Tuesday, 11 May 1937
Dáil Éireann Debate
An tUachtarán: Tairgim go léighfear an Dréacht an dara huair. Tá Dréacht den Bhunreacht seo idir lámhaibh ag na Dálairí le deich lá no níos mó, agus tá sé léighte agus ath-léighte aca. Rinne siad scrúdú agus mion-scrúdú air agus, mar gheall air sin, ní gá é do mhíníú ach go gearr. Nuair a théigheann tú isteach i gceist mar seo, is éigin a lán rudaí do chur síos nach saoilfeá go mba ghá nuair a chromann tú ar an obair. Mar gheall air sin, tá níos mó  san Dréacht ná mar a shaoil mé a bheadh. Mar is eol don Tigh, tá an Bunreacht rointe i gcuideanna áirithe. An chéad chuid, baineann sí leis an Náisiún agus deimhníonn sí gur ceart an chomhacht a bheith ag an Náisiún, cibé cineál Rialtais is rogha leo féin do bhunú, agus a saol féin do riaradh mar is maith leo. Deimhníonn sé freisin gurab é oileán na hEireann go hiomlán, na hinsí agus a chríoch-fhairrge an chríoch náisiúnta. Is eol dúinn nach féidir linn na dlighthe a ritheann tríd an Dáil do chur i bhfeidhm ar fud na tíre uile, go bhfuil cuid den tír deighilte uainn. Os rud é go bhfuil an scéal mar sin, tá sé ráidhte sa mBunreacht go mbeidh an límistéar céanna agus an chomhacht chéanna ag na dlighthe a ritheann tríd an Oireachtas fén mBunreacht seo agus a bhí ag na dlighthe a ritheadh tríd an Dáil fé Shaorstát Eireann. Deirmíd go mbeidh an scéal mar sin go dtí go ndéantar athchomhlánú ar an gcrích náisiúnta agus gan dochar do cheart na Páirliminte dlighthe do cheapadh le haghaidh an Náisiúin uile.
Baineann an dara cuid den Bhunreacht le Stát na hEireann. 'Sé an t-ainm atá ar an Stát ná Eire—seanainm na tíre seo, ainm a bhfuil grádh ag gach Eireannach cli cibé áird den domhan ina bhfuil sé 'na chomhnaí. Is fíor é nach mbeidh comhacht an Stáit i bhfeidhm, mar adubhras, san oileán ar fad ach ní fáth é sin gan an t-ainm Eire do thabhairt ar an Stát. Nuair baineadh cúige, no cuid, den Fhrainnc, leanadar leis an tseanainm agus beidh sé mar sin againn-ne go dtí go mbeidh an tír ar fad fén ár smacht. Suaitheantas na hEireann an bhratach trí ndath go bhfuilimíd go léir dílis dó, bratach na Poblachta, uaine, bán agus flann-bhuidhe. Sí teanga na h-Eireann an phríomhtheanga oifigiúil, mar is ceart. Ach os rud é go bhfuil a lán daoine sa tír ná fuil an teanga sin aca, ní folaire cuimhneamh, ar sin agus sin é an fáth go bhfuil an Beurla againn mar dara teanga. Ní gá níos mó a rá i dtaobh na coda seo den roinn seo. Gach adhbhar maoine nádúrtha agus gach adhbhar fuinnimh do bhí ag Saorstát Eireann, beidh siad ag an Stát Nua— Eire. Tá an t-alt sin scrúduithe go  beacht ag na dligheadóirí agus táimíd cinnte go bhfuil gach rud mar is ceart é do bheith san méid sin.
Baineann an chéad chuid eile leis an Uachtarán. Beidh Uachtarán na h-Eireann ann, an duine a toghfar ag an bpobal ar fad, siad na daoine féin a thoghfaidh an fear san, agus na comhachtaí a bheidh aige, tá siad léirithe go beacht agus go cruinn sa gcuid sin a bhaineann leis an Uachtarán. Na daoine atá ag fáil locht ar an mBunreacht seo, deireann siad go bhfuilimíd ag tabhairt an iomarca comhachta don Uachtarán. Na daoine adeir sin, is léir nár léigh siad féin an Bunreacht chor ar bith, nó má léigh siad é, is cinnte nar thuig siad é, nó má thuig siad é, is dearbhtha nar mhian leo an fhírinne d'innsint do na daoine. Deir siad go bhfuil an iomad comhachta tugtha don Uachtarán—go mbeidh se ina dheachtóir aige. Ní fíor é sin chor ar bith. Léightear an Bunreacht agus tuigfear an méid comhachta a bheidh ag an bfear seo. E sin a cheapas an Taoiseach nó ceann an Rialtais, ach mar sin féin, ní bheidh air ach páipéar do shighniú, nó có-gháirdeachas do dhéanamh leis an bhfear atá toghtha mar Thaoiseach, mar a rinneadh im' chás féin nuair a toghadh mé mar Uachtarán den Ard-Chomhairle. Déanfidh an t-Uachtarán có-gháirdeachas leis an Taoiseach nó cuirfidh sé a ainm le páipéar éigin, ach ní hé an tUachtarán a chinnfeas an fear a bheidh in a Thaoiseach. 'Sé an Dáil a bheidh toghtha ag na daoine a thoghfaidh an fear a bheidh ina Thaoiseach. Mar gheall ar sin, ní ceart a rá go bhfuil an iomad comhachta á thabhairt don Uachtarán, nuair do bheirimíd comhacht dó ceann an Rialtais do cheapadh. Ní bheidh aige le déanamh ach a ainm do chur le páipéar nó a rá leis an Taoiseach “Deinim có-gháirdeachas leat, mar gheall ar gur toghadh thú.”
Sa tslí chéanna, ceapfar an Tanaiste, nó fear ionad an Taoisigh, ach díreach mar i gcás an Taoisigh, ní hé an tUachtarán a chinnfeas an Tanaiste. 'Sé an Taoiseach a chinnean é. Toghfaidh an Taoiseach an fear is mian leis bheith in ionad mar Thaoiseach agus sé an Taoiseach a thoghfaidh na  baill eile den Rialtas. Caithfidh an Taoiseach dul os chomhair na Dála agus iarraidh orra glacadh leis na daoine a bheidh ainmnighthe aige mar bhaill den Rialtas. Má bhíonn an Dáil sásta leis na daoine seo, rachaidh an Taoiseach go dtí an tUachtarán agus deirfidh sé leis go bhfuil an Dáil sásta leis na daoine seo bheith ina nAirí. Cuirfidh an tUachtarán a ainm le paipéar éigin nó abróchaidh sé leis an Taoiseach: “Abair le n-a daoine atá toghtha go ndeinim comhghair deachas leo.” Sin a meid a dheanfaidh an tuachtara, agus ní dóigh liom gur mór an méid é sin.
An t-Uachtarán: Do réir an Bhunreachta, is féidir leis an Uachtarán an Dáil do lánscur nó thabhairt le chéile. Is féidir; ach cé déarfas leis é sin do dhéanamh? Má bhíonn furmór na Dála ar thaoibh an Taoisigh, tig leis dul go dtí an tUachtarán agus a rá leis go mba mhaith leis an Dáil do lánscur agus níl aon chead nó comhacht ag an Uachtarán é do dhiúltiú. Caithfidh sé é do dhéanamh. I geás amháin tig leis an Uachtarán iarratas an Taoisigh do dhiúltiú. Mara mbeidh furmhór na Dála ar thaoibh an Taoisigh, is féidir leis an Uachtarán a rá leis: “Níl furmhór lucht na Dála ar do thaobh, agus b'fhéidir go mba mhaith leis an Dáil duine eile do thoghadh mar Thaoiseach. Mar gheall ar sin, is ceart faill do thabhairt don Dáil fear eile do thoghadh agus nílim sásta lánscur do thabhairt duit.” Nó má cheapann an tUachtarán go mba cheart faill do thabhairt do mhuintir na hEireann a mbreith do thabhairt ar an sceál, tig leis a rá “Bíodh sé mar sin; cuirfimíd an Dáil ar lánscur.” Níl an iomad comhachta annsin ach an oiread.
Do réir an Bhunreachta tá árd-cheannas ag an Uachtarán ar an Arm Cosanta, ach mar sin féin, is do réir dlí a rialuítear an módh ar a n-oibrítear é. Is féidir linne sa Dáil fheiceál go n-oibreoidh an chomhacht sin tríd an Rialtas. Sin mar atá anois agus táim cinnte gurab amhlaidh a bheidh sé feasta. Cad iad na comhachtaí eile atá aige? Tá comhacht aige na breitheamhain do cheapadh.
Daoine nach bhfuil eolas aca ar an tslí in a ndeintear sin, b'fhéidir go  mbeidh siad ag ceapadh go bhfuilmíd ag tabhairt a lán comhachta don Uachtarán, ach má léigheann siad an Bunreacht go beacht agus go cruinn, cífidh siad go bhfuil sé soléir gurab é an Rialtas a chinneas na daoine a bheidh in a mbreitheamhain. 'Sé an Rialtas a dheinfeas an obair, ach níl ar an Uachtarán ach a ainm do chur leis an mbarántas nó le cibé páipéar a dheimhníonn go bhfuil na daoine seo toghtha agus ceapaithe i gceart. Ceapfaidh an tUachtarán na hoifigigh gairme san Airm, ach is do réir dlí a dhéanfa sé é. Ní dóigh liom gur gá dul tríd na comhachta eile ina gceann is ina gceann. Duine ar bith a léighfeas an Bunreacht, cífidh sé nach é an tUachtarán a thoghann na daoine seo ach dream eile ar fad. Mar sin, seafóid a rá gur deachtóir an tUachtarán.
Tá baint ag an Uachtarán le reachtaíocht agus leis na rudaí a bhaineas leis. Beidh dhá Thigh ann—an Dáil agus an Seanad. Níl an oiread comhachta ag an Tigh nua agus a bhi ag an sean-tSeanad ar chor ar bith. Ní féidir leis an Seanad nua níos mó moille do chur ar Bhillí ná 90 lá ar an gcuid is mó dhe. Caithfidh siad an Bille do chur ar ais chun na Dála, agus muna mbíonn an Dáil sásta leis na leasuithe do chur an Seanad ann, is féidir leis an Dáil rún do chur i bhfeidhm i dtreo go mbeidh an Bille sin ina dhlí. Ní dóigh liom gur cheart chomhacht beith ag an Dáil breith a thabhairt ar an gcuna san ar cheist mhóir nach raibh breith tugtha ag na daoine uirthi. Más mar sin atá an scéal, b'fhéidir go mbeadh ar an Uachtarán de thuairim seans do thabhairt do na daoine a mbreith do thabhairt ar Bhille táchtach mar sin; ach ní bheidh aon tseans ag an Uachtarán a lámh do chur san obair má bhíonn an Seanad agus an Dáil sásta leis an mBille. I gcás mar sin, ní bheidh ar an Uachtarán ach a ainm do chur leis an mBille. Ach má bhíonn easaontas ann—má bhíonn furmhór an tSeanaid agus trian den Dáil mí-shásta—tig leo impí do chur chun an Uachtaráin á iarraidh air an cheist do chur os comhair an phobail. Annsin, déarfaidh an tUachtarán leis an Rialtas “Is ceart tuairim na ndaoine d'fháil ar an scéal seo agus is oraibh atá a rá an t-olltoghchán nó referendum do chur ar bun.” Caithfear  sin do dhéanamh laistigh de 1½ bliain. Beidh rogha ag an Rialtas idir an dá rud seo. Na daoine atá ag fáil locht ar an mír sin, 'siad na daoine céanna a bhí ag clamhsán toisc gan srian a bheith le comhacht na Dála. Bhí siad ag tathaint orainn gach lá go raibh an iomarca comhachta ag an Rialtas agus ag na Teachtai sna suidheacháin seo. Dubhairt siad go raibh an dream ba mhó sa Tigh i ndon dlí do chur i bhfeidhm agus gan níos mó ná guth amháin sa mbreis aca. Dubhairt siad go dtiocfadh leo a lán díobhála do dhéanamh don tír, agus anois nuair atáimíd ag cur deire leis sin, níl siad sásta ach oiread. Cuireann siad i gcuimhne dhom “Cáit an Cheoil”—níl siad sásta leis an luch ann nó as. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil aon tslí níos fearr chun cosc do chur le furmhór na Dála más mian leo rud do dhéanamh nach dteastuíonn o n-a daoine.
I dtrí nó ceithre cásanna eile beidh comhacht ag an Uachtarán feasta. Maidir leis na Billí Airgid, níl comhacht moille thar 21 lá ag an Seanad. Má dhearbhuíonn an Ceann Comhairle gur Bille Airgid Bille áirithe, níl ach an t-am sin ag an Seanad chun é do bhreithniú. Más mian le furmhór an tSeanaid é, is féidir leo a rá. “Nílimíd sásta leis an mbreithiúnas a thug an Ceann Comhairle. Tá dearmad déanta aige.” Is féidir leo impí do chur chun an Uachtaráin á iarraidh air Coiste ar Phríbhléidí do chur ar bun chun an scéal do scrúdú. Tá comhacht ag an Uachtarán é sin do dhéanamh má bhíonn sé sásta. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil an iomarca comhachta ag ar Uachtarán maidir leis sin. Tugtai Billí eile isteach go mbíonn práinn leo I gcás mar sin, más mian leis an Dáil an Bille do chur tríd an Oireachtas laistigh de chúpla uair an chluig, caithfear sin do dhéanamh, ach is ceart gan comhacht do thabhairt chun é sin do dhéanamh de ghnáth, agus má cheapann an tUachtarán nach bhfuil práinn leis an mBille, is féidir leis a rá nach bhfuil sé sásta go bhfuil práinn leis. Is féidir leis an Rialtas dul go dtí an Seanad feasta, mar a bhí sé ar a gcumas do dhéanamh san am atá thart, agus a iarraidh ar lucht an tSeanaid an Bille do thabhairt don  Rialtas ar an bpointe toisc práinn a bheith leis. Má bhíonn siad sásta, déanfaidh siad sin, agus muna mbíonn, ní dhéanfaidh siad rud ortha. Má bhíonn an Seanad agus an Dáil ar aon aigne ní féidir leis an Uachtarán cosc nó bac do chur ar an Rialtas. Ní dóigh liom gur gá dom dul níos doimhne sa scéal.
Tá rud eile go mba mhaith liom tagairt do dhéanamh dó. Tá Comhairle Stáit ann chun comhairle a leasa do thabhairt don Uachtarán. Uair ar bith is mian leis breithiúnas do thabhairt ar cheist ar bith, tiocfaidh na daoine seo ina thimpeall agus beidh cead cainte ag gach duine acu ar an gceist. Tar éis iad do chloisint, tabharfaidh sé a bhreithiúnas. Daoine ciallmhara a bhéas ar an gcomhairle seo—an Príomh-Bhreitheamh, Uachtarán na hÁrd-Chúirte, an Taoiseach agus an Tánaiste, an tÁrd-Aighne, Cathaoirleach na Dála agus Cathaoirleach an tSeanaid. Beidh na daoine seo ar an gComhairle de bhuadh a n-oifigí. I dteanta na ndaoine seo, beidh cead ag duine a bhí ina Uachtarán nó ina Thaoiseach nó ina PhrímhBhreitheamh dul ar an gComhairle agus beidh comhacht ag an Uachtarán mór-sheisear eile do thoghadh. Ní bheidh aon chomhacht ag an gComhairle. Comhairleoirí amháin a bheidh ionta agus ní gá morán a rá ina dtaobh, ach gurab é mo thuairim go ndéanfa sé a lán maitheasa don stát Comhairle mar sin a bheith ann.
Rinne mé tagairt don Pháirlimint agus don Uachtarán, agus b'fhéidir nach gá a thuille a rá mar gheall orra. Is ag an Rialtas a bheidh an chomhacht is mó san Stát. Beidh an Rialtas freagarthach don Dáil ó lá go lá. Ach marach furmhór na Dála, ní bheadh an Rialtas i réim chor ar bith, agus os rud é go dtoghtar an Dáil ag an bpobal, agus an Rialtas ag ionadóirí an phobail, is ceart do réir mo thuairime an chomhacht sin a bheith ag an dream sin. Más mian le duine ar bith fháil amach cén áit ina bhfuil comhacht an Stáit, gheobhaidh sé é san Rialtas. Tá comhacht ag an Rialtas—an méid comhachta a bhí aca go dtí seo. Ni feidir leis an Rialtas a ngnó do dhéanamh gan an chomhacht sin.
 Tá na cúirteanna le bheith mar a bhíodar, beagnach. Beidh an chomhacht chéanna acu agus a bhí, ach tá leasuithe déanta in áiteanna ina raibh sé riachtanach san do dhéanamh. Bhí ceist ann i dtaobh na gcomhacht atá ag Coimisiún na Talmhan agus a leithéid, agus ba cheart an cheist do shocrú sa mBunreacht. Tá comhacht ag an Rialtas feidhmiú tríd an Uachtarán, agus chó fada is bhíonn aon cheangal eadrainn féin agus náisiúin eile, is féidir leis an Rialtas úsáid do bhaint as aon duine nó as aon oifigeach atá ag na náisiúin go bhfuil ceangal againn leo.
San méid sin den Bhunreacht isiad na hoifigígh agus comhacht na n-oifigeach na rudaí préamhacha den Stát. Sa roinn eile, tá cur síos ar cheist ana-tháctach—na cirt bhunúsaigh atá ag na daoine—cirt nach féidir a bhaint díobh. Sa roinn seo den Bhunreacht tá trácht ar chirt phearsannta, an teaghlach, creideamh agus maoin phríobháideach. Tá foráiltí a bhaineas leis an am a mbeidh an Bunreacht i bhfeidhm agus ón uair sin go dtí go dtoghfar an tUachtarán agus go mbeidh an Seanad curtha ar bun agus an Stát fé lán-tseol. Ní dóigh liom gur gá cur síos ar na ceisteanna seo. Ceisteanna seadh iad gur féidir a chur fé mhion-scrúdú nuair a bheidh an Bunreacht seo fé mhion-scrúdu i gCoiste na Dála.
Táim cinnte go bhfuil furmhór na ndaoine sásta leis na prionsiobail ar a laighead san mBunreacht seo. B'fhéidir go bhfuil mion-rudaí annso is annsiúd ann gur cheart iad do leasú. Má thaisbeánann na Dálairí na rudaí seo dúinn, agus má bhímíd sásta mar gheall orra, déanfaimíd iarracht ar iad do cheartú; ach ní mór ciall a bheith leis na tairisgintí sin. Muna mbeidh ciall leo, ní abróchaidh aon duine go mba cheart glacadh leo.
Cuirim an Dréacht-Bhunreacht seo os comhair na Dála. Molaim é don Dáil agus don tír. Tá áthas orm gur thuit an crann orm a leithéid seo d'obair do dhéanamh. Is iomdha lá a bhí muintir na tíre ag feitheamh le lá mar seo. Beidh deis agus faill againn an obair do leasú agus do chríochnú. Níl aon phráinn orainn. Ní abraimíd gur gá an Bunreacht bheith ina dhlí laistigh de chúig nó sé lá nó laistigh  de chúig seachtaine, más gá an oiread sin ama chun an obair do dhéanamh i gceart. Ach táimíd sásta nach gá an seal sin. Nuair a bheidh an obair déanta againn annseo cuirfimíd os comhair——
An t-Uachtarán: Tá's agam go maith nach eadh. Tabharfaimíd a sáith aimsire don Dáil chun an obair seo do dhéanamh i gceart. Mar adubhras, nuair a bheidh an obair déanta againn, cuirfimíd an Dréacht os comhair muintir na hEireann. Nuair a bheidh ár gcuid féin den obair déanta, táim cinnte go mbeidh muintir na hEireann beagnach uilig sásta leis an Dréacht. Mar tá daoine annseo nach bhfuil Gaedhilg acu, is dócha go mba chóir dom tosnú ar an mBéarla, agus an míniú a thug mé in nGaedhilg do thabhairt i mBéarla. Nuair a bheidh an Bunreacht á phlé againn, is ceart dúinn é do dhéanamh tríd an nGaedhilg agus iarraim ar na Teachtaí ar an taobh seo den Tigh, agus ar an taobh eile, ag a bhfuil an Ghaedhilg úsáid do bhaint aisti sa díospóireacht. Caithfidh mé cromadh ar an mBéarla anois.
I have said that I suppose it is right to speak now to those who were unable to understand me when I was explaining some of the provisions of this Bunreacht, this draft Constitution, in Irish. As I said, the attempt has been made to make this a clear document, one that would be easily read and easily understood. I think that, largely at any rate, that has been achieved. It does seem to me to be a document which is easily understood by anybody who really takes the trouble to read it carefully, and I am sorry to think that there is a number of people who took it upon themselves to criticise it and who have not read it carefully, because if they had I cannot see how they would have  had the audacity to make some of the criticisms which they have made.
If you look through it you will find that it is divided into certain well-defined sections. The first section deals with the nation, and asserts the right of the nation to choose its own form of Government, to choose whatever relations with other States it deems to be best in its own interests, and to live its own life in its own way according to its own genius and tradition. In that section, too, is claimed by the nation the whole of the national territory, but, because at the moment we are not in a position to make the will of the majority of our people effective throughout the whole island, it is clearly laid down that the area of jurisdiction of the Government which is provided by this Constitution shall be of the same extent as that of the State, Saorstát Eireann.
In the second section, dealing with the State, the most important matters dealt with are the name of the State; the fact that under God the power of government comes from the people, the people designating the rulers. It is, therefore, from the people that the rulers get, not their authority for ruling, because that authority comes from a higher source, but their immediate designation as rulers. The flag which is accepted as the national flag is laid down here specifically in the Constitution as the tricolour, and the Irish language is definitely specified to be the first official language, whilst English is accepted as the second official language. Except for the Article which says that the property of the nation which formerly belonged to Saorstát Eireann is taken over, there is nothing further of importance I think in that section.
The next section is that which deals with the President, how he is elected, and the powers he has got. He is to be elected by the people as a whole for a period of seven years. Now, nobody would propose getting the whole people to elect a person unless it was proposed to give him substantial powers, and consequently if those powers are in any way to be exercised in connection with legislation it is only right that a person who had got the  authority definitely from the people for doing certain things should exercise it. The President's term of office, seven years, was chosen because in a matter of that sort frequent elections are inadvisable. That has been noted by several States on the Continent, a number of which have also chosen seven years as the period of office of the President. We are following possibly the majority in choosing that period. It is not too long, and at the same time it is sufficiently long, I think, to avoid the inconveniences of frequent elections. With regard to the powers that are given to the President, it might perhaps be well to speak a little bit more at length than on the other parts of the Constitution, because some critics have fastened particularly on the powers that are given to the President and pretended that those powers are of a dictatorial nature.
Now, there is nothing, in my opinion at any rate, to justify any such criticism or any such conclusion. The powers that are given to the President in what I might call definitely the executive domain are relatively small. It is true that it is his signature that will go to a number of appointments, but he has himself nothing to do with the selection of the people who are to be appointed. Now, clearly you have not much power if you have to put your signature to something and to accept something which has really been done by somebody else. So far as the executive powers of the President are concerned, if you examine carefully the Bunreacht you will find that those powers are exercised on advice, or that they are exercised after a decision has been taken by other bodies. In this, you will notice that it is the President who will appoint the head of the Government or the Taoiseach. He appoints him; he does the formal act called appointment, but it is not the President who selects the head of the Government. The head of the Government under this Constitution will be selected by the Dáil in the future, as the head of the Government was selected by the Dáil in the past. There is no change whatever as far as the question  of selecting the head of the Government is concerned.
