An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1968: An Dara Céim (Atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Second Stage (Resumed).

D'atógadh an díospóireacht ar an leasú seo leanas:
Debate resumed on the following amendment:
Go scriosfar na focail go léir i ndiaidh an fhocail "Go" agus go gcuirfear ina n-ionad:—
"ndiúltaíonn Seanad Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1968, ar an bhforas nach bhfuil aon éileamh ag an bpobal ar an togra atá sa Bhille agus nach bhfuil aon sásra sa Bhille chun teorannú dáilcheantar a chinneadh go neamhchlaon."
To delete all words after the word "That" and to substitute:—
"Seanad Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968 on the grounds that there has been no public demand for the proposal contained in the Bill and the Bill contains no machinery to decide impartially the delimitation of constituencies."
—(Professor Dooge.)

When speaking last night there was one argument which slipped my mind. In volume 232, No. 13, of 28th February, 1968, the Taoiseach said:

The first question is whether we want a multiplicity of Parties...

He said that one of the flaws in PR was that it brought about a multiplicity of Parties. This of course is not so. One would imagine that having said that, the Taoiseach would be able to point to a time in the past when we had a multiplicity of Parties under the system of PR. There is no country in the world where there is such a small number of Parties in the national parliament. We have only three Parties in this Parliament, the Government Party, the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and a few Independents. There is no case to be made, therefore, that PR brings about an undesirable multiplicity of Parties. There is no such thing. A case could, indeed, be made if you were to look at the result and say that PR prevents a multiplicity of Parties and prevents minorities coming together in Parties to express their views. Certainly no case can be made that PR can bring about this undesirable result of a multiplicity of Parties.

The Committee on the Constitution did not recommend the proposed change. On those who want a change rests the obligation to give reasons, and valid reasons, why they want a change. There is no point in saying that they are giving the people an opportunity of deciding whether they want the change or not. In the absence of a clamour from the people, there is no point in saying that you are giving them an opportunity of deciding. You might just as well say that you are giving them an opportunity of deciding that Parliament should be abolished, and that you are giving them an opportunity of deciding on a one man dictatorship in this country. There has been no clamour for a change and, therefore, it is not a valid reason to say that people are being given the opportunity.

The only reason this referendum is being brought about at present is that the Government are aware there is no possibility after the next election of Fianna Fáil forming a Government on their own. Therefore, they say to themselves: "Let us go for the single-seat constituency, rig the constituencies in our favour and look for a complete majority in those circumstances. If we fail, we are no worse off than we were at first. We cannot win the next time in any case." That is the only reason why they are now seeking to change the system. If they were honest and if they had no ulterior motive, they would be able to produce compelling reasons for such a change.

It has been calculated that if the system is changed—and I do not think the people will vote for that—Fianna Fáil will have between 90 and 100 seats. Whether that calculation is correct or not, it would be interesting to visualise what might happen in this country if it were. It would be interesting to visualise what Fianna Fáil would do in those circumstances. We might then really find out what "Blaneyism" means and how far it could go so far as the farmers are concerned.

Four hundred cows.

That is 399 more than the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries has. We might see how the farmers would be treated. We have already experience of how they were treated with a small majority. We might have experience of how the workers would be treated. We might have a resurgence of "Bolandism" as we saw it in the Army. We could visualise how the local gauleiters would rule the roost locally.

We might even have grass growing on Shannon.

That is quite possible. Can the Senator not do better than Shannon? It does not affect me at all. We might then see how the farmers and workers would be treated by this benevolent Government with the huge majority they sought, to better the lives of the people. We might then have legislation which would effectively control both farmers and workers in the interests of Fianna Fáil. We might then have a very interesting position when the only legal tender in this country would be the Fianna Fáil cumann card in the smaller denominations and the Taca membership card in the larger ones.

Let us look at a local area where Fianna Fáil have a complete majority and see how they operate there. In this way we might have a better idea of how they might operate nationally if they had this huge majority. Take, for instance, the constituency of Clare where I live. There, Fianna Fáil have a complete majority locally. They have had this complete majority for over 40 years.

To be exact, 42 years.

Let us have a look at what happens there. I have been a member of Clare County Council for a long time. Even long before I entered it, I cannot remember any time in the last 40 years when any member other than a Fianna Fáil member was put on any of the sub-committees of the county council.

Fine Gael do that in Wexford where they have no majority.

There is no Fine Gael member on the agricultural committee, the vocational committee or the mental hospital visiting committee. Not alone that, but there is no Labour member or no Independent member on those committees—no member of any Party other than Fianna Fáil.

What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

You started it. Now you are getting your own medicine back.

Even on those committees where they can co-opt extern members, no man is co-opted unless he is a card-bearing member of Fianna Fáil. On one occasion, for some reason or other, the chairman of the NFA was put on the agricultural committee. It was stated it was because he was chairman of the NFA. But the following term he was removed without any reason whatever, although he was still chairman of the NFA. They also refused to appoint to the agricultural committee the reverend chairman of the local agricultural show committee, who would have had some knowledge of agriculture. Instead they put on bakers, publicans and others— anybody but a farmer. The only qualification was Fianna Fáil membership.

I remember on one occasion when we had the unique position that a Fianna Fáil member of the county council was actively canvassing, and in fact getting support, for membership of the governing body of UCG. The qualification he was boasting of—the only one he had—was that he had a brother a priest in Australia. Fortunately, even Fianna Fáil could not stomach that and they reappointed the Bishop of the Diocese.

Take, for instance, the mental hospital committee under a Fianna Fáil majority such as we might have nationally if PR were abolished. There are members of the Clare County Council who have lived for years within sight of the gates of the mental hospital. Do you think they would be put on that committee? They are not even given the courtesy of being allowed to go inside this hospital.

That is a protection.

Yet Fianna Fáil members are brought 40 to 50 miles from the tip of the Loop Head peninsula to meetings of that committee at public expense. There are many within a half a mile who would have no expense, and who are willing to act, but they are not Fianna Fáil members. They are not Fine Gael either. This is how Fianna Fáil might be expected to act nationally. The Fianna Fáil Party do not act this way in every instance. They appoint other than Fianna Fáil members to some committees. Any member at all on Clare County Council can be a member of the old age pensions committee. Any member can be on the visiting committee of the county hospital. The only reason that is so is that they wish to go on it; but there are no expenses payable to those committees. Therefore, anybody and everybody, no matter what his qualifications are, can act on those committees.

What happens then? Extern members are appointed to those committees. They are not Fianna Fáil councillors, but they hope to be. No member of Clare County Council staff, no member of the official staff, can be seen in public talking to a member of the Opposition. If he is, he is branded immediately. This happens in spite of the fact that those people have a perfect right to talk to whom they wish. This is conveyed to them bluntly, as it was very often conveyed to myself in regard to my position.

This is the threat and this is the weapon which Fianna Fáil use when they want to get their own way. When they want to get something, they make promises and they also use threats when they want to get people to do something they want. I have forgotten the number of times I have been personally threatened in regard to my job because of my activities on the county council but I never bothered my head about them. Being a member of a political Party is an exceedingly tough job.

That is what Fianna Fáil do in County Clare in regard to the Opposition. That is what they may do nationally with a majority. On the basis of what they are doing already with the slim majority which they have, we can have a rough idea of what they might do if they have a greater majority. In the past 13 or 14 years during which I have been a member of Clare County Council—I will only speak of what has happened during my own time—unless a person was first of all vetted by the local cumann, he was not appointed as rate collector.

Fine Gael are very good at that.

Unless the person was the son or daughter, the brother or sister or the first cousin of a county councillor, he was not appointed.

Was this first cousin once removed or twice removed?

He was never removed once he got the job.

Does that happen in Laois County Council? Tell us what happens there.

I will not speak of the time before I became a member of the county council. I know plenty about that time but it is only hearsay. I will speak of my own experience during the past 13 or 14 years.

Does it have to do with the presiding officer at the last election?

I will be coming to that. In most instances, although there were one or two exceptions, where the person appointed was not the son, daughter, nephew, niece, first cousin or second cousin of a Fianna Fáil councillor, he was without exception a Fianna Fáil cumann secretary, a chairman or some other official. Those are the facts. They make no exceptions. If they cannot find a Fianna Fáil official, then they will find a Fianna Fáil man's son or a councillor's son. I see road gangers, road overseers and many foremen, with very few honourable exceptions, who have been appointed by Fianna Fáil.

(Longford): The reason is so many people are supporters of Fianna Fáil in Clare it has to happen.

Where would you find a Fine Gael man?

We can see on polling day in our county institutions that they are almost empty of staff. Their holidays have been arranged in such a way that the only people who get off to go out working canvassing, acting as presiding officers and personation agents are Fianna Fáil people.

Why do not the people of Clare revolt against that if that is what happens? Why do they stand for that?

The people of Clare are not satisfied but they have lived so long in the belief that they had to vote this way, if they wanted to get something, that that is what they do. However, it will change.

They must be pretty happy when they have been satisfied up to now.

Have the 8,000 any rights?

I will not delay the House too long because I am sure there will be other speakers who will delay longer than I will.

You are doing what you were put there for.

We reported a presiding officer. It was alleged that we reported a Fine Gael presiding officer but he was a Fianna Fáil presiding officer. This will show again how the Fianna Fáil Party works. We reported this presiding officer to the Attorney General in the proper manner.

Which Bill is this on?

We reported that we had evidence——

Which Bill does it refer to?

It is the straight vote.

This is how Fianna Fáil work if they have a majority. If they get it nationally, this is how it would work nationally. I will challenge them on this. We reported to the Attorney General a Fianna Fáil rate collector appointed by Fianna Fáil and a man who, I understand, boasted —I may be wrong because this is just hearsay—he voted 22 times for the Fianna Fáil candidate in the last presidential election as a presiding officer. We reported him through the normal channels to the Attorney General that we had evidence that he was seen voting twice, putting two ballot papers into a ballot box as a returning officer. The Attorney General investigated this matter and his report was that there was no evidence. We then sent the Attorney General, again in the proper manner, two sworn affidavits on this subject. Again the Attorney General reported that there was no evidence. We then instituted a private complaint and because of the evidence which the Attorney General said did not exist or could not be got, that Fianna Fáil rate collector who was acting as a returning officer in the local elections, was found guilty and got a suspended sentence of one month in gaol and was bound to the peace on one charge but was found not guilty on a technicality on the other, merely on a technicality, the evidence was conclusive but he was found not guilty on a technicality, on the presumption that he was innocent unless it was proved conclusively that he was guilty. This is how Fianna Fáil operates locally where they have a majority. The evidence is there and was proved in open court of a Fianna Fáil rate collector, a Fianna Fáil member who was acting as a Fianna Fáil member in the last election and not a Fine Gael supporter.

He was a Fine Gael supporter until you crucified him.

I cannot imagine where the Senator got that but I have my ideas. However, that is the position. That is how Fianna Fáil operate where they have a complete majority. I could go on but I will not.

If they could get that sort of majority nationally, they would operate in the same way.

Finally, if our system of election is to be changed, then it is reasonable to expect that the people who seek the change should give valid and compelling reasons why the change is necessary. It is also reasonable to expect that in putting this to the people for the second time in nine years they would advance reasons other than those which the people rejected nine years ago. If they had different reasons, if they had valid, compelling reasons, there might be some substance in their arguments but there is none. The same reasons as were rejected are trotted out again in the hope that if they succeed here, they will win a general eletion later on and if they fail here, they will be no worse off than they are now. In my opinion, that is an impertinent type of brainwashing, to try to blind the people with propaganda without clearly showing any evidence that a demand for change exists.

(Longford): I feel somewhat inhibited in proceeding to speak at this hour of the morning, having listened to the many profound arguments from the other side of the House. I suppose I should feel inhibited having listened to the very learned discourse from the Senator who has preceded me and if I have shortcomings and if I am a bit confused, I trust my colleagues will understand why I am a bit confused.

We understand fully, Sir.

(Longford): While there is always a temptation to follow and answer the person who has spoken before one, I shall try to refrain from that though I do feel it will inhibit me a bit. I should like, if I can, to raise the discussion a wee bit at this stage, even though it is early in the morning, because it is deteriorating. All sorts of arguments are unfortunately being used and all sorts of statements are being made apparently without any regard to what the issue is or what the Bills are all about. That is a pity because in the long run no matter on what side of the House one is, that sort of thing does damage to the whole institution of parliament. I am one of those people who believe that parliament at all times, no matter what Government are in power, has a duty to protect itself. Being to some degree an individualist or a crank—another name for an individualist, I suppose— I am always of the opinion that parliament must, as far as possible, preserve its power and its privilege and, if you like, its dignity as far as dignity will guard the power of parliament.

I have always felt that there is an eternal war between the executive authority representing central power and parliament representing the people. By the very nature of things and by the very nature of man, there is a collision between the two since power is a thing that people seem to want to have in parliament and in government. That is why I think that when you have silly discussion, and we have had a certain amount of silly discussion on this measure, in the long run it damages the institution of parliament. I do not want to see 15, 20 or 25 years from now—I may not be around and many of us may not be around— the power of parliament eroded here. That is the reason that parliament and members of parliament should be a little more careful in the sort of argument they are prepared to profess in parliament.

That may be a preamble or a prelude to what I have to say on these Bills, but I feel that there are times when it is necessary, and this applies to both sides of the House, and it will apply in the future as it has applied in the past. We know, any of us who pay any attention at all to contemporary history, the number of parliaments that have disappeared in our life and time all over the continent of Europe, and in other countries, I feel certain. Nine years ago I spoke from this side of the House on this question. I have listened again to the same arguments from the benches on the other side of the House. The principal reason why I would support a Bill to give the people a chance and advise the people to abolish the system of voting that we call proportional representation is that I am quite satisfied that it would have destroyed this country long ago as it destroyed parliamentary institutions in other countries, except for one historic fact.

I say this quite sincerely and deliberately. I know it may be regarded as political heresy by some of my own colleagues, but it is my belief and I am therefore entitled to say it. I believe that one of the great blessings of the Civil War, while it had many curses, and it is true to say that the majority of us forgot the bitterness of it more quickly than probably any other country in the world——

It had no blessings.

(Longford): The greatest blessing it had, in my view—I expected that sort of criticism —was that it divided this country into two fairly evenly matched groups, each with good men and men not so hot. I suppose I might be among those not so hot. Be that as it may, the Civil War did that and that was one of the long-term blessings of the Civil War. The result was that you had two major groups or political Parties comprising a broad cross-section of people, doctors, university professors, tailors, publicans and so on on both sides with a broad national policy. As a result there was no grouping of sectional interests or pressure groups. I am certain that is why this sophisticated system of voting worked reasonably well. If there had not been a civil war or some similar confrontation, the country would long ago have broken up into pressure groups.

That is why I supported the proposal nine years ago. The arguments against it were that you would have a dictatorship if the system were changed. It was also said that Fianna Fáil were beaten and that it was the last effort to keep Fianna Fáil in power. From another point of view, it was said that there was danger to the rights of minorities. The tragedy, I think, is—and it has been said again by at least one Member of this House; I think it was Senator McQuillan—that the people opposite seem to feel that despite the merit of these two measures, they want to use them in an attempt to whip Fianna Fáil. That is, I think, one of the best ways of undermining parliamentary institutions, particularly when an attempt is made to improve and cement the foundations of parliamentary institutions.

Nine years ago it was said that Fianna Fáil could not possibly get back in the next election. I heard the same thing from the Senator who spoke before me and some others who should know better in the Fine Gael front benches. Despite the fact that the people did not change the system of voting they still elected Fianna Fáil who have been continuously in government since. Fianna Fáil would win under any election system that was fairly organised and controlled because they have the majority of the people behind them for better or worse. It is as simple as that and the sooner those who want to think otherwise admit this, the better for themselves. This must be admitted and the reason for it is that Fianna Fáil have merit and are consistent in policy. It is not that they have a monopoly of governing ability but one of the factors that have kept Fianna Fáil in power since the last referendum and will continue to keep them in power is the quality of the Opposition. If the present Opposition had a more conservative and balanced approach, instead of the silly attitudes they have adopted they would present much greater danger to Fianna Fáil. I know there are many in Fine Gael at different levels at the top and down the country—I do not want to mention names as my purpose is not to annoy people—who are honest-thinking people, people of stability.

However, Fianna Fáil have been in government since the last referendum. Prophets of evil then said that Fianna Fáil were beaten and afraid of losing the next election and that it was because they wanted to establish a near dictatorship that PR had to be removed. Even learned academic gentlemen came across with that sort of talk. The sad thing is that I do not think they have learned since.

What about the prophecies of instability from your side and how urgent it was to change the system?

They are still relevant.

(Longford): I am very grateful for the help from the Senator. I do not say that in any vicious way: it is not in my nature.

The Senator is too gentlemanly.

(Longford): No, I am disguised as a gentleman. Why should Fianna Fáil have a particular dislike for the PR system? I assure people on both sides that I have won more elections under that system than I lost. It may be vanity on my part but I think I should make a brave effort at winning them also in the future. Fianna Fáil won more elections than they lost under PR. They have no reason to be afraid of it. Over the past 30 years they have done pretty well by any standards under the PR system and do not fear it now or in future—I mean, the immediate future. While I am not a betting person, I am prepared to lay a fairly heavy bet with any man opposite that Fianna Fáil will win the next general election and emerge as the strongest Party under the present or any other system of voting. We are not afraid, any more than we were afraid nine years ago, of being put out of power.

As I said, I am convinced that the one great blessing of the Civil War is that it did organise our people into large groups, so that we have enjoyed a great measure of stability. However, eventually those historical influences will cease to operate and a situation could develop in which there would be a number of vocal minorities. I have always found that minorities are more dogged and arrogant than any other sections of society. I think it was Gladstone who, in the House of Commons at a time when the Whigs and the Tories were well matched, referred to a dominant minority. I think he was right. Be that as it may, people may have different views. We must agree that we have the makings at the moment of two or three farmers' Parties; I am a farmer myself. I am a member of one trade organisation which may have political leanings and may seek representation in this House. There is another organisation, a fairly arrogant group, who also might seek representation in this House. We have had two Labour Parties in the past, and we could have two or three in the future. There are at least three different teaching organisations. If all such groups were to seek representation in Parliament, I would not like to be the person who would have to form a Government. He would want to be a pretty good wrangler to do it. I cannot imagine how stability could emerge if that pattern developed.

Politics is a practical science. It is not an academic exercise or a university topic for discourse without decisions being made. Nine years ago the then Taoiseach said that politics was the greatest of the practical sciences. I agree with him on many things, but I certainly agree with him on that. It must be treated as a practical science and not as an abstract science. If a government see that in the future, in 15 or even in 50 years time, a situation could develop where there would be a multiplicity of Parties, they have the responsibility and the duty to take steps to avert that situation, where pressure groups or dominant minorities would be so dominant that they would dictate to the majority. That is why there is a duty today as there was nine years ago to take the necessary steps. It is not possible to make such a change when you have an era of chaos or near-chaos. It is only when the Government have a practical working majority that it can be done. Even if the Government did not succeed in this attempt, there would still be a duty on the Government nine years hence to do the same thing, whether it be a Fine Gael, a Fianna Fáil or a Labour Government. I would always hope that in our sober moments the majority on all sides of the Dáil and Seanad would like to see a system of parliamentary government emerge which would provide stability and which would build up a better society for our grandchildren than we ourselves enjoy.

That is why I think it is tragic that despite the fact that there is a large bulk of opinion in Fine Gael in favour of the change, other people in Fine Gael saw fit to ignore that bulk of sober opinion and want to use this measure as a sort of lash with which to whip the Fianna Fáil Government. That is not the way to get into power, and I would say that their behaviour is the reason why Fianna Fáil are in power; I am not vain enough to suggest that Fianna Fáil Ministers have a monopoly of talent or of virtue. However, I do not want to advise them too much. It is their job to get their own philosophers.

The reason is simple enough. Why assume that the people down the country are silly and cannot think, that they are incapable of weighing things up? That is where the academic leaders of Fine Gael seem to make a mistake. The real fact is that to some degree Fianna Fáil have a large body of support in the country. The people feel they know where they stand with Fianna Fáil, but they are not too sure about the other group. That is the reason Fianna Fáil get a fairly substantial measure of support in every constituency. To put it neatly, the people vote for the status quo, whether we like it or not.

Some time ago we had people trying to explain philosophically the uproar in Paris when the students, the factory workers and public servants went on an enormous stampede. It appeared that there was no real leader, no common factor. They did not seem to understand what they wanted. I was speaking to an Englishman, a member of the Conservative Party, and he assured me that the French leader would not last 48 hours. Being a country man, I have not had the experience of being in Paris but I was inclined to take a different view. I had a mental picture of General de Gaule and I took a different view, but I did not contradict him because he seemed to know more about it than I did. As it turned out I happened to be right.

When a general election was held, General de Gaulle, who is regarded by some people as a horrid person who is trying to trample his people under a jackboot, got a vote of confidence greater than he had ever got before. Why? It was not that they liked him any better, but because they did not want chaos, did not want their institutions destroyed, and did not want their country broken into little pieces. He seemed to be their only hope and they decided: "We may not like him, but we will vote for him." That is why de Gaulle got an increased measure of support in France. For the same reason Fianna Fáil get a larger bulk of support in this country than they would get if there were a more effective and responsible Opposition.

Nine years ago the prophets of evil were saying we were on the road out. We have won every election since, and I am prepared to predict, although I do not want to be a prophet in this institution, that we will win again. We will win until such times as there is a really competent and constructive Party to take the place of Fianna Fáil. The people will return Fianna Fáil at the next election, and possibly at the one after that, I would hazard a guess, although I would not be too sure about that.

That will be under the straight vote.

(Longford): It does not matter what system of voting we have. The Party with the most support will win the election whatever the system of election.

Hear, hear.

What more do you want?

Ask your computer.

(Longford): If we fail this time and we are in power nine years from now, we will do the same again. We have to have some sense of responsibility. I should not like to see our measure of freedom and democracy, won at a very dear price, ending up in chaos or near-chaos. As I said, politics is a practical science. It is not an academic exercise in the university. That is my answer.

Nine years ago this question of flexibility as between the constituencies was not before us. There appeared to be no necessity for it. When I first heard the word "tolerance" used in this connection, I was not too sure what it meant. I always regarded tolerance as being the measure of space between the bearing surface and the bearing. I have a gauge for measuring tolerance in that field. That is why I was a bit confused when I first heard the Taoiseach and other people who use words in a wider area than I do, using the word in this connection. It is a good word, but I personally would prefer the word "flexibility". However, I will not quarrel on such a narrow issue.

The Senator must not exhaust the tolerance of the Chair.

Or the flexibility of the rules of the House.

(Longford): I do not intend to do so. There was no provision in regard to tolerance nine years ago. There was no necessity for it. The approach of the Legislature towards the number of voters in the constituencies was such that there was no need for it. The opinion of the Legislature in framing legislation was that so far as possible representation should be weighted in favour of the areas which seemed to need more represenation because of their topographical outlines. In areas like Mayo, Leitrim and Sligo, it appeared that it would take fewer voters to elect a Deputy than in other areas.

It seems that what the Legislature and the courts hold can be two different things. A prominent member of Fine Gael challenged the interpretation in the courts. It annoyed me at the time that the courts held that you had to have near equality of population per seat. The new electoral law provided that as far as possible there should be the same number of people in each constituency. I do not think the majority of people, particularly in the west of Ireland and the rural areas, wanted that. That is why there is a necessity for that measure now. I hope it will be passed.

I think it is ridiculous to have a situation whereby, in one constituency, a representative can drive through his constituency in seven minutes. A member of the Fianna Fáil Party, who has been a member for a very long time— he is not in Government—told me some years ago that he could drive through his constituency, from one point to another, in seven minutes. I think it is an unfair situation——

He could walk it.

(Longford):——that that constituency should have the same sort of representation as an area such as North Mayo, South Mayo, Clare, Sligo-Leitrim, Roscommon-Leitrim. In view of the fact that the present Act, which made provision for the constituency boundaries, is of such a nature as to achieve a nearer equality in population per constituency, county boundaries have to be disregarded. Existing boundaries command old loyalties. At the moment, under existing law, it is a function for the Minister for Local Government. Under the new proposal for legislation, it will be a function for a commission. Whether the people on the other side of this House have more faith in the Minister for Local Government or in an independent commission, I shall leave it to themselves to decide. The fact is that, at the moment, he has been described in this House in his absence as the rather horrid Minister for Local Government.

He made horrid and lurid remarks about me, anyway.

(Longford): It was said apropos a particular aspect of his duty as Minister for Local Government. I know the Minister can be as awkward as myself at times, and maybe more so, but I would never admit that he would be guilty of some of the things that were suggested by some of those people opposite.

Do you think I was guilty of the things he suggested of me?

(Longford): I did not know you were there, Sir.

You are right to avoid the question.

(Longford): It is easy to start a smear campaign. It may keep people out of power forever.

He did against me. I do not think the Minister's smear campaign against me will keep us out for very long.

(Longford): I am not aware of it. Even if the Minister did wrong, that does not give you the right to do wrong.

I accept that, but I am not the person envisaged by your remarks.

(Longford): I hear Senator Carton talking over there. It is interesting to note the difference between the tone of his voice and that of Senator Garret FitzGerald. There is no viciousness in Senator Carton's tone of voice as there is in Senator Garret FitzGerald's. I think the question of having a situation whereby it will take fewer votes and fewer people in a western constituency, by comparison with a constituency in Dublin—whether it is north of the Liffey or south of the Liffey or Dublin county, for that matter, where the Minister seeks to get elected—is quite right and fair. It is quite a different matter to be a public representative of any Party for a Dublin constituency as compared with Sligo-Leitrim, Cavan, Donegal or Roscommon and that is particularly so when there is a breach of county boundaries; and people do not like it. We may accept it in quiet desperation, but that is about as far as we go. I know that people do not like to see a county boundary violently breached to provide constituency boundaries.

I fear there is not enough tolerance, enough flexibility, in the present proposal to prevent the violation of county boundaries. I hope there is—time will tell—enough flexibility to ensure that constituencies can be organised without breach of existing county boundaries. We have a situation now in Roscommon-South Leitrim, which runs to beyond Carrigallen. Surely the people opposite should agree that it is quite a different thing to be a public representative there from what it is to be a public representative in Dublin North-Central or Dublin South-Central?

Again, take Sligo and North Leitrim which runs from the borders of Cavan almost into Ballina. Surely it is a different thing to be a public representative there from being a public representative in Dublin South-Central or Dublin South-West? Senator O'Quigley comes from the west of Ireland. He tries to justify himself in voting against that sort of thing and in trying to get people not to develop that situation——

——because of the principle of one man, one vote.

(Longford): Even at this late hour, I would hope that there would be thinking people in Fine Gael who would re-think this a wee bit. In the long run, the people of the country will assess its value, no matter what Party they may belong to. Do not forget that the people there are still the people of Leitrim. No silly arguments by well-trained speakers and lawyers will prevail. Everything will carefully be assessed by the people there, who are well able to do it.

Is it Sligo-Leitrim?

(Longford): Anywhere in the West. It applies to rural Ireland.

The constituency is called Sligo-Leitrim.

And Roscommon-Leitrim.

(Longford): If you knew the country, you would not ask me that.

There are people in the West who also believe in the democratic principle of one man, one vote.

You did not know it nine years ago and you do not know it now.

(Longford): I won more elections under proportional representation than I lost. Many of my colleagues think so.

That, again, is tolerance.

(Longford): It may be charity on their part.

Let us concede that.

(Longford): I do not think the present system of what we call proportional representation is proportional representation at all. Comparisions have been made with outside countries. With an election where there are ten candidates and where there are a few crackpots or jackpots as candidates, I cannot understand why people give No. 1 to a candidate whom the majority would not consider at all. The person who votes for that candidate can then give a vote to the next nearest crackpot and then when he sees that that horse is not going to win, he can put his bet on the third horse and in this way he gets a good few bets.

I spent a long week in Longford trying to sort out this business. I saw an old and esteemed colleague of mine, General MacEoin, eliminated and a younger and newer member of Fine Gael took his seat. How I felt about that is another matter. I saw the way in which some people got a number of chances and there was a fairly strict scrutiny. When the first horse did not win, they had another chance and then when that horse did not win, they had another chance and so on. People who voted for General MacEoin had only one chance. That is the way I look at it. In regard to PR and giving a voice to minorities, there are other systems and I would suggest that if you want to make the system fairer, then you could put a fractional value on the No. 2 vote, a lower fractional value on the No. 3 vote and so on. I would not suggest what those fractions should be for they would have to vary.

You would have to get a computer.

(Longford): No, I would get a human being to help me. I do not believe in machines all that much. The machine is as good or as bad as its master. I think I would get Senator Garret FitzGerald to work out the various mathematics. That would be one improvement on our present system. I think it was Senator Garret FitzGerald who suggested that the French system is not nearly as good as our system and that our system is more sophisticated. As far as I know under the French system when people vote in the first election, they see who has the largest number of votes and the smallest. A candidate who does not get a certain percentage —I think it is ten per cent—is wiped off the slate. Another election is then held in a week's time during which the people have time to think about the situation before they vote again.


(Longford): Not necessarily everybody.

Everybody gets a chance.

(Longford): What happens in practice I suggest is that the crackpots do not vote any more. They become dissatisfied and say “A plague on both your houses.”


(Longford): Even the French system would be an improvement. It can be said that the system in France does not give representation to minorities, but nobody can say that minorities have to be represented at the expense of the majority.

Nobody ever suggested that.

(Longford): In the long run the safest and soundest system to have is that proposed in the Bill, and I believe the people will adopt that system. The people do not want to have a situation at any time in the future where you could have near-chaos and where it would be difficult to form a Government. In the long run, the whole purpose is to form a Government. The majority of people would prefer single-seat constituencies, despite all the talk and misrepresentation. I believe that they will adopt the proposed system.

This is the second debate on this subject inside ten years and this debate is in its second week. At this stage it would be difficult for anybody to say anything new and the speeches we have heard suggest that every Senator has made up his mind and therefore I see no excuse for making a long speech. I should like to say one or two things, however. I have heard many reasons advanced in this House, and I have read the debates in the other House, why the Government wish to depart from the present PR system and replace it by the straight vote system. Some of these reasons are plausible and some of them are unworthy. I represent the graduates of Trinity College and I would say on their behalf and on behalf of Trinity College that we have no complaint about the treatment of the college or the graduates by this Government or their predecessors. If therefore I do not find myself in sympathy with the present proposal it is not from any desire that I have or feel my constituents have for getting rid of the Fianna Fáil Party.

I believe on the evidence that the PR system is the one that has the greatest potential—whether it is always realised or not is another matter—for giving the fairest representation to all sections of the people. An objection that might be valid and which would influence me a lot is that it is complicated and difficult to understand and to operate. That objection would carry a good deal of weight with me if we were setting up the system for the first time but that is not the situation. The system has been in operation for a very long number of years. People understand the machinery the Minister's Department have set up for dealing with it and are able to cope so far as one can see and therefore the objection I have mentioned loses its force, in my opinion anyway.

