him, the falsehoods which he could not substantiate by example. One is too recent to require any great analysis. One is too notorious—the matter about Deputy Mulcahy—to require further attention in dealing with that discredited device. We are asked to sit quietly lest, if there is trouble hereafter, we shall be blamed for causing it. That is not what one would call a manly way to meet what appears to us to be a difficult situation. It is not the attitude we propose to adopt. Irrespective of what the President, with his swarm of propagandists, may let loose in regard to our attitude on this matter, we are going to speak our minds freely within the limits of the time allowed. All the old tirades, all the old allegations of lack of patriotism, the enumeration of people on this side with well-known traitors in Irish history—all this will not debar us from saying what we feel it to be our duty to say on this occasion.

One thing, in addition, must emerge from the President's inadequate contribution. The President does not know whether his informal approaches to the British Government on this matter were conducted through correspondence or not. He baulked at first at saying whether or not he would reveal the contents of the correspondence. Then he made a statement that he was not sure that there was any correspondence. Are we to take it that the President of the Executive Council thought fit—possibly thought it his duty—to communicate, even in an informal way, to the British, that he intended to have a Constitution in which the King would play no part, and that, like Pontius Pilate on another occasion, he would not wait for an answer? Does he not know whether or not the British have replied? Did he not ask his representative in England whether he communicated that information in writing, and what were the terms of the writing? Did he not ask him if he had got any reply, and what the response was? This House is told that the President communicated informally with the British. It has not been told whether there has been any reply. It is told that the President does not know the medium through which that informal approach to the British was made. The House is to discuss this very vital matter under these circumstances. The President is concerned about misrepresentation and he is precise in stating that he was careful to maintain the status we at present have. Many years' history is forgotten in that phrase or, at least, an attempt is made to have us forget many years of history. Who first created the fog about the constitutional position in this country? Who was guilty of serious misrepresentations about it? Nobody can put himself forward as a rival to the President in that regard. The President is now anxious about our present status and boasts that he was careful to maintain it. His boast used to be that his driving effort in life was to abolish the status which had been got because it was, according to him, inferior. We shall not take this as the opportunity to declare a republic; it would not be the proper time; the President might be accused of a trick. He is sensitive about accusations about trickery. He ought to be. That sensitiveness ought to arise as much from looking into his own heart as from what anybody on these benches could say to him.

We have got to discuss two measures in a limited time. We must discuss them separately. I am going to speak on the intern measure but, if I do, I speak with advertence to the context of the other Bill, which is to follow. I know that in the context of the other Bill there is, for the first time, acceptance of a particular British Act as being part of the law of this country. I know that the President has accepted a particular position with regard to the King—one that he fought against. I wonder if he considered, when he came to the intern measure, whether there is likely to be any repercussion on our extern affairs from it. We cannot have the solace the President may take to himself over these two Bills. We have no past clouded by error, nothing to fear, no vanity to solace and no attempt is necessary to justify ourselves in the background of history. The President has justified all we did. He can try to justify hereafter his own attitude with regard to the status he is now claiming that he has maintained in this country.

Is there an outside repercussion possible from this first measure? Surely there is. What was the constitutional position that this country occupied up to about three years ago? We had conformed to what the ingenuity and wit of man in most countries in which civilised government obtains had devised. We had conformed to their practices in regard to constitutional internal machinery. We had various checks and balances. We had a Legislature of a particular type. We had an Executive. We had a judicial body standing outside, impartial and able to declare from time to time that certain things done here were unconstitutional. We had a Constitution that was supposed to be fixed. We arrive now at the situation in which we have one House to govern this country. We have a Constitution which is so flexible that it can be moulded under a guillotine resolution in about five hours. We will put our judges in the position that they must stand aside after this House has brought its collective wisdom to bear on a problem presented to it at 3 o'clock and wound up at 10.30. Where are the checks and the balances? Is it necessary, in order to get our situation vis-á-vis Great Britain clear, that all that machinery, well thought out and adapted by centuries of growth, conformed to by all the peoples of the world, should be thrown into the melting pot in order that we get our external association point made clear?

Internally, we had a King operating through a representative. The President is now anxious that the true situation should be made clear: that any function the King may have had in relation to our internal affairs should be removed. Will the President some time or another say whether now, after five years' education in the interior of Government Buildings, he has definitely come to the conclusion that the King had no effective power in regard to our internal relations; that the slander to the contrary was sought to be perpetuated in history in this country, the slander used and used effectively against the President's predecessors, the slander that brought at least three good men to their graves? The President is now keen on maintaining the status that we have, and of making clear that there is no effective power, and neither was there. But there was then a symbol, and here we must turn to the external relations. We became a member of the community of nations. Again, I think the President in the year 1931 expressed the view, when debating a Commonwealth report, that he wanted to be rid of that association. He does not seem so whole-heartedly keen on getting rid of that association now. He tells us to-day that he has still left in the Constitution Article 1:

"The Irish Free State is a co-equal member of the community of nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations."

Is it? Will it remain so? Can we, by an Act of this House, say that we will be a member, even a co-equal member, of that association? Is there nobody else to have a say in that? Are the things that we do here, even as the President talks in regard to our internal relations, going to preclude us from that association, or does the President think that that is not a matter worthy of consideration? Will the President willingly take a gamble that we will be continued in that association no matter what we do in regard to our internal machinery, or is the President now sufficiently taught the lesson that we must live inside that association, not merely that we must live inside it, but that it is desirable that we should live inside it, and that there is no other association which gives us either the prestige or the economic sufficiency that living in that association can give us?

We say that we are going to be a co-equal member in the community of nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations. Would the President not wait for an answer to the informal representations made to the British Government to find whether they thought that that clause could be continued on their side, because there is a reaction in this not merely on Great Britain but on the other group of members forming the Commonwealth? It is an easy thing to say that in what we are doing to-night, in this first Bill, we are only handling internal machinery. The President has no sense of responsibility if he says that and means it to be accepted as the truth. The President knows well that our internal machinery, corresponding with the machinery operating in every part of the Commonwealth, may become a vital matter in the decision as to whether or not we are still to be members of that association. Has that been considered? Has the President weighed up what his Minister for Agriculture said here the other day that this country could stop exports of agricultural produce to Great Britain? It can do that and do it at a price: a further decline in agricultural production, and that the 31 per cent. of the people employed on the land are to become unemployed. Can this country cheerfully look forward to an extra 250,000 of our people being put out of employment? Is there the risk, to put it no further than that, that one of the repercussions from this piece of internal machinery may be that the situation, so gloomily contemplated by the Minister for Agriculture, will be brought about?

This country did achieve a particular status under the Treaty. Despite the President's attempts to hide that particular instrument, the Treaty is still the foundation of this State, and breaches of that Treaty are serious matters. It was argued when the Treaty did come into existence and when this country got a particular association with the other members of that Commonwealth, that our status was an inferior one. One of the men who moulded the destinies of this country—the late Vice-President of this State, Kevin O'Higgins—did seize his opportunities, and despite the derision that was poured on it by the President and his supporters, he did get it made clear beyond all the writings of the theorists and the publicists, even beyond the cloud of misrepresentation and fog that the President tried to raise around the situation, that this country in its internal relations was as free as the freest republic that exists. We had certain symbols. Those symbols were under our control. Those people who were symbols moved at our behest. Those people could not do anything without the advice of the Executive Council; those people, if they disobeyed the advice of the Executive Council, either went themselves or the institutions they represented went and were shattered. But that whole situation was brought along in peace by co-operation, by friendly meetings and advances from time to time in spite of the great impatience amongst the patriots who wanted to get immediately into the open air and get the great freedom of republican institutions. All that was brought along, and that association, then recognised to be valuable, and now recognised to be valuable, is being jeopardised.

That situation was left to the President to handle and we now come to the point where we are said to be dealing with matters that concern ourselves alone. That is promulgated in this House by a man who does not believe the words he utters. We are told that there can be no reactions to this: that if there are any repercussions we do not mind, and so we are going to remove these symbols. We are going to take away a piece of machinery that had to be put in operation by the will of the representatives of the Irish people and are going to make that machinery operate without certain intervening hands. Again be it stated that the President admits the hands that might be interposed would have no power. They came, they were put on the machinery at the request of the Executive Council; they operated entirely at the dictation of the Executive Council; there was no force and effect, no power, and the representative of the Crown, or the Crown itself, could not do anything in this country save what was demanded of it by the representatives of the people.

The machinery was useful. The machinery did not operate against the people of this country. The people were as free as any people could be. But by keeping this piece of machinery, by retaining these symbols, we did retain two things. Firstly, we kept faith with the people with whom we had made a Treaty; we kept our honour and we kept our word. Secondly, we kept touch with an association of immediate material advantage and we kept, beyond all that, under better conditions of permanency, a grouping of nations which certainly do still count and count tremendously in world matters.

One of the important points is the question that looms so much on the horizon at the moment, the question of war or peace. The President declared, on an occasion on which there seemed to be no immediate necessity for such a declaration, that this country would never permit—that no Government in this country would ever permit—the shores of this land to be used for an attack on the British. Why was that statement made? The President has certainly swung in more than ever he has done before into the defence machinery of the old United Kingdom, the group of islands that used to form the United Kingdom. Why has he done so? Does the President think that the doing of this is likely to have a more advantageous effect than keeping the Governor-General or having Ministers appointed by the Crown or having Bills signed by the Governor-General or having the executive authority vested in the King? Does the President think there is no danger in these latter phrases, knowing himself what the phrases mean, and is he prepared to exchange symbols that were of no disadvantage to the people for definite commitments likely to be very dangerous if war should break out?

