asked the Taoiseach whether, in connection with statements (Volume 102, number 5, columns 725-7) made in the Dáil by a Deputy, on the 11th July, 1946, imputing corrupt practices to officials of Government Departments, and alleging that they were feathering their nests, any information has since been made available by the Deputy concerned in support of his charges; and if so, whether the charges have been investigated and with what results.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Allegations Against Officials.
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. I wrote some letters to the Deputy who made the statements referred to and I have had some replies. As the correspondence is rather lengthy I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to circulate it with the Official Report.
Following is the correspondence:—
"1ú Lúnasa, 1946.
You will remember that during the adjournment debate in Dáil Éireann on the 11th July you said (Official Report, columns 725 and 726):—
‘There is the temptation everywhere in these matters—and I am going to say here that that temptation has crept into official circles and, furthermore, that the officials in the various Departments are feathering their nests.'
A little later you said: ‘I have information which might perpetrate another crisis in this House'.
In reply to my suggestion that you should give me any information at your disposal in this regard, you referred to the question of getting ‘immunity for some of the people who may speak' and you also said (column 727):—
‘If the Taoiseach will give me permission to interview certain people. I will place the information at his disposal, provided I am given the opportunity of getting written statements from these people.'
I then repeated my request that you should get the statements.
I should be glad to know if you are now in a position to give me the information required. In view of the serious nature of the statements I am sure you will agree that you should make available to me any information in your possession or procurement in regard to the matter so that I may be in a position to consider what further steps should be taken.
Mise, le meas,
(Sgd.) Eamon de Valéra.
E. J. Coogan, Esq., T.D.,
A Dhuine Uasal,
I am in receipt of your letter of the 1st August. In reply thereto I would refer you to the full Official Report of the debate on the subject matter of your letter.
In my opinion the appropriate place for the discussion of the matters involved is the Dáil.
(Sgd.) Eamonn Ó Cugáin.
Speaking in the Dáil with all the weight of authority which should attach to your position as a Deputy and a member of the Front Bench of the principal Opposition Party, and availing yourself of the privileges of the House, you made statements, quoted in my letter of the 1st August, clearly and unequivocally implying that you had information showing that officials of Government Departments are guilty of corrupt practices and, to use your own words, ‘are feathering their nests'. Such allegations are of the utmost gravity not only from the point of view of the public interest and public confidence in the integrity of the Civil Service, but also from the point of view of justice to the members of the Service as individuals. In maligning civil servants in general terms, as you did, you, in effect, maligned every individual civil servant of responsible status. You left each such officer in the position that he could clear himself of the general imputation only by positively proving himself innocent.
If you did not appreciate the full implications of your statements at the time you must surely be aware of those implications now. You cannot but realise also that if, in fact, your statements were based on any prima facie evidence you are bound in the public interest and in common justice to follow them up by producing such evidence for full and impartial investigation.
When you spoke in the Dáil I immediately pressed you to produce this evidence. I have since written to you three times urging you to do your plain duty in this matter as a citizen and a public representative. Your only reply is that ‘the appropriate place for the discussion of the matters involved is the Dáil'. I cannot believe that you do not realise the truth of the statement in my letter of the 16th August—a statement which you have not attempted to deny—that what is involved is not discussion but the investigation of alleged facts.
The only reasonable inference that can be drawn from your failure to place information before me is that your allegations had no basis that would bear investigation.
If, as I must now assume, you are unable to substantiate your charges or even to bring forward prima facie evidence in support of them, it is your duty to withdraw them.
(Sgd.) Eamon de Valéra.
Eamonn Ó Cugáin, Uas., T.D.,
Read it out.
Will the Taoiseach not read out the correspondence?
It is very lengthy.
There are only three letters and two short replies.
It is very lengthy.
Is the Taoiseach refusing to read it out?
According to Standing Orders if the Taoiseach asks the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, he may be given leave to have such correspondence circulated in the Official Report.
And so escape a lot of supplementaries.
The supplementaries can be put down subsequently if Deputies are not satisfied with the reply.