Committee on Finance. - Vote 65—External Affairs.

Tuesday, 17 July 1945

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 97 No. 23

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Minister for External Affairs (The Taoiseach): Information on Eamon de Valera Zoom on Eamon de Valera I move:

That a sum not exceeding £71,643 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1946, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for External Affairs, and of certain Services administered by that Office (No. 16 of 1924).

The Vote for External Affairs is higher than last year by the sum of £9,064. There are no significant increases or changes in the staff of the Department. The increase arises in a purely routine way, partly from the additional provision for Civil Service bonus under sub-head A (1), and partly from the increased provision made under sub-head B (1) to enable the staffs of certain Legations on the Continent to meet the abnormal living costs in the countries to which they are accredited.

As before, the extra Exchequer receipts in connection with this service are estimated at the figure of £35,000. The actual receipts last year actually exceeded this estimate by several thousands of pounds. This substantial income to the Exchequer, representing [2565] as it does nearly 30 per cent. of the amount of the Vote, must, of course, be borne in mind in assessing the net cost of the service. It is true that these extra Exchequer receipts include the fees received for the issue and renewal of travel permits, a source of income which will, of course, cease to be available when the travel permit system comes to an end. On the other hand, the amount of the Vote includes provision for the staffs engaged on the issue and renewal of travel permits, and these are not inconsiderable. The numbers vary to some extent at different periods of the year, but, on the average, there are about 20 officers engaged whole-time on this work in the Department and about the same number in London.

At the time when this Vote was prepared, provision was made for the Legation in Germany for the full financial year. As Deputies probably know already, however, our representatives left Germany in May, shortly after the beginning of the financial year, and we no longer have any Legation in that country.

When I was introducing this Estimate in recent years, I tried to give the Dáil as full as possible a picture of what I might call the ordinary administrative work of this Department. I do not think there is anything that I can usefully add to the account which I gave the Dáil on those occasions. The various activities which I described then have continued on much the same lines during the last 12 months, and there is no purpose in taking up time in going over ground which is already familiar to Deputies.

Now that the war in Europe is over, of course, certain types of work, which arose out of the emergency and were specially related to the circumstances of the war years, are gradually coming to an end. For example, I explained before how the Department helped people here to keep in touch with their relatives on the Continent, and to send them funds required for their maintenance, at a time when communication was impossible otherwise than through official channels. A considerable number of cases of this kind were dealt with in the Department. Now that [2566] postal and banking communications with various European countries are being restored, action by the Department in this type of case is no longer normally required. I might quote other examples. In areas which were the scene of active hostilities, or under military occupation, our Legations were frequently called on to help Irish citizens who were interned or imprisoned under various war-time regulations; they were also reponsible for protecting the property and goods of Irish citizens, for making claims when they were damaged, and so on. This is another type of activity which can be expected to come to an end now that hostilities on the Continent have ceased.

On the other hand, war-time restrictions on passenger travel still remain in force to a large extent and, so far as present indications are concerned, they are likely to do so for some time yet. It must be remembered that the official restrictions are not the only limitation on travel between the two countries— Britain and ourselves. There is also the physical restriction imposed by the limited amount of travel accommodation available.

Indeed, particularly where travel from Great Britain to this country is concerned, the position at the moment appears to be that more people are able to obtain the necessary travel permits and visas than can find transport accommodation within the required time to get them to their destination.

Other war-time restrictions which, to a large extent, are still in force are those affecting overseas trade, supplies and shipping. Exports from most countries are still subject to official permits; certain raw materials can be purchased only within limits allocated by combined boards set up by the principal belligerents; navicerts are still required not only for each consignment shipped by sea, but for each voyage of each vessel.

Steps are now being taken to allocate and despatch the food and other supplies laid aside for European relief, of which I have given the Dáil particulars in a recent statement. Measures to effect the necessary curtailment of our home consumption are [2567] now being brought into force and the Dáil will be asked immediately to pass a Vote of £3,000,000 to cover whatever expenditure out of public funds may prove necessary.

I might perhaps draw the attention of Deputies to the increase in the provision of our contributions to the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees—sub-head A (6). This body was set up in 1938 to deal with the Austro-German refugee problem. Originally, it had a membership of 31 Governments, including the Government of this country. During the war, the committee's work was greatly restricted by the political situation and by the military developments on the Continent, but the committee remained in being, and we maintained our membership of it. Recently, as a result of meetings held in 1943 and 1944, the scope of the committee's functions was extended. Its original mandate was confined to negotiations for the resettlement of people of German and Austrian origin who had been forced to emigrate. The mandate has now been extended to cover all persons who have had to leave their countries of residence because of danger to their lives and liberties on account of their race, religion or political beliefs. At the same time, a number of other Governments were invited to join the committee.

There are now 37 members of the committee compared with the original 31. The committee maintains close co-operation with other bodies in the same field of work, such as U.N.R.R.A. and the International Red Cross. It proceeds mainly by means of negotiations with individual Governments, and most of these negotiations are carried on by the committee's executive staff under the Director, Sir Herbert Emerson, who is also High Commissioner for Refugees. For the moment, the only financial obligation falling on member Governments by virtue of their membership is the cost of this executive staff. The staff has had to be increased to meet the committee's new responsibilities, but, as our share of this expenditure is only 10 out of a total of 791 units, our contribution for the [2568] current year amounts to no more than the modest sum provided in the sub-head.

Although I referred in my earlier remarks to the prospect that certain activities of this Department which grew up during the emergency would come to an end with the conditions which gave rise to them, I do not want to give the impression that this is a Vote which is likely to decrease with the passage of the years. Indeed, the question we have to consider is whether our existing representation abroad is on a sufficient scale, whether it is adequate for the due protection and advancement of our interest and the due performance of the tasks which may require to be faced in furture. There are a number of countries with which we have at present no direct contact and with which we would welcome an exchange of representatives. Moreover, as the Minister for Supplies said the other day, the staffs of some of our existing missions may need to be strengthened if, for example, the existing official controls on trade are maintained or if we ourselves have to face the task of developing export markets in hard currency countries. We are a small country, of course. What is done in the matter of foreign representation by countries which are larger than ours and which have different political and trade interests is not necessarily a guide as to what would be proper and useful in our case but we have our place in the world. We have our citizens and our trade and other interests to protect and we have the responsibility of making our national outlook and policies known and understood abroad. It would be a great mistake to allow our responsibilities in this regard to go by default and that would be the consequence if we allowed the machinery of our foreign representation to fall short of the practical needs.

Last week Deputy Dillon wanted to know if we were a republic, and pretended that I was the only person who knew the answer. He asked in fact two questions, one of which was easy to answer, the other not so easy. He asked was this State a republic, and were we a member State of the [2569] British Commonwealth. When I told him that we were a republic his surprise was, as a friend remarked, like that of Moliere's Bourgeois Gentilhomme when he learned that he had been speaking prose all his life. Of course the pretence that I alone could answer is plainly ráiméis. The State is what it is, not what I say or think it is. How a particular State is to be classified politically is a matter not to be settled by the ipse dixit of any person but by observation of the State's institutions and an examination of its fundamental laws.

Our one fundamental law is the Constitution. A written Constitution, it was submitted to and enacted by the people in a plebiscite taken on adult suffrage on July 1st, 1937. It came into operation on the 29th December, 1937. The first President, Dr. Hyde, entered upon office on the 25th June, 1938, and the organs of State provided for by the Constitution were all fully functioning from that date. A period of three years was allowed during which with the President's consent amendments to the Constitution might be made by the Legislature simply. That period has long since expired, and no change in the Constitution can now be made except by a vote of the people in a Referendum.

Let us glance for a moment at some of the provisions of that fundamental law so that we may realise its character, and the character of our State. Article 5 declares the State to be “sovereign”, “independent” and “democratic”. Article 6 (1) declares that “all powers of Government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good”. Article 6 (2) declares that “these powers of Government are exercisable only by or on the authority of the organs of State established by this Constitution”. Article 12 provides for a President to be elected by direct vote of the people for a period of seven years “who shall take precedence over all other persons in the State and who shall exercise and [2570] perform the powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution and by law”. Article 15 states that the National Parliament shall consist of the President and two Houses—the House of Representatives, Dáil Eireann, and a second, Seanad Eireann—constituting, all three together, the Oireachtas, in which is vested “the sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State”. Article 28 provides that “the executive power of the State shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be exercised by, or on the authority of, the Government”.

The State whose institutions correspond to these Articles is, it seems to me, demonstrably a republic. Let us look up any standard text on political theory, look up any standard book of reference and get from any of them any definition of a republic or any description of what a republic is and judge whether our State does not possess every characteristic mark by which a republic can be distinguished or reconginised. We are a democracy with the ultimate sovereign power resting with the people—a representative democracy with the various organs of State functioning under a written Constitution, with the executive authority controlled by Parliament, with an independent judiciary functioning under the Constitution and the law, and with a Head of State directly elected by the people for a definite term of office.