Supposing this machinery does operate and that we have some sort of an unsettled condition maintained for a period of years as between ourselves and the community across the water. Supposing even that we do succeed in winning through after some years of further sacrifice, some years of further economic hardship, what is to replace what is now being removed? Is it intended that there shall be always in this State a Government of a Single House, that there is going to be no check either by way of judges or any other revising chamber or any other body or group of people or any individual? Is there to be nothing to coerce or to restrain from time to time the majority view of one Single Chamber? Is that what the Government of this country is intended to be? What commitments may we have to enter into to remedy the situation, a good situation as it existed with the British people? Are we to have any process of bargaining? Is there any idea of what the bargains likely to be proposed may be? Has the President even waited to get any account of these things? Does the President feel that that measure, phrased as it is at the moment, and run in conjunction with the one that comes to-morrow, is going to leave feelings as between this country and our neighbours as they were before? If he thinks there is going to be any greater friendliness, will he tell us why it will emerge, and if he thinks there is going to be any possibility or certainty of trouble, will he tell us what measures he has in mind to mitigate even the temporary hardships that will be brought on the people until this is as fully accepted as the Treaty was?

We have, to use the President's own words, abandoned the old method of co-operation. We have abandoned the idea of consultation. We are rushing into an emergency and we are now engineering a very definite constitutional change. As far as the President's words to-night are concerned, he has not brought this to the notice of the House, that he has considered the reaction of that on the Treaty. He has not let this country know what the British said, if anything, about his proposals. The House is to be asked, subject to a closing-up debate at 10.30, to accept these vital changes and we are not told if there is any trouble apprehended. The President has an easy passage in this, or is the President taking up the attitude that, no matter what may come, he is going ahead?

Even at the risk of having the accusation I referred to previously levelled at me, I consider that the accumulation of those changes is a distinct breach of the Treaty. It is a distinct breach of the constitutional position we held. I cannot see that we have any great expectation of remaining with Article 1 of the Constitution effectively in force. I doubt if we will hereafter be a co-equal member of the particular community of nations. I know the President has on other occasions looked to the seriousness of that issue. I know he asked questions as to whether the declaration of a republic here would be regarded as so hostile an act that aggressive military action would be taken against us. On that occasion he appeared to be prepared to sacrifice the economic advantages of being a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Is he making this move now in disregard of his previous fears, or has he quelled his fears, or has he got some statement from the British which enables him, with a clear conscience as to the future, to present this for acceptance to the Irish people?

One might talk of the time at which this is being done. The President is concerned to find he is accused of a trick. Whether it be trickery or not, this undoubtedly is an exceptionally serious change in the constitutional position here and by reaction a very definite attempt upon our position in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is being introduced at a particularly delicate time. The occasion that gave rise to it is one that has caused great anxiety to the people in Great Britain, an anxiety that was not confined to them but has spread beyond those islands and definitely spread to the people in Australia and New Zealand. It appears to have affected quite deeply too the people of Canada and South Africa. And at a time when they are so affected by a particular incident, which could have been met by a single clause measure here, the President decides it is a time to bring about sweeping constitutional changes. It might have been more tactfully done. A better opportunity certainly could have been chosen. And that is the repercussion as far as these people are concerned.

The President has communicated his fears that constitutional changes effected here might be regarded by the British as so hostile an act that they would move troops against us. I do not know if he did believe that, but he professed to believe it. In those days he was concerned also as to whether or not there would be any economic changes to the detriment of this country. The time he chooses to make these changes is not merely a time, as I say, heavy with anxiety because of a particular unfortunate event for the peoples with whom we have no immediate family sympathy, but a time when our people are flying in more thousands than ever before to the country most concerned with this matter, a time when our economic situation was never lower, a time when any man with a little discretion would have waited, would have let the awkward moment pass, and would then have come forward with better and more adequate provision than the President has indicated here in this case, and made his clear statement that because of changes that occurred, because of a growth of status, because of the Statute of Westminister, because of all that happened in the past 15 years, the moment had come for certain sweeping changes. This House is being asked, in very awkward circumstances, to make this choice, and we are being asked to do it under conditions of limited debate and without the President's giving to this House any adequate presentation of what is likely to result from it.

I think we may presume, from the silence on the Labour Benches and also the silence on the Independent Benches, that the real reason Deputies are so shy about speaking on this Bill is that they are quite unable to understand it. I entirely sympathise with that point of view because, while I do not entirely fail to understand this Bill, I very nearly fail to understand it. I think it was Deputy Davin who, earlier in to-day's proceedings, drew attention to the defects that existed in the Bill as drafted and as it came before the House, and Deputy Professor Thrift, following him, said that it would take a constitutional lawyer of vast experience to expound, or even to realise, the implications of the Bill we are discussing. I do not profess to be an expert in constitutional law, but I have had some ten years' experience of the matters dealt with in this Bill. I attended at three of the Imperial Conferences, and during these ten years I had the privilege of assisting at most of the work that was done in connection with the constitutional changes wrought by the last Government. I can, therefore, say that I know enough constitutional law to know how little constitutional law I know. I can, therefore, also say this, that it is almost impossible for anyone in this country, with even a good knowledge of constitutional law, to know what the legal and constitutional repercussions and effects of this Bill are going to be on our internal and external relations.

This Bill creates a political monstrosity, the like of which is unknown to political legal theory, such a monstrosity as exists nowhere in any polity in the world. I listened to the President earlier in the afternoon when he said, fairly categorically, that it was not the intention of the Government, by means of these two Bills which the House has to discuss to-day and to-morrow, to jeopardise our position in the British Commonwealth of Nations. It may be that those who think that the vital interests of this country depend on the maintenance of our relations with the British Commonwealth of Nations will get some little comfort from that assertion, but I very much fear that, when these two Bills become law and when the consequences of these two Bills become plainly to be observed in their operation, such comfort as people may now take to themselves from that declaration of the President will be found to have been misplaced and to be without foundation.

I failed to follow the President in his opening speech on the Second Reading of this Bill. My mind was in a sufficient whirl trying to find out what was the effect of its provisions on our internal and external relations, but when the President proceeded to give as his reason for bringing in this particular Bill amending our Constitution, that the abdication of King Edward VIII required it, that argument of the President completely capsized my intellect. I failed to see any possible connection between the abdication of the King and the provisions of this Bill purporting to take out the references to the King in the Constitution. The President said it was necessary in order to give expression to the position as it exists to-da he had said "to give expression to the position as it existed in 1931," his statement might have been correct. The statement bears the implication, whether he intended such an implication to be given to it or not, that the constitutional advances made by his predecessors in the ten year period from 1922 to 1932 were his constitutional advances and his work. The implication of his phrase was that the position as it exists to-day was the work of the present Government. Since 1932, when the present Government took up office, they have not done one single thing, achieved one single purpose which in the smallest degree advanced our constitutional liberties and rights under the existing constitutional position in the British Commonwealth of Nations.

In so far as this Bill seeks to show to the Irish people that the King had no functions or powers, that the insertion of his name in the original Constitution rather implied that he had such functions and powers, but that by reason of something that was done he now has no powers or functions—all that was achieved by the late Kevin O'Higgins and Deputy McGilligan. Not a single thing, not one scrap of advance was made in that particular connection, nor can it even be claimed that it was made—nor can even a false claim be put forward for the present Government—that they made a single advance or achieved any victory for this country on the constitutional front in connection with the functions of the King. If it is possible for the present Government to introduce this Bill to-day, it is due to the efforts of the late Kevin O'Higgins and Deputy McGilligan. The very fact that the Constitution under which we are functioning, the Constitution which was perfected by the efforts of the last Government, gives to the present Government the power to destroy the Constitution, the power legally to declare a republic, is the best testimonial that could be given to the success that attended the efforts of the late Kevin O'Higgins and Deputy McGilligan in 1926, 1929 and 1930.

The President, if he considers this Bill as a victory for the Irish people, or as a victory for his Party or for his Government, is reaping the fruits of what was sown by the late Kevin O'Higgins and Deputy McGilligan. He is building on the foundations they laid, and his actions are only possible because of their efforts. But what is he doing, in fact, in this Bill and in its corollary, the Bill we are going to deal with to-morrow? He is creating what I have called a political monstrosity.

We find that if this Bill becomes law in the form in which it stands at the present moment—and in that form it must become law having regard to the closure motion which we have passed already—there will be no head of this State in this country for internal affairs. It is said by the President that we must get rid of the King from the Constitution, that he must no longer act in the symbolic capacity in which he did act in internal affairs, entirely on the advice of the Executive Council as a piece of harmless machinery. It is said that that must be got rid of but he is to continue to act as head of our State for external purposes. That is the provision in the second Bill so that we are to have this extraordinary and ludicrous position—a state of affairs which will make us the laughing stock of international jurists throughout the world—that for one purpose we have no head of this State and for another purpose we have a foreign King as the head of our State. What sort of State is that at all? What sort of political monstrosity is it that we are creating by this Bill? Under Article 51 of the Constitution, the executive authority in the Irish Free State was declared to be vested in the King, but it was to be exercised in accordance with the law, practice and constitutional usage governing the exercise of the executive authority in the case of the Dominion of Canada.

The work of the last Government, particularly that of the late Kevin O'Higgins and Deputy McGilligan was directed in 1926, 1929 and 1930—and in 1930 complete victory was achieved— to make it clearly apparent that that meant, as it was always understood to mean, and as Michael Collins and other persons who asked the Irish people to accept the Treaty said it meant, that the real authority of the people in this country rests, and would rest under the Treaty and under the Constitution that they would give to the people, in the representatives of the people and in the Government elected by the people and in nobody else. That was the position achieved and solemnly declared in the findings of the Imperial Conferences of 1926, 1929 and 1930. The fruits of it the present Government are reaping and are taking very good care to reap. The position under that Article was, until to-day, that the executive authority of the Irish people was exercised by the Government elected by the Irish people, in the Parliament responsible to, and elected by, the Irish people. The King was merely a symbolic head of the State and as such symbolic head of the State he had no power, either nationally in our internal affairs or internationally in our external affairs. That was the position which had been achieved by the work of the late Kevin O'Higgins and Deputy McGilligan. They worked on the internal front and on the external front. It was realised, in order that our status should be sufficiently recognised abroad, and in order that not merely should our own people recognise it when we told them that they had that power, that it was necessary for the establishment of our status, for our national pride, that our complete freedom should be recognised nationally and internationally. The recognition of our freedom, our complete and absolute independence as a sovereign State was conceded internationally in Geneva by the declaration of the British Foreign Minister in 1929 when Deputy McGilligan signed the optional clause of the Permanent Court of the Hague. So that internationally and nationally complete independence was secured for this country. Not merely was it secured in the Commonwealth but recognition was secured for the country from international jurists. What is the position which the Government have taken up now? We have this extraordinary state of affairs, that half a head of a State represents us in our most important manifestations of sovereignty. The test by which sovereignty is determined by international law, the test by which our status in external affairs is determined, is how we operate in international affairs, in our external relations with other countries, how we conclude treaties and how we carry on association with foreign countries. Up to this we had done so through our Government and through our Minister for External Affairs, acting occasionally, but not always, through the symbol of the King. He was the symbol of our country, merely a symbolic figure acting on the advice of the Executive Council in international affairs and acting on the advice of the Executive Council in national affairs, with no shred of authority and no power.

