Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Friday, 22 Jun 1945

Vol. 97 No. 14

Committee on Finance. - Vote 63—Army (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.—(Deputy O'Higgins).

When dealing with this Estimate last evening, I was dealing, as far as I recollect, with the lack of arrangements for finding employment for discharged Army men. The only evidence of any consideration for the ex-soldier is a slight preference mark given for military service in vacancies in public employment and that is outweighed by another section which gives an overriding preference to a knowledge of Irish. I pointed out the case of a person who had continued his studies or gone to a Gaelic League class, who failed to respond to the national call and had continued his studies instead of serving the country. This particular clause throws the vacancy wide open, not to the ex-Army man but to the person who continued his studies, not only in the Gaelic language but in other subjects.

The same evidence of lack of any serious consideration for the ex-Army man in finding employment is shown by the fact that the old and well-established precedent of insisting that Government contracts and public contracts and all works into which public money goes be carried out with a certain percentage of labour recruited from the ex-Army men. That precedent is deliberately omitted from this scheme for the re-establishment of Army men in civilian life. In other words, beyond the giving away of money there is no evidence of any serious attempt to consider the position of an Army man on discharge. There is not even any evidence of consideration for the position of the ex-Army man who is broken down in health. As things are at the moment, and as things evidently will continue to be in the future, I say—without mincing words and with a very, very close knowledge of the position—that the position of an ex-Army man broken down from tuberculosis or some other wasting disease of a chronic nature is that the moment he is discharged from the Army he is treated by the Army authorities as a kind of pariah dog, as an outcast, a being for whom the Army has no further use and for whom it has no further responsibility. Every one of us gets those little chits to the effect that they are compelled to discharge such a man on such a date as medically unfit and stating: "Please, if possible, make arrangements for his further treatment".

There again, if the Minister got in touch with his colleague, he would know that that man is put hopelessly at the end of a queue, that there are hundreds waiting for a vacant bed from amongst the civilian population already in that administrative area and that this unfortunate ex-Army man has to go to the end of the queue and take his turn in the ordinary course of events. This man, reeking with tuberculosis, is merely pitchforked out of a military hospital and left to rot in a hut or a hovel at a time when the Minister has within his control the biggest and grandest mansions in the country. Every army, when about to be reduced and when demobilisation is undertaken, makes provision for the continued treatment of soldiers whose health is wrecked in the service of their country. Special hospitals are opened up at home and abroad. Nowhere in the whole world, so far as I know, have we that casual reference to "chance your lot with what the local authority can do for you." Not only that, but when these men claim pensions we have all that parsing of words—"Is the disease attributable to army service, or aggravated by it?"

No known process can prove how an invisible article, a microbe, gets into the human body. The dice is always loaded against the applicant. You cannot prove that the germ of T.B. got into the soldier's body through his army service. It might have got in at a time when he was off duty. There may have been some tubercular history in the family. The tubercular family history merely indicates, possibly, a pre-disposition to that disease. Family records and health sheets should have been studied before the State took that man into its service and put him swimming rivers in uniform and sleeping out afterwards during the night.

Now, in the past the applicant, completely broken in health and facing death slowly, never did get fair or reasonable justice under our Army Pensions Act, because of the wording. Is there any suggestion that that matter will be reconsidered after 20 years of dismal failure? A man who is fit will get his few pounds, will get to the end of the labour queue, and in six months time he will be in a hopeless position. The ex-army man looking for a house can qualify for one in his area by living for two years with his family in a condemned hut. The man broken in health will remain there while his health deteriorates. He infects the rest of his family and there is no provision for treatment in a military hospital or in any of the great buildings in the custody of the Minister, and buildings that are now idle and empty.

In the demobilisation White Paper we see serious omissions, omissions that are unjustifiable by any standard of fair play, justice or equity. The first and most obvious thing, a thing that is absolutely indefensible, is the omission from any consideration or any gratuity of the members of the Army Nursing Service. A question was asked in the House recently as to why the Army Nursing Service was excluded from this Order, and the reply of the Minister was that the Army Nursing Service was not a component part of the Army. I am not an authority on the English language, but I think there is something confusing about that particular sentence. I think the phraseology is a little bit mixed and misleading. So far as I understand the meaning of the word "component," it is that it is an element within a whole; the word "component," in fact, means part of. If the Minister's intention is to indicate that the Army Nursing Service is not part of the Army, then I think again we have evidence of the mind that dates back to the Crimea when army nurses, military nurses, were just voluntarily attached civilians serving the troops but not part of the machine.

The Minister's regulations, not over the signature of any officer of the Army, the Ministerial regulations governing the Army medical services, lay down the duties, responsibilities, pay and functions of Army medical officers, Army dentists, Army chemists and Army nurses. Every one of them is in the same Ministerial regulation. Not only that, but that particular regulation lays down the line of command and makes it imperative on every noncommissioned officer and soldier to obey any order given by Army nursing sisters and ranks them in the Army rank of priority, immediately next to the commissioned officers.

I do not know if the Minister, before he replied to that question, looked up the Ministerial regulations. I do not know, when the Minister decided to exclude those patriotic ladies, if he considered that they are, from the point of view of re-settlement or from the point of view of sacrifices made, exactly on a par with any temporary officer or soldier and that they have a distinct claim in advance of many of those who are getting substantial gratuities. There was a call for soldiers, for officers, for nurses. Good men and good women responded. There is the same problem facing each of them on demobilisation, the problem of fitting themselves into civilian life.

You took your civil servants into the Army. You guaranteed them their civil service pay, unless their Army pay was higher. You guaranteed them their jobs when they were demobilised, and you give them a substantial gratuity. You took men from the bigger financial corporations, from the banks, from the bigger business houses. They were guaranteed their civilian pay as long as they were in the Army, unless the Army pay was higher, and they were guaranteed their jobs when they were demobilised, and they get substantial resettlement gratuities. You took your doctors out of the public service. Their appointments were held open, and they were guaranteed an immediate return to those appointments. You give them a substantial gratuity. You took the odd hundred temporary nurses without any such guarantee of payment or reinstatement. You took them into the Army, and now you say they have no claim on you the same as the others have. Is there any defence for that decision? Under your regulations you lay down in black and white everything they can and shall wear, down to the very colour of their stockings, and yet you say they are not a component part of the Army.

Since before the Boer war, nursing sisters were a component part of every army in the world. Here you went so far as to put them into uniforms, but when it comes to considering services rendered, you "turf" them out, you completely ignore them and exclude them from the benefits granted to other members of the armed forces. There is no justification for such a course, and, if I were asked my opinion, I would say in fairness to the Minister and the Department that the only reason they are left out of that Order is that it did not occur to them to include them. If the matter came up for reasonable consideration, and there was a mind stimulated by any sense of justice and fair play, it would be found that, on any basis, their claim was at least equal to the strongest claim in the Army, and was far stronger than the claim of many of those who are getting gratuities.

If the Minister understands the subject he is dealing with, he will understand that, in this country at all events, there is no avenue of employment open to the private nurse. Any nurses who secure a livelihood in this country are employed by the big general and clinical hospitals, the attached private hospitals or the big nursing corporations, and the way employment is got with these bodies is that the probationer becomes a nurse and remains as a junior nurse and later a staff nurse. When they leave that employment, there are others coming along and filling the vacancies all the time, and the chance or prospect of any nurse who has broken that connection for a period of five years and then returns is next to hopeless. If, on no other ground than that further consideration would be given to that very serious and tragic omission, I would justify the motion to refer back this Estimate.

Another force was brought into being by the emergency, a force of rather pathetic cases, composed mainly of the best type of ex-officers and ex-Army men who found themselves in the ranks of the unemployed. Because of their excellent records and their service to the country in the past, because of their capacity and their ability, when the auxiliary fire service was being built up, the first people looked for were these men. They were exactly on a par with the temporary soldier. They were there in a war emergency, giving whole-time service on a temporary basis. They were paid men, whole-time in the service of the State, and last month or this month they were paid off and sent back to take their places at the end of the unemployed queue, with no gratuity, being nobody's responsibility and no consideration being given to refitting them in civilian life.

The answer given by the Minister's pocket Ministry, the Minister hidden away in this Estimate, was that they had no claim to a gratuity and that he would not sanction it, because they were unemployed men at the time they got the appointments. Either that is a fair rule or it is an unjust rule. If it is a fair rule, it should be universal. If it is a fair rule, it should apply to the man in the soldier's green uniform as strongly as it does to the man in the fireman's blue uniform. Would the Minister think it reasonable if I stood up here to argue that no gratuity should be given to a soldier who was an unemployed man at the time he joined? Would he think it fair if I claimed that no gratuity should be given to a temporary officer who was an unemployed young man, fresh from school or college, at the time he joined? Would it be fair if I argued that no member of the Army Construction Corps should get a gratuity because he was an unemployed man at the time he joined?

Of course, it would be grossly unfair and grossly ungrateful to the people who came forward and gave valuable service; but these poor fellows, because their numbers are few, are to be thrown on the mud-heap and turned down by that arrogant note of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures.

The days, the weeks and the months that are coming, are going to show the inhumanity running through this document, covered for a period by a few pound notes. You had nobody to fight for the last five years; you had nothing to do for the last five years but make arrangements for the day of demobilisation. You had nothing to do but give consideration to these soldiers and others when you "turfed" them out, and you have nothing to produce at the end of it all but a financial grant from money already voted for other purposes. In other words, whatever is to be done for the ex-soldier is to be done by others, by the taxpayer. Nothing is to be done by the Department or by the general staff— not even the amount of labour entailed in getting in touch with colleagues on the same Front Bench and seeing to what extent preference could be given to the ex-soldier with regard to hospital treatment, housing, employment or anything else.

There is another matter which I should like to bring up, because I am sure, quite unintentionally, the Minister misled the House and the public outside in connection with it, with very serious consequences to some people. A couple of months ago the Minister was asked if any action of a punitive kind would be taken against soldiers who left this Army and joined other armies if they returned here on leave. So far as I remember, the Minister's reply was to the effect that no punitive action would be taken, because it would be too much trouble, but that consideration would be given to penalising them in such a way as striking them off the register. The impression left on the minds of Deputies, rightly or wrongly, was that if such men returned they would not be arrested and courtmartialled.

Is it not desirable that a statement of that kind should be quoted? I am sure the Deputy is not going out of his way to misquote what I said, but I think it is desirable that, if reference is made to a statement, the statement should be quoted.

I will give an opportunity to the Minister to quote it.

The Deputy did not purport to quote the Minister, but to give the sense of what he said. If the Deputy purported to quote, he would have to quote it correctly.

The Deputy stated the impression left on the mind of the House and on the mind of the Deputy speaking. I had some communications at the time the question was raised here, and, three days after the Minister's reply, I happened to be in the town of Tullamore. I was approached by the mothers of two men who had fought in a great number of foreign fields—one of them was seriously wounded—and who were getting leave. I was asked if they would be arrested if they came home, and, quite honestly, I gave the impression which I had gleaned from the Minister that no such action would be taken. I know other Deputies who gave similar advice, but we read in the papers of these unfortunate lads being arrested and courtmartialled. Surely the Minister can agree that, even if they did desert this Army, it was because there was soldier's blood in their veins, because they joined the Army for active service, for fighting, for soldiering.

They remained here until they satisfied themselves, rightly or wrongly, that there was going to be no fighting here, and then they went wherever fighting was to be done. The wounds, hardships and prison privations they suffered have certainly punished them sufficiently for any action they took, and any action of the Minister by way of punishment on them, any sentence of a court martial, must rest very lightly on their shoulders as compared with the other sufferings they have undergone. It is not punishment on them. It is punishment on the wife. It is punishment on the unfortunate mother who, when her son comes home, after escaping from the jaws of death, sees him arrested at Dún Laoghaire or the North Wall. Is that fair to the mother? Does anyone think that it carries out the original idea that we got from the Minister? Are we going to carry on that kind of vendetta for a number of years, or when will it stop?