To save members of the Dáil the trouble of looking up references, I have collected a few. I give first a relevant passage from the Encyclopedia Britannica (14th Edition):—

“REPUBLIC.—A State in which the supreme power rests in the people, or in officers elected by them, to whom the people have delegated power sufficient to enable them to perform the duties required of them. In the small republics of antiquity the people usually expressed their preference directly, but in the larger republics of modern times representatives are elected to sit in lawmaking bodies. The Head of the State is usually elected directly, and in modern usage this fact distinguishes [2571] a republic from a monarchy in which the Head is hereditary...”

The Encyclopedia Americana (1937 Edition) says:—

“REPUBLIC.—A word signifying a State in which the people are the source of power.”

I give next a similar passage from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition):—

“REPUBLIC.—A State in which the supreme power rests in the people and their elected representatives or officers, as opposed to one governed by a king or the like; a commonwealth.”

Here is what Webster's International Dictionary says:—

“REPUBLIC.—A State in which the sovereign power resides in the whole body of the people, and is exercised by representatives elected by them; a commonwealth...”

The following is from the New Standard Dictionary of the English Language:

“REPUBLIC.—A State in which the sovereignty resides in the people and the administration is lodged in officers elected by and representing the people; a representative democracy...”

It goes on to say:—

“Republics had their origin in opposition to hereditary monarchy, as in Greece, Rome, and America, and their essential features have been the control of the executive by election and by laws proceeding from assemblies of enfranchised classes... Nearly all modern republics have a written constitution, practise manhood suffrage, vest sovereignty in the voters, choose the executive indirectly, as by some from of electoral college, or by the legislature, as in France or Switzerland, and entrust legislation to two co-ordinate chambers or houses, while the judiciary forms a co-ordinate branch of government, invested with power to pronounce on the constitutionality of laws and of executive acts...”

[2572]Chambers' Dictionary has the following:—

“Republic is a form of Government without a monarch in which the supreme power is vested in representatives elected by the people.”

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias in other languages give definitions and descriptions in no wise essentially differing from these. If anyone still persists in maintaining that our State is not a republic I cannot argue with him for we have no common language. There is no common set of words and ideas between us.

A republic is sometimes defined as a democratic contrast to a monarchy. Is it suggested that we have a hereditary ruler or monarch in our State? It would indeed be strange if we were a monarchy and our fundamental law did not show the monarch as an integral part of either our legislative, our executive or our judicial authority. This is where the monarch functions in all monarchical States.

Is it argued that, because we have the External Relations Act of 1936, our State is a monarchy? I do not think any constitutional lawyer of repute would attempt to maintain such a thesis. By this Act, so long as we are “associated with the following nations, that is to say, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and South Africa, and so long as the King, recognised by those nations as the symbol of their co-operation, continues to act on behalf of each of those nations (on the advice of the several Governments thereof) for the purposes of the appointment of diplomatic and consular representatives and the conclusion of international agreements, the King so recognised” is permitted and authorised to act on our behalf for like purposes as and when advised by the Government.

This External Relations Act is a simple statute repealable by the legislature and not a fundamental law. As a law it is, in fact, null and void to any extent whatever in which it conflicts with our only fundamental law, the Constitution. It is a simple enabling Act to permit of the carrying out of the external policy of the State in the field of international relations as indicated [2573] and provided for in Article 29 (4) of the Constitution and nothing more. This may be regarded as a unique arrangement. I am not disposed to question a statement of this sort. The situation which it was designed to fit, and for a number of years has effectively fitted, was likewise unique. The position, as I conceive it to be, is this: We are an independent republic, associated as a matter of our external policy with the States of the British Commonwealth. To mark this association, we avail ourselves of the procedure of the External Relations Act just quoted, by which the King recognised by the States of the British Commonwealth therein named acts for us, under advice, in certain specified matters in the field of our external relations.

And now, to Deputy Dillon's second question—are we or are we not a member of the British Commonwealth? That is a question for which the material necessary for a conclusive answer is not fully available. It depends on what the essential element is in the constitution of the British Commonwealth.

The British Commonwealth claims to be an elastic, growing, developing organism and the statemen of the Common wealth have, I think, adopted the view of Joseph de Maistre that “In all political systems there are relationships which it is wiser to leave undefined.” I can only say that, without any request or reference or suggestion from us, on the day on which our Constitution came into force, viz., 29th December, 1937, the following communication was issued from 10 Downing Street, and published in the Press on the following day:

“His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have considered the position created by the new Constitution which was approved by the Parliament of the Irish Free State in June, 1937, and came into force on December 29.

They are prepared to treat the new Constitution as not effecting a fundamental alteration in the position of the Irish Free State—in future to be described under the new Constitution as ‘Eire’ or ‘Ireland’—as a member [2574] of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have ascertained that His Majesty's Government in Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa are also prepared so to treat the new Constitution.”

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy Perhaps the Taoiseach would finish the terms of the communication.

The Taoiseach: Information on Eamon de Valera Zoom on Eamon de Valera As far as I know, that is the whole of it and I have made no intentional contraction. It is very important to have it correctly.

The Government here did not feel called upon to make any comment. The provisions of our Constitution were publicly known for many weeks; our attitude towards the question of allegiance and related matters was known for years. We could only accept the British Government statement as the expression of a view taken by them in full knowledge of our position here at the time and there has been, as everyone is aware, no constitutional or other change which would alter the situation since then.

I fear, a Chinn Comhairle, that I have no further useful information which I can give Deputy Dillon. I must now leave him to answer his own question from the facts which I have presented.

The communication issued from 10, Downing Street, which I have just quoted, contained the following paragraph also:—

“His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom take note of Articles 2, 3 and 4 of the new Constitution. They cannot recognise that the adoption of the name ‘Éire’ or ‘Ireland’ or any other provisions of those Articles involves any right to territory or jurisdication over territory forming part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or affects in any way the position of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They therefore regard the use of the name ‘Éire’[2575] or ‘Ireland’ in this connection as relating only to that area which has hitherto been known as the Irish Free State.”

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy I am sorry the Taoiseach has had to spend so much time in his study in preparation for his remarks on this Estimate and I am sorry that we have had to be brought so much into the study of this particular matter, as we live in times when studies have been blown to pieces in practically every country in the world but our own. Men have had to live with one another, working with one another in practical co-operation, in times of very great difficulty. We to-day and to-morrow will have to do the same thing. It is desirable that our minds be brought to unison on these things that we consider matter and be brought to harmony of understanding, so that we can ignore certain matters that may not be very great realities and can turn our strength and our minds to the realities and the work men have to do, working with one another and solving their problems so that they may live and sustain themselves.

We ought to know what difficulty the Taoiseach has in stating that we are members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, in the light of the statement he has read out. The only interpretation I can put on the statement communicated from the British Government in December, 1937, is that we are members of the British Commonwealth. I take it that the agreement we made in 1938, dealing with trade matters, and political matters, including the handing over of the ports, was made between ourselves as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the British. However, I think that both this House and the people generally are anxious to clear their minds of something that may not be very material but that creates a certain amount of doubt and, so far as we can see, prohibits the Government, in dealing with serious and practical matters, from taking their courage in their hands and doing all the work they might do for this nation.

[2576] The Taoiseach has indicated that part of the work of the External Affairs Department is to see that our national outlook and our policies are known and understood abroad. To-day certain men are meeting, covering vast districts and going to great difficulty to meet one another, to sit down with one another. They are men from different countries, from different races, from different nations, and they are meeting because they realise that only by sitting down and talking with one another, by facing the facts of their national and world life as it appears to them, facing these facts as appearing to the people of various nations and their statesmen, and by discussing these facts and the problems that arise from them, can there be any hope of finding a solution that will help everybody so that, instead of confict with one another in looking after their interests, people will be harmonious and will co-operate with one another in improving their conditions.

We see that all around us, and, if there are two groups that we might sit down among, they are the group representing the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the group known as the United Nations. What we are anxious to know is, can the Department, whose function it is to let national outlook and policy be known and understood abroad, help us here in this Parliament, and can they help our people who are going about their business of producing and carrying on the national life here? Can they help us better to understand its national outlook and its policies?

I think it was Edmund Burke who said that the foundations of States should not be too closely inquired into. Whatever about our foundations, we ought not to be particularly bothered about the labels we attach to ourselves. Let us realise as representatives what our functions are in respect of the people who elected us, what our functions are to our people here in Parliament, and how, in the modern world, we can meet representative men from other countries and discuss their problems and our problems, so as to find ways of mutually assisting one another. That is what we want to do. If we are [2577] doing the best we can, utilising our capacity for co-operation and our national qualities and intelligence to use the resources of our country to produce food for our people and for exchange, that is all that matters to-day, when a lot more than labels can be blown sky-high by disagreements among people that very often arise out of small things.