What do we find now? What problem is presented to international jurists now by this Bill? Into what category are we going to be put as a State in international law? There is no niche that I know of in international law where this State can fit in, with this monstrosity, this half head of the State acting for us sometimes and not acting for us at other times. We had it affirmed, in the most solemn way we could, in the Statue of Westminister passed by the British Parliament, that the Crown in its relation to this country, as a member of the association known as the British Commonwealth of Nations, was the symbol of our freedom, the symbol of our free association in a group of States each of which was sovereign and independent. We had that solemnly set forth in as solemn words as could be conceived by a draftsman. That was what the Crown stood for and it has stood for nothing else. It stood as the symbol of our freedom, our free association. That is now taken away by these Bills which are recommended to the Dáil by the President to-day. This half Crown that we are asked to take on as the symbol of this country, as the head of our State in international affairs, apparently was not deemed of sufficient dignity to be the symbol of our freedom and of our free association in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is now called the symbol of our co-operation. The Crown was never the symbol of our co-operation in the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is solemnly stated in the Bill with which we shall have to deal to-morrow, and which is a corollary to the present Bill, that "so long as the King recognised by those nations as the symbol of their co-operation continues to act on behalf of each of those nations," then he is to continue to act on behalf of this nation. Instead of having a symbol which we had reduced to the symbol of our freedom, a symbol which could not act except on the advice of the representatives of the Irish people and in accordance with every wish and, in every detail, in accordance with the wishes of the Irish people, that is swept away by this Bill which we are asked to pass, and some new principle is substituted, which is called the symbol of co-operation. I do not know what that means. The Crown was never the symbol of our co-operation. There was a principle of consultation and co-operation, but that was not the symbol of our co-operation. We did not express our co-operation in this community of nations, this League of Nations known as the British Commonwealth of Nations—we did not express that principle of co-operation and consultation through the medium of the Crown. We substituted that principle of consultation and co-operation for the control of the Crown in the Imperial Parliament, and it was one of the achievements at the Imperial Conferences of 1926, 1929 and 1030, that the control of the Crown, through the Dominions Office, through the advice of British Ministers was swept away completely and for ever; that the control of the British Parliament by the medium of British Imperial legislation was swept away for ever and, instead of that cement which formerly held together what was called the British Empire, a cement which was made up of advice from the Dominions Office and from the Ministers of the Crown and from Imperial Acts of Parliament—instead of that there was substituted that loose co-operation founded on consultation and co-operation.

How have we kept our word with those Dominions which helped the representatives of the Irish people to achieve their freedom in the Imperial Conferences of 1929 and 1930 and 1936? Kevin O'Higgins was assisted in his work by the representatives of Canada and South Africa, not to mention any of the others. Deputy McGilligan was helped in his very arduous task in 1929 by General Beyers on behalf of South Africa, by the representatives of Canada and by the representatives of Australia, and in 1930 we had reached the position, as the result of the prestige that had been gained for this country by their representatives at Imperial Conferences in 1926, 1929 and 1930, that every single one of the representatives of every Dominion, of every State member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, ranged themselves behind the representatives of the Irish Free State and demanded that their rights should be granted, and they were granted finally and for ever. We took on, in return for that co-operation and in return for that assistance which we got from the Dominions—we undertook, for the freedom that we obtained for this country through the operation of our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations, as established over that long period of years and by that very arduous course of work, obligations, slight obligations, obligations that cost very little, if anything at all. Those obligations have been dishonoured by the President of the Executive Council in reference to these two Bills we are asked to pass here to-day.

The President said that he did not wish to have it said that we required the consent of any Dominion to anything that we do here. I agree that we do not require anybody's consent to anything we do, either in our domestic affairs or in our international affairs. The President stressed that we did not require the consent of anybody in our internal affairs. The implication of that was—and I believe he believed it—that we do require the consent of somebody in our international relations. We do not require the consent of anybody in our international affairs or in our national affairs in the exercise of our sovereign and independent rights, but we are under an obligation, voluntarily undertaken, to consult our fellow-members, our fellow States members of the British Commonwealth, when we propose to take any action that may affect their rights or their beliefs or their loyalties. This Bill may be doing nothing wonderful, as the President said —or that was the effect of his speech: that we are doing practically nothing in taking the King out of the Constitution. Assuming that we are doing nothing and that it is a mere trifle taking the King out of the Constitution, there are millions of people in the Commonwealth of Nations who, whether we share their beliefs or loyalties or not, have a profound loyalty to what they refer to as the Crown. The Crown to us here means nothing but a symbol. To them it means something personal. To the British it means their whole social order—everything they hold dear —and, above all things, it stands for stability in political and economic affairs. It is a tragedy that the one nation in the world that has withstood the shocks of all the economic revolutions that have upset the world in the last 20 years, the one nation which withstood that shock and that was now emerging as, definitely, the most sound economic country in the world—that at this time that country should have had to suffer the tragedy that they have had to face within the last four days in England.

Whatever the views of the greatest republican in this country may be in reference to the British Crown, whatever instincts we may all have as Irishmen in reference to the British Crown, by virtue of the fact that it stood, in the past, for everything we detested, we can now recognise that it now represents for us the symbol of our freedom. We can recognise that we are sufficiently free to recognise the tragedy that has befallen our copartners in a free association of free nations, and we ought not to have introduced this Bill without asking them if they thought it hurt their sympathies or offended their susceptibilities. If it did nothing more than hurt the susceptibilities of people throughout the world, then at least the courtesy ought to have been extended to them of telling them that it was the intention of the Government to introduce this Bill.

Lip-service was paid this afternoon by the President of the Executive Council to the principle of co-operation. He said, in reference to the abdication of the King, that it was necessary that some action should be taken by this country, and he made a remarkable statement. He proceeded to say that if we are to remain associated with the States of the British Commonwealth, it is evident that common action—and then he quickly corrected himself and said "concerted action"—should be taken. The President has been learning constitutional law. I am glad that he has been learning constitutional law and that he recognises that there is a difference between common action and concerted action, and I hope that he recognises that we could take independent action if we like, common action if we wish, concerted action if we desire, and that any action that we take is our own action, whatever action we take, and that we are completely free to take any action, but that we are under a very definite obligation, before taking any action, to inform our fellow-members of the British Commonwealth of Nations that we do intend to take that action.

I agree with the President of the Executive Council that the events which have transpired in Great Britain during the last few days would require from this Parliament a definite Act to make them effective. It is for each State member of the Commonwealth to determine for itself how it will meet the situation which arises. I agree that this Dáil should not stand—nor should any section of this House stand —for legislation by the Parliament of Great Britain on behalf of this country. That was the principle which the Government from 1922 to 1932 stood for. That was what they achieved for this country in 1931, and it is that power that the present Government are exercising in bringing in these two Bills to-day. I agree that it is necessary that there should be legislation to deal with the abdication of the King. I may say, in passing, that I have the very gravest doubts as to whether the second Bill which we will be considering to-morrow does in fact adequately deal with the situation created by the abdication of the King. At best it deals with it in a very crooked way. I never knew that the Act of Settlement was the law of the Irish Free State. We are declaring here, or we will declare to-morrow when the second Bill introduced to-day is passed into law, that the Act of Settlement is the law of the Irish Free State, and I suppose that the Act of Union is the law of the Irish Free State. That is what we are going to say by the second Bill—that the Act of Settlement and the Act of Union are the law of the Irish Free State. I did not know that they were. The people of this country will know, probably to-morrow evening, that they are.

Who is going to sign these Bills? We are taking the King out of the Constitution. Who is the gentleman that Deputy Davin said he never met out in Dun Laoghaire going to represent? The Governor-General has been kept in the background. He got a warrant of authority from some King. That warrant has come to an end, or will come to an end once King Edward VIII abdicates. Who is going to fix the precise moment at which the abdication of King Edward VIII becomes effective? How long is the authority of Mr. Donal Buckley, the present Governor-General of the Irish Free State, to last? What legal effect will his signature on either of these Bills have? These Bills are going to cause tremendous unrest in this country from the point of view merely of our internal affairs. I myself can see the gravest legal and constitutional difficulties arising in connection with this Bill. Reference has been made, I think by Deputy McGilligan, to the fact that this Bill which we are considering at the moment is a clear breach of Articles I and II of the Treaty. I myself think that it sweeps the Treaty aside completely, and notwithstanding the President's declaration that he still adheres to Article I of the Constitution and that it is his intention by virtue of this Bill to clamp this country down into the British Empire, I believe that this is the clearest breach of the Treaty that there could possibly be. That may affect only our relations with Great Britain. With that I am not at the moment concerned, although it concerns and will concern the poorest person in this country. If our relations with great Britain are still further aggravated, we are going to have still further economic unrest and instability in this country, and further economic unrest and instability are going to affect the poorest as well as the richest in the Irish Free State.

