Partly read, yes, and I would have wished he could have got an opportunity of reading the whole of it because there is no use in thinking there were things enshrined in that, that we might like to read into them now, that actually were not. However, some of the things referred to in that—that it is not on bread alone that the nation is going to live; and the ideals of our people and the ideals they had for their own lives and for the dedication of their lives—were not so clearly expressed in any of the statements made at that particular time as the material ideas. But even the material ideas that were expressed there have been subordinated, since 1922, to the State idea and to the idea of a particular type of State.
The Taoiseach, yesterday, spoke of the sanctity of the Constitution against any attempt to overthrow it by violence or unlawful means. It is not the Constitution that is a sanctified thing. It is not because it is a particular gathering of words that he particularly subscribes to that makes the Constitution a sanctified thing; it is the fact that the majority voice of the people of this country was expressed in support of it as being the Constitution of this country. The same thing that is sanctified to-day was equally sanctified in 1922 and the concerns that Deputy Kelly spoke about yesterday were equally the concerns and the objectives (and the natural and right objectives) of the people of this country in 1922, as they are to-day, and the possibility of our dealing with them has been injured by the way in which a particular idea of State has been intruded into the political situation for the last 17 years.
What we are concerned with to-day— speaking for myself—is not the exact powers that the Government have, not even the exact things that they are going to do with these powers, but the spirit in which they are going to use them and the objectives they have in front of them. Sometimes I have the hope that they can and are going back beyond the narrow objective, or the narrow interpretation of the objective, of 1916, that they put on it for particular reasons; that they are going back, beyond that, to the objectives that men really had in 1916. But sometimes these hopes are very much dashed to the ground.
Deputy McGilligan, last night, read out the fundamental principles of civil liberty that were enshrined in the American Constitution and he asked what was wrong with them. I do not think that Catholic Ireland, in 1939, is below or behind the level of the definition and appreciation of the necessity for personal liberty than the Americans were 150 years ago, but when I hear, say, the Minister for Finance perform as he did, say, with regard to the Press, on the Valuation Bill, the other night, then I am afraid for the future. I am afraid for the esteem with which this State will be held in the minds of the people of all classes and I am afraid that this State will not get the support from people of all classes throughout the country that, in their own interests, it is necessary that the State, as a piece of machinery should get.
The State as it stands to-day in the minds of our people, if it is represented by any clear thing at all, is represented by our President and our Ministers. They are the people that stand as the chief executives of the State before the people, and when Ministers can demean themselves and their offices in the way in which they do, unfortunately, demean themselves, in their treatment of public business, then we may be afraid for the State. Those are things that, in the discussion of important matters, we do not want particularly to refer to. We regret that, in the discussion of matters such as these, we could have such, shall I say, an inefficient episode as we had this morning.
What we are concerned with is the future. We are prepared to give the Ministers of the Fianna Fáil Party, the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, and the members of any other Party in the House, credit for being concerned for the future, and we want to let nothing be said here to-day that would interfere with the full use of our individual faculties, or the faculties of our Parties, or the faculties of combinations of Parties, to act for the benefit of our people in the future. We want to say nothing that would detract in any way from the abilities we have to give, personally or in groups, for the future well-being of the country. A lot of leeway has to be made up. The number of men a nation turns out to serve it in public life in any particular generation is limited. We have had the unfortunate experience of the generation that was in manhood in 1922 having brought about great achievements for this country had, so to speak, its potential political power broken up into two, and the possible contribution which the groups as a whole had to give to the political and economic direction of the people not only divided into two, but smashed into smithereens. The Ministers who are bearing the burden of Government to-day are handicapped both in regard to the economic situation here to-day, to which they have contributed, and in regard to the dissipation of their own energies in political ways. They are handicapped in dealing with the political, social and economic problems of the country. That fact is all the more reason why every other class in the country should assist them in every possible way, and should keep out of their political activities and their words anything that would take from the abilities of the Government, or the Government Party, to-day to deal with circumstances here.
In discussing these measures, I ask members of the Government and of the Government Party to go back to what were the real objectives of the men whose names they used to narrow the political intelligence, to interfere with the political perspective of our people. Pearse is painted as having immolated himself in order to get for this country a State of a particular type. I want to ask the people who are concerned with the present situation to go back to what Pearse had to say himself, coming up to 1916. We know that in 1912 he stood on the platform, as I have said, of the United Irish League and that he supported them in every possible way, not only to hold up their hands, but to get all the people he could get to hold up their hands, and in his Barr Buadh on 16th April, 1912, in a leading article headed “Ní Síothcháin go ”, he was able to say:
Goirimíd Sean Réamonn agus Seán Díolúin agus Seosamh Ó Dobhailean, óir is triúr iad sin atá ag caitheamh a ndúthrachta ar son leasa Gaedheal. Acht tuigidís nach bhfuil d'ughdarthás aca ó Ghaedhealaibh síothcháin do gheallamhaint do Ghallaibh go fóill. Tá catha cruadha romhainn sul bhéas síothcháin i nEirinn. Ní síothcháin go saoirse.