That brings me to another matter. One set of critics say that we are creating a dictatorship, and another set of critics say that we have made no change at all. There is no truth in the statement that we are creating a dictatorship. To a certain extent, there is truth in the statement that we have used, and propose to use in the new Constitution, methods which we have used here and found satisfactory in the past. I think there is wisdom in that. In any case, wishing to get this through the Dáil, and wishing to get it to the people and accepted by the majority of the people, I was anxious, naturally, that the things that we were satisfied with should remain: that we should not have change simply for change's sake.
Now, once you determine upon a democratic form of government, representative government, government responsible to the elected representative of the people, the main lines of your Constitution are set. We here have always made clear that we believed in the fundamental right of our people to choose their own Government, the form of their State even, and, believing in that right, we naturally enshrined it in the Constitution. If there is one thing more than another that is clear and shining through this whole Constitution, it is the fact that the people are the masters. They are the masters at the time of an election, and their mastery is maintained during the period from election to election through the President, who has been chosen definitely to safeguard their interests, to see that nothing that they have not in a general way given approval of is passed by the small majority which used to be threatened here as a danger to the country as a whole. It is extraordinary how people change about.
The President: When we decided to act as we are at present, we found people on the other side of the House criticising us and telling us from day to day that a single vote here in the Dáil might land the whole country into a terrible condition: that this  was the most absolute Government in the world, and that the vote of a single member was going, we were told, to upset the whole country. Now, feeling ourselves that there was no danger in that, being indifferent from that point of view, and having no fears about it, we have tried to meet those who have fears, but the moment that we try to meet their fears, lo! we are told we are depriving Parliament of its full powers.
Is not that the criticism? It would be very interesting to go back on the debates that we had here for the last year, to take those debates, and to read, for instance, Deputy Professor O'Sullivan's attacks and Deputy Cosgrave's attacks on the power of the Government to pass any Bill: that we were the most absolute dictators, and that by a single vote we could pass in a moment a Bill which was going to rob everybody in the country overnight. That was the threat that was held out during that period, but now because we say, “Well, if there are people who feel like that, then, just the same as in the case of the Seanad, we will give them certain safeguards,” and when we provide the safeguards, they come along and say that we are depriving Parliament of its powers. Of course, there is no such thing as logic in matters of that sort. We cannot find it, and we are not likely to get it. Indeed, we do not look for it from the people on the opposite benches.
I was speaking about the fact that we have used certain parts that we found useful and that have been tried. One of the things that we have no hesitation in re-adopting is that the head of the Government should be selected in the Assembly in which the representatives, directly elected by the people, will have gathered. The head of the Government will then be chosen by the Dáil as before. The President's powers of appointment are confined, as I said when speaking in Irish, to putting his name to a paper, to performing the sort of ceremony that was performed when I was first elected and congratulated on my appointment. Seeing, therefore, that the head of the Government is chosen by the representatives  of the people, it is foolish to talk of a dictatorship in connection with the President in that matter anyhow. Similarly, in regard to the appointment of the Tánaiste and the other members of the Government, the President does not select them. They are selected, or will be selected, by the head of the Government. He has to bring the names of his colleagues before the Dáil, and get the Dáil's approval before they can be appointed. When he has got the Dáil's approval, he informs the President of what his choice is. He informs him that the Dáil has approved his choice, and then the President performs the formal act of appointment. But the President does not choose the people who are appointed. Surely, there is nothing dictatorial about his power in that connection.
Similarly with the judges. The President does not choose them. They are chosen, or will be chosen in the future, as they have been chosen in the past, by the Executive Council; and when the choice is made, the President's power merely comes in to give formal expression to the decision that has been taken by the Executive Council or by the Government. The President is head of the Army. The supreme command of the Army is vested in him, but it is clearly stated that that command will be exercised in accordance with the law. As the Government are there, with day to day responsibility to Dáil Eireann, and as it is Dáil Eireann that will vote the moneys that are necessary for the upkeep of the Army, it is quite obvious that control will not be permitted to be exercised except by the elected Government which is responsible from day to day to the House of Representatives.
What other powers has he? He appoints the Attorney-General, but the Attorney-General is not selected by him. The Attorney-General is selected by the head of the Government who nominates him. The President has no power to take anybody else but that person. He has no power to appoint anybody else.
The President: Why was it marked before? I am not going to argue questions of detail to-day. I am quite prepared to stand by the present system under which the appointment is made by nomination, which in these cases is carried by the same nomination that selects the members of the Government.
The President: I ask the Chair to see that I am permitted to continue my speech without interruption. I am prepared at any time when we come to the details to take these points one by one and deal with them. I am simply dealing now with the powers of the President, and I say that, though he has the appointment of the Attorney-General, in fact the Attorney-General is not chosen by him. At this stage that is the only point I want to make. He also appoints the Comptroller and Auditor-General. The Comptroller and Auditor-General is not selected by him; the Comptroller and Auditor-General is selected by this House and he cannot do otherwise than appoint the person chosen by this House. So that all these appointments which are to be made by the President are of a formal character and do not suggest, and cannot suggest to anybody who understands how they are done, the idea of dictatorship.
You may say he dismisses these people, too — he terminates their appointment, if you wish. But, again, he only does this on the advice and after the decision of quite different bodies. He would remove judges from office, but if so, it would be only after a resolution passed by the two Houses. The Comptroller and Auditor-General would be removed by him if he had to be removed, but it would be only after a resolution of the two Houses. The Prime Minister or the Taoiseach  or the head of the Government is not removable by him; he has to resign unless he has the support of a majority of the Dáil behind him. The President dissolves and summons the Oireachtas, but again he does that on the advice of the head of the Government who has got the support of a majority of the representatives of the people in this House.
There is one difference in this regard between the new position and the old. Under the Constitution which will be repealed by this, a Government which failed to get the support of a majority of the Dáil could not get a dissolution. In this case, it will be possible for a Government that has been defeated to ask for a dissolution and it will be in the discretion of the President to give it or not. That will require careful consideration on his part but, in my opinion, it does lead to the mastery of the people being maintained in a way it could not be maintained under the present system. Again, that is a matter of detail, important no doubt, but a matter that we will be able to discuss in detail when we come to this particular section. I will simply repeat again what I have said when I referred to these appointments—that in this Constitution the President's act with regard to appointments is largely of a formal character and, if you are going to find fault with it, that fault would be that he was given very little power in this particular connection which could justify his election by the people as a whole. If there was not anything in these powers to justify his election, and there were no other powers but the powers given under the heading largely of his executive functions, the proper criticism would be that this man has such little powers that these powers would not justify the expense or the trouble of a popular election to the office.
Let me go on to the other side of his functions—his functions in the legislative domain. Here his responsibility is greater, and his powers in a certain sense are greater, too. I have referred to one very fundamental power given here, and that is the power of acceding to the request of a Government which has failed to  secure the support of a majority in the Dáil. I just refer to that and emphasise that it is an important power, and that the wise exercise of it by the President may mean that he is maintaining the supremacy of the people at a time when it is vital that the people's supremacy should be maintained.
With regard to legislation generally, in the ordinary course we will take it that the Dáil by a majority will pass a measure. That measure will go to the Seanad. The Seanad will consider it and may amend it. Generally, I would take it, if the Second House does its duty as mainly a House of revision, because its powers of delay are very limited under this Constitution, we will get between the two Houses a certain amount of agreement, and the measures will pass in future as we have been able to get the ordinary measures in the past. But, if there is a difference of opinion between the two Houses on a matter which is considered by the Seanad to be one of fundamental importance, and if a substantial minority—not less than one-third of the lower House— combine with the majority of the Seanad, and they request the President not to put his signature to that Bill and let it become law until the people have had an opportunity of expressing their will upon it, then that becomes a matter in which the President will carry a serious responsibility. But, according to this Constitution, if the two Houses agree, he has no function but to sign the Bills as brought to him. His function is to see, in fact, that a measure upon which the people have not expressed an opinion is not passed through in circumstances such as the leader of the Opposition here was wont to describe to us some time ago—by a single vote.
Suppose you had a situation where there was a fundamental matter of national importance and that it was passed in this House by a single vote and rejected almost unanimously in the Seanad; that the President was satisfied, and it was obvious from the expressions of public opinion that he noticed that this was a matter on which there was a considerable difference of  opinion in the country, then the President would weigh up the situation and say to himself: “Does my duty compel me to send it to the people? Do the differences which exist warrant that the people should be put to the expense either of an election or a referendum?” If he comes to the conclusion that the people's will should be obtained upon it, he tells that to the head of the Government who has presented the Bill to him, having listened, before he made up his mind, to the advice of important people in the State, namely, those who are in the Council of State and who sit in camera.
I want to remind you that this Council of State consists of certain officers of State ex-officio and that it will ordinarily contain the leaders of the big Parties in the Dáil; two members or so from the Government. Ordinarily there will be in it people who had held office as head of the Government formerly. They will, therefore, be in a position to explain or try to make clear any point of view that they may have on it before the President makes up his mind. So that he certainly is provided with a body competent to advise and warn him of any dangers and of all the facts of the situation. He is supposed then to judge for himself, having heard that advice. If the conditions are such as to warrant it, he is in a position to tell the head of the Government: “I am not prepared to sign that Bill until the people's will has been obtained on the matter in question.” Then the Government have a choice. If the Bill is not immediately necessary for their policy, they can let it lie there for any time up to one and a half years. Within that time they can either have an election, and it is sufficient to have an election, because with a matter of that sort held up it will clearly be before the public mind, and the people, when they are electing their representatives, will clearly know and have envisaged the result of the election in regard to that particular measure, so that the matter will be clearly before the public mind if an election is held; or the Government may choose to proceed by way of a referendum. In that way the matter would be submitted to the people directly without an election.  In order to weigh the presumption that the Bills which would be passed by the people's representatives in the Dáil are accepted by the people you make sure that the people must definitely veto the measure by a majority of what you may call the effective register. The number 35 per cent. is put down there, because roughly 70 per cent. of the register polls at a well-contested election. The idea was that if you had a well-contested election and the measure was distasteful to the people or they were against the measure for one reason or another that the responsibility should be put on them to turn up and oppose the measure by at least half of what one might call the effective register. The responsibility is on the people who are opposed to the measure. The whole balance is in favour of the people's representatives and the measure is passed unless the people themselves come out and veto it. Consequently, it would be largely a wise measure of power that would be held in reserve to meet very special occasions. It would be a measure that would not be used without very grave necessity but it is useful as a reserve of power.
That is the position. I repeat that as far as an ordinary Bill is concerned the President cannot touch it. He has no veto in the case of an ordinary Bill. His power only comes in when there is a big difference between the two Houses, when there is a matter of fundamental national importance involved and when he is requested by a majority of the Seanad and at least one-third of the Dáil to see that the measure is put to the people, and their will taken upon it.
With regard to other measures, the President has a certain power also. With regard to Constitutional measures, or powers to amend the Constitution, the President has no function. There is a period of three years in which an opportunity is given to make any minor amendments in the Constitution, for, despite all care that may be given to this measure by the Dáil, it is possible that some things might slip through. For that reason there is a period of three years in which an opportunity will be given, if they are  small matters of drafting and not Constitutional principles, to change them if the President agrees. But the idea is that this Constitution is to be enacted by the people themselves, and being enacted by the people themselves it would not be right that you should change that by mere legislation. Consequently any measure that is intended to change the Constitution has to go to the people. But the President has no function in connection with it. It might happen that a Bill may be brought in here which, though not expressed to be an amendment of the Constitution, might, in fact, be an amendment to the Constitution. Unless it was assumed that the Constitution might be amended by a Bill, the Bill if passed could not amend the Constitution. That is ruled out. Therefore it would be contrary to the Constitution if such a Bill were passed.
If a law is enacted which is contrary to the Constitution, and if that law is held by the Supreme Court to be invalid, and if certain actions are taken or certain things done under that law, they might not be revocable. It is therefore advisable at the earliest possible stage to draw attention to the fact that the particular Bill is against the Constitution and to stop it in its course at least before it becomes law. That is the special function of the President. If through attending to the discussions here in the Dáil and the representations that may be made by the Opposition or the arguments brought forward in the Seanad, he is of opinion that the measure, if passed, would be invalid by being contrary to the Constitution, the President has the power of sending that measure or referring that measure for decision to the Supreme Court. He can do that before he signs the measure. The measure would become law at the moment by his signature. But it is not the President who decides whether it is against the Constitution or not. His function is simply one of causing the measure to be referred. It is an important power, and I think some functionary or some institution in the State ought to have the power of such reference and there should be no waiting until the measure becomes law. If the measure did become law acts may be possibly done under it, and then  these acts may have consequences which are not always removable.
The President also has a function in regard to Money Bills. For the discussion of Money Bills the Seanad has only 21 days. The Seanad has three months for the discussion of an ordinary measure. To prevent any fraud upon the Seanad by compelling them to discuss within 21 days and practically not to interfere with the Bill which they would have a perfect right to discuss if it came in the guise of an ordinary measure, and to prevent the possibility of mistakes by the Chairman of the Dáil, there is an appeal to the President against a certificate of the Ceann Comhairle. There can be an appeal made by the House affected, that is the Seanad. The Seanad may complain to the President that the Bill was certified a Money Bill in mistake. They may ask the President to set up a Committee of Privileges which would determine the issue as to whether the Bill was or was not a Money Bill. The President then selects an equal number of members from each House and appoints the judge to determine the issue. Again the President himself does not determine the issue. He refers it to the Committee of Privileges. If anybody suggests there is a better method, if any Deputy knows of a better method, or if the Dáil agrees to a better method, I am quite prepared to listen to any arguments that may be put forward. I am quite open to listen if anybody can show a better way of selecting the committee. That is one of the functions of the President if the Seanad thinks that a certain Bill should not be certified as a Money Bill.
There is also in this draft of the Constitution provision for a state of emergency. None of us may be certain that some time or another there may not arise a situation in which it is vital to get legislation passed quickly.
Ordinarily, I think the Seanad could be depended upon to see a national emergency with the Government and to accede to the wishes of the Government to have the Bill passed expeditiously. But we might find that would not be the situation, and therefore the  primary House, the House of Representatives, are given under this Constitution a very great power, namely, the power of compelling discussion within a very limited period by the Seanad and of compelling a decision by the Seanad within that period, and, no matter what may be the decision of the Seanad, if the Dáil do not accept their recommendations or amendments, the law is passed over their heads. It is clear that if the Seanad were not to agree in a case like that and if that power were given without some form of check, it might be abused. Remember that you cannot by a law arrange for every possible set of circumstances, and you cannot by this Constitution arrange for every sort of possibility. To diminish the chances of a misuse of that tremendous power, the President is put in the position that his consent would have to be obtained; he would have to concur with the primary House, the House of Representatives, before the powers of the Seanad were curtailed to the extent that is suggested here. It will there be seen that he is put in a very responsible position.
Let us take what will ordinarily happen. He will be kept in touch with the position of affairs generally in the country by the Government or the head of the Government from day to day or from week to week. The Government ought to be able to persuade him, giving him all the inner knowledge that they may have about the situation, while they may not be able to persuade a body like the Seanad. If he concurs, then the power of the Seanad to spend a long time over the discussion of such a measure is limited in accordance with the resolution of the House. There is no question of the President coming in a dictatorial way and saying: “This must be done within a certain time.” He has nothing to do with the initiation of this; it must be initiated by a majority of the Dáil. His function is that of an umpire, so to speak, to see that the Lower House acts in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. It would have to be a clear and an obvious abuse of power before the President would interfere. If he were to interfere unnecessarily he would be a very foolish man, indeed.
 Even in the legislative domain we may not agree. I am not expecting perfect agreement. Nobody who has ever lived could devise a Constitution on which 140 or 150 people would be of the same mind. We have to settle this question in the same way as all differences of opinion are settled, by a vote. I did not dream when I was drawing this up that we would all agree on points of that kind. We can argue them out and balance the pros and cons, and finally come to what, in our opinion, is the best decision. My own belief is that the powers in the legislative domain are the chief powers and the only powers the President has which would justify an election of him by the people. In exercising these powers he is acting on behalf of the people who have put him there for that special purpose. He is there to guard the people's rights and mainly to guard the Constitution. His functions are not of a dictatorial character; they are functions rather of a judicial nature in connection with legislation. Inevitably, I have had to spend more time than perhaps would be justified on this because of the criticisms levelled particularly at that particular section. I now come to the question of the Seanad, which I have referred to a number of times.
The President: The Deputy, I think, is a lawyer, and to say that you can give the President any powers you like under that Article clearly indicates that the Deputy has not read the Article, because it is subject to the Constitution.
The President: It is very difficult to explain anything further than what is contained in this, but what it means  is this: There may be a time, a particular set of circumstances may arise, when an appointment has to be made. That appointment may be open to be made by any particular person, the head of the Government, the Attorney-General or the Ceann Comhairle. Perhaps it may be thought that it is more consistent with the general working of the Constitution that that appointment should be made by the President, acting on advice. We put it here that whenever he is acting in such a manner he would have to act either on the advice of the Government or after consultation with the Council of State. If by legislation—and that means that the two Houses must agree—it is agreed that this particular function should be given to the President, he would make the appointments on the advice of the Government. If it is not mentioned that it is a thing that he may do at his own discretion, it will have to be done on the advice of the Government. If it is done at his own discretion, it will only be capable of being done after consultation with the Council of State.
The President: This is simply to give an enabling power to Parliament to deal with matters that may be of a routine character. There may be, for instance, the question of the appointment of visitors to a university. It may be appointments of that kind, but they must be subject to this Constitution. The Constitution very clearly defines the area of power of the President and whatever is done cannot be contrary to the Constitution. Therefore, they cannot give him powers that are given to the Government or to Parliament. Suppose there was in contemplation a new university and a settling by law that the appointment of these visitors should be made by the President, you have power to do that under this Constitution. Whether you would have power without it, I do not know. At any rate, it is a sort of omnibus clause to enable certain  things to be done. Of course, you cannot arrange for everything in a Constitution of this kind. The intention is to let the lawyers point out if matters are carried out accurately or not, or if certain powers are capable of being used beyond the extent that it is contemplated to use them. I would be glad to hear arguments in that direction.
The President: We will argue that in detail at another time and the Deputy will have every opportunity of submitting his points. All I am concerned with is to meet the Deputy's point. We have heard a lot of talk about the dictatorial powers of the President and I am simply referring to the matter in passing because my attention has been directed to it. If anybody argues in committee that any power is unnecessary and gives good reasons in support of his argument, we can wipe it out. If anybody suggests that the wording is such that it could be used to give to the President powers not contemplated by us, then we can narrow them down. So far, I do not see anything in the Article, any danger to apprehend. If I am wrong I shall be glad to have my error pointed out to me. That is one of the advantages of having a body like this to discuss such matters in detail. This is a case where the lawyers, if they sat down to help from the professional point of view and did not allow the lawyer to be swamped in the politician, could do good work.
The President: I am sorry—that is, if I have said anything that is hurtful; but it does genuinely express my view. This matter of the Constitution is going to be interpreted, ultimately, by the Courts. The Supreme Court is going to be the body to decide on its interpretation. I know that a number of people would prefer to get some other body to be the judge in such matters, and I do not want to say, for one moment, that, if I could get another body to deal with the interpretation of the Constitution, and  which could decide such matters just as well as the Supreme Court, I would not be in favour of having some body other than the ordinary courts. I know that in other countries, courts are set up, known, roughly, as constitutional courts, to deal with such matters, which take a broader view— again, I do not wish to be hurtful— which take a broader view, or not so narrow a view, as the ordinary courts which, strictly interpreting the ordinary law from day to day, have to take. If I could get from anybody any suggestion of some court to deal with such matters, other than the Supreme Court, then I would be willing to consider it, and, if it were feasible, to adopt the suggestion. I confess, however, that, as I confessed on another occasion with regard to the Senate, I could not get any other body that would be satisfactory. At that time, I could not get a satisfactory Seanad, and so I confess now that I have not been able to get anything better than the Supreme Court to fulfil this function. However, if it were possible to find a better body to deal with these matters, and if the lawyers would help me to put into this an indication whereby it could be suggested to the court that, in constitutional matters, the court should not take a narrow, or, what might be called, a strictly legalistic view, then I would do that; but again that is a course that I found too difficult to put down here and to reduce to practice.
The Deputy, by getting me into another line of thought, has been taking me away from the line which was more or less a synopsis of the measure before us. However, with regard to the Supreme Court, one of its principal functions will be the function of determining whether Acts passed by the Legislature are, in fact, repugnant to the Constitution or not. Now, I was just beginning to deal with the question of the Seanad when the Deputy put me back to the question of the powers of the President. With regard to the Seanad, I think I have already anticipated something I was going to say. In dealing with the question of the old Seanad. I expressed a number of  opinions, and one of these opinions was that people who think of an ideal Seanad cannot reduce that ideal to practice—in other words, they cannot get a form of Seanad which even comes near the ideal towards which they are aiming. I challenged the Opposition, two years ago, to produce such an ideal Seanad. I pointed out that it is all very well to say: “Oh, the people's representatives may run amok, and we want to have another body to prevent them from running amok”; but the moment you get another body, so to speak, to guard the guardians, or to watch the watchers, you find that that other body's difficulties are just as great, and that they are just as likely to run amok as the other.
Consequently, I am all the more convinced that such a thing as an ideal Seanad is not possible. At the time, I challenged the Opposition to produce their ideal Seanad. There is, I know, a complaint from the Opposition because of the abolition of the former Seanad and the fact that a Seanad is now proposed in this new Constitution. It must be remembered, however, that I asked the Opposition to come in on the deliberations of the committee that was set up to deal with that matter. They were very anxious that there should be a Seanad, but yet they shirked coming in on that committee. They thought, evidently, that it would be very much better for them to be in the position in which they are to-day— a position of being able to sit back and criticise whatever was being done. Nobody could say that they put forward any constructive suggestions, but they wanted to be able to say: “It is your business to put forward constructive suggestions,” and then sit back and criticise whatever suggestions were made.
The President: At any rate, we set  up a committee to deal with this question of a Seanad, and on that committee there were a number of people who were interested in this particular matter. As far as I could manage it, I got representatives on that committee from all the different Parties. They sat down and considered the question, and the result of their deliberations—I think it is not unfair to say—was, in the main, to prove the thesis that it is not possible to get a satisfactory Seanad; and the only thing that made me put a proposition for a Seanad into this measure at all is this: that there were members on the benches opposite, as I remember, who, during the Seanad debate, said: “Very well, even a bad Seanad would be better than no Seanad at all.” It is precisely on that basis—that some Seanad, the best Seanad we can get, even though it may be adjudged a bad Seanad, is still better than no Seanad at all—that this proposal is now included. My attitude is that, even though some of us may be largely indifferent to the question of whether or not there is a Seanad, if a large section of the people of the country think that there is something important in having a Seanad, then, even if we ourselves are indifferent to it, we should give way to the people who are anxious for it.
