Committee on Finance. - Vote 63—Army.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim Bhreise ná raghaidh thar £454,229 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1941, chun an Airm agus Cúltaca an Airm (maraon le Deontaisí áirithe i gCabhair) fé sna hAchtanna Fórsaí Cosanta (Forálacha Sealadacha), agus chun Costaisí áirithe riaracháin ina dtaobh san; chun Costaisí Oifig an Aire Cóimhriartha Cosantais; chun Costaisí i dtaobh daoine áirithe do thriail agus do choinneáil (Uimh. 28 de 1939, Uimh. 1 de 1940 agus Uimh. 16 de 1940); chun Costaisí áirithe fé sna hAchtanna um Chiontaí in aghaidh an Stáit, 1939 agus 1940 (Uimh. 13 de 1939 agus Uimh. 2 de 1940), agus fén Acht um Réamhchúram in aghaidh Aer-ruathar, 1939 (Uimh. 21 de 1939); chun Cúl-Sholáthairtí Leighis d'Ospidéil Síbhialta; agus chun Costaisí áirithe bhaineann leis an bhFórsa Cosanta Aitiúil (le n-a n-áirmhítear Deontaisí-i-gCabhair) (Uimh. 28 de 1939).

That a Supplementary sum not exceeding £454,229 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1941, for the Army and the Army Reserve (including certain Grants-in-Aid) under the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Acts, and for certain administrative Expenses in connection therewith; for the Expenses of the Office of the Minister for the Coordination of Defensive Measures for Expenses in connection with the trial and detention of certain persons (No. 28 of 1939, No. 1 of 1940 and No. 16 of 1940); for certain Expenses under the Offences against the State Acts, 1939 and 1940 (No. 13 of 1939 and No. 2 of 1940) and the Air-raid Precautions Act, 1939 (No. 21 of 1939); for Reserve Medical Supplies for Civilian Hospitals; and for certain Expenses of the Local Defence Force (including Grants-in-Aid) (No. 28 of 1939).

This, the second Supplementary Estimate for the Army Vote for the financial year ending on March 31st, 1941, is being introduced partly because it is necessary to regularise and provide for the new Local Defence Force, and partly because expenditure in other directions on the Army proper will be greater than was anticipated last November when the Dáil passed the first Supplementary Estimate for the Army Vote.

The Local Security Force, Group A, ceased to exist as from January 1st, 1941, and from that date became known as the Local Defence Force. All expenditure on the Local Security Force up to January 1st was borne on a Vote administered by the Department of Justice, and the present Estimate provides for all expenditure on the Local Defence Force for the period January 1st-March 31st, 1941.

As regards Capitation Grants, it is necessary to explain that it is proposed to make each district fund a yearly Grant-in-Aid of £1 in respect of each member of the force in that district. The initial grant for which this Estimate provides will be made in respect of members who are certified to have been enrolled on or before 31st December, 1940, and not to have resigned on or before January 31st, 1941. From the funds thus made available, the districts will meet current expenses such as postage, stationery, the hire of halls, etc. Such grants have already been made before the transfer of the force to the Army, and it is provided that where such grants have been made they shall be taken into consideration in assessing the amounts payable to each district.

Apart from this expenditure on the Local Defence Force, it is necessary to ask the Dáil's authority for increased expenditure under nine sub-heads of the Vote. The increase under four of those sub-heads for the pay of civilians and officiating clergymen, for barrack maintenance and for telegrams and telephones is mainly due to an increase in the number of posts held by the Army: the increased amount required for clothing and barrack services is principally due to the continuous expansion of the Army. The increase for provisions under sub-head K is mainly due to the rise in the cost of foodstuffs, and the increase in the cost of transport vessels is due to overhauls. Provision has also been made for a reserve supply of petrol and oils.

The total amount under the various sub-heads which the Dáil is asked to approve in this Estimate is £747,531, but from this sum there must be deducted the sum of £293,302 which is expected to be saved on other sub-heads of the Vote from the total net amount of £6,454,601 already voted. The net sum to be voted in this Estimate is, therefore, £454,229 and for the year £6,908,830.