The Supreme Court, our own court, has decided that constitutional changes cannot be made after the lapse of eight years where they offend against an Article of the Treaty. I do not care what the position is going to be in this country from a constitutional point of view, provided we know definitely where we stand. I can understand the position, constitutionally and internationally, of this country being a member, a full, recognised, decent member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I can understand a decent declaration of a republic. But I cannot understand the indecency which is being perpetrated on this country by this Bill. I do not know into what political pigeonhole we are going to be put when this Bill is law, but whether we are in the Commonwealth of Nations, whether we are a republic, or whether we are neither one thing nor the other— a State unknown hitherto to political theory—I want at least that it should be definite, so that the ordinary person's rights in this country in his ordinary affairs should be clearly defined and ascertained. If this Bill is not constitutionally proper, and if it is not effective law in accordance with the decision of two at least out of the three, if not the whole three, of the members of the Supreme Court in the Colonel Jerry Ryan case, how are you going legally to collect your taxes? How are you going legally to enforce the orders made by the Executive Council in statutes? A whole vista of litigation and subsequent legislation spreads itself out before anybody who thinks, and who must become appalled at the possibilities which are inherent in this Bill.

It would be impossible, in the time that is at our disposal, to go through every point which ought to be made on this Bill. I have barely touched on the fringe of the subject. I have barely touched on the consequences that may ensue from the passage of this Bill. But there is one thing that I want to say in conclusion—that, if we stand here to-day opposing this Bill vigorously and with all the eloquence and force at our disposal, we are prepared to have the back-benchers of Fianna Fáil go down the country and denounce us as pro-Britishers. We are used to the slander, we are used to the falsehoods and the false political propaganda of Fianna Fáil. In the exercise of our duty we are prepared to take that risk, but we want it to be clearly understood that that is only a trick of the Fianna Fáil Administration and of the Fianna Fáil Party in order to blind, to give a sort of anodyne to the country, to lull them into the belief that this is something of a republic, that at least we have got rid of half the King and will soon get rid of the other half. The Crown as it exists in this country is not the sort of thing which Deputy Donnelly will tell his constituents in Leix-Offaly that we say it is. It is the symbol of our freedom. It is more than that; it is the instrument by means of which we achieved our freedom. It is an instrument through which the representatives of this country in 1926, 1929 and 1930 persuaded their fellow-members of the British Commonwealth of Nations to change the whole theory, the whole fabric of the British Empire as it then stood.

Was it changed?

Completely and absolutely. The British Empire existed before 1926 and 1929. In 1926, Kevin O'Higgins laid the foundation-stone of the new structure of an independent nation. The coping-stone was put on that structure in 1930 by Deputy McGilligan: the British Empire no longer existed. The King was no longer King in the way he reigned in 1925. He was the symbol of our freedom. He exercised any functions that he did exercise internationally and nationally merely as the mouthpiece of the Irish people. The British Empire had ceased to exist and had become an association of independent free States, completely and independently sovereign. They were no longer controlled from Downing Street or by the Imperial Parliament. All that was swept away. The entire fabric of the British Empire was changed and we became a completely free nation exercising our freedom and our sovereignty in any way that we pleased. It is in that sense that we stand for the Crown as the symbol of our freedom, as the mouthpiece through which the Executive Council acts in certain international affairs and as the fiction through which the executive authority of the Irish Free State acts in our internal affairs. There is no essential difference between the functions exercised by the King in our international affairs and the functions exercised by him in our national affairs.

If the President of the Executive Council, the members of the Executive Council and the hangers on of the Fianna Fáil Party throughout the country think that something more is going to be achieved by the passing of this Bill, by putting the King out of the Constitution, then they are suffering under a very severe delusion. There is no difference between the functions as exercised by the King in our internal affairs and the functions exercised by the King in external affairs. He acts in both capacities on the advice of the Executive Council. What are those foreign jurists, of whom the President is so much afraid, going to say about the position to be created by the present Bill if it becomes law? Are they going to say that we are investing the Crown with greater dignity, greater power, greater prestige, and greater force in our international affairs? Our status in international affairs is judged by its marks of sovereignty which are exercised in external affairs. We will have our international lawyers who are sufficiently astute telling the world that this Act of ours is investing the King with greater authority, greater force and greater prestige than he had when his Kingship as head of our State was a mere fiction, acting without power and acting without authority, except such power and authority as was given by the Irish Government from the Irish people.

I am not going to delay the House very long and I am not going to say very much in this debate. I just want to say that I was bewildered by the President's opening statement on the introduction of this Bill. He told us that he did not consult any member of the British Commonwealth of Nations about the particular action he is taking to-day. Sir, I submit that the situation that has arisen is one to which he should have given some consideration. I submit that he should have consulted other members of the Commonwealth unless as it has already been described here we are to keep half in and half out of the Commonwealth. In my opinion, that is an undignified position for this country to occupy.

The President says he wants to clear the air. I submit that the readiest method by which he could clear the air would be positively to declare a Republic for the Twenty-Six Counties. In that way, there would be no fog or no difficulty whatever to meet. By declaring a Republic for the Twenty-Six Counties he would be doing something positive. He should have put it up to the British Government that if they wanted us to remain members of the Commonwealth and to accept the monarch as monarch of this country, we would only do so on condition that we had him as monarch of a united Ireland. I submit, Sir, that the President and the Executive Council funked the job. They ran away from their responsibilities in this matter. You will probably never get a similar situation or anything at all like it again in this country. I know it is said that we should not avail of an opportunity like this or the opportunities presented at Geneva but Deputies might remember that the old slogan in this country was "England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity."

Did the Deputy discuss that with Deputy Professor O'Sullivan?

I have discussed it with myself and I am as much entitled to look into my own heart as the Minister for Industry and Commerce is, or as the President himself is, in order to find out what the Irish people want. I may tell the Minister that as a plain Irishman I know what the people of this country want.

Not a Republic anyway.

I know that we want straight dealing. That is what we want at a particular time like this in our history. As I said here before, we are in the position now that we have one leg in and one leg out. The President tells you that we are retaining the status. He tells us also that it is absolutely essential that we should pass certain legislation and that we could not pass that certain legislation until this Bill was first passed to regularise the Crown in this country. If the President wanted to regularise the Crown in this country that is simplicity itself; it should not be done by the method which is adopted in the Bill which we will be discussing to-morrow. As Deputy O'Higgins says, this is a very underhand way of doing what the President says he wants to do. To my mind it simply means that the Fianna Fáil Party want to be in the position of being able to say down in the Bog of Allen that they are republicans and of being able to say in Piccadilly that they are imperialists. That sort of thing is not fair to the Irish people. They deserve better than that. The Government are lowering this country to a position that nobody who ever fought for it or worked for it would wish to see it in. In the two days which the President had at his disposal there could be nothing wrong in his putting up to the British statesmen the proposition that owing to the circumstances that had arisen we were prepared to accept the Crown on condition that we had a united country.

When the President saw that Lord Craigavon had stepped over to London why did he not take up this matter with the British statesmen? Why was Craigavon sent for? We may assume that the British statesmen foresaw some question like that arising from the Free State. What use did the President make of that situation? The President and the members of his Cabinet have done here this week at the end of 1936 what he and his Party did in 1922. They shirked the issue. They were not prepared to go over and to meet the British statesmen face to face, as man to man, as equal Governments and equal peoples and there discuss with them the difficulties between us and bring them to an end. I am prepared to say this to the President that in the event of his taking up with the British Government this attitude of going over discussing and effecting a settlement of the political differences between the two countries and the two peoples he would have behind him the support of 90 per cent. of our people. If you do not do that, if you accept the King and, for the first time, put in positively and definitely that you remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations—I am not sure whether you are or not—and if you retain the Governor-General, not knowing whether you want him or not, or what you want him for—the President says he is not sure whether the Governor-General should be retained, but he says that it is proposed to retain the King for the functions which he directly exercises and that the Governor-General would perform these functions—what is that? It has been described by Deputy Costello as a monstrosity. I know another word for it that is worse than that.

Then the President tells us that it will clear the position. When we look at the alterations that are proposed to be made he says that the Executive Council is to have all the executive authority and, quite blandly, this evening the President started to exercise these functions, the functions of the King. What he said was—that he felt called upon to advise the Executive Council. That is a rather peculiar phrase. He advises the Executive Council, I presume, that they must do so-and-so. Is that the sort of position that we are arriving at-that when the President says something the Executive Council say, "Yes, yes" and that is the end of Government in this country? It looks as if it were so, because the President has told us that he advised the Executive Council and the Executive Council apparently said yes. Then he must have advised the Party, and they said yes, and the machine goes on and the legislation is through.

Every Minister advises the Executive Council.

The President has advised the Executive Council in this case and he was looking into his own heart when doing it. He knows what is good for the Executive Council, and the Executive Council say yes, and are glad of the chance. That is the position. The President said that he advised the Party and the Party says yes. I am quite satisfied that not five of them outside the Front Bench know what is in this Bill. They discussed it themselves for about 20 minutes. The President advised them and that was the end of that. For a Republican Government to adopt that attitude is very low. As I say, the position will be positively clear if you adopt either of the attitudes that I suggest. There will be no question of difficulty for jurists or anybody like that. If you accept the Crown and the Monarchy for the united country, for an All-Ireland Parliament and go over and negotiate your settlement of that and leave this legislation here until it is finished-pass the Abdication Bill if you want to, but go over and negotiate that settlement and you will have done something and will be getting somewhere. In the alternative, if instead of taking this underhand method, because it is nothing else, of pretending you are declaring a republic and not doing it, you declare a republic, we will know where we are and there will be respect for you in this country at least, even if there is hostility towards you in England, which you do not mind, I suppose. That will be some advantage, some ground gained. Failure to do that leaves this country in a lowered condition, which nobody who fought for it or whoever thought anything about it would like to see it in. It will be the butt of every person who wants to come in and tell you what you ought to do. While not wishing to say anything about anybody, I notice that there are people who come into this country, who have served a long time with the British Administration, and try to tell us what we are to do and what is patriotic and what is not. I tell them that they should be very careful, that we know exactly what is good for our country and we do not have to ask anybody like them.