The President: Yes, very nice and agreeable. However, we asked the Seanad Committee to sit, and I, personally, was pleased to find—because it was a line I tried to explore a few times, and it did give you that idea of something that would not be a mere reproduction of the other House—that the recommendation was that we should get a Second Chamber that, at least, would be of a character in which there would be represented men who would have special knowledge and experience of certain activities in our national life, and that, though we are not organised in a way that would make such a Seanad immediately practicable, nevertheless there was a germ of a suggestion which we tried to work up and to make practicable. It is quite possible, of course, that those  who put forward those schemes would prefer their own scheme unchanged instead of the scheme which is suggested here, but I think we will be able, when we come to the details of that, to convince those who are here at the moment, and those who took part in the deliberations of that committee and who suggested this particular line of development, that what we propose to do here is about as good as can be done in the present circumstances. If anybody can suggest to me that there are objections to what is proposed here, and that these objections can be reasonably maintained, and if anybody can suggest that there are good grounds for improvement, we have open minds on the matter. In fact, in regard to all these questions, our attitude is that, even though we might be largely indifferent as to whether there should be a Seanad or not, if the majority of the people want it, we want to get the best arrangement that can be got.
This proposed Seanad is based on the idea that a number of panels, corresponding to our main activities in life, should form the Seanad; that we should have a panel dealing with national culture and education—the learned professions as they are called —that we should have a panel for farmers, including the fishing industry; that we should have a panel for workers, organised and unorganised, rural and agricultural; and that we should have an industrial panel dealing with the question of public administration, and a panel for industry and commerce. Now, with these panels formed, and with, I think, the 43 members that will be selected from these panels, they will be put before an electorate, which will consist of all persons who had been candidates for the Dáil and who had received more than five hundred first preference votes or been returned unopposed. That electorate shall choose from these panels the numbers that are going to be specified. We have not specified in this measure as it stands before us the details of this proposal. It is not that we cannot offer you a proposal for doing it. We can, but there was no point in enshrining detailed proposals in the measure, when conditions might  possibly change and if there were to be here any development of functional organisation or vocational organisation, it would obviously provide a better method for the selection of the Seanad than the methods that are herein proposed. Hence, in this Constitution itself, we are not stereotyping the numbers from each panel or the means of election to each panel. We are leaving that to an Act which can be changed from time to time. In addition, you will notice that a certain number of members are left for nomination. There is, first of all, the question of the number of these members. The number is smaller than has been suggested in any of the commission's reports. There is a smaller proportion relatively, and I think a smaller number absolutely.
The President: It is a smaller proportion, at any rate. I am glad to be corrected, but my impression was that it was a smaller number absolutely and relatively, than in any of the reports of the commission. If ten, as the Deputy suggests, was the number recommended in one of the reports, there is not a very great difference between it and the number mentioned here and relatively the number mentioned in the measure is a smaller proportion. There will be a difference of opinion as to whether that number is too large or too little. There is also a provision in the draft which differs from the provisions and the suggestions made by the commission. That is that the universities should get a representation which they had formerly in the Dáil. My own attitude towards that was determined by the fact that there was a case made here or there had been some suggestion that we had not completely implemented our word in some particular way.
I did not believe that that was well-founded. I do not think now it was well founded but it occurred to me that we ought to meet a suggestion of that sort by giving the universities —we shall have to determine the electorate by law—the power of choosing for the Seanad three members each. That was the number they  were entitled to under the old electorate to return to the Dáil. That is a substantial proportion, and consequently there will be placed on the universities the responsibility not merely, as was the case in the educational and cultural panel, to send to the Seanad people who had a special knowledge of education but people who could fairly represent them on the first panel. The numbers we propose for this new panel are diminished, so to speak, or are smaller than they would otherwise be were it not for giving to the universities this power of choosing three members each.
You will then have 11 to be nominated. I gave this matter careful consideration but, after all was said and done, I came to the conclusion that if the President is to fulfil and exercise the serious responsibilities placed upon him by the Constitution, it is better that he should keep away from what I might call the composition of the House and, therefore, the possibility of a suggestion that he is influencing the voting in this House. In considering it there was a desire to give functions to take him away from active participation of any kind in politics—I should not perhaps say politics, but unfortunately we give that term a meaning which it ought not to have—to take him away from party politics. He has to be interested in the broad politics as far as the State as a whole is concerned, but he should not be involved in what you might call party politics or in matters where there are differences of party view. That would give us 17 members with 43 to be elected afterwards. At a later stage when we come to discuss the measure I shall be prepared to give the Dáil an indication as to the numbers which I would propose, if it were left to me, to be allotted to these various panels under the law as I would propose it. That law will have to be passed. Whilst we could indicate at some time in the Committee Stage what would be the terms of that law, I do not think the law itself should be put into effect until the people have passed the Constitution because it would be implementing  something which should not be passed until the people had given expression to their opinions on the draft itself. We have therefore got the Seanad. I repeat what I have said before about it, that it is far, as I know quite well, from coming up to the ideal of the perfect Seanad. Their powers are roughly powers that were indicated by the greater number in the commission and you will notice that they are very limited powers. Of course, they have to be limited unless you are to face a clash between the two Houses, which would be most unfortunate.
The next portion of importance in the Constitution is that which deals with the question of international relations. With regard to international relations generally, it does not make a change. It is not intended to make a change, except this change, that it puts the question of our international relations in their proper place—and that is outside the Constitution. It is clearly to the interests of our people that there should be in regard to the fundamental law the greatest possible amount of unanimity, the greatest possible amount of agreement. These are the rules under which all our political institutions are to work. We shall have advanced a great distance indeed if we can get the rules under which we are to work, the things that prescribe all our institutions and the manner of their operation. If we can get substantial agreement on these, a great deal will have been done. The idea of this Constitution is to put this matter of our external relations in its proper position relatively to the Constitution, and that is outside it, as a matter of foreign policy, to be determined from time to time, according as the people's interests suggest to them that they should put this Government or that Government into office with powers to implement their will. That is what is done here. It is done by giving to the executive authority, namely, the Government, which is the fundamental executive authority, power to use any organ, instrument or method of procedure which may be used for similar purposes by other nations with whom we may be associated, no matter what it  is. Although it is giving a power which has been clearly and obviously suggested by the exact circumstances in which we find ourselves at the moment, nevertheless if we were a completely isolated State in the world, looking around us, and if we thought there was going to be instituted a league which was going to hold itself together by an agreement amongst its members to operate in a certain way, we should have power, if we wanted to, to join such a league. I am not saying that that idea—although I think it is a perfect one in the Constitution, and ought to be there —would have been suggested to me or anybody else except in the context of the existing situation, but there is nothing in it that is derogatory to the powers of the people, of the people's Parliament, of the Government, to do that. Consequently, dealing with our external relations, it enables the Executive Government of the day to make use of it, provided that there is a law passed by the national Parliament which would make that possible. Now, the law can exactly prescribe the conditions. In our case the law has already been passed, and this Constitution takes over that law. Therefore, when this Constitution is passed, as far as our external relations are concerned, no change is made, but the external relations are kept in a position in which they can be dealt with and handled as a matter of public policy, without bringing them across the fundamental rights which govern the working of our institutions.
The next part, as I say, deals with fundamental rights. In the earlier part of the draft Constitution the various institutions are set up, and their powers indicated and defined. In this part, we set down what are the rights which the individual and the family have as against the operation of the otherwise all-powerful Parliament, the Oireachtas, acting on behalf of the community and interested in the common good. These, in order to be accurate, have to be expressed very carefully. You have the natural conflict between the rights of the individual and the rights of the community as a whole. You cannot make those statements  in an absolute way. You cannot say: “A person has this right,” when the interest of the community as a whole has to be considered in relation to it. Take, for instance, the case of private property. We have clearly said here that the right of private property is a right, as a right, with which the State cannot interfere. But the public good, the public interest, may demand that the exercise of that right may be defined and limited. Therefore, when we are stating that the right, as a right, must be respected and must exist, we also have to note at the same time the fact that the common good, the interest of the community as a whole, may necessitate the delimitation of the use of that right to serve the common good. It is useless then to say: “This is absolute.” In matters of that sort it is not absolute. You cannot state those rights in an absolute way. They need to be qualified. Of course the critics will say: “If you qualify them, they are no use at all, because the qualification cannot be limited. There is no use in saying that the right of private property is admitted if you are going to admit to the State the right of delimiting its right absolutely without checking it.” You cannot, however, state those things absolutely. All you can do is to give the fundamental principles; to state them clearly and correctly, and leave it to the sense of justice, the goodwill of the community, to work in accordance with the spirit of the declarations.
The same thing is true about liberty. I think it was Deputy Costello in some public statement who suggested that the sanctified phrase. “The liberty of the individual is inviolable,” is omitted. It is omitted, because in fact the liberty is not inviolable. Liberty may mean licence, and licence has to be checked and curbed in the common interest. Therefore, instead of stating, as if it were an absolute thing, “The liberty of the individual is inviolable”—which we all knew in fact was not so—it is stated in a way which can be defended and which is accurate; in other words, that if the liberty of the individual is interfered with it will be in accordance with law, for the common good; that that will not be done in an arbitrary  way, but that it will be done in accordance with the law. If he has committed a crime, he has done something which is against the interests of the community. I put in the habeas corpus safeguard. I took it word for word from the old Constitution, because I did not want a dispute here. I do not want to pretend for a moment that I think it is ideally expressed, but at any rate it has stood the test over a period, and nobody has suggested to change it. Anxious to save the time of the Dáil, and to concentrate discussion on matters on which there was real difference of opinion, I took that particular part completely as it was, and I make no apologies for doing it. The reasons for doing it are clear and obvious.
Then, we have in this Constitution also the family. We refer to the family, and make it quite clear that in our view the fundamental group of the State—in a sense the most important group of the State—is the family. We pledge the State to protect the family, to protect it in its constitution and in its rights generally. This is not merely a question of religious teaching; even from the purely social side, apart altogether from that, I would propose here that we should not sanction divorce. Therefore no law can be passed providing for divorce. When we come to the details you will find there are further provisions in that connection. I am only just referring to them in passing. There is another Article here which seems to get me into trouble. Deputy Costello apparently thought he was doing a good thing when he offered me as a whole-burnt offering——
The President: Let us consider this whole question of women's rights. I seem to have got a bad reputation. I do not think I deserve it. I myself was not conscious at any time of having deserved all those terrible things that I am told I am where women's rights are concerned. So far as I know, whenever there was a question of working to ensure that women would have equal rights, I have worked for it, and there is nothing in this Constitution which in any way detracts from the rights which women have possessed here. I took out that phrase and I make no apology for this any more than I did for the other phrase about the inviolability of the person. I consider it is a phrase which meant nothing in the context, could not mean anything because it was patently untrue, so I took out that phrase “without distinction of sex.” Why? Because I considered it altogether unnecessary. Since we have begun to make laws in any sense for ourselves we have made no distinctions as citizens between men and women, as far as political rights are concerned. There is none suggested here. Citizens are mentioned a number of times, and our citizen law clearly indicates what we understand to be citizens. There is no distinction made in this Constitution, in regard to political rights, between men and women. I took out that phrase “without distinction of sex” because it had no meaning in the context of the Constitution, and in the general atmosphere in which we have been the whole time as far as women's rights politically are concerned.
Somebody wants to put it back. They want to have the reminder that at one time there was a distinction made. If they would take my advice they would let things alone. In Geneva and elsewhere, when women's organisations wanted to make representations to get certain things done, it was to the Irish delegation that they generally came. They came to it when they wanted to have any question moved in regard to their rights. Their attitude all the time was that they did not want to be put in any position other than that of equality, and they have  got equality right through this document. There is nothing in it to suggest that they cannot vote for and become members of the Dáil, that they cannot vote for and be Senators, or that they cannot vote for and become President. There is nothing in this Constitution which will debar them from being President of the Supreme Court, from being Chief Justice or from holding any single office in the State. There is no distinction made whatever between men and women as far as the vote, the franchise, office or anything else is concerned. Therefore, I am wondering how it is that they should have been led after that hare which Deputy Costello very nicely started.
The President: I am sure the Deputy will be highly amusing when he tries to make me a whole burnt offering, but I assure him that I have not any fears whatever about it. There seems to be something in this that I have not seen, and I would be glad if the Deputy would point it out. Our Citizenship Act, which has been admitted by women's organisations all over the world to be the one which probably of all others most nearly accords with their ideals, remains, and has not been changed. Of course, Deputy Costello says that we are making no special provision for women —that women should have the same rights as men. One can say in answer to that, that we are making no special provision that men should have the same rights as women.
The President: That is the point, as far as I can see. I read the Deputy's statement because I wanted to make sure about it. I was very anxious about it, and read his statement so that there could be no mistake.
The President: Not a bit. The Deputy is making a terrible mistake if he thinks that I am afraid of this particular thing. I am not, because I believe that 99 per cent. of the women of this country will agree with every line of this.
The President: If I am convinced that the Deputy has made a good case, I will have no hesitation, because if there is anything omitted that should have been put in, I am quite ready that it, with anything else, should go in. My anxiety is that we should agree on this fundamental law to the greatest extent possible. That is why it has been introduced in the Dáil for full discussion and for full amendment before it is submitted to the people by way of plebiscite. I would not like to think for a moment that I could not be convinced by truth. I think I can, and if the Deputy makes something that is a real point —and we have a fairly good jury here—and if he is able to make a case that will convince the jury against the case that I make, I am quite willing to let the jury decide.
The President: Oh! What is the Deputy trying to rely on now? That is a very bad beginning for him to make: to declare himself lost before he makes his case. The Deputy tried to frighten us before with threats.
The President: Except when they became a threat to himself—when he went along and tried, as an advocate, to undo what he had done as Attorney-General.  That is the only time that I remember that many threats of his were likely to come true, and I forget what was the result in those cases. The Deputy's threats are no longer terrifying, but at one time I was innocent enough to think, when he spoke here, that he was speaking as a lawyer, strictly as such. He has not his wig on here, and therefore I expect that he feels at liberty to make a case that he would not dare to make elsewhere.
With regard to women, they are mentioned in two Articles. But why are they mentioned? They are mentioned to give the protection which, I think, is necessary as part of our social programme, and I am prepared to go with that programme before the country. I do not care what criticism comes from anybody on the basis of it. We state here that mothers in their homes give to the State a support which is essential. Is there anybody who denies it? Is it not a tribute to the work that is done by women in the homes as mothers? Is there any woman who is a mother who will say that it is right that when her husband is idle or otherwise when she has the care of her children that she should be forced by economic necessity—she is not forced by law and is not prevented by law from doing these things—and by our social system to go and earn what is necessary to maintain the household? In regard to labour and in regard to work, our aim ought to be—we may be too slow in arriving at it, but no country has apparently done it yet—that the breadwinner, who is normally and naturally in these cases when he is alive, the father of the family, should be able by his work to bring in enough to maintain the whole household, and that women ought not to be forced by economic necessity to go out and either supplement his wages or become the breadwinners themselves.
This has reference to mothers, and there is no use in bringing into this context young girls and people who are not married. This has reference to mothers whose duties are in the home. By the performance of their duties in  the home they give to the State support which is vital and essential. What is wrong in trying to work for a social system in which it will not be necessary for those people, who by the very fact that they are married and have undertaken those duties, and may be assumed to have a preference for performing those home duties, to labour outside? I would like to know from any women's organisation or from any woman what is wrong in saying that we should strive for a social system which will be such as will not compel women to go out and work to supplement either the wages of their husbands or otherwise to maintain the household? It is against the social system that this is directed—to try to remedy it if we can, and to try to work in that direction. We may not succeed, it is true. It is a very difficult thing to bring about. But the present social system, inasmuch as it compels mothers to leave their natural duties as mothers and go out and become breadwinners when their husbands are idle and cannot get work, is a system which we ought to try to reform. One of the reforms should be in the direction of enabling a man, if it is a man, to earn sufficient to cover all his domestic needs; and, if it is a widow who has young children, to enable the State to come to her aid and contribute to such an extent as will not necessitate her leaving her duties as a mother and engaging in outside labour. I do not mind being a whole burnt offering in working for that. I do not care what women's organisations there are or what ex-Attorney-General leads them, I am going, as long as I live, to try and work for that. I do not care a thraneen who says I am reactionary if I work for that, because it is not reactionary. It is very easy for people to use words and, by the use of these words, to try to buttress up a case which, without them, would fall and collapse.
The next place that we have women is in connection with the social directives. With regard to these social directives, some people say: “They cannot be taken cognisance of by the court; why have them there then? They are pious aspirations; they cannot be any more. Why put them  there?” My answer to that is that they will be there as a constant headline, something by which the people as a whole can judge of their progress in a certain direction; something by which the representatives of the people can be judged as well as the people judge themselves as a whole. We will judge of our progress in a certain direction by asking ourselves how far we have advanced in this direction. They are intended to be directive to the Legislature. They are not to be determined by the courts for this reason—that it is the Legislature that must determine how far it can go from time to time, in the set of circumstances, in trying to secure these ideals and aims and objectives. It would be clearly absurd that a court should come in and say: “The Dáil has not done this which it might do; it has not gone as far as it could go,” and that the determination of that should be left to the court. That determination clearly has to be left to the representatives of the people. The people themselves will have to advance in this direction. They will have to be led by their representatives in this direction; their representatives will have to put up policies to them leading in this direction. If they are to be judged from time to time, it is right that they should be judged by their actions in the Legislature and not that some body like the Supreme Court should become the judge. The people as a whole will have to judge the Legislature in that matter, and the Legislature will have to be its own judge in regard to the set of circumstances and the advances which are to be made.
In that section there is reference to women. From memory I think the reference is that care shall be taken by the State, so far as the State can do it through its laws, that the inadequate strength of women and children shall not be abused. What is wrong about that? Is it not right that we should see that the inadequate strength of women and children should not be abused? Is it not the duty of the State to see that the free exercise of the right of industry shall not be conducted in such a way as is  going to make for that? Are we to go back to the beginning of the industrial era? Are we, through our laws, and through the regulations made under these laws, to make certain that the inadequate strength of women shall not be abused? Where is the derogation from the rights of women in that? Is it not a fact that the inadequate strength of women has been abused? Is it not right that the Parliament, on behalf of the people as a whole, in the interests of social order and the good of the community, should see to it that the inadequate strength of women should not be abused or that they should not be exploited in that particular way?
The President: I am speaking of places where women are referred to in this Constitution. This Constitution has been attacked on the ground that it is taking away women's rights. What it is doing where women are concerned is that, where their rights are, they are equal. Therefore, where they are referred to here, they are referred to by way of protection and the protection which the State is bound to give. We say, therefore, that the inadequate strength of women or the tender age of children should not be abused. We also say that women and children ought not to be forced by the necessity of the economic system as it operates, that we ought to try and prevent this economic compulsion driving women into avocations unsuited to their sex or strength or age. What is wrong about that, I should like to know?
The President: The Book of Proverbs is not quite as germane to our work here as social objectives which we should try to reach. The social system at present, as the  Deputy must know, is not anything like what it ought to be; it is not like what it ought to be anywhere in the world. It ought to be our constant endeavour to try to remedy it. One of the best ways of remedying it is to set out definitely objectives which you should try to reach.
The President: It is not going to be done by pious resolutions. I am not suggesting that pious resolutions would settle it. The Deputy knows well that I am not suggesting it. I say it is a good thing to have the Dáil and the people as a whole to agree upon and state: “These are the aims towards which we should work.” If you have anything against it, do at least with us, who are strongly in favour of it, what I do in regard to matters about which other people are indifferent. You may be indifferent whether this is here or not; we are not. We believe it should be here. I think it should be here as a constant reminder to the Legislature of the direction in which it should work. I will bet that, once it is there, there will be nobody in the House who will make such use of it on the hustings as Deputy Morrissey. We are making him a present there. If he works in that direction he will get my support in trying to make these things effective.
The President: The next thing is this: that women should not be forced by economic necessity to enter into avocations unsuited to their strength or sex or age. Is it going to be suggested that economic necessity does not at this moment force women into avocations unsuited to their sex; occupations they would never dream of entering if they were left to their own choice? There is no suggestion that women should be stopped from entering into avocations for which they have aptitude or will or desire.
The President: I am admitting straight off that the desire to get wages and money is forcing people into employment, if not unsuited to their age or strength, certainly employment that I should prefer given in this country rather than given elsewhere. I am not denying that these economic evils exist. I am not suggesting that putting this here will cure these economic evils at the start. Putting this here will mean that it is like a party programme. It is put there and it is up before the people. It is a national programme this time, not a party one. If this draft Constitution is accepted by the Dáil and the people, it no longer becomes a party programme. It becomes a national people's programme. Just as we, since we came into office, took our declarations and checked them and asked ourselves, “have we done this?” or “have we done that?” so, as we get towards this aim if it is accepted by the people as a whole, the people can examine their aims and see how far their resolution to do these things has been acted up to. I challenge any women's organisation to say that it is wrong to have a declaration in the Constitution that economic necessity shall not be used to force women into avocations unsuited to their sex, age or strength.
There is another Article with regard to the equality of all citizens before the law. I am not going into the history of that phrase or its origin, either here or on the Continent. But that phrase is being used for a purpose and interpreted in a sense in which it was not interpreted in the beginning. That phrase is interpreted as meaning that in all our laws there could be no distinction between sections of the community and between individuals in the community. It is quite clear that that interpretation is absurd. The Chief Justice is permitted by law to do things which a bank clerk will not be permitted to do. There is cognisance taken in our law of social functions, and one cannot absolutely state that all citizens, as human beings, are equal before the law. You cannot deduce  from that that our laws are not to take cognisance of absolute social or physical capacity. Is a child, for instance, to be held as responsible for certain actions, a child whose will and mind are not developed, as a matured person? Are our laws to insist that he should be held as responsible as a person who was mature? Clearly not. Therefore, if you want to make a statement with regard to the equality of persons before the law, you must modify such a statement by making clear in what sense they are equal before the law. You must put in the modifications to make it clear that it is not intended to state that in your laws you shall not have cognisance of social functions, capacity and so on. A lunatic, a person who loses control of his mind, is not to be held responsible, and we will have laws which will deal with such persons and which will deal with other matters of the same type. Therefore this Article is an attempt to state exactly in what sense the law is going to deal with persons.
I fear I have tired the Dáil somewhat with this statement. We will have an opportunity of dealing with these matters in detail. I want to repeat what my attitude in regard to the Constitution is. It was clear that a Constitution was necessary and urgently necessary. No people more than the Opposition were so insistent in saying that the present position leaves the Government with tremendous powers and without check, and that, in the interests of the community as a whole, it would be better not to leave them these unreasonable powers. Therefore, it is that the Constitution is necessary. It is necessary also from the point of view of bringing to completion that series of step-by-step changes which, taken as a whole, have left the old Constitution a tattered and torn affair. The Draft Constitution is, therefore, necessary. The aim has been, if possible, to present the Dáil with a Draft which would be likely to get the greatest possible amount of support. I would like that we would be unanimous about it because, clearly, unanimity in that case means stability. That was what the old Constitution did not have as a basis. A Constitution like this, if it  is properly thrashed out, and if we are reasonable one with another and do not try to play politics but realise the responsibilities of the work in which we are engaged should be of great national benefit. We are not going now to say that the last line of this Draft should become law.