The appearance of these Supplementary Estimates for the Army constitutes a considerable shock to every conservative financier in this country. I do not mind admitting that when I saw them they constituted a very considerable shock to myself. Nevertheless, I believe it is the essence of financial wisdom to provide whatever money may be necessary, however and wherever we can, to ensure that the defences of this country will be as adequate as we can make them to meet any contingency that may arise. It would be the height of folly to save money for an invader to collect. We should look forward to the future, quite calmly and deliberately resolved that if any invader infringes the sovereignty of this soil, all we have will be spent by the Irish people in defending this soil until the invader is put out or the last Irishman is dead. Now, the knowledge that that view is pretty generally held by all sections in this country should not, and I trust will not, induce the Minister for Defence to relax his tedious vigilance, to ensure that money freely given for this purpose is not recklessly or extravagantly spent. Mind you, in these circumstances it is very easy to waste money and the more economically and carefully every penny is spent, the stronger our ultimate resistance will be to any attempt to overcome it. Every £ that is wasted now by the Army finance authorities is a £ withheld from the defence of this country and a period of time withdrawn from the total measure of resistance upon which we must depend to preserve the integrity of this State. That is a very important aspect of this question, because people are inclined to say: "Oh let us not be too hard on them; there is waste here and there, but sure they are about good work." We must keep in mind that waste would be as foolish as niggardliness in appropriation.

If general agreement is secured on that proposition we have then to provide against a further danger. I have often felt, and I think many of my colleagues have felt also, that there was a great deal of petrol "sloshed" about by the Army that might have been saved. I think that is possibly true, but I have often been reluctant to dwell unduly on that because I think it is also true that whereas at one post you may have a lorry run up and down six times to a village which may be seven or eight miles distant to get grocery supplies which could have been fetched in one trip had a little foresight been exercised, at another post you will find a highly paid and a highly skilled officer, sitting twiddling his thumbs, waiting to go to cover a job 20 or 30 miles away because they cannot find any other officer travelling there to put into the car with him, so that two men will travel instead of one. These are two extremes of folly between which we should steer a middle course. Civilians have got to recognise that to steer that middle course may not be as easy as it sounds. I think the Army authorities know that all the difficulties with which they are confronted are receiving, and will receive, sympathetic consideration from those of us who are charged with public responsibility, but they must also know that it is the duty of the civil power in the State to ensure that the funds placed at the disposal of the Army authorities by the civil power will be used to the best advantage and that ceaseless vigilance to that end will be maintained, that the Department of the Comptroller and Auditor-General and the Public Accounts Committee of this House, will scan the accounts of the Army with the same care in respect of this year as they did in any other year, and that, bearing in mind all the special difficulties and special problems, there will be no lumping of the accounts nor a complete disregard of factors which might suggest that a greater prudence would have effected a saving which would have contributed to the successful defence of the country.

This is a free country, and I am happy to say that I belong to a free Party, in which we agree on fundamentals and cheerfully disagree on details. There has been criticism, by some of my colleagues, of the Local Defence Force uniform and that is a matter on which every man has his own view. I do not agree with it, as I think the Local Defence Force uniform is excellent and is a useful and utilitarian one. It is not its primary duty to fascinate the ladies, but that is not what it was meant for. It was meant to be the most appropriate, the most serviceable and readily available uniform, to mark out those men who had the courage to offer their services to the country as soldiers of this State. In that connection, I should like to say that it has been suggested in certain quarters that, owing to the fact that the fabric from which this uniform is manufactured is a light-weight fabric and that individual members of the Local Defence Force very prudently have worn their clothes or part of their ordinary clothes under the uniform, this circumstance might justify an invader in treating persons appearing in the Local Defence Force uniform with their clothes underneath as francs-tireurs.