The overwhelming objection to this Bill, as I said earlier in the afternoon, is that we do not know whether it puts us outside, the Commonwealth or not. That very fact makes any extended discussion of the Bill useless and, indeed, next door to impossible. The complaint against the Government with regard to the guillotine motion is not that, under the circumstances, a longer discussion would be of any use; the complaint is that the circumstances in which they have presented it are such that we simply do not know what we are doing. For that reason, I do not propose to repeat what I have said already this afternoon or to set forward any further arguments about the major issues that are raised by the Bill. I want to put a technical point to the Attorney-General and, before doing that, to say just a word upon the speeches of Deputy MacEoin and Deputy Costello.

As regards Deputy Costello's speech, it seems to me that he has grossly over-stated the effect of the changes in the constitutional position that he says were brought about during the regime of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. After all, the first two Articles of our Constitution read as follows:—

The Irish Free State is a co-equal member of the Community of Nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations.

And Article 2:—

All powers of government and all authority, legislative, executive, and judicial in Ireland, are derived from the people of Ireland and the same shall be exercised in the Irish Free State through the organisations established by or under, and in accord with, this Constitution.

If anything could justify—I do not think anything could—the action of the Fianna Fáil Party in precipitating this country into civil war it would be the suggestion that was implied in Deputy Costello's speech, that these two Articles were a delusion and a snare at the time they were first introduced. It is simply not true that the principle of real self-government for the different parts of the British Commonwealth did not exist before the efforts of the late Mr. Kevin O'Higgins which he described. It is not true that the King could act in relation to this country on the advice of any Ministers except the Irish Ministers, or that the King could act in relation to any other country of the Commonwealth on the advice of any Ministers except the Ministers of that particular country of the Commonwealth. The Statute of Westminster was useful in making precise what was already constitutional practice, but I cannot believe that it is wise to suggest that there was this extraordinary revolution in the whole structure and theory of the British Commonwealth that Deputy Costello in his speech said there was during the years of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. The Cumann na nGaedheal Government made certain things clearer. I imagine but for the sort of opposition they had to meet here they might not even have thought it necessary or important to get these things clearer than they were. While they got things made clearer, and though it was valuable to have them made clearer, it is not true that by the Treaty we were really taken in and only given the show of freedom, and that it needed the efforts of successive Ministers for External Affairs in the Cumann na nGaedheal Government to turn the show of freedom into the reality of freedom.

As to the speech of Deputy MacEoin, I am simply amazed that anyone on the Front Opposition Bench should come forward with the proposal that we should put into effect on this occasion the old proverb that England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity and that we should have gone to the British and said: "Look here, if we fall in with your wishes and recognise this new King it will be only on the basis of a united Ireland. You must put the thing through." It appears to me that to take that course would have been, in the first place, utterly futile and, in the second place, open to the very objections that were so eloquently urged by Deputy O'Sullivan and Deputy McGilligan against the course the Government is now taking.

Was not that your view on sanctions? Your view did not count much on that.

I am afraid I do not follow the Deputy. I hardly think it is tactful of him to refer to the attitude of his Party on the subject of sanctions in Geneva. I gather he is now suggesting that, in keeping with what he says they ought to have done to-day, they ought to have made use of the situation at Geneva to blackmail the British Government into some concession to us, quite irrespective of the fact that we had undertaken freely certain obligations and had to decide whether we would fulfil the obligations we had freely undertaken or not.

And you are out in the cold ever since?

I want to put it to the Attorney-General that it is clear this Bill No. 1 effects nothing at all with regard to the change in the holder of the Crown. If legislation by the Irish Free State is necessary to make the abdication of King Edward VIII effective, and to make the appointment of the new King effective, then such legislation will not have been carried through to-day, and until to-morrow at any rate it would seem that King Edward VIII remains the lawful King of this country, even though he ceases to be elsewhere. I should like to know if that is the Attorney-General's view of the position.

Turning to Bill No. 2 it has a bearing on what we are doing with Bill No. 1, and I think it is legitimate to raise this point:—It is to be enacted that:

(2) The King referred to in the foregoing sub-section of this section shall, for the purposes of that sub-section, be the person who, if His Majesty King Edward the Eighth had died on the 10th day of December, 1936, unmarried, would for the time being be his successor under the law of Saorstát Eireann.

That appoints—though I do not think it is the proper expression, I will adopt it for the moment— a King in relation to some purposes in the previous sub-section and only in reference to those purposes, so that it would appear the outgoing King will still remain King for all other purposes. The fact, that a list is given of a whole lot of functions that are taken away from him in Bill No. 1 is not conclusive that he does not remain King for some purposes—he might on the advice of the Executive Council be authorised to do certain acts that are not listed in Bill No. 1. I presume the Attorney-General has carefully considered that matter, but it is clearly relevant to the consideration of Bill No. 1 that we should know what the technical position really would be as a result of Bill No. 1 and Bill No. 2 taken together.

I should like to refer to one or two remarks of Deputy MacDermot. He complained that in his judgement Deputy Costello had very much misrepresented the development of the Treaty position. I should like to point out at the beginning that prior to the coming into existence of the Irish Free State there was no doubt whatever that certain laws existed clearly implying the inferiority of the position of the Dominions. Secondly, at that time there were also practices which clearly indicated that the British Government could act with legislative effect with regard to the Dominions. Take the case of the signing of treaties. The Deputy will remember that in the case of Versailles the preamble made it clear that, in as much as the British representative had full powers in relation to the whole Empire given him by the respective Governments, his signature was for the whole Empire. Apart from that, there was the British North America Act and the Mercantile Marine Act which implied inferior status. The Treaty by incorporating the words "practice and constitutional usage" itself gave development. The Constitution when introduced defined and stated that we were co-equal members of the community of nations. That affirmation of co-equality was accepted when the Treaty was accepted and was accepted by the other party to the Treaty. In the following years, what our Government did was this: In every case, in every practice, and in every survival which implicitly or explicitly suggested lack of that co-equality, we pointed out that such survival and such condition was incompatible with the Dominion position as defined by our Treaty, and as incorporated by our Constitution, and in that way we did radically change the whole status of the Dominions, because there was nothing about it when the Free State came into existence. The Dominions had not then the same status as the British in the Commonwealth. In accepting the Treaty we accepted it with the guarantee, and on the clear understanding that every inequality that existed would be wiped out. In that regard, when we were negotiating with the British if in practice or in law anything was incompatible with co-equality, once that was made clear, these survivals in practice and in law were by common agreement abolished as incompatible with the understood position of the Dominions.

Could the Deputy refresh my memory by telling me the approximate date of the Balfour declaration?

The Balfour declaration was 1926. I do not want to pursue that too far, except in so far as to meet other points that were raised. There were certain other points which involved possible legal consequences, and these were postponed for what was called an expert commission which did not meet until 1929. It met then, examined the matter, and made certain recommendations which came before the Imperial Conference in 1930, which were incorporated in the instrument called the Statute of Westminster. When we took over, we became a co-equal member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The President says we remain a co-equal member of the Commonwealth of Nations by reason of the fact that he has not abolished Article (1) of the Constitution, which says:—

"The Irish Free State (otherwise hereinafter called or sometimes called Saorstát Eireann) is a co-equal member of the community of nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations."

We affirmed that in our Constitution. It is quite clear that when you use a phrase like "British Commonwealth of Nations", it must connote something. We are a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and also a member of the League of Nations. Membership of the League of Nations requires certain conditions and it is something completely external to ourselves, to which we adhere by going through certain forms and adhering to the Covenant. I do not think that the President will deny that certain things were implied and necessary in relation to a State-member of the Commonwealth so far. What has been implied, so far, is that each one of these States has the King as what I might call an integral part, within itself. The King stands, so far, as part of our legislature, as we can see by reading the Constitution. The Bill which will come before us to-morrow refers to the King being King by the law of Saorstát Eireann.

This Bill completely eliminates every reference to him in the Constitution. Therefore, it must be assumed that, when this Bill goes through to-night, the King will no longer be part of the Irish Free State legislature. The President got up and talked for some time but said nothing whatever. You have the Commonwealth of Nations, which is the result of growth. It has grown up, so that it has not needed very exact definition. When it comes to considering what it is that constitutes a State a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, one of the first notes or marks is that the King, who is the King of the British Commonwealth of Nations, is an integral part of that State. That is to say, he is not external to the State and is not a mere external link between the States but, being in each of these States and being the identical person in charge of the whole organisation, he makes that link from the interior of the State and not from the exterior. The President calmly states that he had not time for conference with the other members of the Commonwealth and that it would not be relevant. He says that we are a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and can enjoy every privilege and benefit that may accrue therefrom by reason of the fact that our Constitution claims we are a member. It seems to me that, in the case of any organisation, that organisation has the right to lay down the conditions of membership, even if the conditions be undefined, because no firm definition has ever been made in this case. The British Commonwealth of Nations has consisted of a number of countries which accepted one man as King in these countries. In that way he was the link. The President arbitrarily comes along and says he is wiping him out so far as the Free State are concerned but we are still members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It seems to me that he has asked us to accept something without having bothered to find out what the effect of his act will be.

Can we say that we, the Irish Free State, have decided that, for membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations, nothing more is required than that the Executive of this State should employ the King as their agent for certain external functions? I think that the President has shown an absolute disregard for this House and for the people by calling us here and asking us to pass this Bill with the casual remark that he is not abolishing Article I of the Constitution and that, for that reason, we remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I am far from satisfied that we do remain a member. When this Bill is passed to-night, shall we have any relations whatsoever with the King. In our basic law, which defines our whole position and from which every other law flows, there will be no reference to the King once this Bill passes. The only Article into which that reference might be read is Article 73, which says that all laws in existence when the Free State was established continue to apply except in so far as they are changed or abolished by our action here. It may be that the President holds that, by virtue of that Article, the Act of Settlement applies and that, although there is no mention of the King in our basic law, from which all our law flows, the King still remains by reason of the Article which incorporates previous legislation, including the Act of Settlement. If it is a fact that we have been called together to wipe out the King from the Constitution and, consequently, to separate ourselves from the British Commonwealth of Nations, the President is clearly acting against his own most solemn promise, in so far as one can regard any promise from him as solemn. Surely, the effect of his action is that to-night —whatever may happen to-morrow night—we are completely dissevered from the British Commonwealth of Nations. If reference to the King is abolished in the Constitution on the assumption that, to-morrow, another Bill will come in which refers to him and empowers the Executive Council to employ that individual as an agent for certain functions, surely the position is as I have stated?