I do not at this Stage want to follow Deputy Costello into another mistaken argument of his that this is an amendment of the old Constitution. It is not. I do not think we could amend the old Constitution in this way. The only way in which you can get a Constitution is to get the people themselves to enact it or get them to elect a Constituent Assembly to enact it. That is my view. I do not think there would be any Deputy more quickly on his feet than Deputy Costello if I suggested I was moving in that direction. Deputy Costello would be telling us that he would have a grand time going to the Supreme Court asking them to say that the Constitution was ultra vires. But neither Deputy Costello nor anybody else can tell us that this Draft Constitution is ultra vires for it is the people themselves who will enact it. They are the authority. The people have power to determine from time to time who their rulers will be and also what their Government will be. The Government can go back to the people and the people can effect that revolution and change their form of government as long as it is referred to themselves. In this case they will be doing that and I would like to see the lawyers who would stand in their way. This Draft Constitution, if passed at all, is going to be passed by the sovereign people who are above the lawyers and above the Government and all others. Their will is the final decision and once they have voted on it and their elected representatives come together this Draft becomes, in accordance with its own terms, law within a certain date.
If the new Dáil passes a resolution that this Constitution is to come into operation, then before six months it comes into operation. If the new Dáil neglect their duty, even whether they like it or not, it becomes law within six months from the date of the  plebiscite. Therefore, it is that in this case we are not bothering very much about what the lawyers think or say about this Constitution. I know, however, that the lawyers would have a lot to say about it if it were brought in as an amendment of the old Constitution. This is a new Constitution put before the people and the people will enact it with such amendments as we may make here. When it is enacted it is the foundation law of the sovereign people of this country and, I, therefore, put it before the Dáil. Any amendments or improvements will be considered by us with an open mind. All we ask is that these amendments be moved in good faith—we assume that—that there is strength and sense behind the amendments, and that this Draft is capable of being amended. There is a requisite period in which that can be done but we must get our work done. There are certain fundamental principles for which we must fight, otherwise the whole thing will go to pieces. We must bear in mind what the acceptance of these amendments would mean. We must bear in mind whether in principle these amendments would be acceptable or not. The amendments will have to be upon questions of detail. We would naturally have to resist amendments which would strike at the whole thing and interfere with the principles of the Constitution, which will make for stability at home, in as much as it will incorporate the greatest extent of agreement as far as political opinion about the foundations are concerned.
These other matters about external relations and other things are outside matters and they will have to be fought out in a different way. We can, I think, if we only had the will to do it, approach this document in the spirit of its Preamble—that it is intended to provide a basis for internal good order, social order, here; that it is intended to secure the dignity and freedom of the individual and that it is intended, finally, to have peace here, to bring about the unity of our country as a whole, and to have accord with other peoples.
The President: I have got to take the responsibility that anybody who prepares such a measure with care has to take. The passage of this measure is in the interests of the country, and everybody else who is in the Party will naturally expect the same thing. I have indicated the position to the Party and to our people generally. I have indicated the procedure. This is not a thing in which we have no interest. We have an interest, and when the Second Reading is over and the principle is accepted, then, with regard to points of detail, we have definitely an open mind. Quite clearly in this case of the Second Reading it is a question whether we are going to have this Constitution or none at all. That is a matter of fundamental importance, and it is one which we have to fight just as we would in the case of any other measure.
To delete all words after the word “That” and substitute the words: “the Dáil declines to give a Second Reading to Bunreacht na hEireann since, while purporting to establish a Constitution for the whole of Ireland, it offers no basis for union with the North and contains various provisions tending to prolong partition.”
During the last two and three-quarter hours I have been coming to the conclusion that the arrangements for an early general election will have to be reconsidered, if all Ministerial utterances on this Constitution are to be delivered, first, in what both the old Constitution and the new Constitution somewhat misleadingly call the national language——
Mr. MacDermot: ——and are then subsequently delivered in the language which is the only one understood by 80 per cent. of the Deputies with sufficient thoroughness to follow an argument closely. I confess that the procedure had a damping effect on my spirits, and I do not think that I was singular in that experience; for many were the Deputies who, during the part of the speech in the national language, folded their tents like the Arabs and slipped silently away; and among those who remained, many were the heads that drooped on to Deputies' breasts, wrapt, no doubt, in profound reflection; and even in the case of those who were apparently awake, the expression of eager interest and attention with which they were wont to listen to the accents of their Leader was conspicuously absent.
But, joking apart, I do think that it is almost unbelievably frivolous that this measure, a measure so important, a measure which, once passed, will be so difficult to change after three years, because I should think the Oireachtas would be very slow to put the people to the trouble and expense of a referendum for the sake of a constitutional change, a measure which we will have such difficulty in any case in discussing adequately before the time set for the general election—I do think it is frivolous to waste the time of the House, and I do not wish to say that offensively, by spending one and a half hours or so explaining it in a language which very few Deputies understood and then re-explaining it in a language which they did understand.
I find myself in a somewhat peculiar position in moving the rejection of this Constitution, because, except in so far as it affects our relations with the other nations of the British Commonwealth and our relations with Northern Ireland, I like this Constitution. I find that the greater part of it commands not merely my support, but my warm support. I think that the bulk of the criticisms that have been directed against it have been misconceived. I scanned it personally with a jealous eye to see whether there was anything in it that amounted to even a tendency  towards dictatorship. I think the short answer to those who say that there is, is that the President of the Executive Council has infinitely more power at the present moment than either the Taoiseach or the Uachtaran has given to him under this Constitution.
But, if the President has had to meet criticisms of that nature, it has not been solely the fault of his opponents. There have also been some indiscreet and misguided friends who have created that impression. The Irish Press has published enthusiastic laudations of the Constitution from Italy and Germany. The reason why the Constitution has appealed to Italy and Germany has been because it is regarded by them as an attack on Great Britain. At the present moment their feelings towards Great Britain are extremely hostile, and their hostility towards Great Britain is, to a large extent, bound up with their hostility towards democracy. And so it is that the Italian accounts of this Constitution go the length of suppressing, when reproducing Article 5, which says that Eire is a sovereign independent democratic State, the word “democratic.” The Italian accounts go to the length of suppressing that word, “democratic,” and the German article quoted by the Irish Press this morning makes the suggestion that what President de Valera intends to do is to absorb in himself both the office of Uachtaran and the office of Taoiseach.
Before I turn to the main subject of my motion, having referred to this question of dictatorship, I should like to say a word about the Seanad—a question in which I have been specially interested. I am satisfied with the powers given to the Seanad in this Constitution, but I think that the President might have been a little  more encouraging and a little more inspiring than he was in his speech, or in the tone of his speech, to those who will be composing this Seanad in the future; because I am bound to say that, in my opinion, the President spoke about their functions with a good deal less respect than, I think, they deserve. I think that the members of the future Seanad will play a very important part in the political and economic life of this State and that they will perform a very valuable function. I agree, of course, since I was one of those who recommended it, with the idea of vocational panels; but I disagree with the method of the choosing of Senators from these panels. I am glad to say, however, that there is one Article which seems to have escaped attention, which mitigates this evil: and that is the Article which says that provision may be made by law for the direct election by any functional or vocational group or association or council of so many members of Seanad Eireann as may be fixed by such law in substitution for an equal number of the members to be elected from panels of candidates. My view, however, is that there is no reason, assuming that the panels are small, as they ought to be, and that they are carefully selected, as they ought to be, why the selection of the Senators from the panels should not be carried out by lot. Every single person who finds himself on the panel will be there because he is considered to be a person who is qualified to be in the Senate, and I do not see why the limited choice that will remain to be made should not be made by lot. If, however, there is some insuperable objection in the minds of the Government or of Deputies to that, I should far prefer the Council of State to make the selection as against election by a mixum-gatherum of successful and unsuccessful candidates for the Dáil.
Now I come to the question which interests me most, and that is the question of the unity of Ireland, which all of us here in this House have agreed ought to be the paramount  issue in our politics, and in that regard I feel compelled to take the view, and to ask the House to take the view, that the Government, in this draft Constitution, have misused a great opportunity. It is not of course that any legislation here could immediately solve the problem of partition; that problem can only be solved by inducing the Northern Unionists to give their first allegiance to Ireland— to put the peace, dignity and happiness of Ireland before any other loyalty. For this to be possible, we have got to offer them an Ireland in which a place can be found for their traditions and aspirations as well as for ours. Until we are willing to do this we are partitionists at heart, no matter how loudly we shout about unity.
The six Northern counties will have no part in the coming plebiscite on these constitutional proposals. They are not represented here to-day, except perhaps the constituency of South Down. We, who are claiming jurisdiction over all Ireland, have therefore imposed upon us the duty of exercising imagination and sympathy, of acting as the trustees of those who are absent, of taking into account the objections that would probably be raised by the spokesmen of the Northern Unionists if they were among us participating in our deliberations.
From this point of view, Sir, the first great fault of these proposals is the omission of the King except in so far as he survives, precariously, as an organ or instrument for external use only. Every other self-governing unit in the Commonwealth disdains the conception of employing some agency outside itself for the conducting of international relationships. The other members of the Commonwealth find it more dignified to adopt the King as an integral part of their internal constitution, so that they are in a position of complete equality with Great Britain instead of becoming a sort of hanger-on or satellite, which is what is implicit in external association. I suggest that it would be far more valuable to employ the King as an organ or instrument for securing Irish unity than  as an organ or instrument for appointing Ministers to foreign countries. There is an intense sentiment about the Throne in Northern Ireland. I shall not deny that it is often unworthily exploited, often mixed up with less respectable feelings and passions, but the sentiment is there, and is, I believe, as fundamental with them as our love of independence is with us. Events like the Coronation could be so used as to contribute powerfully to Irish unity; we prefer to let it raise fresh barriers and harden feeling against us. In this new Constitution we are creating a ceremonial head of the State with considerable dignities and powers. He could also be the King's representative without the smallest infringement of our nationhood or our liberties. As, however, he is not to be the King's representative, his existence will make us less attractive than ever to the Northern Unionists.
The next point to which objection would certainly be taken is our failure to make an open declaration of our membership of the Commonwealth. My own feeling is that the fears of the North on this subject are exaggerated; no Parliament here will ever leave the British Commonwealth unless it is turned out willy-nilly by the other members. Separatism has run its course. Once again our republicans have abstained from declaring a republic. The moment for breaking the last link has not come, and will never come if they can help it. For some time past the pretext for delay has been that our writ did not run in the Six Counties, but that objection applies equally to the present Constitution. To declare a republic for the whole of Eire would be no greater an excursion into the realms of unreality than to do what this Constitution purports to do. Why is it not done? Because we cannot afford to be treated as aliens by Great Britain. But however unfounded the fears of the North, they exist. They fear the severance of political and racial ties that are dear to them. They fear a customs barrier that might destroy their shipbuilding industry, their linen trade, their agriculture. Their stomachs turn—and I  do not blame them—at all the huggermugger with which our membership of the Commonwealth is associated, and at our fear of going into conference with the representatives of the other States that compose it.
Thirdly, and less importantly from the Partition point of view in my opinion, there is a clause in this Constitution about the special position of the Catholic Church. I confess that this clause appears to me to be entirely without meaning. No preferential treatment is in fact being given to Catholics or Catholic institutions as compared with other religions. Some people, apparently, think that it is the business of the State to declare that one religion is true and others are false, but the clause in question does nothing of the kind. It merely states that the Catholic Church is the guardian of the religion which holds the allegiance of the great majority of our people, and that special position, if it be a special position, would apparently have to be accorded to Presbyterianism, Mohammedanism or Buddhism if it happened to be the religion of the majority. If equal treatment for all religions by the State is heretical, then I am afraid that this Constitution is as heretical as its predecessor. Professor Berriedale Keith, writing in the Irish Independent, has fastened on this clause as the one most likely to obstruct union with the North. I can hardly attach much importance to it, because I do not perceive that it has any practical implications. But certaintly it would be better absent as far as Partition is concerned. I do not know if there are any other arguments for it that have not occurred to me; I am open to conviction.
Finally, the Northern representatives, if we had them here, would, I think, object to being compelled, even when speaking English, to refer to the Prime Minister as the Taoiseach, and to the Second Minister as the Tanaiste, and to our common country as Eire instead of Ireland. What have we to gain either in patriotism or culture by this kind of childishness? This may seem a trifle, but it is the sort of thing that irritates as well as lending  itself to ridicule. I wonder why it is that the office of the President is to be exempt from this process of Gaelicisation. Is it possible that the future holder of that office fears that the solemnity of some of his ceremonial functions would be impaired if people had to address him as “Uachtarain” instead of “Mr. President”?
Once again, Sir, partition can only be cured when we attain some unity of heart and mind, when we are able to gather up conflicting traditions and aspirations and fuse them into one national life. The preamble to this draft Constitution states that we remember the heroic struggle of our fathers to regain national independence. It is right and proper that we should. But that is not the only thing that we ought to remember. We ought to remember the guarantee for the preservation of that independence that would be given by full membership of the Commonwealth, securing us from attacks from all quarters, even from Great Britain herself. We ought to remember the share that our forefathers had in founding and developing that Commonwealth and the place that our kith and kin have to-day in guiding its destiny. We ought to remember that there are about 1,000,000 of our people, with so many generations behind them that it is absurd to call them invaders and intruders, who have got to be conciliated if this nation is to grow to its full stature. We ought to remember the long agony of Irish history—an agony not wholly due to wrongful oppression but also in part to tragic misunderstandings, prejudices and inability to compromise. Much as we differ from them, horrible as are some of the deeds committed by what I may call their underworld, there is much in the Northern Unionists to like and admire. It is true that adroit politicians have often  inflamed their passions for party purposes, but I question whether any political loyalties could have lasted as long as those of our Unionist fellow-countrymen in the North, if there was not something in them deserving of respect. It is we who seek unity and it is on us that the burden lies of showing vision, kindliness and courage. It is because we stand at a turning point and these proposals invite us to take the wrong turning that I ask the House to reject them.
Professor Alton: I formally second the amendment proposed by Deputy MacDermot. I think it is desirable that the President should have an opportunity of clearing up the obscurity of our relations with Northern Ireland to which Deputy MacDermot adverted. I may say, too, that I agree with most of Deputy MacDermot's remarks about the Constitution, that it is a well-framed, well-balanced, equitable piece of work, thoroughly democratic, broad-based on the people's will, but it is rather lamentable that our future relations and our present relations with the North should remain in this ambiguous position. I do not know whether Article 15 was designed to erect a bridge with the Northern Counties. Perhaps the President would clear up that matter for us later.
To delete all words after the word “That” and substitute therefor the words “The Dáil declines to give a Second Reading to Bunreacht na hEireann until six months after the reassembly of Dáil Eireann following the next general election.”
General Mulcahy: I know the last month was April, and I shall be prepared to hear the Minister for Finance or any Deputies on his side reply to the things that I am bringing before the House now that have a direct relation to the matters that the President spoke of, particularly in the latter part of his contribution here to-day, the only part in his Second Reading speech that had any really vital interest for the people. It is because this is May, 1937, and the next month is June, 1937, that I consider that in the interests of those things for which the Constitution has been framed, that is the fundamental rights of our people, the Government, the Dáil and the people to-day should give their undivided attention to other matters not specifically dealt with in this Constitution, but that ought to have some more effective reference in this Constitution than they have, that I am asking that this matter should be postponed. The President in his Irish statement, after a long description of what I have come to call the “an ox, my ox” type of contribution to the Second Reading debate on the part of Ministers, then referred to those sections of the Constitution dealing with cirt, teaghlach, creideamh agus maoin-phriobháideach, and he said “Ní gadh morán do radh ortha san.” We need not say much about the family, about personal property, about religion, about personal rights. In his Second Reading speech the President tells us that he need not, in his speech, say much about these things. He spoke a lot about the Irish language; he spoke a lot in the Irish language. What I want to tell the President, and what I want to tell the House is that in this Constitution, written as it is, carefully prepared as it is, and in his speech to-day he is laying cut flowers on the grave of some of those things that he mentioned with such particular care to-day if he does not look after the thing alone that can support any of those things—the family, or constitutional rights, or culture of any kind—and that is the economic well-being of the people. The Irish language is to be saved. It outrages my feelings to think of the meticulous care that has apparently  been given to details in this Constitution, and how completely, in the President's address here to-day, the fundamental fact was ignored. Our dignitary of one kind or another is to be called “Taoiseach” or “Tánaiste,” because if he was called an Uachtarán we might have the unfortunate and ignorant people of this country talking about “an asal” instead of “an t-asal,” about “an ubhall” instead of “an t-ubhall.”
General Mulcahy: I say that somebody here is to be called “Taoiseach” or “Tánaiste” because if we called him an Uachtarán we might be calling an t-asal an asal and the Irish language might be destroyed. Somebody is to be called an Cathaoirleach lest we have the destruction of the Irish language by people in this House being unable to say “A Chinn Comhairle.” Those are the finnesses that have been introduced into the President's work on this Constitution. He has heard, and so has his Ministers, the voice of the Irish-speaking people in the Irish-speaking districts, who want their personal rights maintained, who want their family safeguarded and secured, who want their religion safeguarded, who want the right to have some personal property of any kind. What cry comes from the Irish-speaking districts? It is “...Go bhfuil feirmeoirí na Gaedhealtachta so i ndeire an anama.... Tá cuid mhór des na feirmeoirí beaga agus na sclábhaidhthe gur truagh é a gcás ag iarraidh greim bídh a shólathar dóibh féin agus dá leanbhaí bochta; cuid aca chómh dealbh san nach féidir leo mála plúir deich gcloch a cheannach le chéile.” That is the cry which comes from Ballyvourney. That is the cry which comes from the Irish-speaking families. The small farmers and labourers there are so poor that they cannot go out and buy a ten stone bag of flour at the present time to keep their families alive. Why? The President is again told, in the cry from the Irish-speaking districts: “Caithtear beatha-lámh a thabhairt dos na ba bainne sa cheanntar so ar  feadh naoi mí den bhliain. An mhin bhuidhe a thugtí dhóibh. Caitheadh eirghe as.” They cannot give hand-feeling to cows because they have not the money to buy it. Their cry still is: “Tá tionnscal na muc ar bruachaibh báis. Tá na feirmeóirí ag eirghe as bheith ag tógaint banbhaí agus ag ramhrughadh muc. Ar an gcuma gcéadna, tá luigheadú éachtach tigithe ar an méid eanlaithe a coimeádtar anois, agus, mar thoradh ar sin, ar líon na n-ubh. Díoladh na gamhna nú na croicinn ar 1/6 an ceann anuiridh agus arbhú anuiridh. Gheibhtí £2 agus £3 an ceann ar an gamhna roimis seo.”
That is the cry which comes to-day from the Irish family that wants its rights protected; from the Irish family that is maintaining the Irish language, and maintaining it in a way in which none of the President's speeches can be of any assistance, and no Constitution written bilingually can be of any use. The people of the Irish-speaking districts in their cry in Irish, tell the President to-day that they cannot feed their milch cows because they have not the price of the hand-feeding that has to be fed to them in those districts for nine months of the year; that their bacon industry is destroyed; their pig industry; that an enormous reduction has taken place in the amount of poultry that they had, and the amount of eggs that they had to get; that the calves which long ago brought them in £2 or £3 had to be sold for 1/6 each last year and the year before.
That testament has come from the Irish-speaking districts, not in any political pamphlet, but from a public meeting presided over by the parish priest in one of those districts where we have fixed up a preparatory Irish college for the retaining of the language there. Unless the rights of those people to make, in their own natural way, the best use of the resources they have, unless they can get some chance of developing their resources in their own way without the type of interference they have recently had, no Constitution that the President or anyone else is going to draft will be of any use to them. The President told  us that they are in no hurry to get this Constitution there. He told us that in Irish. In English he told us there is urgency. Why? Because the Opposition have pointed out that the Government to-day have powers which they ought not to have, and therefore there is urgency, according to the President, at the present time to correct some of his constitutional mistakes. As to the constitutional mistakes that are being corrected this month and next month, the corrections are going to be a continuation of those mistakes. What we want, if the constitutional rights of the people are going to be preserved to them, is that the economic mistakes of the President and his Government be corrected to-day. The reason why I ask for the postponement of dealing with this matter on the part of the Dáil now is that if the opportunity of May and if the opportunity of June are allowed to pass, then there are economic mistakes of the President and his Ministers for the last five years that it may not be possible to correct. I want to point out to the House that there is an attack being made to-day on our economic future, and that at the time when that attack is being made we are being asked by the Executive Council to discuss all those fine details of abstract rights. While we are being asked here by the Executive Council to discuss all those fine details, the real foundation upon which men and women can be raised in this country either to appreciate their rights or to use their rights, and using their rights, to build up a Christian civilisation here, is being dug from under our feet, and right well the President and his Ministers know it.
The President spoke, at the end of his English address here, about the position of mothers, but anything that he had to say was on the position of fathers. The President has a pious idea in his mind that he wants to see mothers in the position that they will not have to go out and either supplement or bring in a substitute for the earnings that the fathers of the house ought to have. When he talks so piously about the future that he sees for mothers, or that he wants to see— the position for mothers that he wants  to scrap the present social order in order to bring about—he is talking about the position of fathers. We have seen that the position of fathers has been worsened in this country during the last five years; that the position of women has been made more secure; of boys more secure still; and of girls even more secure still.
So far for the constructive work here. In so far as there is constructive work going on here, the position of the father has been made less secure than the position of the woman; the position of the boy has been made more secure than the position of the woman herself, and the position of the girl has been made more secure than that of the boy, the man or the woman. On the destructive side the whole of their future is being dug away. We have the position to-day that in London, in spite of what the President may say with regard to what is going to be done in regard to the Economic Conference there—I am not talking about the President going to the Economic Conference or any particular kind of conference—but I am talking about him going into those places where we require our arguments to be heard and our ears and eyes to be opened in order to see whether our economic interests are being prejudiced to-day. There is being discussed, and there will be discussed during this month of May, in London, matters that are going to affect the whole future of the commercial and trading policy of Great Britain. There is in Great Britain, and outside of Great Britain, an attack being made on the policy which is being pursued by Great Britain at the present time which is of vital interest to us; and not only are the members of the Executive Council and of the Fianna Fáil Party neglecting to keep a watch on that, but they are dragging a discussion of this measure before us, the Opposition, at the present time and before the country in a way that is going vitally to prejudice the interests of this country in the future.
I just want to refer briefly to the volume of interests that we have in this matter, and to the amount of damage that is going to be done. An  attack is being made to-day on the principles upon which economic arrangements were made between the various countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations at Ottawa. A definite preference was given to Commonwealth countries in respect of agricultural produce. On the dairying side there was prevented, by the co-operation of the members of the British Commonwealth, the putting of quantitative restrictions on dairy produce in Great Britain. On the meat side, in fact, there was prevented the putting of quantitative restrictions. We did not help in any way in regard to that. Our representatives went to Ottawa and came away losing the advantages that we had when they went there, and bringing greater disadvantages with them on their way home. The agreements that were made at Ottawa had certain results in increasing the value of the British market to the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and that position is now being attacked.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: As I understand the Deputy, he is relating his remarks to proposals which, I dare say, he has under consideration, that in the Constitution special provision should be made for trading with Commonwealth countries.
General Mulcahy: No. My point is that I want this proposal postponed in this House because, during this month, we should have the attention of the Government, the Dáil and of our people concentrated in an undivided way on critical matters affecting the economic present, and, particularly, the economic future of our people. I want to inform Deputy Walsh from Mayo how much more  vital it is that we should give the Government here an opportunity of considering those matters during this month than that we should be held here and have our people distracted in considering in an abstract way the family and the family's rights and the family's future.