We hear the Taoiseach expressing doubt as to whether we are members of the British Commonwealth. He says it is easy to answer one of the questions—are we a republic?—but it is not so easy to answer the other. We ought to be told whether anything has happened since December, 1937, whether anything has happened since the autumn of 1938 or the summer of 1938, when the other agreement was made; whether any communication has been received from the British Government or any other members of the British Commonwealth that shakes the Taoiseach's understanding or his belief as to whether we are accepted as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations in the same way as we were in December, 1937, or later on in 1938. I know of nothing that has arisen. I do not remember that the Taoiseach has communicated, either to the House or in any other way, anything that has arisen in that way.

Therefore, I approach the discussion here this evening giving, in my own mind, as readily as the Taoiseach gave, an answer to the first question put by Deputy Dillon. In my own mind, and for the purpose of the discussion here, I give as ready an affirmative, without equivocation of any kind, that this country is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. If I am wrong in that, then I think it is the duty of the Taoiseach or the Government to point out what there is in the situation, and in what way we are prohibited or prevented form taking our part in any discussion or consultations, or in any work dealing with the social, economic and political furture of our country or of the world in general, and whether other members of the British Commonwealth have powers, as such, to deal with any of these matters.

This subject is of importance and I [2578] think we should be brought down to practical questions. On these practical questions we should ask ourselves what are our interests, what could and should the Government do, and why the Government is refraining from consultations at the present moment that, in our opinion, ought to be undertaken. Every country in the world is coming together to discuss various matters and to see how, by mutual co-operation, they can improve the conditions of their people.

In connection with aviation transport, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, on the 19th April, 1945, discussed an agreement he had made with the United States Government with respect to international civil aviation on transport routes between the United States and Europe and our position on these routes. He indicated at that time that previously, in 1936, the Dáil was informed that an agreement was envisaged with Great Britain and Canada for the setting up of a joint operating company in which each of the three countries, Canada, Great Britain and ourselves, would have an interest, but things developed in such a way that no agreement was made for the setting up of a joint operating company. Since then a permit was granted, under a particular agreement, to Imperial Airways, which has since been merged with the British Overseas Airways Corporation, to operate services in and out of the country on the Atlantic route and that was renewed on an annual basis up-to-date.

The various members of the British Commonwealth have recently been meeting in London as the Commonwealth Air Transport Council and they have, it is reported, come to a full and satisfactory agreement regarding the principles upon which their services will be run. It was indicated before that they were using three chosen instruments for dealing with their air transport, in two of which we are particularly interested. They were using the British Overseas Airways as the chosen instrument for transport between Great Britain and Canad, on the one hand, and the Far East, and on that particular rout from Great Britain to Canada in regard to which we apparently make an annual agreement. [2579] Another is internal transport in Great Britain, and transport between Great Britain and Europe. In transport communications I suggest we have also some interest. Why is it we have not been represented at the Commonwealth Air Transport Conference? Is it that we had no interest in its discussions? Is it that we were not invited, or, having been invited, did not wish to go?

I could understand that during the war the Government could very well have intimated to the British Government that it did not wish to be invited to discussions with Great Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa or any of the countries in the British Commonwealth, because they were at war, or because matters connected with the war might arise. There were two reasons for that attitude: (1) that they did not wish to get information regarding which, if it leaked out in any way, they might be regarded as the channel of leakage, and (2) that they did not wish, as they were completely neutral, to take part in any matters concerning the war. I could understand that taking place in the past, but I cannot understand that in discussions on air routes, the types of companies that run them, the financial interests that will be involved, the training of personnel and technical matters connected with the types of aeroplanes that would be used, as well as services and building. I cannot understand why we were not represented at the conference that took place recently, particularly as earlier in the year I asked the Taoiseach, and was told by the Minister for Finace at that time, that the only information they had about the preliminary meeting and what transpired at it, was what appeared in the Press.

The question of trade is one that gives rise to considerable difficulty. We had discussions on the question of sterling balances and the difficulty of sterling countries dealing with outside countries. We would have thought that with an Estimate for £145,000 we would be told something of what was transpiring in the world, and of the conversations taking place concerning trade, or what was likely to help us. [2580] We see a position in which Great Britain is going to find difficulty in trading with the United States of America, while the United States will find it very difficult to live in a world that cannot trade with it. National bodies are meeting to discuss how they will manage monetary arrangements to enable countries to live by assisting their trading arrangements with monetary facilities of one kind or another. In the difficulties in which the sterling group find themselves, there definitely arises the British policy of imperial preference. They may find difficulty in extending the policy of imperial preference to Canada, which is not a sterling country, but nevertheless, across the difficulty which one sees between the sterling countries and other countries, the question of imperial preference is still to the fore. In discussing matters with any group of people, any possible assistance that we could get for our trade we should be busy on now. We should be particularly busy discussing with members of the British Commonwealth, and particularly with Great, Britain, how we can assist mutually, by better facilities for trading. I have already pointed out that imperial preference, as a result of the conference held in Ottawa in 1932, brought about a situation whereby Canada increased its exports of domestic produce to the United Kingdom by £28,000,000, or 73 per cent., between 1931 and 1938; Australian exports of domestic produce increased by £28,000,000 or 85 per cent.; New Zealand exports increased by £10,000,000 or 39 per cent., while our exports to Great Britain between 1931 and 1938 dropped by £12,000,000 or 35 per cent. At the same time Canada was taking increased imports of domestic goods from the United Kingdom to the value of £1,800,000 or 8 per cent.; Australia took additional goods to the extent of £23,000,000 or 98 per cent.; New Zealand to the extent of £9,000,000 or 75 per cent.; South Africa to the extent of £15,000,000 or 63 per cent.; while we received £19,000,000 less from the United Kingdom in 1938 than in 1931 our imports from Britain representing a fall of 48 per cent.

It is an economic fact that the improvement [2581] in trade between Great Britain, Canada, South Africa and Australia laid solid foundations for the great industrial developments there. It stood them well when the impact of the present war fell upon them, and they had to develop their industrial production enormously for war purposes and for the maintenance of their people. If we are determined to build up our industrial life here we must build up our trade. Are we going, in the discussions that are likely to take place about trade in the next 12 months, to see that we will get the benefit of any policy of Imperial preference that is going to be adopted inside the British Commonwealth? I think we ought to be told what trends there are in that direction, what contact of Ministers there is between our Government and the Government of Great Britain, or any of the other Dominions that will increase our trade. Through our people we have natural communication with these countries, and not only that, but politically. Our people are scattered throughout these countries with an understanding of our political and economic wants, and we can get the co-operation that we want if we only go out to look for it. We are not going to get it by sitting down in our studies and reading statistics or constitutional questions. The only way to do it is by sitting down in council with representatives of these countries, in the same way as representatives of the various nations are sitting down to-day in council to solve problems much bigger than ours. I consider that, in introducing the Estimate, the Taoiseach should have told us something of the decisions recently taken in regard to a Charter for the United Nations. Have the Government received officially from any quarter a copy of that Charter? If not, are they going to seek it and publish it as a White Paper, so that we may have authoritatively here a copy of that document? That document was framed with a clearly stated set of purposes and principles. The general object of it is to develop friendly relations amongst all nations, based upon respect for equal rights and self-determination and to take appropriate [2582] measures to strengthen universal peace.

We have had many statements recently from the Holy Father on various aspects of world affairs. In a statement issued in the early part of June, His Holiness said:

“Pronouncements by competent and responsible men in the last few weeks make us think that the victory of right is in view not only as a political aim but also as an aim they consider it their moral duty to attain.”

If there are men, struggling under greater difficulties than we are, endeavouring to secure that a right view of the individual's rights and liberties be taken, and endeavouring to find a way in which international peace can be organised and maintained, we ought to take our place in the world in which they are so struggling. Recently the hierarchy of Ireland issued a statement in relation to Poland and the injustices at present being perpetrated in that country. They said:

“Should these injustices be perpetrated, should the western nations fail to stand firm to their pledged word and to the democratic principles of which they made such ample profession during the war, then true and lasting peace becomes impossible, and the hopes and longings which now fill the hearts of men are certain to be frustrated. We solemnly protest against the injustices to which one of the oldest and most gallant of the nations of Europe is being subjected, and we ask our people, whose history is in so many ways like that of the Poles, to join with us in supplicating the All-merciful God to comfort Poland in her sorrow, to mitigate her suffering, and to avert the further evils with which she is now threatened.”