It does seem to me perfectly scandalous that the President should introduce this Bill to-day without showing any indication that he himself had given thought to the question whether or not it definitely separates us from the British Commonwealth of Nations. If it does that, we need not go into the possible reactions we may suffer from this fundamental change in the position of the country. We were summoned here yesterday by telegram. We got the Bill only this morning. It is a Bill which requires careful consideration—much more careful consideration than the President himself has given it. The situation to-night, roughly, is that the President creates a condition which, in his own mind, completely severs us from the British Commonwealth of Nations. To-morrow, he makes an offer to Great Britain and to the King that the King shall have certain functions and shall occupy a position completely different from the position he has held up to now in relation to the Irish Free State.

I have no doubt that the President's line will be that if the British do not like to accept it they can do the other thing, and that we can go outside. But that is a most frivolous way of treating the whole matter. It is a most scandalous way to treat the Irish people. There is no doubt about that, although the President may summon some of his gun-men friends, Mr. Seán Russell and others, to discuss the matter with him. There is no doubt but that a very large proportion of the people of this country are perfectly convinced that their economic salvation lies in that relationship with Great Britain, and in the benefits that flow from it. A great many other people are convinced that if that economic salvation is lacking, this country is likely to suffer morally and materially. The President is asking us to take a jump in the dark. He would not even bother to consider the question as to what the effects of passing this Bill are going to be. Admittedly he has gone through the Constitution, and he is proposing to wipe out of it every reference to the King or to the King's representative. He is doing that without giving consideration as to what the effect will be when these passages in the Constitution are wiped out. It is ridiculous to say that in the Constitution of this country, in which there is no reference whatever to the King, the King is part of the legislature or part of the machinery of this country. By reason of what is he part of the legislature? There is nothing to establish that. Therefore, to-morrow when the President comes along and makes an offer of what he would describe as external association with Great Britain, that is unilateral rejection of the Treaty.

When the Abolition of the Oath Bill was before the House, the President, by using a most dishonest argument which convinced nobody, said that the Oath was not binding because it said "the Oath to be taken by members of the Dáil" and so on. In the case of the Governor-General the Treaty does not use the words "to be." It uses the words "shall be". The Treaty affirms that "the representative of the Crown in Ireland shall be appointed in like manner as the Governor-General of Canada" and in accordance with the practice observed in the making of such appointments. With regard to the President's whole argument as to whether the Oath to be taken was permissive or mandatory, to my mind it is perfectly clear that Article 3 of the Treaty makes it mandatory that there shall be appointed a Governor-General as the King's representative. This Bill proposes to abolish that altogether. Consequently, it seems to me quite clear that this Bill is an abrogation of the Treaty. Moreover, Article 1 of the Constitution, which says that we are a co-equal member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, itself flowed from the first two Articles of the Treaty. Article 1 of the Treaty provides that

Ireland shall have the same constitutional status in the Community of Nations known as the British Empire, as the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia...

And Article 2 of the Treaty provides that

Subject to the provisions hereinafter set out the position of the Irish Free State in relation to the Imperial Parliament and Government and otherwise shall be that of the Dominion of Canada...

Deputies will observe that the phrase used is "in the Commonwealth of Nations." I gather that the intention of this Bill is to put us outside the Commonwealth of Nations, and, to use the President's meaningless phrase, to create "external association." As I read Article 1 of the Constitution the affirmation made there is that we are co-equal members in the British Commonwealth by reason of the first two Articles of the Treaty, and because of the fact that we have the same constitutional status in the British community of nations known as the British Empire, and because our relationship is the same as that of Canada. Because that is established as a fact, we can affirm that we are a co-equal member in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Admittedly, the Bill that we have before us does mean that our relationship is not that of Canada, and if it is not, then our membership in the Commonwealth of Nations disappears, and our membership of the British Commonwealth also disappears. I admit it is possible that if the British are good-natured they may not raise the point.

The President, in asking us to pass this Bill, certainly had the right to satisfy himself that any question of our continued membership being raised could only be a remote possibility. If the question is raised, has the President any case to put forward to justify his assertion that Article 1 of the Constitution is now hereafter an affirmation of fact, or merely a clause which has no relation whatever to fact? So far membership of the Commonwealth of Nations necessarily meant that the King was in the Constitution and had certain functions in relation to the State. He was one aspect of that moral person that we call the State. Once this Bill is passed there will be no reference whatever to the King in the Constitution, and that being the basic law of this country it seems to me clear that the King is abolished. He will not even be the symbolic link in the Bill that the President proposes to move in the Dáil to-morrow. He offers that the King should perform certain functions. If I wanted to get the Free State out of the Commonwealth, and if my arguments could achieve it, I feel that I would have a very good case for affirming that, inasmuch as we had changed our position here by abolishing the King out of our Constitution, we automatically ceased to be a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, because that membership flows from Articles 1 and 2 of the Treaty, and is not a mere matter of becoming a member of the British Commonwealth or merely affirming your intention of doing so. It implies more than that. It implies the unity of the Crown, and that means that the Crown is the Crown here as well as in the other country. When this Bill is passed, by reason of what will the Crown be the Crown here as in England, Australia and Canada? I cannot see anything on which it can be based, and if that is not there the President should have abundant arguments to prove beyond all refutation that the change he is making is not in any way interfering with or even jeopardising our position in the Commonwealth.

In the matter of secession from the British Commonwealth, he has, I think, stated from time to time that such action would only be taken when the case had been put before the Irish people and when they had declared their desire in the matter. As far as doing that is concerned, it was only last night that we got telegrams telling us that the Dáil would meet to-day, while only those of us who live fairly near Dublin got these Bills to-day.

We have before the House to-night a Bill which is a very difficult Bill to understand, not only from its wording but from its many implications. We received this Bill this morning. I think that that was grossly unfair to the members of the House. Here we are taking a step, possibly a very important step, and surely we should have had every opportunity of carefully considering the step we are taking and the consequences which are likely to follow. We have had no such opportunity. We have had just a few hours in which to read a Bill which gives rise to the most difficult problems which any constitutional lawyer could face.

We might have had an alternative. If we had no time to read this Bill, we might at least have had from the man who understands, or is supposed to understand, what this Bill means, a clear and definite statement of its contents and what he considers the consequences will be. What did we get? We got a few disjointed, perfunctory remarks from the President and nothing else. Very big questions are here at issue. The President cannot be so completely ignorant as not to know that there are big questions at issue. It was another act of unfairness to the House for the President deliberately to shy at putting his own views forward. It was an unfair thing to the House for the President to show himself the moral coward who was afraid to put his views before the House.

What do we get in regard to a matter of some importance such as this—to my mind a matter of grave importance? Was there any consultation with the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations about this? Yes, out of politeness we are told that there was a communication made to Great Britain. Was it written? Yes, said the President.

I did not say that.

We asked could we have it. "Oh, I do not know whether it was written or unwritten," comes his immediate contradiction of his own preceding words, and all in the presence of the House. Here is this President of the Executive Council, this individual who does not know the difference between the written and the spoken word, the only Deputy of the Fianna Fáil Benches who gets up to explain this complicated and difficult measure to the House.

On a point of order. I think the Chair has already reproved one Deputy during the course of this debate for referring to the President as an individual.

A Deputy was mildly reproved, not for the use of the term, but because of its persistent use in reference to the President.

I have a recollection of similar terms being used unnecessarily to a former occupant of the office by Deputies who are now on the other side of the House.

Neither the President, nor indeed any Deputy for that matter, should be accused of cowardice, moral or physical.

What advantages are we or the country supposed to get from this measure? We are told, and this is the only explanation which we get from the President, that this is bringing constitutional usage up-to-date in expression. That, of course, is a very valuable remark to fall from President de Valera's lips, because that is a complete admission that for many and many a year President de Valera and the members of his Party who followed him then and who follow him now were wandering in a bog of error and untruth. Whenever they said that the Treaty did not give complete and entire freedom to this country they were, of course, no doubt entirely unconsciously, misleading the people of the State. It is very useful now to have the admission of that fact coming from the lips of President de Valera.

What are we supposed to gain by this? What definite, positive advantages does it confer on this State? I see none. Does it add to our liberty or increase our freedom by one single jot? Not one member of the Fianna Fáil Party can suggest that it does. If this Bill becomes law, will the Executive Council to-morrow have one jot of power more than it possesses to-day? Will the people have got one single piece of liberty more to-morrow than they have to-day? The answer must be that they will not, because the people of this State are sovereign to-day and sovereign liberty cannot be increased. They are sovereign to-day by virtue of the Treaty which was so often denounced, but the power that it conferred and that remains is being attacked here in an underhand fashion.

What does all this prove? It proves, but I do not think that was in the least bit necessary, that for years Fianna Fáil have been deceiving the country. It proves that the Party that now calls itself Fianna Fáil, even before it called itself Fianna Fáil, was deceiving the country. That is all that it does, that and nothing more.