Such a suggestion is preposterous, and any person labouring under that misapprehension ought to put it out of his mind forthwith. Any person belonging to a unit of the Local Defence Force is, in time of war, brought under the control of the Chief of Staff of the Army of this State and is entitled to all the protection afforded by international law to a regular soldier of any foreign State in the world. If captured by an enemy, he must be treated as a prisoner of war. Any State failing so to treat him would find their prisoners of war dealt with as francs-tireurs, that is, if they attempted to treat the members of our Local Defence Force as anything else but regular soldiers of the State serving in accordance with the provisions of recognised international law controlling such matters.

I should like to ask the Minister for Defence, in connection with sub-head D.—which deals with chaplains— whether the question has ever been raised with the ecclesiastical authorities as to the desirability—particularly in times like these, when there has been so marked an expansion of the Army—of providing for the Army a full complement of chaplains wearing uniform and belonging to the Army, as is the case in most other regular armies of the world. I do not suppose that this is a matter upon which laymen can venture to express too strong an opinion, and I suppose it is prudent and discreet to preface anything one wishes to say by emphasising that it is all subject to episcopal approval. I suppose it is permitted to a layman, however, to have a preference, even if it subsequently appears that the episcopal view differs and that his preference, therefore, is a mistaken one. Of course, there are two sides to all spiritual relations. If there is a spiritual father in the priesthood there must be spiritual sons in the laity and, speaking with all filial respect as a son under that relationship, I think there is a great deal to be said—where you have a large body of serving regular soldiers—for having chaplains permanently attached to them the same as the ordinary chaplains are.

I remember meeting the Army chaplain in the barracks in Cork when I was privileged to inspect the defences of that part of the country, in company with the Minister for Defence and other Ministers last summer. We have all met chaplains in the British Army, wearing the uniform and obviously partaking in the daily life of the men, whose problems it was their concern to deal with. There may be some reason, that we laymen do not appreciate, why that arrangement is not desirable here. If there is, well and good; but if there is not, I would be glad to hear from the Minister whether he has deemed it expedient to discuss this matter with the ecclesiastical authorities. I may assure him that, if he is ever in a position to say that he has done so and that, as a result of his discussion, he has secured the services of full-time chaplains who will wear the uniform of the State and mingle in the Army life, a very valuable service will have been done to the State and, possibly, to the Church as well.

Subject to these observations, I do not propose to go further into the matters covered by these sub-heads. However, I would like, when the Minister is replying, a specific assurance that, in so far as is consistent with the efficient working of our defence measures, limited economy will be imposed upon those who are disbursing the very substantial sums which we are now placing at their disposal.

There is one item which I should like to mention, under the question of allowances. I wrote to the Minister some months ago about the case of a soldier who was killed going from Mallow to Cork in November, 1939. He left a wife and five young children after him, and since he was killed they have not got a penny in compensation from the authorities. The last letter from the Department was to the effect that the woman was now in receipt of a widow's pension and that it was more or less expected that she was not in any great financial distress. A case of that kind—where a woman loses her husband while he is in the Army, in an accident to a motor lorry travelling from Mallow to Cork, and gets no compensation so far from the State—reacts very badly on the whole spirit of loyalty of both the civil population and the members of the Army. I should like to know if the Minister has any reference to make to that particular case, as the solicitor who has been in touch with the matter since has asked me to see if there is any way of expediting a decision. What is the cause of the delay since November, 1939? I would like to know if there is anything the Minister can do in cases of this kind.

I should like to take the opportunity on this Estimate to pay a tribute to the bearing and discipline of the Local Defence Force generally. There are also one or two questions I should like to put to the Minister in connection with the Local Defence Force. Firstly, I am of opinion that £1per capita is not sufficient for the members of the Local Defence Force. I would like to know if he would go into the question and try to increase that grant. I know that, in some groups, at any rate, they are paying as much as 15/- for a pair of boots and the members also are getting a waterproof cape which will come to something like 12/6. They will have to find the difference between £1 and something like 27/6. In Dublin, at any rate, we have a number of men in the Local Defence Force who are very poorly off and this £1 grant did not come before its time. In the recent very bad weather, we had some unfortunate men who could not go out on parade because they had no boots. Apart from that, they have no overcoats now. The Minister should look into that and see if it is not possible to increase that grant, so that the more needy members of the Local Defence Force will be made comfortable—at any rate, while they are engaged in this service.