He was able to praise men from whom he differed and to go on to hold up their hands, and he was able to warn them that they should not promise them peace with Britain, that there could not be peace until there was freedom. At that time, he wrote a number of open letters to Irish leaders in the country. He wrote under a penname, and he wrote at that time a letter to himself. What was Pearse saying to himself in the spring of 1912?
Is maith an gníomh do rinnis an uair do chuiris Scoil Éanna ar bun. Is maith an gníomh do rinnis an uair do chuiris Scoil Ide are bun. Mo chomhairle dhuit: tabhair aire do Scoil Eanna agus do Scoil Ide agus ná bac a thuilleadh le cúrsaíbh poilitidheachta. Tá do dhóthain mhór ar d'aire. Caith uait an "Barr Buadh", scaoil urchur le n-a fhear seannma, cuir deireadh leis an nCumann Nua úd gan ainm, agus déan go maith an rud do chuiris romhat le déanamh ceithre bliadhna ó shoin.
He was then urging himself to stick to the work to which he dedicated himself originally in 1908, and to step aside from political work. He had freedom to do the things he wanted to do. He felt that he would get them then under the Home Rule Bill that was then coming about, and his dedication in 1916 was a dedication to the things to which he dedicated himself in 1908 and 1912.
Terence MacSwiney used to say that it was a pity that the Councils Bill of 1906, or whatever year it was, was not accepted because it would have given us control over education. What he immolated himself for later on, when he stepped from the uniform of a soldier and became a citizen in Cork walking among his people, undaunted by anything that might be done against him, was not either the glory of soldiering or a particular type of state. His objective was to see the citizens going about their ordinary work, free, as citizens, to go about their ordinary work, and he, like Pearse, would have wished to leave politics and to go on with education, those things behind the State for which our people in the past sought liberty.
What we want to-day is to get behind the narrowness which has been introduced into the political outlooks here, to see what we mean by the nation, what we mean by the people and what we mean by liberty. If there was a little more thought over that, a little more appreciation of the avocations and dedications from which men were called in 1916 to fight for a freedom which was then being denied by force; if we could get a little thought as to the avocations and the work from which men were called through the futility of the British Government in their dealings with this country from 1919 to 1920 and 1921 in order that they might stand up and defend the political liberties of this country; if we could get some idea of the work from which men have been called from 1922 down to deal with an unnecessary situation in this country; then, we would have some clear idea of what we want here as a State and why we wanted it.
There is a tendency at present for Ministers and Government Parties to deify themselves in the way in which the idea of State has been deified during the last 17 years. If that continues, no machinery of this so-called State is going to be of any use in preserving the State for the people, because the people will realise that it is not something concerned with their liberties, except to interfere with them and to reduce them.
If the Minister want to preserve this State, then they will have to get a clear idea as to what is meant by the liberties of our people. I have hopes that, gradually, they will get that idea. I could give many instances of things and statements and attitudes on the part of Ministers that would, as I say, dash these hopes to the ground. They are being given these powers now. They say that they have their responsibilities. I would ask them to realise that their responsibilities are, no doubt, to preserve the State, but not as an abstract responsibility. There is no use in this State or this Constitution being preserved except it can so preserve the liberties of our people that, with the dedication of their minds and their works to their own social work here and the national work here, this country can be made great and prosperous.
I intervene in this debate simply for the purpose of asking that nothing in the present circumstances will drive them to identify themselves more with the State, as a thing that has to be exalted, respected and protected, than they have done in the past. They stand on the same Irish ground as the rest of us stand on. They are of the people here. They must know what the people are and what the people hope for. They must know what the liberty that the people want is, and they must know how necessary it is to the people to have it. I ask them not to allow themselves to be driven by any pressure of responsibility at the present time into exalting themselves into the unfortunate position in which, as I say, a very narrow idea of the State has been exalted—to the misrepresentation of men of the past and to the misrepresentation of the best traditions of our people. The powers they are asking for are great. Personally, as I say, I am not concerned with the details of the measure but with what is going to be the result of giving these powers to the Government, and the result is going to depend upon the spirit in which the Government ask for these powers and take them, as well as upon the spirit in which they exercise them and the view they have as to what Irish liberty means.