There is another point, that is, that the adoption of the single-member constituency would, of course, make these constituencies very much smaller than they are. There would be three times, or thereabouts, as many constituencies as we have now and each would be proportionately smaller. But, no matter how small you make a constituency, it will still be a complex unit. It will not be a uniform body of people. Many interests will always be involved and, in those circumstances, it is wiser, I think, to have more than one representative for a unit like that.

I have heard it said that it would be difficult for a person in a constituency with a certain political affiliation to have his interests looked after by a Deputy who was not of the same political affiliation. I am not thinking of that consideration at all; I am thinking of an interest, perhaps professional, perhaps industrial, in a constituency, which has a legitimate proposal to put to the Government, and it can only do so through a member who knows nothing about the particular interest at all. Where you have a number of interests in a constituency, as you must have, I believe it is better to have more than one representative. That situation could not evolve under the proposal here. I myself would prefer the single transferable vote system to the system proposed and I might even be persuaded to propose substituting it for the system now before the House. I am afraid I do not find myself in sympathy with the proposal before the House.

Because of the importance of these measures, it is vitally important that as many Senators as possible should give their views in order that the people may know where we stand. The Third Amendment Bill has become known as the Tolerance Bill. Under this alleged tolerance, it will require something over 16,000 voters to elect a representative in a rural constituency while it will require something over 23,000 voters to elect a representative in an urban constituency. It is regrettable that this Bill should be necessary. The blame for that must lie with the Government; we are told the Bill is necessary to preserve equilibrium of representation as between rural areas and urban areas. If the population in the rural areas has declined, I cannot see how this Bill will help those who are left.

The fact that there is no provision for a Commission in this Bill makes it suspect. The absence of any provision for a Commission does not support the contention that there is a desire or a necessity to preserve equilibrium between urban and rural constituencies. I can speak only of the area which I know. In 1961 Fianna Fáil, for their own advantage, took part of Louth and put it into Monaghan. They did not have regard to electoral area boundaries. They cut across boundaries and, in doing that, they ensured that Fine Gael pockets would be thrown into Monaghan and the redistribution would help Fianna Fáil pockets in Louth in preventing two Fine Gael Deputies being returned in Louth. The extra Fine Gael vote in Monaghan would make no effective difference in the result in Monaghan.

The Fourth Amendment Bill is designed to introduce here the British system of voting. I remember the days when anyone who supported Cumann na nGaedheal was told he was West Briton. It strikes me that, as the years go by, Fianna Fáil are becoming more and more West Briton. Fianna Fáil are becoming more and more what we were supposed to be in those days. I have heard no request for this change except from certain sections of Fianna Fáil. I believe this Bill is introduced as a result of the last local government election because Fianna Fáil now feel that they may not have in the future the majority they have had in the past, and this is an effort on their part to hold on to power at all costs. I did not see any evidence of any discussion by the Committee on the Constitution about this change or any suggestion that this system should be introduced.

It is ridiculous to spend over £100,000 on this referendum. Fianna Fáil, of course, will have tremendous amounts of money from their own resources to spend on this election. We, in Fine Gael, will have to depend on small subscriptions from our supporters: so will the Labour Party. We will be put to the trouble of asking supporters to come to our aid, but I have no doubt the money will be forthcoming when the people realise what is involved.

I listened last night to Senator Nash. I thought his contribution might easily be described as a sermon on the evils of proportional representation. He said proportional representation led to the formation of pressure groups. I would remind the Senator that he is himself a member of a pressure group because he is a member of the Incorporated Law Society. Any member of a society, a professional organisation, a trade union or a business organisation can be regarded as a member of a pressure group. People come together in these groups to use their combined strength to get the best deal they can for their profession or trade.

The Senator says proportional representation leads to the formation of more and more pressure groups. If he examined the proposal before the House, he would realise that the proposed system makes for the formation of more and more pressure groups because any system under which 35 per cent of the electorate can get a seat must be an unfair system. I remember in 1957 when we had two Nationalists in Fermanagh and Tyrone—I think there was another one—going to Westminster. At that time an extreme element sprang up in Northern Ireland. The result was that the Nationalists lost representation in Westminster. The people who wanted to have it lost it.

As far as Stormont is concerned, before the last election the Nationalist Party, the Labour Party and the Independent Labour Party discussed the areas that they would contest. It was decided that if the Nationalist Party did not contest Belfast, the other Party would not contest the rural area. That system is more susceptible to the machinations of pressure groups than is the system of PR because this could not happen under PR. Pressure groups would not be so effective.

PR is the system best known to the people and the only system that people under old age pension age have ever used. Some years ago there was a certain urban election, the count in which brought home very forcibly to me that the people do understand the PR system. I remember totalling the valid poll and totalling the votes cast for each candidate. There was not one vote wasted. It cannot, therefore, be said that the people do not understand the working of PR.

The Fianna Fáil speakers have been inconsistent in their approach to these Bills. In the Dáil a Deputy said that this measure would benefit more Fine Gael and Labour. The other day Senator Yeats said that the aim of the Government Party was to have a strong government and strong opposition—a two-Party system. I may be simple in my beliefs but I do not believe that Fianna Fáil would bring in a measure to benefit either Fine Gael or Labour.

The primary function of a Dáil election is to elect Members to Dáil Éireann. If it is described as a Dáil election, the function must be to elect Members to the Dáil and then, those Members having been duly elected, it is their function to elect a Government.

Some speakers seemed to favour inter-Party Government and, on the other hand, we heard a great deal about the ills of inter-Party Government. I can confidently say that the best Government that there ever was in this country was the Government in office from 1948 to 1951. That Government introduced many useful schemes. In the autumn of 1947 there was a mini-Budget and the people were told by Fianna Fáil that there was nothing but gloom and bad times ahead, that extra taxation had to be imposed on necessary commodities. In 1948, when the inter-Party Government came into office, those taxes were removed and many useful schemes such as the Local Authorities (Works) Act, the Land Project, the new Trade Agreement with Great Britain, were introduced.

From what I can hear from the people around my area, I believe that this measure will be rejected by the people in the referendum. If there should be a low poll—that is what possibly Fianna Fáil are hoping for— it is not impossible that by some chance the measure might be carried. If that were to happen, democracy for all time in this country would be dead because we would never get another chance of having a referendum.

Is oth lion nach raibh mé i láthair nuair do bhí an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin ag caint ach tá súil agam go maithfidh sé dom é mar tuigfidh sé go raibh mé tar éis bheith ag éisteacht ar feadh uair go leith leis an Seanadóir MacGearailt ag caint agus, mar sin, tuigfidh sé go raibh faoiseamh beag tuilte agam. Chun na fírinne a rá, cheapas go mbeadh an Seanadóir Mac Gearailt ag caint fiú nuair a thiocfainn ar ais. Bhí sé ag ath-rá chuile rud a bhí ráite aige faoi dhó nó faoi thrí cheana féin agus a bhí ráite ag mórán Seanadóirí eile chomh maith. Bhí gach comhartha air go raibh sé ar aigne aige leanúint leis sin ar feadh cuid mhaith aimsire. De réir deallraimh, tar éis bailiú líom as an Teach d'éirigh sé as go luath agus do labhair cúpla Seanadóirí eile le linn dom bheith as láthair.

De réir mar a chuala mé, do chuir an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin i n-iúl don Teach go raibh sé i bhfábhar suíocháin aonair ach gur cheap sé gur bhfearr go mbeadh vóta ion-aistrithe ann in áit an vóta dírigh atá á thairiscint againn don phobal. Aontaím go bhfuil agus go raibh le tamall anuas mórán cainte ann faoi'n chóras seo atá in aigne an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin agus go mór mór go bhfuil an-trácht air ins na nuachtaín ag tuairisceoirí poiliticiúla. Aontaím, freisin, go bhfuil daoine á rá gurab é seo an chóras atá ag teastáil ó na daoine. Níl aon fhianaise ann go bhfuil sé sin fíor.

Do thairg an Teachta Ó Neachtain leasú sa Dáil ag moladh an córais seo, an vóta ion-aistrithe ins an dáil-cheantar ag suíocháin aonair, ach ní bhfuair sé tacaíocht ar bith. Ní raibh oiread agus Teachta Dála amháin i bhfábhar na tairiscinte sin agus orthu sin áirím an Teachta Ó Neachtain féin. Chuir seisean in iúl go soiléir gur bhfearr leis féin an vóta díreach mar ba léir dó gurbh é sin an córas ab fhearr don tír, ach gurbh é a thuairim go mbéadh sé níos fuiriste an suíochán aonair a fháil sa tír dá nglacfaí leis an córas toghchánaíochta seo—córas an vóta inaistrithe leis an suíochán aonair—dá nglacfaí leis sin go mbéadh sé níos fuiriste nó níos cinnte, dá bhfaighfí na suíocháin aonair.

Dob é tuairim an Teachta Ó Neachtain sa Dáil go raibh sé níos tábhachtaí an suíochán aonair d'fháil, go mbéadh sé sásta glacadh leis an gcóras toghchánaíochta seo chun an suíochán aonair d'fáil. Aontaím leis gurbh é an rud is tábhachtaí deireadh do chur leis na dáil-cheantair ilshuíocháin agus an suíochán aonair a bhunú. Is é sin an rud is tábhachtaí ach, ar an taobh eile de, tá mé lánchinnte go gcruthófar gurbh é an vóta díreach an córas toghchánaíochta is fearr—an t-aon chóras amháin a thugann cothram na féinne don vótálaí, a thugann an mheá chéana vótála do gach vótálaí sa tír. Mar adubhras, dob é sin tuairim an Teachta Ó Neachtain féin agus tuairim chuile eile Teachta sa Dáil mar ní bhfuair an leasú a chuir sé os comhair na Dála tacaíocht ar bith ó Theachta Dála ar bith ó dhream-an Seanadóir Mac Gearailt.

Ní raibh sé féin ann i ndeireadh na díospóireachta.

Tá sé sin fíor—mí raibh sé ann mar d'imríodh cleas air agus ní raibh sé ann an uair a chríochnaigh an díospóireacht ar an leasú. Do pléadh an cheist seo sa Dáil. Do pléadh í go mion agus cé gur labhair a lán daoine ar an leasú, bhí sé soiléir nach raibh duine ar bith i bhfábhar na tairiscinte a chuir an Teachta Ó Neachtain os comhair na Dála.

An féidir an dara rogha a thabhairt?

Sin ceist eile. Dubhradh liom gur phlé an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin an cheist sin aréir. De réir na comhairle atá agamsa ó lucht an dlí ní féidir é sin a dhéanamh. Nuair is gá leasú ar bith a dhéanamh ar an mBunreacht i gcás na hionadaíochta cionmhaire, caithfear i dtosach báire Bille ar leith a chur faoi bhráid dhá Theach an Oireachtais, ag léiriú cad é an leasú gur mian leis an Oireachtas a dhéanamh agus go bhfuil siad le cur os comhair na ndaoine. Mar sin is í an cheist a caithfear a chur ar an pobal ná "An bhfuil tú ag toilú leis an leasú ar an mBunreacht atá leagtha amach sna Billí um an Tríú agus um an gCeathrú Leasú?"

Sin í an t-aon cheist amháin is féidir a chur ar an bpobal. Mar sin, tá sé soiléir im thuairim-se, nach féidir an dá cheist seo a chur ar an bpobal ag an am chéanna. Ar ndóigh, d'fhéadfaí reifreann amháin a bheith ann anois agus ceann eile igceann cúpla mhí dá n-dúiltítí don chéad cheann, ach do réir mar chímíd é, bhéadh sé amaideach dom teacht isteach annseo an seachtain seo ag moladh Bille chun leasú a dhéanamh ar an mBunreacht chun an vóta direach a thabhairt isteach agus a bheith ag teacht isteach an seachtain seo chugainn ag moladh go ndéanfaí leasú eile i dtaobh an vóta ionaistrithe.

Má theipeann ar an irracht seo——

Má theipeann ar an iarracht seo d'fhéadfaimís breathnú eile do bheith againn ar an gceist. Ach, ar ndóigh, féach mar bhéadh an cheist dá ndéanfainn sin. Dá gcuirfí an dá Bhille os comhair an phobail ag an am chéana agus dá n-iarrfaí i bpaipéar amháin ar na vótóirí an bhfuil siad sásta glacadh leis an vóta díreach agus an suíocháin aonair agus, ar an bpaipéar eile, an bhfuil siad sásta glacadh leis an vóta ion-aistrithe sa suíochain aonair, d'fhéadfadh sé tuitim amach go mbéadh tromlach ag an dá thairiscint, agus tá sé soiléir nach bhféadhfaí, ar an abhar sin, an dá cheann a chur le chéile. Ar chaoi ar bith, d'aontíos sa Dáil agus aontaím fós leis an Teachta Ó Neachtain agus an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin agus le duine eile ar bith a ndeireann é, gurab é an rud is tábhachtaí ná na suíocháin aonair a fháil agus, comh fada agus a bhaineann sé liom féin, is cuma liom cén sórt córas toghacháin a bhéas ann ach tá mé lánchinnte gurab é córas an vóta dírigh an córas—an t-aon córas—is fearr chun cothrom na féinne do thabhairt do chuile vótóir, agus ó tharla gurab é sin an tuairim atá ag an Rialtas agus Partí Fianna Fáil agus ó thárla comh maith nach bhfuair an Rialtas treoir ar bith ón gCoiste a chuireadh ar bun chun iniúchadh a dhéanamh ar an mBunreacht, ó thárla gur mar sin atá, luíonn sé le nádúir gurab é sin an tairioscint a chuirfeadh Rialtas Fianna Fáil os chomhair na Dála—sé sin, an vóta díreach.

Bhí seans ag duine ar bith tariscint a chur nó cuidiú leis an tairiscint a mhol an Teachta Ó Neachtain os comhair na Dála ach níor dhein duine ar bith é sin, agus má deireann daoine anois, már deireann tuairisceoirí politíochta go háirithe gurab é na suíocháin aonraic agus an vóta ion-aistrithe a theastaoínn ó phobal na tíre, bheul is cosúil nach bhfuil mórán tuiscint ag na hionadaithe poiblí ar mheoin muintir na tíre.

Sé mo thuairm féin go bhfuil na hionadaithe poiblí in ann meon na ndaoine a thuiscint gach pioc comh maith le scriobhnóir ar bith sna páipéir.

Mar a duras, níor chualas an méid a bhí le rá ag an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin mar bhí mé as láthair agus gabhann mo leithscéal leis—ar ndóigh is minic a bhí orm mo leithscéal a gabháil leis cheanna as ucht bheith as láthair le linn dó bheith ag caint—ach dúradh liom gur iarr sé orm cad a bhí ar aigne an Rialtais maidir leis an córas toghachaín don Seanad. Bheul, caithfidh mé a adhmháil nár thugas árd ar bith ar sin go fóill. Ach, do réir mar thuigim é, tá an córas sin scríofa isteach san mBunreacht comh maith agus bhéadh gá le reifreann eile, mar is eol do'n Seanadóir chun é aistriú. Tá cosúlacht ann, áfach, go mbeidh orainn cursaí toghacháin an t-Seanaid d'aiostriú taobh amuigh de seo ar fad— beidh gá athrú a dhéanamh mar gheall ar teacht le chéile na hollscoileanna. Is féidir linn féachaint isteach sa cheist eile seo ag an am sin agus má tá moladh ar bith ag Seanadóir ar bith, le chur os ar gcóir faoi sin, féachfar isteach ann.

In the debate on these two Bills here in the Seanad, I think the first question which was raised and to which I should devote some time in replying is a question which it should not be necessary for anybody to ask. That is the question as to how it is that the Government are proposing that the Constitution should be amended as suggested in the Third Amendment Bill and the Fourth Amendment Bill. This has been explained on a number of occasions in the Dáil and I think was explained also in my opening speech here. I do not know whether there is much point in my explaining it again. However, since probably every Senator who spoke on the opposite side of the House expressed himself as being entirely mystified as to why there should be any question of amendment of the Constitution in any regard at this time, I had better go into it again.

Possibly if I go into it in some slightly greater detail something of what I say may penetrate even the closed minds of the professors and their pupils on the opposite side of the House. The allegation has been made that there has been no reason advanced as to why either of these Bills should be brought before the House. I think in order to make one more effort at at least explaining why we are making these propositions I should first of all quote the relevant sub-article of the Constitution. Article 16, Section 2, Subsection 3º of the Constitution reads:

The ratio between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency and the population of each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as it is practicable, be the same throughout the country.

That is the constitutional provision which is primarily responsible for the Government's decision to suggest to the people that the Constitution in regard to our electoral law shall be amended. That Article of the Constitution, which is substantially the same as the corresponding Article in the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State, was interpreted right up to the revision of constituencies enacted by the two Houses of the Oireachtas, unanimously in the Dáil and almost unanimously in the Seanad, in 1959, as giving reasonable scope to the Oireachtas to take account of practical considerations such as the existence of prominent geographical features such as mountain ranges, peninsulas and major rivers and lakes and such practical considerations as the existence of established administrative boundaries, even if these administrative boundaries did suffer from the disadvantage of having been originally devised under King John.

In 1959 a revision of constituencies was due in accordance with another provision of the Constitution which provides that revision shall take place in periods of not more than 12 years. A revision was carried out at that time in accordance with this interpretation of the Article of the Constitution which had been believed to be a correct interpretation by the Oireachtas—by the people who had in their deliberations here framed the draft Constitution which was eventually adopted by the people. That revision was unanimously accepted in the Dáil and almost unanimously accepted in the Seanad. But the Fine Gael Party——

It was defeated in the Seanad.

——who had accepted it in the Oireachtas decided to challenge it in the High Court, obviously acting on the same principle on which they acted here: that it is not what is good for the people that is relevant, but the relevant thing to be considered by Fine Gael at all times is to utilise every possible opportunity to discredit anything that is done or proposed by the Fianna Fáil Government.

That is not true.

Acting on that fundamental principle that activates Fine Gael's every activity, a Fine Gael Senator in this House—he is not here now; he was here then—Senator O'Donovan employed, at his own expense I have no doubt, a Fine Gael solicitor in the other House, Deputy R. Ryan, and Deputy Ryan employed a Fine Gael junior counsel who was a Member of this House, again I have no doubt at the personal expense of Senator John O'Donovan. He employed Senator O'Quigley as his junior counsel and he employed as his senior counsel, Deputy McGilligan. These four individuals, acting entirely, of course, as individuals, without any reference to the fact that they were all members of the Fine Gael Party, conspired to bring before the High Court this measure, which had been passed unanimously by the Dáil and almost unanimously by the Seanad, and put forward their proposition that the Oireachtas had acted in breach of the Constitution by interpreting this Article of the Constitution in the way in which it had been interpreted right from the foundation of the State both in the previous form in the 1922 Irish Free State Constitution, and since the new Constitution of 1937 was enacted, and the result of that——

——reference to the High Court by the Fine Gael Party of this matter which they had agreed to in the House was that the High Court decided that it was not permissible to interpret the phrase "so far as it is practicable" in this way and that the Oireachtas was not entitled to take the practical considerations I have mentioned into account in delineating constituencies.

As a result of that decision, the Fianna Fáil Minister for Local Government at the time was compelled to make a fresh revision of constituencies. He did that with the best interpretation he could give of the judgment delivered by the learned judge of the High Court who made this decision. Whether his interpretation of the decision was the correct one or not is something I will discuss later. At any rate, we think it was. The revision of the constituencies that was made in accordance with the decision of the High Court was referred to the Supreme Court and they ruled that that revision of constituencies, based as it was on the decision of the High Court, was in compliance with the terms of the Constitution. Unlike the revision of constituencies that was made in 1959, and that was based on the Constitution, as interpreted by the people who framed the draft Constitution, the revision of constituencies that was based on the decision of the High Court, on the decision of the learned Justice Budd, which was procured through this manoeuvre of the Fine Gael Party, was not received with open arms by either of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

We have been asked was there any public demand for this measure. We are told there was no public demand for the measure. I do not know what means the public have for demanding things.

They can write letters to the papers.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington may think a few internationalists from Trinity College who go out and throw stones at the Garda constitute a public demand. Other people may think that public demand can be deduced to exist in different ways. Whether there was a public demand for this or not, there is no doubt whatever that at the time when this was a live consideration, at the time when the 1961 revision of constituencies which was imposed on the Oireachtas and on the people by the——

The Constitution.

——manoeuvres of Fine Gael—at that time there was no doubt whether there was public demand or not. There was a unanimous demand by the public representatives in the Oireachtas that this situation of a constitutional infirmity as Deputy J. A. Costello described it should be remedied. I quote from Volume 188, column 213 of the Official Dáil Report of 12th April, 1961, when this revision of the constituencies that involved the breaching of numerous county boundaries, that involved the uprooting of people out of constituencies and counties in which they had voted all their lives, and in which they still resided. When this was under discussion, Deputy Corish, who is now Leader of the Labour Party but was not then Leader of that Party—I will quote the then Leader as well—said:

We have a peculiar situation in one county, in Kildare, which under the present proposals embodies three county council areas—and the Minister and Deputies know that as far as Parliamentary members are concerned, not alone do Deputies have to make representations in respect of the work of the Government but to a very large extent the work of local authorities also—and it seems that in these constituencies that have to deal with two or three or four local authorities, the work of the Deputies will be very difficult indeed.

That was a comparatively mild statement by Deputy Corish in 1961. This was also the complaint of a Deputy who could claim, I think, to speak with particular authority for the rural community, the late Deputy Donnellan, who spoke at column 214 of the same volume. He started off by saying:

It is regrettable that this Bill had to be introduced because of a decision of the High Court.

Later on in that column he said:

I do not welcome this Bill; I believe it is the death-knell of rural Ireland.

He went on to say:

If we are to develop along that line—I believe we are; as Deputy Dillon said and I repeat, it is nothing personal to me—representation in the near future will belong to the few cities we have and, quoting the words of a gentleman I heard speaking last Saturday night, "to a dwindling population". If that happens, it will be a bad day for the country and we are actually heading in that direction now.

In the next column Deputy Donnellan continued:

I suppose the Minister cannot help this situation. I want to be fair to him and I must say I believe that the 1959 Act that was challenged in the High Court was fairer. I supported it. I believed it was the right thing. Some people thought otherwise. The solicitors and the lawyers came into it. The courts reached a decision much to the disadvantage of rural Ireland and its people. Of course, with Fianna Fáil, the Constitution is almighty. According to them, it is the Gospel. They have an opportunity now of seeing what their Constitution is costing the people of rural Ireland. The Taoiseach was not man enough to submit the matter to a referendum so that the people might be given an opportunity of changing the relevant Article in the Constitution and getting a fair crack of the whip. There is no credit due to those who brought the action in the High Court. If the day comes that Dáil Éireann will be influenced by a completely city mentality, it will be a bad day for Ireland and for her people.

I suppose this is the best Bill the Government can bring in in the circumstances. It is as near as possible to representation for every 20,000. What will be the position if this wrong is permitted to continue? What will be the fate of the people living in the rural areas? Will the majority here be Deputies from Dublin city and Cork city and the other cities? I regret the Taoiseach did not put this by way of referendum to the people. Of course, not so long ago the Government were defeated on another referendum. I suppose they were afraid to have a referendum on a honest issue, remembering their defeat on a dishonest one. I believe that, had they sought such a referendum in this connection, they would have won.

I believe the Government are starting off in the wrong direction. What will be done now will never be undone because the position will be similar to that which obtains in the Civil Service; a precedent has been established and it cannot be changed. The position, as a result of this Bill, may go from bad to worse. Deputy Dillon talked about gerrymandering. I know something about gerrymandering; there is an electoral area now, West Galway, that never existed before. What is the reason for that?

The Minister can always assert that this is not his fault and that he wanted to leave things as they were. I suppose we will have to accept this Bill unless the lawyers see fit to contest another constitutional issue. My remarks have nothing personal in them. I protest as a public representative. I think this Bill is a step in the wrong direction. It will deprive the people in the rural areas of adequate representation. Remember, it is only a start; day after day and year after year, worse will probably come. The precedent has been established. It will be impossible to undo what is being done here now. Another Government tomorrow would probably do the same thing.

I do not know whether Deputy Donnellan had any contact with the people of his constituency or not but he declared himself to be speaking as a public representative. I do not know in what other way the people of Deputy Donnellan's constituency could have made their views known, unless they were to do it in the manner favoured by some of Senator Sheehy Skeffington's associates. This was at a time when this injustice on the people in many parts of rural Ireland was in the process of being perpetrated.

Now another revision of constituencies is called for, if the terms of the Constitution are to be complied with. What happened in 1961 will be as nothing compared with what must happen now, if the terms of the Constitution are not amended, and if they have to be complied with in the same way as in 1961. The people, I will quite agree, have not made any great demands yet for this because they have not seen what is going to happen and the injustice that resulted from what happened in 1961, has become reasonably well established and the people of County Louth who have to vote in Monaghan, the people of Waterford who have to cross the Comeragh mountains to meet their representatives, the people of Roscommon who have to vote in Mayo, the people of Leitrim, some of whom find themselves voting in Roscommon and some in Sligo, the people of Meath and Westmeath who are attached to County Kildare and the people of Wexford who had to be uprooted and transferred to the two-county constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny.

I do not think all these have become completely satisfied with the disruption that the Fine Gael manoeuvre in the High Court imposed upon them in 1961 but they have become accustomed to it and the new arrangements that will have to be made now have not yet come into operation, and the people who will be affected do not know that they are going to be affected and they have not made a demand; but I have no doubt that if the Government went ahead and revised the constituencies in accordance with the present position and made no effort to comply with the unanimous demand of all the Opposition Parties in 1961 to amend the Constitution in this regard, and if we brought in a revision of constituencies based on this interpretation of the Constitution that was extracted by this Fine Gael team of lawyers from the High Court, if we did that, what was said by these Deputies in the Dáil——

Is it in order for the Minister to cast aspersions on a decision of the High Court?


If Senator Quinlan had his way, the people would not vote at all. We would just hand it over to the professors and let them decide on a computer who should represent them in the Dáil.

Is the Minister casting aspersions on a decision of the High Court?


I am castigating the Fine Gael manoeuvre, the Fine Gael team of lawyers who saw an opportunity of discrediting the Fianna Fáil Government——

Of vindicating the Constitution.

——and of making money for themselves on the side. I am casting no reflection on Judge Budd. I do not think he ever did a day's electioneering in his life except possibly when he was a candidate for the Seanad. I do not quarrel with his decision. I am quite sure he interpreted the Constitution in accordance with the correct legal interpretation of the words there.

So they did vindicate the Constitution then?

They did secure this interpretation of the Constitution from the High Court but I have no doubt that if we were to revise the constituencies in accordance with this requirement and to bring a Bill before the Houses of the Oireachtas without having made any attempt to comply with the unanimous demand to amend the Constitution, then the criticism and the demands that we received in 1961 would pale into insignificance beside the criticisms and the attacks that would be made on us if we did what it would be necessary to do now. Mind you, I am going to say before I sit down exactly what would be required now.

On that occasion when the revision of constituencies in 1961 was being discussed in the Dáil, the then Leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Norton, spoke on the matter. I quote from column 226 of the same volume. Deputy Norton said:

The courts have decided that the last Electoral Bill was ultra vires the Constitution; consequently some other Bill had to be introduced and this is the Bill we got. It is worth the time of the House to dwell for a few moments on the situation in which we have been landed by the Constitution, by the courts and by all the legal people who advised the Government. The courts' decision is that the last Bill which gave a seat in constituencies with fewer than 20,000 of a population per seat was ultra vires the Constitution. That has been the position in many constituencies since the Constitution was passed over 20 years ago.

He went on at the end of the same column:

... our legislation in the past has been based upon the assumption that if we did not get the 20,000 in each constituency, it was good enough to get it in the country as a whole.

At column 230, Deputy Norton said:

I think it is crazy to do what is being done with some constituencies. I represent the constituency of Kildare which is known everywhere as a clearly defined territorial area. In order to box the compass in connection with the results at the next election, Kildare has a chunk of south Meath clamped on to it at one end, and an extreme corner of Westmeath at another end. Now to the constituency which consists of the County of Kildare, a chunk of south Meath and a chunk of Westmeath are being added, and it will be all grouped under the heading of Kildare, although that substantial portion will not in fact be Kildare, but portion of two other counties. The only effect of that is effectively to disfranchise people who live in south Meath, and people who live in Longford and Westmeath, because of the fact that those areas are not big enough, or not numerically strong enough, to ensure representation for the counties of which they are a natural part. They will be, as it were, just small lungs of Kildare. I think that is a most undesirable way of trying to create constituencies.

At the end of the column, Deputy Norton said:

It is obviously desirable that we should endeavour to get parliamentary representation to run side by side with local representation. Deputies know that in the course of their duties they have, inevitably, to make representations to local authorities when the business of their constituents requires them to do so. That is not such a difficult job if you have to make representations to the local authority for the area you represent, but if two or three other local authorities are added to the main local authority, a situation will arise which will become unmanageable, and especially unmanageable with regard to the virtues we were told 12 or 18 months ago the small single member constituency had.

I do not blame the Government for introducing a Bill to deal with this situation. A Bill had to be introduced. That was inevitable after the decision of the High Court, but it is quite clear that the Constitution which imposes upon us the responsibilities now clearly defined by the Court, is a Constitution which should be amended...

At column 231 Deputy Norton said:

I think the decision of the judge compelling us to butcher these constituencies in this way is not a satisfactory solution to the whole question of the delineation of constituencies.

Someone ought to have a new look at the situation created by the legal decision, created by the necessity of making Parliament work, making the constituencies work and making them sufficiently homogeneous to ensure that the system of Parliamentary representation so reached will continue to give satisfactory results locally to the electorate, and satisfactory results from the standpoint of having the constituencies adequately represented in Parliament to ensure that their viewpoint will be put adequately and without impairment on the floor of this House.

He concluded:

If we pass this Bill in this most unsatisfactory position we shall leave large portions of the population virtually disfranchised. Some effort should be made to get out the dead timber in the Constitution in that respect and to give us, at least for the subsequent general election, a method of Parliamentary general election which will conform to modern conditions of Parliamentary representation and independent thinking.

Deputy Norton who was then Leader of the Labour Party considered that this requirement of the Constitution which is interpreted at the behest of the Fine Gael Party in this way resulted in the virtual disfranchisement of large portions of the population. Now Senator FitzGerald, and as far as I know all the Senators on the opposite side of the House, believe that far from disfranchising large portions of the population, what it does is ensures their democratic rights for the people of Meath, who were uprooted from their own county and from the constituency in which they had voted all their lives and tacked on to County Kildare, as Deputy Norton said, that it was in vindication of their democratic rights because of course they would suffer terribly if it took fractionally more votes in County Meath to elect a Deputy than in County Westmeath.

Is 40 per cent fractionally more?