I would also like to hear the Minister's intentions regarding the funds, if any, accumulated by some groups. What will be the disposition of those funds now and in the future? Will they be taken over by the Army authorities or will any sum that now is in the hands of any particular group be left to that group? Also, is it the Minister's intention to compensate a member or members of the Local Defence Force who might meet with a serious accident while on parade? I have a particular case in mind— probably the Minister knows about it— where a man actually met with a pretty serious accident and spent a couple of months out of work, and where his family is in a pretty bad way on that account. I should like the Minister to keep that man's case in mind, and I should also like to know if there is anything that can be done about such a case. If the Minister has not power to deal with such a case, perhaps he will seek powers to enable him to do so.

Mr. A. Byrne

I had intended to raise the same point that the previous speaker has raised. I am aware of the fact that a number of unemployed men who joined up with the Local Defence Force have been seen with very bad boots and without raincoats during the very heavy and bad weather that has just passed and some were unable to parade because of that; a number of them were without overcoats, and I think that these men who answered their country's call should get further consideration from the Minister. There is another point upon which I wish to touch. I wish to avail of this opportunity to pay a tribute, a tribute of the whole House indeed, to that very gallant man from the west, Corporal Cooney, who gave his life during Christmas week in trying to save others, when a motor car went into the canal. I agree with Deputy Hickey in the point he has made when he mentioned a case in Cork where a man was killed and his widow and family were left totally unprovided for. I should be anxious to hear from the Minister that, in the case of such a man as Corporal Cooney, to whom I have referred, and the young bandsman who risked his life on the same occasion, some tribute would be paid to actions such as theirs.

Corporal Cooney was a Mayoman, and we in Dublin are very pleased and gratified and appreciate to the full that we have men such as he prepared to take such a risk when these accidents occur, but we do feel that a Government authority should provide for the widow and the mother in such cases. This young man, Corporal Cooney, gave up all thought of everything except the danger that he saw for others. He had a young wife—he had only been married a week—and he gave up his life. I think it was one of the bravest acts that I have heard of in this country for many years. The man was unable to swim and yet, with that knowledge, he went into the canal on a cold, frosty night to try to save other lives, and I understand that, when holding on to a rope, he passed a remark to his comrade: "Well, if this rope goes, I shall go to glory." He was not thinking of his own life. Accordingly, I appeal to the Minister to use his personal influence, his ability, and the great sympathy and admiration that I know he has, as we all have, to do whatever can be done in this matter.

There are one or two points I should like to raise: first of all, in connection with the point already raised by Deputy Hickey, because I know of other cases similar to that, where a member of the Defence Forces has lost his life and there does not seem to be any provision for compensation for his dependents. We all know that in all forms of employment now the Workmen's Compensation Act applies, and there is a statutory right of employees to obtain redress in the case of accidents and a statutory right of the relatives of deceased employees to obtain redress. I do not know what conditions exist in the administration of the Army in that connection, but I do know of the case of a man who fell off a railway bridge on which he had been working in the course of his duty as a member of the Defence Forces and, so far, his widow has not been compensated. I am aware of other cases also, and I do know that that sort of thing is creating a bad impression in the country.