Now, in the course of the Minister's statement, he told us—again worked into this Estimate, and it is a matter that, if the Estimate is passed without further consideration, will be accepted by Parliament—that A.R.P. is to remain, post-war, as protection of civilians against gas and aerial attack, and the cost of that is something about £250,000 a year. He told us that the L.D.F. is to remain as a permanent feature in post-war Éire—the cost of that, again, about £200,000 a year —and that the matter was under, and had been under, active consideration —active consideration! That was a question that was brought under the Minister's notice as far back as two years ago. It was brought very prominently before his notice when the L.S.F. was terminated. Some members of the L.D.F. may desire to remain in some form of territorial service. Others came forward because they believed that our country was in danger and they wanted to play their part. They neglected their businesses, they gave up their leisure, they let professional and business opportunities pass by, and they do not want to go out of that force now branded as quitters. A definite day should be named on which these men can leave the force with full honour and with the gratitude of the nation, when they can leave decently, having given decent and exemplary service to the nation. The thing should not be dragged on through the summer and autumn months. Does the Minister not realise that these young men are as fond of a bit of leisure and pleasure as any of us, and that in the midst of their business work, their professional work, their ordinary labour, or whatever calling they were in, they gave up their Sundays and other occasions of rest to give service to the nation, and that they do not want to be branded as quitters? They know, just as well as I do, and just as well as that White Paper shouts to the world, that the emergency period and the danger to this country has passed. Yet, all we hear from the Minister is that the force is to be retained as a permanent feature. Is that fair to those men who came forward and gave their service to the nation, not for money, not for clothing, not for lodging, but for nothing, sacrificing opportunities of making money and giving all freely to the service of the State? And all we are told is that the matter is under active consideration.

Again, we have phrases. What we want are decisions. What we want are plans. What we want is policy. That is, as far as the L.D.F. goes. Take the case of A.R.P. What is it to be kept for? What are you keeping on A.R.P. for in times of peace, an expensive service, to protect the people from aerial attack by gas or bomb, and at a cost of a quarter of a million a year? We are living in a very small country, and a very poor country normally, and no Minister has quarters of millions of pounds to play about with, but the post-war military financial commitments, as outlined by the Minister, are going to be in the neighbourhood of about £4,000,000 a year greater than our pre-war financial commitments for military matters; in or about £300,000 per annum for each administrative area in this country. Is he aware of the destitution and distress that prevail and that will definitely grow, post-war, in every county of this State, and that it is those very poor people who are contributing substantially to that £4,000,000 a year, to be spent on pomp and splash and ceremonial parades? In times of peace there is no other function for an Army to fulfil, and that kind of policy is just brutally inhuman to the poorest taxpayers and to the people who could benefit if that £300,000 per annum was spent in each of our counties, where you have many cases of people striving to exist on 5/- or 6/- a week by way of home help, and many other cases where people are trying to exist on 10/- or 12/- a week by way of national health insurance? Yet, we are to spend £300,000 a year per county over and above what was considered by the Minister as being entirely, excessive for a peacetime Army when he was on these benches.

If there is anything that is dangerous in times of peace, it is playing around extravagantly with armies. It is that kind of militarism and military example and headline that is responsible for all the tragedies in the world. It is that kind of playing up the gun and down the people, that kind of feeding guns and starving people, that is responsible for all the misery in Europe at the moment, and that was the outcrop of a cancerous growth where the mentality was that it was the State that mattered and not the people, that the people were there to serve the State and not the State to serve the people.

That is exactly what we have growing, and growing rapidly, in this country at the present moment: the State first; Army machines, Army lorries, Army cars must fly around the country at will; petrol must be greedily drunk by anything in the nature of a grey-painted Army vehicle, but human beings can die in every district monthly for want of a quart of petrol for a doctor's car or a nurse's car. Even so recently as in the case of the count for the Presidential election we had this military pomp and disregard for the people. We saw that count at the end of a political election, and any of us who were there at the end saw a sight that at all events horrified me, as a man who has worn an Army uniform and a Sam Browne belt. We saw the highest officers awaiting the result of that count like so many gawkers. When the count was declared the returning officer, a civil servant, held up his finger and called to the highest officers in the Army, one by one, like so many messenger boys or dispatch riders, and gave one an envelope saying: "Bring that to Judge so-and-so," and to another: "Bring that to Mr. So-and-so." Certain of the highest officers in the Army started out in separate motor-cars around the city, and people whose business and livelihood depend on a drop of petrol saw this splash of pomp and this wastage of petrol. We saw the whole position of prestige that should be due to the soldier of any Army and that should be reflected in the highest ranks—we saw them turned into so many messenger boys at the end of a political election. As a man that held the position that is now held by one of those officers who was used as a messenger boy on that occasion, I thought to myself that if I happened to be in London at the end of an important election and saw a returning officer, a civilian, hold up his finger to the Director-General of Army Medical Services and heard him say "Here, bring that envelope to so-and-so,""Bedad," I would say, "this British Army is the funniest Army in the world; there is no conception of the dignity, the nobility, the prestige and the honour that should be due to the national uniform worn on a soldier's back."

That is one side of it. The other side was this extravagant display of cars and the extravagant use of petrol. If the Minister has no further use for so many officers, then I say to him: "Treat them well, re-establish them properly in civilian life and do not be coming here to this Parliament looking for permission to recruit so many hundred more." I would like to see serious, and very serious, consideration given to our whole defence position. We should get an opportunity to go into the question of what our policy is, what policy our Defence Forces are brought into being to defend or to maintain. The spending of money is not a defence policy. Slobbering around with figures is not a plan. We want a policy and we want a plan, and behind that policy and inside that plan it must be remembered all the time that the Army is there for the people, and that it is not a case that the people are there for the Army. But with the way things are going, and the evidence that we have in this particular Estimate— we saw plenty of it in Central Europe— the conception of the Government is that the people are there for the State instead of the old Irish democratic conception that the State is there for the people.

There is one other thing that I want to ask the Minister about. All over this country every disused workhouse, every disused courthouse and several big mansions, are glutted with Army stores. There are some millions of blankets which are being moth-eaten and rat-eaten. There are tens of thousands of rubber mattresses, rubber pillows, rubber hot-water bottles, etc., etc., things that cannot be bought for money, and all through the winter there are people shivering in our hospitals and people developing bed sores for want of rubber pillows. These are goods that cannot be purchased. Has not the time come to release them and make them available to the public? I would urge, in view of the economic distress and the amount of poverty that prevails, and the very high cost of any commodity that has to be bought, that those 1,000,000 blankets should not be auctioned and bought by a wealthy syndicate in order to be re-sold to the public at a substantial profit.

I urge that the blankets, at least, should be issued to the poor in each of the administrative areas, and that if the rubber goods are to be sold that they should be sold exclusively by competition in bidding between the various hospitals. We know what always happens at the end of a war. Army sales are held and wealthy syndicates, home or foreign, that can command big money, buy in big quantities. They buy all, and sell off to the public at double and quadruple the prices which they paid for the goods. I am urging that the public should be protected, and that those goods which were bought by public money, bought by taxation on tea, sugar and other commodities, should be issued to the very poor. They have been lying useless in stores for years. They should be used now in the interests of the many rather than to swell the profits of the very wealthy few.

Mr. Corish

During the course of the Minister's statement one waited in vain for an indication of what the Government proposed to do for those who were prepared to sacrifice their lives for their country. The Minister, of course, stressed the gratuity proposals of the Government. I wonder if the Minister and the Government consider that they have fulfilled their obligation to these men when they have paid those gratuities. I have the feeling that in some cases the payment of the gratuity may do more harm than good. It may not be desirable at all to pay some of those men the amount of money which is shown in the White Paper that has been issued.

One remembers the promises that were held out to those men when they were being recruited. What is the policy of the Government in so far as the reinstatement of those men in employment is concerned? Some time ago the Government published a White Paper indicating that it was proposed to carry out certain works in the post-war period. I submit to the Minister that now is the time to set those works going so as to absorb those men in employment. During the early period of the emergency legislation was passed by the Dáil which enabled the Minister to insist that men who left their employment to join the Army for the emergency would be reinstated in their former positions. I wonder what steps the Minister has taken or is taking to ensure that that policy will be carried into effect.

I know that some men have already been demobilised. Some of them were allowed out on leave to enable them to take up certain employment. The employment failed, with the result that those men have been almost starving since, because of the fact that no arrangements were made to secure that they would receive unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit in the particular labour exchange area in which they reside.

There is a provision in the Unemployment Assistance Act which prevents men who have changed their residence from securing unemployment benefit. During the period of the emergency a number of those men were married in certain areas. When they were demobilised they came back to these areas to reside, but because of the fact that they had not been living in them for, I think, three or six months, they were refused unemployment benefit and unemployment assistance.

I should like to know what steps the Department of Defence is taking in that connection. I know that it is not actually the duty of that Department, but representations could be made to the Department of Industry and Commerce to see that these men are properly treated. I should also like to know from the Minister if gratuities will be given to those who served a certain number of years in the construction corps. I submit that the men in that corps had laborious work to do, and that they did it well. For that reason I believe that they should receive the same treatment as those who are willing to undertake active service. When is it proposed to pay gratuities, and when is it proposed to start demobilisation? Day after day public representatives are being asked by those concerned when the gratuities will be paid. We expect that they will be paid soon, otherwise I do not understand the object in publishing the White Paper. Was it published deliberately on the eve of the election to catch votes for the Government Party? There is also the question of deferred pay. Why is it necessary for Deputies and others to keep writing continuously to the Department inquiring when deferred pay is to be paid to soldiers who are demobilised? Week after week people in a similar position to myself have to write to the Department of Defence about that matter. There should be some definite period fixed by the Department intimating when deferred pay will be paid.

I understand that it is proposed to keep the L.D.F. in being. I came across a case recently in Wexford of a man who joined the Maritime Inscription Corps on 6th November, 1942. When on manoeuvres in May, 1944, he met with an accident which resulted in a compound fracture of the right leg. He was in hospital from July 7th, 1944, and on crutches until December 5th of the same year. He was out of work during that period and received no wages. He has now been offered 10/6 per week to cover the period from the 30th January, 1945, to 31st August, 1945. That man had a good deal of expense following the accident, and I cannot understand how the Department came to the decision to pay him only 10/6 from January to August of this year, seeing that the accident occurred as far back as May, 1944. Why is the period to 30th January this year disregarded? This man was not eligible for work owing to the accident he met with while on manoeuvres. I wish the Minister would give some idea of Government policy in cases of that kind.

Referring to the question raised by Deputy O'Higgins, I should like to know who is to pay for the removal of the air raid shelters. Is it the Department of Defence or the local authorities in whose areas shelters exist? I urge the Minister to make a statement regarding Deputy O'Higgins' query as to what is to become of A.R.P. stores which have accumulated in certain areas, blankets, bedsteads, certain tinned foodstuffs and medical supplies. I hope it is not the intention of the Department of Defence to remove all these things to Dublin for sale. If there is to be any sale it should be in each local area, so that the residents should have the opportunity of purchasing. I go so far as to suggest that blankets, bedsteads and articles of that kind should be handed over either to the poor law authorities or to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Everybody knows the extreme hardship that prevails in some places during the winter months, and how difficult it was since the emergency started to procure blankets, pillows and articles of that type. It would be an act of grace on the part of the Government if these articles could be handed over to poor law institutions or to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul so that they might be distributed amongst the deserving poor. When replying, I ask the Minister to indicate what the Government proposes to do for men who served this country during the emergency, apart from the gratuity proposals contained in the recently circulated White Paper.

While listening to the Minister reading some ten foolscap pages of his statement last evening I found it difficult to follow everything that was said, and as Deputies were not supplied with copies they have to rely on their memory of what was said. I heard the Minister saying that nothing would be done regarding demobilisation that would injure men, at present unemployed, who are seeking employment, by putting great numbers on the unemployed market. The Minister conveyed the impression that men would not be rushed out of the Army to such an extent as to upset the employment market, but he went on to say that he hoped demobilisation would be completed by March, 1946.