That statement by the hierarchy interprets the mind and heart of the Irish people. Poland, in September, 1939, was being trampled upon. All was quiet here. We were not going to involve ourselves in any way in the disasters of war, no matter what might happen Poland. Nobody can question how right and proper it is that the [2583] Irish people, in their minds and hearts, should feel for Poland in the way in which the hierarchy expressed their feelings. Nobody has seriously questioned that it was right and proper for the Irish people, and will be right and proper for them, to avoid war in every possible way. But what are we going to do about it? Can we do anything about it unless we take our stand, boldly and bravely, in such councils as are going on in the world, to try to prevent in any way possible the coming of another war such as the two wars through which we have lived? Is there any other way in which we can, with any respect for our manhood or our position as a nation, hold true to those feelings we have for oppressed countries and to our desire, on the other hand, to avoid war in every possible way? Is there any way by which we can hold fast to our feelings in such matters if we do not take our place in discussions which are going on either in regard to the betterment of the lives of men and women of the world or the prevention of war?

What are we doing about it? As far as we know, we are doing nothing about it. We cannot retain our personal self-respect or our respect for our Government or our country much longer unless we become clear as to what we are prepared to do and unless we show by some definite line of action that we are prepared to take our place in the world. What do we want a Foreign Affairs Department for at all? Is it to keep the world right or to keep ourselves right with the world? Have we ideals arising from our national character, our sense of religion or our Catholic traditions? We are concerned about our missionaries—those of them who lost their lives, or were murdered, in different countries during this war. What did they ask when they were going out to do their work? They asked nothing from their people or their race or from the world. They went out to do their duty, as they saw it, from the religious point of view. What are we to do for them? They do not expect us to go to war for them but they do expect us to be as brave and politically energetic as they, in their own personal way, were in serving the [2584] cause of religion, when they went to the utmost ends of the world and faced personal and other difficulties there. The only protection we can give those who go as missionaries or as citizens to the ends of the world is that which comes from standing boldly and bravely in the councils of the world. When are we to do that?

I asked the Taoiseach to read the last portion of the important document issued on the 30th December, 1937, with regard to our constitutional position and our relations with the British Commonwealth. We must take cognisance of political facts to-day. Our country is divided. Particularly at this point in the world's history, we cannot afford to ignore that. We cannot afford to appear to acquiesce in the fact that, for any cause, whether internal division here or the operations of some country outside, our country is partitioned. I do not think that we shall be able to face any of our difficulties in the world if we do not face the difficulties that arise from the fact that our people are divided under two Government and that, in connection with that division, we have political difficulties with the British Government. All the statements made, particularly in the latter years of the world crisis, by British statemen or important British Press people or British politicians or by representatives of countries such as Australia, Canada and South Africa, when dealing with Commonwealth relations, completely accepted the fact that not only were we a member of the Commonwealth but that we showed, by our independence of action, what was the only basis upon which the Commonwealth could be strong and could last, if it was to be strong and to last.

Both British statesmen, Canadian statesmen, and important British papers and Canadian papers have declared that the only basis upon which the Commonwealth can last as such, and can be strong, is that every member of it will be as free in political matters as we were free to remain neutral in this war. I think that there never was during the emergency a time when there was any occasion for us to take exception of any kind to [2585] the declared British attitude towards us in relation to neutrality. We have had occasion to complain of slants or interpretations put by the Government on certain statements or certain actions by the British during the war, where, say, the Minister for Industry and Commerce complained that we were blockaded on all sides, that we had hair-breadth escapes of one kind or another, but, to my mind, there never was an occasion during the war when the British made any demand upon us.

We are talking about Davis these times and I think we might recall that he once wrote: “For much that England did in literature, politics and war we are as men grateful. Her oppressions we would not even avenge. We would, were she eternally dethroned from over us, rejoice in her prosperity.” Davis lived in days when it was not realised that the only way a country can be prosperous is by its neighbours being prosperous. We might all very well be grateful for what has been achieved by Great Britain in this war. It is all the more regrettable that the Prime Minister should either say anything or appear to say anything that would prevent us appreciating the way in which we have been helped out of this war by the strength, both military, and diplomatic, of Great Britain. I did hope that it would be in a different strain that the British Prime Minister would speak at the end of the war in Europe. I thought that he might be able to address his Parliament and tell them that although they did not think they could have done it, he knew they could; that they only wanted a lead, they only wanted to have their spirits buoyed up, that they had the capacity, the power and the will to do it. He could have reminded them that they had not done it on their own, that they were assisted by seeds that had been sown throughout the world by Englishmen, Scotsmen and Irishmen in Australia, South Africa, Canada and the United States; that they had been assisted by the United States and that it was because seed of that kind had been sown throughout the world that they were able to win through to safety. I thought he might have reminded them that different kinds of difficulties were facing them [2586] now, that they could not face them alone, that they would require the same assistance, the same mind, the same energy, wide-flung throughout the world to get them through economic and social difficulties, just as they had required them to bring them through their military difficulties.

I thought he might have said that he thought there was some weakness here in Ireland in dealing with the situation for the last six years, that he was determined that any difficulty that existed should be removed, that he would try to get rid of any weakness that existed in this country which prevented us from being strong, economically, socially and politically, so far as any guilt rested with Englishmen, Scotsmen or Welshmen for it. I thought he might have said that he was going to see that in so far as any political, social or economic weakness here was brought about by causes arising from the action of Englishmen, Scotsmen or Welshmen, they were going to wash their hands of them; that he was going to ask representatives of the Government of the North of Ireland, and representatives of our Government here to sit down with him, look at the realities of the world to-day and help one another to realise what lies ahead, to ascertain what there was between our people in the North and our people in the South which was standing between them and the political unity that would strengthen the nation socially, economically and politically. I thought he might have been able to do that and I still think that some British Prime Minister will, but unless we here, between ourselves and Great Britain, between ourselves and the people of Northern Ireland, can settle such political and economic difficulties as lie in the way of using all our energies, all our thought, undistracted by divisions and by petty political interests, to build up the country socially and economically, we can throw our hats at any idea of having any influence in settling the bigger problems and difficulties that beset the world.

It is particularly because there are these difficulties which can only be solved by personal contact, that I [2587] appeal for information as to when we shall see our Government representatives sitting down with representatives of other members of the British Commonwealth; as to what they are going to do to get into the bigger and broader councils that are apparently developing in the world in an effort to make the world better. There are many things that require to be done urgently but none of them can be done or faced up to properly unless representative Irishmen are prepared to go into the world, to meet our people in the North, to meet people in Great Britain and people elsewhere. It would be terribly tragic if behind labels and shibboleths of one kind or another or behind any small feeling, let us say, of cowardice, we hesitated in any way to look in the eyes any man with whom we have a problem to discuss.

I feel that one of our difficulties during the emergency was that in taking up the stand of neutrality, the Government felt there was something that had to be apologised for. It may not be so, but I certainly would have liked to have seen a more vigorous facing up to the rest of the world on questions of trade, questions of mutual assistance in social and economic ways. We have nothing for which to hang our heads in relation to what has happened in the world. We have many things in the past which we might be tempted to refer to as giving rise to, and being the roots from which sprang, our weaknesses and inhibitions to-day, but I think that the sooner and the more completely we forget these, the better. We in this House ought to feel that we have come to the point at which we must be able to talk to one another, must be able to say what is in our minds, and must have information from the Government on the political, the diplomatic and other facts which affect our position in the world.

There are many things with regard to the handling of our foreign affairs and other matters in the last four or five years about which I personally would like to complain, but I completely push all these aside. I really want to ask the Taoiseach to tell us what doubt he has with regard to our position in the British Commonwealth [2588] and why he is not taking his place and why his Minister are not taking their places at the various councils of Commonwealth members which are sitting to consider such matters as radio transmission, air and so on, and when he expects an Imperial conference, or when representatives of all the members of the British Commonwealth will sit down in council to discuss their social and economic betterment in the same way as they did at Ottawa, and whether he is going to be there.

The Taoiseach knows very explicitly the things we would like to be told, and I think this House deserves to be told, because it is the Parliament of our people. We have difficulties here among ourselves which we must solve ourselves, and we have difficulties in our relations with the world which can only be solved by those who represent us. The world has been torn to pieces for the past six years because men, who realise now that they could have been co-operating with one another in making the world better, were fighting each other, destroying each other and destroying everything that belonged to them.

Whatever victory has been won or lost in the world as a result of the war, men of 40 or 50 odd nations are sitting down to-day in council, are working hard at home and the people behind them at home are working hard to advise them and to inform them, so that the world may be made better and stronger and so that, instead of destroying each other, people may try to help each other.