The second point to which I would like to refer is the question of the enlistment of married men. There seems to be a general sort of confusion in the minds of the people down the country—in my constituency, at any rate, and in a particular area of my constituency—as to whether or not the Army are accepting for enlistment men who are already married. I have a concrete case in mind, particulars of which I am sending to the Minister. I have the particulars here in a letter. This is the case of a former non-commissioned officer of the Army, with several years' service in the Army. Assuming that, as a matter of course, he had only to go up to the Curragh and present himself there to be accepted as a useful member of the Defence Forces, whether as a non-commissioned officer or even as a private, he sold the tools of his trade, went to a certain amount of expense in obtaining references and certificates of his age and the ages of his children and so on, and as an earnest of his intention to enlist he bought a single ticket to the Curragh and also incurred certain expenses in putting up at a hotel there for the night. When he arrived there and presented himself to the appropriate official, he was told that his references and certificates were of no earthly use to him because he was a married man. Now, there may be a rule not to accept married men in the Army, but if that is not so I think it would be foolish to refuse to accept the services of a man who was already fully trained, and not only fully trained but holding the rank and experience of a non-commissioned officer. The people in the district who are interested in this case would like to know whether it is the policy of the Department of Defence or of the Minister to refuse for enlistment men who are already married because, if that is so, the sooner the public know it the better, and naturally, a case like that, where a private individual such as this man, an ordinary working man, sold the tools of his trade and incurred £2 or £3 in expenses in order to enlist, would not occur again.

With regard to the point raised by Deputy Dillon, as to appointing chaplains to the Army and putting them into uniform, if I were to express an opinion on that point I should say that it would be highly undesirable to make a change from the present system. Putting our chaplains into uniform would be the same as making them part of expeditionary forces, accompanying the forces as part of the battle order, and I think that if there is an emergency in this country there are plenty who would come forward to do their duty, uniform or no uniform. I do not think we should put ourselves on the footing that we are actually a nation at war. It would be better to create the impression and continue the impression that we are a nation ready to defend ourselves but not at war.

I should like to take this opportunity of paying a tribute, so far as an outsider can see, to the high state of efficiency and morale existing among our troops. I have had the opportunity of seeing them in different places and on different occasions. I met them and spoke with them, and if the occasion arises I have no hesitation in saying that they will be able to give as good an account of themselves as the army of any other nation in the world.

There was an excellent entertainment produced by the Army at one of the theatres in Dublin, "The Roll of the Drum." It was also produced at other centres and reflected great credit upon members of the Defence Forces. Representations of historic scenes went back for generations, even to Fontenoy, and the attention given to detail and historical facts could not be surpassed. That production had a most excellent effect in Dublin. I was present at a performance in the theatre where the audience was composed of people of every blend of political thought. It would be an excellent thing if that entertainment could be sent to other parts of the country. I am sure that it would not result in any financial loss to the State, as it would attract big audiences.

I think every Deputy of the House will agree with Deputy Dillon in his general opening remarks, and will also agree with him in his mild criticism regarding the control of expenditure in respect to the use of transport or the excessive use of petrol. I can assure the Deputy and the House that as to the present use of petrol there is a most stringent form of inspection regarding the use of transport of any description in the Army. It is quite impossible now for a car to be used for any purpose other than that for which it is strictly officially reserved. I can also say that even in the past it was pretty difficult to have anything in the nature of what might be regarded as the irresponsible use of cars. It is quite possible that in the past, and before the recent grave shortage of petrol, greater use was made of army transport to bring detachments of troops to various posts. We are not doing that now. If the posts are fairly convenient the men are marched to them. In fact they are marched up to five or six miles, but whether that is wise or not is another matter. Possibly we might err by going too far in that direction. I can assure the House that the use of transport is strictly supervised right down from the highest to the lowest ranks.

The question of the Local Defence Force uniforms is one about which I did not hear anything that might be regarded as a grave complaint. The only complaint I heard was that the uniform was not waterproof. It is quite true that it is not waterproof, but the uniform was got in great haste and we were facing a period when we doubted very much if the uniform would be ready for the Local Defence Force. I am afraid it is not possible at present, but I should like to see the men dressed in a more substantial uniform than they have. The uniform itself is all right, being the battle type of uniform, but if, as Deputy Dillon suggested, it is not designed to catch the eyes of the ladies, its utility no one will dispute.

As to the question concerning chaplains raised by Deputy Dillon, strange to say I raised that question myself this week and the matter is under discussion. We hope in the very near future to have some decision come to, whereby we can have chaplains in an emergency travelling with battalions of the various commands. One chaplain is at present wearing the uniform. Every chaplain, if he so desires, may wear the uniform but, as far as I know, only one chaplain is now doing so.