If that is correct, I cannot reconcile the two statements. If demobilisation is going to be completed by 1946, it means that many thousands of men will be on the unemployment market within ten or 12 months, considerably upsetting the present position. I ask the Minister to make that matter clear. Many of the men concerned are married, and their wives have separation allowances. If they prefer to serve, and like army life, I suggest to the Minister that it is not advisable to put them out of the Army to compete with others who are not now able to get employment. As the Minister may not have the same knowledge as other Deputies have as to what is happening, I shall read an extract from a letter I got from a soldier. He states:

"I have served two years in the National Army, and I am now seeking unemployment assistance. I have applied for a permit to go to England to work, through the labour exchange, and I am now waiting six weeks without work. What I receive hardly supports myself. I would be very grateful if you could help me to get away quickly, as I am the only support of my mother and family, and I want to help them."

Is that what is to happen to our young soldiers? If men come out of the Army immediately in great numbers, are they to queue at the Passport Office with a view to getting to other lands? Deputies read in the morning papers that there were queues at the Passport Office larger than those in the early days of the war, when men were clearing out to get work. I hope that our Minister will not add to any great extent to the numbers seeking to get out of the country. The Passport Department serves almost as a safety valve for the Government. The employment to be found in England serves that purpose, but we are denuding our country of population, and it is up to the Government to give the men concerned a decent way of living. If they cannot do that, then they should assist them to go anywhere they can get employment, so as to support their families. Will the Minister clear up the point as to the number he proposes to demobilise each month? I suggest that he should "go slow" in that regard.

Here is a question which I have been asked to put: "When we are leaving the Army, will we be allowed to take our clothing? We will get a suit of clothes and I think one outer shirt, but are we to be allowed to keep our overcoats?" I suggest that these men should be allowed to keep their overcoats and to take a pair of blankets. That would ease the situation as regards these dispersal sales to which Deputies have referred. As a Deputy said, combines will buy rubber hot water bottles, rubber pillows, blankets and other goods at these sales and sell them in the black market at very high prices. I approve the suggestion made that, sooner than allow that, these goods should be given to the St. Vincent de Paul Society or some other organisation which would assist the poor of the different towns and villages. Will the Minister say what amount of clothing soldiers will be allowed to take when they are being demobilised? I make a special appeal in respect of the overcoats. I have been in some houses where overcoats on a winter night were very useful. They served as blankets during the night and as overcoats during the day.

Has the Minister any scheme prepared to provide employment or relief for demobilised men? Are the Government prepared to put up £1,000,000 to provide schemes which will enable these men to get into work immediately? I refer to such matters as afforestation, reclamation of land and the establishment of a mercantile marine. Are the Government proposing to devote any money to ship building, so as to get ready for the days when we hope prosperity will return and when we shall require more ships? What are they doing for the shipping industry?

The Minister for Defence has nothing to do with shipping.

I am dealing with the point as to the provision of work for these men and I merely mention, in passing, the possibilities in connection with some industries. I know that the Minister has nothing to do with the financing of industry but he can make a recommendation to the Government with a view to ensuring that the men who served the country and the Government so well will not have to form part of the queues at Merrion Square. A Deputy has spoken about the nurses. There is keen disappointment in Army circles, generally, regarding the way the Minister proposes to deal with the nurses. They answered the call without inquiring where they might be sent or what work they might have to undertake. Now, the Minister proposes, on demobilisation, to take the nurses out of uniform and to let them compete on the market for general nursing at rates of pay which, we all know, are grossly inadequate. I hope that the standard of pay for the nurses will be considerably improved. I have another letter from the Minister's Department on the 12th May, 1945.

I shall not trouble the House with all of it but here is an extract from it: "As you were discharged prior to the termination of the emergency, it is regretted that your claim for payment of bounty cannot be admitted and, as you were discharged prior to the 29th September, 1942, deferred pay is not payable in your case." That is the case of an unfortunate soldier who thought he would be entitled both to gratuity and deferred pay but, in one paragraph of this letter, he is told that he cannot get the bounty and, in the other paragraph, that he cannot get the deferred pay owing to a question of dates. Is it possible for the Minister to set up a voluntary bureau to enlighten these men as to their rights? Could not such a bureau be established in the Soldiers' Club, in O'Connell Street, to furnish advice to demobilised men as to their rights? Some sympathetic person with a knowledge of army regulations should be in charge of it who would help the men to make their case.

Deputy O'Higgins made reference to men who had been in the Army and who broke down later as a result of the heavy work in which they were engaged. When some of these men came out of the Army, they developed T.B. and they had to wait six months before getting into a sanatorium. They thought that the Army would do something for them but the only satisfaction they got was the receipt of an extract from a British regulation that their condition was not caused or aggravated by their Army service. As Deputy O'Higgins says, the victim is thrown on the scrap heap. I hope that the men who are to be demobilised will not be thrown on the scrap heap and that we shall not see the State flag on the coffin of a man who died in the workhouse, as we saw in Dublin on more than one occasion. I hope the State will see that these men will continue to live in some degree of comfort. Deputy O'Higgins also raised a question about the number of men who are in married quarters and who may be demobilised.

What is the Government going to do about the housing of men who have been living in married quarters? The corporation at the present moment has 18,000 applicants on its waiting lists for houses. Included in that list is a number of soldiers. In this Vote we are asked to provide some £8,000,000 odd for the Army. I wonder could the Government not find another £1,000,000 to expend on a housing scheme of its own to provide houses to be let at a nominal sum to the men who have served their country and served it well, so as not to have them competing for houses with the unfortunate people who are living in the cellars in the city and paying high rents? Is a soldier coming out of married quarters in one of our barracks to be told by our officials in the corporation: "You do not comply with the conditions laid down by the corporation; you are not residing in a condemned or an overcrowded house; you are not residing in a building that has to be pulled down by the corporation. We regret we cannot consider your case for some considerable time?" To the best of my knowledge, that is what is being said to about 40 or 50 persons per day—not per week—and now there is the possibility of demobilised soldiers being added to the list.

Everybody knows that building materials are not available in any quantity and that we are not building houses quickly enough to accommodate even those who are living in dangerous buildings. I put it in all seriousness to the House that if the Government were to provide, say, £1,000,000 to build cottages for demobilised men, it would be a fine gesture and a handsome tribute to the men who have served their country so well. It is true that during the emergency they were not engaged in actual warfare, but if there were risks involved they were prepared to face the risks. If I were to go into the piles of letters I have received for the last 12 months concerning the grievances of soldiers, I would detain the Minister for a long time, but I put it to the House that the fact that, in the last few days, a soldier asked me to go to the Passport Office to try to speed up the grant of a passport to enable him to get away from this country, is a sad commentary on our administration. It is a sad commentary on the provision made for our demobilised soldiers that large numbers of our young men have to seek a living in other lands.

This is perhaps not the occasion to speak on the question of pensions as we shall have an opportunity on the next Vote, but I should like briefly to refer to the case of men who have 21 years' service in the Army and who were also eligible for an I.R.A. pension but who were not granted such a pension because they did not leave the Army for a day or two in order to claim it. They feel terribly aggrieved because they have been deprived of their I.R.A. pensions, which they should have got were they not serving in the Army. It has been pointed out to me that other men who served in the I.R.A. and joined other Government Departments got their Government pay and were also able to draw their I.R.A. pensions, whilst men who remained on in the Army and who did not go through the form of leaving it for a day or two and rejoining, have been deprived of their pensions. They have been deprived in some cases of hundreds of pounds. I hope the Government will reconsider this matter at a later date. I should like again to ask the Minister what schemes he has in mind to provide employment and housing for men who are about to be demobilised.

What I have to say on this Estimate may be regarded as premature but I think that we have arrived at a time in this country when we have to face facts. I was disappointed that the Minister in his statement made no mention whatever of a post-war defence policy. If we are to take recent indications of Party feeling in this country as symptomatic of what we may expect from the Government in coming years, we have to look forward to a position where, nationally, we shall become more and more isolated from the rest of the world. If that is to be our position, we have to ask ourselves seriously whether we can hope to escape again from the maelstrom of war as we did during the recent conflict. By a miracle and under Divine Providence, and, I would add, by the forbearance of certain belligerents, we escaped from the last war but do we really believe, looking at the world as we find it to-day, that we can, by isolating ourselves here, hope to get away with it again?

We have in this country certain people trailing their coat to people on the other side of the water. We have certain politicians creating an atmosphere in the country as if we were still in a state of suspended war with our ancient and former enemy. I think it is time that that type of mentality was debunked in this country. I think it is time that the people of this country were made realise that we are no longer in a state of war with our former foe, that we are at peace and have been at peace with that foe since 1921. Yet you have certain politicians in this country inculcating the idea into the minds of our youth that the old fight is still on. That may be very good stuff for the crossroads but for this country it is a very serious matter. It is injuring this country abroad.

We have very few friends abroad as a result of the part which we played in the recent war. Whether we look east or west, we cannot say that we have any friends anywhere. I, for one, would like to dissociate myself from the kind of parochial sabreism that is being tried in this country at the present moment. I should like the people of the country to realise that, being islanders, we are inclined to take a narrow, insular view of things, but nevertheless we must wake up sometime to a realisation of the fact that we are little better than an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Ocean.

As I see it we have three policies before us—a policy of national isolation which is apparently being pursued by the present Government, participation in some type of future world security organisation to prevent aggression, and thirdly participation in the Commonwealth of Nations. I want to ask the Minister which of these things is it going to be. Are we going to continue to isolate ourselves here? We should try to take ourselves seriously in this matter and try to see ourselves as the outside world is looking at us. Are we going to continue comic opera soldiering here? That is what it amounts to. Or, are we seriously going to consider whether we are going to participate with the associated nations in the new world organisation? Are we going to take our fair share of whatever defensive measures may be set up by a world security organisation to prevent aggression? Have we taken any steps towards joining that world organisation? These are the questions which are agitating my mind and, I am sure, agitating the mind of the country at the moment.

Not down in Ballinalee or wherever the Deputy comes from, I am sure.

We have at the moment a very serious position in the world. Whatever may be said of a world security organisation, the peace of this world at the moment depends upon four powers or group of powers, the United States of America, the Soviet Union, the British Commonwealth of Nations and China. It is quite clear to any thinking man that, whatever league or organisation may be set up to guarantee the peace of the world, certain regions of the world will be policed by these four powers and we have got to ask ourselves here, where do we fit in, either in the world organisation or in any of the schemes of defence which may be adumbrated by these powers? Look at Europe at the moment. Russia is well into Germany. Western Europe will depend for its defence upon Britain in co-operation with France and assisted by Belgium, Holland, Norway and the smaller nations. Have we any outlook, have we any policy, in relation to any future defence policy that may be internationally agreed upon for the defence of Western Europe? That is our position on the East.

Looking west, we have to consider the defence of the Atlantic Ocean, the seas between these islands and the United States of America, Canada and South America. That was one zone of warfare in the last war and will undoubtedly be one zone of warfare in any future war. We are on the Atlantic seaboard. We, as a country and a State, have a right to participate in whatever defence programmes may be set up to secure the freedom of the seas and to secure the air above the seas. What are we doing about it? We have not heard a word from the Minister on any of these matters. It may be that I am premature in these things. I am deliberately premature, because I think the time has come when we must seriously address ourselves to these matters. We cannot get away with it all the time. We cannot have it on both sides of the bread.

Your third position is the Commonwealth position. Whatever may happen again in relation to world security and world organisation, there is no doubt about it that the Commonwealth nations will come together at an early date, when opportunity presents itself, for a Dominions conference and that Dominions conference will undertake the defence of the Commonwealth of Nations. I have no hesitation in saying here and now that the Commonwealth Nations are not going to allow themselves to be in the position in which they found themselves in 1939. After the last war each of these nations went its own way. Each of these Dominions had its own defence programme. Occasionally an Imperial Conference was called to settle major issues but in actual practice each drifted away on its own with the results that we all know. That is not likely to occur in future and I want to put it to the Minister, have we any programme or policy or outlook in relation to the Dominions of the Commonwealth? Do we propose to share in the defence of the Commonwealth? Do we propose to ally ourselves with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain in whatever measures may be taken for the common defence of the Commonwealth as a whole?