These are the circumstances in which the world is to-day, and we seem to be inhibited here at home. We can face nobody; we have no plans for sitting down in council with anybody, so far as the Parliament knows. We ask the Government to clear the air in these matters for us and to say when we shall see them in council, in the interests of the country and in the interests of the world at large, with, in the first place, the other members of the British Commonwealth, and, in the second place, with the group which call themselves the United Nations and which have drawn up a charter which has been published—though not in full in any place in Ireland.

[2589] I ask the Taoiseach whether, if he gets an official copy, he will circulate it as a White Paper, so that our people will understand what other countries in the world are trying to do to overcome the difficulties of their people.

Mr. Blowick: Information on Joseph Blowick Zoom on Joseph Blowick The Taoiseach's speech was remarkable for one omission. It was remarkable for the omission of a single word about what the majority of the people believe to be the burning question, the removal of Partition. I personally expected that he would say something on the subject, or give the House some indication of the Government's ideas or of the Government's plan, if any, for helping to remove the Border which slices six of our richest and best counties from us. Years ago, the Government had a plan for the removal of the Border, but it appears that, since they got into office, the plan has been pigeonholed and left to gather dust. Nothing has been done about it. Surely, now that the European war is over and we have withstood all the shocks of the emergency period and have stood loyally together behind the Taoiseach and his Government, now is the time to make some effective move towards removing the Border.

Since Deputy Dillon's question the other day, there has been a lot of speculation about the republic. I can assure the Taoiseach and the Government that for every one person interested in the republic, there are 99 interested in the removal of Partition. Partition exists and not a single move has been made to remove it. No steps have been taken—at least that have come to light—to meet the people from the North and to discuss it, and I put the suggestion forward for what it is worth that there should be a conference of representatives of every religious persuasion in the country, of every business section, and not only of the various Parties in the House but of every group in the country, on both sides of the Border, for the purpose of seeing exactly what steps can be taken. The recent elections in Northern Ireland show a definite improvement in the situation there, so far as a desire to do away with the Border is concerned, because it must [2590] be as irksome to them as it is to us. If the Taoiseach made a move towards such a conference, it would result in some useful plans emerging which would help to remove it.

A lot has been said about the republic of late and the Taoiseach has given us a hazy, a very vague, word-picture of the whole situation. What emerges from the Taoiseach's statement is no more and no less than that we have the very same situation here as we have had for the last seven or eight years since the passing of the Constitution. So far as internal Government is concerned, it is quite obvious that we have all the freedom any republic could enjoy, but externally I do not think that is so, and I should like the Taoiseach to answer this question: Is it a fact that our representatives abroad have to have their credentials signed by the King, that they must be signed by the King of England?

The Taoiseach mentioned sub-section (2) of Section 4 of Article 29 of the Constitution, which reads:

“For the purpose of the exercise of any executive function of the State in or in connection with its external relations, the Government may to such extent and subject to such conditions, if any, as may be determined by law, avail of or adopt 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 the State is or becomes associated for the purpose of international co-operation in matters of common concern.”

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony It is a round-about way of saying the King.

Mr. Blowick: Information on Joseph Blowick Zoom on Joseph Blowick I do not take it as that. The Taoiseach might very well answer that, through this new Constitution, the people gave the Government, the Taoiseach, authority to ask the King to sign them. That is a horse of a different colour; that is a very different thing from saying the King must sign them.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon It is a very piebald horse.

[2591]Mr. Blowick: Information on Joseph Blowick Zoom on Joseph Blowick Nevertheless, it is a horse the existence of which the people of this country would like to see explained. A lot of people in this country are getting very fed up with quibbling and world spinning. What I would like to see, and what every one of the people of this country would definitely like to see—and the Taoiseach and the Government must be fully aware of it— is first, the unity and freedom of the 32 Counties, and secondly, cordial relations with every single one of our neighbours in Europe, and cordial relations definitely, as far as trading is concerned, with England. I should like to hear anybody tell me what is wrong with this country sending its exportable surplus to the best market we can get, taking in exchange anything that we want but cannot produce at home? We have had, all too long, a kind of sham—I cannot find words to describe it—a situation in which we are supposed to be inimical to certain countries, with not a single scintilla of truth or solidness behind that at all. That is the situation as I see it. I want the Taoiseach definitely to say when he is replying whether it is a fact that the King must sign the credentials of our representatives abroad. If he does not sign them, will those representatives not be accepted in the countries to which they are appointed? It is all very fine to say that, under the new Constitution, we can ask the King to sign them. It is another thing altogether to say that he must sign them, or that those representatives will not be accepted if he does not sign them. While the Taoiseach was speaking I wondered what would happen in this community if the King of England went on strike and refused to do a lot of things. A very funny situation would certainly arise.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon A very funny situation.

Mr. Blowick: Information on Joseph Blowick Zoom on Joseph Blowick The last speaker mentioned taking part in external discussions, for the good of this country. I think we have here an excellent opportunity for bringing before many countries in the world, who may not be familiar with our real situation, the plight of this State, divided, cut across by an unnatural Border. I think we [2592] are afforded a very admirable opportunity for putting our case before the world. There has been a lot of talk about the Leagues of Nations, Commonwealths of Nations, and all the rest of it. Many wars—I suppose most wars—are definitely caused by the aggression of large nations towards smaller ones. What about a group or league of small nations? It seems that small nations are perpetually in the way of big nations, and getting trampled upon. What about the small nations getting together? I do not see why the views of a large number of small nations, combined together, should not be as effective as those of two or three or four large Powers. No move has been made by the Government towards that end, as far as I can see. A very convenient opportunity presents itself just at this moment for such a move as that. We have an excellent opportunity of getting our grievances aired, and getting the sympathy of lots of other small nations, instead of tying ourselves to the tails of great Powers, or looking for the crumbs that fall from the tables of the mighty.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin Zoom on William Davin The Taoiseach, during the past week, appears to have picked out every old dictionary that he could put his fingers upon in order to get a modern explanation of the meaning of the word “republic.” I wonder did the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, when making his recent speech on the necessity for continuing the link with sterling, with the British currency, realise that he was a member of a Ministry of an Irish Republic, or a Twenty-Six County Republic, or would he, in view of the explanation given by the Taoiseach here to-day, like to reconsider some of the things that he said in that memorable and historic speech last week? I do not want to travel over the ground traversed by the Taoiseach, but I join with Deputy Blowick in asking the Taoiseach to be a little bit more candid in this House on this occasion.

This is the occasion to be candid with the people and with the members of this House on the question of what solution he has or what steps he proposes to take to get rid of the Border. [2593] On numerous occasions during the past two years we have heard the Taoiseach speak on this matter outside the House, but on no occasion has he given this House any explanation as to the policy of the Fianna Fáil Government regarding the steps to be taken for the abolition of the Border. I am aware, and so is the Taoiseach, that an attempt has been made on a number of occasions during the past two years to bring about a conference of the representatives of all Parties in this House with the representatives of the Northern Nationalists, to be held either in this part of the country, or, as was suggested by a member of his own Party not long ago, to be held in Belfast. The members of this party and the members of the other Opposition Parties were approached, and I have been assured by a leading member of the Fianna Fáil Party that they were approached to join in such a conference. The members of this Party agreed to send representatives to such a conference, whether it was held here or in Belfast. I gather that the representatives of the main Opposition Party also agreed. Will the Taoiseach state here and now whether he himself has any responsibility for the refusal of the Fianna Fáil Party to send representatives to such a conference, whether held here or in Belfast? Will he also explain why it is that on the recent memorable occasion of the inauguration of the President of Ireland he failed—as I assume he failed—to invite the representatives of the Northern Nationalists or all the Northern Nationalists to attend that function? I gather that some of the members of the Six-County Parliament were by no means pleased that they did not receive an invitation to that function. I myself saw at that function people who appeared there in an individual capacity. Can the Taoiseach give any explanation to the House then, and to the Nationalists Members of the Six-County Parliament, as to why they were not invited to the inauguration of the President of Ireland?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon If you stopped the humblest citizen of the United States of America on Broadway, and asked him: [2594]“What is your nation?” he would throw out his chest, lift his chin, and say: “A republic.” If you asked the most down-trodden and trampled citizen of Holland on the streets of Amsterdam: “What is your nation?” he would say: “A kingdom. Long live the queen.” But in Ireland, the oldest nation of them all, when I asked the Taoiseach: “What are we?” he says: “Look at the British Encyclopedia.” It makes me think that my somewhat scurrilous friend was justified. During the week-end a friend of mine said to me: “How will the Taoiseach amplify his reply about the republic?” I said: “If you read his kept newspaper, the Irish Press, which barely referred to the word on the morning after he made that observation in Dáil Eireann, it looks very like as if he is going to play the whole thing down and say to us: ‘A republic? The republic was born eight years ago when we adopted the Constitution’,” to which my scurrilous friend replied: “Well, I wonder when will the Chief State Solicitor prosecute de Valera for concealment of birth.”