Coming to the question raised by Deputy Hickey, to answer it accurately, or as the Deputy would like, would require some notice. My memory of the particular case is that this unfortunate man was not on duty, being, in fact, on leave. If that is so it raises a totally new aspect of the case, and, as far as I understand, his widow would not be entitled to any compensation whatsoever.

Does that mean that if a soldier is killed while in the Army, he will not be entitled even to the compensation that he would get under the Workmen's Compensation Act, if working for an ordinary employer?

If a soldier is killed when not on duty his next-of-kin would not be entitled to any compensation.

I understand this soldier when on leave was travelling from Limerick to Cork on a motor lorry. Would not that be taken into consideration?

Unfortunately he was not on duty. He was, I think, getting a free lift and was not entitled to be in the vehicle which was involved in the accident. I am afraid that prevents anything in the nature of the sympathetic ending that Deputy Hickey would like.

Was a solicitor consulted?

A solicitor was consulted and the solicitor came to me.

Referring to the point raised by Deputy McCann as to the Capitation Grant of £1 per head, it is not necessarily intended that each member of the group will go out and benefit to the extent of that £1. That is not the idea behind it. It is believed that very large numbers of the Local Defence Force would not desire to participate in the Capitation Grant, and in that way it is hoped there will be a fairly large surplus of money, plus funds which were collected voluntarily. Large amounts of money have been secured as a result of concerts, dances, whist drives and entertainments of that kind. These funds will be held by Local Defence Force groups until March 31st of this year. They can be put to uses of the kind that the Deputy has in mind—the purchasing of boots for people who appear to be in necessitous circumstances, or the purchasing of a raincoat or something like that. After the 31st March, these funds will be taken in charge by the defence forces proper. They will be accounted for and audited and the expenditure will be under the supervision of the Army authorities. All the debts of these groups, if they are debts which have been incurred in a legal way, will be met.

I suggest to the Minister that it is not wise to remove that responsibility from the local groups. It will remove the initiative to organise functions for the raising of such funds.

The initiation of entertainments will still of course be in the hands of the groups, but the funds so secured will have to be accounted for officially by the Army. That is the only difference.

It may be a desirable thing.

I think so. The funds will augment the Capitation Grant, and these things which are needed for men in necessitous circumstances can still be secured. As to compensation for accidents, I am not certain of this, but I do not think that at present any man can be compensated for an accident in which he is involved. However, we are looking into the matter. If the question of being called out on active service should arise, of course they will be treated as members of the Defence Forces and will naturally partake of all the benefits which the ordinary soldier enjoys.

Mr. Walsh

Will the Minister state what is the position with regard to accidents that occur, such as the killing of horses and cattle, by Army vehicles?

That would be a matter for the ordinary law.

Mr. Walsh

Some of these cases go as far back as 1939 and have not been dealt with yet.

They can sue the Minister.

Mr. Walsh

It would be well to avoid that.

There is always a dispute in these cases. Individuals will naturally claim that they are right. The Army, having investigated the case, and having made certain inquiries, will probably assume the opposite, and that means legal action anyhow, if there is a dispute of that kind. In reply to Deputy Esmonde's question, if a man is killed on duty his relatives or next of kin or dependants will receive compensation.

The matter is before the Department for some time. The Minister had a letter from me about that matter.

Of course, that is probably being examined. There may be certain difficulties. I am assuming that what the Deputy states now is correct, that this man was on duty. As to the case he mentioned about the man going to the Curragh, all I can say is that the man did not use very much foresight in taking the action he appears to have taken, selling his tools, and acting as if he were the sole judge of whether he should get into the Defence Forces or not. Apart from anything else, it is possible that the man might be rejected for medical reasons.

He did not get that far. He was rejected solely on the ground that he was married.