I think we have to put these matters absolutely straight and square and face up to them. Unless we do face up to them we will feel the draught much colder than we are feeling it at present. It is all very well for my friend, Deputy Carter, to look at things from the point of view of the cross-roads in County Longford but I think the sooner we get away from the cross-roads mentality in this country and face up to the realities of our national position the better. What hope have we of ever seeing the union of this country unless we are prepared to stand four-square with the peoples who are fighting or have fought for the freedoms which we ourselves fought for, for the freedoms which we ourselves desire to see maintained here?

Take our present position. There are four world powers. Two of these powers are democratic powers. The other two are autocratic powers. One of them is undoubtedly an authoritarian State with an ideology which I believe they will attempt to force upon the world at no far distant date. I do not believe the leopard changes its spots. I do not believe that Communism has abandoned its idea of world control. I am firmly convinced that, with the state of Europe as it is at present, emerging from the welter of suffering, grievances and humiliations of all people, Allied and Axis combined, the Soviet Union will cash in sooner or later on these conditions and on the general break-down in Europe. I have no doubt about that. What are we going to do here? Are we again going to stay here in a position of isolation and say that this is a row between John Bull and Joe Stalin, or are we going to take our fair measure of co-operation? These are the things we have got to consider and now is the time to consider them. We cannot wait until the thing is down on top of us. We cannot wait for the next five or ten years, Micawber-like, waiting for something to turn up to save our face. We have to face up to the situation now and, facing up to that situation, we have got then to frame the policy as we think it should be framed.

These are the considerations that I want to put before the Government on this particular Estimate. I think the time is opportune to consider all these things. This House should have an opportunity of having a full-dress debate at no far distant date on this question of defence, because our whole status as a State and as a nation is at stake. Do not get away with the idea that we are out of the wood, that everything is all over and that we can settle down to the old type of partisan parochial politics that Fianna Fáil are so content to get on with in this country. We are not out of the wood, and greater minds than any in this House are giving thought to this position. The Church is very perturbed about the future, yet we here are doing nothing, so far as any indication has been given to this House of Government policy. The Minister for Defence comes to the House. He has no post-war policy. Every other Minister comes to the House and, despite all the promises of post-war plans and policies, we on these benches cannot elicit one iota of what these policies are. It is useless to go on with any policy in this country until we are prepared to face up to these issues. The issues that I am raising affect our national position. I am raising them in no partisan spirit. I am raising them because I feel that by serious consideration of these issues and by adopting the right line in regard to them we can eventually reintegrate the national territory. I do not wish to say any more on these things, but I have deliberately mentioned them so as to provoke discussion on what I think is the kernel of the whole situation here.

It strikes me that the percentage of officers and N.C.O's. in our Army is higher than in any Army I have ever heard of. At the present time we have something like 6,800 officers and N.C.O.'s. to something like 14,000 other ranks. That is a proportion of one superior to every two men, or, we will say, one to three. I think that is higher than in any army in the world.

There is one other point which I should like to make. Deputy Byrne has already mentioned it. Numerous cases have been brought to my notice of men who joined up during the emergency and contracted tuberculosis whilst in the service of the Army. In every one of those cases the reply of the Minister is that they have been brought before a medical board and that the medical evidence was that they had not contracted the disease whilst in the service of the Army. I fail to see the logic of the medical board's reasoning in those cases. The men were admitted medically fit. They were certified by their own doctors as medically fit; they were admitted by the Army doctor as medically fit; they were discharged as medically unfit, suffering from tuberculosis. Yet those men find themselves with nothing to look forward to by way of gratuity or otherwise. I would ask the Minister to give consideration to cases of that type. They may be border-line cases, if you like, but those are men who left their avocations and businesses to give service to their country during the emergency, and whether or not the medical board is fully satisfied that the disease can be attributed to Army service I think the line should be stretched in their favour and that those men should be given some form of compensation. I know many of them. They are unfit for work. Some of them worked in the mines. They are no longer fit to go back to that work; they are now living on the dole. I would again ask the Minister to review those cases and endeavour to find some means of compensating them for their service.

With regard to the demobilisation of the Army, the only thing I can say is that this is being done isolatedly. We are doing these things of our own volition. We have no idea what other people are doing; we do not seem to know what other people are thinking, and we may be right or we may be wrong in what we are doing. It is wrong to think that we are demobilising the whole Army. As far as I can see we are letting only one-third go and we are retaining two-thirds. I have every reason to believe that in the retention of officers certain influences may be brought to bear upon the Minister and upon the Government. I should like an assurance from the Minister that, when it comes to retaining officers and personnel generally, no political considerations or personal considerations will influence him in any way—that the selection of those for retention will be based entirely upon merit and service in the Army. I would congratulate the Minister and the Government on giving such consideration as they are giving to the Army on demobilisation. For a poor country such as this, I think the treatment meted out to the personnel that is being demobilised is generous, and is as much as the country can afford.

On this question of the private soldier, I think he is going to be badly treated, particularly the man who is sick and the man who is going back to work as a manual labourer. I have already had instances of young men who gave up their jobs as gangers, and who, on their return, were told by the local engineers that their jobs had been filled by men who were senior to them. That is one of the cases I want to bring before the Minister. I also wish to direct his attention to a question which has already been raised by Deputy Byrne and by all the speakers I have heard to-day. Deputy Dr. O'Higgins, to my mind, made a good case. As a medical officer, he was in a position to do so. I have some of the men to whom I refer in county homes. I have some of them in Steevens' Hospital. They are on stretchers. In some cases they had to go home to labourer's cottages—to a poor widowed mother in one case and to a very poor family in another. Those young lads gave great service during the past five years. Now they have to be nursed at home, and we know they will not get the care they would get in hospital. Those are the cases that I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister.

What are they suffering from?

Spinal disease.

Tubercular spinal discase?

Yes. I have other cases where men who were demobilised have died. Their widows are getting the widow's pension. Those men gave good service, and they were told when they first applied for a pension that the disease was not contracted during Army service. Those men passed a stiff medical test; the doctors did not let them through very easily, as I can prove to the Minister. I travelled up to Dublin on Tuesday with a young man who was rejected by our doctors for service in our Army and he has been all over the world since. If that man was fit to go through that sort of thing he should have been fit to serve in our Army. As Deputy Coogan has said, even though a man who makes a claim for a pension may be a border-line case he should get some consideration. I would ask the Minister to give sympathetic consideration to those men. The widows of men who had been in the Army are in a very bad condition at the present time. The breadwinner has gone, and 10/- a week plus some slight allowance for a large family is not enough to keep them nowadays.

With regard to the defence policy about which Deputy Coogan has been speaking, I have not very much to say, although he accused Fianna Fáil of having the crossroads mentality, and of failing to do any of the things they should do. We have as intelligent men at the crossroads as will be found in any part of the world to-day, and we have put our policy in the hands of a capable Government and in the hands of a capable leader. I do not know, nor does Deputy Coogan know, what may happen in the near future, and I think the man to stand over our foreign policy is our Leader in this House.

I would again ask the Minister to give sympathetic consideration to those people who have been refused pensions. I would ask him to allow them a referee, an independent man, to decide whether or not they are really eligible for pensions. They are not able to work, and we have to give them home assistance. They are a burden on the rates of each county. I would ask him to do his best for those men, and for the widows to whom I have referred.

I think it is only right that we should pay a tribute to the young men who joined our Army and who had no idea that there would be a job for them when they came out. Many men joined up with the guarantee that when they came out their positions would be secure. I think we should pay a special tribute to the men who had no guarantee of anything. We should also pay a tribute to the taxpayer for the patient way in which he bore the big cost of the Army for the last five or six years. He had to pay £8,500,000 out of his meagre resources. He did so nobly and patiently. I think we should pay a tribute, too, to our nearest neighbour who, in her dire danger, respected our neutrality and respected the obligations and commitments she had to us.

I think it is only fair that we should do so because, if she had done what other nations in Europe did, she could have overrun our country in a few days. Notwithstanding the position she stood in, she held fast to her obligations to us and is a shining light in the world to-day. We know what other people in Europe did. We know the pillage which took place. We know how treaties were treated as scraps of paper. We know how people were murdered and humiliated. It is only fair that we should pay tribute where tribute is due.

Like Deputy Coogan, I should also like to know what is our defence policy. Are we to be an isolated unit here, living from hand to mouth, begging for ships from our nearest neighbour to bring food in here and begging for military equipment, or are we part and parcel of the Commonwealth of Nations? I should like that to be made clear, because it is time that these things were brought to a head. We have been drifting along for eight or ten years as a kind of fake republic, getting anything we can by slinking in as best we can into the Commonwealth position without undertaking our obligations. As one of the oldest nations in the world, I think we ought to hold up our heads and say out plainly whether we are in or out of the Commonwealth. If we are a republic let us declare the fact and undertake our responsibilities and obligations. Do not let us be half in and half out. I am not afraid to say these things because, when the national fight was on, I was in that fight and suffered in consequence of it. I did my work as a soldier. Many of the younger generation do not know that we never beat John Bull. The younger generation have been told that we beat John Bull and drove him out of the country. That is all damn nonsense. We did not do any such thing. We did not kill 200 "peelers" in this country in our six years of war. Half the time we were running from Billy to Jack with half of our own people trying to sell us. Still we are told that we beat one of the biggest nations in the world. All that nonsense should be dropped, so that the younger generation can see where we stand and not be led astray.

When a war is on, there is great danger, but the biggest danger to a small country is when it has to demobilise a fairly large army. That is why I ask the Government to do something to guard against that danger. When you have perhaps 70,000 young trained men who have been having a fairly good time without any fighting to do, well-fed and equipped and well exercised, what will happen when you demobilise them in a country where there is no employment for them? There is very little hope at present of employment for any soldier in this country. We had a great tillage policy during the last five or six years but we were not able to absorb our unemployed people. Even at present there are thousands and thousands of men in the agricultural areas begging to be let go to Great Britain to obtain work which they cannot get at home. I think that if we demobilise 30,000 or 40,000 young men and throw them on the labour market we are sowing the seeds of great trouble in the future. We will want to think twice as to where we stand.

I pay a tribute to the Government for the money gratuity which they are providing for the men who are to be demobilised. They certainly are treating them fairly generously, more generously in fact than we were treated when we were demobilised in 1924. At the same time, I think that money gratuities are of very little use. A sum of £50 or £60 is of very little use to an ordinary soldier with a family if he cannot get work; it is only a bagatelle. In fact, £100 would be very little use to him. If he got £300 or £400 he might be able to get out of the country to earn a living. A sum of £50 or £60 will only tide him over a period of three or four months. For the last 12 months we have heard a lot about reconstruction plans. At present there is not a word about any plans for reconstruction. What we want is reconstruction work so as to absorb these men in employment. There is no reason why the Shannon scheme should not be in full swing or why the drainage scheme should not be in full swing. If these schemes were in operation these men could be absorbed and would not be a source of future trouble. A hungry ex-soldier is a dangerous man. The prospects of work in this country at present are very bad.

As to our future Army, I think that asking our people to maintain a permanent Army two and a half times the size of the pre-war Army is a bit too much. We have put a burden of £8,500,000 a year on the taxpayers for the last five or six years for the upkeep of the Army. Now we are asking them to maintain an Army two and a half times the size of the pre-war Army. I think that is not good enough. We know that the Army is not able to defend this country; it is really there as an idle Army. It must get help somewhere if it is in any real danger. I think that an army of 5,000 or 6,000 in peace-time and a police force of 5,000 or 6,000 would be quite enough for this country with a population of about 2,500,000.

While I do pay tribute to the Minister for giving a money gratuity to our ex-soldiers, I cannot pay tribute to him for the manner in which they are to be treated when they leave the Army. They are not to get any preference in connection with any work that is undertaken. There is always very great respect for the soldier in times of danger. Everybody is bowing and scraping to him and calling him a hero. But nobody is treated with greater contempt than the soldier after he leaves the Army. I do not see any reason why these men who manned the gap of danger should not, in the years to come, get a preference in connection with employment on any reconstruction work or other work, where State funds are being provided. I think it is very mean to put ex-soldiers on the same level as those people who did not raise a finger to help the country. These people will be able to get work that the hungry ex-soldier should be getting. I think that is a bad thing.