I do not think that this is an occasion for levity of that kind. I think it is humiliating, I think it is degrading and it is something from which I recoil that, in this country, we are obliged to deal in dictionary definitions and in manifestos from 10, Downing Street, in order to determine for our own people where we stand. What the devil do I care what 10, Downing Street, thinks about the constitutional status of Ireland. The only people in the world who have a right to determine what the constitutional status of this country will be are the Irish people, and they are not interested, when they are taking that decision, in what the views of the people outside may be.

I could admire the Taoiseach if he got up to-day and said, whatever the cost, our destiny is to be a republic, and a republic we are, and whatever the consequences we will face them. I could admire him even though I did not agree with him. I felt there was some hope in the terms he employed in his speech to-day, some ray of possibility before us, but as he went on it seemed [2595] to me that he gloried in this strange and ambiguous situation which Deputy Blowick has described as a horse, but which appears to me to be much more like a painted greyhound. Deputy Blowick hopes for a situation in which there will be a move made in the tumultuous world in which we live, to gather the small nations together in their own defence, but when has a better move been made, in the history of human affairs, than within the Commonwealth of Nations that we helped to create? We went into an Empire which truly consisted of a group of small nations tagging after a mighty Empire, and Irish statesmen in that Empire evolved not only for Ireland but for the world the superb constitutional concept of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Will anybody deny to the memory of Kevin O'Higgins that glorious achievement? Will anyone withhold from the elder statesman of this country, William Cosgrave, his share in that splendid work? Will anyone doubt that history, contemplating it, will scorn those who have sought to bespatter that man's name and reputation as Fianna Fáil have sought to do it? That Commonwealth of Nations is, if Deputy Blowick could recognise it, the germ of an organisation of small nations, an organisation of small nations that believe in the things that we believe in, and which, bound together, would present a front which would cause the mightiest tyrant to think and think again.

I believe profoundly that the Commonwealth of Nations is a dynamic thing. I say frankly here, as I have said in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, wherever I had to speak in the Commonwealth in public, that I would not suffer this nation, if I could prevent it, belonging to that Commonwealth for an hour after it had frozen into a rigid and static form. No human institution in the world stands still. It either grows and goes forward, or it falls back and dies. This nation has no part in death, but it has a mighty contribution to give as an example and an inspiration to the small nations of this world, aye, and to the great ones, too, because we believe in freedom. Seven [2596] hundred years fighting for it has left something in us which no misfortune, no adversity and no threats would ever eradicate; and, if ever that was true of a people in the world, it is true of the Irish people that we could not live unfree. If ever a people had a destiny, the Irish people have the destiny to give that freedom, which we ourselves so passionately longed for, to all the people in the world. I said in this House once in 1941:

“I say most deliberately, I say before God, that I believe the fate of Christianity in the world is hanging in the balance. I say that what has borne itself in upon my mind, above all other things, is the profound conviction that, if this terrible doctrine of Nazism should prevail in the world, Christianity will go to the Catacombs.”

I used these remarks to preface a request to the Government of Ireland to help the United States of America and Great Britain in overthrowing the threatened Nazi domination of the world. I was told on that occasion that I sought to describe an Imperialist war as a Christian crusade. For five or six years afterwards we had to wait for the words of Pope Pius XII, which described to the world the true nature of the thing that threatened humanity when I was asking Ireland to play her part, and, rarely as I find myself in some measure of disagreement with the Leader of the Opposition, I felt to-day when he spoke of the necessity for renewing our unalterable resolution, that, come what might in the world, we would keep out of war. Will he say that again if there should threaten Europe and the world another system, the corner stone of which is a denial of Christ and the right of men to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's? I tell this House, and I tell the people who voted for me that, if that threat should manifest itself in the world, as Nazism manifested itself, I would repeat next year the words that I spoke in 1941, because I believe that no nation can claim all the rights and privileges of sovereignty and freedom if it denies its obligation to defend the truth.

[2597] Our right to belong to the Commonwealth of Nations has never been challenged by any member of it. Our neutrality, during the recent war, was never questioned by any of our fellow-members. Let us distinguish clearly between the resentment of those who expected us to join them and the denial of our right to stand neutral. That there was resentment it would be absurd to deny, but there was understanding, too, and in no quarter was there denial of our right. Let us remember that. Let us remember the kind of association that Commonwealth has grown to be. Let us remember our work in making it.

When I am told by the Taoiseach here that we must depend on a declaration issued from 10 Downing Street to know whether we belong to the Commonwealth of Nations or not, I want to answer him here: I do not depend on any such document. I depend on him. He is the head of the Government. He has been chosen by the Parliament elected by the Irish people as the head of the legitimate Government in this country. It is his responsibility to come before this Parliament, to come before the people and to tell them, not what Winston Churchill said, not what Neville Chamberlain said, but what de Valera says. Is his policy, is the policy of the Government, of which he is the head, to belong to the Commonwealth if we can? If it is, we know where we are and we begin to realise that it may be possible to lend a hand in putting an end to the present intolerable situation. Does the Fianna Fáil Party want to belong to the Commonwealth?

Mr. P.J. Fogarty: Information on Andrew Fogarty Zoom on Andrew Fogarty No.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Deputy Fogarty says “No”. There is the very kernel of this problem. I put it to the Taoiseach that from the simple lips of Deputy Fogarty he gets the ultimate criticism of the position he has taken up. His own faithful follower does not know his mind. How, then, shall the whole of Ireland and the world know where we are, if P.J. Fogarty does not know it?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Eamonn O'Neill Zoom on Eamonn O'Neill Deputy P.J.Fogarty.

[2598]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Deputy P.J.Fogarty does not know it. It is against that detestable situation I protest. Have not we a right to know, has not Deputy P.J.Fogarty a right to know, has not the humblest creature in this country a right to know, so that he can hold his head high and defend the position of this nation before all comers, whatever it may be? If we want as a people to belong to the Commonwealth of Nations on our own terms, let us find out from that body are they prepared to have us on our own terms. If they are not, let us find out what compromise between their terms and our terms could be worked out to make our membership of that Commonwealth consistent with the conception of nationhood entertained by the majority of our people. If we find there is no such basis then, in God's name, let us get out of the Commonwealth with our heads up and with full, cold, deliberate knowledge of the consequence we take, resolved to face it, if face it we must.

I am as certain as that I am standing here that we can be members of the Commonwealth of Nations and retain the full sovereignty of the Irish people, not only in 26 counties but in 32, and I am equally certain that if we make the decision to break the link with the Commonwealth of Nations, either in the sense of Deputy Fogarty or in the sense of the Taoiseach, we are surrendering for our time and for all foreseeable time, not only six counties of our national territory, but one-fifth of our population who, under existing conditions, do not want to come back to the Irish nation. I say again I want them all. I want the Orangemen; I want the Protestant and Catholic; I want the Nationalist; I want the lunatic fringe of the Orange Lodges and the Black Preceptory, just as I want Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the I.R.A. and the lunatic fringe of potential assassins we have in this country too. They are people; they are responsibilities and, without the contribution that they all make, Ireland would not be Ireland. I am proud of Ireland as she is and not as Taoiseach de Valera would like to make her. I am proud of her as she has been made by generations of her own people. I [2599] want to help to make her better if I can, but I claim no sovereign remedy to make of this, my country, something better, something superior to that country for which my father and grandfathers and those that went before us fought and died. I want it all and I recoil with loathing from the academic approach to this whole problem which suggests that unless everyone is prepared to accept the obiter dictum of our Taoiseach, then let there be Partition.

It throws my mind back to a biblical story of the judgement of Solomon, when Solomon, the wisest of them all, sought to determine which of two really loved a disputed child and eventually proposed that if his award could not meet with universal approval, he would divide the child and give half to each. Who really loved that child? Was it the woman who answered, “So be it, divide it and have done” or was it the woman who said, “Let her who is not its mother have it all so that the child may live”? I say, rather than see our country sundered, rather than see our nation bleed to death, I would do anything to get back our unity. I would meet the other side; I would make concessions; I would go a long way to get back six counties of our territory, the nationalists therein who want to come, and the fifth of our people who at this moment repudiate us and claim to be merged in another nation.

Do not let us forget that fifth. Do not let us blind our own eyes and the eyes of our people with the representation that the sole responsibility for Partition rests upon Great Britain. Part of it does; there is no denying that; but part of it is the active will of one-fifth of our people, nearly all of whom are every bit as Irish as we are. Protestant, Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic, they are there rooted in the soil of Ireland, most of them being and acting as the men and women Ireland made them. How else are we going to get them back, except as members of the Commonwealth of Nations? Does any Deputy believe that if we are going to drift apart into a separate republic we can ever hope to have them back? I believe we cannot.

