Oh, he is a very important person. We have the assurance here from various Deputies on the Government side, Deputy Boland, and Deputy Lemass in particular, that this will eliminate small Parties. I have no fear or worry. Personally, I think there is only one really great consideration. The most important consideration here is the question of the Sinn Féin Party, which has been raised by various Deputies. That is a very valid point to which the Taoiseach should give very serious consideration.
I have had debates with these young men on a number of occasions and on each occasion I have said the same thing to them—that you cannot end Partition at the point of the gun, that if we have to bring fellow Irishmen into a united Ireland at the point of the gun, I do not want them at that price; that what they want to do is to put their political point of view to the people, get elected to Leinster House and then put their policy into operation. Many of us have said that but, more than anybody else, the Taoiseach has said that—that they have no right to use unconstitutional means to achieve their ends, that they should come into this House and use this House as a public forum and put their point of view before the public. They are now being denied that right. That has been reiterated by every single speaker in this House.
The Government have been roaming the world to find reasons why P.R. led to instability and to multi-Party systems of Government. The result of that is that we must eliminate the small Parties. As Deputy Dillon said here last night, there is a unique situation here because of that civil war and it cannot be made responsive to solutions which satisfy other societies. Because it is a unique problem, it cannot have the ordinary solutions that have satisfied other communities.
Is is not true to say that, if it were not for the P.R. system, 26 years ago, you might not have had a group of young men, who were fighting one another in the terrible civil war, deciding that they might come into the Dáil and recognise the parliamentary institution? Is it not conceivable that the group led by the present Taoiseach might never have come into this House, might have continued to fight in the underground movement or in the I.R.A. because all hope had been denied them of coming into this House, forming a Government and acting in a constitutional way in accordance with the rules of parliamentary government?
It seems to me that conditions now are distressingly parallel. Can a person who is so closely associated with the situation, who understands so well the minds of these young men, as he once did, who believed that it was possible to solve every problem by the use of the gun or the gun butt and who has changed his mind and accepted constitutional rule, not have some sympathy for those young men, some understanding of their problem? I, of course, find it difficult to understand their problem because I do not understand the use of force, particularly amongst one's own people, but surely the Taoiseach can understand and can sympathise and should sympathise with these young men and try to get them to leave the Curragh internment camp, try to get the men who were elected here, the abstentionist Deputies, to come in here, put their point of view and see whether they can get sympathy, as Deputy de Valera once got sympathy, once got support, once got his overall majority, which he enjoys to-day, under the P.R. system, which he is now telling them that he is withdrawing from them for no other good reason than that in 1948 a multi-Party Government was formed?
Are we passing a Bill in this House which will lead to a perpetuation of this half-cock civil war? Are we to see a situation developing in which the young men who have accepted his invitation to go before the country and put their point of view will be driven back into the arms of the activists?
Here, instead of reducing the size of the armed, incipient soldiers, anxious to start a civil war or unconsciously starting a civil war, he is giving strength and encouragement to the people in that army. One would imagine that, at this stage, having enjoyed power so long as he has, having enjoyed absolute power for so long, having been King of Ireland for so long, he would be prepared to say that there is now a young generation entering into its own and that this is a decision that is going to make it impossible for them to create an efficient, socially prosperous society. One would imagine that he would say to himself that this is their responsibility and that he would leave it to them to make their political decisions as to what they would care to do.
A point has been made about Partition. It seems to me that the Taoiseach must have given up his hopes of the solution of Partition. Just as the young men of Sinn Féin are to be ruled out by this decision, so the young Unionists who might, in a united Ireland, form a Unionist minority, are to be ruled out. There may be people—it would be regrettable if there were not—there may be members of certain Protestant sects who, in a united Ireland, would like to form such a Party. They are ruled out by this decision. In the Six Counties, there are a fair number of Unionists who believe in the welfare society and nationalisation. They are ruled out. They are given a choice of two Right Wing Parties for as long as we can possibly envisage.
I do not believe the Tánaiste really believes that the Labour Party, in present circumstances, can become the major Opposition. Loyalties are still, unfortunately, not based on ideological differences. I wish they were. There still are, in the country and in the towns, loyalties stemming from the civil war, the Oath of Allegiance and many other such things.
Could the Taoiseach not accept that we are now only beginning what we could have, and should have, done in 1922, if there had not been a civil war, if he had not agreed to take one side in the civil war, if the young, new State, tired and weary of war had not been plunged into a civil war and denied the opportunity in the immediate present, and for 30 or 40 years later, of the normal crystallisation of Parties, Right or Left, Radical or Socialist. Can he not now leave us alone to see this normal development go on?
Clann na Poblachta, Labour and various other Parties are appearing and disappearing. That is not important. All that is important is that various points of view are being mooted to the people and that the next ten, 15 or 20 years is no time at all in the life of the nation. Out of those small groups, some ideal will be given birth to, from which it will be possible for Irishmen to come together and unite and form Parties in the ordinary way.
The failure of Clann na Poblachta was referred to by Deputy Russell. It was an unfortunate thing that it did fail. That failure was, to a large extent, due to the fact that men had come together without realising that they had many fundamental differences between them. If we, young as we were, were used to thinking in terms of the real politics of to-day, it might have been different. What does it matter? We have all learned; we have learned from the failure of that effort.