There may be people who have more contact with the people of Meath than I have and they may know from their contact with the people of Meath that those people were overjoyed when they were transferred out of Meath and into Kildare. Now, according to the assurances they are given by the Fine Gael lawyers, their vote would have the same effect exactly in electing a Deputy as the votes of the people in Kildare. It may be that the changing about of the populations of County Meath and Kildare that would have to take place now would also be received with open arms by the people concerned, by their public representatives and by the political Party organisations. Certainly, it was not received in that way in 1961. If it is part of the function of the Government to try to interpret public demand, I think a unanimous expression of opinion—and I have not finished quoting them yet——

The Chair understands that the House wishes to adjourn from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.?

It would be in order to continue if there was any possibility of the Minister concluding in a reasonable time, but I suspect he wants to speak at some length.

I certainly want to deal with a lot of your misstatements, but not all of them, that would be impossible.

Unless the Minister hopes to conclude within an hour or an hour and a half, an adjournment would probably be better.

Business suspended at 1.5 p.m. and resumed at 2.10 p.m.

I should just like to raise the question of the luncheon break. If a luncheon break is to be abbreviated to make it shorter than normal, I think it should be done by advance agreement and certainly not decided and announced without even an opportunity to discuss the point. The validity of my complaint is vindicated now by the fact that it is nearer to 2.15 than 2 o'clock. It has not been possible to confine the break to one hour. Those who took the matter seriously and who took the trouble to be back on time are put in an unfavourable position.

In answer to Opposition queries as to why these measures are before the House, I have quoted some Deputies on the subject of the revision of the constituencies in 1961. The reason for these quotations is to show that all sides of the House demanded that the situation established by the interpretation of the Constitution by the High Court was an undesirable one and one that should be altered. I have quoted Deputy Corish, the Leader of the Labour Party, and the then Leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Norton, and also Deputy Donnellan who claimed to be in a special position to speak for the rural community. That may not be regarded as a reasonably comprehensive cross-section of the public representatives and I think in order to establish that what I say is right and that there was the closest possible indication of a unanimous demand from public representatives for this amendment at that time, I should quote some other opinions expressed.

Another Labour Party Deputy, Deputy Desmond, spoke at great length regarding the situation that was created and naturally with particular reference to another part of the country at column 250 of volume 188 of the Dáil Reports. He said.

Where do the people in West Waterford stand now? To whom will they send their inquiries? Is it to a person representing them who may live in Tipperary? Will they expect him to contact the local authority office in Waterford in order to get fair play for them?

"The court, thanks be to God, gave the final decision"—a little bit muddled, I must admit.

In the next column Deputy Desmond said:

It was amazing this evening to listen to some Fianna Fáil members bemoaning the terrible position of rural Ireland because of the decision of the High Court. I had hoped that in view of the decision of the High Court, the Taoiseach would move for an amendment of the Constitution, where necessary, to give protection to rural Ireland. Apparently, neither the Taoiseach nor the Minister was prepared to do that. There is no use in the backbenchers of Fianna Fáil now complaining that the people of rural Ireland are being robbed of their rights when, in actual fact, the only people who could restore those rights to them and improve on them, if they wished, were the Taoiseach, the Minister for Local Government, the Fianna Fáil Government and Party. They refused to do so.

Would the Minister quote Deputy Lindsay, Deputy O'Donnell and Deputy Sherwin?

It was not only the members of the Labour Party who spoke. There was a Party known as Clann na Talmhan which was one of the Parties swallowed up into the ravenous maw of the Fine Gael Party and which Fine Gael hope will soon be followed by the Labour Party which they are now inviting to go into the same position in order to revive temporarily the Fine Gael Party. Deputy T. Lynch, who was a Fine Gael Deputy, also spoke on this matter and at column 257 of the same report he said:

I am glad I voted against the Constitution. I never thought it was any good and the High Court has proved that it was no good. It was obvious to the Government what they could have done and they would not do it. They could have attempted to amend the Constitution. They attempted to amend it with their referendum in order to keep themselves in office.

Further down he said:

In Waterford, we have three members representing this butchered constituency.

This word "butchered" I take out of the mouths of Fine Gael and Labour and Clann na Talmhan Deputies, and I want to point out that it is not I who invented this description. These terms "butchered" and "dismemberment" were used in 1961 by members of the Coalition Parties. I quote again from what Deputy Lynch said:

In Waterford, we have three members representing this butchered constituency. There is the whole of the Nore valley and that part of the west of Waterford, Ballyduff and down the Blackwater valley to Lismore, Cappoquin and Tallow, traditional Waterford places which have been turned over to County Tipperary. It is a scandalous state of affairs that this enormous slice of a constituency is being taken away.

Later on, at column 269, Deputy Kyne of the Labour Party said:

The people of Lismore, Cappoquin, Tallow, Four-Mile-Water, Ballymacarbury, Villierstown, Aglish and Templemichael are as rural as the people in Donegal and they are to be deprived of their right to a Waterford Deputy. They are to be transferred to South Tipperary. Deputy Loughman or any other Deputy from South Tipperary will never be able to represent them. The natural alignment is with their own county.

Then he said:

What will happen when these people from Tallow to within six miles of my own town, a distance of 30 miles, are transferred into South Tipperary? If a South Tipperary representative, whether he be Labour, Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, wants to raise some matter in connection with county affairs or the health services, he will have to write to the county manager in Dungarvan. If he wants to raise matters in connection with, say, the free milk scheme or the assisted footwear scheme, the South Tipperary Deputy will have no right to interfere. All he can do is write a letter. He is not likely to come down from Cashel, Clonmel or wherever he may be in Tipperary to attend a meeting of the county council in Dungarvan in order to help them out. I know the fate of isolated areas like that: they get a visit just prior to the election. But when these people were within the confines of their natural constituency of Waterford, they were taken care of.

Deputy Manley, another Fine Gael Deputy, said at column 311:

There is one particularly regrettable feature in the chopping up of some counties. We cannot complain on that score in Cork, but some counties have been ruthlessly chopped in order to get the necessary proportion. The county is the administrative unit, so far as local authority goes. There is invariably a certain rivalry between counties. There is a certain clannishness in counties, to the extent very often that people in one county will not vote for someone from a neighbouring county or another county. That is a grave danger in this Bill. I would much prefer to cut down representation and leave the county as the unit. I would regard that as more practicable in the long run.

At column 313, another Fine Gael Deputy from County Louth, which is another county affected by this exercise in theoretical democracy, had this to say:

Coming from County Louth, I should like to assure the Minister that, whilst I sympathise with his position to a certain extent, the people in County Louth area affected, an area which will be put into County Monaghan, are very resentful of the intentions of this Bill.

"the intentions of this Bill," which, according to the theorists in the Fine Gael Front Bench, were to vindicate the democratic rights of these people of County Louth who, because they were, in accordance with the mathematical formula, entitled to something like 3.3 Deputies instead of three, had to be put into County Monaghan. This was to vindicate their democratic rights, but the Fine Gael Deputy representing the area described the reaction of these people to being taken out of County Louth and put into County Monaghan as being very resentful. Admittedly, that is seven years ago and those people may have become acclimatised to their new situation of being in County Monaghan instead of County Louth. However, now the position is they have to go back and another slice of the population at the other end of County Louth will have to go somewhere else. I would say that Deputy Coburn was probably right, and just as the people of Ardee resented being put into County Monaghan the last time, the people who will now be put into County Meath will be resentful also. They are not resentful yet because it has not happened and therefore they have not had the occasion to express their resentment to their public representatives. But I have no doubt that they will be resentful if this happens. It was in order to avoid all this resentment and to avoid this type of attack in the Dáil and in the Seanad that we decided we should now respond to the unanimous demand of the Opposition, speaking on behalf of the people they represent, and that we should, as requested by so many of them, move to amend the Constitution in this regard.

Deputy Coburn went on to say:

Various opinions were expressed by both Fianna Fáil supporters and Fine Gael supporters. They all resent being put into a separate county, being detached from their existing native county of Louth and put into Monaghan.

Earlier this evening, Deputy Faulkner pointed out——

Deputy Faulkner was a Fianna Fáil Deputy. I have refrained from quoting Fianna Fáil opinion because I know that to mention a Fianna Fáil Deputy's opinion is to ensure the uncompromising opposition of every Member on the Opposition benches. However, Deputy Coburn said:

Earlier this evening Deputy Faulkner pointed out that County Louth was a constituency which had enjoyed all down the years since the foundation of this State its own natural boundaries. Admittedly, there were years ago two constituencies in that small county, North and South Louth, but, as a county, its boundaries were always respected. I think it is a very retrograde step for the Minister at this stage to tamper with our boundaries.

While I am on Deputy Coburn, at that time there was another County Louth representative in the Seanad, Senator Donegan, as he then was. Senator Donegan was not pleased with what would happen to that constituency either. He spoke on this question in the Seanad and, as reported in the Official Report, volume 54, column 519, said:

They have now a principal town in Louth, the town of Ardee, which has its town commissioners and they have to deal with the Louth county manager. This town, as far as local administration is concerned, has to deal with the Louth County Council, but at the same time it is in the constituency of Monaghan. I know that in a county area perhaps it would not be quite so serious, but in a town of that kind things which are required by the county council can crop up.

Senator Donegan, as he then was, is no longer in this House, but Senator O'Quigley is. I have here a copy of Senator O'Quigley's contribution to the debate on the revision of the constituencies. It is quite clear that Senator O'Quigley also considered it wrong, considered it an injustice to the people concerned, and presumably also to their public representatives, that this type of carving up of the counties should have to take place. He laid the blame squarely on the Constitution. He implied, in other words, that this was something that was wrong, something that should not happen, but that the blame was on the Constitution. Therefore, I think he obviously implied that the Constitution should be amended if justice were to be done. He absolved his client in the High Court action, Senator O'Donovan, from all blame and laid it instead on the Constitution. I think he was quite right to say that the legal interpretation of the Constitution required that this should be done. Therefore I think Senator O'Quigley was quite right on that occasion in suggesting that the Constitution was at fault and that we should remedy this injustice by amending the Constitution.

As reported at column 490, volume 54 of the Official Report of Thursday, 25th May, 1961, Senator O'Quigley said:

One of the great arguments which brought forth the condemnation and wrath of many people on this Bill is the fact that the county boundaries have been broken into. Let us be quite clear on this. It is not the action of Senator O'Donovan which has brought about this; it is the requirement of the Constitution which has brought it about.

As reported at column 494 of the same volume Senator O'Quigley, who is now so tenaciously determined to hang on to the present position, said:

Therefore, the breach of the boundaries is due, in fact, to the provisions of the 1937 Constitution and nothing else.

As reported at column 497 of the same volume, he said:

It is useless to try to hoodwink the people into believing that the extraordinary manner in which the Minister, for his own purposes and the purposes of his Party, has carved up the country is due to the result of the action taken in the High Court. Rather is it due to the provisions of the Constitution, the provisions which were taken over in 1937, and which could have been amended by ordinary legislation for three years after the first President had been elected.

Senator O'Quigley foresaw the position as it exists today, because at the end of the column he said:

... there can be no doubt whatever that in the next revision of constituencies, county boundaries will also have to be broken into. It would be impossible in certain counties, which I shall not name, to give representation without adding on parts of adjoining areas.

With regard to the question of whether there was a demand for this measure that at least shows that it was reasonable for the Government to assume the Opposition felt that in order to establish a position in which the community in general would be justly treated with regard to Dáil representation, this amendment was required.

Would the Minister quote the divergent views of Deputy Coburn, Deputy McGilligan, Deputy Ryan, Deputy M. O'Higgins, Deputy Lindsay, Deputy O'Donnell and Deputy Sherwin in this allegedly unanimous debate?

I know this much. Senator FitzGerald who, apparently, is now in control of the Fine Gael Party has decided that it is in the interests of the Fine Gael Party to effect a division of the Irish people on the lines of the urban community versus the rural community. Before I finish, I will give many examples of this new approach which now activates the Fine Gael Party.

That does not answer the question.

People like Deputy Sherwin were not affected.

Deputy O'Donnell and Deputy Lindsay?

Deputy Lindsay is on his way to Dublin, is he not? He is one of the Senator's competitors for a seat in Dublin. Is it not because there are too many applicants for seats in the Dublin area that the Fine Gael Party have decided to try to steal from the rest of Ireland seats to which they are fully entitled and allocate them to Dublin so as to make room for Deputy Lindsay, two of the three, Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy O'Donnell, who are all migrating from rural Ireland in anticipation of the day when rural Ireland will be occupied only by——

——entrepreneurs with farms supporting a minimum of 400 cows?

The Minister is avoiding my question.

It is in anticipation of that day that these people decided to migrate to the Dublin area to look for seats in the future. Apparently there will be two Fine Gael vacancies, but they are thereby providing competition for seats for Senator FitzGerald and Senator O'Quigley— although I do not think there is much to fear from him—for any seats that may be available in the Dublin area. This is part of the reason this attempt is being made to rob parts of the country of seats to which they are fully entitled. I intend to show— whether it be before tea or after tea —that they are entitled to these seats.

It might be next week: I do not know. It all depends on how long Senator FitzGerald and his assistants keep me with their interruptions. I intend to show him and his friends—next Monday or Tuesday or some other day——

That is a terrible admission.

When I actually do it depends mainly on whether or not Senator FitzGerald can contain himself and on how much of his by-election disruptive tactics he intends to utilise here. I think I have shown that this is not a measure that was inspired solely by the Fianna Fáil Party. Well, I suppose the Senator can hardly interrupt me from outside.

I shall be back.

I think I have shown that there was a demand from all Parties in the Dáil and from both Houses of the Oireachtas for it. In 1961, we did not comply with this demand. For one thing, there was not time. A general election was due. We believed there was not time to pilot a Bill to make the necessary amendment to the Constitution through the two Houses of the Oireachtas and to have a referendum, and to revise the constituencies again, in accordance with the amended Constitution—to do all this—before the next general election was due. We did not, therefore, comply with this demand at that time and we did not do it after the election either because the situation—undesirable and unjust as it was—had in fact then been established. The people had voted for representatives in the new constituencies that were imposed all over the country and Deputies had been elected for those areas. Presumably, the Party organisations had adjusted themselves to the new situation as well as it was possible for them to do it and a revision of constituencies was not constitutionally due for some considerable time. Taking all these factors into consideration, we let the situation stay as it was. In any case, of course, we were within a year or two years of the previous referendum.

The 1965 general election was carried out on this same scheme—the same grotesque constituencies—because the position had been established. We did not think that chopping and changing at frequent intervals was in itself desirable. Therefore, we let the situation continue as it had been established in accordance with the decision of the High Court. However, since then a new factor has come into it. The results of the 1966 Census of Population have been published. Certain Members of the Dáil were very quick to see that these results disclosed that a number of the constituencies— in particular, the ones for which they themselves were elected—were not in compliance with the provisions of Article 16.3 of the Constitution which says that the ratio between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency and the population of each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as it is practicable, be the same throughout the country. They were quick to see that, at the present time, this is not in fact the position.

A number of Dáil Questions were put down to me as to what I proposed to do about it. As I say, it was obvious that what they contended was true and that these constituencies were not in compliance with the terms of the Constitution as we interpreted the decision of the High Court. We interpreted that decision in as liberal a way as it was possible to do so—as indicating that a divergence of five per cent was acceptable.

Looking through the existing constituencies and basing the consideration of them on the assumption that a five per cent divergence from the national average of population per Deputy was permissible, it was obvious that, on the basis of the results of the 1966 census, of the 38 existing constituencies only 14 were in compliance with the terms of the Constitution and the other 24 were out of line with this interpretation of the Constitution—18 of them having a population per Deputy which was too low and six having a population per Deputy which was too high.

We had this demand, then, for a revision of constituencies. It appeared that this demand was one that would have to be complied with. Therefore, the question of whether to comply with this demand and to revise the constituencies in accordance with the legal interpretation of the Constitution or to comply with the demand of the Opposition Parties in the Dáil and Seanad for a revision or for an amendment of the Constitution so as to make this unnecessary, naturally arose.

The Government decided, now that the question had become a live issue, that we would respond to the demand that had been made, the demand to remove what Deputy J. A. Costello described as a "constitutional infirmity," and that we would do this before carrying out the revision that was now required by the Constitution, although it is only seven years since the last revision of the constituencies in 1961. So, in reply to the Opposition queries as to why this Bill is before the House, the answer is that that is the reason. That is why we are deciding to give the people the opportunity of remedying this requirement to inflict an injustice on a large section of the people—to disfranchise them, as was said here.

The only criticism we could reasonably expect was that the amount of scope we were asking, to avoid doing these things, was too small. As we are on this question of why this measure is before the House, I think it is only natural that we on this side of the House should exercise our minds as to why it is that the Opposition have so changed their opinion within the past seven years, the opinion that what had happened in 1961 was unjust to the people in that it resulted in the disfranchising of large sections of the community and inflicted an injustice on them that amounted to butchery and dismemberment——

It was not the opinion of the Opposition or of its Leaders.

——and that it sounded the death-knell of rural Ireland. If it continues to obtain, it could be interpreted as giving the all-clear to Senator FitzGerald to put the Fine Gael plan in relation to rural Ireland into operation.

That is the pious hope.

Obviously, the only possible reason for the change of attitude on the part of the Fine Gael Party is that these further seven years of frustrated opposition have emphasised and consolidated their, by now, traditional attitude of applying only the one test to every proposal that comes forward from the Government——

——the test of principle.

——the test that, if it is put forward by Fianna Fáil, they, as the Opposition, must oppose it. That is their attitude. This is the only test applied by anybody on the Opposition benches—even by the rugged Independent himself from Cork. The rugged Independent is a simple individual. He just applies the same test as Fine Gael and asks "Do Fianna Fáil propose it? If they do I must oppose it." That is his interpretation of rugged Independence. If Fianna Fáil propose it, it is wrong. That is his interpretation with regard to what we look upon as a necessity, to give the people an opportunity of amending the Constitution in this regard in order to avoid injustice. The question naturally arises: what exactly is the present constitutional requirement? In the Dáil discussion the two main Opposition speakers, Deputy Fitzpatrick and Deputy Ryan, could not agree on what the present position is. I do not know whether Senators can. I could not detect any agreement here either.

Deputy Ryan who was the solicitor in the High Court case had a completely different point of view in regard to the position to the chief Opposition spokesman, Deputy Fitzpatrick. At columns 41 to 43 in Volume 235 of the Official Report where I was disorderly enough to interject, when the Deputy was speaking, the following sentence:

That was because the court permitted the five per cent divergence.

the Deputy replied:

The court allowed no such thing, and typical of the utterly false propaganda being advanced in support of this despicable proposal is the one that the courts have allowed a five per cent divergence.

The court never laid down what the divergence was.

I am quoting Deputy Ryan, who went on to say:

The courts have allowed no divergence from equality in so far as equality is practicable. The courts have said, because our Constitution says and because the people of Ireland said, equality should operate in the ratio between population and Deputy as far as it was practicable. In relation to the 1961 revision equality as far as it was practicable was operated. The courts have not said that a five per cent divergence is permissible. That is not what the courts said. That is not what the Constitution says. That is not what the law at the moment says and that is why I queried last week the ruling out of order of an amendment when the reason for ruling it out of order was supposed to be that the law at the moment allowed a five per cent divergence. The law allows no divergence whatsoever. It says it shall be equal as far as practicable.

It is open to this House and to the Seanad now under our existing law to make a re-arrangement of constituencies but there is an obligation on this House and on the other House to make the ratio between the population and Deputies equal as far as practicable. This House and the Seanad have no right to assume, and nobody has any right to assume, that the courts would allow a five per cent differential in the year 1968, because if it were possible to arrange the constituencies with equality without any differential, that is the obligation which would lie on us to achieve and it is that equality which the Minister and the Government are now seeking to depart from. They are now saying that no longer will there be an obligation to achieve that equality. We are to allow a divergence which is going to disfranchise almost one-third of the people living in the urban areas compared with their politically more powerful cousins down the country.

And note "down the country". The emphasis is on "down". I have drawn a line under it and Deputy Ryan underlined it when he was talking. In 1961, of course, the Fine Gael view was that the people who in order to comply with this requirement had to be removed from one county to another would be disfranchised. Now it is the urban people whose numbers will be assessed by including the numbers of visitors in hotels, students in colleges, babies in maternity homes and patients in the regional hospitals who will be disfranchised. Deputy Ryan said that there was no divergence at all permitted. Deputy Ryan has the same view as Senator FitzGerald that this is merely an exercise in figures, merely a question of figures.

What is practicable.

There is no appreciation of the fact that the figures represent human beings. That does not enter into it; it is purely an exercise in figures. I suppose it is part of Senator FitzGerald's training to deal in figures only and ignore the fact that these figures represent human beings. However, the chief Opposition spokesman in the Dáil, Deputy T. J. Fitzpatrick, has a completely different idea about what the legal position is and on the same day in the same volume at column 106, he said:

The Minister is misquoting the judgment. The judgment said that 17 per cent was too high. It said absolutely nothing between 17 and four per cent.

Deputy Fitzpatrick's case apparently is on the one hand that the position at present is substantially what we are trying to achieve——

Where is the contradiction? I am waiting to hear it.

If the Senator cannot see the contradiction——

The High Court ruled that 17 per cent was too much.

I would not be so foolish as to try to elucidate anything for the Senator.

There is no contradiction. We have established that.

Deputy Fitzpatrick maintains that the position is substantially the position that we are trying to make clear in the Bill, whereas Deputy Ryan says we must have absolute mathematical accuracy with regard to equality and that the court allows no divergence whatever. You can take your choice of what the Opposition attitude is. While Deputy Fitzpatrick maintains that the position is as we want it to be he is at the same time equally determined with the other urban orientated Deputies and Senators to ensure that the Constitution is not amended so as to make it clear that what he says is the position is in fact the position. I do not know what interpretation the Opposition place on the present legal position. I have long ago given up any attempt to try to interpret the mind of Fine Gael. They change from day to day and from year to year and they change in accordance with what they believe to be the Fianna Fáil attitude and also in accordance with the oscillations in the control of the Fine Gael Party between the Law Library and the UCD campus.

In government, with regard to this question of the delineation of constituencies, you have a practical job to do and in order to do that, you have to try to have some reasonable idea of what is permissible and what is not. In order to do that in 1961, the Minister for Local Government tried to assess from the mass of verbiage which constituted the decision of the High Court just exactly what the position is. I admit that nowhere in the judgment does it state clearly and definitively that a divergence of five per cent is permissible. That, apparently, would not be the legal way to do things. That would not provide scope for people like Deputy Ryan, Senator O'Quigley and ex-Deputy McGilligan to enrich themselves by deriving part of their incomes from constitutional wrangling.

I agree that it is not all that clear, but on page 143 of Irish Reports, Budd, J. 1961, O'Donovan v. The Attorney General, it is stated:

Another suggestion was to divide Galway into two constituencies, West Galway with three seats, and East Galway with five seats. It was submitted that this could be done fairly simply by transferring the nine electoral divisions of Carmore, Clare-galway, Annaghdown, Ballinduff, Donaghpatrick, Headford, Kilcoona, Killeany and Kilursa, with a joint population of 5,166 to West Galway and consolidating the remainder of the other two existing constituencies. For clarity I set out the result:— Suggested constituency, West Galway, 3 seats, population 60,269, ratio of members to population 1 to 20,089; East Galway 5 seats, population 95,284, ratio of members to population 1 to 19,057.

That represents 1,070 below the national average at that time. Budd, J. went on to say:

Both suggestions would constitute constituencies with a ratio of members to population reasonably close to the national average. These illustrations show what is practicable in these instances and may be compared with what in fact has been done.

Now, in trying to arrive at an idea as to what scope was available to the Oireachtas in revising constituencies, I think it was only natural to assume that a divergence of 1,000 from the national average, or five per cent, was, in the view of the court, reasonably close to the national average and the revision of constituencies in 1961 was, in fact, based on that interpretation of the decision of Budd, J. It was submitted to the Supreme Court; the Supreme Court ruled on it and found it to be constitutional. At another stage in the report, at page 154, Budd, J. gave the same indication as to the divergence which he considered was permissible when he said:

Moreover, in so far as the City and County of Dublin is concerned we know for a positive fact that the figures can be worked out so that the difference in ratio does not exceed 1,000.

Any normal person endeavouring to interpret the legal position as established in the High Court as a result of the Fine Gael manoeuvres in that court, would, I think, assume that the court regarded a divergence of 1,000 from the national average as a reasonable divergence. That was permissible and the 1961 revision was based on that. It was found to be constitutional by the Supreme Court, so that, in looking at the present position and trying to see what would have to happen if the revision required were to be carried out in accordance with the present constitutional requirements, any normal person would assume that a divergence of five per cent would be permissible.

That is what I assumed. Deputy Ryan says I am wrong: that there is no divergence permitted. Of course, if he is right, the situation would be even worse than the situation that disclosed itself to me as a result of my examination. On the other hand, Deputy Fitzpatrick also says I am wrong. He says there is no specified limit to the divergence permissible and he relies on the Supreme Court decision on the 1961 scheme of constituencies. This is, of course, the point: the Supreme Court were merely giving a decision on the 1961 scheme of constituencies. They gave no indication whatever of reversing Mr. Justice Budd's decision and, therefore, so far as there is any law on the matter, it is clearly Mr. Justice Budd's decision.

It is true that the Supreme Court did say that it was, in the first instance, a matter for the Oireachtas. But it went on to say that a scheme could quite rightly be referred to the court and ruled on and it could only be assumed that they agreed with Mr. Justice Budd's ruling because they gave no indication whatsoever of disagreeing with its general tenor. What does this amount to? The Oireachtas could do what they liked and then refer the matter to the courts and the courts would tell the Oireachtas whether or not they may do this. That means, of course, that the Oireachtas can do what they like and I suggest that the only reasonable assumption one can make is that a maximum divergence of five per cent can be made on the national average in revising constituencies.

Members of the judiciary and members of the legal profession, particularly people like Deputy Ryan and Senator O'Quigley, and other prominent members of Fine Gael in the Dáil and Seanad, who get part of their income from constitutional wrangling, may see nothing objectionable in this process, that is, that the Minister for Local Government should, first of all, make a revision of constituencies, that he should then bring it laboriously through the two Houses of the Oireachtas, and then refer it to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court happen to find it to their liking, well and good. If they do not find it to their liking, then the Minister will have to go through the whole process all over again, until eventually, as a result of trial and error an acceptable scheme is arrived at. But the Oireachtas have a practical job of work to do and surely it is reasonable to expect that it should be known in advance just what can be done and what cannot be done?

We have tried to operate on the basis of Mr. Justice Budd's decision and we believe that decision indicates as clearly as it is possible to indicate that a divergence of five per cent would be constitutionally acceptable. Deputy Ryan and Senator O'Quigley say that that is wrong, that no divergence is permissible. Deputy Fitzpatrick says there is no definite limit laid down to the permissible divergence below 17 per cent. We believe there is a permitted divergence but that it is so small as to be of no use from the point of view of avoiding breaching county boundaries, and so on. If Deputy Ryan's viewpoint is right—it is, apparently, also the viewpoint of Senator FitzGerald—then the proposal in the Third Amendment Bill is designed to introduced a minimal degree of flexibility where there is at present an unreasonable rigidity. If Deputy Fitzpatrick is right, we are merely clearifying the position and making it intelligible to the layman by putting an upper limit where, according to Deputy Fitzpatrick, there is none at present. If Deputy John A. Costello is right, we are rectifying a constitutional infirmity in the only way in which it is possible to rectify it. All these different viewpoints in the Opposition are, of course, crystallised into an attitude of opposition to the Bill because it has been put forward by Fianna Fáil, even though it can be clearly shown to have been in response to the unanimous demand by the Opposition Parties.

One thing that is clear is that anyone setting out to revise constituencies has to make some assumption about the degree of exactness in relation to parity of population per seat, which can be regarded as being as near as practicable, and the only assumption I can make is that that is a maximum of five per cent. On the basis of 144 Deputies and the population figure arrived at in the 1966 census, the national average of population per Deputy is 20,028. In examining what would have to be done to comply with the demand to revise constituencies, I have assumed that, in present circumstances, a maximum population of 21,028 per Deputy would be permitted and that a minimum population of 19,028 would be permitted. In other words, the maximum population in a three-seat constituency would be 63,084, in a four-seat constituency, 84,112 and, in a five-seat constituency, 105,140.

I have assumed that if a constituency has more than these numbers but less than would be sufficient to justify an extra representative, it must either unload some of the surplus population and retain its present representation or it must receive an addition of population from an adjoining area and gain an extra representative or representatives. I have also assumed that the minimum population allowable in a three-seat constituency is 57,084, in a four-seat constituency, 76,112 and in a five-seat constituency, 95,140. So that a constituency with less than the minimum population appropriate to its present number of seats must receive an addition to retain its representation or unload some of its population so as to reduce the numbers at least to the maximum for the next lower number of seats provided, of course, that that would not be lower than three.

The 1959 revision of constituencies was based on what Deputy Fitzpatrick says is the law according to the Supreme Court. That revision of constituencies was declared to be unconstitutional by the High Court and the Supreme Court did not contradict it.

The 1961 revision of constituencies was based on the assumption I have mentioned and that assumption was based on Mr. Justice Budd's decision. It is clear, as I said, that the only possible assumption is that a maximum divergence of five per cent from the national average is allowed and a revision is now required because 24 out of the 38 constituencies are no longer in compliance with the Constitution and it must be clear to most people that even if there are only 24 out of the 38 constituencies out of line, the solution of the problem in these 24 places will inevitably involve other constituencies, that when you have to deal with a situation in one constituency by transferring population to it or from it, it is inevitable or almost inevitable, at any rate, that a chain reaction will be set up. I will show, for instances, that what has to happen in the Cavan-Monaghan area does affect other constituencies and other countries right down to the County Kildare, if not, indeed, right down to Wexford.

In the same way what has to happen —and happen completely unjustifiably and unnecessarily—in Donegal and Clare, will affect each county in the Province of Connacht and will, in fact, affect one county to the extent of removing it completely as a separate recognisable entity from the whole scheme of constituencies.

In Dublin, you would only have to start from scratch. It would not be feasible to deal with the Dublin situation on the basis of chopping and changing, adding and subtracting, in existing constituencies.

Even apart from the breaching of county boundaries and the injustice and disfranchisement this inflicts on the people concerned, frequent changing of the constituencies as is now required after each census is unfair to the people, to their public representatives and to Party organisations which, being composed of voluntary workers, are deserving also of some consideration.

It is interesting to see what the approach of Opposition Deputies to what is now required was. I just think it appropriate to give some indication of the irresponsible way in which Opposition Deputies approach this. At Volume 233, column 1722 of the Official Report for April 3rd, 1968, Deputy Harte said, referring to his own county of Donegal:

We have at the present time two constituencies, each sending three Deputies to the House, and if commonsense is to be observed and if the Constitution is to be honoured, it should be one constituency sending back five Deputies. This will be conceded by anybody with limited intelligence, who devotes any time to the political scene in Donegal.