There should also be a housing scheme for our ex-soldiers. Thousands and thousands of our soldiers got married during the last four or five years. They have no homes to go to. They cannot bring their wives and families to the homes of their fathers and mothers, because most of these people are living in little cottages. In every big city and in every town of any size there should be a definite housing scheme for ex-soldiers. We will also have hundreds and hundreds of Old I.R.A. Army officers demobilised. These men at present are around the 50 year mark and some of them are over it. There is no hope for them when they get only £300 or £400 and are thrown out on the market. It is not fair to do that with a man of 50 who has a grown family and is not able to make good for himself. I do not see why the Land Commission is not consulted by the Minister for Defence to see what could be done. We are going back on a big land division policy again and I cannot see why we could not settle these men on the lands of Ireland, for whom these old soldiers fought and from which most of them came.

I do not see why they could not be given a decent farm and a new house, instead of giving those farms to every Tom, Dick or Harry from Cork or Clare, many of whom never raised a finger for their country. These old soldiers are going out, after having served and suffered for their country, and there should be some land settlement policy for them. I ask the Minister to see the Land Commission and ensure that they are not thrown on the scrap heap. I suppose the policy of the Government will be that the sooner they are given the £300 or £400 the better, so that they can get out of the country, where they are a nuisance. Instead, they should be rooted into the country and put on the land, where their children can live after them and be an inspiration to generations to come, who will think of these worthy men and who will live on the land that they have helped to free.

I do not think the L.S.F. has got the respect to which it was entitled. It is practically disbanded now. I saw the L.S.F. through the years, marching night after night and doing good police work when others were in bed. When they were disbanded, they were not allowed even the greatcoats or groundsheets, which were taken off them to be sold to some old Jew in Dublin who would make a fortune out of them. The least the L.S.F. might have got was the greatcoat, which was only in rags and tatters by the time it was taken back. That policy does not show respect to the L.S.F. I suppose the same will happen with the L.D.F. It will be the same as happened before the war started, when we had the Sluaghs turned into Fianna Fáil Clubs. The Old I.R.A. remnants, who kept the L.D.F. alive, will be disbanded and the young warriors will come to take their places. I would prefer to see it disbanded than to see a political junta arise in that way. I ask that the L.D.F. get fair and honest treatment. There is no reason why men who joined the L.D.F. in a local area and who stuck to their guns throughout the war should not get £10 or £20 in their pockets now. They did unselfish patriotic work and should not be treated now as they are going to be treated. We are told they are not to be disbanded, but I know what will happen, as does everyone else.

Deputy O'Higgins spoke about the Army nurses and said they were part and parcel of the Irish Army. They should get the same treatment as other parts of the Army and there is no reason why they should not get a gratuity. They spent several years in Army life and now they find the jobs are being filled up and there is poor hope for them. I suppose, like most nurses, they will have to go to Britain.

One thing which I am dead against is making the Army now an Army for ceremonial parades. We are going to have the spectacle on Monday of the city being beflagged and bedecked with flowers and bunting. For what? To put a President in the Park. It is nonsense, in a country that is partitioned and unfree. That kind of thing should be left alone and our Army should be left to do proper Army work instead of this ceremonial nonsense, which is only political tomfoolery, bamboozling and blinding the people. There will be thousands of pounds spent in the Park and tens of thousands of people in the streets of Dublin, to show the power and might of the new President and the amount of work that the Taoiseach did for the Irish people. The money would be far better spent in giving the Army nurses £5 or £10 extra each, since the Government is not making an effort to provide jobs for them on discharge.

There is provision in this Estimate for the winding-up of the Censorship and I would ask the Minister to explain some of the functions which were discharged by that department. Why did the Censor suppress a really good photograph of a Minister skating on ice? Surely that did not in any way affect our defence policy or our neutrality? It might, of course, be represented abroad that the Minister was skating on thin ice, but the thinness or thickness does not appear in the photograph. I do not see why the Censorship should have been abused in that way and, now that that department is being wound up, it is time the Minister gave some explanation of its peculiar activities. The Minister should also explain why the Censorship was used so vigorously against the farmers, particularly in regard to the prices of agricultural products. Even the pronouncements of Bishops, advocating reasonable prices for farmers, were ruthlessly suppressed. It is satisfactory that the Censorship is being brought to a conclusion and we hope we will not live to see it re-imposed.

In regard to Army stores, I think it is deplorable, even criminal, that material purchased with the ratepayers' money should be allowed to pass into the hands of exploiters and profiteers, who will derive large profits from hawking and peddling Army stores. Whatever Army blankets, bedding and other material of that kind could reasonably be handed over to a charitable organisation for distribution should be handed over. The Minister should also consider allowing some portion of the unwanted supplies to the local authorities, who have at the present time the function of distributing money in relief to the poor— money which must be applied by the poor for the purchase of blankets and essential clothing. If some portion of the blankets and clothing were distributed to the poor by the local authorities, it might be far better than money, particularly as those poor people who have to obtain money by way of relief find they have to pay excessive prices for used Army stores when they go to traders and others.

I would also like to know the manner in which Army stores are disposed of. Who are the salesmen who dispose of them and how are they selected? I have noticed on some occasions that Army horses have been sold by a firm of auctioneers, the principal of which is prominently associated with the Government Party. I want to know the system which prevails in selecting these salesmen. Is it part of the political patronage associated with Party Government, or is there some judicial method of selecting the salesmen who are called upon to dispose of Army goods?

Again, it is most undesirable to have those stores sold in large quantities in bigger centres like Dublin. They should be distributed in small lots throughout the country and, here again, various country auctioneers and salesmen should have a say in the distribution. It is very wrong to concentrate these goods in one centre, to allow them to be bought up by one big syndicate, which will make a wholly excessive profit out of them, although the material may be purchased from the Army authorities at scrap prices.

The fact that the Army is to be reduced to less than one-third its present strength, during the next eight or nine months, creates a tremendous problem in regard to employment and the resettlement of these men in civilian life. Under no circumstances should men who have served in the Army be allowed, or compelled, to remain idle for a considerable period. Nothing, I think, would be more undesirable, more disheartening, to men who have been in regular employment in the Army, receiving regular wages which they can feel they have duly earned, than to find themselves dependent upon charity, charity given by the State or the local authorities or charitable organisations. The dignity of those men would be lowered by such a situation. They would be demoralised and degraded and that is not a situation which anyone in this country would tolerate.

If the Minister cannot be assured that all the men who are serving in the Army will find employment, he should be prepared to set up an organisation to provide employment; he should be prepared to set up something in the nature of a construction corps. It need not be exactly the same as the existing Construction Corps, but he should set up some organisation that will give the men something to do until they can enter ordinary civilian occupations. I do not see any reason why, if there is not a definite assurance that these men will be permanently employed in ordinary civilian occupations, the Minister should not constitute a body along the lines of the Construction Corps—not exactly on the same principles as have governed that force, but at any rate some kind of organisation to provide employment for those men if they cannot be otherwise employed.

There are, I know, provisions for the expansion of development schemes under local authorities which may provide a considerable amount of employment, but we all know the delays and difficulties which arise in regard to putting such schemes into operation. We all know the many authorities involved and the different considerations which arise in relation to finance and other matters. It would never do to have ex-Army men hanging around waiting until the various difficulties which arise will be smoothed over. Even if, in the last resort, it is necessary to establish a special construction corps for Army men, it should be done. The men who at present hold commissioned rank in the Army could be given equivalent rank for the purpose of supervising that force.

The proposals to provide gratuities for our troops have been well received. They are just and reasonable and I think they will meet with general approval. But there is considerable confusion among the members of the Defence Forces as to the amount of gratuity to which they are entitled. There is a difficulty in regard to men who were members of the Defence Forces before the emergency and who believe they may have difficulty in proving the exact length of service for which they would be entitled to gratuity. There is also a difficulty in regard to men who have been discharged from the Army through medical unfitness. I think, so far as those men are concerned, wherever there is doubt—and very frequently there is doubt—as to the cause of the illness from which they are suffering, the benefit of that doubt should be given always to the men. It is absolutely impossible, as Deputy O'Higgins pointed out, to trace the origin of illness or disease, and for that reason if there is a doubt — as invariably there is—the men should be given the benefit of it. It is our experience, however, that the men are not given the benefit of it. The Department usually gives itself the benefit of the doubt.

The question of the size of our Defence Forces in the post-war period was raised by the Minister and by several Deputies. There does not seem to be any justification for a post-war Army two and a half times the size of our pre-war Army. We know that methods of defence and military science generally have advanced very rapidly during the past few years. No one can tell what will be the requirements of this country in the matter of defence or what branch of the armed forces will be the most important. It is generally admitted that air defence is of far-reaching importance, but in recent years there has been a tremendous advance in the matter of long range artillery. Indeed, it is expected that in the course of a few years the continent of Europe can be shelled from America, or vice versa. I think in view of those changes it is very difficult even for military experts to forecast the requirements of our country in the matter of defence. I believe the wisest policy would be to cut our defence forces down to a minimum which would permit of expansion in the event of our country being threatened.

This raises, of course, the future of the L.D.F. I think it is generally agreed, in principle at any rate, that a force such as the L.D.F. should be made permanent, but there is, as Deputy Giles pointed out, always the danger of that force becoming political or being used in a political way. The most elaborate precautions should be taken to prevent that because anything of that nature would completely destroy the effectiveness of the force.

So far as the broad question of general defence policy in the future is concerned, there is one sensible course to adopt in that regard, that is, to realise that we are only a very small nation. The question of alliances, agreements or defence policies linked up with other nations is, as Deputy Coogan practically admitted, very premature at present, but I think it will be accepted by our people that if a world organisation for the preservation of peace is established on a proper basis, we as a nation cannot hesitate to join it and take our part in contributing to its success and to its defence measures. Beyond that, it would be foolish for a small nation such as ours to go at present.

I should like to pay tribute to the generosity of the financial proposals in the demobilisation scheme. I think they meet fairly and justly the demands of the officers and men, and the Minister deserves the gratitude of the officers and men and the officers of his Department deserve thanks for the manner in which they have dealt with the demobilisation bounties. The financial provisions display in some manner the gratitude of the Government, of the Dáil and, I am sure, of the country for the services which these men rendered, for the patriotic manner in which they came forward when our existence seemed at stake and for the unstinted service they gave over a fairly long and trying period.

Nobody who has any experience of soldiering can fail to realise the monotony of the soldier's life, particularly when nothing but every-day routine drill and training is the main theme of their lives. So far as the Army here is concerned, happily, from many points of view, that was the every-day experience of the soldiers. Soldiers, particularly when together in large numbers, itch for something to do, and they find life monotonous when they have nothing to do but drill and undergo previous training and experience.

I am sure there is not an individual in the country who does not feel gratified by the generous response from all sections of the community—the generous response not only from those who served as whole-time members of the Army, but also those who served in the Local Defence Force, who gave their time gratuitously, at serious inconvenience to themselves, and who spared no effort to assist in forming an effective defence weapon for the people. I for one feel satisfied that the soldiers appreciate the financial provisions of the demobilisation scheme, but so far as the scheme in general is concerned there are some omissions and anomalies which require, if not modification, certainly explanation. There is not a Deputy who in the course of his public duties does not meet with requests from soldiers and the dependents of soldiers who require facilities to re-engage in their previous occupations, or who, if they had not employment previously, are anxious to secure employment in order to maintain themselves and their dependents. While these financial provisions will mitigate hardship to a considerable extent and will reduce considerably the period of transition which must necessarily be involved for demobilised personnel, it is only one aspect of the problem.

I want to put before the Minister and the Dáil the experience which most soldiers meet in endeavouring to secure employment. While the soldier who was not formerly employed, who went either from school into the Army or who had left school for a couple of years and was endeavouring to secure employment of some kind, has been serving the country, others have availed of the opportunity to secure employment or to devote the period of the emergency to training effectively for a trade, profession or some form of business which will enable them to earn their livelihood.

