asked the Minister for External Affairs if he will place copies of the documents contained in the trunks bought for the American visit on the Table of the House for the information of Members; and further, if he will state what initials were engraved on each trunk; where the trunks were on the 29th April, 1959; and where they are at present.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Trunks for American Visit.
It is quite obvious from the fresh allegation in the Deputy's question that he is trying to suggest that there was some ground for the slanderous nature of the charges he made repeatedly in the Dáil on the 29th April.
The Deputy's charge that suitcases were bought for the ladies of the President's party and for the President and the Minister for External Affairs was made after the Minister for Finance had made it clear that there were no suitcases purchased out of official funds for the use of the members of the President's party and that the four lightweight trunks which were purchased by the Department of External Affairs were bought for the purpose of transporting material for the Press and not for the personal use of the members of the President's party.
The following documents were taken in the trunks to the United States: around 5,000 copies of twenty-seven speeches which the President proposed to make in the United States; copies of the translation from the original Irish of the concluding passage of his speech to Congress; copies of a descriptive note on the Book of Kells; copies of Government Reports and White Papers; copies of speeches of the Minister for External Affairs at the United Nations; copies of communications addressed to the Consuls at Chicago and Boston.
In regard to the additional allegation that personal initials were engraved on the trunks, I wish to say that no initials were engraved, affixed or in any other way marked upon the trunks. For the purpose of facilitating the expeditious and convenient handling of the material each of the trunks was marked by a single letter written with chalk. The trunks were thus identifiable without being opened, and those containing the speeches which the President proposed to make in New York, Providence, Boston, Chicago, Springfield, Preoria, St. Paul and Philadelphia, were retained in New York until the President returned to that City from Washington.
In reply to that part of the Deputy's question asking the location of the trunks on the 29th April and to-day, the answer is that on the 29th April three of the trunks were in the Department of External Affairs and one in the office of the Consul General in New York. To-day three of the trunks are in the Department of External Affairs and one in the office of the Consul General in New York.
I may add that the total cost of the four trunks was £26 13. 0d. The saving which my Department calculated would be made by copying the material at home and by using the trunks for transporting it was at least £80.
In reply to the Deputy's query as to whether I will place copies of the documents contained in the trunks on the Table of the House, the answer is "No". I am, however, quite willing to show copies of the documents and the trunks to the Leader of the Deputy's Party and to the Leader of the Labour Party, if they desire to see them.
Might I inquire from the Minister if it is not a fact that before I put down this question two of the trunks were in his private residence? How did that come about?
That is another deliberate lie on the part of Deputy Flanagan. There is no truth in it and there is no foundation for it. It is just the same as statements he has made before.
The Minister may not use the words "deliberate lie".
Another deliberate untruth; an untruth—let us put it that way.
Does the Minister withdraw the words "deliberate lie"?
I do, yes. It is another untruth on the part of Deputy Flanagan, and may I say it is quite obvious from the fact that Deputy Flanagan was taken up to Monaghan last Thursday by the Deputy Leader of Fine Gael and allowed there to make further charges of corruption, that at least Deputy Flanagan and the vice-leader of the Fine Gael Party are out to denigrate the President and to try to detract so far as they can from the undoubted success which that visit was, and is hailed to be on both sides of the Atlantic?
Might I inquire from the Minister if it is a fact that the chalk marks to which he has referred were the letters S.T.O'K., the letters, M.A., and F.A., and that a further chalk mark was suitable for the initials of Bean Ui Ceallaigh?
I do not know what we are coming to in this House. It is too bad that the leaders of the Fine Gael Party should, after hearing the answer to this question, back Deputy Flanagan in denigration of the President. The Minister for Finance told the truth in this matter. I have told the truth in the matter and I have offered to show the trunks to either the leader of the Fine Gael Party, who is Deputy Flanagan's leader, or to the leader of the Labour Party. Where are we to go? I cannot stop Deputy Flanagan from making these charges all round the country.
May I ask the Minister for External Affairs——
There were no initials, good, bad or indifferent, engraved or chalked on the trunks.
What were the chalk marks?
Question No. 17—the Minister for Justice.
May I just say that questions have been asked in this House by different members of the House but these questions are a Parliamentary privilege. They are the machinery by which information is made available. Deputies can at any time question, to the same extent as Deputy Flanagan, the accuracy of the Minister's answers, but it cannot be done by way of sudden interruption and question here. Very well the members of the Government Party know the use which can be made and which has been made of Parliamentary questions to denigrate here people both dead and alive. This is a matter, I submit to the Taoiseach and to his Ministers, which should not arise in the way in which the Minister for External Affairs has raised it here. There is no person on this side of the House who wants by any allegation of untruth, or by any suggestion of untruth, to denigrate any person in office in the State. If the Taoiseach and his Ministers wish to sit down and consider with any of us as to how such denigration can be stopped, nobody will be more anxious to do that than the leaders of the Fine Gael Party.
May I say that I introduced a motion here and had it passed through the Dáil dealing with just those points which Deputy Mulcahy has raised. It was rejected by him. I hope good sense will now permit members on both sides of the House to agree to that resolution.
This is a rather peculiar point of time to raise the question of a particular motion when the Minister for Finance goes to the country and charges this Party with having introduced a Constitution which contained no reference to God.
That is true.
It is not true.
I think this has gone far enough.
This matter will be faced at any time, and in any way, that the leader of the Fianna Fáil Party and his Government want to deal with it, but it will not be dealt with in the trickery, slippery kind of way which the Minister for External Affairs has attempted to deal with it now, and in the way in which the Taoiseach is attempting to deal with it now.
Were we to allow a lie, which was a lie, to go on and mislead the people, without answering it?
Is it not my point that you have every facility, in the House and elsewhere, to give the true facts?
And the Minister for External Affairs states, in a certain volume, the facts now.
They were given before.
Neither the Minister for External Affairs, the Taoiseach, nor anybody in this House will deny the right of Parliamentary Questions here —whether they are in good taste or are not in good taste—and the members of the Fianna Fáil Party cannot question to what extent they are questions of good taste or not. We have our own standards.
There is more than a question of taste. There is a question of morals as to whether people can use this Dáil for telling slanderous lies.
I am glad to know that questions of morals can be considered in this House.
They can be and should apply to Deputies as well as to private individuals. You cannot slander all the time.
Will the Minister make these trunks available for unfortunate emigrants?