Of course, Deputy Harte made a very incomplete examination of the situation in Donegal or he would not have said that because the situation is a lot more involved than that, as I will show, but I think that Deputy Harte did see that to apply the solution with regard to Donegal that he recommended would involve, let me say, the expatriation of a considerable number of Deputy O'Donnell's constituents into the Province of Connacht and Deputy Harte, probably realising that Deputy O'Donnell was one of the Fine Gael rural Deputies who were embarking on the trek to Dublin city saw then that that would be likely to leave the whole of Donegal available to him for the accumulation of one quota of votes. That was obviously his approach.

Why do you not deal with the points raised here?

He did not care that this solution to the Donegal problem which he recommended would involve what Fine Gael Deputies described in 1961 as disfranchising a considerable portion of Deputy O'Donnell's constituents.

Deputy Tully had not got a much more responsible approach to the problem either. I was speaking on the matter at Volume 235, column 85. I was referring to the Louth and Meath situation. I quote from the Official Report:

Mr. Boland: The boundaries of County Louth must be breached if this amendment is not carried both by the Dáil and by the people. The constitutional requirement at present is that the population of County Louth is too many for three seats and too few for four seats.

Admittedly there is at least one other way—possibly there are a number of other ways—in which this could be dealt with, but there is no way in which Louth can be kept as a complete county. It could be dealt with by transferring part of County Meath——

Mr. James Tully: Do that please. It would be a nice cushy one for me.

Deputy Tully's only reaction to the possibility of a large section of the people of Meath being required to become members of the constituency of Louth instead of the constituency of Meath in which they have always been was the immediate vision of a nice cushy seat for him. No consideration for the feelings of the people but the vision of a cushy seat, with part of County Meath and the whole of County Louth, inspired Deputy Tully to abandon with alacrity the rest of the people of County Meath who had elected him to his position as their representative.

That is what he said:

Do that please. It would be a nice cushy one for me.

That was in the Dáil. Why not deal with the points made in the Seanad

At column 40, on the same day, I was dealing with the position in the Cavan-Monaghan area and said this:

Again, as Deputy Fitzpatrick knows, the likelihood is that if what we are proposing is not accepted, if we are not given some scope in avoiding anomalies, one of the things that are likely to happen is that the counties of Cavan and Monaghan will be combined to form one constituency.

Deputy T. J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan) said:

That would suit me down to the ground.

The only approach was the personal approach that, in the case of Meath, it would give a nice cushy seat to Deputy Tully and, in the case of Cavan-Monaghan, would suit Deputy Fitzpatrick down to the ground.

The Minister has not much to go on.

Nothing about the people of Cavan and Monaghan. That is typical of the whole Opposition.

How is the Minister going to fit 144 constituencies inside the county boundaries?

Regarding this inconsistency of approach by the Opposition to this matter, I should like to refer to the attitude of the rugged Independent again.

The Minister is not telling us what the Fianna Fáil people said.

No, because they are against it.

Senator Quinlan is the rugged Independent—his own description. I have heard of Independents but apparently he has a new party, a party of rugged Independents. The attitude of the rugged Independent is to oppose this Bill which gives a certain clearly defined limited scope for the avoidance of these injustices, for the avoidance of the removal of these well defined, established areas and constituencies in our representation. He opposes any divergence that may be permitted from the national average and at the same time says he will be prepared to allocate, and to write it into the Constitution for all time, that the present quota of seats in each county should remain unchanged. He says it is unjust and undemocratic to allow a divergence of a maximum of one-sixth in clearly defined circumstances, but the rugged Independent would be prepared instead to write into the Constitution a provision that each county, irrespective of population, would retain its present representation. Of course, it is clear that the rugged Independent's approach to this question, as to every other question, is the same as the approach of Fine Gael and Labour—that if it is proposed by Fianna Fáil they must oppose it with every argument——

What it is does not matter. If in order to do this you have to contradict yourself in every second sentence, it does not matter, it is all in a good cause—oppose Fianna Fáil. There is just the one test: to oppose all the time if it is proposed by Fianna Fáil.

It could not be right.

Exactly. If it is proposed by Fianna Fáil, it could not be right and the duty of the Opposition, whether Fine Gael, Labour or rugged Independents, is to oppose with every conceivable argument, no matter how contradictory they may be. When I was introducing these two Bills here a few days ago, I said that what would have to happen in regard to what the Opposition spoke about as the butchery and dismembering of constituencies would be worse than what was done in 1961 and Senator Eoin Ryan emphasised that point later.

I do not remember what the reaction was when I mentioned it myself, but I was sitting here while Senator Ryan was speaking and his emphasising of this fact was greeted with scornful sniggers from the Opposition Front Bench. Senator Garret FitzGerald got to work furiously. He went through the performance of tearing his hair, plotting graphs and drawing curves with a straight edge and so on. When I saw that furious burst of activity, I expected that Senator FitzGerald, when he rose to speak, in a very scientific way would try to refute this statement of fact. In fact Senator FitzGerald did no more than to get up and say: "That is all wrong. There are only six counties affected in this way if a revision of constituencies is made."

He just made the bald statement, despite all the curves, graphs and plottings and despite his reference to Senator Quinlan's computer. All he produced was the bald, unsupported statement, which I will show is completely wrong, the statement that only six counties would be affected in this way. I must say I expected something more, particularly in view of the fact that I saw him going into the operation of plotting his graphs. I remember seeing him leaving and coming back with more information and putting down another point on his graph, but he merely came out with this bald and completely wrong statement.

It will be necessary for me to show just what would have to happen exactly. I cannot give it definitely because of course in some cases there will be alternative possible solutions and the adoption of either one would probably give rise to different problems in different constituencies. Therefore, if you start with Donegal, you will have a large number of possible alternatives before you arrive in Wexford. However, Senator FitzGerald indicated that this conclusion that only six counties would be affected was arrived at as a result of a joint effort by himself and his professorial colleague, Senator Dooge. He speaks fairly rapidly and I did not get all his examples jotted down, but he said one of the adjustments that would have to be made would be between Donegal and Sligo.

These two learned professorial Senators on the Fine Gael Front Bench, who in discussing the forecasts of other equally learned gentlemen on what would happen under the straight vote, so scornfully rejected what Senator FitzGerald described as the crudities of the other eminent professors, have not apparently in their own approach to this simple and realistic matter deemed it necessary to equip themselves with even an elementary acquaintance with the geography of Ireland.

Before embarking on such a complex operation as making even a tentative rearrangement of constituencies under the Bill, I would not ask these two distinguished alumni of the National University of Ireland to study geography at university level—to join first year Arts students doing a grind in order to repeat their examinations in September. I would not ask them to go to that trouble, but if they have any children of schoolgoing age themselves, or any neighbours who have children going to the national school, or if they would stop the first child of nine or ten whom they see toddling to school and ask him to be so kind as to produce a school atlas and to give them a brief run over the map of Ireland, they will discover that at no point do the counties of Sligo and Donegal touch. It seems to me that despite all Senator FitzGerald's protestations of a scientific approach and despite the display he put on of tearing his hair, plotting his graphs, drawing his curves, he made an even bigger ass of himself than usual. Even the rawest and least well academically qualified Fine Gael election worker will tell him that in adjusting one county with another, which is undesirable in itself, if it has to be done, they should at least be contiguous counties.


Sit down.

I know in Donegal for the learned professors' information——


On a point of order, an expression was used——


I did not mean to refer to the Senator as an ass. I used the colloquial expression that he made an ass of himself. I do not mean that he grew a tail or long ears or anything like that.


The expression used——

The Senator should have a sense of humour.

The Minister, to continue.

For the information of the learned professors on the Fine Gael Front Bench and their colleagues, such as the rugged Independent from Cork, the counties of Sligo and Donegal are not contiguous at any point.

This is what comes of attempting to perform a practical job such as delineating parliamentary constituencies in accordance with a theoretical and ad hoc mathematical law specially invented for the purpose by no less a person that Senator FitzGerald himself. I suppose this will be known henceforth as “FitzGerald's Law”. This is what comes from doing this and excluding from the operation and application of the law any element of commonsense. “FitzGerald's Law” or “FitzGerald's Theorem” or “Teoragáin Mhic Gearailt” or whatever it is to be known as in future, for the delineation of constituencies is about as appropriate as FitzGerald's Law for the solution of our agricultural problems by the division of the land of Ireland into farms of a minimum of 400 cows each.


I suppose it is unreasonable to expect Senator Dooge and Senator FitzGerald to exercise commonsense which they have not got. On the other hand, it may well be that even the application of "FitzGerald's Law" proved too laborious and that instead they utilised the services of their distinguished and rugged colleague's — Senator Quinlan's — computer and that possibly the absentminded professor from Cork forgot to whisper in the ear of his beloved machine that it would be desirable, if it did not mind, that the counties to be fused, or partly fused, should be contiguous.

In any case, it is certainly not too harsh to describe it, as I did, as a pseudo-scientific approach that does not take account of the juxtaposition of counties in the delineation of constituencies.


It may be that this was not due either to ignorance of the geography of Ireland or to carelessness. It may well be that to the eminent professorial intellectuals who have taken over control of the Fine Gael Party—it may well be that to them there is nothing incongruous in constituencies consisting of a bit here and a bit there and parts of other countries and other constituencies coming in between, and perhaps in deciding that only a small number of constituencies need be breached in present circumstances, they visualised the topping up of these constituencies deficient in population from the population, surplus to requirements in other places. however far distant they may be.

To someone like Senator FitzGerald who can regard the question of revising constituencies every five years —after each census—as merely a minor exercise with figures, a minor question of adjusting figures, who can ignore the fact that figures represent people. this matter of part of another constituency, or constituencies intervening between the two parts of one constituency in two different provinces, is possibly something of no consequence, just as it is of no consequence that people should be changed in and out of constituencies like shuttlecocks with the result that people, or representatives, or Party organisations do not know where they are or whether they are coming or going.

They did not know it before; they know it now.

I suppose Senator FitzGerald or Senator Dooge might not see anything incongruous in remedying a discrepancy in population in Donegal by requiring people in Errigal Road, Drimnagh, to vote in Donegal—and, in fact, there might be more people in Errigal Road, Drimnagh, interested in Donegal than there would be in Manorhamilton — or possibly topping up Waterford with Comeragh Road, or Tipperary with Galtymore Road, or Kerry with Brandon Road, or West Galway with Spiddal or Clifden Road in Ballyfermot. I can well imagine that Senators FitzGerald, Dooge and Quinlan would not see anything particularly wrong with that.

Senator FitzGerald said that six counties would be affected by this if a revision had to be carried out. As far as I can gather, he is one in the Fine Gael Party who has the view that no divergence whatever is permitted. In my examination, I assume that a maximum divergence of five per cent is, in fact, permitted. There is a considerable number in excess of six counties which would be affected in this way. It is doubtful if there is any county that would not be affected. I do not ask Senators to take my word for it as Senators FitzGerald asked the House to take his word. I propose to go into the constituencies and the counties and show that this is in fact so. This is on the basis of the assumption that I have already put before the House, that a five per cent divergence is permissible; in other words, that a maximum population per Deputy of 21,028 and a minimum of 19,028 per Deputy is permissible.

I start with Donegal where the population in accordance with the 1966 census is 108,549. In accordance with the assumption that a 5 per cent divergence is permissible, the minimum population requirement in present circumstances for six seats is 114,168. Of course, according to some of the Opposition, the minimum population required would be 6,000 more, 120,168, but I assume that the minimum population is 114,168 and the population is, in accordance with the 1966 census, 108,549. That means that if Donegal is to retain its present representation of six Deputies, it must get at least 5,619 people from somewhere else.

Senator FitzGerald apparently would bring them from County Sligo and jump them over the intervening county of Leitrim. It would be more natural and more justifiable to go to the adjoining County Leitrim which is the only county in this part of the country which does adjoin County Donegal. We cannot very well go to Derry or Tyrone. However, if Donegal is to retain the six seats, this at least would have to be done. They would have to get an additional 5,619 people from somewhere else. Deputy Harte, who is the only Donegal Deputy who spoke on the matter, recommends that it be dealt with in a different way. He says that the whole county of Donegal should be a five-seat constituency. It cannot be a five-seat constituency, either in accordance with my interpretation of the Constitution or in accordance with Senator FitzGerald's interpretation of the Constitution.

In accordance with my interpretation, which is based, I think reasonably, on Judge Budd's decision, the maximum population allowable for five seats would be 105,140. According to Senator FitzGerald's interpretation, Deputy Ryan's interpretation and the interpretation of I do not know how many other members of the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party and the rugged Independent, the figure would be 100,140. I think it would be allowable to have 105,140 people for five Deputies in Donegal which has a population of 108,549. So, if Deputy Harte's solution to the Donegal problem is to be applied, then it is necessary to transfer from the county of Donegal 3,409 people at the very least. That is if there is any way in which to select 3,409 people, because of course information is not available in that detail in the Report of the Census of Population. It is possible, and probable —certainly with the present Government—that in carrying out this operation the desire would certainly be to minimise the reduction of representatives for those areas in general. That would involve making the maximum possible utilisation of the population in accordance with the Census Report.

Therefore it is more likely, as I say, that in carrying out Deputy Harte's recommendation for Donegal, the most reasonable thing to do would be to transfer in excess of 3,409 people from Donegal. If it were to be based on the exact minimum allowed, the number would be 3,409 but if you try to make the maximum possible utilisation of the population for seats in the western area or rural area as a whole, the number would more likely approach the maximum of 13,409. County Donegal is therefore obviously a county which cannot be dealt with in accordance with the present interpretation of the Constitution, except by, as the Opposition Members put it, butchering county boundaries in some way.

One parish.

That means expatriating to another county a minimum of 3,409 or a maximum of 13,409 and this would, as I say, be more likely to be nearer to the maximum of 13,409 than to 3,409.

So for obvious reasons Donegal must be interfered with. Deputy Harte wants it to be done by getting rid of part of the constituents of his colleague, Deputy O'Donnell. Obviously apart from the situation arising in County Leitrim and County Sligo and the other counties in Connacht, to rectify the situation in Donegal would involve at least the neighbouring county of Leitrim, probably both County Sligo and County Leitrim and through those counties, other counties in Connacht also. They then are affected by the situation in Donegal, apart altogether from the actual situation within the counties themselves.

Before I deal with the counties of the province of Connacht, I think it would be appropriate to deal with the county at the other end of the province, the southern end of it, County Clare, because I cannot see how that whole area could be dealt with, except by treating the area which is bounded by the Atlantic, the Northern Ireland border and the Shannon as an entity in itself. In County Clare the population is, in accordance with the 1966 Census, 73,597 and the representation of the county at present is four seats. In accordance with my assessment, which is too liberal according to the Opposition, the minimum population required for four seats is 76,112 so there is a deficiency, if Clare is to retain its representation, of at least 2,515. On the other hand, if the representation in Clare is to be based on the exact average of population, the deficiency would be 4,000 more than that.

If Clare is to be dealt with by retaining its present representation, at least 2,515 people must be transferred to it from some other county. I would look on that as indicating that those must come from County Galway, which borders it. Of course, to the professors and their pupils on the Opposition benches this may not appear to be necessary. They may see nothing incongruous in transferring this population from across the Shannon, from Tipperary or Limerick or Kerry but I think any normal person would take this population from Galway rather than from across the Shannon.

The situation in Clare could be dealt with in another way by reducing the representation from four to three. In accordance with my interpretation of the learned judge's decision, the maximum population that would be allowable for three seats is 63,084. This solution would involve the transfer from County Clare of, at the very least, 10,513 people probably to County Galway. If it is to be done in accordance with the exact average rather than on the basis of a five per cent permissible divergence, then the number to be transferred would be 13,513, but if it is to be on the basis of the maximum utilisation of the total population, then the number to be transferred would be 16,513.

Obviously then those two counties at the northern and southern extremities of the Province of Connacht must, in order to be in accordance with the present interpretation of the Constitution, have their county boundaries breached in some way, either by receiving population transferred from Galway to Clare and from Leitrim or from Leitrim and Sligo to Donegal or they must have it taken away by a transferring of population from Donegal to Leitrim or to Sligo and Leitrim and from Clare to Galway. Those are two counties that would have to be breached. This is, as we are told by the Opposition, in order to establish the sacred, democratic, inviolable principle of one man, one vote. In fact it is nothing of the kind. If the representation of those two counties were to be based on voters rather than population, we would find both Donegal and Clare are fully entitled to their present representation, that the voters are there to justify it and that they have as equal an entitlement to their present representation as any constituency in any urban area. In fact, in Clare the number of voters per Deputy is substantially greater than the national average of voters per Deputy. We have the Opposition putting forward the pretence, putting forward the fraudulent argument, that they are opposing this Bill in order to establish the fundamental, sacred, democratic principle of every vote being exactly equal in its effect on the election of a candidate in every part of the country irrespective of every other consideration. But in both of these counties the present representation is fully justified and even on the most rigid interpretation of any democratic principle there is no reason whatever why either of these two county boundaries should be breached. However, Senators opposite want to insist that they will be breached and as I shall show later this is in accordance with a definite policy of theirs. Those two counties as I have shown must have this dismemberment carried out on them and this affects the position in the five Connacht counties irrespective of the situation within the counties themselves. Obviously, then we have some complicating factors in discussing the situation in individual counties.

Let us deal with County Leitrim which borders Donegal. It is quite clear that Leitrim cannot under either the present conditions or under the proposed conditions constitute a constituency itself because the total population in accordance with the 1966 Census is 30,572 and the Constitution at present provides that there must be a minimum of three seats per constituency. The minimum population in accordance with my interpretation of the Constitution for three seats is 57,084 so I think that Senator FitzGerald or even Senator Quinlan's computer would admit that the county of Leitrim cannot form a constituency completely enclosed in its own boundaries. The same thing applies to the county of Sligo where the population according to the 1966 Census is 51,263. Obviously, apart from the fact that at least County Leitrim and probably the two counties of Sligo and Leitrim must be involved in the solution of the completely unnecessary problem in Donegal it is quite apparent that these two countries must be involved in some adjustment between themselves. Now we have four counties without going out of the West at all which must be breached in the way that was found to be so objectionable in 1961. These are the only four I have spoken of so far. We will discover a lot more of them.

It was done.

Let us consider for a moment the present constituency of Sligo-Leitrim which of course does not by any means represent the present two counties of Sligo and Leitrim. The population of the present constituency of Sligo-Leitrim is 67,892 and in accordance with my interpretation of the constitutional requirement the minimum population required for four seats is 76,112 so that there is there already a deficiency of at least 8,220. Now if Deputy Harte's solution for the situation in Donegal is adopted of course this deficiency could be met by a transfer of the requisite number of people from Donegal and then we would have a constituency of Sligo-Leitrim-Donegal which, of course, in the view of Senator FitzGerald, who considers this merely an exercise in figures, is unimportant. For him, that is just a detail and the interests of the people of Sligo, the people of Leitrim and the people of Donegal do not arise. It is purely a question of juggling the figures and I suppose the interests of the Deputies are not important either.

Take, for instance, the Deputy who represents South-West Donegal, in the Fine Gael interest, Deputy P. O'Donnell. I understand that he is one of those who is seeking a constituency in the Dublin area at present but it may be that he might change his mind, particularly in view of the competition from two of the three Deputies O'Higgins, from Deputy Lindsay, from Senator FitzGerald, from Senator O'Quigley and so on. He might decide it would be better to change his mind and try to get elected there. Obviously he would be likely to decide to move out of Donegal in view of the fact that all Deputy Harte's constituency is remaining and a large part of his would be going out and he might decide to try his luck in the Sligo-Leitrim-Donegal constituency. We would have an interesting situation from the Fine Gael point of view there where we would have Deputies McLaughlin, Gilhawley and P. O'Donnell going for this four-seat constituency and, as I shall show later, Deputy Reynolds also so we would have four of them competing. That would be very interesting and no doubt it would show up the many advantages of the multi-member constituencies before the election would be over. However, it is now clear that Donegal, Clare, Sligo and Leitrim must be breached. The constituency of Sligo-Leitrim must be altered.

We come now to the county of Roscommon and the constituency of Roscommon which of course are two different things and have to be two different things because of the decision of the High Court. The population of the constituency of Roscommon is, in accordance with the 1966 Census, 67,605. There are four seats in that area and in accordance with my interpretation of the Constitution, which is the most liberal one and apparently not agreed with by the Opposition, the minimum population required for four seats would be 76,112. There are 67,605 people in the constituency of Roscommon so there is a deficiency to be rectified there. There are at present 2,566 Roscommon people attached to County Mayo but the return of those people would not be sufficient to remedy the deficiency of population in the constituency of Roscommon. Therefore, even assuming that the integrity of the county as a whole is restored and that the part of Leitrim attached to it could remain attached to it there would still have to be an addition of population from somewhere else to Roscommon in order to maintain its present representation. I think any practical person deciding on this would say they would have to come from the only two other counties that would be available in Connacht, that is Mayo or Galway, although that assumes that Sligo-Leitrim is dealt with in a definite way and of course they could conceivably come from Sligo. Obviously then if the constituency of Roscommon was to retain its present four seats you would have a constituency of Sligo-Roscommon-Leitrim or Mayo-Roscommon-Leitrim or Galway-Roscommon-Leitrim.

If we look at the county Roscommon as a whole we find that the population is 56,228. The minimum population that would be required for three seats in accordance with my interpretation is 57,084 so that the county of Roscommon as a whole has not got sufficient population for three seats but it almost has. It might be that it would be decided that the most reasonable solution to the Roscommon problem would be instead of adding almost half County Leitrim and part of some other county, merely to re-annex the portion of Roscommon ceded to County Mayo and add some slight proportion from some other county, whether it be Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo or Galway. If that were to happen, the major part of the county of Leitrim at present attached to Roscommon would have to go elsewhere; and, of course, it would either go to the revised constituency of Sligo-Leitrim or it might be utilised to remedy the totally unnecessary situation that arises in the county of Cavan. It is quite clear that one of the possible solutions and possibly the most reasonable solution of the Roscommon problem would require the major portion of the part of County Leitrim attached to Roscommon to be no longer so attached.

If you could get some of the people back from Birmingham, it might straighten it out a bit.

That means this is the fifth county that could not be dealt with inside the confines of its own boundaries. We have only looked at five yet. Senator FitzGerald and Senator Quinlan's computer feel there are only six in the whole country. We have only looked at five and these five must be dealt with in this anomalous way.

Now let us come to Mayo, where the population in accordance with the 1966 Census is 115,547. At present there are seven seats in Mayo plus the part of Roscommon attached to one of the two constituencies there. The minimum population required for seven seats is, according to my assumption, 133,196. According to the Opposition it is even more than that. Obviously, County Mayo, even with the addition of part of Roscommon, cannot retain its present seven seats. But since the maximum population for six seats is 126,168, the situation in Mayo could conceivably be dealt with within the confines of the boundaries of the county.

At last we have arrived at one county which, if it could be divorced from the situation in the country as a whole, could be dealt with within its own boundaries, but, of course, it cannot be divorced from the country as a whole. The present Government, and I think any Government, approaching this matter would approach it from the point of view of making the maximum utilisation reasonably possible of the population of the rural area as a whole. If that were to be the approach, the Government would be unlikely to decide to waste, as it were, about 10,500 of population in Mayo. Therefore, looking at it from the practical point of view, it is likely that Mayo's boundaries would also be breached, apart from the fact that the situation in Galway, Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim would probably require it anyway.

The remaining county in the Province of Connacht and the west of Ireland generally is the county of Galway, which has a population of 148,340. At present it has eight seats. This requires a minimum population of 152,224. The county of Galway is obviously deficient then in the number required to justify its present representation. It would, as I have shown already, be inevitably involved in an adjustment with County Clare. It seems quite clear also that it would have to be adjusted with County Mayo and/or with County Roscommon, probably with both. Therefore, County Galway is another county that would have to be breached. We now have reached six that would have to be breached and seven that would almost certainly have to be breached without going out of the west of Ireland at all.

This is necessary, we are told, in the interests of democracy. This is necessary to establish this new-found sacred principle that every vote must constitute the exact same fraction of the number electing a Deputy in every single constituency. But an examination of the figures in the register of electors for 1967/68 discloses that even that principle, if there is such a principle, does not require this to be done at all. The total population of the Province of Connacht is 401,950. The population of Donegal is 108,549 and of Clare 73,597. Therefore, the total population of this area, which I shall call for want of a better description, the western area, is 584,096. If the Constitution is not amended as we propose, the maximum representation that this area, which at present has 33 seats, can get is 30. That means there must be a reduction of three seats here unless the amendment we suggest is made.

In this total area the number of voters in 1967-68 was 365,740. If we assume that the same maximum divergence would be permitted in regard to voters as is permitted in regard to electors on the basis of the national average of voters this area would be entitled to 32 seats. Therefore, even on the most rigid application of this principle of one man, one vote, the most that would be required in this western area would be a reduction of one seat. The Opposition campaign against the proposed amendment means then that they are insisting on a reduction of three seats in this western area, although even the strictest application of this so-called principle requires a reduction of one only.

On this basis both Donegal and Clare could be left as they are and there would be a reduction of one seat in Connacht. This is exactly what would probably happen if the proposed amendment is accepted. Remember, it is provided in the Bill that this maximum divergence of one-sixth above or below the national average can only be employed in certain circumstances. It can only be employed to avoid the breaching of county boundaries and to take account of the area and accessibility of constituencies. It would, in fact, not be constitutionally permissible to exercise the maximum divergence over the whole of this western area. The result is very likely to be that there will in fact be a reduction of one seat in that area. By a very strict delineation of constituencies, it might be possible to avoid an immediate reduction in the number of seats, but this is unlikely. In any case, it is quite clear that, even if it were possible and even if the present representation in the western area were maintained, the result will be considerably nearer to this principle of one man, one vote than what must happen if the change we propose is not made.

Obviously the Opposition Parties' campaign against the proposal for the purpose of ensuring a reduction in the representation of the west of Ireland is not justified by any democratic principle and certainly not justified by considerations of area and accessibility which are considered relevant in every other democracy in the world. It would be impossible to apply the maximum divergence of one-sixth uniformly to this whole area; it cannot be done: even if it were the most that could be allocated would be 34, not 35 as Senator FitzGerald said, because even if the actual figure did work out at 34.3 or 34.9, neither I know, nor anyone else in the Government knows, of any area in which it could allocate 9 of a Deputy to a constituency. It is quite clear, however, that since the divergence must be only for the purposes specified in the Bill the maximum divergence cannot be applied all round and the most likely situation is that the number of Deputies in the western area would be exactly what is justified by the number of voters.

I think many people, whether living in urban or rural areas, think that 32 or 33 Deputies from this whole area, stretching from Malin Head in Donegal to Loop Head in Clare and from Athlone to Belmullet would not be excessive representation. I think people in general will look upon it as a rather mean operation to try to insist that this number should be reduced undemocratically to 30 when the most that would be required would be a reduction to 32. Many people, even in Dublin city, would, I think, say that Dublin as a whole is reasonably adequately represented by 34 as compared with at most 33 for the area I have described and that there is no great need to insist that the increase in the Dublin area should be from 34 to 38 as against a maximum of 36 that would be required on the basis of voters, particularly when this can only be done by inflicting an injustice on people in other parts of the country and on the representatives of other parts of the country.

Many people would, in fact, think that even though there is some reasonably substantial divergence from the national average involved that the present representation of 34 Deputies for Dublin and 33 for the area from Malin Head to Loop Head and from Athlone to Belmullet substantially represents justice to the people of the two areas concerned.

Without crossing the Shannon at all, I have established that more counties than Senator FitzGerald said would have to have their county boundaries breached if the proposed change is not made. There are two counties remaining in the part of the Province of Ulster under the control of the Oireachtas. There is the constituency of Cavan, which at present coincides with the county of Cavan but if the Opposition have their way that will not do so for very long. The population of County Cavan, according to the 1966 census, is 54,022, and the minimum population required for three seats is 57,084. Obviously, unless this change is made, the boundaries of County Cavan must be breached. This could be done in different ways. It could be topped up with part of County Leitrim which is obviously booked for extinction as a county unless this change is made and since it must already be utilised to adjust the situation in Donegal, Sligo and Roscommon, why not use another part of it to deal with the situation in Cavan?

Why did you not butcher Louth?

That is one of the possibilities. Another possibility is, as I explained in the Dáil, to take the two counties of Cavan and Monaghan and combine them to form a five-seat constituency. The numbers would make that a feasible solution. I cannot forecast, not being in that business like the Opposition Senators, exactly what would happen but I can say this: on the figures as available, County Cavan need not be breached at all if we were to act in accordance with the principle of one man, one vote because the number of voters on the 1967-68 register is 34,301 and the national average of voters per Deputy is 11,899, and if you allow the same divergence in regard to voters, as is in my assumption allowed with regard to population, then the minimum number of voters required to justify a three-seat constituency is 33,912. There are 34,301 voters in County Cavan which is also at present the constituency of Cavan and there is no democratic reason why County Cavan would have to be interfered with at all as a constituency. But Deputy Fitzpatrick and the Opposition in general insist that this must be done and refuse to agree that the Constitution should be amended so as to prevent this injustice being done to the people of that area and as I pointed out, all Parties here agreed in 1961 it was an injustice to uproot people from their own counties and put them into other counties for election purposes.

What about County Louth?

If Senator Rooney had been following me, he would have realised that I was gradually working my way over to County Louth. In fact, at this stage there is only one county separating me from County Louth. I shall come to County Louth in due course. First, I want to point out that County Cavan should retain its integrity as a county but it cannot retain its integrity—and Senator FitzGerald is insisting that it will not. County Monaghan is different from the constituency of Monaghan because the population of the constituency of Monaghan is 53,325 but the population of County Monaghan is 45,732 which means that 7,593 people who live in Louth are included in the constituency of Monaghan. The minimum population for three seats, the present representation of Monaghan, is 57,084. Obviously, then, the constituency of Monaghan must be adjusted in some way. It cannot be dealt with within the confines of the county, except possibly by joining Counties Cavan and Monaghan into a single five-member constituency which Deputy Fitzpatrick would welcome with open arms, because, as he said, it would suit him down to the ground. But it is not necessary and I do not think it desirable.

Other people who take a more responsible view and who would not look at everything from the viewpoint of their own personal convenience would agree that a constituency comprised of the counties of Monaghan and Cavan would not be a desirable one. But that is one way in which the Monaghan situation could be dealt with, by linking the counties of Cavan and Monaghan, but that would require the return of the 7,593 people to Louth. Of course, if the Cavan situation was dealt with by adjustment with the remnants of County Leitrim, then this solution for Monaghan would not be available and the constituency of Monaghan would then have to be dealt with in some other way. It would require an addition of at least 3,759 people to retain its present representation of three seats. It so happens County Louth, which was utilised to top up County Monaghan the last time, could spare anything up to 4,842, so one other possible solution of the Monaghan situation would be a further transfusion of people from County Louth. As I pointed out, neither Deputy Faulkner nor Deputy Coburn nor Senator Donegan on the last occasion thought this was a desirable way of dealing with the Monaghan situation. They were unanimous in thinking that these 7,000-odd people who had to be uprooted from Louth and constrained to vote in County Monaghan for Monaghan Deputies were resentful of this and would have preferred to remain in their county voting for County Louth candidates even if this involved taking a slightly greater number of people to elect a Deputy in County Louth than in County Monaghan.