While these people who have been in the Army have in many cases learned some trade or improved their knowledge of a particular calling, the statement in the White Paper to the effect that they have become proficient and highly skilled in every aspect of the calling for which they had either a flair or were previously engaged in is an exaggeration. I have had some personal experience, as I was in Army transport, and while many of these men who were fitters by occupation or skilled in various branches of motor engineering may have been fortunate enough to have been employed in an Army workshop, many others, due to the size of the unit or battalion of which they were members, were not afforded facilities to improve their knowledge as technicians or their skill as tradesmen.

Many of these men are possibly in the same grade as fitters or tradesmen as they were in prior to enlistment, but in many cases they are in even a lower grade, because they have not been able to perfect whatever knowledge they had or have become, in common parlance, rusty. Many others, of course, have succeeded in improving their knowledge and have become first-class in the grade. Dealing solely with these technicians, there is not a single garage or a single motor firm outside which does not require first-grade fitters and first-grade tradesmen as being essential, and these people, before they are demobilised, in certain cases, should be given a period of three or four months of highly skilled training in order to equip them to meet outside competition. While I am on that subject, I should like to say that in many cases these men who have been in the Army for four or five years now find themselves outside trade union requirements or outside the regulations laid down by the unions. I think that the Minister will have to take a stand on that matter, so as to ensure that these people are not victimised by either employers or unions.

In many cases, employers have taken on people who were never in the Army, people who, I am sure, have sufficient technical knowledge and training, but I think that in such cases Army men should come first and that every step should be taken to see that employers or the unions would give first preference to demobilised men who have technical knowledge and training and who have given service during the war years. I think that these people should get first preference and that they are entitled to the gratitude of the people and that every effort should be made, so far as is humanly possible—if necessary, by means of legislation—to see that both the employers and the unions will give them first preference, and that they will be properly treated and sufficiently provided for. I believe that the Minister is anxious to assist these people, and that he is one of the Ministers who is in touch with certain realities, but I am afraid that he has not sufficient aggressiveness to put forward the claims of these men so far as the employers are concerned and so far as the unions are concerned. That is one difficulty that I have met with, and I am sure that other Deputies have met with it, in dealing either with soldiers who are anxious to secure reemployment in their former positions or who are anxious to take up new employment.

Dealing, in general, with the position of Army personnel, who are anxious to leave the Army and get back into civilian employment, there is the great problem that many of these people, who have either technical or professional knowledge, have not had the same facilities during the emergency period to make themselves more proficient or to attain to the high standard that is required for the public services or by business firms outside. Professional people in the Army, such as medical men, legal men to some extent—there are not so many of them—and engineers have all been occupied in some way or another upon work for which their training made them suitable in the Army. During the course of their career in the Army, in many of these cases, particularly in connection with medical men, they were posted to an Army unit, and the medical officer in that unit dealt every day with the complaints and illnesses of soldiers in the same way as the regular practitioner outside, but that officer had no chance to improve his knowledge in order to sit for, say, the Public Health Diploma or for his M.D. examination. There is no Deputy here—certainly none who has any knowledge of this problem—who does not realise that no hospital appointment, no public health appointment and, in many cases, no appointment outside this country or in the country is available to these people in their professional work, if they have not a higher medical degree than the ordinary final examination.

In nearly every kind of a professional career, and particularly in regard to the medical profession and engineering, they must have passed some higher examination, such as the M.D. examination or have secured the Public Health Diploma and so on. Therefore, I think that every effort should be made to enable these people to secure, temporarily at any rate, service under the State or local authorities and that they should be given an interim period during which facilities would be given to them to continue higher studies to enable them to pass the necessary examinations. Then, of course, it would be up to the men to make themselves sufficiently proficient in whatever is their own particular profession. These people have been handicapped by their service in the Army because they did not have the same chance as people outside, and it is only fair that they should be given an opportunity, for a short time after demobilisation, to fit themselves to compete on level grounds with their competitors who have had no Army service.

Now, there is one particular aspect of the demobilisation scheme which appears to me to reveal a glaring omission, and that is in connection with the regular Army officers. Under the scheme as it stands, the regular Army officer receives no gratuity—that is, the regular Army officer who was in the Army prior to the emergency and who, in certain cases, may be remaining on as an officer, or who, in other cases, may be going out according as the terms of service expire. I am sure that the Minister will agree that these men were the backbone of the defence services in this country when large-scale recruiting was started in 1939, 1940 and 1941 and when extra units had to be built up, and that they were the people responsible for discipline and for giving whatever initial training was necessary. It was the regular officers and non-commissioned officers, in practically every unit, who had the responsibility for the maintenance of discipline and for the training of the recruits. They had to bear the burden of training the huge increase in Army personnel. All these men worked hard, not alone during the day, but late at night. They worked hard to see that whatever knowledge or skill they possessed would be imparted to the men who came in at the time of the emergency and to ensure that these men would reach the standard of whatever proficiency they themselves had attained to.

I think that as their numbers are limited and as many of them are retiring after faithful and long service—a good many of them considerably weakened in health because they saw service in pre-Truce days and the health of a number of whom was impaired in consequence, although it did not show at the time because they were younger, but with the passing of the years their health is now very much impaired—some provision should be made for these men who bore that burden. I am sure that the Minister will realise the sense of disquiet, to put it no stronger, that these men feel of being neglected. I admit that a number of them will be going out on pension, but I think it is not too much to say that they should receive a gratuity as well as a pension, and that those who will be remaining on in the Army should be given the same terms as the emergency personnel or the men who are enlisting or rejoining for the post-war Army. I feel that it is only fair and right that they should receive a gratuity or bounty. I might say that only a short time ago the Minister for Finance admitted that many of those people were underpaid. In many cases that is true, because they have large burdens of personal and family commitments to bear. I do not think that anybody in the country would object if the House decided, by making suitable provision for the purpose, to recompense them for the gallant and honourable services which they have rendered to the country.

The position with regard to the nursing services in the Army is another omission to be noted in this White Paper. I do not propose to go over the ground that has already been covered by other Deputies on that subject, but I was surprised to hear the other day, in reply to a Parliamentary question, that nurses were not regarded as components of the Defence Forces, particularly when we see nurses in Army uniform. I imagine their number is small, but I venture to think that they have been of considerable assistance to the various Army units and hospitals to which they have been assigned for duty. I would hope that some provision would be made for them. Some of them, of course, have not the same length of service as other personnel of the Defence Forces, but, for whatever period they have served, they ought to be suitably recompensed.

There is another matter that concerns the Army itself, and it is that I have been glad to see that the Army jumping team is to be restarted. I am sure that, after a period of training, the members of it will again distinguish themselves as they did in the past, and that their feats will earn a reputation not only for the Army but for this country in lands where, perhaps, we might not receive that recognition and notoriety which the Army jumping team is so well qualified to win for us. I would suggest that former officers of the Army should be consulted in recruiting suitable personnel for the new jumping team, and in the purchase of suitable horses. I have received complaints from at least two people who were formerly associated with the Army jumping team that the purchase of horses has been given to people who have never had any connection whatever with the Army. The Minister must realise the sense of grievance which those people feel about that. I am sure members of the House will agree that first preference should be given, if not to serving officers in the Army at least to ex-officers who have rendered distinguished service not only on the jumping team but to the Army to engage in the purchase of horses for the new jumping team. In my opinion the preference should be given to them, and I hope that matter will be rectified.

I would like to say a few words on the post-war emergency Army. It came to me as a surprise to learn that it is going to be two and a half times the size of the peace-time Army. I do not profess to have any special knowledge of the military affairs of other countries, of their defence personnel, their defence organisations, or of what peace protection measures may be envisaged by those countries or groups of countries. I think, however, that, no matter what commitments this country may be a party to, an Army of 12,000 men is something fantastic. It may be well to go slow with demobilisation to ensure that large numbers of men are not thrown suddenly on the labour market, but I suggest that the Minister is taking a very drastic step when, as portion of this Army Estimate—and particularly in the manner in which it is being done—he is committing the country to the maintenance of an Army of 12,000 men, one, that I have said, will be two and a half times the size of the Army in pre-war days. Every member of the House realises the importance of ensuring that we should have an adequate defence service, but at the same time we must bear in mind that, no matter how large it is, it will be, when measured against modern armies and modern machines, a comparatively small one. When, however, we measure it against the size of our own country, we find that, if the scheme envisaged by the Minister for the post-war period is put into operation, it will mean that we will have one soldier for every 240 people in the community. That is a very large commitment.

I think that on defence and foreign policy there will be a united opinion. They should not be introduced in a personal party manner, and for that reason I deprecate certain suggestions, thrown out in the course of the debate, to the effect that we should engage in commitments either here or there. In my opinion, this is a suitable occasion on which the policy of "wait and see" is the more appropriate one to adopt. It may be well to keep our minds open and our opinions clear on what form of defence, or on what foreign commitments, we may have in the future, but it is an entirely different matter to discuss in a loose way in this House our defence service or our foreign policy. I think that if there is one matter on which the Dáil should be united, and on which it is vital for any country at any time to have a single policy, it is in relation to defence and foreign affairs. What convinces me of the soundness of that is the fact that over the past five years we have had a unified foreign policy and a unified policy of defence. We can see the same unity in other countries on defence and foreign affairs, particularly in democratic countries which conform in some way to our ideas here. Even in those countries where Party politics are rife, and where politicians fight elections in a narrow Party spirit, they have decided, so far as defence and foreign affairs are concerned, that one policy is the soundest from the national point of view. For that reason, I deplore some of the statements that I have heard expressed here to-day suggesting that we should engage in all kinds of untried commitments, or that we should ally ourselves with various nations in regard to whose policies we have no information, or of the contribution they hope to make to world peace. I must say, whatever knowledge we are vouchsafed in the way of information on this matter, that it is one on which no dissension should be shown, and whatever policy is decided on by the majority should be accepted and carried through. If there is one question on which a committee of the Dáil, or a representative conference of all Parties interested in this country could do useful work, it is on a defence committee on foreign policy and national defence. It is utterly fantastic to imagine this country, partitioned as it is, aligning itself with any nation, and particularly with any other nation responsible for that state of affairs. I certainly could be no party to any commitment which would force the people of this country to line up with other countries that contributed to or that maintain the partition of this country. I do not want to exaggerate our position or to use words that would be regarded as controversial or that would affect the unification of this country, or our position vis-a-vis other nations, so far as foreign policy or trade is concerned, but I think we should not deal with this question merely as a matter of Party politics. It is more vital now than in the past to have a single policy, which should be decided on after calm consideration, after a full disclosure of all information available to a committee set up by the House, consisting of all Parties, so that whatever decision is taken will be the decision of the country irrespective of parties or of creeds.

Another question concerns the future of the Local Defence Force. There is no member of the L.D.F. who is not gratified at having had the opportunity to serve in it during the war, but in every parish and in every district members are dissatisfied with the treatment they have received in the last few months. They are, so to speak, living in the air, as to the form that that force will take post-war, and the type of work they will be expected to do. Many of these people are veterans of former Defence Services, but whether old or young, they feel that they should be given the opportunity of resting, and that it is not fair to continue training and parades when it is realised that the sense of danger is less acute now than it was a few years ago. On the other hand, a number of the members are under the impression that if they leave the force that will be taken as quitting before their work is completed. I think a statement of policy is due from the Government as to its intentions and plans as far as that force is concerned. The members gave freely and generously very good and very noble service, and it is only fair that they should now be allowed to return to their ordinary avocations. If the Government considers that such an essential service should be maintained, members could be told what type of training is necessary, and how many parades weekly or monthly are to be held, so that they may be able to undertake normal activities in their leisure moments. In conclusion, I should like to join in paying a tribute to the members of the Defence Forces of every rank, and to the civilian sections of the Department of Defence, for the great services they rendered their country during the past few years. No words could adequately convey too high a tribute to all concerned for the patriotic service they rendered and the noble ideals with which they were inspired. They ensured that if it had been necessary, this country would have acquitted itself in its traditional spirit, as a nation of warriors, determined so far as human endeavour could, that nothing would be left undone to ensure the safety, liberty, life, and property of every citizen and of every class in the community.

