I move that the Seanad insist on amendments 1 and 2:
1. In Section 1 (1) the word "or," line 22, deleted and after the word "day" in the same line, the words "or St. Patrick's Day" inserted.
2. In Section 1 (3) the word "or," line 38, deleted and after the word "Friday" in the same line, the words "or St. Patrick's Day" inserted.
I think the Seanad will act rightly if it decides on its point of view with regard to the effect of closing on St. Patrick's Day. Personally, from a fair amount of correspondence I had on the subject I believe the Seanad would be representing a fair majority of the country in its opinion on St. Patrick's Day closing. I think that if the Dáil had shown a disposition to have met the point of view of the Seanad, certainly for my part, I would not have been at all inclined as they say to put up a fight for the sake of an amendment like this—if the Dáil had given away on amendments number one and number two. In view of the position, and after the Dáil declining to agree to the three Seanad amendments, I think it would be foolish of the Seanad to run away from the amendments, particularly the first and second ones. I do not think, and I imagine that a great many members of the Seanad will agree with me, that any great calamity is going to happen the country if this Bill is held up for a period of nine months. While I would have preferred, and still prefer, that an agreement or an arrangement should be reached with the Dáil: nevertheless I think some advantage might be gained by having this matter frankly discussed in the country. There are large organisations, some representing the trades affected, and others, such as the Pioneers, prepared to try and find out what really is the feeling in the country.
That might have a healthy effect, and at the end of nine months, if it is desirable—I express no opinion—a referendum might be taken inexpensively, in view of the fact that the Seanad elections will take place in twelve months. The two could take place on the same day. It will be practical politics to have a referendum then. I do not express any opinion whether it would be desirable or not, except to say that the nine months' delay which may result from the Seanad insisting on its point of view is not a delay that we need be unduly afraid of. For these reasons, and because I believe there is a strong feeling in the country which we represent on the matter of closing on St. Patrick's Day, and also because I think the movement for the better keeping of St. Patrick's Day was part of the best spirit of the new national movement, it is a great pity the majority of the Dáil should have gone back in such a matter as the observance of that day. I think we should insist on the amendments, and I believe the Minister for Justice was correct when he said that in this matter we expressed the views of the country.