General Mulcahy: It may be clap-trap to certain people in this House to say that there is no use in talking of the family and of the family's rights, that there is no use in talking of religion or of private property while you have this position: that at a meeting in one of the principal Irish-speaking districts in which we have set up a college to preserve the language, the people there have memorialised the Minister for Agriculture saying that they cannot keep their milch cows, that they have had to give up the rearing of pigs, that, to a considerable extent, they have gone out of the rearing of poultry and the raising of eggs, and that no longer have they any income from their calves. All that may be clap-trap, but I would like if the Deputy would allow me to go on and deal calmly with these matters.
General Mulcahy: If the Minister for Finance faces important questions only by thinking of them at the last moment, then that is not the way that I would expect our people to think about them. If we are going to discuss in detail all the things that the Minister for Finance, with the President, has put into the Constitution, then we ought to do a couple of months' thinking of them. There will then be time enough to leave those matters aside for six months and to concentrate for the next two months on some of the things that I want to speak about, and that I beg to be allowed to speak about without interruption. I want to speak on them without heat. I could be brought to a certain heat point, but with the conditions that exist in the country I have no desire to introduce any heat into our discussions here. I am dealing with matters of economics, and I will deal with them coldly and simply. I will simply deal with one or two details of them. When the Ottawa Conference of 1932 was planned, it was planned with the hope that, so far as we were concerned and the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, we might restore our economic conditions to the level of 1930. Canada made an agreement with Great Britain then. In 1930 Canadian imports to Great Britain amounted to £38,000,000.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy in possession said that he was dealing with a certain question in economics. The matter before the House is Bunreacht na h-Eireann. A reference to economic conditions as a reason, in the Deputy's view, for postponing the  Second Reading of this measure is in order. A detailed examination of the economic position would be a resumption of the debate on the Budget, the Finance Bill, Agriculture, and possibly the Vote for Industry and Commerce, and would not be in order.
General Mulcahy: I am proposing simply to show what the Ottawa agreements meant to Canada and Australia, when comparing the 1930 and the 1936 position, in bulk trade. I am proposing to show what the 1936 position in our case is, as compared with 1930. I am proposing to state briefly the principles of the Ottawa agreements which are being attacked at present in Great Britain and which prejudiced our future market there. I propose to do these things by reference to about a dozen figures, and I propose to go into no detailed examination of the economic conditions either in Canada or Australia or here.
General Mulcahy: What international agreements between three members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and Great Britain were able to do for them they are able to do for us. I want to show what an economic agreement between Canada and Great Britain did for Canada in the last five years; what an economic agreement with Great Britain did for Australia; and what we hoped it would do for us. I stated that this month an attack is being made upon the system which made these agreements possible between Australia and Canada and Great Britain, and that, except we are watching what is happening and arguing there for our interests, all this talk about the family and the family's interests and general culture and all that is so much flapdoodle. I want briefly to say that, by virtue of the agreement between Canada and Great Britain and the relations existing between them financially, Canadian imports to great Britain, which were £38,000,000 in 1930, rose to £75,000,000 in 1936, so that they had been doubled.
An Ceann Comhairle: Perhaps it was on some Vote other than agriculture. We have had a comparison of trade figures for Canada in different years. The Chair still fails to see what bearing Canadian agreements made in Ottawa four or five years ago have on this Constitution.
General Mulcahy: If this Constitution, after what we have heard from the President, means anything it means (1) that the Irish language is to be saved; (2) fathers in this country are to be put into such a position that the mothers will not have to go out and work. We lost £17,000,000 in exports in the year 1936, as against 1930, that we need not have lost if we had made an agreement in 1932 just as Canada did.
General Mulcahy: No, but by economic interests in Great Britain and other international interests outside; that we cannot hope to do anything for the mothers of this country to prevent their going out to work and having to help the fathers if the losses that we met in the past are to be continued to the same degree, no matter what Government is in power, and that if our voices and arguments are not heard in the conversations that are taking place in London this month between statesmen of the British Commonwealth of Nations——
General Mulcahy: I am telling the Government that there is nothing but claptrap in all the talk of the President about the unfortunate position of mothers who have to go out to earn their living and about the position of the Irish language if he continues to blind himself and to blind the Party and the people as to very foundations upon which these things must be raised in this country.
General Mulcahy: I am dealing with matters about which I know Deputies opposite have a certain difficulty. I want to deal with the matter in a definite way because it has a direct  relation to the rights of the people which this Constitution is set up to guard. We are told by the President in his Irish voice that there is no hurry about this Constitution. We are told in his English voice that it is wanted to cover up the constitutional mistakes of the Government. I say that if the Government do not rectify some of these economic mistakes this month, it will not be very much use to the people to rectify some of these constitutional mistakes. We are interested in the import of live stock, meat and dairy produce into Great Britain. The Ottawa agreement enabled Canada and Australia to increase their imports to Great Britain and to get back to a better position than they were in in 1930 before the world depression hit them. These results were enabled to be achieved by the definite preference of a standard tariff on agricultural produce coming from these Dominions into Great Britain. That standard preference tariff is being attacked to-day. What are the Government doing about it? There was a policy on the part of Great Britain to quota meat going into that country; to quota dairy produce going into the country and we are not represented there. Other Dominions have defeated that policy and a discussion is now going on that may involve a struggle between the British farmer who wants protection of a particular kind for economic interests in Great Britain and——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair is still of opinion that the Ottawa Agreement is not relevant to this debate, and that a review of Government policy vis-á-vis Great Britain on the economic side is not in order. Matters on which the Deputy is speaking have been debated twice recently in this House on the relevant Votes.
General Mulcahy: I accept your ruling, Sir, and I wish to bring my remarks on this amendment to a close by saying this—that the President wants to change the present social system so that a man shall be enabled to earn sufficient to cover all his domestic needs. The President asks what is wrong in trying to work for a social system under which it will not be necessary for those people, that is, women who become mothers of families and may therefore, in the President's opinion, expect to be given a preference in family work. He asks what is wrong in saying that we shall strive here for a social system which will not be such as to compel women to go out working in order to supplement the wages of their husbands, who otherwise could not maintain them. The social system this is directed against is a social system that, he tells us, he is going to remedy. I tell the President that the only thing that is wanted is to remedy the condition into which a lot of mothers and fathers in this country have got. The leaders in charge of the Government of this country run away from a vital issue every time they become faced with it. The people are now suffering on at a critical time with increasing emigration, with home assistance increasing monthly as it is this year as compared with last year, while this Government whitewash their political faces with all the words they  can collect from encyclicals, philosophic works and the constitutions of all the countries of the world.
If we cannot have a postponement of the discussion on this Constitution until six months after the reassembly of the Dáil after the next general election, then the next thing to secure is to give the people an opportunity of electing leaders who will deal with the really urgent matters of the present time, urgent matters that are more fundamental than anything written down here or anything that can ever be written down in any constitution. The fundamental matters are that men and women in this country who were given intelligences and resources by the Lord should be able to bring these intelligences to bear upon their present position and be able to give a verdict on the actions of the people who are more concerned with wiping up their own mistakes in the past than doing what is best for the people. We were told to-day that it was because of the reason of urgency this Constitution was being brought in. That is not the case; the urgency for this Constitution was because of the Government's own political mistakes in the recent past.
General Mulcahy: I would like to hear Deputy Walsh tell us during this debate why this document is so important that it should get the attention of himself and the Ministry that he put into power before, and above all matters that are being cried out from every corner of this country wherever there is a family struggling to maintain themselves? The House, I am sure, would be thankful for Deputy Walsh's explanation or for any kind of contribution that he can give towards this debate and I sincerely hope he may do so.
Mr. Morrissey: I desire to second the motion moved by Deputy Mulcahy. I would like at the outset to say that I am not terribly concerned about this Constitution. There are matters that are much more urgent, much more important and of much more concern  to the people of this country than the Draft of the Constitution that we have before us to-day. The President, in the course of his speech, which lasted about two and a half hours, told us what he would like to do and what he would like to have; but he did not make any reference to the condition of affairs which has been brought about as a result of his activities during the past five years. We listened to the President making for two and a half hours the most ineffective and unconvincing speech he ever delivered in this House. The President, of course, realises now what everybody in the country knows that the country is not interested in this Constitution. The people are not concerned with it. That was very obvious from the President's speech. The President was not ever able to hold the attention of the members of his own Party. They were continually slipping in and out and those who remained on the benches were half asleep or not interested in the debate.
Mr. Morrissey: Very well so. Deputy Tom Kelly had only his eyes closed. He was not asleep. The President was absolutely unconvincing and hesitant in his speech—a very unusual thing with the President. The only time he got into his stride was when he got back to the pious resolutions in the Constitution.
The President talked about his concern for the mothers of this country, about having conditions under which there would be no necessity for the mothers to go out and work. The President, through his policy, has been responsible for forcing more of the mothers to seek employment than ever before in the history of the country. The President, the man who told the people that he had a solution for the problem of unemployment, that he had plans that would put the fathers at work so that the mothers could stay at home and look after their homes; the man who, when he was told that no country in the world had completely succeeded in abolishing unemployment, said: “Oh, yes, but we have a solution such as no other country has,” to-day tells us: “We have not succeeded; it is a difficult matter and no country has done it.”
The President has given the greater part of his time for the last three, four or five years to the drafting of the document now before us. He spent his time drafting a document for which there was no demand, which the people did not ask for. Instead of carrying out his promises so to make this country as to put the people in a prosperous condition, so to make this country that at least our people could get enough to eat, the time that should be devoted to that is devoted by the President in his study framing this Constitution, and he continues with that work. The head of the State, notwithstanding the fact that we have over 100,000 persons unemployed, notwithstanding that the women, the young women that he blathers about here to-day, are going in their thousands and tens of thousands to seek a livelihood in other countries that they cannot get at home, writes his Constitution. He talks about the sanctity of the home, about keeping the mothers at home and building everything upon the family.
While the President writes his Constitution and talks about that, down in my own county the relieving officers are busily engaged writing something else. I am glad the President has come in. He talked a lot and was very concerned about the family life. While he was writing his Constitution the relieving officers in my county, as a matter of fact in Nenagh on last Saturday week, were writing dockets of admission to the county home at Thurles for Pat So-and-So and his wife and seven children, and John So-and-So with a wife and five children. I have these documents here. One of them is addressed to the matron of the county home, and it reads: “John —— is a person in the county eligible for relief. He is a labourer and cannot be effectively relieved at less cost to the rates otherwise than in the above-mentioned institution.” Those two men, in common with others, on last Saturday week, at 9 o'clock at night, and 25 miles from the county homes  were handed these documents for themselves and their wives and children. The President, whose administration has brought about that state of affairs, comes here and tells us about the sanctity of the home and the family.
Those cases could be multiplied all over the country and here in the City of Dublin. And we are expected to be concerned about a Constitution that nobody has asked for and that the President knows now, if he did not some time ago, the people are not concerned about. What has been the effect of the President's policy? Has it not forced more mothers than ever before to seek employment, to leave their homes to try in some way to get that existence that the lack of work for their husbands and their sons has denied them? The President tells us he is going to work until he sees carried out the pious resolutions that are enshrined in this Constitution. If the President is going to work for that, he will have to work in a direction totally different from that which he has followed during the past five years. The result of his policy has been not to reduce unemployment but to increase it.
The President talks about the inadequate strength of the women and children. I am afraid he knows very little about it. Their strength is adequate in many cases because they are undernourished and under-fed, because they are not getting enough to eat and because they cannot afford to be properly clad and properly shod. The President tells us that 99 per cent. of the women would agree with this Constitution if they read and understood it. Let me tell him that 99 per cent. of the women and children are more concerned with the price of flour than they are with this Constitution. That aspect presents a graver problem to them, and there is nothing in this Constitution that is going to give one loaf extra to any family in this country.
We are expected here, at the end of the lifetime of this Parliament and on the brink of a general election, to give our time to this Constitution, to take it seriously and give serious debate to it. Will the President at some future time—he did not in his  two and a half hours' speech—tell this country what is in this Constitution that is going to reduce the number of unemployed below 100,000? Will he tell the House of what use is this Constitution to the 80,000 boys and girls who have been forced to emigrate to Great Britain within recent years? Is there anything in this Constitution to stop emigration or reduce unemployment? There is not, and the House and the President and the country know it. But it is much easier for the President and his Ministers to talk about Constitutions than it is to face up to hard facts, to questions of economics, to face up to the question of solving the unemployment problem. He told us that he had a solution for it that no other country in the world had. It is a good job for the workers in other countries that their rulers have not the same solution as the President. There is to-day in this country, notwithstanding the emigration, and many other things, more destitution than ever there was.
Mr. Morrissey: I am prepared to prove it. I have here the cases of two decent working men who got tickets for the county home, and I can bring more to the Deputy if he wants them. These men, with their wives and families, had to enter the county home. If that is not evidence of destitution, I do not know what is.
Mr. Morrissey: Deputy Fogarty's  friends and political associates in South Tipperary would give him much more information about the red flag in Tipperary and the burning of the creamery there than any member on this side of the House, and I will be more specific if the Deputy wants it.
Mr. Morrissey: I merely want to say that that statement is untrue. There is no necessity to go further. I invite the Deputy to repeat that statement outside the House, to use the exact words he has used here.
Mr. Morrissey: I invite Deputy Fogarty to go down to Tipperary and repeat there what he has stated in this House regarding the burning of the factory. I challenge him to do it outside this House. The Deputy will be silent now, and he will be silent outside also.
Mr. Morrissey: However, I wish to get back to the point on which I was. I want to find out from the President, before the debates on this Constitution are ended, why he has chosen to give his time to the drafting of this Constitution rather than to producing the solution for unemployment that he promised. Is he prepared to state to the House here whether there is anything in this Constitution to stop the flight of the people from this country? Is he prepared to state here and now if there is anything in this Constitution that is going to give employment to the people of this country who are looking for employment? Is the President prepared to prove to the House, if he can do it, that all his talk about the families and the mothers and the home is not mere empty humbug?—because, let me repeat it, and let me finish on this note, Sir, the President's policy and  the policy of his Government has succeeded in driving more mothers from their homes to seek livelihoods for themselves and their children than ever happened in the history of this country before. Those are the facts, and these are the questions that the people of this country want to have answered; and all the President's blarney, and all his talk about the constitutional issues, and all his talk about calling this country “Eire” instead of Saorstát Eireann, is not going to alter the facts, and it is not going to fool the people this time.
The President has failed. The President and his Government have failed lamentably. Far from improving the conditions of the people of this country, they have driven the people to a state of destitution such as they never experienced before in living memory; but because the Government are now facing up to a general election, we have this Constitution, and we have the Constitution thrown at the people on the same day as the general election. It is just an attempt to get the people's minds away from the hard facts of the case; but let the President remember that on the day of the general election the people will be more concerned with what they have to eat than with what will be the form of the new President or the new Governor-General, or whatever he is going to be.
To delete all words after the word “That” and substitute the words “the Second Reading of Bunreacht na hEireann be deferred to a date not sooner than January 1st, 1938, so that a special Governmental Department be set up for the purpose of uniting and co-ordinating all the anti-Partition forces in Ireland, North and South, irrespective of political or religious outlook, organising the Irish race abroad for their assistance and support, focussing through the  home and foreign Press world opinion on this grave national issue, and pressing the English Government to reopen negotiations on the reunification of Ireland, and so that, if and when a solution of the problem is found, Bunreacht na hEireann can be submitted to the whole people of Ireland for ratification or otherwise.
What prompted me to table that motion, Sir, was more or less what I read in the newspapers over the last month or more. Since the campaign for the general election opened a chorus has gone up in nearly every constituency and from every constituency, of Deputies vying with one another as to which of them would proclaim the loudest that the unity of Ireland is essential and must be striven for, and that the quicker the unity of Ireland is achieved the better. Not only have Deputies of all Parties said that, but some of them have even gone a little further and said that in the new Constitution there is the framework for a united Ireland.
There is also another very important factor in connection with this to which I should like to draw the attention of Deputies in this House, and that is that, speaking on the subject of Partition, in Monaghan, about ten or 12 days ago, Deputy Cosgrave, the Leader of the Opposition, having made what I thought was a very critical onslaught on the Government, said—these may not be exactly his words—“I grant that there is more unanimity on the subject of a united Ireland in this country than there is on any other subject before the country at the present day.” Not only was it necessary for him to reiterate that in Monaghan, but in the very last Ard Fheis of Fine Gael the first item that appeared in their programme was that they regarded the reunion of Ireland as the predominant national issue, and that they regarded it as their paramount duty to prepare for it. That is the attitude of the Opposition towards the question of the unity of Ireland to-day.
The Labour Party have proclaimed that policy from their platforms also.  They have proclaimed that the real crux in Ireland at the moment is the separation of the North from the South. Individually and collectively, I think the Labour Party have stood for that from 1905, and even from further back than that, and I do not believe that the members of the present Government Party ever have deviated one iota during the course of the politics of the past 16 years from the principle of a united Ireland. There are others in this country who do not hold the same political creed as we do, but who also believe in the unity of Ireland. There are people who have been termed Unionists— people who have been engaged in business and in the commercial life of this country—and these people have been holding meetings all over the country, too, and the burden of their speeches also is that, until Ireland is united, commercial and financial success will not and cannot be achieved. They hold that until there is one Government for all of Ireland real financial success cannot be achieved.
I believe that the unity of Ireland cannot be, and will not be, brought about by the efforts of any one political party in this country, and it is with the hope that the Government might take the initiative in co-ordinating all these forces, to which I have referred, and which have the unity of Ireland as their objective, that I have put down this motion. I believe that a Government in office in Southern Ireland, backed up by the unanimous support of every organisation that has claims to be national in Southern Ireland, even by other organisation that have an interest or a stake in this country, could, if that effort were made, and if the effort were made sincerely and honestly, achieve the unity we all desire.
I believe that, if we could achieve unity amongst all sections down here, it would be possible, in a short space of time, to get some effective results with regard to the unity of all Ireland. I believe, further, that, if one half of the energy that was expended in the years that are gone had been put into the idea of a united Ireland, we would be further on the road towards our ideal than we are at present.
 I should like to say, however, that, unlike Deputy Morrissey, Deputy Mulcahy, and other Deputies, I do not wish to cavil at this Constitution at all. I realise quite well the hard work and the labour that must have been put into the production of a document of that kind, and I may say that, as a follower of President de Valera I bow my head to no Deputy in this House in loyalty to him; and I say that I do not think it is fair or right for any Deputy in this House, from whatever Party he may come, to characterise a document such as this as so much humbug and nonsense. I do not believe that that is right. I do say, too, that another characteristic of the fair-play which has been given Deputies in this House is the instruction that has been given by the President to the people of this country in the coming election, that the fate of the Government does not hang on the fate of the Constitution. “You can vote for Government candidates,” the President said in Clare, “and you can vote against the Constitution if you like. Vice versa, you can vote for the Constitution and against the Government candidates if you like. The fate of the Government does not hang on the fate of this Constitution.”
I, too, believe and hold that a Constitution such as this should not be considered as Party document. After all, everybody has got to live under this Constitution and, if the day does come in the near future when we have an united Ireland, and when another 1,250,000 people are added to the population of this State, surely it is not an unreasonable request, or an unreasonable motion to put down, that some effort should be made and that some attention should be drawn to the fact that an effort might be made to secure some way by which they would have a voice in the Constitution under which they might be expected to live later on? I know it is impossible at the present moment. I know that the laws of this Parliament affect only the Twenty-Six Counties of Southern Ireland, but I know in addition that there is a minority in Northern Ireland of 500,000 people whose eyes are always yearningly looking to the  day when their deliverance can take place.
Every time I have read a speech in which I have seen the sentence recurring that there must be no coercion of Ulster, my reply invariably has been that if there must be no coercion of Ulster, there should be no coercion by 700,000 people there of the substantial minority of 500,000 people. I should like Deputies to visualise this for themselves, and I do not think I am asking for anything unreasonable. If everyone in Southern Ireland were perfectly united on this question and if pressure were put upon the English to reopen negotiations, if in addition we had that demand backed by the minority in Northern Ireland, and if, as I have stated here in this motion, we had our people in America, England, Scotland and all over the globe supporting that demand, I am not so pessimistic as to think that the British would turn down that demand.
People may say that you cannot force the British to negotiate, but I remember one occasion, as does Deputy Cosgrave and many other Deputies who were connected with the old fight, when negotiations were about to be opened with the British and the reply came across the water that they would never sit down to negotiate with murder. They even went so far as to name three men with whom it was an impossibility for them to negotiate, the three men being Michael Collins, General Mulcahy and Cathal Brugha. That all vanished before the force of public opinion. That all vanished when the eyes of the world were concentrated on the question, mainly through the efforts of President de Valera in the United States and of other men who took it on themselves to speak for their homeland although they were domiciled in foreign countries. The British negotiated with the people to whom they objected, and they were glad afterwards that they negotiated with them. I hold—perhaps I may be wrong or over-optimistic—that the pressure of public opinion, forced home by a united Southern Ireland and backed up by the support of the people whom  we are seeking to liberate, would enable us to obtain a satisfactory solution of this Northern problem. It is not the first time that this was mooted. It is a strange thing that one of the factors that weighed with me in putting down this motion was a book which I read a short time ago written by an eminent English journalist, Hugh Martin, with an introduction by another eminent English journalist, Sir Philip Gibbs. Away back in 1921 when things were pretty hot, this method of procedure was first suggested in that book. I quote from page 203 of the book, “Ireland in Insurrection,” in which, speaking for the English people, he said:
“There is nothing for it on our side but to put our pride in our pocket and to say quite frankly and with as much grace as we can muster: ‘Ireland, my dear, you have proved your case; from henceforth you are free. Come now and let us reason together about the future.’ And this will have to be said to Ireland as a whole, not to any artificial fraction of Ireland that we choose for our own purpose or from any mistaken sense of loyalty to the remaining fraction, to set up and call ‘Ireland.’ Ireland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean inhabited by the Irish.”
That was from an English author, and I am still, as I said, optimistic enough to believe that the English could be brought to negotiate on the question of the partition of this country. Many golden opportunities have been lost in connection with this matter, and I am putting this forward as a detailed resolution, not as a direct negative like that of Deputy MacDermot. If Deputy MacDermot's motion were carried here it would simply mean going back to where we were, with no alternative of any kind. To the same extent Deputy Mulcahy's motion was vitiated in a large measure by the speech delivered by Deputy Morrissey, who comes along with the comment on the measure: “This Constitution will not put a loaf on anybody's table.” I should not like any Deputy to take up an attitude of that kind. A loaf could have been put  on the table of the people of Ireland had they accepted certain things offered to them in the past. They did not accept them, and the loaf did not come off the table.
In looking up some old papers and Press cuttings recently, I saw where one great opportunity of reuniting the country was missed at the time of the Treaty. It was reaffirmed by President de Valera in 1923 in a letter to the Irish Independent, and upon the basis of that letter I would say that Ireland could successfully negotiate a settlement even now. It was an appeal for unity on the Ulster question, and I could have almost embodied that letter in my amendment to-day. As regards the Ulster question the President said:
“Our proposals were that the fullest measure of local autonomy, consistent with the unity of Ireland as a whole, should be granted to the aggregate of those areas in which, by a majority vote, the residents demanded a separate Parliament. We were prepared to take as the unit of area for the plebiscite either the constituencies prior to the Act for 1920 or any smaller unit such as the poor law guardian or the district council areas. By that proposal Derry City and the greater parts of the Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh as well as South Armagh and South Down would be represented directly in the National Parliament. On no plea could the ‘Ulster’ minority demand anything more.”