Take the other side of the picture. Here we have it stated by the President that this does not put us out of the Commonwealth of Nations. I am not going to argue whether it does or not. It is a difficult matter, a matter on which nobody could make up his mind in the short time in which we have had an opportunity to consider this Bill. I will argue upon the President's statement and upon the supposition that this keeps us inside the Commonwealth of Nations. Personally, I believe that this State should remain in the Commonwealth of Nations. I believe it is to the great advantage of the State to remain in the Commonwealth of Nations. I believe this State can be as free within the Commonwealth as ever it could be outside and I believe that this State has a greater sense of security, and a greater security in fact, by being in the Commonwealth than if it were outside. I believe, too, that this State has got enormous economic advantages, not being derived at the moment—but that is owing to the incompetency of the present administration—enormous potential advantages to be derived from membership of the Commonwealth. Those are the reasons why I believe that this State should remain in the Commonwealth of Nations.

What is the view opposite? We should remain in the Commonwealth of Nations, yes, but we are to do everything we can to derive as little advantage as we can from being in the Commonwealth of Nations. That is what is being done here. Surely, if you want to remain in partnership with any persons, if you want to derive every possible advantage from that partnership, you ought to live on the best of terms with them and ought not to endeavour by pin-pricks and more serious injuries to stir up resentment against us. We are not fools. We do not live in the moon and everyone of us knows that these two Bills are going to give the greatest possible offence to the people of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa as well as to the people of Great Britain. There is nobody in this House who does not know that. Kingship may be only a symbol but it is a symbol which is very dear to the people of those countries. The majority of the people of those countries, as a matter of fact, have a great sense of loyalty to that particular symbol which is called the Crown. Why insult it? Do you think that deliberately, wantonly and without any cause and deriving no possible advantage from it, it is wise to attack a sentiment which is a genuine sentiment of theirs?

That is what you are doing here. I could not imagine any way in which, setting himself to annoy and disturb public opinion in all the Dominions, President de Valera could have effected his purpose better than he is effecting his purpose by these two Bills. They are insulting in their matter, and they are doubly insulting by their phraseology, and especially by the phraseology of Section 3 of the Bill which will be before us to-morrow. I should like to point out that under that Section 3, the President and other members of the Executive Council have evidently visualised a very extraordinary state of affairs. Is there a King of Ireland? They seem to make it perfectly clear that there is because sub-section (2) of Section 3 of to-morrow's Bill says:

The King referred to in the foregoing sub-section of this section shall, for the purposes of that sub-section, be the person who, if His Majesty, King Edward the Eighth had died on the 10th day of December, 1936, unmarried, would for the time being be his successor under the law of Saorstát Eireann.

A Bill becomes law to-day by which the King is removed. His name is removed from the Legislature and also from the Executive, but to-morrow there will be a law of Saorstát Eireann regulating the descent to the kingship. What, then, is the position? Have we a king or have we no king? What do you mean? Here you are taking the King out of the Constitution and to-morrow you introduce a Bill and you say that there is a law in force that regulates the descent to the kingship. I do not know what the position is. I do not know whether the Executive Council themselves know what it means. Certainly if they know what it means, the President of the Executive Council was very careful this afternoon to refrain from telling us what he thought the position was, that is, if he has any thoughts about the matter at all, which is not very likely.

If the Deputy had been listening carefully he would have heard.

I am not going to deal with these constitutional questions. As I say, they are not questions I have had any real or fair opportunity of considering. I am more interested in this Bill and in the Bill which is being introduced to-morrow, because they are very dangerous to something I have very much at heart. I know that this is as dangerous a threat as can be brought against the economic prosperity and the economic well-being of the West of Ireland, and especially of the constituency I represent. We cannot carry on in the West of Ireland, as events have shown, and above all, we cannot carry on in South Mayo, in which constituency I am particularly interested, unless we have for our produce the economic market which Great Britain affords, to some extent even now, and should afford completely and freely if the affairs of this country were properly looked after. Here I find a Bill which, although I cannot tell the British reactions—no one can—is certainly a threat and a danger to that economic prosperity. If there has been any statement by Great Britain that there will be no unfavourable reactions, it was open to the President to tell us to-day. He had his opportunity. A direct question was put to him, but he was not in a position to answer it, or else he would not answer it. I do not know which it was, but I conclude that if he were in a position to give a favourable answer he would have done so. Therefore I discover that though this country derives, and can derive, no possible advantage from this Bill, that Bill in itself constitutes a very grave menace to such little degree of agricultural prosperity as the West of Ireland enjoys at present.

There is another thing. The West of Ireland could not carry on and my constituency could not carry on, considering that the land has been rendered barren, unfruitful and unproductive in the hands of its owners by the policy which the Government has adopted and because there is economic stress in that county, as there is all along the western seaboard, such as has not happened within living memory. That burden which the West of Ireland is bearing at present would be utterly intolerable were it not that the young men and, to some extent, the young women of that county and of all the western counties are able to get a considerable amount of and, in fact, as much employment in England as there is surplus population in the county. Is that to be stopped? Is that to be cut away? It is in danger at present. The consequences of Fianna Fáil action have been that no smallholder can make a living out of his land at present, and if he is going to make a living some member of his family must go away and work outside this country, and the only place they can work outside this country is Great Britain. The Government's policy drives them out, and not merely do they want to drive them out but they seek to prevent them going to the one place in which they can profitably spend their time.

It is upon these grounds, because of the grave dangers to the economic structure of the West of Ireland contained in this Bill, that I mostly strongly oppose this measure. I have spoken from the point of view of the West of Ireland, because that is, after all, the part of this country which is dearest to me and also the part of the country that I know best. I do believe that if any single member of the Fianna Fáil Party, no matter what part of this country he came from, really looked within himself, really examined his own conscience, really considered what was his duty to his constituents and his duty to his country, he would follow into the Lobby, not President de Valera to vote for this Bill, but, rather, he would follow us into the Lobby and vote against it.

I want to express a viewpoint on this Bill somewhat different to that which has been so far taken. At the outset, I want to confess that I do not understand the Bill in all its implications. As I listened to the debate to-day it seemed to me that nobody in the House, even those who are best fitted because of their training and professions to understand a Bill of this kind, claimed to have a full understanding of it. However, I want to ask the President a few questions. The President took action shortly after becoming head of the Government of this country, which was fraught with very grave consequences to the country. We know that as a result of the action taken by the President and the Government on that occasion untold suffering has been brought upon great numbers of the people of this country. We know that millions of pounds in trade have been lost to the country. We know that notwithstanding all the efforts made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce to absorb the unemployed into industry and to find work here at home for our people, he has not been able to make any headway because of the action taken by the Government in another direction.

I should like to ask the President whether he has considered fully the reactions which are likely to flow from the passage of these two measures. Has the President considered for instance whether the passage of these two measures is likely to affect the 50,000 odd Irish boys and girls who emigrated to England during the three years ending 31st March last? Has he considered whether it is likely to affect the interests of the 36,300 odd who have gone in the first nine months of this year? Has the President considered this matter in relation to the negotiations, which I presume are going on at the moment, regarding the renewal of the coal-cattle pact? Are the President and the members of the Government aware that the agriculturists of this country particularly, and the people generally, have been looking forward with some hope to an improvement in the coal-cattle pact that is to be effected within the next month or two? Is the President aware that people were hoping that the Government would be able to make a much more favourable bargain with the British than they were able to make under the previous pacts? Can the President say now to the people that the passage of these measures will not affect adversely the commercial relations between this country and Great Britain?

These may seem all very immaterial points. They may seem to be very commonplace points beside the very high constitutional questions discussed here to-day but I submit to the House that they are the real questions that affect the people of this country. We want to know in what way the passage of these Bills is going to improve the position of this country. Are they going to improve the position or make it more likely that trade will be better in the coming twelve months than it has been in the last four years? Is there anything in the Bill which is going to affect favourably or unfavourably the chances of unemployed men getting work in this country and, failing their getting work here, is the passage of these two Bills going to make it more difficult or more easy to obtain the employment in Britain which they cannot obtain at home? I take it to be the duty of any head of a State here to inquire into these matters before he brings before the House measures of such far-reaching importance as the measures now before us. I think the House and the country are entitled to know from the President whether he has examined into these matters, whether he is satisfied that they are not going to affect adversely the people of this country, whether the President and the Government are merely gambling on the whole question, or whether the President's line is: "I am going ahead with this and to hell with the consequences."

I understood the President to say to-day that the time is not opportune and, in effect, that even if it were opportune, he would not proclaim a republic for Twenty-six Counties. As far as I can understand, this Bill is going to produce all the objectionable features that a Twenty-six County Republic would have without declaring the republic. Other speakers have dealt with the constitutional position that this Bill, when enacted, will create or rather how it will be interpreted by Great Britain, whether Great Britain will consider that this Bill has placed us outside the Commonwealth. As far as I am capable of judging it, I think it could be easily interpreted in that way. When the name of the King goes out of the Constitution, where does recognition of the King, even as a connecting link in the Commonwealth of Nations, come in? However, I am not so much concerned about the technicalities of that position as I am about the declaration of the President that he would not proclaim or stand for a republic for Twenty-six Counties. His ideal is a republic for Thirty-two Counties. How will that position be brought about, and what obstacles to the realisation of that ideal will the passage of this Bill create?

I think it is generally accepted, and the President has often declared it, that we must show the people of the Six Counties that we in the Twenty-six Counties not only welcome them in but welcome them in to conditions at least as favourable as the economic conditions that they have in the Six Counties. Now, whether we like it or not, the people of the Six Counties will not come into a republic. They have opted out of the Free State. If we want to make progress on national lines our first objective and our main concern should be the creation of conditions and of a situation that would, under whatever the régime, be that the Thirty-two Counties would function as one unit. My main objection to this Bill is that it is building up a still greater barrier between the Six Counties and the Twenty-six Counties, and it is a further desertion of the people of the Six Counties.