In 1961 when this was actually done none of these representatives of County Louth felt that what happened on that occasion was a vindication of the democratic rights of the people of County Louth. They felt they were interpreting the views of their constituents reasonably accurately when they said they would have preferred to remain in County Louth to elect their three Deputies and let the people of County Monaghan also elect three Deputies, even though it would mean that each voter in Monaghan contributed fractionally more to the election of a Deputy than each voter in County Louth. The total number of Deputies was neither increased nor decreased by this unnecessary butchering of Counties Louth and Monaghan. The total number of Deputies was still the same, six, three who were returned for the constituency of County Louth, not the whole county, and three who were returned for the constituency of Monaghan comprising the whole of County Monaghan and a small part of County Louth. Senator FitzGerald and people like him look upon all this merely as an exercise in statistics, suggesting this as a desirable thing to do, but the Deputies who represented these areas did not think so; and I am inclined to think they were probably more accurately reflecting the views of the people in general with regard to the application of democratic principles. As Senator Rooney has some particular interest in County Louth, and since, apparently, he is not sufficiently interested himself to look up the figures which are available to him —they were given by me in a reply to a Parliamentary Question on 26th March, 1968—I will give him the figures in regard to County Louth and the constituency of County Louth. In County Louth the population, according to the 1966 Census, was 69,519. In the constituency of Louth the population is 61,926. The population in the constituency of Louth is within the permitted range for three seats; the population in County Louth is not. We do not know which we will be dealing with, but as I pointed out there is one solution to the Cavan-Monaghan problem which appeals to at least one of the Fine Gael representatives for the area, Deputy Fitzpatrick; I do not know if it appeals in the same way to Deputy Dillon, nor do I know whether Deputy Dillon is too much above these things even to consider the matter. However, the solution that appeals to the only Fine Gael representative who has expressed an opinion on it is that Counties Cavan and Monaghan should be joined together to comprise a five-seat constituency. As I said, this would involve the return to County Louth of the population which is at present attached to County Monaghan. The population of County Louth is 69,519, but the maximum population allowed for three seats is 63,084, so that something must happen with County Louth; either the population must be transferred from Louth to some other county, and it cannot be to Monaghan if Deputy Fitzpatrick's solution is adopted. Therefore the only other county to which to transfer it is County Meath. The situation in Louth arising from the rectification of the Cavan-Monaghan situation could be dealt with in the way which appeals to Deputy James Tully, by transferring a portion of County Meath to Louth and making Louth a four-seat constituency, thus achieving the nice result of a cushy seat for Deputy James Tully.

How would Meath be dealt with then?

Senator Fitzgerald will have noted that Meath would appear to be the next county for me to deal with, having started at Donegal and gone down to Clare to the boundary of the Shannon and come around by Cavan and Louth, which seems to be required in order to refute the ridiculous statement of Senator Fitzgerald, which may, for all I know, have emanated from the wrong information being fed into the computer by the rugged Independent from Cork. I do not know where it came from but in any case it was wrong.


I have shown, without going beyond the Shannon, that it was completely wrong.

Surely we can deal with this after the referendum.

I know Senator Rooney would like it to be dealt with after the referendum, but it happens to be relevant to the question people are being asked in the referendum, and whether Senator Rooney or either of the Senator Fitzgeralds or the rugged Independent from Cork or anybody else likes it, the people will hear this before the referendum takes place. The people will have this information available to them when they are making their decision. It would suit Senator Rooney and others grand if this information was withheld from the people until after the referendum. Then there would be the situation they desire, that only one side of the case, and that is an unjustifiable side of the case, would be put before the people. We intend, in spite of the efforts of the Opposition, and in spite of the paper wall that we know will be erected by the newspapers, to place these facts before the people. We intend that the people of Cavan will know their representatives are determined that their county will be breached and butchered, as they described it themselves in 1961, and that this is unnecessary. We intend that the people of Donegal will know exactly what Deputy Harte has suggested should be done in Donegal, that he has suggested a solution that would involve a substantial portion of Donegal being expatriated to the Province of Connacht to which a gentleman famed in song and story was once exiled. The same fate, apparently, is to be inflicted on some of Deputy O'Donnell's constituents by Deputy Harte. We will make the people in that part of the country aware of what is proposed for them and aware of exactly what is involved in the Opposition's determination to hang on to this present situation which results and must result in weighting the urban vote at the expense of the rural vote.

In response to repeated requests from Senator Rooney, I was proceeding to deal with County Louth. All the time I was dealing with other counties, Senator Rooney was asking me to deal with County Louth but, as soon as I started to deal with Louth, he objected to that. He does not want me to deal with it, but I will deal with it.

It weakens the Minister's case.

The Fianna Fáil organisation, in spite of all efforts, will make the people of County Louth aware of what exactly the opposition to this amendment means. I pointed out, and I regret having to do so again, but in order that Senator Rooney who is so interested in the position in Louth will not lose the trend, I have to point it out again, that if the situation in Cavan and Monaghan is dealt with in the way the Fine Gael representative for Cavan, if not for Monaghan—possibly both— wants it dealt with, that would involve the Minister for Local Government and eventually the Oireachtas, and possibly the Constituency Commission, to deal with the situation in County Louth which has a population of 69,519 and now returns three Deputies to the Dáil, whereas the present law requires for that number of Deputies a maximum of 63,084 people, men, women and children——

The single-seat areas will cross the boundaries.

If Senator Rooney likes, when we come to discuss the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, we will deal with all this again from the point of view of the single seats. I will start at Malin Head again and finish up in West Cork or wherever Senator Rooney likes.


The Minister, without interruption.

We will deal with it quicker if Senator Rooney removes himself or contains himself. I do not care which.

With apologies to the Minister, are we sitting past 5 o'clock. I understood that Standing Orders provide that if we sat at 10.30 a.m., we finished at 5 o'clock.

Acting Chairman

The order of the House is that we sit until we conclude the Second Stage of the Bills.

Irrespective of time?

Acting Chairman

The Minister, without interruption.

I am still outside the boundaries of Louth. I still have to go through the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill. Despite Senator Rooney's interruptions—he is still valiantly defending the borders of Louth—and the interruptions of the rugged Independent from Cork, when they have finished interrupting, I will eventually deal with Louth. I will deal with it either before tea, or after tea today, or tomorrow or Sunday, or Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

We will have adequate opportunity to reopen it next week.

Who broke the Louth border?

I am still outside it.

Who broke it?

Your Government.

Yes, of course. We will go back to the situation in 1961. The situation in Louth in 1961 was this: the population in accordance with the interpretation of the Constitution which was extracted from the High Court by the Fine Gael Party was too high for three seats. The situation in the adjoining county of Monaghan— in another province, I agree, but an adjoining county—was that the population was too low for three seats, but the joint population of Monaghan and Louth was sufficient for six seats. In order to vindicate the rights of the people of Louth, and in order to ensure that the people in neighbouring Monaghan did not have this terribly unfair advantage over the people of Louth, to comply with the interpretation of the Constitution extracted from the High Court by the Fine Gael Party, it was necessary to make an adjustment between Louth and Monaghan. It could have been done in other ways. Monaghan also borders Meath but because there was a problem in Louth and Monaghan and because Meath borders Kildare in which there was a similar problem this was the solution that was adopted.

The Fianna Fáil Government under compulsion, under the requirement of the High Court, brought a Bill before the two Houses in 1961, making the adjustment which was required to comply with the Constitution. As I said before, but I will repeat it because Senator Rooney insists, that Bill was received very unfavourably on all sides of the House. In fact, the representatives for Louth from the two sides demanded that this situation be remedied. Senator Rooney who now is the only spokesman for Louth on the opposite side does not want it to be remedied. He wants to insist that if Louth gets part of the population from Monaghan at one end, that should be compensated for by transferring part of the population to Meath. This would facilitate Deputy James Tully and create a nice cushy seat for him.

Acting Chairman

There is no requirement in Standing Orders for repetition.

I appreciate that, but neither is there any provision in Standing Orders that the debate on Second Reading should proceed by means of question and answer across the floor.

Acting Chairman

I am endeavouring to ensure that interruptions cease.

With Senator Rooney's gracious permission, I will now deal with the situation in Louth in 1968 instead of 1961. Would that be in order, Sir? Over the past 15, 20 or 30 minutes—I do not know for how long—Senator Rooney has prevented me from doing this, although prior to that he was inviting me to deal with it, but as soon as I proceeded to do so, Senator Rooney objected and did his best to prevent me from dealing with it.

It would not be in order for me to tell Deputy Rooney again the population of County Louth, but if Deputy Rooney likes to refer back to the Official Report when it comes out, he will find that the population in Louth would be too much for a three-seat constituency, that it would be in breach of the Constitution, and that it would be a monstrous injustice to the people of Louth to require them to continue to elect only three Deputies for this huge county. Consequently the situation must be dealt with either by transferring 6,435 people to Meath and Louth remaining a three-seat constituency, or by transferring at least 6,597 people from Meath and Louth becoming a four-seat constituency. It is anyone's guess which might happen. As Senators know, I would be only too anxious to facilitate Deputy James Tully and it is quite likely that we might adopt the solution which appeals so much to Deputy Tully. Those are some of the alternatives for County Louth if the Opposition's attempt to hang on to the present situation is successful.

Some other impatient Senator foresaw the situation in the constituency and/or county of Meath, because they do not coincide. The population of the county of Meath is 67,323 and the population of the constituency of Meath is 60,830. This means that there are 6,493 County Meath people attached to the constituency of Kildare-Westmeath. The maximum population allowed for a three-seat constituency is 63,084. The minimum population is 57,084. So the present constituency of Meath is one of the 14 constituencies that at present comply with the requirements of the Constitution. But that, as I think some Senators may already suspect, does not mean that the present constituency of Meath can remain untouched.

Senators may remember that a situation arises in Louth which requires adjustment. I do not think it would be desirable to adjust it, say, by transferring the population of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, to County Louth. The more likely way is by adjustment with County Meath. If it is to be dealt with in Deputy James Tully's suggested way, there must be at least 6,597 people from Meath transferred to Louth—and that, of course, would mean that the constituency of Meath would have to be topped up from somewhere else and the most reasonable way to do that would appear to me to be to return the population of County Meath, at present attached to County Kildare, or some portion of it and, in fact, the County Meath situation could be dealt with in that way. But that would raise complications in Kildare and complications in Longford-Westmeath.

It could be that the County Meath situation, unnecessarily arising because of the situation in Cavan and Monaghan and percolating down through County Louth, might more appropriately be dealt with by adjustment with part of the North County Dublin which should be an area that might concern my colleague, Senator Rooney. One of the possible solutions would then involve adjustment for the North County Dublin and the vacancy created in County Meath by the departure of Deputy James Tully to the constituency of Louth might well be competed for by Senator Rooney or, as Senator FitzGerald says, possibly by my gracious senior colleague, Deputy P.J. Burke but somehow or other I do not think so. I think my association with Deputy Burke will continue for a longer period. Except, of course, that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution will probably make us neighbours rather than cohabitants of a constituency.

That, then, is briefly the County Meath situation—unless anybody wants it to be dealt with in greater detail, we shall not go into it any further but, as I pointed out, possibly the most likely solution of the Meath problem would involve a return of the population of Meath that is at present attached to the constituency of Kildare. It is not definite because, as I said, the further you get away from the source of all this trouble, the more alternative solutions there are available. However, it must be quite clear that it is quite on the cards that the constituency of Kildare may have to be reduced by the return of the 6,493 Meath people attached to it.

By the way, with each succeeding county, I hope Senators will notice that we are adding to the number of counties whose borders will have to be breached. I think if Senators would count back over them, they will see that we must have already approximately double the total that the eminent professors, Senators FitzGerald and Dooge——

You really need a computer.

These are all based on actual figures and on a more liberal interpretation of the Constitution than Senators opposite are prepared to agree to. I think we have already fairly well dealt with Senator FitzGerald's——

The Minister is carving them up, anyhow.

——unsubstantiated statement that only six counties need to be dealt with in this way. We are going on to the constituency of Kildare or the County of Kildare: it is a matter of choice as to which end we start at. Let us deal with the county because simple souls like Senators FitzGerald and Dooge think you can deal with all of these things in isolation.

There are 66,404 people in County Kildare according to the 1966 Census. The constituency of County Kildare returns four Deputies to the Dáil but obviously the County of Kildare could not do this at 66,000. It would be nearer to the position of a three-seat constituency which has a maximum allowable population of 63,084—and there are 66,404 people in the County of Kildare. Therefore, if you were to deal with Kildare on its own, you must either deal with it by adding people to it from somewhere else or by moving people from it to somewhere else.

In the constituency of Kildare, the population is 79,998. According to my estimation, the minimum required for four seats is 76,112. So we have arrived at another constituency that is already within the requirements of the Constitution—one of the 14 out of 38. But I think, as already has become apparent, that does not mean that there is no need to chop and change the constituency of Kildare because it appears fairly likely that the people from the County of Meath—who are, in the words of the late Leader of the Labour Party, the "chunk" of County Meath that is attached on to Kildare—will have to return to County Meath: that seems one of the likelihoods. If this happens, then of course the remaining part of the constituency of Kildare would not be sufficient for four seats but it would be too many of three seats so that the constituency of Kildare would have to be adjusted in some way.

Because another complication arises from the fact that Longford-Westmeath no longer has the population to justify the retention of its present four Deputies, it seems likely that the population of Westmeath—the chunk of Westmeath—attached to Kildare would also have to be returned or at least a substantial part of it. So, either the county of Kildare or the county of Kildare plus a small part of County Westmeath would have to be dealt with in some way by adjustment with some other county and it appears to be likely, once again, that possibly the most likely constituency with which it would be adjusted would be my own constituency of County Dublin again and that one of the results of dealing with the situation in Meath and Kildare— which, of course, are interdependent— might be that a substantial part of North County Dublin would be in County Meath or else a substantial part of County Meath in North County Dublin and a substantial part of South County Dublin in County Kildare. It could easily happen that both my present Fine Gael colleagues in the representation of County Dublin and my former Fine Gael colleague in the representation of County Dublin might both find themselves residing in other constituencies if this butchering is insisted on. So, Kildare is another county and it seems another constituency that would have to be butchered.


There are many other ways in which Kildare could be dealt with. It seems likely that the situation in either Kildare or Meath, or both, will also involve breaching of the sacred boundary of County Dublin.

Another way in which the Kildare problem could be dealt with if the portions of Meath and Westmeath at present attached to it were returned would be that Kildare and Carlow could be joined as before to form a five-seat constituency. The numbers in fact would facilitate that because the population of County Carlow is 33,593 and this added to the population of County Kildare would make the joint constituency just right to form a five-seat constituency. What arises unnecessarily in County Cavan and County Monaghan may involve the detachment of Carlow from its present alignment to County Kilkenny and a rejoining with County Kildare. The chain reaction therefore may proceed down as far as Carlow and Kilkenny. The constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny is a misnomer because the constituency is Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford. It was necessary on the last occasion to transfer an area which now comprises 4,398 people from County Wexford to the constituency which is formed by Carlow and Kilkenny and which may be required to be disrupted. The requirement to detach these people from County Wexford arose not so much from the position in Carlow-Kilkenny but in County Wexford where these people were held to be deprived of their democratic rights by being allowed to vote for Wexford Deputies. In order to vindicate their democratic rights they had to be required to vote for Carlow and Kilkenny Deputies although they lived in County Wexford.

This solution of the Kildare problem by joining Carlow with Kildare might appear to be quite desirable as Kilkenny has a population that would justify a three-seat constituency of its own. It would no longer require the detachment of some of its people from Wexford. Unfortunately this solution may be too simple, but the County Wexford could absorb all this population and still comply with the requirements of the Constitution for four seats. Therefore, County Wexford need not continue, in the words of the Opposition on the last occasion, to be butchered in this way. The present constituency of Laois-Offaly is barely within the requirements of the Constitution and these two counties, this very workable and manageable constituency, could be left as it is at least until the next census. It does not appear in any way certain that they could continue to remain undisturbed for very much longer than the next census because their combined population is 96,312 and the minimum required for five seats is 95,140. Now we come to the one county which as far as I can see would apparently be likely to escape either an adjustment with an adjoining county or a combination with an adjoining county, and this is County Wicklow. How long it will be before there will have to be a change is another matter.

That leaves only two counties in Leinster still to be dealt with. Portions of them are joined together to form the constituency of Longford-Westmeath. The present population of the constituency is 74,788 and it has a representation of four Deputies. The minimum required for four Deputies is 76,112 so that that constituency will require an adjustment which will probably be done by returning either all or part of the Westmeath people who are attached to County Kildare.

I am leaving out Dublin, where obviously the situation will have to be dealt with from scratch. It would not be practicable to deal with the situation in Dublin by additions and subtractions from existing constituencies since it will be affected by the solution of the Meath and Kildare problems. That brings us to the Province of Munster. In Munster the most obvious place to start with would be with the Limerick-Kerry area. The present population of County Kerry is 112,785 and as Senators know there are six Deputies for County Kerry and the minimum population required for six seats is 114,168. Therefore Kerry, unless the Constitution is amended as we propose, cannot be dealt with by adjustment within the county boundaries. It seems to me obvious therefore that this must be dealt with either by an adjustment with County Limerick or County Cork. The existence of a mountain range between Cork and Kerry is of no importance because this is purely a question of figures and I suppose to people like Senator FitzGerald it might even be dealt with by an adjustment with County Clare. The fact that the Shannon intervenes, and the mouth of the Shannon at that, would not be relevant either. County Kerry requires either to be reduced to a five-seat constituency with a substantial transfer of population to some other county or else to be adjusted by the transfer of population from either Limerick or Cork to Kerry.

Another county that must be breached in accordance with the present position and another county that adds to the refutation of what Senator FitzGerald alleged was the position, is Limerick. The population of the county including the county borough is 137,357 and in that county there are seven seats, a three-seat constituency and a four-seat constituency. The minimum population required for seven seats is 133,196. Obviously, then, the county of Limerick could afford to have transferred from it sufficient population to justify the retention of six seats in Kerry, but this is a matter that will require some considerable consideration in order to discover whether the situation in Kerry would be more properly dealt with in that way or by way of adjustment with the county of Cork. Obviously, if the Kerry situation has to be dealt with in that way, then Limerick is another county which will have to be breached. At what gain for democracy? The total number of Deputies in the total area of Limerick and Kerry will still be 13. It is true that, if we do not require some people in Limerick to vote for Deputies in Kerry, then we will have a marginally greater number of people represented by each Limerick Deputy than we would have represented by each Kerry Deputy and this, apparently, would be inflicting a monstrous injustice on the people of Limerick and an undemocratic advantage on the people of Kerry. We would have to rectify that by requiring some of them to be, at least until the next census, in the constituency of Kerry.

This all arises out of the fact that the population of County Kerry is marginally below the minimum that would be required for six seats on the basis of the present interpretation of the requirements in the Constitution. If Senators would look at the number of voters in County Kerry, they will find there were in 1967-68 70,087 and, if the county of Kerry were to retain its present representation of six Deputies, this would, in fact, give almost exactly the national average of voters per Deputy. The minimum voters in accordance with the same maximum divergence of five per cent required for six seats is 67,824. There are 70,087 voters in the county of Kerry so that no democratic principle, however theoretical, requires this butchery to be done and the only thing that requires it to be done is the insistence of the Opposition Parties—Fine Gael, Labour and the rugged Independents — that this situation requiring such injustice should continue. As I have pointed out, the total number there would still be 13 Deputies, seven representing Limerick and six representing Kerry, but some Limerick people would have their democratic rights vindicated by being required to vote for Kerry instead of Limerick Deputies. That, no doubt, is an exercise well worth all the effort and expense the Opposition Parties will put into trying to maintain this position.

As I said, that is only one of the possible solutions to the Kerry problem. It could also be dealt with by adjustment with the county of Cork and we can well imagine the election cars travelling up and down the Healy Pass transporting the voters from Cork into Kerry to vote. In dealing then with the situation in the county and borough of Cork, which is a fairly complicated one, obviously we must, first of all, make some assumptions with regard to how the Kerry situation will be dealt with. We have also to make some assumptions with regard to Waterford and that involves assumptions also in regard to Tipperary. If it is possible, and if this is considered the most desirable way of dealing with it, to leave the county of Cork completely within its own boundaries, then the total representation of Cork could remain as it is; but the constituencies, of course, could not remain as they are. Constituencies would have to be adjusted, one with the other, and there are many ways in which this could be done. As I have said, the figures are published in the Official Report and I will leave Senators to work out the many different permutations and combinations that could be made in the county of Cork, either dealing with it on its own or making some assumptions with regard to adjustments with the bordering counties. No doubt, in doing that, they will avail themselves of the generous offer by Senator "Rugged Independent" Quinlan of the assistance of the toy computer.


We come now to the county of Tipperary, or the two counties of Tipperary. What we outsiders generally look upon as the county of Tipperary is, of course, divided into two separate counties. Not being a Tipperaryman myself, I do not consider the border between the North Riding and the South Riding as of any great significance. Possibly the people who reside in the county do. In any event that boundary has already been breached. It is equally obvious from the figures that a further adjustment will have to take place. I would not consider that of any great significance myself. Looking at it from the point of view of someone outside the county of Tipperary, there the total population is 122,812. It would be possible, if the county could be considered in isolation, to deal with the representation of the county within the confines of its own boundaries by allocating six seats. This would result in there being a marginally greater number of people than the national average per Deputy in the two three-seat constituencies or the six single-seat constituencies, whichever it would be. But it would be possible to do it within my interpretation of present constitutional requirements.

This would involve the return to the county of Waterford of the present substantial number of Waterford people who vote in County Tipperary, who were transferred there in 1961, much to the dissatisfaction of every public representative in County Waterford and in, I think, County Tipperary also. If Tipperary is dealt with in this way, we will then be left, if the constituencies are revised by the return of the population of Waterford, with a problem in Waterford similar to the problem that had to be solved on the last occasion there.

The population of County Waterford including the county borough, is 73,080 and at present the constituency of Waterford returns three Deputies to the Dáil. The maximum population allowable for a three-seat constituency, in accordance with my interpretation of the Constitution, is 63,084. If the population at present attached to Tipperary, although it is separated from Tipperary by the Comeragh Mountains, is returned to Waterford, then Waterford must be adjusted in some way with some other county, either by transferring at least approximately 10,000 people out of Waterford or by transferring at least something over 3,000 people to Waterford. It could be dealt with in conjunction with Wexford or Kilkenny, or, again, with County Cork, but I understand there were a number of objections when Waterford was adjusted with Cork before. It was considered a monstrous injustice to require the people in the adjoining part of Cork to vote in County Waterford instead of in County Cork, whereas now the Opposition contend this would be a vindication of their democratic rights, but if the Opposition's attempt to hang on to the present position which they so roundly condemned in 1961 is successful, the likelihood is that the only way in which the situation in Waterford can be dealt with—the least unsatisfactory way in which it can be dealt with—would be either by requiring part of the population of Waterford to vote in some County Cork constituency or by transferring part of the people of East Cork to a County Waterford constituency, which would then return four Deputies.

Unlike Senator FitzGerald, giving the Seanad some sketchy information with regard to what is likely to happen, I have given the figures and the figures that are relevant, according to Senator FitzGerald. I have based it on a more liberal interpretation of the decision of the High Court than the Opposition are prepared to concede. I have shown that, even on this liberal interpretation of the Constitution, practically every county in Ireland must have its boundaries breached, practically every constituency in Ireland must be disrupted. I think every single one, except the constituency of Wicklow, must be disrupted in some way and the question that arises is whether or not the proposal we are putting before the people to avoid that is a desirable one or not, whether it is democratically necessary and otherwise desirable that this continual chopping and changing and shuffling around of people from county to county, province to province, constituency to constituency is something that is desirable or whether it is not.

That is the question that we intend to ask the people and we intend that the people will know exactly what is involved and, unfortunately, much as I would like to facilitate my colleague, Senator Rooney, I cannot agree to wait until after the referendum for the people to find out what would happen.

We know the answer.

I appreciate very much indeed that this would suit Senator Rooney and the Fine Gael Party and the rugged Independents but——

You are only waiting for a chance to gerrymander.

The answer is "No".

——I am not prepared to co-operate. We will make every effort, and we think we will be successful, to let the people know exactly what is involved in this whole proposal of the Opposition's to retain the present completely unjustifiable position.

We are asking that there should be granted a maximum scope of one-sixth divergence from the national average, in certain specified circumstances only, to avoid this type of butchery, this type of injustice, and the Opposition seem to think that this is something terrible, this is a substantial departure from democratic principles. In fact, compared with the situation in other countries, what we are asking for is a very small permitted divergence indeed. I think I should, first of all, indicate exactly what the position is in the neighbouring country of Great Britain or the United Kingdom or whatever you like to call it and in order to show that a much greater divergence from the national average is allowable there, it is not necessary to compare, say, extremely rural and depopulated constituencies with highly urbanised and built-up constituencies because, if we compare only London boroughs with London boroughs, we find that the lowest electorate is 33,811 in Bermondsey and the highest is 69,870 in Putney (Wandsworth), which gives an excess of 207 per cent of the most populous constituency there over the least populous, the divergence from the national average being in one case 40 per cent below the national average and in the other case 23 per cent above it. If we compare other English boroughs outside of London we find that in Portsmouth-Langstone—the electorate is 96,166 and in Birmingham-Ladywood—the electorate is 25,294, which gives an excess of 380 per cent as between one and the other; and in English counties—Billericay-Essex— the electorate is 102,198 as against Leominster in Hereford, where the electorate is 38,880, which is an excess of one over the other of 363 per cent. With regard to Welsh boroughs, the Newport electorate exceeds that of the Rhondda West by 218 per cent. In regard to Welsh counties, Monmouth exceeds Merionethshire by 253 per cent. In regard to Scottish boroughs, Glasgow-Cathcart — exceeds Kelkingrove by 271 per cent and in Scottish counties, Dumbartonshire exceeds Western Isles by 340 per cent.

Does the Minister approve of that?

The question of whether I approve of that or not does not arise. I have sufficient to do to deal with the 38 constituencies in the 26 Counties here. I am only saying that what we are asking shall be done, for the purpose, and the only purpose, of avoiding injustice, is very modest compared with the position in this adjoining country. So that, the most populous constituency is 80 per cent above the national average and the least populous is 60 per cent below the national average, meaning that the range is that the most populous constituency is 450 per cent more than the least populous one.

For a time in Great Britain a maximum tolerance of plus or minus 25 per cent was fixed and this applied for some years but it was abandoned as being too restrictive and I have given the present position.

In Austria, a divergence exists of 20 per cent above or below the national average; in West Germany 33? above or below; in Canada, 25 per cent above or below the national average and in France there are cases where it is 60 per cent below and 46 per cent above the national average. If this proposal of ours is undemocratic, it is certainly similar to but much more modest than the position in many other countries.

We are proposing certain reasons— that this divergence can only be exercised for certain clearly specified reasons—namely, to avoid if possible the breaching of county boundaries, and to take account of the extent and the accessibility of constituencies; and it is interesting to note what is the position in England and Wales in this respect. There constituencies must be decided in accordance with certain rules, and part of the rules contain the following: One, No county or any part thereof shall be included in a constituency which includes the whole or any part of any other county or the whole or part of a county borough or a metropolitan borough; two, No county borough or any part thereof shall include in a constituency the whole or any part of any other county borough or metropolitan borough; three, No metropolitan borough or any part thereof shall be included in a constituency which includes the whole or any part of any other metropolitan borough; and four, No county district shall be included partly in one constituency and partly in another constituency.

I shall now get down to one of the two diametrically opposed positions which the rugged Independent from Cork University advises. All we want to do is that, subject to a maximum divergence of one-sixth above or below the national average, every attempt should be made to avoid the breach of county boundaries, as against what happens in another country which is looked on as a democracy and which expressly prohibits any county or any part thereof being included in any constituency which includes the whole or part of any other county or the whole or part of a county borough or a metropolitan borough——

Return Blackrock to Cork, then.

That is one of the likely eventualities.

You would lose another seat.

No, no. Do not forget we have four seats there. I will be dealing with that. Senator FitzGerald dealt at length with it and I will prove to Senator FitzGerald that we will retain the four seats we have in Cork. I have not dealt with Cork in any great detail because I had a kind of an inkling—a kind of feeling was penetrating through me—that Senators were getting slightly tired.

Not at all.

Now I find that the rugged Independent from Cork is greatly offended because I did not go in detail into the many possibilities of what might happen in Cork, and one of those undoubtedly is that on this occasion the butchery of the Cork borough that was imposed on it by the decision of the High Court, which was extracted by the manoeuvring of Fine Gael, might be avoided on this occasion and that in the necessary adjustment of the constituencies in Cork, having first of all necessarily dealt with the surrounding counties, that part of the solution may be that the integrity of the Cork borough boundary might be respected on this occasion.

The rugged Independent from Cork apparently sees that as the most desirable exercise. The breaching of the Donegal county boundary, the disappearance from the map of Leitrim and the breaching of the county boundaries of Louth, Kildare, Meath and of every county west of the Shannon are of no importance to him so long as the Cork borough boundary is respected. It strikes me that Senator Quinlan wants to salve his conscience for his decision to oppose this proposal to amend the Constitution, based on his uniform approach to everything proposed by Fianna Fáil. Apparently, if he is assured that the county borough boundary of Cork would not be breached, that would salve his conscience.

The city boundary.

I should like to think of Senator Quinlan sleeping easily when he gets home some time tonight, or possibly some time in the early hours of the morning or possibly some time during the weekend, I suppose. I cannot say for certain, but it is quite likely that even if Senator Quinlan has his way and the people refuse to make this amendment of the Constitution, which was demanded by all shades of opinion in 1961, that the integrity of the Cork county borough boundary will not be breached. It is a boundary which has not been very long in existence. I seem to remember a rugged Independent of our own Party putting up a considerable fight in regard to the establishment of the same boundary and I do not think it enjoys such complete acceptance in its own area as do the boundaries of long established counties like Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and so on, though they were established by the infamous King John, Senator Dooge told us, and the boundary of Cork borough was established by the much more infamous Fianna Fáil Government.

I have shown that it is extremely doubtful if any county except Wicklow can retain its integrity unless this amendment is made. One of the things of which I was accused was that I pointed out in my opening remarks that the overall effect of the operation of this proposal for a maximum permitted divergence of one-sixth above or below the national average—I emphasise that this is the maximum permissible divergence—would be roughly to equate the value of a rural vote in general with an urban vote in general.

I do not, of course, suggest for a moment that every rural vote would form the exact same fraction of the number of votes per Deputy as each urban vote, nor indeed would it be possible to equate the value of each rural vote with each urban vote in this way. It would not be possible to do it even if we wanted to. Neither would it be possible to ensure that each urban vote is equated with each other urban vote and it is not correct to say that I implied that the percentage of the people of voting age in the total population was uniformly low in all urban areas and uniformly high in all rural areas. It is a fact, however, that in general the pattern is one of a higher proportion of adults in rural areas, though there are some rural areas with a high average percentage of people of less than 21 years of age and some urban areas with a high percentage average of people of more than 21 years of age.