I am quoting from the letter written by the President, dated 20th July, 1923, and published in the Irish Independent. Surely to goodness there is nothing unreasonable about that. Two Partition Acts were passed for this country. One was a direct Act of Parliament passed in Britain in 1920 by Mr. Lloyd George, under which the country was split in two divisions. The other—I do not want to say this by way of recrimination, and I do not want to go back into any of the controversial subjects that we have debated over and over again— unfortunately took place in December, 1925, the time of the Ultimate Financial Agreement; the time, too, of the  collapse of the Boundary Commission. We all remember what occurred then. That opportunity was missed, and many other opportunities were missed. I must say this, in referring to the quotation that I have given from President de Valera, that at that time when the Treaty was discussed and this was put in as an alternative it was misrepresented all over the country and never got the fair chance that it was entitled to have at that time.
Now we can do it. We are here in this Dáil as the bigger Party in the Dáil. We are here as the Government Party in the Dáil, with the resources of Southern Ireland at our command. We are here, and the people expect us to go ahead. Perhaps we are not going quickly enough. The people who returned us returned us under no delusions whatever; the ultimate objective, the final objective of the policy of Fianna Fáil was a republic for a united Ireland. My objection to this Constitution is that it seems to me, if I may say so with all respect, that we are putting the cart before the horse. The major issue in Ireland at the moment is to get our nation first and let the people of all Ireland draft a Constitution afterwards. This is not the first time that I mentioned this matter. In certain other places, unfortunately, I was not successful. I put up a resolution and made suggestions to certain people that an all-Ireland convention could be called together, on the initiative of the Government, consisting of—I was pretty generous in the representation. I do not think I left out any body or anything—all the organisations in Ireland that pretend to be national or pretend to have the welfare of this country at heart. We would have had them from Fine Gael, from Fianna Fáil, from Labour, North and South. I hope and trust that the words which I included in that motion, “irrespective of political or religious outlook,” will be well taken into consideration. We would have had Labour, North and South; public boards, corporations, farmers  unions, the Ports and Docks Boards of Dublin and Belfast, the corporations of Cork, Dublin, Waterford, Drogheda and Clonmel, professional and commercial interests, southern Unionists, the universities of Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Galway. I think that that would have been a pretty representative meeting if it could have been brought about. There may have been difficulties in bringing such a thing about, but I do not think that the difficulties would have been insuperable.
This is possibly the last opportunity. I may have of speaking in this House on the subject of the partition of Ireland. Deputy Morrissey became very eloquent a few moments ago in the House upon the economic subject, and about not a loaf being put on the table by this Constitution. After all, I am afraid Deputy Morrissey is looking at only one side of this problem. It is my view—I am more convinced of this than I have ever been convinced of anything before—that it is a physical impossibility for anybody, I do not care who it is, man or woman, to make this country the successful financial and commercial entity that it ought to be while two Governments are functioning here. That is my belief. I can assure Deputies of this House, and I am speaking with the sincerest conviction, that even in Ulster there are people to-day who formerly went all out on the Unionist ticket, and they are beginning to think along different lines now. In the City of Belfast they have already established a “Justice for Ulster” league. They are not getting justice from across the water. Things have developed on those lines. I am sure Deputies in this House do not look on Partition from the proper angle.
The other day, in the Ulster Parliament, Lord Craigavon, the Prime Minister, got up and told the Deputies there, if I may so call them: “Mr. Baldwin is Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and not I.” When the Constitution introduced by President de Valera, drafted by President de Valera, was brought up for debate in the Ulster Parliament, the same  answer was given: “You have to deal with Mr. Baldwin and his Cabinet.” I wonder do Deputies here recognise or realise for a moment that that thing which postures as a Parliament in Belfast is not a Parliament as such? There it is, ruling six counties of territory, which in my opinion have been ceded to England. We cannot call this a nation until we get back that territory. That Parliament is governed by a joint Exchequer Board in England, four men, of whom only one is representative of Ulster. That is the type of thing we are told must stay and will always stay. We are told it is the wish of the people of Ulster to accept it. To quote from Lord Craigavon's speech the other day. “Parliament,” he said, “was forced on us by the English Government, that we did not want and that we do not want.” It was forced upon them as a political exigency by the English. The tragedy of it is this: Here are we in this Parliament; there they are in what should be a Parliament but is not. Here we are arguing upon very minor matters, while that territory has been given away to another country, with 1,250,000 of its population, its mineral resources, its trade and its commerce and everything attached thereto.
It is no pleasure for me to get up and say those things, but I know that they will be met in the straightforward and manly way in which the President always meets criticisms of this kind. I could sit here and keep quiet. I could sit here as a Government Deputy, but after all, like others in this House, I come from an area known as the Six-County area, and I want to say with all the force at my command that time is a precious thing as far as the unification of this country is concerned. Take the education in the schools of Ulster and compare it with the education in the schools in Southern Ireland. In another 16 years —this has now been in operation 16 years—I shudder to think what the mentality will be or what the type of individual will be that will call himself a nationalist in Northern Ireland.
One day longer than the 1st of January, 1938, I would not ask the President to postpone this Constitution.  We have waited 750 years, and surely we can wait six months more. Surely we can make this last effort to round up all the opinion that there is in this country behind President de Valera and his Government; take the initiative on that, and put it up to the English again on the basis of a plebiscite to be taken in the areas I suggest. Apparently Deputy Cosgrave has taken an interest in this matter for some months back, because I remember here one evening he came in with a resolution that negotiations be reopened with the English on a more comprehensive basis than that of the land annuities. The Minister for Industry and Commerce interrupted and said: “Including partition”? Deputy Cosgrave said: “Yes, including partition.” The speech delivered by Deputy Morrissey now would not lead anybody to believe that the Opposition was sincere in the very first phrase that they had in the programme which they put before their last Ard Fheis: “To prepare the way for the achievement of a united Ireland, convinced that the reunion of Ireland is the predominant national issue.” It is the predominant national issue. Nothing else counts; nothing else matters. I say deliberately and I say advisedly that even if the Twenty-Six Counties of Southern Ireland were a land flowing with milk and honey, even if you had here every blessing, every comfort, everything that could possibly be called prosperity, comfort and happiness, it would not be an Irish nation and it could not be an Irish nation. For that reason amongst others I have tabled this motion.
I know somebody will get up and say that I am living too much in the past. Perhaps I have been living too much in the past during the course of my public life, but I always believed that it was best for the people to learn from the past. I always thought that the mistakes of the past were a guide for the future, and that the people should get inspirations from the past. I read with interest the other day that steps have been taken in the County Wexford to carry out in a fitting way the 140th anniversary of the '98  rebellion. There were two counties that made a fight worthy of any name in '98. One was Antrim and the other Wexford. I would be false to everything that I believe in if I did not say that in the City of Belfast republicanism was first launched. It was there it had its birth. The Protestant young men of Belfast have handed on to us the republican creed that we profess to take to our hearts. From that standpoint, too, I was actuated in tabling this motion—that some effort should be made to unite our country before this Constitution becomes law. The task of doing that will be getting more difficult every day. The youth in Armagh, Dungannon, Newry and Belfast who are getting their education in these days are being taught all about Trafalgar and Waterloo instead of the glories of the Yellow Ford and Benburb. Unless something is done to alter that, these young boys and girls will grow up without a national faith or a national outlook. The position is serious from that standpoint and that standpoint alone if this nation is going to live. What is the use in going about the country at election time—we have been doing it since the Treaty was passed—and saying that we stand for a united Ireland and the abolition of Partition? I noticed that another voice to join that chorus in Westmeath the other day was Deputy Fagan, but now I say is the time to do something if we are really serious in trying to take such action as will have the effect of abolishing Partition. With a united country behind the President, let the Government take the initiative to make the Partition of Ireland at least practical politics to be discussed between this country and England.
I deliberately put into my motion the words “organising the Irish race abroad for their assistance and support”. When President de Valera was in Geneva a couple of years ago I noticed that amongst the activities going on there we had one of our Cabinet Ministers appointed Chairman of a committee which was set up to decide something between Bolivia and Paraguay. He also got mixed up in something between China and Japan. That is inevitable, I suppose, if you  go to the League of Nations and take part in the work of those committees. I would like to know what the position is as regards Ireland at the League of Nations, or is it possible for this question of the division of our country to be raised there at all? Surely to goodness, if we have a Government functioning here, and claiming the right to own the territory of the whole country, we ought to be able to make this question practical politics: to see that we get back the Province that was taken away from us.
In the first Bill that was put through the English Parliament in 1920, separating the North of Ireland from the South, not one single Irishman, Nationalist or Unionist, voted for it. It was imposed, in the words of Mr. Lloyd George, on Ireland as a compulsory settlement rather than give way on the big issue of the republic. Mr. Lloyd George's justification, according to himself, for putting that measure through the English House of Commons was that if a plebiscite was taken amongst the people of Ireland on the big issue, they would say that they wanted an Irish Republic. Those words which were used by Mr. Lloyd George are on the records in Hansard. Therefore, in order to stop the growing force of the movement that then existed and in order to placate world opinion, the 1920 Act was imposed on the country. In the words of Lord Craigavon the other day, they got a Parliament in the North that they did not want, while we are functioning here as a Parliament for the Twenty-Six Counties of Southern Ireland. Mr. Lloyd George could sit back in his chair and smile to himself as to how he outwitted the Irish, but he never would come to close quarters with the proposition put up to him at the time of the Treaty by President de Valera to take a plebiscite of the Ulster counties.
I have mentioned in my motion that every available form of pressure at home and abroad should be got together now to back the demand to the British to reopen negotiations on the question of the unity of this country. I do not think even the economic issues that Deputy Morrissey  and Deputy Professor O'Sullivan talk so much about are more important than this. In my opinion, they are not. I remember reading a speech made some time ago by Deputy O'Sullivan in which he said that we were only keeping this thing here for talking about it, for going around the country and referring to it when it pleases us. I am glad to see, however, that it has now become a useful article for reference by Deputy Cosgrave and the members of the Opposition Party. All I will say on that is that they can never do much harm by claiming that this country is ours, that it should be reunited and that Partition is wrong.
The speech which Deputy MacDermot made in moving his amendment was one of the most barren that I ever listened to. It had nothing constructive in it. It offered no alternative, good, bad or indifferent. It was a simple negative: “We will not have this Constitution; take it out of the way, we do not want it.” As regards Northern Ireland, there is one other matter that I would like to refer to. I witnessed the fury that Deputy Morrissey worked himself into as regards emigration. Nobody wants emigration either in Southern or Northern Ireland. If Deputy Morrissey will take a trip up to Belfast and go down the quays, he will see there the special sheds and special accommodation that had to be provided recently for the export of the Protestant young men and young girls of Ulster to the colonies or wherever else they liked to go. I say without fear of contradiction that the main cause of all that emigration, of all the poverty, and of anything else that is wrong politically, nationally and economically with the country is due to the partition of Ireland.
We have the position that there are two Governments functioning, that the English are allowed to subsidise the North against the South without protest, without the whole of world opinion being focussed against it, and I would say, if such a thing were occurring, that it would be equally wrong to finance the South against the North. I believe that if we take our courage in our hands,  and if the President will take the initiative, the cure for everything is to come to close quarters with this question, and having done that, to do our best as a united country, plus the minority in Ulster, to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion and give the people of Ulster a voice and a vote in whatever Constitution we want them to join with us.
Mr. T. Hales: I desire to second the amendment simply to realise and get analysed and digested the plans put forward by him for a united Ireland. I realise that at a moment like this the responsibility is great. It is laying down things for the future which possibly will decide definitely one way or the other whether the road to be travelled is to be one of eternal peace and stability or, on the contrary, whether men will take their choice. My principal objection would be on those lines: that the Dáil declines to give a Second Reading to Bunreacht na hEireann, which, while purporting to be a vehicle whereby an all-Ireland nation can be established, offers no basis whereby the overwhelming majority of Nationalists within the shores of Ireland can be united and marshalled to uphold and seek international recognition for the Republic of Ireland. There is one thing as far as Deputy Donnelly is concerned—that he is like the man of whom Emerson wrote long ago in his essays who possessed an inner soul. A man is only a man while he adheres to the soul that ticks within, and if, through external or other influences, he departs from that, he is a man no longer. The big question, in my opinion, is to visualise what really will be the position when the Constitution is passed and when the election is over. Will you have a position, for instance, under Article 1 of the Constitution that you will have a certain number of men working or standing for the nation who will come under Article 38 of that Constitution, and possibly be imprisoned by Eire? When this is enacted you will have certain men going on  different lines, working out methods of policy to achieve the unity of the nation. This is a loss, a waste of energy — these different sections working in conflict with each other.
In Article 29 of the proposed Constitution you have the expression “a group or league of nations”. That certainly is the Commonwealth of Nations. In Article 29 (4) the words “organ, instrument or method of procedure” certainly, in my opinion, definitely refer to the King. The Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, passed last December automatically becomes law.
The President and the Government can argue that there is nothing in this to stop any man from going ahead and using constitutional methods to bring in the North. That certainly will be done in a haphazard, aimless, indefinite way. A certain number of men will advocate conciliation, conference and consent. Finally, we will get others who will possibly go further and introduce a certain amount of violence. It is clear that those men who will stand for Article 1 will be put into jail under Article 38. A great General once said, when asked what was in his mind, “What is in my mind does not matter if I could only know what is in the mind of those opposite.” Do we think at this stage we can lay down something which can avoid all the evils which I see are going to follow? As long as grass grows and water runs there will always be people in this country going on until they come into violent action.
On the merits of the two Constitutions, my view is that the President is losing an opportunity that has not occurred since the defeat of Hugh O'Neill at Kinsale. The Constitution of 1922 was drafted after the Great War. England had conquered the known world and ruled the waves. At that time men were unnerved after the strain. The unfortunate thing about it was that it was rushed. Now, after so many years of cool thought and meditation we should ask ourselves are we willingly, freely and knowingly going to go the distance that we should go? What difference will it make if once and for all we make the issue  clear and proclaim the Republic of Ireland? If we do not make that issue clear you will have simply this difference: that by apparent or by silent consent the Irish race will stand divided and smashed at home and abroad. Doing the other thing—proclaiming the Republic—you make England keep Partition there by force of arms and you will let the world see that she is doing it. That is a position which the people of England would not be able to stand over long in the present position of Europe and the world.
The President at one time said one noble and great thing. He said that to be brave is to be wise. The unfortunate thing is that we have a waste of energy because of a lack of unified action. The honest and sincere men will automatically drop out. Other men will keep on the road in different ways trying to solve the problem of the North. There has been a point raised by Deputy Morrissey about what he calls want in the country. All Deputies here, I am sure, agree that there is a higher principle than that. I personally agree that it is finance which controls the nations of the world, and what the people of this country need is the direction and control of finance in the country. Lord Beaverbrook proved that that was the position in England, and he proved that every Labour Government would be upset by a few strokes of the pen by the people who had financial control. This, however, is not the time nor the place to go into that matter. To create internal wealth and to keep the population, because the population is the real wealth and the key of all in the end, are the things that are needed. That wealth —population—is the one thing that will solve all problems. It is the same as the steam-engine. When a valve is leaking the steam is wasted and you are hopeless. But once the engine is perfectly running these evils are stopped.
The present Government is partly responsible for the present non-circulation of money. This was a power that we surrendered in 1927. In the present circulation of currency  there is not a hope of maintaining the population. Hence we can never have a sufficiency of steam power to solve all our troubles. I think it is not fair for the Opposition to put all the blame on the present Government. I think they should have something more manly to put before the people. There was no circulation of money amongst the farmers in this country since 1928. Money has since been getting scarcer. We did not take our gloves off to England as we should have done. The past can prove what a united Ireland could do. Before we came to be split up we were united and we reached a position in which there was no stopping us. That is a position, I am afraid, that unfortunately we will never reach again. And I am afraid the present position will remain as it is. Of course, the King stands for external affairs in this Constitution, and he will still be King of Ireland. That is the position. Now, when we go to the cross-roads during the election campaign, let us be honest about the 32-county republic.
Deputy Donnelly has certainly given us an outline of his ideas and plans. My personal view is that they will all fail, but it would be moral and justifiable to give them a chance. I am giving my personal view and putting my cards on the table, and here I am for Ireland. It will be for England then and for the North to take the initiative against us, and the world would see once and for all the position we claim. Otherwise, the position will be that we are consenting to it. The forces which could have been united and energetic forces will be wasted against one another. Men's minds will be deluded and saddened. The men who love Ireland and who are prepared to give all for her will lie down in despair, and there will not be any inspiration for the youth to follow them.
I do not wish to go into the Articles of the Constitution. That really is for lawyers. One thing I wish to say, and it is this, that it is very hard to improve on the men who wrote the national gospel. The men who wrote that gospel in 1916 were clear, simple and honest. They invoked the blessing of the Blessed Trinity on our sacred  cause. Even in the matter of the rights of women they took the right road. Possibly the Article in the draft Constitution in this connection may be a slip by the President, but I know the women folk have taken this matter up seriously. Really there is nothing in it. How great and wise the men of 1916 were when they avoided falling into a slip in this matter.
The preamble to this Constitution is a grand, beautiful and noble one, if we are all sincere about it and if every man has assented to that principle. Many Deputies have some time or other read in the old Shamrock about Mick McQuaid and Kit Kulkin. Kit was a very pious hypocrite. I hope that will not be the case here. The invocation of the Holy Trinity saved us in the past and will undoubtedly and unquestionably save us again if we have the moral courage to declare it in all appropriate things. However, I cannot compel the Government to do what I want them to do, and as far as I am concerned I will, for the remainder of my days, work constitutionally for the restoration of the Republic. The future as I visualise it is not rosy anyway; it is sad. There are men in this country who are reckless, wild, foolish and misguided. But we were all that at one time. In 1916, we were all called vagabonds, scoundrels, wild men, reckless men. Eventually, by 1921 we became great and we were praised as Christian men. Until 1922, both sides of the House were united, but in 1922 one side of the House became wild, reckless, mad, misguided men again.
As time went on we changed, and we who were called mad and reckless became again great men. But now we have another set of vagabonds, and the very vicious circle is completed. What is really wrong with the whole thing? That is a matter really worth thinking over seriously. I will give a figurative definition or illustration, and it is this—we have gone off the road. If you took the greatest and soundest physical athlete and you trained him down in Kildare. On a dark night, with no lights, you asked him to run a journey 20 miles away, and you put side by side with him and against him an old man and that old man weak and  feeble, and you told the old man to keep to the road and that that road would take him on a distance of 20 miles. You told the young athlete that he must keep to the fields. The destination of both is the republic. The old man keeps on the main straight road. Which of them do you think will get there first? The man in the fields would eventually find himself going in a circle and coming back to the point where he started, so the man on the road would get there first.
The source of all our troubles and evils and sorrows will remain until we make a resolute effort to settle the question once and for all in the name of God and for the honour of Ireland. Where eventually will you find the great civilisation of the West? You may go through France, Spain, Germany and Italy, but eventually you will find it in the little cottages amongst the peasants. Ireland was a great country when England and other nations had not even reached the outskirts of civilisation. Ireland is regarded as the greatest moral nation in the world and rightly so. For many centuries she has struggled for her independence, and I believe she is approaching the time when her ambition will be achieved.
So far as the people of the North are concerned, they made a bold resistance up to 300 years ago. That portion of Ireland was the very head of the island in more senses than one, but it is beheaded now, merely at the request of a minority who, for the moment, are in a position of authority. We should utilise every effort until that portion of our country is restored to us. I am sure you will all agree that Europe to-day is awaiting a new re-mapping. In our schooldays we were told about the great Empire on which the sun never sets. Is it ever to be undone? I believe that it will be undone, and I believe God in His time will select His instrument to carry out the undoing, whether that instrument be a dictator or otherwise.
As this proposed Constitution stands. I would not vote for it. I am supporting Deputy Donnelly in the  hope that this question which he puts forward will be earnestly considered and that good results will accrue from it.
Mr. Lavery: The President, in his speech this afternoon introducing the Constitution, adopted, in some parts of that speech at least, an attitude of sweet reasonableness. He called on all Deputies in the House, to whatever Party they might belong, to come together and endeavour to secure in this new Constitution an instrument as ideal as could be attained for the government of our country. One would be able more easily to believe in the entire sincerity of that appeal if the Constitution had been prepared and presented to this House at some other time and in some other way. So far as this House knows, the Constitution is the work of the President himself. Certainly no person or body in this House outside himself, or possibly members of his own Party or Government, were invited to contribute anything to its preparation. That, I think, is an unusual method of preparing a Constitution. When this State first came into being, the Constitutions of the drafted by a commission set up to examine the Constitution was world, to pool their collective knowledge and wisdom and to try to devise a Constitution which would be acceptable, if not to the entire nation, at least to the majority of the people. That precedent might have been followed if it were really considered necessary at this particular moment to press upon the country a different Constitution. Well, that has not been done. Instead, the Constitution has been prepared, possibly by one man, certainly without consultation with any of the many interests in the nation that would be able to give assistance in the preparation of it.
The Constitution was presented to the people something less than ten days ago. No word or hint of its contents was known, I think, to any members of this House, certainly not to any members other than members of the Government Party, until it was produced. We had from the President an exposition of the document before  it was published. An appeal was made by the President over the radio to the people to come together, and they were asked to approve the Constitution before they had ever seen it. They have now had a short opportunity of examining it. In the few days that have passed since it was produced certain criticisms have been offered in the public Press. I do not think I am putting it too far when I say that the President has shown himself singularly intolerant of that criticism. I do not think that there was anything in the rather mild criticism which was offered by Deputy Costello in the Irish Independent, and by the other jurists who have written articles upon it. I think the President might have taken the line that these were intended to be helpful criticisms. But he has not taken that line.
He has suggested that they are carping, that they tend to destroy and hinder, and that they are not offered in a spirit of endeavouring to obtain for the country as perfect an instrument as is possible. His speech here this afternoon, although some parts of it were informed by the spirit of an appeal to people to come in and help to work up the Constitution, certainly did not seem to be designed to that end, so far as other parts of it are concerned. As a lawyer, I myself enter upon this debate with some trepidation, because, although in the opening part of the President's remarks, he appealed to the lawyers to come in and help with their special knowledge and skill in these matters, towards the conclusion of his speech when, no doubt, he had worked himself up to a certain extent, he told the House, and I suppose he intends to tell the country, that he is not bothering about the lawyers; that he does not care what the lawyers may think of this Constitution; that they can call it what they like; but that the is not bothering what the lawyers may think. I think I have quoted the President's words with substantial accuracy.
Mr. Lavery: Oh, no! I want to be fair. I think that that was the President's point. In effect, he said that although the lawyers might hold certain opinions with regard to this Constitution, he and his Party were not bothering about the lawyers or about what the lawyers think; that the people were sovereign, and that it was to the sovereign people they would appeal; that they were not bothering about what the lawyers think; that the lawyers would have to swallow it if the people wanted it.