I am only referring to the unwisdom of what he did. As to the marriage allowance, that is only given to people who were married before 1st July last. We are endeavouring to put that date as far forward as possible in order to bring in large numbers of men who were married immediately after they joined the Army. In order to make the case as strong as it was possible to make it we had to decide that after a certain date we would not take in any more married men. Married men on unemployment assistance are a very heavy burden if they have a large number in family. The same applies in the Army. Therefore, we had to decide, in order to make a strong effort with the Finance Department to have the date extended, not to take in any more married men.

That was not generally known. So far as I know, there was no publication to that effect.

It was fairly generally known. It may not have reached the particular individual. I think I have dealt with all the matters which have been raised. In regard to the position in the Army generally, I am grateful for the remarks which have been made by several Deputies with regard to the efficiency of the Army and so on.

Mr. Byrne

Will the Minister say something about Corporal Cooney's widow?

I am afraid that case is very like the case mentioned by Deputy Hickey. The man, unfortunately, was not on duty, in fact I think he was on leave. While everybody in the Army is very proud of him and of the action which he took, the difficulty there is due to the regulations. Unfortunately, the Minister is bound by these regulations and cannot go outside them.

Mr. Byrne

Which means that the widow——

Which means that his widow will not be entitled to an allowance because she was not married within the particular period to which the marriage allowance applies, namely, 1st July last. I can assure the Deputy that, if we can get this regulation I have mentioned passed, I will do what is possible to have her brought within the scope of the extension. Whether that is possible or not, I cannot say. In regard to the Army proper, I think I can assure the House that everything possible is being done to bring it up to that high state of efficiency at which we would all like to see it. The young men who have recently come in as officers have been undergoing an intensive course of training at the Curragh. When they come out they undergo an intensive practical course in their units. They have been given responsibilities which they would not ordinarily be given for a very much longer period. The morale of the officers and men is, in my opinion, at the highest possible point. The general feeling throughout the Army is that the freedom of this nation, if it is assailed by any other nation, will be defended in a way which will surprise the aggressor, and that the freedom which we have won after such long and arduous years will be retained.

Arising out of the Minister's reply——

The Deputy may ask a relevant question.

That is all I want. In connection with the taking over of the assets and liabilities of the Local Defence Corps, if the Minister intends to take over the liabilities he would be well advised to issue a circular to the various commanders to find out who is authorised to incur liabilities and the nature of the liabilities authorised to be incurred. Otherwise, he may be faced with some curious questions when he comes to take over after the 31st March.

The Deputy, I think, can rest assured that that will be done.

What is the difficulty about meeting the case I mentioned? I do not want to compare it with the one that Deputy Byrne referred to. The two cases are not the same. The man that I referred to was a member of the Regular Army. Is the contention being made that he was not on duty when going home to his wife and family and got killed? Is it that that prevents the military authorities from giving some compensation to his dependents? Apart from the legal aspect of the matter altogether, could not something be done under the Emergency Powers Orders? Surely the State has a moral obligation to the man's widow and children.

Could they not sue the Minister for negligence and get recovery?

I think it is too petty for the Department to be raising any questions about this at all. Surely, there should be some way of giving compensation to the man's dependents.

I think the Deputy said that he wrote to me recently.

I did, two months ago.

I am afraid that nothing can be done.

What is the difficulty about getting something done?

What does the Deputy mean by speaking of the difficulty of getting something done?

Are the military regulations so strict and the powers of the Department so strict that they cannot break through whatever little barrier there may be in order to meet the moral obligation that, in my opinion they are under to this man's widow and children?

I am afraid they are.

Has the Minister not sufficient power to amend the regulations?

Could not provision be made for meeting a case of this kind out of the Contingency Fund?

That is another question and I am not in a position to answer. What I want to get clear is this: there are certain Acts in operation and within these Acts I can operate. I cannot operate outside them. The case that the Deputy refers to is, in my opinion, outside those Acts.

But are there no means of meeting those cases?

I am afraid there are no means that I can see.

Vote put and agreed to.
Vote reported and agreed to.