I said that in general in built-up areas the pattern is one of a higher proportion of people of less than voting age than in rural areas in general, and that statement will stand up to examination. I did not say, either, that the objective of this proposal was to ensure that each vote would be of exactly the same effect in electing a Deputy in every part of the country, but the overall position, if you take the two most obviously highly populated and built-up areas, the Dublin area and the Cork city area—Dublin, including the county, the county borough and the borough of Dún Laoghaire—and if you look at that area as a whole and the rest of Ireland as a whole, the position is that in the Dublin and Cork area the proportion of electors to population is 56 per cent and in the rest of the country the percentage of population comprised by the electorate is 61 per cent. If a revision of constituencies on the proposed basis of strict parity of population per Deputy is to be made then the result will be that as compared with a vote in these more densely populated areas a vote in the rest of the country in general will be 9 per cent less effective. It is a fact which cannot be controverted that in the present constituency of Dublin North West the percentage of voters in the total population is 50.96 per cent and in the present constituency of Donegal South West the corresponding percentage is 67.74 per cent.

If the constituencies are revised, as Senators opposite want them to be revised, then it will take 10,206 voters to elect a Deputy in the Dublin area and 13,567 voters in the Donegal area. This is the situation that Senators opposite are so desperately trying to cling to. They want to ensure that the present situation, which requires 13,567 voters in Donegal to elect a Deputy and requires in the Dublin North West area only 10,206, will continue. The only justification I heard put forward for this was that it was quite right that voting power should be decided in accordance with the size of the family. Much more than the size of the family comes into this. As I pointed out to Senators already, the total population is the population resident in the area on a particular night, and it does not matter whether they are babies in maternity hospitals whose parents may reside anywhere, patients in regional hospitals, students at colleges, aliens in hotels, or residents, such as Senators having to stay overnight because of the fact that they took longer than they expected to do their business.

All these factors contribute to increasing the effect of each vote in the particular area in which they happen to be on the particular night. Even if we accept this theory—we have already discovered the FitzGerald theory and I do not know who put forward this one —but even if we accept this proposition that votes should be weighted in accordance with the family responsibility of the voter then surely this should be done on a personal basis, and why should people who have no family in the built-up areas have this differential attached to their votes as well as the fathers and mothers of families. If it were possible to carry out an investigation of family responsibility for voters in the country there might be something to be said for this, but I cannot see why single people—and there are such in Dublin as well as in rural parts of Ireland—should have their votes increased as well as the fathers and mothers of families, or why people in religious institutions, who have not got families—and a lot of them do not vote at all—and there are a number of them in built-up areas— should have their votes increased for this purpose. This proposition is an unjustifiable one and, in any case, I do not see that it is really democratically necessary to try to ensure it.

As I pointed out, what the Senators opposite want to insist on is that this type of disparity in representation should continue: that it is right and just that it should take 13,567 people in Donegal South West to elect a Deputy and only 10,206 in Dublin North West; that it is right that it should take 33 per cent more in the widely scattered rural area of Donegal than in the comparatively compact and reasonably manageable area of Dublin North West. I was born and reared in Dublin city and I think it is easier to get around a Dublin constituency than it is, for instance, to get around the constituency which Deputy Harte wants for himself—the whole of Donegal, or a constituency of the whole of County Kerry with all the peninsulas and mountain ranges that that would involve.

I know Deputy Ryan's contention, for instance, about Dublin city. I was not impressed with his description of the trials and tribulations of a city Deputy in having to cover the vast expanse between Rathmines and Kimmage in a constituency in Dublin South West. Deputy Ryan is so obsessed with his difficulties in that area that he is on record as maintaining that it was a much more arduous operation to cover the whole of that constituency than the whole of such a simple constituency as Donegal or Kerry or the joint counties of Laois/ Offaly.

This proposed divergence is a maximum divergence and can only operate for certain clearly specified reasons. It seems obvious, therefore, that even if any Minister or any Commission wanted to operate the maximum divergence for the benefit of rural areas in general it would not be permissible and it would be possible to have such a revision of constituencies declared unconstitutional by the High Court. If such a revision of constituencies were ever made, I am sure that these people of Fine Gael in the Seanad and the Dáil Deputies who specialise in constitutional wrangling would not be too slow in ensuring that this matter was one to be decided on by the competent legal authorities.

Any Senator who wants to approach this in an objective way will see that it could only be in a few cases that this maximum divergence of one-sixth above or below the national average could operate. It is quite likely that there will be some rural areas as well as some urban areas in which the population per Deputy will be somewhat over the national average rather than somewhat under it. This would obviously require to be done in order to avoid a breach of county boundaries. It is a fact that despite the drift from the land, the total urban population is still considerably below the total rural population. I am talking of the total urban population in terms of urban areas that would be of sufficient size to constitute constituencies on their own. The total rural population is still greater than the total urban population. That being so, if the maximum divergence of one-sixth below the national average were to be operated in relation to the total rural population, then in order that the overall result would be the national average to be complied with, the divergence in urban areas would have to be more than one-sixth greater than the national average per Deputy. Of course this would not be permissible. Even assuming that all the evil intentions that are ascribed to myself and the Fianna Fáil Government were true, and even if it were not a matter that could be referred to the High Court, it would not be possible to operate the maximum divergence of one-sixth in all areas in a uniform way.

The position in fact is obvious. There will be a few cases in rural areas in which the population per Deputy will be something approaching one-sixth below the national average, there will be some in which it will approximate to the national average, there will be some in which the proportion per Deputy will vary between five-sixths of the national average and the national average, and there will be probably some in which it will be marginally above the national average. Clearly it is doubtful if the overall result will be even to nullify the nine per cent by which the electorate per Deputy in rural areas would exceed the corresponding number in built-up areas in Dublin and Cork, in accordance with the present constitutional requirements.

Certainly there is no likelihood of the overall rural vote being more effective than the overall urban vote. It is not claimed that the number of voters per Deputy will be exactly the same in each constituency. Of course, this could not be achieved, if it is, at the same time, desired to avoid breaching county boundaries, which is one of the requirements we are proposing to carry into the Constitution. Apparently there is an idea here that the most important thing is to ensure that it takes exactly the same number of votes to elect every Deputy. If so this position will be more nearly attained under the proposed amendment than under the present requirements. This is absolutely clear and incontrovertible. If constituencies were to be delineated on the basis of an accurate analysis of the register of voters and on a strict equality of voters per Deputy, then this could be achieved for that one year but it is questionable whether this is democratically necessary. Certainly neither I nor anyone else on this side of the House has suggested that this was necessary or that this was the purpose of the Bill.

I do not think, for example, that it is necessary that the people of Louth and the people of Monaghan should be interchanged, as they have been, in order to vindicate their democratic rights or that the people of Waterford should have to be shifted in and out of County Tipperary in this way. The fact is the change we propose will clearly in general do no more than make the average rural vote equally as effective as the average urban vote to elect a Deputy. I quite freely admit that this was not the actual objective, that the reason for the proposal was to accede to the demand from all sections of the House that there should be reasonable scope to avoid the anomaly and injustice of breaching county boundaries, which had to occur on the last occasion in 1961, and would have to occur on such a much wider scale now, if this change is not made.

In order to oppose this, the Opposition allege that this would favour rural votes as against urban votes. In fact, an investigation shows this to be wrong. As I pointed out, I have been asked why I did not propose merely to base representation on the Register of Electors instead of on census. I have already dealt with this, though I admit not at great detail, in my opening statement. I pointed out that while this would ensure that the present weighting of the urban vote in general as against the rural vote in general would be eliminated, it would still not get over the real injustice of this frequent chopping and changing and breaching of administrative boundaries. A certain amount of permitted deviation would still be required if this were to be done. In fact, the percentage deviation required in a constituency revision based on the electorate rather than the population would be roughly the same in some individual constituencies.

Of course, if constituencies were to be based on the number of votes and a divergent percentage to be specified, then it could much more truly be argued that the result would be to give added weight to the votes in certain areas. There are a number of practical reasons why it is preferable to use the census figures of population as a basis, provided always that there is reasonable scope permitted. For one thing, representation has been based on the census figures since the foundation of the State and it worked reasonably well, while the phrase "as far as it is practical" was interpreted as intended by the people who inserted it into the Constitution. The dissatisfaction which has arisen as a result of the High Court decision will be substantially cured by the present proposal. Apart from that, it is so easy to confuse the Opposition that to propose a change from population to voters in addition to the other changes would probably make their confusion absolute. As Senators know, that is the last thing we desire.

We have done everything possible to unconfuse the minds of the Opposition, not very successfully I must admit, but we did everything we could. We separated the proposal into two different proposals. We put them back again for Second Reading. We separated them again for Committee and other Stages of the Bill. The more we did, the more confused the Opposition got. Apart from that, the fact is that the compilation of the census figures is undertaken on a national scale, organised on a national basis and carried out by experts and they are generally accepted as having a high degree of accuracy and a uniform degree of accuracy over the country as a whole.

On the other hand, anybody who has any practical experience of political activity—I know that that does not apply to a lot of the more academic Members of the Opposition here in this House—will know that the accuracy of the register is constantly being criticised and that in fact the figures of electorate based on registers compiled as at present would not have the same degree of confidence as figures derived from a census. The register of course has to be prepared annually. The electorate figures derived from the register of voters then would not have the same degree of finality and if a register, even a year or two years after the register on which constituencies were based disclosed a significant change, then we would inevitably have pressures for even more frequent revision of constituencies than under the present system. The fact that the register has to be compiled every year does not, I think, justify the same expense as is inevitably incurred in the compilation of the census, which is only once every five years. Therefore, I think the proposition we are making of continuing the basis of revision or the delineation of constituencies fundamentally on census figures, but allowing a very small amount of scope in order to avoid injustices, seems to be a reasonable one.

One of the most amusing things I heard so far was Senator Garret FitzGerald purporting to commit, as he described it, "his" Party to supporting an amendment. I take that with a grain of salt because not even the Leader of the Fine Gael Party can speak about the mind of the Fine Gael Party, and although there is, I suppose, a fairly widespread opinion that the real leadership and control of the Fine Gael Party rests in this House rather than in the Dáil still the titular Leader of the Party is in the Dáil, and I do not think it would be reasonable to expect me to accept an undertaking from a Member of this House, even one of the eminence of Senator FitzGerald, to the effect that his Party would support such an amendment. No such amendment was suggested by his Party in the Dáil and it strikes me that his suggestion that this amendment should be made here now is merely made in pursuance of the campaign that the Opposition Parties have been carrying out for some time to delay this question going before the people.

The sooner the better.

The allegation has been made that the whole purpose of this Bill is to facilitate the vicious desire of the Fianna Fáil Party to gerrymander constituencies. At the beginning of my reply to this debate, I gave some quotations to show how strenuously the Opposition spokesmen objected to what had to happen in 1961. I admit that their objections to the constitutional position that requires that type of thing were interspersed with abuse and allegations of gerrymandering; in other words, that their acceptance of the position that it was necessary to detach portions of counties and attach them to other counties was interspersed with allegations that the portions of counties that were selected for this were selected on the basis of gerrymandering.

In this context also perhaps it would be relevant to point out that the revision of constituencies that was made two years prior to that, in 1959, was unanimously accepted and that that revision of constituencies was done in accordance with the principle that we are asking the people to establish now, but there were no allegations of gerrymandering then. It was only when the present position was established by the Fine Gael manoeuvre in the High Court that these allegations of gerrymandering were made.

Personally I do not think it is possible to gerrymander here. I would be of the same opinion in this respect as Senator Dooge, that is, that there are not these strong traditional and unshakable allegiance of certain parts of the country to certain political Parties and that information as to the voting strength not only at past elections but at future elections is not available to any political Party. However, even let us assume that Senator Dooge and I are wrong, that this information is available and that it is available in sufficient detail for an unscrupulous Minister such as myself to select the portions of constituencies favourable to his own Party and thereby leave, of course, the portions that are unfavourable in another constituency; let us suppose this is possible —I do not think it is but let us suppose for the sake of argument that it is—in which set of circumstances is the possession of this information more likely to be usable for the purpose of benefiting the Party to which the Minister of the time happens to belong, the present circumstances which are similar to those that existed in 1961 and which produced allegations of gerrymandering or the circumstances that we propose should exist from now on which are the same as the circumstances that it was assumed existed in 1959 when the revision of constituencies was found to be unobjectionable to all Parties?

Not to everyone in this House.

Certainly not.

To all the people who were engaged in the practical contesting of elections.

Two Members of the Labour Party voted against the Second Stage in this House and one Member of the Fine Gael Party.

I agree, and I assure Senator Sheehy Skeffington that I only said "accepted by the two Houses of the Oireachtas" for the purpose of brevity. In fact, I accept that there were four Members of the Seanad who did not agree with the 1959 revision of constituencies, but having read through what they had to say about it, I interpreted their opposition as being opposition on the ground that the Constitution did not permit scope in regard to the number of population per Deputy for the purpose of avoiding breaches of county boundaries rather than on the ground that the avoidance of doing these things constituted gerrymandering.

The allegations of gerrymandering were on the basis of the present position and we are proposing to revert to the position that existed from 1922 to 1959. I think anybody who would approach this objectively would agree that if it is possible to gerrymander in this country, if the information is available and if the people in different parts of the country are, as the Opposition want us to believe, ignorant people who vote according to tradition and who make no assessment of the merits and demerits of the different proposals put before them for the conduct of the country's affairs—if all these things are right—I do not agree that any of them are right but if they are—then I think it is obvious that the present situation is the situation which gives scope for gerrymandering because the present situation requires that where there is not the national average of population per Deputy available within the confines of one county that situation must be "redressed"—I endeavoured to put the word "redressed" in inverted commas as I said it—that situation must be "redressed" by the attaching of part of another county to that county, or by detaching part of that county and adding it to another county.

It is there that the scope for gerrymandering arises. It is there that the selection can be made. It is there, if the Party of the Minister making the revision—which will for all foreseeable time be the Fianna Fáil Party and the Minister for the next revision myself —has information of the manner in which the people in the different townlands voted at the last election and the manner in which they will vote at the next election available, that is the situation in which the Minister can select the townlands to be detached or attached and that gives an unscrupulous Minister, myself in this case, scope for gerrymandering.

Is it proper for the Minister to describe himself as an unscrupulous Minister?

I think I have been described in that way already when I was not here. I do not say I would not have been described in the same way if I had been here. I was told I was described in that way by a distinguished and eminent Member of this House. All this time I am assuming that the information with regard to the past voting patterns of the people— again this is based on Opposition contentions—indicates the way they will vote the next time. I am assuming that the Minister is unscrupulous. All this is based on Opposition contentions. I am also assuming that I will be the Minister, but that is something I know from the results of by-elections. If all this is true, it is clear that it is the present situation, which the Opposition want to hang on to, that makes it possible to gerrymander, because the townlands in rural areas for attachment or detachment can be selected in accordance with the accuracy of the information available or in accordance with the degree of unscrupulousness of the Minister concerned—and I gather from the Opposition that they do not see much to choose from in regard to unscrupulousness as between myself and my predecessor, now the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. But from what I was told, I believe they would think that I am even more unscrupulous.

That is what I gathered. It is in a situation in which I can pick the townlands that I can gerrymander, rather than the situation we are asking the people to establish, where the requirement in the Constitution will be to adhere to county boundaries as far as possible.

I did not draw up the county boundaries. Senator Dooge told us it was King John who did it. We have had many distinguished Members of our Party, but we never had royalty in it. King John was not a member of the Fianna Fáil Party and in drawing up the county boundaries, I do not think he had any reference to the interest of the Fianna Fáil Party. It is clear that the situation we propose is a situation that will certainly make it considerably more difficult to gerrymander the constituencies.

This is another indication that the Opposition's attitude to this Bill is purely and simply based on the one consistent principle that they always adhere to, that is, that this Bill has been proposed by Fianna Fáil and, therefore, although they demanded it only seven years ago, there must be some ulterior or sinister motive behind it and they must oppose it. The arguments they use to oppose it do not matter, so long as they carry out their function as an Opposition and oppose it.

We had complaints here again that we had not got provision for a Constituency Commission in this Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. There was no reference, of course, to the fact that there is provision for a Commission in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill. I do not think it was even adverted to that our original intention was to put our proposals for electoral reform in one question to the people and that they were only subdivided in this way in order to attempt the impossible, that is, to dispel the confusion in the minds of the Opposition.

But we proposed that there should be a Constituency Commission set up in what appears to be the fairest way possible. When, in order to comply with the Opposition's request, it was decided to separate this proposal for electoral reform into two separate proposals, we had to make a decision as to which of these Bills we would insert the provision for a Constituency Commission into. We have not got a computer. We did not feed the relevant facts into a computer, but we exercised our judgment, and we thought, in view of the fact that it could only be in one Bill, the more appropriate Bill would be the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill. After all, what is the purpose of the Third Amendment Bill? It is merely to revert to the situation that existed prior to 1959, a situation which will require only minor adjustments, at 12 yearly intervals, of the existing constituencies.

That being so, and in view of the fact that we are also proposing that it should be a requirement to adhere to county boundaries, if possible, it appeared to us that since the Constituency Commission was only to be in one Bill, it was not so terribly necessary in the Third Amendment Bill. But the Fourth Amendment proposes a completely new system of constituencies. It proposes in the present state of the population 144 new, single-seat constituencies. In other words, it requires a fundamental recasting of the basis of parliamentary representation.

That is obviously a set of circumstances in which it would be desirable that this fundamental review of constituencies should be dealt with by a neutral, or at least an evenly balanced commission. I think the Opposition know that is the position, but again they feel they must object on all possible grounds, whether they are logical or not. We are advising the people to vote "yes" to both of these proposals. Therefore, we on this side of the House are asking the people to provide a Commission to review the constituencies, to ensure it will be written into the Constitution that the constituencies will only be revised by a Constituency Commission evenly balanced. The Opposition are advising the people to vote "no" to both of these proposals. They are advising the people not to accept a commission. What do they want? Is it not obvious that if the people take our advice, they will have a Constituency Commission and, if they take the Opposition's advice, they will not?

I suggested in introducing the Second Stage of the Bill that Senators might ask themselves two questions and, as I might have expected, they refused to do so because they had got their instructions before they came in here. The first question was whether there is, as Deputy J.A. Costello says, a constitutional infirmity that requires to be remedied. I think this debate has clearly established that there is.

It is now 6 o'clock. Does the House wish to adjourn?

Could the Minister give us some idea as to how long he is likely to take so that we could adjourn for tea, if necessary?

There are two Bills.

The agreement was that we should continue until we finished the Second Stage.

We have had so many agreements that have been broken that we do not want to have this one broken.

I do not want to interfere with the time honoured custom of the House.

The decision was to finish.

I think we should adjourn for an hour for tea.

No. The decision was to finish.

The decision was to sit until we finish the Second Stage. That does not prevent us from adjourning for lunch or tea. The Senators opposite may have had their rest and have come back now. The Minister requires a break also.

I do not see any reason for filibustering.

The agreement or the understanding was that we could expect to conclude about 1.30 today.

Who broke that? The professors and their pupils.

If the Minister would cease interrupting me, I want to say that I quite appreciate that the arrangements went a bit wrong this morning——

Last night.

That is not a matter for the Chair. The question is: Does the House wish to adjourn?

We will adjourn.

Question put: "That the sitting be suspended until 7 p.m."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 29; Níl, 18.


  • Ahern, Liam.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brennan, John J.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Cole, John C.
  • Dolan, Séamus.
  • Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
  • Egan, Kieran P.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Thomas P.
  • Honan, Dermot P.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • McGowan, Patrick.
  • Martin, James J.
  • Nash, John Joseph.
  • Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Patrick W.
  • Ryan, William.
  • Sheldon, William A. W.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Yeats, Michael.


  • Carton, Victor.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Crowley, Patrick.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • Fitzgerald, John.
  • McAuliffe, Timothy.
  • McDonald, Charles.
  • McQuillan, Jack.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Mannion, John.
  • Murphy, Dominick F.
  • Ó Conalláin, Dónall.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
  • O'Sullivan, Denis J.
  • Prendergast, Micheál A.
  • Quinlan, Patrick M.
  • Rooney, Éamon.
  • Sheehy Skeffington, Owen L.
Tellers: Tá: Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl: Senators McDonald and Murphy.
Question declared carried.
Business suspended at 6.10 p.m. and resumed at 7.0 p.m.

Before we adjourned I was dealing with the Opposition's complaints to the effect that the provision for the Constituency Commission was in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill rather than the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. I explained just why it was we thought it more appropriate that it should be in the Bill which proposes to make the more fundamental change in the scheme of the constituencies and the electoral system generally.

I suppose it is a good idea for the Government to try so far as it is possible to meet the wishes of the Opposition so far as they can ascertain them. I have already indicated that we find considerable difficulty in ascertaining the views of the Opposition on any subject because they change so frequently. They may have a view on one occasion but they only hold that view in the belief that it is opposite to the view of the Fianna Fáil Party. If at any time they discover that their view happens to coincide with the view of the Fianna Fáil Party, they drop it like a hot cake and adopt a diametrically opposite view. I do not think there was any reason for the Fianna Fáil Government to believe that the Opposition would have any interest in a Constituency Commission either on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill or on the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill because the proposition we put to the people in 1959 was a single proposition. It was no more involved, in my opinion, than the two propositions we are now putting. Although the need for the clarification of the constitutional provision with regard to the phrase "as near as it is practicable" had not actually arisen at that time, still the proposal in the 1959 Bill did provide for making it clear in the Constitution that regard should be had to the exact same things as we are proposing that regard should be had to now. The only difference is that, in 1959, there was no specific limit put on maximum divergence. On that occasion, the Opposition apparently found no great difficulty in understanding this involved proposal.

This time, when the proposals are substantially the same, the Opposition demanded that they be separated. We separated them. Then we had to put this provision for the Constituency Commission into one Bill or the other. We performed that separation of the proposal into two separate proposals to convenience the Opposition in an effort to interpret their mind. What I want to point out is that we had no reason to believe the Opposition would have any interest whatever in the Constituency Commission because the 1959 proposal contained provision for a Constituency Commission and, so far from welcoming that, the Opposition put down an amendment to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958. Of course, it was not voted on until 1959 but it was described as the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958. The Opposition put down an amendment proposing the deletion from that Bill of all provision for a Commission to delineate constituencies.

Now, when we are only providing one commission, instead of two separate commissions, they object. They wanted no commission in 1959. They want two commissions in 1968. How could any Government interpret the wishes of people whose approach is obviously based only on the one principle that, whatever the Government do, whether it is to meet them or not, is wrong? Deputy T. F. O'Higgins proposed this amendment on 21st January, 1959. As reported in volume 172, No. 7, column 946 of the Official Report of Dáil Éireann, this was the opinion he expressed about this whole idea of a Constituency Commission:

We think that this Constituency Commission should not be inserted into the Constitution.

Further on, in the course of the same speech, he said:

... we say in this amendment: "Forget about your Constituency Commission. Let any law revising constituencies be passed here through the Dáil. Let it be supported and defended in the Dáil. Let the Minister who seeks to introduce it take full responsibility for it in this House where he can be challenged in the broad light of day, with the press looking on, and the public entitled to admission." We say that is the responsible course for any Minister or any Government genuinely intending to do the right thing to adopt.

Have no Commission. We are proposing in the Bill to revert to the position that existed before 1961—we are proposing to insert the Commission into the other Bill. However, in view of the attitude expressed by both sections of the Opposition in 1959, I think the only suggestion we could reasonably have expected on this occasion—it is only nine years later and, according to the Opposition, it is unreasonable to expect anybody to change his mind in the short space of nine years—from the Opposition would be a suggestion to take the provision for the Constituency Commission out of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill and to do what they suggested in 1959, namely, to let the Minister take responsibility for the delineation of constituencies. If we cannot expect the people, having seen the disadvantage of the proportional representation system, to change their mind, well, how much less should we expect a responsible Opposition, elected public representatives, to change their mind within such a short period.

I can give further quotation from Deputy O'Higgins and from other Deputies on both sides of the Coalition objecting to the idea of a Commission at all and, in particular, of course, objecting to a "lickspittle of a judge", as he was described, being appointed as chairman. I rather gather, however, that some Members of the Opposition are anxious to go home early and I shall therefore confine myself to saying that it was not only——

It is not only the Members of the Opposition who are anxious to go home tonight.

——the Fine Gael section of the Coalition that objected to anybody except the Minister for Local Government in this context. Their partners in Coalition, the Labour Party, also objected. Deputy Corish, who is now the Leader of the Labour Party in Dáil Éireann, had this to say on the amendment:

The reason I favour the amendment is not so much because it retains what is embodied in the Constitution at present, but because I believe it will work and there is a certain amount of elasticity about it ...

Elasticity, mark you.

At least, it gives the power to the Oireachtas to determine what the constituencies will be, what form they will take and what population will be represented in each. I do not think the system it is proposed now to enshrine in the Constitution will work. It is crude. As Deputy Declan Costello described it, it is putting the veneer of respectability on these other two proposals. For that reason, I think the House should reject this part of the Schedule and adopt the amendment proposed by the two Fine Gael Deputies, or something reasonably near it.

If we were to try to adopt the wishes of the Opposition, we would have no Constituency Commission. It was our intention to put the proposal to the people in the same way as in 1959. It was not our intention to confuse the people by asking them to vote on two ballot papers. We proposed to put a Commission into the Bill to amend the Constitution because we thought that was desirable and in view of the fact that we were proposing a complete recasting of the whole scheme of parliamentary representation. As I say, the only objection we could have anticipated was that a Constituency Commission was not desirable at all. Here we find that far from it not being possible for the people to change their minds in the short space of nine years, whereas neither section of the Opposition wanted any Commission in 1959, now they want two separate Commissions to do the same job.

It would not be unreasonable if the Government despaired of ever interpreting the minds of either of the Opposition Parties. The main thread running through the critism of the Third Amendment is that it will give the Government too much discretion. I pointed out already that that was a complete misrepresentation and that it is the present system that gives the Government too much discretion. If the Fourth Amendment is passed, we will have the Commission presided over by a judge. If, on the other hand, the people accept, let us assume, the Third Amendment and not the Fourth, then we will have the position which existed prior to 1959, multi-seat constituencies and the requirements enshrined in the Constitution that so far as possible constituencies will consist of whole counties or a union of whole counties.

Outside of Dublin, of course, some of the larger counties will have to be divided into two constituencies but this does not give very great scope for what the Opposition call gerrymandering. Even they would have to admit that. Within the Dublin area, the constituencies must be very evenly divided in terms of population per Deputy. This is for two reasons. First of all, there will be no factor relating to the extent and accessibility of constituencies that would justify different treatment in regard to the population per Deputy in one area rather than another and any substantial disparity in the Dublin area could certainly be challenged in the courts.

Secondly, assuming that the requirements of the country as a whole would limit Dublin representation to about 36 as against 34 (at which level a Dublin vote would substantially have the same value as a vote in the rest of the country generally), the population per Deputy in the Dublin area will be quite near the maximum permitted, and since the maximum cannot be exceeded in the case of any single constituency this would mean you would have nearly exact numerical parity of population per Deputy in the Dublin area.

I am convinced that irrespective of the views expressed on the opposite side of the House, practically every Deputy and every Senator believes that the proposed Third Amendment is both reasonable and necessary. They have this inherent idea, however, that if it is proposed by Fianna Fáil, there must be some sinister ulterior motive behind it. The Opposition attitude to the Third Amendment is particularly contemptible and is indicative of their inability to judge any issue objectively. This arises from their long history of continued Opposition. In 1961 all sides of the House appeared to believe that what was required by the High Court decision was undesirable and unjust. That appeared to be an almost unanimous opinion. Of course in any suggestion of unanimity it should be assumed that we leave out people like Senator Sheehy Skeffington whom I have never heard agree with anything which was supported by any substantial body of opinion in the country.

I have shown that it was natural for us to assume that the only possible criticism of this proposal would have been that what was proposed was insufficient to deal with this problem either in present or in future circumstances. Instead, we have had this bogus opposition based on the belief that inevitably there is some sinister motive behind anything put forward by Fianna Fáil. We have had a cynical and completely unnecessary and dishonest attempt to divide the people on the basis of the urban population versus the rural population. There is a clear indication in the attitude to this Bill of the decision by both of the Opposition Parties to abandon the people of rural Ireland. Obviously Fine Gael assume that those people in rural Ireland who support them will continue to support them, despite this deliberate attempt to downgrade the value of the rural vote in comparison with the urban vote. It is significant that Deputy J.A. Costello when talking about this rural vote in the Dáil in his most effective sarcastic and contemptuous courtroom manner referred to it as the "cow" vote. It is indicative of the attitude of the Fine Gael Party——

That is a misquotation.

——to rural Ireland and an indication of their contempt for the intelligence of their own supporters in rural Ireland. Apparently they assume that these supporters of theirs, to whom Deputy J.A. Costello refers so contemptuously as the "cow" vote, will be so bovine as to continue voting for Fine Gael even though Fine Gael are obviously, through the medium of Senator FitzGerald, planning the elimination of the rural community, at the same time as they are kicking their own leader, Deputy Liam Cosgrave, in the teeth. Of course, they demonstrated a similar contempt for the intelligence of the urban voters because they apparently believe they can turn the people in the urban areas against the rural backbone of the community. They believe they can induce the people in built-up areas to covet the differential voting power they offer them.

Equality of voting power.

They think they can induce the people of Dublin to covet the increase from the present 34 seats to 38 seats although only 36 seats are justified according to the number of voters. They believe they can succeed in inducing the people to covet this extra representation at the expense of the area from Malin Head in Donegal to Loop Head in Clare, and from Athlone to Belmullet which, at the moment, has 33 seats and which is, even on the basis of the most rigid application of one man, one vote, entitled to 32 seats. But Fine Gael and Labour want to reduce that entire area to 30 seats and they think the people in the urban areas are so biased against the rural areas they will cooperate with the Opposition Parties in this deliberate and scandalous deprivation of the rural community of representation to which they are fully entitled even in accordance with the most rigid interpretation of any democratic principle.

I think I have just as much knowledge of the mentality of the Dublin people as anybody else. I was born and reared among them. I am elected for a Dublin constituency. I do not think that is the approach they will adopt. I think that, even if it did mean a slight excess voting power for the people in that expansive area, they might even consider that the present representation of 34 Deputies in Dublin and 33 in that whole western area would not be unreasonable and they would not, in fact, want anything more than the strict justice which this proposal will give. I do not think they will fall for this attempt by Fine Gael and Labour to turn them against the rural community and covet these two extra seats, seats which Fine Gael want only to try to accommodate the two of the three Deputies O'Higgins, who want to come to Dublin, Deputy O'Donnell, who wants to come to Dublin, Deputy Lindsay, who wants to come to Dublin and people like Senator Garret FitzGerald and Senator O'Quigley, who also want to get Dublin seats, and the whole purpose of the exercise is to try to accommodate all these different ambitions in the Dublin area.