I think that is a fair statement of what the President said. However, notwithstanding the things to which I have referred, such as the manner in which this Constitution has been presented to the House and to the country, and the experience we have had with regard to certain matters, I think it is important to point out to this House where this proposed Constitution may be a serious source of danger if it be enacted. In the first place, I think it will be generally agreed that the Constitution ought to be a simple, straightforward statement of the fundamental law and that it ought to deal as briefly and as succinetly as possible with the fundamentals of the law of the State: that it ought not to go further; that it ought not to be an essay on social policy or a statement of ideals; or that it ought not to state matters of detail regarding the ordinary rights of citizens with regard to the ordinary law. I think it will be  agreed that the Constitution ought to confine itself to the fundamentals of the law of the State.
Now, we have here a Draft Constitution of something like 60 Articles, consisting of some Articles which are not intended to be law at all, and other Articles, which, certainly, could not be considered or applied in any ordinary court of law because of their vagueness and generally. The President, in various parts of his speech, made impassioned appeals for various social policies which, he considers, should be enshrined in this Draft Constitution, and which are enshrined in it. Well, of course, it is not by appeals of that sort that you can make people think better of a thing to which they are opposed. So far as the general idea of the social ideals, for which the President appealed, is concerned, I suppose that everybody in this House and everybody in the country, and, possibly, everybody in the world, would probably agree with it; but I am sure the President himself will realise that there is also the question of whether the introduction of generalities of that kind might not, perhaps, be a source of danger instead of a help. The president himself pointed out that you cannot say what are the fundamental rights; and it is only by opening up that question that you can show to people, who take a different view from the farmers of the Constitution, what may turn out to be exceedingly dangerous.
Even if the present Government think that they could administer this Constitution in the spirit in which they framed it, that does not mean that hereafter they, or somebody else, may not administer it in a very different fashion. Where you find fundamental laws stated, and then made subject to certain qualifications you may find afterwards that the qualification may have a very different meaning from what was originally intended. I can give three instances. One of the fundamental rights laid down by the Draft Constitution, in Article 40, is the right of free expression of opinion; that is, that sub head 6 (i) guarantees the right of  the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions. Having stated that right, however, the Constitution goes on to provide that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the Press, the cinema—the three organs of public opinion—shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State. Now, the freedom of the Press used to be regarded as the basis of any free Constitution, but now we find that, by positive enactment in the Draft Constitution, laws may be made ensuring that the Press, not to mention the other organs of public opinion, shall not be used to undermine the authority of the State.
Now, as I have said, that may be, perhaps, an admirable idea in itself; but is it not easy to see how such a power could be used by a Government which wished to restrain a Press which was critical of it. When is it to be said that the authority of the State is being undermined? If the Government is being attacked, even by fair criticism, in the Press, does not that article give to whatever Government has the majority in the Dáil, and which has, possibly, the sympathy of the new President to be set up under this Constitution, the power to restrict and attack the power and the liberty of the Press, not to speak of the other organs of opinion?
I pass now to a succeeding sub head of that Article—sub-head (iii)—which deals with the right of the citizens to form associations and unions. There, the right of the citizens to form associations and unions is guaranteed. Having done that, however, the qualification follows that laws may be enacted for the regulation and control in the public interest of the exercise of the foregoing right.
That means that our trade unions are to be subject again, by express provision of the Constitution, to legislation affecting their actions. Then you have a provision for laws regulating the manner in which the right of forming associations and unions and the right of free assembly may be exercised, but it says, further, that such laws shall contain no political, religious, or class discrimination. All  of these are admirable ideas in themselves; but how easily are they not capable of being applied by a Government which may be anti-Labour and which may desire to restrict or damage the operations of trade unions. I suggest that in that Article there is a menace to trade unionism and I suggest, further, that the Constitution is no place for the statement of such rights, if fundamental rights—if they are fundamental—cannot be stated without qualifications such as these.
The third instance to which I wish to refer is even more serious. Article 43, sub-head (2º) recognises the fundamental right to private property, and the State guarantees to pass no law attempting to abolish the right of private ownership. Having acknowledged that right, however, the Article then goes on to say that the State may, as occasion requires, delimit by law the exercise of the said rights with a view to reconciling their exercise with the exigencies of the common good. I suggest that those words could quite properly find their place in any Communist Constitution. There is the fullest right given there by express enactment, if the exigencies of the common good are deemed by the Government to require it, to take away private property and to take it away without compensation. Accordingly it should be understood, if I read the Constitution aright, that it provides that private property may be confiscated without compensation. Is it desirable that the fundamental law of the State should say so? Is it desirable that the fundamental law of the State should contain any provision which is capable of being so read? That it is capable of being so read is brought out to some extent by Article 44, sub-head 5, which provides that the property of any religious denomination or any educational institution shall not be diverted—“diverted” is an excellent word— save for necessary works of public utility and on payment of compensation. This draft accordingly provides that an educational institution may have its right protected and not have it diverted without compensation but the private individual is to have no such right. Apparently by  express enactment, his property may be confiscated without compensation. As I say, that is a provision which might properly find its place in any Constitution drawn up for a Communist State. Such a provision would not be out of place in the Constitution of any Communist State.
Another matter to which the President referred, in the course of his speech, that I considered made it rather difficult to approach the problem in the way in which he expressed his desire that it should be approached, was his reference to so much of the new Constitution as is borrowed from the existing Constitution. I should have thought that if he did desire that all parties should approach the consideration of the Constitution in the spirit of an endeavour to arrive at the best that could be obtained, he might have been less grudging in acknowledging his indebtedness to the existing Constitution. All he would say was that where he had done it, it was as a concession, not because he liked to do it, but because he desired to avoid raising opposition and as a concession. If he has taken from the old Constitution the very framework of the proposed Constitution, apart from the innovation of the new position of President, I think he has gone very far in his concessions. The framework of the new Constitution is based entirely on the exiting Constitution and the novelty which it introduces is based on the British Constitution. The nearest parallel which can be found to the office of President in the new Constitution is the King in the British Constitution. However, so far as the main framework is concerned, it is based on the existing Constitution.
The Oireachtas until recently consisted of three parts—the Dáil, the Seanad and the Governor-General. It is true that we have spent many days in this House, first of all abolishing the Seanad, and then abolishing the Governor-General. Now they are to be restored. The Seanad is to be restored with a different method of nomination, but it will still be a substantially similar body to the one destroyed. It may be, of course, that the object of its destruction was to get rid of the existing member of the  Seanad. It may be that what the President really desired was to replace members of the Seanad with people of a different category. I do not know but, at any rate, we spent days here destroying that Seanad in order now to replace it by a Seanad whose constitution and whose powers are very similar. We did the same with the Governor-General. We are now to have him replaced by a new functionary, the President, who, although he takes the place of the Governor-General, has very much wider powers. I think it may be said that, apart from certain pronouncements on social policy which it necessarily contains, the only important feature of the new Constitution is this new position of President. I do think it is not an improvement. Already several people, who cannot be considered to have any political feelings of opposition towards the President or his Government, have adverted to this proposed institution without favour. I do not know what is to be said for it. As I say, it resembles very strongly in many particulars the position of His Majesty the King in the British Constitution, but, of course, there the King is a survival of an old régime. The functions which he exercises—if he is Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, if he signs Bills in order that they may become law—if he does all these formal things, it is because he is a tradition and a symbol. It is quite another thing for this State, where there is no such tradition, to take the cue from that traditional institution to appoint a President merely for the purpose of doing these formal acts.
Further he is not limited to these formalities. The danger that I foresee in this institution of President is this: like the Prime Minister he is elected by the people directly. The head of the Government is elected to this House, and is appointed by this House to be the head of the Government. You have then two persons who may think either the same or differently in political matters. It is useless to speak of the President in our existing circumstances as being a person above politics. That is futile. Anybody who knows the conditions in this  country must realise that no man is going to secure a majority of the entire electorate of this country unless he has a powerful organisation behind him, unless he is a Party politician in the fullest sense of the word, and unless he has the support of a political organisation. As I say, the President may hold the same views or different views from the head of the Government. In either case he may be a source of danger to the State. He is the supreme commander of the defence forces. He must sign Bills before they become law. He must promulgate the law. He has the right of pardon and commutation, and, above all, he is not answerable to either House in the exercise of his powers. It is in that phrase that the novelty of this institution becomes apparent.
At present, we have a President of the Executive Council who in himself unites the functions which, practically speaking, will be dischargeable by two persons under the new Constitution. At least, the President of the Executive Council is directly responsible to the Dáil. It is now proposed to put in between him and that responsibility a person who is not responsible to the Dáil. The functionary who is to be created under this Constitution is not to be answerable to either House for the exercise of his powers, whether he acts on his own discretion, whether he acts after consultation with the Council of State, whether he acts in accordance with their advice or contrary to it, or whether he acts on the advice of the Government. In no case is he responsible to the Oireachtas. Neither is he amenable to the courts. There is an express provision that during his term of office no action, civil or criminal, is to be brought against him. Why is such an office to be created in this democratic State? Under a democratic Constitution you are proposing to set up a person who will be above the law. I heard nothing from the President in justification of that proposal. Apart from clashes that may come between this high personage and the Dáil, the clashes that may arise between him and the Prime Minister and the head of the Government can be easily foreseen.
What is the necessity for it? I  myself can see none. I cannot see why the principle of parliamentary government—a democratic institution such as the Dáil, with the necessary check provided by a properly constituted Seanad—is not all that this country requires. Why this complication of institutions? That brings us, perhaps, to what would be the best justification for such an office,if there can be a justification. If the President is to be head of State, one would imagine that he would be the person who would represent the State externally, that he would be the person who would appoint our diplomatic representatives, that he would be the person who would enter into relations with foreign States and monarchs, that he would be the person who would look after our external affairs. But that is precisely the thing which he is not to do. He is to be kept strictly apart from everything external. He is to be the head of the House, but only at home. In fact, the position of the President appears to be almost exactly analogous to the position which the Constitution provides for women in the home.
Mr. Lavery: The statement that the President is not to have association with external affairs? Certainly. First of all he is not to leave Eire during his term of office except with the consent of the Government. Article 29 (4) says:
Mr. Lavery: The position is perfectly clear on the Draft as it stands, but, if anything were needed to make it more clear, the President himself, in his speech this afternoon, made it abundantly clear, because, although  he did not refer to our external position in detail, he did refer to it as the existing circumstances. In referring to Article 29 (4), sub-head (2) he stated that it was drawn with a view to the existing circumstances, and that it would not have been suggested to him or, he thought, to any other person except for those existing circumstances. Under those existing Circumstances——
Mr. Lavery: ——the external relations of the State are to be dealt with by the Government by availing of or adopting any organ, instrument or method of procedure used or adopted for the like purpose by the members of any group or league of nations with which Eire is or becomes associated for the purpose of international co-operation in matters of common concern.
Mr. Lavery: The President has not followed me. What I said was that as the Constitution stands at the moment. I was going to deal with that in a moment, because it occurs to me that, possibly, the Article which the President suggested this afternoon was intended only to deal with routine matters, namely, the power to confer additional functions upon him was intended to give him external powers. Perhaps the cat is out of the bag now. The President stated explicitly this afternoon that this Article 13 (10), to which Deputy Dillon drew attention and on which he asked for an explanation, was intended to deal only with routine matters. Are we to understand now that it is intended, under that Article, to confer upon the President power to deal with foreign monarchs and States in our external relations?
Mr. Lavery: I repeat the proposition I made when the Minister for Finance intervened, which is that, as the Constitution stands, and if you like under existing circumstances, the President under the Constitution will be in the same position as the President wishes to put the women of this country into, namely, they are to be in the home and are to stay in the home.
Mr. Lavery: It is quite true, of course, that under this Draft Constitution additional powers and functions can be given to the President. That is quite true. I omitted to refer to it, because we had the assurance of the President this afternoon that it was intended to operate only on matters of routine. Now it seems that under ordinary legislation the Dáil—possibly, as I have said before, in sympathy with the President—may confer on him any powers it likes to deal externally with foreign nations. Whichever way the matter lies, the position of the President remains equally objectionable, because if it is intended to confer upon him powers of that kind by recourse to this Article, then there can be no other limit to the powers which ordinary legislation can give him, at least there is none in the Article. Of course, the President asks the lawyers to help him on the construction of that Article as to whether the words, “subject to this Constitution” will restrict it in any way. I do not know in what way it would restrict it. I do not know whether or not the President, or any lawyer advising the President, would suggest that, if the Oireachtas were to pass a law  authorising the President to deal with foreign States in his own discretion, that would be contrary to the Constitution. I imagine it would not.
Mr. Lavery: I do not know. Possibly those are matters for debate and discussion afterwards. At present the point I am making is that the office of President is one which does not appear to be called for by any need in this State. I do not know why it is invented. I can only suppose that it is by reason of some hang-over from the British ideals of constitutional government; that the mind of the draftsman was influenced consciously or subconsciously by the spectacle of the King and his advisers, the Privy Council. I am quite sure that that was not a conscious mental operation, but it might well have been subconscious. At any rate the result is remarkable; we have in the President, in that respect at least, a remarkable similarity to the King with his advisers, the Privy Council. The President has said that it was not his intention to affect the rights of women by this Draft Constitution. If he says it was not his intention I suppose that must be accepted, but I certainly think there can be no doubt that in this, as in other matters I have referred to, the Legislature, acting under this Constitution, would certainly be justified in saying that it was endeavouring to restrict the rights of women.
Now I suppose that the difference in the sexes is perhaps one of the most  marked distinctions occurring between human persons as regards physical capacity, and also, possibly, as regards social function. The State is invited to make legislation which will distinguish between the sexes.
Mr. Lavery: It is not a question of what the President will do. The President may, while he is head of the Government, not affect women's rights. It may be that he does not purpose to pass legislation for the purpose of carrying out social legislation to keep them in the home and to prevent them going out to earn their living. It may be that that is not his intention, but certainly it would be much better from the feminist point of view if these clauses which were apparently put in—if the President is to be believed, and, of course, I accept what he says—for their protection and advancement were not there. They certainly have not that result, and could not have that result upon any impartial mind reading these Articles, certainly not of any person who has touched on this matter—Deputy Costello has been referred to, and Professor Berriedale Keith who has also written an article on the subject. The President apparently has seen the report of a number of meetings of women's organisations the members of which are greatly perturbed about this. They may be all wrong, and possibly their minds will be set at rest by such alterations as the President may make in his Draft Constitution. Certainly unless these people are very obtuse and unable to understand the meaning of words——
Mr. Lavery: —and I am prepared to range myself with them, because reading this Constitution I would have no hesitation in saying that, so far as the position of women in the State is concerned, these clauses are reactionary and retrograde. That is a matter that can be dealt with hereafter, but that is the way the matter stands at present, and it is certainly not one  or two or three persons who have formed that impression after reading this clause.
The President concluded his speech by saying that it was agreed that there was a need for a new Constitution. I do not know why he should think that there was any urgent need for a Constitution. Of course, the recent action of the Government have increased the need for a new Constitution, because, having destroyed the Seanad, a new Constitution to replace it was certainly desirable: but, apart from the actions of the Government in the last two years in destroying the Seanad and in removing University representation: apart from these two fundamental attacks made by them upon the existing Constitution; it is not easy to see why there is any urgent need at present for a new one, and certainly there is no need for a Constitution prepared and presented as this one has been. No doubt, we will be told that we can debate the Constitution fully, but I would remind the House that it has been presented here to a Dáil that is under sentence of death, a Dáil that certainly has not more than a few months of life to run, and, if members of the Government are to be believed, something like a few weeks. In that time we are asked to consider, with the urgent economic necessities of the nation as they have been spoken about by Deputy Morrissey and Deputy Mulcahy, and with an election imminent, this House is asked to sit back and debate a document which the President has been preparing for I do not know how many years, and which first saw the light ten days ago. The first clause of it was unknown to any member of the House until after the President's broadcast to America.
Mr. Davin: I am prepared to vote for the Second Reading of this proposed Draft Constitution, but I admit that I would do so with much more enthusiasm if I thought that, within my own lifetime, its provisions were likely to be applied to the whole of Ireland. As far as I can find out, there is no great enthusiasm for the acceptance of this Constitution in the country at the present time. In my opinion, the people as a whole are much more concerned  about their own constitutions and other material matters than they are about the contents of this document. I suggest very seriously to the President that, if this Constitution is to get the consideration which a document of the kind is entitled to receive, or is to get serious consideration of any kind from the people of this country, it should not be submitted to them for their consideration at the same time as that in which we are engaged in a political or Party struggle upon perhaps less important matters. If a document of this kind were submitted to the people at a time other than that at which a general election was being held, I think it would create far more enthusiasm in the minds of the people, and would get far more consideration than it is likely to get from the people when they are engaged on the task of voting for the election of Deputies to this House. I think that the decision of the Government to submit a Constitution to the people on the same date as that on which a general election is taking place is one which should be carefully reconsidered, if the President has any desire to get the people to deal with the matter on its merits.
I share, to some extent, the views expressed by Deputy Lavery. I think he put his views to the House very clearly and without any prejudice. He referred to Section 43 of this Constitution which guarantees the right of the private property owner. He quoted in support of his contention the section of that Article which proposes to delimit the rights of the private property owner, and suggested that would be a proper section to be contained in a Constitution put before the people by a Communist Party or Communist Government. I do not share the Deputy's view on that, but it is an extraordinary thing that while the Government are prepared to insert an Article of that kind in this carefully considered Constitution they do not propose to give any guarantee, and I use the word guarantee deliberately, to the individual citizen regarding his right to work, his right to live and his right to a decent livelihood. Article 45 in the proposed Constitution has some  bearing on the rights of the individual citizen, but I think if the individual citizen, in a Christian State, has any right under the Constitution, he is entitled to receive in unqualified language in the Constitution of a democratically governed country a guarantee of the right to work, the right to live and the right to a decent livelihood, and, if he cannot get work the right to a decent standard of maintenance. That is a provision which, I think, the present Government which calls itself a democratic Government and a workers' Government, if you please, should have inserted in this Constitution.
I fully agree with Deputy Dillon as to the danger in Section 10, Article 13. I think that Deputy Lavery elaborated it in a way which calls for a detailed explanation from the President, when replying to the criticisms on this Constitution. I hope the President will elaborate it, more especially in view of the admission which he made to Deputy Lavery when that Deputy was speaking. Deputy Lavery, of course, compared the position of the President in this proposed Constitution to the position of His Majesty the King, as described by Deputy Lavery. Now His Majesty the King of the country that Deputy Lavery seemed to have in mind is not elected by the people on a free vote. We have this difference at any rate. Here the President under the proposed Constitution will be elected by the people in a free election. There is that difference, and I am sure Deputy Lavery would be the first to admit it, between the President under the proposed Constitution and the person referred to as His Majesty the King—His Majesty the King of England, I presume.
The President to be elected by the terms of the Constitution will have certain powers given to him by the Parliament which puts the Constitution, either as it reads now or as amended, into operation. I do not believe that any Parliament should  without a particular reference to the people give the President any additional powers. I am certainly suspicious of giving any additional powers to the President of this State except such additional powers are to be given to him by way of Referendum, or unless this particular clause is amended in such a way as to make it obligatory to enable any additional powers to be given to the President by a vote of either three-fourths or four-fifths of this Dáil. I do not think it should be possible for the powers of the President to be increased by a small majority vote of this House.
Mr. Davin: I am not a student of international law, but I think Continental precedents can be quoted to show that countries which are now governed in a very anti-democratic way have stolen powers for the President in the past by the insertion of a clause of this kind in a Constitution. At any rate, I am prepared to vote for the deletion of this particular sub-section of Article 13 rather than leave it in the Constitution as it stands unless better safeguards are going to be provided against the Dáil giving extraordinary powers to a future President. If the President is to be a figurehead, I certainly say that there is no objection to amending the law in such a way as to empower him to appoint a representative to a university. But, on the admission of the President to Deputy Lavery, it is possible to give more powers than that. I am not prepared to give a person, who is supposed to hold only nominal powers, authority under a sub-section of this kind in the Constitution to take extraordinary powers without reference to the people.
The President, who will be elected by the people under the terms of this  Constitution, whenever it comes into operation, will be possibly what is commonly known as a soldier-statesman. Our experience in this country up to the present time of the soldier-statesman or soldier-politician, if you like, makes it quite clear to members of the Labour Party like myself, at any rate, that that type of person has not made it possible to bring about greater unity in this country, especially amongst the sections of the people who were united in the past. It is the soldier-statesman or soldier-politician type of person in this House and outside who has made the unity of the nationalists of this country impossible up to the present, at any rate. I am not prepared to give the power asked for in this sub-section to any person with an outlook of that kind. We may have a President in the future who will be a figurehead, but he will not be a person, I am afraid, who will forget the history of the civil war or of the recent past. We should be very careful about giving powers of an unlimited kind to persons of that type. I would not, for instance—and I hope I will be excused for mentioning the name— give powers of the loose kind contained in the sub-section to a person like General O'Duffy, or to any person with a wild outlook, either on the past or the future, of that particular type.
As I say, the general outline of the Constitution is acceptable to me, and I am prepared to vote in favour of a Second Reading being given to the Draft. But I seriously suggest, and it is the view of the members of our Party, that this Constitution should be submitted to the people, for ratification or otherwise, on a different day from that on which they will be called upon to enter into an ordinary Party political discussion; that they will not be given a fair chance of considering the document on its merits; that it will not be considered in the way in which we think it should be considered, and the way in which it deserves to be considered.
Minister for Finance (Mr. MacEntee): The Opposition have taken a rather unusual course in regard to this debate, as can be seen if we study the  text of the amendment which they have put down. Deputy Lavery told us how this Constitution touches the rights of every citizen. We have been told how the liberty of the subject will be affected by it. One would have thought that, in putting down an amendment to the Second Reading, which is generally taken as an indication of opposition to the principle contained in any measure or any proposal, the amendment would have been what is known as a reasoned amendment, in that it would have set out as concisely as possible the grounds upon which the Opposition think they are called upon to oppose the proposal which is put before this House for consideration.
Mr. MacEntee: Is it that there is no principle in the Opposition; that they are a house divided against themselves; that in their hearts those of them who were associated with us from 1916 to 1921 really approve of the Draft Constitution and, if it were not for the Party tail, might come into the same Lobby and stand with us for it before the country?
Mr. MacEntee: Is that the possible explanation for this amendment—an amendment which in my view is entirely an irrational one and a most impracticable one? It asks the Dáil to decline to give a Second Reading to Bunreacht na hEireann until six months after the reassembly of Dáil Eireann following the next general election. It does not say why. Deputy Mulcahy in his speech——
Mr. MacEntee: Not once did the Deputy advance a substantial reason why the House should adopt his amendment. Or is it this reason? Having listened to the speeches of the eminent lawyer who has just sat down, having listened to the speech of Deputy Lavery, is it possible that this may be the true explanation of it—that they have begun to distrust their legal advisers in matters relating to the Constitution? Because, if I may say so, the Opposition have been very unfortunate in their experience in this regard, for when they have brought constitutional issues to the courts, when they have had a former Attorney-General leading and Deputy Lavery on occasions supporting him, even when they have been appearing together to prove——
Mr. MacEntee: When constitutional issues, as I said, have been before the courts, their experience has been very unfortunate, because not merely have they been thrown out of the courts, but costs have been given against them. I am not surprised, having listened to the speech of Deputy Lavery, that when they read through this Constitution, and when they had to make up their own minds as to what their attitude would be in regard to it, that they decided, at any rate whatever else they would do, that they were not going to put down in black and white on paper reasons grounded on constitutional principles for opposing it.