The Taoiseach believes that he has [2600] found a method of establishing here the kind of government he wants, and he is wondering if that kind of government is consistent with association with the Commonwealth of Nations. Is it not nearly time he found out? For if he went on that mission of discovery he might find that, by a slight adjustment, we would obtain not only the form of government we want here but find that it could be made acceptable also to the North of Ireland, and that it could restore to us our place in the Commonwealth? That would ensure that that Commonwealth which we made dynamic would never freeze into static death, it would ensure that that Commonwealth would be the nucleus of what Deputy Blowick and thousands, millions, of other decent men throughout the world are praying it may yet become—the rallying ground of small nations who feel and think as we do in their common difficulties.

It would be possible for us to come into that Commonwealth to do these things, but that is not all—to do a work no other nation in the world can do, to do a work that may most urgently need doing in the very early future of the world. Remember, I warned this House about Nazism when a good many Deputies had doubts as to the true character of that dispensation. I warn this House to-day that there are forces abroad in the world which might bring upon the peoples of the world a disaster very closely cognate to the disaster that the German people brought upon themselves, unless continued co-operation between the United States of America and the British Commonwealth of Nations is secured.

Given that these two great combinations of free peoples stand together, no power on the earth can overcome their championship of freedom: suffer them to be parted and the powers of evil that subsist in the world may be tempted to seek the destruction of those very liberties without which our people cannot live. In that Commonwealth, Ireland—and only Ireland —can act as the bond between those people and the interpreter of those peoples one to the other. Scattered all over the United States of America [2601] are our people; scattered from one end of the Commonwealth to the other and all through Britain's Imperial possessions our people are living, too, living and serving with distinction, honoured wherever they are, in every village, city and remote settlement where they are found. They can function as a bond, as an interpreter, as a peace-maker between the British people and the American people, or they can function as a slow, poisonous irritant to foment every misunderstanding between those two nations and make those misunderstandings greater than they already are. What they will do throughout the world largely depends on what we in this House, in Dáil Eireann, do. If we give the signal for conciliation, if we show the world that in the words of glorious Tom Kettle we are “closing a battle, not forgetting it”, all over the world that immense spiritual empire, the Irish at home and abroad, at whose head we stand, can discharge the duty, can undertake the burden, can enjoy the privilege of welding together in the world a power in defence of freedom greater than any threat that any group of nations can mobilise against it. Is not that something magnificent? Is not that something worth a nation having lived to do? Compare it with the alternative— to draw aside in a miserable, shivering solitude, a truncated creature waiting for whatever wind may blow and praying to God that other countries will hold tyrannies at bay, but resolved that, if they do not, we will sink in the universal deluge without raising a hand.

I will never accept that philosophy for Ireland. I believe we have work to do, I believe we are capable of doing it, I believe there are men in this country fit to take their place with statesmen of any other country in the world. I want to hear in the councils of the world one Catholic voice at least which is allowed and which has the courage to speak, which has the knowledge to speak, which has the solid ground beneath it of a Christian philosophy on which to stand. Let us not imagine that, by proclaiming Christian principles in the councils of the world, we can make angels of them [2602] all, but we can secure that the light of truth will never go out so long as we are there to hold it up. Bear this in mind, that no matter what Assembly of statesmen Irish representatives are called to join, 90 per cent. of them to-day may be agnostics and materialists but 99 per cent. of them heard the Gospel of Christ at their mother's knee, and though they may have elected to repudiate it for other things to-day, there will not be a conscience when Christian principles and philosophy are enunciated that will not be stirred by the recollection that that philosophy was good enough for people who were good enough to rear the men who listened to it. That is a glorious destiny for any country to have.

God knows, if we prove equal to that destiny, might we then not claim the right worthily to celebrate the centenary of Thomas Davis, who thought of Ireland being made “A Nation Once Again, by righteous men.” It would be a brave man who would claim the title of righteous man as Davis knew it, but if we could do these things—and we could, if we undertook them now— Thomas Davis would have no reason to be ashamed of us. But were his spirit to return to a centenary celebration in a truncated Ireland, cowering away from the consequences of facing the world, indifferent to the fate of Christianity, denying the Mystical Body of Christ in that wherever Christian principles were touched we also felt the pain, declaring that as long as our territory was left unassailed it was no concern of ours, could any Deputy imagine Thomas Davis looking on? Perish the thought that my grandfather's colleague would be proud of that.

That is where I stand on this subject of the republic. I want Ireland to be sovereign, independent and united, worthy of her liberty, equal to her duties, proud of her destiny, unashamed of her undertakings; and I am certain that we have leaders qualified to lead her in that work. That is all I have to say on that topic, Sir. I am enough of a politician to know that, politically, it would pay me best to end upon that note, but I have to face a disagreeable duty, which brings this debate down from the lofty plane of [2603] national principle to the struggle to defend our name and fame before the world.

When President Roosevelt—God be good to his memory—died, this House adjourned, every flag in Ireland was flown at half-mast, the Taoiseach repaired promptly to the house of the American Minister, to express the condolence of the entire people on the loss America had suffered. Now, I am told by competent authority in the Irish diplomatic service that the bare diplomatic courtesies which should be extended to a nation on the occasion of the death of its head are to instruct our ambassador in the capital of the bereaved country to call at the earliest opportunity and formally express the national condolence on the loss the State has sustained. Quite right. The Taoiseach of our country did not content himself with any such code of diplomatic procedure when the President of the United States had passed. He complied with all the diplomatic requirements, but he wanted warmly to do more; he wanted to make it clear before the world that we were not mourning the passing of a stranger—we were mourning somebody whom we looked upon almost as one of our own—and that, not caring who it pleased or who it grieved.

But then, Herr Hitler died. Now, I opposed the policy of neutrality, but the Taoiseach defended it and sustained it throughout the war, and I want to say deliberately that, having sustained the policy of neutrality throughout the war, hating the Nazi régime more than any other man in the world hates it I do not blame him for carrying out the diplomatic minimum in expressing condolences to a State the leader of which was dead. But I want him to tell us here to-day, has he ever received official notification of the death of Herr Hitler? To the best of my knowledge and belief, a great many people believe the man is still alive.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan I hope he is alive.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon I ask the Taoiseach to tell me, does it not savour of great [2604] political ineptitude, diplomatic ineptitude, to hasten on a task of that kind, unlike Switzerland, who chose to wait for an official notification that never came? Let no Deputy sink his head in the sand. The visit of our Taoiseach to the German Minister in this country to sympathise with him on the death of Herr Hitler caused bitter heart-burning throughout the United States of America and Great Britain, amongst our friends as well as amongst our enemies. I want to take this occasion to have that call explained. I want no covering up; I want people to stand upon the truth, and defend it or apologise for it, whichever is appropriate; but I want no excuses, no explanations.

The Taoiseach acted deliberately, and he had the right to act. He was Head of the Government, Minister for External Affairs, and no one in this country questions his legitimate, legal right to act. But I want to know did he do something that I think was so foolish as to be ashamed of, and I want to take occasion to say here what I feel about it. If he did no more than the diplomatic minimum, I think he was unduly precipitate, but I think he was logical. If he did more than the political minimum—and I think he did —then I believe he should have contented himself with instructing our Chargé d'Affaires to call on the new German Head of the Reich, if and when he was appointed, to express our diplomatic sympathy. I think it was an act of supererogation on our Foreign Minister's part to call on the German Minister in this country, and there I think he was guilty of a gross and deplorable error of judgment.

There was no call on our people to perpetrate an act of supererogation in respect of the Nazi Reich. We were not offering condolences to a bereaved individual. I do not accept the view that, because a man is a German or a Nazi, he is to be put outside the bounds of Christian charity. If the Nazis could have forced us to do that, they would have brought us down to their own level; but Nazism was something loathsome and something every decent man should hate with all his being. The German Minister was not [2605] here as an individual, but as the representative of Nazism. Was it right for our Foreign Minister, in regard to that person, the representative of Nazism, to perpetrate an act of supererogation? I think it was not; I think it was a diplomatic blunder of the worst kind, and one that excited deep misunderstanding and great bitterness against us in circles where there would not be any bitterness if it had not been done.

I know that certain Deputies of the Taoiseach's Party were Nazis, believed in the Nazi policy. I believe one member of his Government did, but I am as certain as I am standing here that the Taoiseach never had any sympathy with the authoritarian tyranny that ground down the German people in every facet of its activities. I am certain that his Government as a whole hold no better brief for Nazism as a system than I hold—that is the truth. But there were men in his Party who believed in Nazism—I believe there was a Minister in his Government who did—but they were in the microscopic minority. What is important is that the Taoiseach in doing what he did, was discharging only what he thought was the ordinary duty of diplomatic courtesy.