We do not need new seats. We can pick up enough from you people.

The Dublin people are quite satisfied to get their entitlement, and no more, and they will feel that this is a proposition to divide the country into urban population versus rural population, thereby loading the dice against the people in the rural areas by this stratagem of deliberately, through the Constitution, downgrading the value of the rural vote in general. That is the fundamental difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. We have always respected the people's intelligence and we can confidently recommend this proposal to them in both urban and rural areas. We fully expect this legislation to be enacted and accepted both by the people in Dublin and the people in the rest of the country because we believe in the innate sense of fairplay of the Irish people, whether they live in the cities or whether they live in the rural areas. Fine Gael has contempt for their intelligence. That is why they have spent so long in Opposition. That is why they will continue in that position because the people are not the fools they think they are.

Perhaps, now, we might for the time being, at any rate, leave the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill and deal with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill.

The Minister has spoken for only six hours on it.

I know, but I should not like to keep Senator FitzGerald here because he finds it so hard to contain himself.

I am very happy.

The trouble is that, in speaking on the Third Amendment to the Constitution Bill, I so affront Senator FitzGerald's conscience that he resorts to the type of conduct for which he utilised the group of Fine Gael supporters in by-elections all round the country. Here, without this specialist group of meeting disrupters, Senator FitzGerald's conscience is troubled by what he is doing. I am showing him what he is doing and he takes on himself the task of——

I have already denied this allegation in explicit and specific terms and is it in order for the Minister now to continue to repeat it? The allegations were made in the most explicit terms. Is the Minister in order now in repeating them?

The Senator——

Allow the Chair to rule, please.

May I hear the Minister's reply?

I am merely making references to my own personal experience, to something both Senator FitzGerald and I know about.

That is not true.

I am merely referring to the group he had with him, for instance, in Ferrybank in Waterford and in Nicker in Limerick more recently.

I never even heard of the place in Limerick. The allegation is made about me and not about other individuals. The allegation is that I directed their activities in tearing down posters. I have denied that allegation.

The Senator denies it.

I saw the Senator doing it. I experienced it myself. I saw the Senator get these people to come up to try to prevent me speaking in Ferrybank. I was there and it did happen, but it did not succeed.

If the Senator denies the allegation the normal thing is for the denial to be accepted.

If the Rules of Order require me to accept this denial of the evidence of my own experience, then I will have to accept that.

It is an odd way of accepting a ruling.


It is only what one would expect.

There are more people than I who know of the attempt to disrupt the Fianna Fáil meeting in Ferrybank and in County Limerick and another meeting even in the hallowed precincts of University College, Dublin, itself.

Will the Chair allow this to continue?

The Minister, to continue.

If Senator FitzGerald can restrain himself from attempting to do the same thing here, to disrupt my reply to the debate, these matters need not arise. Of course, if he is unable to restrain himself, it might be more orderly and more consistent with the character that he tries to assume if he would remove himself but, of course, he cannot have one attitude here and another——

I do not think it is in order for a Minister to instruct Senators to remove themselves from the Seanad.

It is, I suppose, only natural that one is inclined to act in the same way in different places. Before Senator FitzGerald's attempt to prevent me from doing so I was proposing to say a few words about the other proposal we are putting before the people, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, the proposal to replace the present system of multiple member constituencies and the transferable vote, as it is called, by the system of single-seat constituencies and the straight vote. Here, again, the first thing that comes to my mind is the repeated inquiries from the Opposition benches as to why we were asking the people to do this—tá sé ag imeacht—and this time the question was amplified by the remark, in view of the fact that the people pronounced on this issue nine years ago. So, although this also has been explained to the Opposition on a number of occasions, by the Taoiseach and myself and by other speakers on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, both here and in the other House, still, I suppose, since I am replying to this debate, I had better try once again to explain to the Opposition that we see nothing undemocratic in asking the people to decide the matter and explain also the reasons why we are asking them to make this decision.

First of all, there is the fact that the necessity to try to avoid the injustice to which I have referred on the Third Amendment Bill decided us to have a referendum, to ask the people to amend the Constitution, so that before considering this question of the electoral system, a referendum had, in fact, been decided upon. The question then arose as to what was the question to be put to the people and this inevitably raised the question of the electoral system itself and a decision had to be taken as to whether or not we should ask the people to deal with the electoral system, to give themselves a more rational system of representation and of election.

There were a number of factors that came into consideration. First of all, we have what the Opposition have been referring to as the long counts— I do not think I referred to them as long counts; I referred to them as long recounts—and what these long recounts disclosed. I think they were generally believed by the people to be disedifying. They disclosed the fact that there was this considerable element of chance which, of course, as some Senators have said, is insignificant in certain circumstances but in the circumstances of a close result can be quite a significant factor. In fact, in a close result, it would be just as democratic and just as likely to produce the correct result to toss a coin as to who should be elected as to pick bundles of papers at random for redistribution, as it is called. Even though there was no mixing or re-mixing—of the counterfoils, I was going to say, because it is something like a sweepstake—but of the ballot papers on these recounts, still, it was quite obvious that, even allowing for the factor of fatigue which, the longer the count goes, becomes more important in relation to the ultimate result —even apart from the question of fatigue, it becomes quite obvious that as often as you counted the papers, you got a different result. Of course, that arises from the fact that these papers are taken at random.

The people in general, I think, saw that. They saw that the electoral system, to say the least, was not entirely reliable. Anybody who has been present at an election count realises that the conditions under which the returning officer's staff work are certainly far from ideal. They work under scrutiny the closeness of which varies in accordance with the attitude of the returning officer to the agents of the various candidates, but they work under very difficult conditions. Even in a normal count not involving a recount at all, they work for long hours, longer than normal working hours, and the task they have to perform, they not being computers, is a fatiguing one and one which in itself is conducive to the making of mistakes.

Arising out of that experience, the natural thing would be, instead of imposing these longer-than-normal working hours on the returning officer's staff, that there is a clear indication that in order to be even reasonably convinced of the reliability of the results, their working hours should be shorter than normal and that even a normal count without a recount at all should take days rather than hours to complete.

It would take minutes with a computer.

Let the Senator go home and play with his computer.

You have to feed material into the computer.

Grow up and learn something.

Anybody experienced in election counts who has seen the staff putting ballot papers into pigeonholes in the later stages of a count when one will not know for certain whether it is No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5 is the relevant preference—all depending on the way the vote is cast—will know that there is nothing definite about which figure is the relevant one. When they see these being put into pigeonholes at the same rate as No. 1s, a lot of people are suspicious about the results. That is not taking into account the ridiculous assumption on which the whole process is based, but merely the mechanical operation of distributing these votes according to the ridiculous and unjustifiable rules of the system. Obviously, then, if the count were to be carried out in this more reasonable way, and if we were still to have these long recounts—and it is obvious that we should have had more last time and that we will have more in future, as Senator Quinlan says—in fact, the ballot papers should be thoroughly mixed, not alone the first time, but thoroughly re-mixed the second time, and then we would see the different results.

It would be necessary to instal a replica of the Hospitals Sweepstake drum in every place where a count was taking place in order that the papers should be mixed, first of all, to try to ensure that the random bundle taken for distribution would have a reasonable chance of representing a cross-section of the community's votes rather than that it should, by pure chance, favour one continuing candidate rather than another because it happened to come, in the main, from voters located in one particular part of the constituency. All these things led to a certain feeling among the community in general that the present system of election was not a reliable one, that the results could not be depended on, and though I cannot say that that constituted a demand by the public for a change because I do not know how the public can demand a change, I am saying that it led to something almost approaching an assumption that an effort would be made to provide the people with a more rational and reliable system of electing their public representatives.

In fact, a perusal of the newspapers of the time will indicate that those accurate interpreters of public opinion, the political correspondents of the Opposition newspapers—I would not for the world quote any opinion expressed in the newspaper that is supposed to support the Fianna Fáil Party——

Why not? He is a fair minded political commentator.

You will be expelled for saying that. That is heresy. Senator FitzGerald is undermining his own position as the power behind the scenes, the grey eminence of the Fine Gael Party. I should not like to encourage the Senator to go along those lines, because I am satisfied that so long as Senator FitzGerald continues to draft the political statements of the Fine Gael Party, we are certain to continue in Government, and I would not like him to do anything to undermine his position in the Fine Gael Party.

As I said, there was considerable speculation about the possibility and the likelihood of the people being given an opportunity to provide themselves with a more rational and reliable system of election before the next general election. The Irish Independent of 13th April, 1965, stated this:

One outcome of the confusion and uncertainty could well be a reappraisal of our whole election machinery, and, particularly, of the system of proportional representation.

The Irish Times of 10th April, 1965, stated:

The Proportional Representation system of voting was mentioned critically more than once; it will no doubt come under scrutiny and indeed under fire in the near future.

The Irish Times of 12th April, 1965, stated:

The marathon of Bolton St. and Longford-Westmeath has done more than Mr. de Valera's campaign to focus attention on the system of PR and after the victory of Mr. Lemass, has become the main talking point of the 1965 election. One must expect the anti-PR lobby to become violently active again in the weeks ahead.

The Irish Times of 13th April, 1965, said:

In the new Dáil Mr. Lemass may be pressed by members of his own party to hold another referendum on the PR system. It is known that many Fianna Fáil deputies feel that no Party can expect to have a comfortable working majority in the Dáil under the present system.

I am not saying that even these or the many letters written to the newspapers on this subject constituted a public demand, a demand by the public for a revision of their electoral system, but they were in the Opposition papers and they did have this effect at least, that they induced an SOS from somebody in this country, whether Fine Gael or Labour, to that redoubtable defender of the faithful, Miss Enid Lakeman, and in the issues of the newspapers around that period, there were plentiful letters from Miss Lakeman, faithfully defending the system that her society exist to maintain in this country but, of course, not in her own country.

I do not know who sent out the SOS that the system was in danger again, that the Government were putting forward a new system. I do not know whether it was Fine Gael, Labour, that is, in other words, the Lakeman Party, or whether it was her particular devotee here, Senator Sheehy Skeffington, or whether she saw the danger; presumably the society which the Fine Gael organ described as a British society and a heavily subsidised society saw the danger that the one place in which this system existed —devised, as Deputy Dillon said, by cranks and half lunatics—even here might cease to operate.

We had this defence being put up against a proposition that had not been made. As I say, I do not know whether there was a public demand for the opportunity to establish a more rational electoral system here. I would say there was something amounting to an assumption that the people would be given an opportunity.

Then we had the informal Committee studying the Constitution, of which some of the Members of this House were members. This Committee were set up to study the Constitution, but I do not think their terms of reference directed their attention in any particular way to the electoral system. I know that the proceedings were supposed to be confidential. I know that the people acting on the Committee undertook that the proceedings would be confidential.

In know that throughout all the period of the sittings that neither the Fianna Fáil Party nor the Government received any indication from their members on the Committee as to what was engaging the Committee's attention. I also know that throughout the whole period that this Committee were in session, the accurate interpreters of public opinion, the people who claim to know what is going on, even among a small group of people who have undertaken to keep confidential what they are doing, regularly assumed that a large part of the time of that Committee was concerned with an attempt to agree on an amendment of the Constitution which would get rid of the system of election and representation that had been shown to be so unsuitable in the previous general election.

The single-seat, alternative vote.

In fact, when this Committee did report, it was quite obvious to anybody glancing through the report that the Committee had devoted a considerable amount of time to discussion of the problem. It was obvious that every attempt was made by the Fianna Fáil representatives on that Committee to reach agreement——

On the single-seat, alternative vote.

Yes, to try to reach agreement. The Fianna Fáil members of the Committee, dedicated as they were known to be since 1959 to the principle of the single-seat constituency and the straight vote, in their attempts to reach agreement with the Opposition, apparently put forward the proposition and certainly, according to the report, they were described as discussing only the proposition of the single-seat constituency with the transferable vote.

It was obvious from the report that this Committee did spend a considerable part of their time discussing the electoral system and that there must have been a certain amount of agreement in the Committee, at least, that the public did desire some improved system. In the event, apparently, it was not possible to get agreement. I do not know what measure of agreement was achieved. I do not know whether the Committee, meeting confidentially, were divided on the lines on which every proposition is divided here—that everybody who is not Fianna Fáil is in Opposition—but I did not ask any Fianna Fáil person who was on that Committee to tell me because I know each and every one of them would honour his undertaking to keep what happened there confidential, and I would not ask them to disclose what attitude any individual members of the Opposition took.

I would contrast that with the attitude of the Members of the Opposition who were on the Committee and who purported to convey opinions which they alleged were expressed by individual members representing Fianna Fáil on that Committee. The mere fact that they claim they are telling this brands them immediately as being people whose word cannot be trusted. Therefore, the statements cannot be taken at their face value because the mere fact that they were made at all indicates that these were people whose word is of no concern to them and that, in fact, they are admittedly committing an open breach of faith in putting forward these allegations as to individual attitudes. One thing is clear. Of the Fianna Fáil members who were on that Committee, each and every one of them has publicly supported the proposition which the Government are now putting forward.

Contrary to what they said at the time.

Four of them are on record in the Dáil, and the former Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, who was on the Committee for a short time, has publicly supported the proposals outside the Dáil. As far as I know, he has not spoken in the Dáil since he resigned as Taoiseach. I hope he will contribute to the discussions there in the future. He did make a point of expressing his support of this proposition and making it clear to his constituents and the people of Ireland that on this matter he stood where he stood in 1959. The same applies to Fianna Fáil Senators who were on that Committee. They have made it clear that they favour this proposition. That does not necessarily mean that any of these people were not prepared to reach a compromise at that Committee if it were possible to have agreement. It was not possible because the Opposition are afraid of anything Fianna Fáil agree to.

In regard to the Constitution Committee, there is the fact that this Committee which was set up to consider the constitution in general did spend a lot of their time considering the desirability of changing the electoral system, although a proposal to amend the electoral system had been defeated by the people, not nine years ago at that time, but five or six years previously. The Committee was set up in 1965 or 1966 so it was a maximum of seven years. Arising out of what happened at the 1965 election, this Committee naturally started to consider the possibility of agreeing on a more rational system of election. I do not think that this breach of faith that has been committed in this House and in the other House, started from the word go and that these people started immediately to retail to the political correspondents what happened at meetings of this Committee, but I would believe that the insistence of political correspondents that the Committee were discussing the electoral system arose out of their assessment of what was likely to be discussed and because they knew that the electoral system was crying out for reform and that these people sitting down would pick out that aspect for their first consideration, something approaching an assumption that the people should be given an opportunity of considering a more rational system.

There was the fact also that the people had more experience of PR in general. They have by now seen, in addition to previous examples that were available to them, the virtual impossibility of both Belgium and Italy forming a government at all because of the multiplicity of Parties there, and they appreciate that the system of election we have here was invented in order to ensure representation for minorities, whoever they are, in the Dáil. In view of the fact that it was designed to ensure minority representation, it was obviously also designed to encourage the formation of small sectional Parties and we believe, at any rate, that this extra experience the people have had of PR systems in general, the examples they have had of the danger of indecisive election results and the knowledge they have that the system is designed to produce exactly that type of result will influence the people on this occasion to rid themselves of this system and thereby avoid the dangers the system must inevitably give rise to.

It is true a decision was made on this proposition nine years ago, but in the period since then, a number of new people have come on to the register and some of these who voted for the old system, or were against a replacement of the old system the last time, have gone off the register. As well as that, there was a comparatively low poll and anybody would agree with the estimate that more than 50 per cent of the present electorate have not, in fact, expressed any opinion on this, either because they did not vote the last time or were not of age to vote.

Those were the reasons why we felt the people should be given an opportunity of ridding themselves of the present system. As well as that, there is the fact that at our annual Ard-Fheis a number of units of the organisation had resolutions on the Clár proposing that this be done, proposing that the system of the single-seat constituency should be established here, not mentioning the system of voting. It is natural that the system of voting would not be mentioned because it was widely believed at that time that an effort was being made to get agreement on a system of voting on a single-seat constituency and obviously our Party were prepared to trust the Government to decide on that particular aspect of it.

There was a clear indication given. Senator Ó Maoláin, who was in charge of the actual counting of the votes, and so on, believes it was unanimous. I believe it was, if not unanimous, virtually unanimous and a decision, therefore, by our Party Ard-Fheis recommended to the Government that the people be given this opportunity of providing themselves with the single-seat constituencies. The Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis, I suppose, does not constitute a unanimous public demand, but it constitutes a substantial public demand. I do not know any body in this country that is more representative of a cross section of the people as a whole than the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis. It is comprised of delegates from every parish and half parish in the country. All different types of people representing different interests in the community came to that Ard-Fheis and they either unanimously, or virtually unanimously, recommended that this be done. That was a substantial section of the community making this demand. It was not a unanimous demand or it could not be interpreted as a unanimous demand of the people as a whole, but in so far as the public demand anyway is concerned, I want to say as a member of the Government that I do not know of any more accurate way of interpreting public opinion than taking the opinions of the people of the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis.

The Fine Gael Ard-Fheis.

I do not know of any other way, and it is because we have this system of obtaining the views of the people as a whole that we have interpreted the aspirations of the public in general so well as to retain the confidence of the majority of the people as a whole for so long.

In addition to all those things indicating that an opportunity to change the electoral system was expected, there was our own knowledge of the defects of the system.

In case you did not hear me, a consensus of the opinion of everybody, even the Fine Gael Ard Fheis——

I did not hear you because there were so many other people talking. It is not as representative as the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis. You have an Ard Fheis but how anybody could take a consensus of opinion from a Fine Gael Ard Fheis is a matter which is beyond me. You have an Ard Fheis, and if Senator Carton or anybody else is able to interpret anything from the results of that, that is their business. However, one of the factors indicating to us that an opinion was expected was the decision of the Ard Fheis.

I do not want to stop you. I want you to get on with this and get it finished as soon as possible.

As well as that, there was the fact of our own knowledge of the defects and evils of the present system and our knowledge of dangers inherent in it, and also the many advantages which the proposed system presented. Let me say quite definitely, that as far as I am concerned, the main advantage I see is the establishment of the single-seat constituencies.

On a point of order, I want to quote Standing Order 44 of the Standing Orders of the Seanad which says:

After a question (except a question already debarred from debate, under the Standing Orders) has been proposed from the Chair either in the Seanad or in a Committee of the whole Seanad, a Senator may claim to move: "That the question be now put".

You are now in the Chair and I ask you to put the question: "That the question be now put". The Standing Order further says:

Unless it shall appear to the Cathaoirleach that such a motion is an infringement of the rights of a minority, or that the question has not been adequately discussed, or that the motion is otherwise an abuse of these Standing Orders, the question: "That the question be now put" shall be put.

We have been discussing this Bill now for five days.

You have, but I have not.

You have discussed this at length today.

I only discussed the Third Amendment.


The Standing Orders provide that I am entitled to be heard on this point of order. I suggest that the question be now put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate. Under Standing Order 44, I am asking that the question be now put. The Minister has debated this for seven hours and by doing so, he is abusing the rights of ordinary people here who are not entitled to do this.

How long did it take the legal framers?


Standing Orders preclude me from giving a decision on the point raised, but it is my intention that the Cathaoirleach be asked to decide on the point of order which has been put.

How do the Standing Orders preclude you? You are in the Chair and how do the Standing Orders preclude you from making a decision on the Standing Orders of this House? You are now the Chairman of this House.

Acting Chairman

Standing Order No. 10.

May I have an opportunity of quoting that?

I tried this, but I had not got the book.

I want to read Standing Order No. 10, which is on page 9.


We have listened to those arguments for long enough and the Minister wants to be stupid.

We want to hear the arguments and the Minister is entitled to speak.

It is the only way we have of educating you.

Standing Order No. 10, which you have quoted, says:

During the absence of the Cathaoirleach through illness or other cause, the Leas-Chathaoirleach shall perform the duties devolving upon and exercise the authority conferred upon the Cathaoirleach by these Standing Orders.

There is nothing in that Standing Order which prevents you exercising your authority here.

It says "the Leas-Chathaoirleach".

Surely the Senator who occupies the Chair is either the Cathaoirleach or the Leas-Chathaoirleach?

I do not think he is.

He is acting. Is this a Fine Gael question or a Private Member question?

Unless we are going to be ruled by civil servants, unless we have to listen here to their kind of Civil Service brief, and if we are not to be ruled by Civil Service orders, surely Standing Order No. 10 covers my point?

Acting Chairman

The Senator is not being ruled by Civil Service orders but by the Standing Orders of the House. The Standing Orders confine the decision to the Cathaoirleach or the Leas-Chathaoirleach.

Are you acting as Cathaoirleach or are you acting as Leas-Chathaoirleach? The Leas-Chathaoirleach is away in England and therefore you must be either acting Cathaoirleach or acting Leas-Chathaoirleach. As the Leas-Chathaoirleach is in England, surely you are acting as Leas-Chathaoirleach?

Acting Chairman

As the Leas-Chathaoirleach is in England, I am Deputy Chairman acting as Leas-Chathaoirleach, but I am not entitled so to rule.

Wait a minute until I quote this again. It says:

The Leas-Chathaoirleach shall perform the duties devolving upon and exercise the authority conferred upon the Cathaoirleach by these Standing Orders.

Ring him up in England.

As the Leas-Chathaoirleach is in England and the Cathaoirleach is not here, surely you can rule on this?

Acting Chairman

The Senator is relating what he says to Standing Order No. 44 which applies to closure.

I am not. I am quoting the one you mentioned. You referred me to Standing Order No. 10.

Acting Chairman

Standing Order No. 10 indicates that the powers conferred on the Cathaoirleach by the Standing Orders shall be all the powers conferred on him by these Standing Orders, excepting the powers conferred by Standing Orders 42 and 44.

On my point of Order, Sir, you referred me to Standing Order No. 10.

If you do not want to go home we do.

I now quote Standing Order No. 11:

If both the Cathaoirleach and the Leas-Chathaoirleach be absent from a meeting of the Seanad, so soon as a quorum is present the Clerk shall so notify the Seanad, and, subject to the provisions of Standing Order 4, the Seanad shall at once proceed to elect one of its members to perform the duties devolving upon and exercise the authority conferred upon the Cathaoirleach by these Standing Orders for that day only. If there be not a quorum present, the Seanad shall stand adjourned until the next sitting day.

You now have the authority of the Cathaoirleach and the Leas-Chathaoirleach under the Standing Orders, and I move that the question be now put and end this stupid debate.

Acting Chairman

The Chair rules that it has not those powers and it is my intention to send for the Cathaoirleach as is laid down in the event of any point arising which is outside the competence of the Acting Chairman. I am now sending for the Cathaoirleach to determine the point of order raised by the Senator.

I say to you——


Chair, Chair.

A Senator

Sit down.

——you are not exercising your powers and I say to you further——

Acting Chairman

I am completely convinced by the reading of Standing Orders that I am correct in my interpretation.


Acting Chairman

Business is suspended until the Cathaoirleach takes the Chair to deal with the point raised by the Senator.

Business suspended at 8.34 p.m. and resumed at 8.36 p.m.

The Chair understands that Senator McHugh wishes to raise a point of order.

A Chathaoirleach, I raised a point of order in your absence and I quoted Standing Order No. 44 which reads:

After a question (except a question already debarred from debate, under the Standing Orders) has been proposed from the Chair either in the Seanad or in a Committee of the whole Seanad, a Senator may claim to move: "That the question be now put" and unless it shall appear to the Cathaoirleach that such a motion is an infringement of the rights of a minority,

I think we are a minority on this side—

or that the question has not been adequately discussed,

We have been discussing it here for five days, Sir.

I have only discussed the Third Amendment.

I am not concerned with what the Minister discussed.

Senator McHugh, to quote the Standing Order without comment.

Do not speak to me when you say "without comment". Speak to the Minister.

Senator McHugh.

Speak to the Minister, not to me.

If Senator McHugh does not conduct himself, I must ask him to resume his seat.

I shall continue the quotation:

or that the motion is otherwise an abuse of these Standing Orders, the question: "That the question be now put" shall be put forthwith, and decided without amendment or debate.

I am now moving: "That the question be now put", on the ground that it has been adequately discussed.

The Chair refuses to apply the closure.

On what grounds, a Chathaoirleach?


Chair, Chair.

Do not talk to me about Chair. The Chair has not considered this.

Senator McHugh, to resume his seat.

Senator McHugh will resume his seat but when——

Senator McHugh to resume his seat or leave the House.

——people on the other side of the House were speaking, you did not point a finger at them. You are biased. I will resume my seat because there is no other course open to me, and we will have to listen to this stupid performance, but you are a biased Chairman.

I warn Senator McHugh again that if he does not conduct himself, I will ask him to leave the House. The Minister, to continue.

Before Senator McHugh tried to prevent me from dealing with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, I was dealing with the requests of the Opposition Senators to explain to them why we decided to put this proposition to the people in view of the fact that a similar proposition had been decided upon nine years ago. In order to make up for the loss of time which has been deliberately occasioned by Senator McHugh, I will assume that I have explained——

I will withdraw. I cannot listen to this stupid Minister.

——reasonably well why we decided to make this proposition. I admit that the establishment of single-seat constituencies is the main objective in this proposal, that the main evil and the main danger to be got rid of is the system of multi-member constituencies—I shall come to that later, I shall explain why this is so—and the corresponding advantage to be obtained if the people have the advantage of having the more normal system of representation by means of single-seat constituencies. There is the fact that you are likely to get better representation, better members eventually, that there will be closer contact between Deputies and the people, that there will be more time available for dealing with their real functions as Members of the Dáil, that the system of single-seat constituencies will be better for public morale, that it will be possible for Parties to make a better effort to obtain a majority because the existing, built-in disincentive in the system of multi-member constituencies against the putting forward of the best possible candidates will be automatically removed, and that the system will be less conducive to splintering, more likely to produce a definite result and enable the people to fulfil their function at election time and that is to choose their own Government.

Briefly, that is why the establishment of single-seat constituencies as opposed to multi-member constituencies is the most important thing. The establishment of the system of the straight vote is also important because this is a proposal to establish for the first time in this country the democratic principle of one man, one vote, to establish the principle of treating every voter in the same way, to get away from the present system which discriminates arbitrarily and unjustifiably as between one voter and another. That is an important consideration also, but as far as I am concerned, it is secondary to the main objective of establishing single-seat constituencies instead of multi-member constituencies.

People have been saying that the public in general would favour single-seat constituencies but with a transferable vote, as in the by-election system at present.

On a point of order, Sir, what is this marathon in aid of? What is the Minister trying to do? We have sat here for four days——

I should inform the Senator that that is not a point of order. The Senator to resume his seat.

If the Senator had asked me what it was in aid of, I would have told him, but I suppose he asked the Chair only and it might not be appropriate for me to reply. There has been this proposition put forward that the people would like to have the single-seat constituency but would like to retain the transferable vote. There is no reason to believe that is so. We had this discussion in the Committee established to investigate the Constitution position and they did not come forward with this suggestion. Because of the fact that the papers were saying that the people wanted this, and that they are described sometimes as organs of public opinion, this idea has gained ground.

Is there any evidence that this is so? An Independent Deputy in the Dáil put down an amendment to this Bill suggesting the system of the transferable vote with single-seat constituencies. That amendment secured no support whatever in the Dáil. I do not know what way the public have of indicating their desires, but public representatives are supposed to be in a position to interpret what the people want. Not one Member of the Dáil on any side of the House indicated that he believed this was what the people wanted. Deputy Norton, who proposed it, made it quite clear that he believed that the straight vote was the more meritorious system, but that he believed that by accepting the less desirable system of voting of the transferable vote, there would be a better prospect of getting the single-seat constituency, which was the more highly-desirable thing. He did not produce any evidence of that because he could not. The fact that he got no support in the Dáil is surely an indication that that evidence was not in fact available.

Therefore, while I agree with Senator McQuillan that the single-seat constituency is the more important thing, the establishment of the principle of one man, one vote inherent in democracy and frustrated by the transferable vote is also important. Since it has not been shown to be even expedient, apart from the fact that it was shown to be undesirable to adopt this system, there seemed to be no reason why the Government should have adopted it. As far as I am concerned, the system of voting is unimportant. But when the responsibility falls on the Government to propose a system of voting, we naturally propose what we believe to be the correct one and the only justifiable system. We would have been failing in our duty if we proposed in the first instance a system which was blatantly discriminatory.

There has been no indication to me that to adopt that system would be in any way more acceptable to the Opposition. All the Opposition take into account is whether a thing is acceptable to Fianna Fáil or not. If it is acceptable to Fianna Fáil, they interpret their duty as being to oppose it. We believe that the fundamental purpose of general elections is to enable the people to choose their own Government. It is our view that that is the fundamental thing in the democratic system. It is quite clear that if the people are organised on the basis of small, sectional Parties, it will obviously become impossible for the people to choose a Government whether they want to or not. The individuals asking for support will be asking for it on the basis of sectional interests rather than on the basis of a broad approach to national affairs as a whole.

Therefore, no matter what the people want to do, a system of election designed to bring this about, and which must inevitably bring it about, eventually will prevent the people from carrying out their fundamental democratic function of choosing their own Government. We believe—apparently the Opposition do not—it is desirable to encourage the people to form themselves into broadly-based national Parties rather than to organise themselves on the basis of minority sectional interests.

We also believe it is desirable to encourage a responsible approach to the exercise of the franchise and that a system of election which guarantees to anybody who wants to exercise his vote in an irresponsible way that, no matter what he does, no matter how irrational or unappealing to the electorate the candidate he chooses is, or the policy put forward by a candidate is, no matter how many individuals such as this he transfers his vote to, the system of election is so arranged as to ensure that his vote will be taken account of at every stage—all that encourages irresponsibility in the exercise of the franchise, which is a serious operation and which should be considered in a responsible way.

Apparently, the Opposition believe it is quite all right that individuals or groups should be elected on the basis of narrow sectional approaches and that the formation of the Government can safely be left to whatever arrangement it is possible for these individuals and groups to make after the election. We believe that is not desirable. We believe it prevents the people from exercising their democratic right of choosing their own Government and from being able to hold the Government responsible for their actions at the next election.

If Governments are formed in this way, first, the policy, if any, which it is possible to agree on after the election will never have been voted on by the people. Secondly, it will not be possible to hold any of these sections forming such a Government responsible for their actions after the election, because they will all be able to say that things would have been different were it not for their partners in such a Coalition Government. We have had an indication from a former Member of a Government such as this that policy was decided on the basis of day-to-day expediency and that members of the Government were waiting day by day for the opportunity to spring the trap on their colleagues. We have that on the authority of the vice-chairman of the Labour Party, a former coalition Minister. We believe also that a situation of political instability in which it is not possible for anybody to interpret or deduce any coherent policy being operated by the Government, is bound to induce economic recession and the two experiences we have had of Governments formed on this basis indicate that belief is the correct one.

We believe that if it becomes impossible for the people to choose a Government, democracy has failed. The Opposition see, and I think have admitted, that at best this system will produce a situation in which there will be no Party available to the people as a Government but the Fianna Fáil Party and that the only alternative will be a coalition which, at present, would consist, apparently, of only two Parties but we do not know how many it might consist of after the next or subsequent general elections.