Though we have had, I think, three speeches from the Opposition Benches in the course of this debate,  there has been only one that really attempted to deal substantially with the situation, or, shall I say, that really the only speaker who touched upon the Draft Constitution at all was Deputy Lavery? But the Deputy is an astute advocate for a bad cause, because he began by trying to prejudice the issue. He complained of the manner in which this Constitution had been drafted, and he contrasted it with the way in which the existing Constitution, the document under which the State is at present governed, was originally drawn up.
He said there had been got together a committee which drafted the existing Constitution, but the Deputy did not tell us what was the result of the labours of that committee. That would have been much more interesting from the point of view of the Irish people at the present time. Deputy Lavery did not tell us what fate befell the Constitutions which were drafted by the committee which sat in 1922. It may be Deputy Lavery was not in a position to tell us. But there is Deputy Fitzgerald on the opposite benches, and there is Deputy Mulcahy on the opposite benches, and even if they were unwilling to disclose to the people what actually happened at that time, we have it on the records of this House. That document was taken across to the other side and submitted to the veto of the English Cabinet. Articles in it which really represented the traditional viewpoint of this people were cut out of it.
Mr. MacEntee: The Articles which represented the traditional principles of the Irish people were cut out of the existing Articles of that Constitution. There were other Articles which we have since cut our put in then to replace those taken out. The consequence was that, so far as a large part of this Constitution is concerned, we were until 1932 living under a Constitution which had been drafted for Irishmen by Englishmen.  To-day the Constitution which is now before the House and which will be before the country is a Constitution which has been drafted by Irishmen for Irishmen.
Mr. MacEntee: I understand Deputy Mulcahy's mentality perfectly. The Deputy remembers the fable of “the fox which lost a tail.” The Deputy had his tail cut off in 1922. He was one of the people who told us, when the Articles of Agreement for the Treaty were before the Dáil, that ours could be made an Irish Constitution, that there would be no oath in it, and that a number of other distasteful elements which we have had since to take out, were not to be in it. I have the fullest sympathy for the Deputy in his present position, because it was quite clear from his speech to-day that the one thing he did not commit himself to was to express opposition to this Constitution. I have the fullest sympathy for him, and those of us who were his comrades from 1916 to 1921, and who know what he did in those years, feel sympathy for him.
Mr. MacEntee: I am dealing now entirely with the manner in which this whole Constitution was drafted, and I am showing the results of it. As I said, their labours and the labours of that band of patriotic Irishmen were completely nullified by the position of subordination in which those who signed the Treaty were placed in 1922.
We have been told by Deputy Lavery that there has been no consultation with the many interests involved in the drafting of this Constitution now before the House. What consultation took place with the Irish interests involved when the Constitution which is soon to be superseded was being drafted? What consultation was there with the representatives of the Army of the Republic at that time? What consultation was there with the representatives on the other  side of the Dáil at that time? Fully half of the great majority of the Irish people—if we are to take into consideration those who inhabit the Six Counties—were ignored when the Constitution soon to be superseded was being drafted. Now we come here to-day and we are told that there was no consultation with the many interests involved when this Draft was being drafted. There was greater need for consultation in 1922 than there is to-day.
Mr. MacEntee: There was greater need in 1922, because we were inexperienced men, and the country was inexperienced in the responsibilities of self-government at that time. Half a generation has passed since, and we have the experience of those of us who were then young, enthusiastic, but have now grown older and, possibly, wiser, and are more capable of assessing our responsibilities to our own people——
Mr. MacEntee: ——and better able to weigh the considerations which always must be borne in mind when trying to draft a document which, if it is to continue to be the fundamental law of the State, must appeal to the greatest possible number of the people, and must receive as great a measure of agreement as possible. It is in the light of the experience of the past 15 years that this new Constitution has been drafted. If there was not such a lot of time given for consultation with outside interests, as Deputy Lavery seems to think there ought to have been, at any rate the position to-day is immeasurably better than it was in 1922, because now we have at least had 15 years' experience of self-government behind us to guide us in preparing the Draft. Therefore, on that ground alone, the Draft Constitution which is now before the House is a much better Constitution than the Constitution under which this country has been ruled since 1922.
 The next criticism which Deputy Lavery, made—and it was a very shallow point indeed to try to make— was that the President had appealed to the people to approve the Constitution before they had ever seen it. That was quite clearly a sort of specious trick that might work if it were tried before a jury, a not too intelligent jury, in the law courts; but it will not work here, and it will not work with the Irish people. It may be a very clever thing, but it is a very meretricious thing as well, because the point is this, that the President made that appeal to the Irish people on the eve of the publication of the Draft Constitution, and the appeal was, in fact, that the people would study the Constitution carefully—and it was put in these terms: That when the people had studied the Constitution carefully and when it had been fully debated here in the Dáil and the arguments for and against it weighed in the country, that then they might see their way, being convinced of the merits of the Constitution, to approve of it. But Deputy Lavery wants to make it appear that some slick trick is being worked upon the people. He has said that the President asked the people, appealed to the people, to approve of the Constitution before they had ever seen it. The Constitution has been before the people now for almost a fortnight— but it has not been put to them for approval yet. It will be debated here in the Dáil, I suppose, for some weeks further; but, in any event, the Constitution under which we live now——
Mr. MacEntee: Let me get back to the point. We are now being criticised  and the President is being accused of certain things. What is tantamount to an accusation of sharp practice has been levelled against him by Deputy Lavery, who is old enough to remember when this Constitution was issued to the people. It was issued on the morning of the General Election in 1922. Now, that was sharp practice, if you like.
Mr. MacEntee: I was at the point that at any rate the country is going to  have a full opportunity of studying and listening to the arguments for and against this Constitution. There is going to be no snap election about it and it is therefore interesting to hear Deputy Lavery saying it is very unsuitable, and he thinks it a rather shady thing to do, to ask the people to approve the Constitution at a general election. The Deputy is not kind, I would not like to say he is disloyal, to his colleagues, because they published their Constitution on the morning of a general election. They asked the people to approve of it and they took the result of that election as an approval of the Constitution which we have before us.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy O'Sullivan should allow the Minister to make his statement. There is no interruption relevant except on a point of order. That is a very close ruling. The Minister should be allowed to continue without interruption.
Mr. MacEntee: Deputy Davin also seems to feel, like Deputy Lavery, that there is some grievance. He appears to think he has some grievance, some substantial ground upon which to object to the Constitution because we are submitting it to the people on the day of a general election. I understand, from what I have heard recently, that Deputy Davin has figured in the public life of this country for a long time, according to Deputy O'Higgins prior even to 1922. He was, I am sure, as he is to-day, a very able and influential  member of the Labour Party. But I do not remember, and on this I am subject to correction, that the then official spokesmen of the Labour Party, colleagues of Deputy Davin, raised any objection in 1922 to the procedure of submitting the Constitution to the people for their approval on the day of the general election. I think, therefore, they put themselves out of court, the Opposition and Deputy Davin and Deputy Lavery, in that regard. If that was right in 1922 it cannot be so very wrong now.
I am not to be taken as endorsing what was done in 1922, but there is a difference between the procedure proposed to be followed in 1937 and the procedure which was adopted in 1922. As the President made clear last Sunday, the people can pass their judgement upon this Constitution and approve or disapprove of it whether they vote for the Fianna Fáil candidates or not. There are two entirely separate issues before the people. There will be the issue as to whether you are satisfied with our administration during the past five years, and whether you are prepared to entrust us with the government of the country again for another term of five years— and if you are you will vote for us— and then, on a separate paper, by an entirely separate act of will, you can approve or disapprove of the Constitution. That was not the position in 1922. Oh, no. Then all the prestige of leading and prominent figures in Irish public life at the time was thrown into the balance with the Constitution, and if you voted for them, and if you believed that in voting for them you were voting, as you were told you were voting, for peace and the ultimate unification of the country, then, ipso facto, you voted for the Constitution.
If you disapprove so strongly of any feature, any aspect or any characteristic of our policy, or administration, or conduct during the past five years, you can vote against the Government and still vote for the Constitution. I think I apprehend rightly what the views of the people are with regard to our administration,  and I feel that the majority of the people will vote for us, but I also hope —and I am sure it must be the hope of everyone who wants to see stabilised government in this country— that every person who believes in Article 1 of the Draft Constitution, who believes with us, and we have been told often enough from the other side that the position as set out in this Article is indeed the case, that the Irish nation has a right to affirm “its inalienable, indefeasible and sovereign right to choose its own form of government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions,” will vote approving of this Constitution, irrespective of whether he votes for the Fianna Fáil candidates or not in this election. If we can secure a general acceptance of that principle, and if we can write that principle down as the fundamental law of this State, I believe the prayer of the preamble will be answered, that we shall restore unity in this country, that we shall have stability in government, and that we shall ultimately establish concord with other nations.
Let me go on to consider some other of the criticisms which were advanced by Deputy Lavery. He said that this new Constitution would be a danger if enacted. I must confess that he did not state the grounds upon which he had come to that conclusion and, therefore, I am not able to controvert Deputy Lavery in that regard as fully as I should like. If I knew why he had, as I said, come to the conclusion that the Constitution would be a danger if enacted, if, instead of having his simple bald statement, his simple fiat that it was so and would be so, we had his reasons for it we might be able to join issue with him more closely. But, Sir, could any Constitution be a greater danger to the people than the one under which we live at present, under which there is absolutely no curb, upon the untrammelled power of the Executive? We have seen the Seanad swept away; we have seen the Governor-General disappear; and we have had to interpolate  in the Constitution an unreasoning, inelastic, irrational, illogical, mathematical formula in order to secure the tenure of our judges. We have still power under this Constitution to amend every Article in it still further, without any appeal to the people and without any mandate from the people.
This, Sir, is the Constitution under which we live. Under the new Constitution, there is a quite definite attempt to secure such a balance of power in the State that the people will always be supreme and that no one organ, whether it be the Government, as it is called in the new Constitution, the President, the Seanad or the Council of State, will be able to get outside the terms of that Constitution and violate the liberties of the people, unless the people themselves are misguided enough, as a result of a referendum, to place what have been termed dictatorial powers in the hands of the President, the Taoiseach, the Government or the Legislature. But at the present moment the position is this, that we are the most absolute Government in Europe; and that is the position which Deputy Lavery wishes to continue in this State, and he does not think that a danger. He cannot see any danger in that position, but he can see a danger if we bring in a Constitution which will sub-divide the powers and functions of government in this country in a way in which all who have thought on these matters liberally think that power should be subdivided, so that it cannot be concentrated in one hand with the danger that it may be abused.
Why does Deputy Lavery wish to see the present position continued? Why does the Irish Independent wish to see the present position continued? Why does every person who was behind the movement to create a totalitarian State in this country wish to see the present position continued? Because they know that if this Constitution of 1922 be not superseded by a more rational and more democratic law, if they could get a snatch majority, if they could stampede the country, as some were trying to stampede it in  1934, then the Dáil and everything else democratic could be wiped out and we would have here, naked and unashamed as we have it in some States on the Continent to-day, government of the people by a party for a party.
Mr. MacEntee: Yes, I do believe it because the attack and criticism of some people outside in regard to this Constitution has been concentrated on the one organ in it that stands as the custodian of the people's constitutional liberties, as the guardian and protector of the people's constitutional liberties in this draft document. It is not for nothing that the paper which signalised itself, just 21 years ago, by calling out for the blood of the signatories to the Proclamation of 1916 have dubbed this Presidential office “a peacock's throne,” and referred to it as “this job.” They wish to bring that high office into disrepute with the people and the reason they wish to do it is because there are behind that organ, which stood behind General O'Duffy when he was trying to create a Fascist movement in this country, the self-same interests as have produced Fascist Governments in other countries. There is big money and there is a monopolist tendency.
Mr. MacEntee: We have listened to Deputy Lavery telling us that the President was intolerant of criticism which was intended to be helpful criticism. This is the sort of criticism we have got from one quarter since this document was published.
Mr. MacEntee: I will not continue any more on that line except that I must again come to the question of the freedom of the Press. Deputy  Lavery was very eloquent about the freedom of the Press. He referred to Article 40 and called our attention to paragraph 6 (1) which guarantees liberty to the citizens for exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality: “The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.” It is then stated:
“The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the Press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.”
One would think from the terms in which Deputy Lavery criticised that Article that it was a complete innovation in the constitutional law of this State. If Deputies opposite desire to leave their pasts behind them, that is no reason why they should be permitted to forget them. Once again, let me refer to the document under which we live. In this masterpiece of legal drafting, this document which was passed when we had not merely one House in the Oireachtas but two Houses, not merely a Dáil consisting of young irresponsible hot heads but a Seanad of grave and reverend seigneurs, we have the following:—
“It shall not be lawful to print, publish, distribute, sell or offer or expose for sale any book, newspaper, magazine, periodical, pamphlet, leaflet, circular or other document which is issued or published on behalf of an unlawful association.”
I suppose the association was unlawful because it was contrary to public order. I do not know whether Deputies opposite join issue with us on the contention that, this being the Constitution of a Catholic State, it is only right we should not permit, since we have the responsibility in these matters, anything which would be contrary to public morality to be published or broadcast or exhibited any more than we  would permit it if it were contrary to public order. What right has Deputy Lavery who, if my recollection is correct, participated in enforcing this Section 23 of Article 2 (1) during 1931, or Deputy Costello, or any member of the Opposition who walked into the division lobby to carry through the Constitutional amendment which wrote the section I have just read into our Constitution——
Mr. MacEntee: I disagree. Ours may not be so comprehensive as theirs. We refer to “organs of public opinion such as...the Press,” and “the Press” may be generally construed to mean weekly or daily publications, but this other Article goes on to refer to “any book, newspaper, magazine, periodical, pamphlet, leaflet, circular or other document which is issued or published on behalf of an unlawful organisation.”
Mr. MacEntee: Apart altogether from the fact that they wrote that into the Constitution in 1931, it comes very strange from a member of a Party which passed the Censorship Act, which also forbids the publication, circulation and printing of documents, books, periodicals, newspapers and pamphlets—in fact, the whole category of letterpress—which might be contrary to public morality——
Mr. MacDermot: Perhaps I may interrupt the Minister for a moment. I am not adopting Deputy Lavery's argument but, if it be true, as he says, that there is any danger of the Article prohibiting attacks on the authority of the State being construed as including attacks on the Government of the day, the Article should be altered. I am not saying that I take that view but that is Deputy Lavery's point.
Mr. MacEntee: It is quite clear that the qualifications and reservations mentioned where the rights of citizens are set out in this document must be  in the broadest and most general terms. Wherever there has been a reservation or a qualification made as to a general right conferred or a general obligation imposed upon any person, the reservation or qualification is put in in order to cover an existing situation. One feature in this Constitution which has disappeared wholly from the Constitution of 1922 is the doctrine of repugnancy which is now brought in a certain limited and circumscribed way. I am sure the country would hold us blameworthy and culpable if we were put ourselves in the position that, if we adopted, say the Censorship Act, or if we passed a law forbidding the exhibition of indecent films or the broadcasting of indecent songs or dealing with other things which might happen, or if we were to refuse to give a free hand to incitement to treason or murder, and the President, conscientiously carrying out the duties imposed upon him by this Constitution felt himself called upon to refer the text of the law to the Supreme Court—the Supreme Court, being bound to interpret the law so as to give the widest possible liberty to the subject, then were to be obliged to say that, while the law ought to be passed in the interest of public morality or decency, nevertheless under the Constitution, as drafted, the law was ultra vires and the Oireachtas could not enact it. Yet, that is the position for which Deputy Lavery has been arguing—that we should not even take the precaution of saying that, where these rights are given, they shall be exercised subject to public order and morality and that in respect of the three great educative agents and instruments of propaganda —the radio, the cinema and the Press —which may be productive and, I think, on the whole, have been productive of good but which might be capable of being used for evil ends, we should not even have the power in our Constitution to secure that they would not be perverted to evil ends and used to corrupt, demoralise and divide our people. One thing an organised State cannot permit is treason amongst its own subjects, which is tantamount to suicide. Would Deputy MacDermot or any other  Deputy say that a Government, charged first of all with the protection of the State, with the maintenance of the State and with the safeguarding of the State, would be justified in tolerating even a newspaper preaching treason against the State?
Mr. MacEntee: Now, the next thing is the right to form associations. Deputy Lavery was very eloquent about that. He talked about the right of citizens to form associations and unions, and he quoted the reservation to that to the effect that laws may be enacted for the regulation and control in the public interest of the exercise of the foregoing right. He tried to so distort and misrepresent the true purpose of that reservation in such a way as to make it appear that, under this Article, the right to form trade unions could be prevented. Of course, I think the Deputy stretched his point so far in that matter as to defeat himself, because I think that every person of common sense and intelligence would see that it would be quite impossible, so long as we have a democratic electorate in this country, for any Government to prevent citizens from organising to protect their lawful interests, whether economic or political interests, and that no Government would dare to do it so long as the heart and mind of the people were right. If the people are not prepared to stand for tyranny, no Government, under the new Constitution, can tyrannise over them for long, and therefore no Government could enact legislation which would prevent the organisation of trade unions, provided, once again, that they were organised for the legitimate purpose of advancing the economic and, if you like, the political interests of their members. Members of the present Government as well as of the past Government know the history of the attempts that have been made in other countries to prevent the formation of trade unions. We are aware that a much stronger Government in a much more powerful country than we are, and that is Great Britain, tried to suppress trade unionism over 100 years ago, and we  know that they were powerless to suppress it; and that was at a time when the workers were far worse off and much less educated, and with less knowledge of the need for co-operation in these matters, than they are to-day. It would be quite impossible, therefore, for any Government, dependent on the suffrages of a democratic electorate, to endeavour to curtail unduly, or illicitly or inequitably, the right of people to form free associations.
Now, to get back to the point about the reservation that has been put in there. The people who criticise the insertion of this reservation in Article 40 of the new Constitution are the very people who, in Section 19 of Article 2A of the present Constitution, proclaimed as unlawful every association “which does any of the following things.” and so on, and thereby virtually outlawed the members of such associations as were there defined. Accordingly, whoever else may be out of court in criticising this reservation, at any rate, those who put that section in the old Constitution are certainly out of court in criticising it.
Similarly, Deputy Lavery has criticised the third paragraph of Section 6 sub-section (1) of Article 40 of the new Constitution, which is the paragraph which enunciates the rights of citizens to assemble peacefully without arms. Again, he made the point that we were going to destroy the right of free public meeting under our reservation; but, Sir, again we have Section 24 of Article 2A which was written in 1931 in the Constitution of 1922, and drafted by some of the lawyers who, at the present moment, are members of the Party opposite, and who, at that time, were the principal advisers of the Government. What does that section say? It says that:
“Whenever it appears to the Executive Council that the holding of public meetings in or in the vicinity of any particular building or any particular road or street is likely to lead to a breach of the peace or to be prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order, the Executive Council may issue a proclamation  prohibiting the holding in or within a specified area...during a specified period...from the date of the proclamation of either...any public meeting whatsoever or any public meeting held otherwise than under specified conditions or for specified objects.”
Mr. MacEntee: Yes, and being operated to-night, and being operated for this purpose: that we will not allow a meeting of an unlawful organisation to take place in defiance of the Government of the people.
Mr. MacEntee: Now, Sir, Deputy Lavery, again following the lead which has been given him already in certain organs of the Press, turned his batteries on the new office of President, and he said that he felt that the creation of that office was no improvement over the existing position. He said that in Great Britain the King is called upon to discharge certain functions, but he does these things because he is a  traditional symbol. Now, I do not know exactly what was the point which Deputy Lavery wished to convey. Is it that he thinks we are better off as we are, when we have an untrammelled Single Chamber Government—which, we are told, when the Bill abolishing the Seanad and the Bill deleting certain references to the King were before this House, was in a position of absolute uncontrolled authority—or is it that Deputy Lavery was pleading that we should do, as has been done in other countries, that we should adopt the Crown of Great Britain as the symbol of our nationality and our independent Statehood?
In that case the Crown would be here as a symbol discharging some functions which are more or less archaic. It would have the vestigial remnants of certain old powers which in fact have long become obsolete, were we content to go on in such an atmosphere of make-believe. The Crown elsewhere, and the throne in other countries used formerly, and I believe possibly does still in Great Britain, perform these useful functions. I do not think that there the Crown's duty consists entirely of signing on the dotted line. We have heard that during a previous reign—a reign with the greater part of which we are all familiar—that the Crown in Great Britain on numerous occasions in connection with very important matters exercised a great deal of influence upon the course of affairs. In fact, we have been told that it changed, in regard to the relations between this country and Great Britain, the whole course of history. We have in the Constitution, as it stands at present, no office and no function which could possibly exercise any like influence on our affairs. The people are left like a sheep without a shepherd. There is nobody to look after their interests. The majority of this Dáil, if it were content to dissolve itself, could appoint —and this is a fact which should weigh with Deputies on the other side who seem to be so afraid of dictators—a dictator for life. As far as the existing Constitution is concerned, nothing could prevent that except, possibly, a revulsion of public feeling, which I think would destroy any of us who endeavoured to overthrow democracy  in that way. But public feeling may not be so much alive in future to the dangers inherent in that position as it is to-day. What has happened on the Continent may pass out of man's memory, and if the Constitution remains in its present position, it would be quite possible for some unscrupulous body of men to take advantage of that situation to get the control of the Government of this country into their hands, and to retain it as long as they had control over the fiscal, military and economic resources of the State. The position even in Great Britain is to-day in that regard, in my view, rather an unsound one from the point of view of British liberties.
Mr. MacEntee: In any event if the Crown there has prestige and tradition behind it, which it has not here, and wanting which it could never in this country fulfil useful functions, the beneficial functions which it does fulfil in Great Britain.
Mr. MacEntee: No. Deputy Lavery was asking us why we could not follow theirs in which he said the Crown was merely a symbol and an old tradition. That is the view of this eminent Irish constitutional lawyer, but it is one with which I think most of the British constitutional lawyers would completely disagree.
Deputy Lavery says that we should take over this institution which, he says, does nothing except sign on the dotted line in Great Britain, as the apex of our whole political organisation in this country. All of us know what happened in the last 15 years. Was there ever once when the office of Governor-General was associated with any useful or valuable act for this country? It could not do anything even if a crisis arose; it could not act or operate in any way to try to get the country to come together. I hope that one of the things which the President will do will be to get united and concerted action in times of crisis, to try to smooth away the differences which have divided us in the past 15 years. Certainly, that could not be done by  any person who claimed to act, no matter how nominally or insignificantly, as the representative of an outside power. I do not know what may happen elsewhere, but I am perfectly certain that if modern democracy is to continue, there must be within the democratic Constitution some office which will discharge the function and perform the duties which this Constitution will confer upon the new President.
Mr. MacEntee: I shall continue to deal with Deputy Lavery's points if Deputy McGilligan will permit me to  do so. I know that he was not here to listen to Deputy Lavery's speech. If he had heard Deputy Lavery, I am sure he could not contain himself just as he cannot contain himself listening to me.
Mr. MacEntee: One of the points which Deputy Lavery made was that the President under the new Constitution was to be above the law. I had the temerity to ask him to cite me the Article upon which that point of view was based. He also said that the President would be debarred from acting in external affairs. I am going to deal with one point first, the point that the President is to be above the law, that he would be able to act in defiance of the Government and of the two Houses of the Oireachtas. I do not think that Deputy Lavery could have read the Constitution. I move the adjournment of the debate.
|Last Updated: 27/02/2015 15:40:45||Page of 30|