This, probably, is the last war-time Estimate for the Department of Defence and, on this occasion, I should like to join with other Deputies in expressing appreciation— an appreciation which I feel is shared by all Parties in this House—of the magnificent services which have been rendered by officers, non-commissioned officers and men who served in the Army during these five and a half critical years. When there was a call for men in 1940 to join our Army these men must have done so in the conviction that it would not be long until they were precipitated into the cauldron of war. Notwithstanding the fact that those who joined must have been aware of the fact that they would have very little but the choice of inadequate equipment with which to defend themselves, if compelled to take to the battlefield, the spirit of loyalty and enthusiasm of our people was such that, although they knew they were walking into almost certain danger, they did not hesitate to join the Army and to undergo the steel-like training that is necessary for a soldier in order that he might, at least, constitute himself an effective bulwark against any attempt to trample on the liberty and independence of this country. During the past five and a half years these men stood nobly at their posts. There were many times during that period when it looked as if they would be precipitated into war, and now that we have come through unscathed, I think this House should pay a fitting tribute to the officers, non-commissioned officers and men who, during these 5½ critical years, served the nation with a loyalty and enthusiasm worthy of an Irish Army.

I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the administrative side of the Department of Defence. I represent a constituency in which there is a large military personnel, and especially during these five and a half years, when that personnel was considerably augmented, it was necessary for me to make representations to the Minister as well as to the Secretary and other officials of his Department. I must say that, though I was frequently in touch with the Minister and his officials, I was always received with courtesy and understanding. Any cases which had any reasonable element of merit in them were dealt with sympathetically and on a human basis, and every effort was made, subject to the rigid requirements which military law imposes, to meet such claims in every possible way. I think the House is to be congratulated on having had, during the past five and a half years, a man like the Minister, with what I might describe as his suavity, to handle human problems arising out of the mobilisation of a large mass of human beings under war-time conditions.

There are a few matters to which I should like to call attention on this Estimate. The first concerns the terms and gratuities which are to be made available to members of the Defence Forces. Having read the White Paper it seems to me to contemplate that any person who was in the Defence Forces at any time during the emergency will be entitled to a gratuity under the terms of that Paper. It is not definitely stated, although it is clearly implied, that any person who had, during the emergency, more than one year of reckonable service is entitled to a gratuity. If he has been granted indefinite leave or exemption from military service, without committing any of the offences which are set out in paragraph 43 (h), he appears to be eligible. If my interpretation of the White Paper is correct—and I think it is—judging by the number of letters which I have received quite a considerable number of persons who were granted indefinite leave from the Army or exemption from military service are in doubt as to whether or not they are entitled to a gratuity under the terms of the White Paper. So that there may be no ambiguity in the matter, I should be glad if the Minister would deal with this point in his reply.

As regards the scheme of demobilisation, I am glad that the Minister proposes to have a regular, orderly demobilisation rather than a hasty and ill-planned demobilisation. I had not the advantage of hearing the Minister's introductory speech but, from the Press reports, I understand that the Minister contemplates that demobilisation will have been given full effect at the end of a period of from 12 to 14 months. Will the Minister indicate when he proposes to commence to demobilise and what the rate of demobilisation is likely to be, so that we may get a picture of the number of people who are likely to come out of the Army and on to the labour market, say, during periods of three or four months? If the Minister would give us that information, we should have some idea of the position in which the employment market would be by reason of Army demobilisation.

As regards the payment of the gratuities to the demobilised personnel, I think that there is a sympathetic vein running all through this White Paper. I am sure that it is the intention of the Army authorities that these gratuities should be paid to the men on demobilisation. I am sure that the intention is that those who move out of the Army will get, at least, a sufficient portion of their gratuities to enable them to sustain themselves. It would be a very bad mistake if the men in the Army were demobilised, with Army pay for a week or two weeks, and if there was then a long interval before the gratuity was paid. The sensible thing to do is to put funds at the disposal of these men almost immediately on discharge. In any event, they should be sustained by some payment on account until such time as the gratuity is paid. There will be much needless indignation and criticism if a considerable period elapses between demobilisation and payment of the gratuity to those entitled to it.

The Minister stated on Wednesday that he proposed to introduce an amendment to the Military Service Acts, 1924-34, with a view to modification of the abatement clauses of both Acts. I think that he indicated that the Bill would be introduced shortly. Is it the intention of the Minister to introduce this Bill and pass it into law before the House adjourns, or is it his intention merely to give it a First Reading before the adjournment? If the Minister is in a position to give the House more detailed information on that matter, Deputies will be glad, because it is a matter in which members of all Parties are interested.

Deputy Cosgrave has made a suggestion which I warmly endorse—that defence and foreign policy are issues upon which we ought to endeavour to get the maximum measure of agreement. During the past five and a half years, notwithstanding our differences on policy in respect of such topics as agriculture, industry and monetary policy, we were all united on questions of defence and foreign relations. It would be a mistake if the atmosphere created in respect of those two policies during the past five years were to be dissipated and the House were to get back to a situation in which there would be a Party tug-of-war over the Army or over matters of foreign policy.

We are a small entity in a gigantic world. Our equipment in the military sphere is not such as to permit us to overawe the world by anything we say or do. Our position and our small population are factors which might well make us the envy of many other countries much more powerful militarily. Whatever differences may manifest themselves in this House in the realm of home affairs, we ought to endeavour, so far as possible, to eliminate such differences on the vital questions of defence and foreign policy. We have done that in large measure during the past five and a half years. The Minister, as a member of the Defence Conference, will acknowledge that, in that conference, members might as well have belonged to one Party, instead of to different Parties, when it came to defence and aspects of foreign policy associated with defence. The Minister responsible for defence matters in this country must be concerned with the maintenance of an atmosphere of unity in the House in relation to the Defence Forces. I suggest to him, as I shall probably suggest to the Taoiseach when his Estimate comes up for discussion, that consultations might usefully take place with a view to seeing whether it is possible to evolve some type of unofficial machinery whereby defence matters and matters of foreign policy could be discussed in an atmosphere somewhat closely resembling the atmosphere of the Defence Conference during the past five years. From the Government point of view, there are many advantages in a scheme of that kind and, from the point of view of political Parties, there are also advantages in such a scheme.

It would be undesirable, in the world in which we are now living or in the world as it will be in the more critical times which lie ahead, if we were to be divided on matters of defence or foreign policy. I conclude by strongly urging on the Minister, who must be greatly concerned regarding this matter, to take an early opportunity of consulting his colleagues in the Cabinet with a view to seeing whether it is possible to evolve some type of organisation which will take matters of defence and foreign policy out of the cut and thrust of Party debate, so that, no matter how much we may disagree on the floor of the House regarding internal matters, in the sphere of national defence and foreign policy we shall look at the world as an united nation.

I want to say, in opening, that I am deeply grateful to the Deputies who have paid tribute to the Army for the work which it has done during the past five-and-a-half critical years. I feel that Deputy Norton's magnificently generous tribute has been evoked perhaps by reason of his closer contact with the problems which we had to face during these very critical years. Deputy Cosgrave's tributes, I believe, were animated by the same feelings. I wish I could, in fact I do, share Deputy Norton's hopes and desires in respect to the policy such as he has outlined, but I feel it is very difficult to put it into operation after one has listened to a speech such as that delivered by Deputy O'Higgins. I am afraid that Deputy O'Higgins, when he stands up here to speak on anything which the Government brings forward, feels that it is his bounden duty to attack it in a most violent manner and in the most virulent language which he can employ. In deference to the suggestions thrown out by Deputy Norton, I propose to refrain from saying some of the things which I was being incited to say.

Deputy O'Higgins, in the course of his speech, made some grossly exaggerated statements. He referred to an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds on an A.R.P. organisation which, in his view, was quite unnecessary now. I can find no item of hundreds of thousands of pounds anywhere in the Estimate. Where he got his figures, I am at a loss to know. There is a figure of £93,885 given in the statement which I read out here last evening. That item covers a sum of £50,000 for outstanding liabilities from the past, liabilities which will not recur, and £25,000 for removing shelters. That again will not recur. He can see no reason, apparently, why A.R.P. should be continued and he wants to know why it should be continued. The reason I would be inclined to give for an A.R.P. organisation in the future is the necessity to provide small country towns with the means of defending themselves against fire and against such calamities as occurred in Cavan, Kiltimagh and other areas. If equipment had been available in these towns and if the personnel had been properly trained in the use of that equipment, it is quite possible that not alone would lives have been saved but that property would also have been saved. Therefore, I feel that there is a justification for continuing the A.R.P. organisation, not necessarily to meet the bombers which Deputy O'Higgins tells us have disappeared from the world, but to protect the people against such tragic occurrences which happen from time to time in towns and cities. If, in the course of time, A.R.P. can be replaced by local fire brigades that will be all to the good. I am sure that the Government will be quite willing at any time it is deemed desirable to withdraw A.R.P. in favour of such trained organisations as local fire brigades.

Deputy O'Higgins and several other Deputies spoke about the members of the nursing service not being included in the gratuity scheme. The nursing service, first of all, is a purely nursing service. It is connected with the Army, but I think it can be said to be not of the Army. Its function is to staff hospitals. The personnel are never in any circumstances asked to serve outside a hospital. There would be no circumstances in which, for instance, if the nation were involved in war, the personnel of these hospitals would be asked to leave the hospitals. They would have the protection, if there is any protection, of the Red Cross flying over these buildings, and in no circumstances would they be asked, like the V.A.D., to go up into the firing line. There is provision made for the service outside the White Paper scheme altogether, provision which, to my mind, compensates for their being left outside the benefits of the White Paper proposals. Members of the nursing service who are leaving that service are entitled to a month's salary for each year of qualifying service. That goes a long way towards redressing the grievances which have been expressed in that respect.

Deputy O'Higgins spoke also about the question of tuberculosis in the Army, and suggested that it is not being treated in the manner in which it should be treated. Other Deputies seemed to suggest also that men who suffer from tuberculosis and who made pension claims were being harshly treated, and that in the majority of cases their claims were being thrown out. Such is not the case. In the first instance, I should say that the numbers involved are round about the 300 mark. The claims made amount to 295. The awards made amount to 208, which is a very big percentage. Eighty-seven claims in respect to tuberculosis, out of roughly 300, have been rejected. I think that is a very reasonable figure.

Could the Minister say over what period the 300 claims are spread? Is it since 1939?

The emergency period. A statement was made in this House some time ago—I cannot say now what Deputy made the statement — that tuberculosis was rampant in the Army. I went into the matter at that time and I was amazed to find the smallness of the number. There is, I admit, a certain amount of hardship in respect to an unfortunate man who might have had the disease latent in him and who, as a result of the service he had to undergo, may have had it aggravated and revived to such a degree that he is compelled to leave the Army and, perhaps, to go into a sanatorium for treatment. The Acts at the present time preclude me from doing anything other than accepting the verdict of the medical board who say that the man was suffering from the disease prior to his coming into the Army and that his disease is not attributable to his service. However, I am not too happy about that particular situation and I will have it examined from the point of view of seeing if something could not be done to ameliorate it.

May I interrupt the Minister before he departs from the subject of tuberculosis? Does not the Minister consider it a hardship that where a man does develop tuberculosis while in the service of the Army he should be put out of the Army before he has been cured? We all know at the present time the great difficulty about getting into sanatoria and getting adequate treatment. The Army is an employer that can afford to be reasonably generous with its employees. If a man is put out of the Army while suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, it is very nearly sentence of death. If he stays in the Army, it is 90 chances out of 100 that we can cure him. That is the whole thesis, that if you take tuberculosis early and treat it it can be cured. Does not the Minister think that he might keep soldiers in the Army who contract pulmonary tuberculosis until they are cured?