The whole approach of the Opposition Parties to this particular Bill has been a pathetic appeal for a continuation of conditions which make the formation of coalition governments after the election a feasible proposition. I agree that the people are fully entitled to choose a coalition government if they like but they should have an opportunity of voting on a coalition government. The people are being cheated if the coalition government is formed after the election. Certainly, if it is formed before the election and the people get an opportunity of voting on it there is no objection. The system we propose will, I think, make it more desirable from the point of view of those who want to form coalitions to do so before the election rather than after the election and so not deprive the people of their democratic right of voting for or against the alternative governments available to them.

In addition, I think it must be clear that political Parties would make a better effort to secure a majority in the circumstances of single-seat constituencies rather than as at present because we all know that where a Party finds itself in the position of having one seat out of three in a three-seat constituency or two out of five in a five-seat constituency, the incentive to search out and put forward the best possible candidate to represent the constituency is not always there or certainly is not always felt to the same degree by every member of the Party in such a constituency. That being so, it must be a matter of some difficulty, and it would certainly be easier, to get a genuine overall effort to obtain a majority in circumstances of single-seat constituencies than under the present system. We would not have the situation in which an obvious potential aspirant for the position of candidate and a person who seems reasonably well-qualified to succeed at a general election would have to be eliminated because the existing Deputies in the constituency would find it necessary to eliminate him from the Party, as we have seen happen in the constituency of Dublin North-East where a person who appeared to be likely to be a very live candidate of Fine Gael and who obviously constituted a threat to the two existing Fine Gael Deputies had to be eliminated from the organisation. I refer to Alderman Finegan who posed a very definite threat to the two Fine Gael Deputies and therefore had to be eliminated.

It had been suggested from these benches that the system of single-seat constituencies would eventually produce a good standard of representative in the Dáil as a whole. That was not intended by anybody who said it as a reflection on the present representatives but it is clear that is circumstances where a Deputy would be isolated in the constituency, he would have to stand on his own feet and would not be able to hide behind the activities of any of his colleagues. In those circumstances, the people of the constituency as a whole, whether they supported his Party or another Party, would be able to see the actual merit of the individual representing them in the Dáil. If such a representative proved to be inadequate, the people, and indeed the Party organisation in the constituency, would inevitably decide to replace him so that the ultimate result—it would not be produced immediately—would be to ensure a comparatively high standard of representative generally.

Also, the people would be more adequately represented. Problems that really require the attention of a Deputy could be more adequately dealt with because the area would be smaller and less complex. The Deputy who got some local problem to deal with would be really able to pursue it, unlike the present position where the constituencies are so large and complex and the demands so overwhelming because of the competition between the Deputies representing the constituency that the result is that no Deputy can really adequately pursue such matters genuinely needing attention.

It is also clear that the single-seat constituency system would be better for public morale in general because the present system encourages the belief, which seems more prevalent here than in a number of other countries, that benefits and services available as a right to the people are obtainable by virtue of the efficacy of the representations made by public representatives. Every Member of the House knows that this is not so, but because of the competition between Deputies in the same constituency, because they are competing for the same votes—sometimes even Deputies of the same Party compete for the same votes—there is this built-in tendency to play up to this belief amongst the people and pretend to, and attempt to take credit for things which are available to the people by provision made in the legislation here.

This produces, to some extent, a belief in the existence of petty corruption in the administration of these schemes which is not founded on fact but it is obviously not practicable for a Deputy in present circumstances who would wish to disabuse his constituents of this belief to do so because it is almost certain that if one Deputy attempted to do this, at least one of his colleagues would decide to do the opposite and such a Deputy would soon find himself an ex-Deputy and, possibly, eventually a Member of the Seanad instead of the Dáil.

There would be more scope for new blood in public life generally. Each Party would have the incentive to put up what they believed to be the best possible candidate in each one of the 144 constituencies. No Party puts up 144 candidates at present, and I do not think the incentive is there to put up the best candidate at all times. However, if such a candidate selected by the constituency proved to be reasonably acceptable to the electorate, no doubt he would be persisted with, but if the candidate did not make much impact with the electorate he would be likely to be replaced by a different candidate the next time. Therefore, there would be more scope for new entrants to public life.

I think the system is completely and absolutely fair, because in each of these 144 constituencies the people would be faced with a choice between individuals, one standing on behalf of each Party, and they would see clearly what they were required to vote on, the merits of the individual candidates and the policies they propounded to them. As well as that, the system we propose has the merit of ensuring that every voter's opinion will be treated in the same way, thus establishing the principle of one man, one vote.

The cost and expense of the proposed referendum has been put forward as a reason against this proposal being put before the people. As I pointed out, a referendum had to be held anyway, and putting this second proposition does not in any way add to the cost; but even if it does, and even if we considered it purely and simply in relation to the cost, the cost involved in conducting the referendum would be very quickly recovered in the reduced cost of by-elections. In the period of this Dáil, for instance, we have already had seven by-elections, and I see some of the papers were assuring us we would have several more before the next general election.

The cost of by-elections at present is very considerable. In fact, when a Royal Commission was set up in the neighbouring island to consider the desirability of introducing into their own elections the system that was invented in Britain for us here, the major argument against that was considered to be the disproportionate effort, expense and turmoil that would be involved in by-elections. These people who sat down to consider the matter objectively apparently considered it completely disproportionate that all the people in a large constituency should be required to vote and that all the necessary arrangements for a large constituency should be made in order to replace a fraction of the representation of the constituency.

It must be obvious that the cost of that to the State and the cost also to political Parties is disproportionate to what is involved. For instance, in the by-elections we have had here we have had to try to induce the people of large constituencies such as County Clare and County Wicklow to go to the polls to replace a fraction of their representation; whereas in the circumstances that we propose the task of the political Parties would be to induce the people in constituencies a fraction of the size of the present constituencies to go to the polls to replace their total representation.

It would be more obvious to the people themselves why it was that they should vote, and certainly the effort involved in convincing the people that they should vote would be less, and be less in a greater proportion than the proportion of the reduced size of the constituency, as compared with the present constituencies. I think both Deputies and Senators would find under the new conditions of single-seat constituencies that there would be less serious demand on their time and energies, on their stamina and possibly on their health in the conduct of by-election campaigns than at present, and possibly less disruption of the proceedings of the Oireachtas itself, because of the fact that the smaller areas to be covered and the more obvious reason for voting would call for less intensive effort and for a smaller number of personnel to conduct the election campaign.

That is in so far as the political parties themselves are concerned, but also from the point of view of expense to the State, the number of polling booths to be operated, the staff to be employed, the demands made on the members of the Garda, and so on for election day, would be considerably less and more closely related to the task to be performed, that is the election of one Deputy. I think it would be true to say that within the lifetime of one Dáil alone the cost of the proposed referendum would be recovered in the reduced cost to the State of by-elections.

Another argument that has been used against this proposal is that it must result in the perpetuation of Fianna Fáil in office. That surely constitutes an admission by the Opposition Parties that it is not conceivable at any time in the future, in the clear confrontation that will exist in these 144 separate constituencies, that either of the Opposition Parties or the two Opposition Parties combined could hope to convince more people in a majority of these constituencies than Fianna Fáil can that their proposals for the conduct of the country's affairs are more meritorious than ours.

That surely means either of two things: either it is a reflection on the ability and the capacity of the people to assess the issues at election time; or else it is a clear admission that their policies are inferior to the Fianna Fáil policy and that despite the existence of the full-time policy-drafting committee of the Fine Gael Party, and despite what appears now to be the almost similar full-time committee of the Labour Party drafting new policies, despite all these efforts, despite the continuous process of trial and error, they see no prospect of success in the foreseeable future.

That is wishful thinking on the Minister's part.

If that is so, then it appears to me to be an admission that the Fianna Fáil policy is better. If so, why should Fianna Fáil not continue to be the Government? Fine Gael should in this instance take their Leader's advice, take the advice of a man who, despite the Party he leads, still retains some confidence in the possibility that at some time in the future he may succeed in putting sufficient backbone into his Party and instilling into them sufficient devotion to the task of ousting the Fianna Fáil Party from office to gain majority support from the people.

It has been said that we are pretending that the purpose of introducing this proposal is to perform a rescue operation on the Fine Gael Party. I want to go on record as saying that so far as I am concerned I have no desire to perform a rescue operation on the Fine Gael Party at all. If I had, I would not be so foolish as to attempt it because Deputy Cosgrave has failed, and that being so, I would not fancy my chances of succeeding. If the Fine Gael Party want to cut their throats, I would be more inclined to provide them with a whet-stone than anything else. I do not want to revive the Fine Gael Party at all. I think they are beyond redemption.

We will win in October.

You will learn the hard way.

It is a fact, and even Senator Dooge admitted it is a fact, that if at any time the unlikely event should happen that the people should swing over to the Fine Gael Party—even Senator Dooge, in a moment of aberration possibly, admitted this—the system we are proposing will enable the people more effectively to do that. I do not think they will do it. I am quite confident about this. We have retained the support of the people almost from the moment of the foundation of our Party, and certainly from 1932. We will continue to retain it. I could foretell the future and I do not purport to do so. I am confident that we will retain it, but if we do not, the people will have an effective means of getting rid of us. If our expectations are realised and we retain the support of the people, we will continue to be the Government. My belief that we will continue as the Government is based more on my confidence in the merits of the Fianna Fáil policy, and the perspicacity and intelligence of the people than on what we will call the pseudo-scientific messing around with figures described here by members of the Fine Gael Party.

That is unworthy of the Minister.

It is perfectly worthy of the Minister.

Of a Minister.

I have dealt in a reasonably comprehensive manner with the system of the single-seat constituencies as opposed to the multi-seat constituencies.

It might be one-third of the vote.

If there is any aspect I have not dealt with and if Senators are kind enough to remind me of it, I will endeavour to remedy that situation. It is quite true that just as we have not always got an overall majority under PR since 1932, we have still almost continuously been the Government. It is also true that we might not always get an overall majority under the straight vote system, and just as we have been able to form a Government without having an overall majority under the present system, it is likely that we will find ourselves in the same position under the straight vote.

With one-eighth less votes.

No one can give any Party, whether it be the Fianna Fáil Party or the Fine Gael Party, a majority except the people. No one can establish that there is an overall majority in favour of any Party except the people in the ballot boxes.

You can rig the system so that less votes can put you in office.

May I intervene? I should like an opportunity to hear the Minister and I object to irrelevant and stupid interruptions.

The Senator would not know the difference.

Interruption is relevant.

If the people say in the ballot boxes that there is not an overall majority in favour of any one Party, then no one can say there is, because the people have said there is not. They have said that on a number of occasions under PR, and no doubt will continue to say it under the system of the straight vote. The fact that there is not an overall majority in favour of any of the number of Parties contesting an election does not mean that the people should be deprived of the opportunity of having a Government. It is possible that there could be future Fianna Fáil Governments, and there may be some people who might even visualise the possibility of a future Fine Gael Government. I cannot. None of the Senators here can, but apparently Deputy Cosgrave can. If the people do not want any Party to have an overall majority it is their privilege not to give an overall majority if they so desire. I do not think the system of election should be rigged so as to prevent the people in those circumstances from having a Government whose policies have been put before them.

Why are you rigging it then?

I admit that after the people have cast their votes, it is possible to devise any number of systems for taking votes cast for some individuals or Party, and giving them to someone else. That is what the present system does. It is a system of unjustifiable rules, based on blatant discrimination as between some voters and others, for the allocation of votes cast for some candidates to others for whom they were not cast. So I admit that as at present there is the possibility of future Governments under this system not having an overall majority, but no one can remedy that except the people at a general election.

I showed by example in the Dáil that the assumption on which votes are transferred under the present system is an absurd assumption. It is based on the foolish and ridiculous suggestion that a figure put opposite a candidate's name, no matter how high that figure might be, indicates in certain fortuitous circumstances equal support for another candidate with a first preference vote. That is the basic fallacy of the whole system. The transfer of votes is granted only to certain arbitrarily selected sections of the electorate.

Let us consider a constituency in which we have this system of transferring votes—of giving votes which were cast for some candidates to others. In this constituency there are three candidates, our old friends, A, B and C. Candidate A gets 4,000 votes, B gets 3,500 votes and C gets 3,000 votes. This system assumes in a facile fashion that it would be unjust and undemocratic to allocate the seat to the candidate with the biggest number of votes and say he has been elected for the constituency, apparently on the basis that only 4,000 votes were cast in his favour and 6,500 votes were cast not in his favour.

Against him.

Against him, but 3,500 votes were cast in favour of B and 7,000 against him, and 3,000 in favour of C and 7,500 against him.

With PR, you find out whom the votes are cast against.

If this were done on a non-discriminatory basis, well and good. I propose to show the Senator that if this were done on the basis of one man, one vote, and if the voters for each of the three were treated the same, you could arrive at the absurd conclusion that there was an overall majority in favour of everyone. That would be very nice for every candidate, but it would produce a chaotic result, particularly when there is a limit on the number of people who can sit in the Dáil. You have to find some way of deciding between the three, and we are suggesting that this should be a non-discriminatory way, a way that treats everyone the same, which this system does not.

In the situation which I have put forward with these three candidates, the people whom the Fine Gael Party down through the years have described as theorists and faddists, and in other uncomplimentary terms, say that since candidate C is obviously not favoured by the electorate, and has obviously not been voted as being the candidate chosen by the electorate to represent that constituency, the voters who voted for him should be given another vote, and should be allowed to vote as between candidates A and B. This is done on the ridiculous principle of allocating votes in accordance with wherever the voters put No. 2. It is obvious that the allocation of these 3,000 votes as between candidates A and B could result in the transfer of 1,000 to A and 2,000 to B.

Or vice versa.

Or vice versa. This would give a so-called result. It would result in giving A 5,000 votes consisting of 4,000 actual votes and 1,000 votes taken from someone else, and in B having 5,500 votes. The proponents of this system say this proves that the majority of the people in this constituency want candidate B to be elected. As a result of this fiddling around with votes after they are cast, the 4,000 who voted for candidate A are obviously in identically the same position as were the 3,000 who voted for candidate C. Their candidate has not been deemed to be elected.

These 4,000 are not identifiable members of the community. They are 4,000 people who have not been submitted to any intelligence test, who have not been psychoanalysed or required to answer questions posed by a computer. There is no knowledge as to who these individuals are. This system decides that while the 3,000 who find themselves in the smallest minority in the constituency should be given a second opportunity as between A and B, the 4,000 should not be given the same consideration, apparently on the principle that by being the majority— in the major group of opinion in the constituency—that indicated that in some way their views were not as important from the point of view of democracy as the smallest minority. Surely the fundamental principle in democracy is that the majority view should prevail.

If we are to discriminate between groups on the basis of the number of their fellow constituents they could get to agree with them, it seems to me that the differential in voting power should be given to the major group rather than the minority. This system decides it should be given to the smallest group. In other words, it decides for no reason that can be advanced, no justifiable reason, that the majority group will be treated as second class citizens. They will be given one vote, and in this case where there are three candidates only the minority will be given two votes. On that basis these people go ahead and say it has been established that 5,500 want B, and 5,000 want A. If every voter were dealt with in the same way, if the principle of one man one vote operated, or one man two votes, whichever you like, those 4,000 people who voted for A are surely entitled to a second opportunity as well as those who voted for C. It is possible that if their second preferences were treated in the same way as those of the favoured minority are treated, their second preferences could go 1,500 to B and 2,500 to C, giving another result of 5,000 votes for B and 5,500 for C. Now we find that this can give us the result of an overall majority in favour of B, and an overall majority in favour of C.

On the other hand, it might be argued that this result is now the correct one because, now, we have established that more people want B than A and we have also established that more people want C than B and, that being so, more people want C than A. But, of course, that has not been established at all because there are three possible combinations of two candidates. If the people are entitled to choose between A and B and between B and C, they are entitled to choose also between A and C. There is nothing to declare that only two candidates can stand for election. All three candidates were entitled to stand and the people chose between the three of them, so far as they were allowed. However, after they were chosen, this system comes along to rig the result of what the people said.

As a result of the more general application of this principle, it has been established now that a majority want B and a majority want C. It may be argued, as I said, that more people want C than B and, if so, then the people who voted for B are in exactly the same position as those who voted for C were in their turn. These are also unidentified members of the community who have not given any reason why their votes should be given less consideration than those of others. They are entitled, in accordance with the principles of democracy, to the same consideration as anybody else. It is possible that if the 3,500 voters who voted for B were treated in the same way—if their views were given the same consideration—1,500 of their votes could go to A and the remainder of their votes to C, giving a result of 5,500 votes in favour of A and 5,000 votes in favour of C.

Therefore if you apply this principle of the transferable vote in a non-discriminatory way, if you apply it in accordance with the concept of democracy that every voter should be treated in the same way, you are liable to get the result that the majority in the constituency want everybody. They might want everybody but the Constitution allows them to have only one. Therefore, there must be some system of choosing between them. We suggest it should be a fair system. We suggest it should be a system that treats every voter in the same way. The Opposition suggest it should be this system which accords special treatment to some people who are selected in a completely arbitrary way. As I said, you get this absurd result because of the fact that the whole thing is based on the absurd assumption that an expression of preference of any degree, however small or however large, indicates the same degree of support for a candidate as a first-preference vote which, of course, it does not.

It is possible that the first result I described might have resulted, if the only two candidates were A and C. It is possible that the second result I described might have resulted if the only two candidates were B and C and it is possible that the third result I described might have resulted if the only two candidates were A and B. However, that did not happen because there were three candidates—A, B and C. They were entitled to stand and the people were entitled to choose between them. This is the only practicable way of doing this and at the same time giving every voter equal treatment.

I understand that Senator O'Kennedy mentioned another system and said that a system could be introduced whereby a notional value would be allocated to preference votes and everybody could be treated in the same way by taking account of all the preference votes and applying the notional value to them, totalling them up and allocating a seat to the person who came out on top.

Why eliminate the top person?

Nobody is suggesting that: the top person at that time. This was after the system had operated when he would have been taken from the top and put on the bottom not by the people but by the returning officers' staffs. It was the system that eliminated him, not the people. In the immortal words of Deputy Seán Collins "it was not the people but the monster PR which defeated" him. It was the monster of PR that defeated candidate A and for candidate A Senator Rooney can substitute Deputy Seán Collins if he likes because he has had experience of the system operating unfairly against him. As I say, you are likely to get this absurd result. The three candidates are entitled to stand and the people are entitled to choose between them. This system is designed to prevent them doing that. It is based on discrimination and on giving an indefinite number of votes to some people, the total number of votes being decided only on the basis of the number of people who decide to present themselves as candidates and on the degree to which the voter is out of tune with majority opinion and it results in encouraging people to vote for one candidate after another whom the electorate in general look upon as having no merit whatever. It is a bad system, it is discriminatory and completely undemocratic and unjustifiable.

As far as I am concerned it is a secondary consideration compared with the desirability of getting rid of the evils of the multi-member constituency and providing the benefits of single-seat constituencies. This was a theoretical example which I gave, but, of course, it actually arises, and in every election you can show that towards the end of the count in multi-member constituencies, not in all, the candidates eventually deemed to be elected have not been established as the candidates the people wanted to see elected. If the votes were dealt with in an non-discriminatory way, it could easily be shown that the electorate wanted other candidates to be elected as well.

In by-elections also this has been demonstrated time and time again when this ridiculous farce of transferring votes that were cast for one particular candidate to other candidates for whom they were not cast is gone through. We can see the unjustifiability of the results and the discrimination inherent in the system of the transferable vote very well from the results of the recent Wicklow by-election where the Coalition tactics at that time produced a field of six candidates and the operation of the transferable vote. The candidate whom the major portion of the electorate favoured got 9,788 votes, the next highest candidate in the estimation of the electorate got 8,035, the next one got 5,761, the next 2,009, the next 509 and the last 191. As a result of the operation of the system, it was found possible to allocate the votes cast for the four lowest candidates between the two highest candidates and to encompass the defeat of the candidate of whom the majority of the people had declared themselves to be in favour.


The operation of this system in the discriminatory way I have described, of taking into consideration the preference votes of some candidates deemed not to have been elected resulted eventually in the allocation of 51.1 per cent of the final vote to the Fine Gael candidate who got 30 per cent of the poll and an allocation of 48.9 to the Fianna Fáil candidate who got some 37 per cent. This succeeded in changing a majority of 1,700 into a minority of less than 546 and the proponents of this ridiculous system say it was established that the majority of the people were in favour of the Fine Gael candidate.

Over 50 per cent.

That was only established on the basis of the discrimination inherent in the system. I would suggest to the Opposition that no reason was given why the 9,788 who found themselves in the largest group of opinion in the constituency should be allocated one vote only while some of the other people who also voted for candidates not deemed to have been elected got 5, 4, 3, or 2 votes. This group because they committed the unpardonable crime of agreeing with more of their fellow constituents than people who voted for other candidates were discriminated against and the system decided that they would get one vote and one only.

If there was any desire to treat all voters equally or even reasonably equally or even an attempt to do so, the very least that would have been done is that after this alleged result had been arrived at, after this transference of votes had been effected and a majority had been converted into a deficit, they would have at least gone back to the situation after the fourth count when the situation was that the Labour candidate had now got 6,797 votes, the Fianna Fáil candidate 10,343, and the Fine Gael candidate 8,728 and the Labour candidate having 1,931 less than the Fine Gael candidate was eliminated and his votes were transferred in accordance with the unjustifiable rules of the system, in accordance with the system of taking an expression of opinion that a candidate was second worst of the six as equivalent to an expression of support to the opinion that that candidate was the best of the six.

We do not know how many number fives were transferred from the Labour candidate to either the Fianna Fáil candidate or the Fine Gael candidate, but probably a substantial number of them. At any rate, some of them would be number fives on papers that were actually votes for the Independent candidate who got 191 people in the constituency to support him. Some of them would be number fives on papers which were actually votes for the Liberal candidate, who got 509 people to support him, and some of them could be number fives on the 2,009 voting papers cast in favour of the Sinn Féin candidate, and some of them could be number fives on the 5,761 that were cast for the Labour candidate. But there was an unknown number of fifth preferences, an unknown number of fourth preferences, an unknown number of third preferences and second preferences all taken into account as actual votes and it was as a result of that, this result was obtained.

Fianna Fáil got a lot of number fives.

Of course. We do not know how many. We do not know how many Fine Gael got, but we know how many votes that were not cast for them were allocated.

How is the executive of Fianna Fáil elected?

If the Senator will ask me that a little later, I will explain it to him.

Proportional representation.

It is not. It is not a very intelligent system either actually. Now, as a result of this, the candidate that was selected as the best by the biggest group in the constituency was deemed to be defeated, and I say that there is no reason why the 9,788 people who voted for that candidate and, indeed, the 555 whose votes were given this preferential treatment until such time as they committed the unpardonable crime of actually choosing somebody who was chosen by the majority group in the constituency, when the consideration given their votes stopped dead because of this particular crime against democracy, but there is no reason why they should not also have been given the same consideration, or almost the same consideration, as was given to these other people who supported one unpopular policy after another.

Had that been done, had the 10,343 whose votes were at that time allocated to the Fianna Fáil candidate been given the same consideration as was given to other people who voted for candidates not deemed to be elected, it is quite clear that the deficiency of 1,931 between the Labour vote at that stage and the Fine Gael vote would have been transformed into a substantial majority. Had there been any effort made to treat all voters equally in the Wicklow by-election it would, in fact, have been established that there was an overall majority in the constituency in favour of at least two of the candidates. Of course, that just cannot be but, as I pointed out, you will get this result if you behave in a ridiculous way and base your operations on a ridiculous and unjustifiable assumption.

There is then the other possibility that Senator O'Kennedy suggested of allocating notional values to the votes.

First of all, the notional values to be allocated to the preferences would, of course, have to be arbitrary and there would be no way of deciding exactly what fractional value should be given to different preferences, but it would, at least, ensure equal consideration to every voter. Of course, that would have been against the principles of democracy, according to the Opposition, but in any case such a system would eventually tend to become the straight vote system because the people who really wanted to support a candidate would soon see that, by supporting any other candidate, they would in effect reduce their support for the candidate they really wanted to support.

Take Waterford.

We will take them all. We will take Limerick.

Take Waterford now.

I will take it on Committee Stage when I have the figures. I happen to have the figures for Limerick. The same thing could apply there. I wonder should I deal with the excursions into the realms of the occult by the eminent professors on television and by the equally eminent professors here on the Front Bench of the Opposition. I think I should not deal with them at any great length. I appreciate that television is a medium of entertainment. I had not the experience of actually seeing this performance on television but I did have the opportunity of witnessing Senator Dooge's performance here and, if those who perform on television are as entertaining as Senator Dooge, it must have been quite an enjoyable experience. Senator Dooge merely gave us results. He did not describe the method by which he worked out those results. I have no doubt his mathematics were unimpeachable, but his assumptions were not. His assumptions were nonsense. They were so naïve as to be just funny. While I have no doubt he carried out the actual operation in accordance with the best mathematical principles unfortunately, like the transferable vote itself, his assumptions were rather silly and so his result is in no way reliable.

I think the Minister should be allowed to sit down. He has been standing now for very nearly eight hours.

I was longer sitting. I had the experience of having to listen as patiently as I could to Senator Sheehy Skeffington, Senator Quinlan and others. Unfortunately I had not the pleasure of listening to Senator Rooney but I have heard him on other occasions. On the last occasion on which I heard Senator Rooney speak, he gave us a very learned dissertation on the relative merits of timber draining boards as opposed to stainless steel draining boards. It was very instructive indeed. Although I did not have the pleasant experience of listening, sitting down, to Senator Rooney on this Bill, I did hear quite a lot and I had to sit through quite a lot. I find it a not unpleasant change to be standing now instead of sitting and to see the Senators, who provided me with so much entertainment in their contributions, now being entertained by me.

The Minister is not entertaining his Front Bench.

Down, Fido, down.

Maybe not, but then the Front Bench here also spoke. It seems to me there is an indefinable something in the air now which indicates to me that I have outstayed my welcome and that Senators have possibly imbibed as much they they can. Although there are a number of points raised by Senators opposite which I have not dealt with, the fact that I have dealt with a number of them seems to make them more and more disinclined to have all their other points dealt with and, in view of the fact that an air of good humour has now penetrated the Opposition benches, in contradistinction to the air of acrimony that was present some time ago, maybe I will postpone dealing with the remaining points until they are repeated, as I know they will be, on the subsequent Stages of the Bill.

I will just skip through some other aspects. I will content myself with an incomplete exposition of the case in favour of the proposal we are making and present it instead in a more piecemeal fashion on the subsequent Stages of the Bill. I will skip over the other things. I will just conclude by saying that, in supporting this proposal of ours, the Leader of the Fine Gael Party is clearly in the consistent tradition of his Party, whether under the name of Fine Gael or Cumann na nGaedheal. I think Senator Yeats, if nobody else, has already placed on the records of the Seanad incontrovertible evidence that this is no recent conversion of Deputy Cosgrave or that minority of one in the Fine Gael Party that supports his viewpoint.

Senator Yeats knows all about Cumann na nGaedheal.

This was their consistent attitude right from the time that this State was set up in 1922, up to, as far as anybody knows, 1959. There was never any indication given prior to 1959 that they had changed their view. That was probably because the reason for changing their view had not arisen and did not arise until Fianna Fáil proposed to comply with the demands that Cumann na nGaedheal and Fine Gael had been making over the years and then, of course, this unreasoning suspicion, this dread of anything proposed by Fianna Fáil, came into operation and a small majority of the Fine Gael Party reversed the opinion that had up to then been part and parcel of their policy and decided, in 1959, to oppose this proposition for electoral reform. As I say, this was the first indication of change.

During the time after the long recounts in the last general election, when there were pages of newspaper speculation about the possibility of the people being given another opportunity of getting rid of the present irrational system, during that time, the Fine Gael Party changed their Leader and the new Leader of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Liam Cosgrave, was interviewed and, for some reason or other, the interviewers thought it was a relevant thing, apparently in view of the state of public opinion at the time, to ask the newly-elected Leader of the Fine Gael Party had his attitude to this proposition changed.

Would it be relevant to discuss Fine Gael on Committee Stage?

He indicated that it had not and that he hoped to bring his Party round to his viewpoint. Everybody knew, of course, that Deputy Cosgrave held this view also in 1959, that he remained faithful to the tradition of his Party and knew that he had not succeeded in carrying that viewpoint at that time, but there was always the possibility, now that the Fine Gael Party had changed their Leader, that he might on this occasion be able to get his Party to do what he said he wanted them to do, that was, to accept the possibility that at some time in the future they might be able to devise a policy or might be able to attract candidates of sufficient merit to their Party to at some time command more support in the country than Fianna Fáil but, as we know, in an all-night session, the Leader of the Fine Gael Party failed by a majority of one to lead his Party.

That is an untruth.

It is becoming clearer and clearer as day follows day that opinion in the Fine Gael Party is gradually coming around to the opinion of the Leader and it is becoming clearer and clearer that the members of the Fine Gael Party in this House and in the Dáil are beginning to appreciate that the Leader of Fine Gael is going to have his way in spite of the Party he has the misfortune to lead.

That is the mistake Fianna Fáil make. That is the first time I was pleased to see the Minister taking a rest.

Cuireadh an cheist: "Go bhforfaidh na focail a tairgeadh a scriosadh."

Rinne an Seanad vótáil: Tá, 28; Níl, 20.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand".
The Seanad divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 20.

  • Ahern, Liam.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brennan, John J.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Cole, John C.
  • Dolan, Séamus.
  • Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
  • Egan, Kieran P.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Thomas P.
  • Honan, Dermot P.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • McGowan, Patrick.
  • Martin, James J.
  • Nash, John Joseph.
  • Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Patrick W.
  • Ryan, William.
  • Sheldon, William A. W.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Yeats, Michael.


  • Carton, Victor.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Crowley, Patrick.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • FitzGerald, Garret M. D.
  • Fitzgerald, John.
  • McAuliffe, Timothy.
  • McDonald, Charles.
  • McHugh, Vincent.
  • McQuillan, Jack.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Mannion, John.
  • Murphy, Dominick F.
  • Ó Conalláin, Dónall.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
  • O'Sullivan, Denis J.
  • Prendergast, Micheál A.
  • Quinlan, Patrick M.
  • Rooney, Éamon.
  • Sheehy Skeffington, Owen L.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl, Senators Murphy and D. J. O'Sullivan.
Question declared carried.
Faisneiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis an gceist.
Cuireadh agus d'aontíodh an cheist:
"Go leifear an Bille an Dara Uair anois".
Question "That the Bill be now read a Second Time" put and agreed to.

Tuesday, 23rd July, 1968.

I wish to remind the Leader of the House that we will have another Bill on Tuesday.

We can order it for Tuesday and see how we get on.

D'ordíodh Ceim an Choiste don Mháirt, 23 Iúil, 1968.

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday 23rd July, 1968.