We are in a most delicate transition period, in a period in which many of us on both sides of this House have many things in common. It is possible and inevitable that we will come to see, more and more, as time goes on, the things we have in common. In time, if we are given time and the opportunity is not frustrated and aborted in this way by the action of the Taoiseach, normal political evolution along one line or the other will come, as it should have come were it not for the civil war.
A point was made about the policy of the inter-Party Government. It is a valid point. To what considerable extent could a number of Parties agree on a policy before being elected? Is it not equally true that over the years no Party has been able to escape from the consequences inherent in the absurd split of 36 years ago, a split which is absurd to me to-day, as a young man. Was it not inseparable from the unnatural differences amongst our people, airsing from the civil war, that no coherent policy was thought out and no plain policy could be given to the people before the election by any Party? We know that over the past 40 years Party slogans and shibboleths have been the substitute for Party policy. One of the greatest difficulties that I could see in the last election was that of finding out what was the policy put forward by the Government. There were slogans in plenty but no policy. There were slogans of one kind or another—"We will get your husbands back to work"—and so on. I am quite sure the slogans on the other side were equally inane. An important point is that neither side ever produces a policy such as you will find in other countries—a planned economy, nationalisation or de-nationalisation, a welfare society of one kind or another, nationalisation of the banks or free enterprise or whatever you like. It is suggested that the great weakness of a multiplicity of Parties was the fact that they could not put forward an agreed policy and in that way the people were misled. It is the great weakness, too, of the Taoiseach's Party, and he is one of the people who has always resented this suggestion that you should put forward a Party policy.
It is he, I suppose, who has wasted more time in the abstract discussion of relatively unimportant details over the past 34 years. The language revival was a most important part of his policy; the question of Partition was debated endlessly and in the most tedious way up and down the country, year after year, without any attempt to provide a really concrete or practical solution; the gerrymandering in Derry, South Down, South Armagh, Tyrone and Fermanagh, the voting system and so on, were also discussed and it was suggested that if we establish a welfare society down here, if we could get economic prosperity, it would make it relatively easy to go to the Six Counties and say: "Now join us. You will be first-class citizens in a first-class society"
Then we had a long debate on the Constitution. We had a long debate on the formation of a Second Chamber and a civil war about a form of words—one abstraction after another. Meanwhile, we had the people emptying from the country in their thousands, 750,000 people getting different social services, the old people half starved, education for a small section of our people, and we were teetering on the edge of economic disaster and bankruptcy. Now we get this final—I hope, final—abstraction from the Taoiseach with which to occupy ourselves and waste our time and the people's money, for the next four, five or six months.
It is clear that P.R. is being removed because, as Deputy Carty said, of the simplicity of the other system. One would think he was talking about a school for mental defectives rather than a mature, intelligent and active-minded people. Deputy Booth tended to agree with Deputy Carty. He said he was convinced that the people do not know how to use P.R. fully and that they do not use it correctly. Imagine saying that because the people have used P.R. to put back Deputy Booth, Deputy Carty and Fianna Fáil for 20 out of the 26 years, they do not know how to use it correctly. There is a lot to be said for that. Deputy Booth said that 400 Clann na Poblachta votes went to him after the first count in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown. I presume that the Clann na Poblachta vote was an anti-inter-Party vote, because at that time it had left the inter-Party Government and was hostile to them.
Another extraordinary thing which Deputy Booth said was that P.R. favours the extremists every time. I think that hardly needs any comment —Deputy Booth an extremist? The Fianna Fáil Party an extreme Party? It may have been an extreme Party once. In its great days it was a radical and progressive Party, the Party of the ordinary people, and in those days it did great things for Ireland, but it could hardly be said to be an extremist Party to-day.
I suppose I resent this Bill mostly because of the certainty that if it is passed, and if the country accepts it, it must inevitably mean that politics, as we know it to-day, will continue on for many years to come. Politics, as we know it to-day, has led to a state of society that I mentioned earlier, in which a Minister yesterday said that it was agreed that evidence coming from all sides shows that we have failed in the most abject way in the past 30 to 40 years, and that has not been due to instability.
Nobody has suggested that there has been instability of Government, on either side. Everybody is agreed that there has been stability. Deputy Booth was proud of the fact that he was able to shadow-box with the Minister for Finance without having to pursue that shadow-boxing to its logical conclusion. He was giving the appearance of defending a principle and that he would defend it to the last and bring down the Government, if necessary, in the pursuit of that principle. In fact, he said that, because of their majority, there was no danger whatever.
That stable Government was provided under P.R. A strong Government has also been provided under P.R. Why is it that nobody has suggested that what is most needed here is good government? Why is it that nobody has suggested that Salazar, Franco and various other dictators have their stable Governments, their strong Governments and forms of society which none of us would accept here, the complete antithesis of an even socially just society? That, again, is another false premise of the Taoiseach.
I should like to mention one small point in regard to this commission. I think it is rather small, probably too small. I admit the great difficulty of setting up a just commission, but it is clear, on the one hand, that there is a big Government deputation on the one side. Remarks as to the judiciary have been covered by Deputy D. Costello. That is a realistic assessment of the position of the judiciary. There is no good in people humbugging here about whether or not these are political appointments. Everybody knows they are, and whether or not judges carry their politics on to the Bench with them is quite another question. Whether they will carry their politics into the commission is also another question and I would not he able to say——