There again I am bound up with these regulations. I cannot get outside them, and the Deputy could not get outside them if he were in my position, without amending the law. If a man develops tuberculosis he has to report sick; he goes before a medical board; in due course he is boarded out of the Army. From that moment he becomes a civilian and the Army can have no responsibility for him but they do make efforts to contact the local authorities in the area from which the man joined the Army and in a very large number of cases I understand that they are successful in getting these men into local sanatoria here and there. There again I am quite prepared to say that the whole system needs re-examination and looking into. I have had a talk with the Parliamentary Secretary, Dr. Ward, who is himself very anxious about this whole question of tuberculosis. He is interested in this question of the Army personnel and I have asked him to give me a memorandum on the subject and I hope, arising out of that, perhaps, to do something useful.

The Minister will agree that ordinarily an employer if he can afford it ought to stick by his employees to the limit of his resources. The Army can afford to carry these men until we have cured them. We are almost certain we can cure them if we only keep them under the Army auspices. We ought to do that before turning them out on the world.

Deputy O'Higgins also referred to the question of the Auxiliary Fire Service personnel. These particular men—they are very few— have, possibly, contacted almost every Deputy in the House in respect of their case, but as far as I am concerned I can do practically nothing in that respect. The men were unemployed men and as a result of pressure which was, apparently, put on the A.R.P. authorities, they were given temporary employment. Having secured that temporary employment, they are now putting on a certain amount of pressure to have themselves put on a permanent basis. That cannot be done. The appeal now is that they should be put into the White Paper and treated as if they were soldiers. Of course, that cannot be done either.

I am having the question of blankets and various other equipment examined. We have been going into that matter for some considerable time. We have not reached any particular decision about it, but I think the decision when it is made will be one which will cause no difficulty to Deputies or others interested in the matter.

Deputy Byrne and other Deputies made suggestions in respect to information being available to soldiers leaving the Army. I announced in this House some time ago that a bureau had been set up and there appeared in the Press notification to that effect, asking ex-soldiers or anyone anxious to secure information in respect to soldiers' rights, to call at the particular office which we had set up. The office is in Parkgate Street and quite a large number of men appear there daily and are given the information they seek.

The Construction Corps is not, strictly speaking, a component of the Army proper. They get a separate gratuity which they contract for when they are joining the Construction Corps and they do not come within the terms of the White Paper at all.

Deputy Coogan, while he made a very fine speech, and I may compliment him on the manner in which he spoke, referred to matters which, to my mind, were purely external matters, matters which might have been raised on the Vote for External Affairs, or something like that, but which certainly do not come within the ambit of the Department of Defence. The remarks he made in respect to the defence policy of the Army are, of course, another matter, but, in the main, his speech was one advocating certain external relations, or something of that kind, which I do not, of course, propose to answer.

Many Deputies referred to the question of the post-war Army. In my opening remarks, when I was reading the statement to the House, this is what I said—and I should like to draw the attention of the House to what I said:—

"The problem of the post-emergency regular Army has been given the most intensive study by the General Staff and, though details have yet to be hammered out, the general plan of an Army, at least in the immediate future, of about two and a half times the size of the pre-emergency Army has been approved. To reduce the Army any more at this stage would not, it is considered, be wise national policy."

That is the statement which I made, and if Deputies who have spoken against the suggestion will properly digest that statement they will see that it is not suggested that that will be the permanent strength of the Army in the future. Like other Deputies in the House, I cannot foresee the future. I cannot say whether the 12,500 will be too small for whatever the future may hold in store, or whether it will be too large, but I can say that in the present state of the world it is desirable that we should have at least the nucleus of a future Army.

The object of the General Staff of the Army which, as I said in the statement, strongly advocated this strength—and on my recommendation to the Government, the Government approved of it— is to train those 12,500 men to the fullest possible extent, so that if the future should hold anything which might be regarded as being in any way dangerous for this nation we will not be caught in the unfortunate position in which we were caught in 1939, and which has been so vividly and so accurately described by Deputy Norton in his tribute to the Army. It is true that on that occasion, while we had a very large Army, over quite a long period the Army was, through force of circumstances, completely and entirely untrained. Like Deputy Norton, I agree that they would have given a good account of themselves if they had had to meet any invading force, but, in the circumstances, there could have been only one outcome to that. As far as it is humanly possible, the Government will see that the Army will not be in that position again, and we have approved of the plans which they have put up for the immediate future.

The plans in respect of the L.D.F. are, as I said, under active consideration. The Army are very anxious that that force should continue. They regard that force as being a reserve of the Army, a force which in urgent or immediate circumstances of danger would be a valuable adjunct to the Army; that while the big regular Army was being built up and trained, those men would be capable of giving very valuable service and very valuable assistance to the Army proper. Like most Deputies here, I am very proud to have been associated in one way or another with that magnificent organisation. During the years of the emergency the L.D.F. I suppose did even more than the Army in respect to uniting the people of this nation into one large family with one desire only, the desire to maintain their freedom and to maintain their neutrality. That we were successful in both those objects is due in the main to the men of the Army, and to the men of the L.D.F. and the various emergency organisations associated with them during that particular period. Like Deputy Norton, I should like to see the hopes which he expressed in his speech realised. From the manner in which parts of this debate have been conducted I find it very difficult to see how they can be realised, but Deputy Norton can count on me as one who is prepared to go as far as a human being can to see that those hopes will be realised. Deputy Cogan asked me to give an explanation of the conduct of the censorship. I do not propose to do that. Censorship has gone now.

Glory alleluia!

I share the Deputy's views on that.

Then the Minister should say "Amen" to that.

He also raised the question of how salesmen are selected. I think he suspects that those salesmen, when selected, are usually Fianna Fáil salesmen. All I can say is that the salesmen—I presume he is referring to auctioneers and so on—are selected by reason of the fact that they give the best terms. If, by any chance, one of those salesmen happens to be a member of the Fianna Fáil organisation, I suggest that that is not a reason why he should be excluded if his terms are the most reasonable terms.

Deputy Cosgrave, I think, referred to the question of medical men and their practice. We did do everything that it was humanly possible to do in the Army to see that medical men were allowed to practise as far as possible in the normal way. I do know that in the Army, where men are in the main healthy, the only practice a medical man can get is through meeting the men at a sort of sick parade in the morning, and prescribing some simple type of remedy, but we organised a method by which those men, after doing a certain period of time on that type of service, were transferred into one of the larger military hospitals, where they got a much wider practice. As well as that, every possible facility was given to medical men to apply for outside positions, and I am sure the Deputy will be glad to know that quite a number of medical officers successfully applied for those positions.

The Deputy also suggested to me personally that I should do something —I think he suggested that I was not aggressive enough — in regard to approaching employers and trade unions. There again, I suppose, it is a question of technique. I should very much prefer that those things should be done by goodwill rather than by aggressiveness.

Quite, but in a couple of cases that I had in mind goodwill was not enough.

They have their remedy.

In cases where rights are at stake, I certainly will be sufficiently aggressive to see that the men's rights are properly protected.

They have a statutory right to their jobs? Have they not?

They have.

We ensured that in the very early stages.

As far as trade unions are concerned, I can only make an appeal, and already the appeal I have made has met with a certain amount of success. At least one trade union has written to me advising me that they are quite prepared to accept the various men in the services who will be guaranteed to have reached a certain stage of proficiency. That, I suggest, is a step in the right direction.

What union is that?

I am sure Deputy Norton, who has closer contacts with the Army men than I suppose most Deputies, will give his sympathy to that particular plea.

The Minister means that the Deputy has closer contacts with the trade unions—not with the Army men?

I am saying that he has closer contacts with larger numbers of men of the Army, as well as experience on the Defence Conference, and his sympathies, I am pretty certain, would lie with the Army men.

Acts speak louder than words.

The Minister could usefully convene a conference of the unions or of the central authority of the unions.

Hear, hear!

Can the Minister say what union has indicated its willingness to accept those men?

In the last week or so I have actually signed over 1,000 letters to temployers, and there again I have got reasonably friendly replies, replies which assure me that, as far as they are concerned, they will do whatever is in their power to meet the requests which I have made. I am quite prepared to sign another 1,000 if the necessity should arise, and I am quite sure that I will, in the course of the next week, correspond with a still larger number of people. I think I have covered most of the points raised.

Would the Minister clear up the point with regard to service during the emergency?

Would the Minister move to report progress?

Those men will be entitled to a gratuity for the period they were in the Army, but not for the period while they were on indefinite leave.

I am not satisfied that that is the interpretation of the section.

Will the Minister move to report progress or we will be here until 2.30.

May I go on for five minutes?

If the Committee agrees and it is unopposed business.

I merely want to answer a query put to me.

I want to ask the Minister a question.

Deputy Norton spoke about the question of demobilisation. The men will be demobilised as the Deputy himself mentioned over a period of something like 14 months. The demobilisation proper will start about August. We hope to have everything prepared to start releasing them then. At the present time all those who are making application to be released are being released as far as possible. A large number is going out continuously. The order in which we hope to demobilise them was published in the newspapers.

It is the numbers I am interested in.

Roughly about 2,000 a month.

I have a nostalgic interest in the Defence Conference. That was a body which was called into existence in a time of very acute crisis, and I believe it served this country exceptionally well. I was privileged to be a member of it for some considerable time, and I subsequently withdrew from it. Its subsequent history seems to have become somewhat mysterious, and nobody in this country now seems to know what has become of it or what its present position is. I regard it as an honourable episode in the public life of this country. I should be sorry to see it having a shabby passing, and I should be glad to know either from the Minister for Defence or from the Taoiseach the manner of its passing. I should like to hear from them the estimate of the Government's gratitude for the work that conference did, and the attitude of the Government towards the public men who at great political sacrifice to themselves set aside their own political advantage in order to make a contribution to the common good. I do not think all that should be disposed of with a casual word, and I think it would be appropriate that the Minister for Defence should move to report progress, and on the next occasion when he speaks to the House tell us that story.

The Deputy proposed to ask a question. He seems to be making a speech.

I want to ask the Minister will he tell us that story. Will he tell it to us in suitable terms, and not in a casual word inserted into his observations six minutes after the Dáil ought to have adjourned?

Before the Minister replies, I would plead with Deputy Dillon to withdraw his appeal to the Minister, or I would appeal to the Minister to say that he has nothing to add to what has been said with regard to the Defence Conference, because I do not think some of us could listen with equanimity to any elaborate appreciation by the Government of our services on the Defence Conference. The Defence Conference has finished, and I think the less discussion we have by those of us who were inside that conference the better. Those of us who served on that conference can realise that when Mr. Cosgrave proposed that conference he proposed a scheme that had very great results. Beyond that, as one who took part in the work of that conference, I would hesitate to discuss, either here in the House or in public, any of the doings inside that conference. I would appeal to Deputy Dillon to let us face what is in front of us instead of going back over the past.

By the time we come to discuss Army or defence matters seriously, as we will no doubt have to discuss them before the Minister or his officials consider their Estimates for the year 1946-47, not only all our political experience but all our military experience of those emergency years will, I hope, have become the common property and common experience of the whole of us. I hope we can avoid tearing those things to pieces in any kind of way; that we will accept them as the common experience of all of us, and bring the best of our minds to bear upon the future. I would regret to see thrown into any discussion with regard to the future of defence, or any of the matters concerned with it, any examination of or any harping back of my mind at any rate to the doings inside of the Defence Conference.

I admire the magnanimity of the Leader of the Opposition. It is a quality which is amplified in me in dealing with the present Government. Despite the observations of the Leader of the Opposition I would renew my application to the Minister. I suggest that he should report progress, and, on resumption of the debate, indicate to the House whether he proposes to accede to my request or to follow the course suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. In any case I object to his concluding. I ask him to report progress.

The Deputy rose to ask a question. He asked it when the Minister was concluding.

The time for concluding has passed. However, I do not stand upon my rights.

The Deputy can put down a Parliamentary question on it.

I undertake to bring the Deputy's references to the notice of the Taoiseach.

I am satisfied.

Motion to refer back, by leave, withdrawn.
Vote put and agreed to.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 2.10 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 26th June.