I heard a Deputy applauding the President here to-day when the President stated that he and his Party stood for a republic for 32 Counties. That Deputy is a native of the Six Counties. I have not heard him on this Bill, and I should like to hear Deputy Donnelly tell his friends and relations in Armagh what obstacles the passage of this Bill will create for the political unity of this country, never mind under what régime but under any régime—what obstacles, if any, will be created, or what easements will this Bill produce, when it is enacted, towards bringing the Six Counties and the Twenty-Six Counties together. Deputy Donnelly knows well that up in the North the one concern of the Nationalists there is to get even a portion of the freedom that we have here, and they blame all political parties and all politicians down here that they, who have borne the brunt of the national fight for all these years, have been deserted by the Nationalists of the South. I look upon this as a further desertion the effects of which nothing will be able to obliterate for many years to come, if ever. As far as I can visualise it, nothing short of a terrible and bloody revolution in which England, Ireland and Scotland would be involved, some terrible upheaval such as we have in Spain at the present time would have to happen, before that boundary would be obliterated. The President smiles. Well, I should be very interested if the President would show how this will make the path of Irish unity, under any régime, easier. The people of the Six Counties, whether we like it or not, whether it is wise or unwise, are loyal to the British Crown—that is, the majority of them—and anything that will infringe on that loyalty, any régime established in this country, will not be recognised by them; they will have nothing to do with it. They have shown that. Now a situation is going to be created by this Bill which will make the objection they have against coming into the Free State still greater, and how are we going to get national unity? Is it not the greatest of nonsense, is it not absolute dishonest propaganda, to say that we stand for an Irish Republic for 32 Counties when we are doing all that we can to prevent even a Free State for 32 Counties? If the President is anxious to answer the crack of the British whip and implement the constitutional position, and if it is necessary to pass an Act to say that King Edward VIII of last week is Mr. Edward Windsor to-day, I am sure he would be facilitated; and that the Duke of Gloucester, as I think he was last week——

Of York. The Deputy is mixed up with his Royalties.

——and that the Duke of York of last week is King George VI to-day, I personally will give him a vote for that, but I will not give him a vote to put greater obstacles in the way of Irish national unity and to further lend cause to the Nationalists of the North of Ireland—and just cause— for them to feel that they have been betrayed by us in the South. If this is passed, and thus creates that super-obstacle in the way of national unity, then this is the last and greatest betrayal of the Nationalists of Ulster.

The Deputy has broken the silence at any rate.

——at great personal risk to myself I get up to answer Deputy Belton and to say a few words in reply. After all, Deputy Belton has been abroad, and during the course of the last Session, while he was abroad, we had all this thing thrashed out in this House—this question of the unity of Ireland and the question of the cures for all these obstacles. If the Deputy had been here, instead of reviewing troops on the Christian Front in Spain, north, south, east and west, and playing a kind of political toreador, he would not be asking these questions to-day, and it would be the simplest task I ever got to tell him just to get the Official Report of the debate on the resolution submitted to this House by Deputy MacDermot. However, Deputy Belton is entitled to a reply.

There is nobody in the country more interested in Ireland's unity than I am in voting for this, and I approve of it and I did so here to-day, when the President said he was out for a republic eventually for 32 counties. During all the years before this question ever arose, during all the years when Deputy Cosgrave was at the head of a Government, and during a period when Deputy Belton was a member of Deputy Cosgrave's Party, I do not think, with regard to the people in the North of Ireland, about whom Deputy Belton seems to feel so anxious—the Unionists in the North of Ireland—even without the terror and dread of legislation such as this, there has ever been an approach to come nearer to the South in all these years than there is now. I do not think that this will do the least harm. On the contrary, it will prove to these people up there, who do not have the same faith as the majority in this House, who at least have the courage of their convictions——

So it is a religious question, and not a national question.

No, Deputy, it is a national question. I am speaking about a certain type of Ulsterman whom Deputy Belton seems to think will keep away further and further from ever effecting contact with this State as a result of this legislation. In connection with that kind of man, this legislation will not do the slightest harm, because the type of Irishmen they admire most are the people who have the courage of their convictions and who go all out for whatever they believe in. If we can effect this here for ourselves in the Twenty-Six counties, why not go all out for the 32 Counties?

How are you going to do it?

I was asked that question here during the debate on the Partition motion.

You never answered it.

I did. This is reminiscent of the days of the old Irish Party and the early days of Sinn Féin. When Arthur Griffith started off as the apostle of Sinn Féin he used to be asked: "How are you going to do all this; how are you going to bring this about?" The very same question is being asked of us to-day: "How are you going to effect Irish unity?" It should be remembered that there is such a thing in politics as the evolution of politics. What did, nine years ago, would not do to-day.

I got the Deputy on the raw there.

At the same time, while waiting for the time to come along, surely we are not going to rest on our oars and do nothing for the betterment, nationally or otherwise, of this portion of Ireland where we can function? Deputy Belton, of course, is more optimistic than I am perhaps as regards the North. He is perhaps a bit more enthusiastic and zealous from certain standpoints as regards the North than I am. Of course that is only a phase. It will pass, like all his other phases have passed. Some day or other he will come in here and will have a more pessimistic outlook than he has now.

What is the Deputy's outlook on this Bill?

I am trying to relate Deputy Belton's question to the Bill before the House. He put me a very pertinent question, and I am trying to give him an answer. I say that the optimistic phase in which Deputy Belton is now moving will pass. There is no necessity for me to waste too much time on it, because certainly in a month or two, or in three months at the latest, he will be coming in and putting a different question. However, let us be a little bit more serious about the matter. I do come from the area referred to by the Deputy, but I have not the slightest fear in my mind that this Bill is going to do any harm. I remember an occasion not very long ago when I happened to be in contact with a very prominent leader of the Ulster Unionists. We started exchanging views on political issues, and he expressed a very remarkable point of view. I want Deputy Belton to take note of this. He said: "I think if you fellows would go ahead on more extreme lines than you are going you would have my support much more than you are having it at the present time, because we people never stood for compromise." I do say this, that during all the years when the Moderate Party were in office before we took over control here not one inch did those people advance towards a united Ireland, any more than they would to-morrow if President de Valera dropped this Bill. That is an outstanding fact, and there is no use whatever in anybody trying to put hypothetical questions in order to score a little debating point. That is not politics. Probably Deputy Belton put the same question several times to Deputy Cosgrave when he was his leader. If ever he put that question to Deputy Cosgrave, I should like to know what was the reply that Deputy Cosgrave gave him.

It is Deputy Donnelly's answer we are waiting for.

I was never your leader——

And never will be.

——and please goodness never will be. I have not the slightest fear that these Bills are going to do the slightest harm. There are several angles from which this Northern question can be approached. My only quarrel with these Bills, as my colleagues know, is that they have not gone far enough. I can assure the Deputy that if he had been in Ulster two or three days ago, and moving around amongst the population not only of Nationalists but of Unionists, he would have found a very different Ulster last Wednesday from what he will find next Wednesday. The last week has been an important one in Irish politics. I can assure Deputies in this House that there are changed mentalities in Ulster to-day as a result of the happenings across the water. This habit that is growing in this House of Deputies who fancy themselves as leaders coming in here and putting awkward questions to Deputies who happen to have taken a prominent part is not going to advance the cause of the people either north or south. It may be a clever thing to appear in the newspapers, but certainly it is not going to do any good. For that reason I would advise Deputy Belton to drop that habit. His contribution to this debate, as far as I can see, has been a miserable contribution.

But there is no reply.

He has made the statement that as a result of the introduction of these two Bills we have put up a higher barrier and made the unity of the country more impossible. I deny that, and I deny it with all the emphasis at my command. Whether Deputy Belton, after a visit of one or two days to Ulster, knows more about that particular portion of Ireland than I do, I leave the House to judge. I was born and reared amongst them.

But the Bill was not born there.

I was born and reared amongst them and I know them well. At the time when the fight was fiercest here in this country, and before there was any split in the Republican movement, amongst no section of the people was there greater admiration for outstanding Republicans than there was amongst the Protestant young men of the North. I do not believe these Bills will make the barrier any higher; I do not believe they will do one bit of harm. I do believe this—that the average Ulster Unionist, the average Ulster Protestant, always admired the man who knew what he wanted and went out for it.

Why not declare a republic then?

I would ask Deputy Belton to refer to his mascot beside him. He will probably give him a reply.

Do not run me into trouble.

I do not think it is necessary to say anything more in reply to Deputy Belton. I am supporting these two Bills. They will be carried all right. That is the one overwhelming answer, as I pointed out to-day—a matter out of which Deputies opposite tried to make capital. The population of these benches is more dense at the present moment than ever. There are more Deputies here than in any Party——

Who is dense?

I am not sure whether Deputy Belton was in the fight at the front at the time of the by-elections in Galway and Wexford. If he had been here he certainly would have enjoyed the smiles of pleasure on the faces of Deputies on the Government Benches when we came back. We still have the confidence of the people, notwithstanding all the efforts which have been made during the last four years, and even up to to-day, including the merger that Deputy Belton himself engineered after sending deputations to Deputy Cosgrave to take him back. Notwithstanding all those things, we are still here, and in greater numbers than before he became a Spanish General.

Only about four minutes of the time available to the House now remains, Sir. I must certainly protest, not against your ruling, because you may not have seen me, but I rose at least four times. Three or four members on the Fine Gael Benches were called, as well as at least one of the Government Party, and at least two or three Independents. I am another Independent and I got up at least three times——

The Deputy thinks the Government has no right to speak.

I have as good a right to speak as you have, and I am longer in the country than you are.

The Minister for Finance took advantage of the laughter to utter a very disorderly expression in connection with Deputy Anthony. It was covered by the applause of his colleagues.

There are two or three aspects of this question with which I wanted to deal. It is a matter which vitally affects the working-class people of the City of Cork and, not alone the working-class people of the City of Cork, but the business community as well. By the steam-rolling tactics adopted, whether with the concurrence of the Chair or not I do not know——

The Deputy will resume his seat.

Freedom of speech in an Irish Parliament!

Question: "That the Constitution (Amendment No. 27) Bill, 1936, be now read a Second Time," put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 80; Níl, 54.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Clery, Micheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corbett, Edmónd.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamonn.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Neilan, Martin.
  • Norton, William.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.


  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Lavery, Cecil.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Myles, James Sproule.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Reilly, John Joseph.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
  • Thrift, William Edward.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Motion declared carried.