If this House determined to remain neutral one of the consequences was that we should treat the heads of every Government, German, American, British, French, Polish or otherwise, equally. We did that in our neutral position. I think we were wrong, but the Irish people thought we were right, and that is what matters, and, thinking they were right, they have no right to complain if their Minister carries out all the diplomatic implications of the policy which the Irish people have chosen to adopt. But it will be useful to our people, wherever they are, if the Taoiseach will make it clear to the world, as it is clear to me, that in making that call our Government in no way approved, sympathised, or extenuated the beastly atrocities denounced by Pope Pius XII and every sane man in the civilised world.

That much said, I wait with interest to hear from the Taoiseach if he will give us hope that our people may yet rise to the glorious destiny which I [2606] believe Providence has reserved for us, or if we are fated to sink into the obscurity of an isolated and truncated nothing in the western Atlantic. I ask the Taoiseach to think of Davis, think of the men who founded the Nation, think of the men who turned their backs upon all sources of advantage, think of the inscription on the monument he unveiled in Mallow to the memory of that man and, recalling that to mind, prove equal to the great position to which he is called, or stand aside and make room for someone capable, worthy and with the courage to lead our people to the destiny God has appointed for them.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr. Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr. Like a great many others that I met around this House, I do not really know whether the Taoiseach's speech is to be taken seriously or treated as a joke in rather bad taste. Deputy Dillon's friend suggests a prosecution for eight years' concealment of birth. I do not think any prosecution would lie. The defence is obvious. I think a birth that takes place through the instrumentality of a dictionary can scarcely be classified as a birth. It is certainly humiliating for anyone, or any person in any Parliament in the world, to be a member of a Parliament, and to hear the Prime Minister, the head of the Government, asked: “What is the constitutional status of your country”; to hear the Minister for External Affairs asked: “Do you, or do you not belong to a certain international group to which we heretofore belonged?” and to get this reply: “I have only my own opinion as to our constitutional status, but here is the Encyclopædia Britannica, here is Webster, here is the Oxford English Dictionary”, and some other dictionary, and to have read out in reply to a Deputy's question, the definition of a republic given in these various dictionaries. Is that not an entirely unworthy position for the Head of any Government to adopt? Is it not an entirely reckless and irresponsible position to adopt? We have our Constitution. There was enough bugle blowing and drum beating about it. In that Constitution we say that we are a democratic State. At that time we dare not use the word “republic”. [2607] Even now we dare not use it, and we shelter ourselves behind Webster and the Oxford Dictionary.

Two questions were put: (1) Are we a republic? (2) Are we still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations? The answer given was, it is easy to answer the first one; it is more difficult to answer the other one. For the one that it was easy to answer every dictionary on sale in the City of Dublin had to be consulted by the staff of the Department of External Affairs to find any quibbling answer to put into the mouth of the Taoiseach. That question was not addressed to Webster. It was addressed to Taoiseach de Valera. Webster does not hold any function in this State, or in this Parliament. The question was one that it was easy to answer. We went from there to Webster's grave to get an answer to the question that was not so easy, whether we belonged to a certain group or not. Every member of that group having said: “Yes, we recognise you as a member,” the only answer given for our own decision as to whether we remained or not was that it was a difficult one. Of course, it is difficult. It is difficult at any time for any horseman to straddle two horses going in opposite directions. I can see the Taoiseach's difficulty. He wants to drive in a common team, the Commonwealth of Nations, that wants that situation to develop for the benefit of this country, and anti-Commonwealth nations that want to go in the opposite direction. Consequently it is difficult to answer.

This debate is not going to come to an end without an answer to the question, whether this Government, in secret or behind the backs of Parliament and the people, has deliberately decided to throw away our position within the Commonwealth of Nations. It is clear from the document that the Taoiseach read—it is here in front of me—that except we have withdrawn by our own volition we are still a member. There should be no difficulty about that question. We are accustomed to evasion. We are accustomed to ambiguity, accustomed to misleading [2608] half-truths, but this is too important a question to play around with as a kitten plays with a ball. It may mean the difference between a really prosperous existence and a miserable existence for the people of this country. I believe no genuine nationalist back through the ages cares anything about a label. Labels were merely symbols of the desire of people for real freedom, freedom expressed through a democratic State. Fanatics, formulists and doctrinaires always cared more about phrases and labels than they did about real liberty.

The strength of any member of a family is his own individual strength, plus the strength of the other members. Heretofore we belonged to an international family, peopled by our own people, controlled to a very great extent by blood members of our own race, speaking a common language, having common ideals, with a high conception of things that are good for the world, that are right in the world, and, as one member of that family, we are the only member crippled by mutilation. Does the Taoiseach think that by the jettisoning or throwing overboard of the combined influence of all the other members we are going to heal the wound that we are suffering from at home? It is all very well to talk in a tricky way about a republic, about the Oxford Dictionary and Webster's Dictionary but he must have realised within 24 hours after that speech the amount of ammunition he supplied to the wildest Orangemen in the North of Ireland. Once we are a free democratic State I do not care about the label. If I were in the Taoiseach's position I would at least ensure, if I did not do any good, that I would refrain from doing any damage of an irreparable kind. In his waking up from a twilight sleep, from the anaesthesia that accompanied the birth of a republic which was not discovered until Webster's Dictionary did it, he found that a republic had been born eight years ago. Any playwright could write a humorous play about that but any serious playwright could write the opposite kind of play, when he would read how that speech was greedily used against Irish unity in the north of Ireland and how it was used against Ireland [2609] by the Press outside this country. There is where we want a little bit of stability, a little bit of responsibility, where we want people at the helm who will consider their words and not be playing politics all the time.

The second answer, we are told, is difficult. The leader of this Party, and Deputy Dillon and others, have demanded from the Taoiseach a simple, truthful answer as to what has occurred since 1937 to make our membership of the Commonwealth of Nations a question of doubt. It was clear to all at home and abroad in 1937, when that statement was issued, that we were still accepted and recognised as members. When there was a bit of a crisis in this country, real or artificial or imaginary, the Taoiseach was very glad to feel that his was not a little country standing alone. Has anything occurred since of which Parliament was not informed? Has the Taoiseach or his Government since taken any decision in secret and without the knowledge of Parliament? If so, we are no longer a democracy. No eight or 12 men, no matter what position they occupy, whether they be Deputies or Ministers, have the right to take any such action without the knowledge and the approval of Parliament. If no such decision was taken and if nothing has happened since 1937, where does the difficulty arise in answering a straightforward question in a straightforward manner?

The world has become, in recent years, a hard and serious world, a world where there is no place for quibblers and a world in which nations led by quibblers can expect nothing but disaster. How can any one of us think that the unity of the country will be brought nearer or the trench of Partition shallowed by that kind of ambiguity and evasion? Does not the Taoiseach know, if he is a realist at all, that, whatever hope there is of securing the unity of this country, it will only be achieved with the aid of other members of the Commonwealth and within the Commonwealth of Nations? If any real Irishman had to choose between a united Ireland, a member of that Commonwealth, and a dismembered Ireland calling herself a [2610] republic and living her life as a dismembered, isolated little fragment, he would have no hesitation in arriving at his decision and making his choice. Yet, we have this quibbling, this evasion; we have this half-reading of documents and we have, in discussing this subject, silence from the Minister for External Affairs with regard to Partition—silence as shameful as it is damaging. When this debate is read by people of influence, whether for or against our aims, and when they see that the head of the Irish Government, in dealing with this particular subject, does not consider it even worth while to mention Partition, to outline how he proposes to end it or to suggest how Webster is going to do it, and that he does not say how our position of sulking either inside or outside the Commonwealth is going to effect our big, national aim, what will they say?

Can anybody realise the significance that will be attached to that silence? Why had we that silence? Because the question would be asked, if the subject of Partition were raised, whether this new definition of our status, secured from Webster, was going to bring that goal nearer or push it off farther, or whether the Taoiseach dreamt, even in his wildest dreams, that there was ever going to be national, territorial unity outside the Commonwealth of Nations.

The people in any Parliament are entitled to know where they are being led and the people outside that Parliament are entitled to know where they are going. We are not such a mean race that we are not entitled to an answer. If the Taoiseach thinks that he is leading in the right direction, he need not be ashamed to say where he is leading, and why. If the Taoiseach thinks that there is anything anti-national, humiliating or nationally bad in membership of the Commonwealth of Nations, he knows enough of our constitutional position to be aware that there is no power in the world to keep us there if we ourselves desire to pull out, that we are as free to go as the birds in the air. If he considers it a bad business to belong there, let him declare himself, let him tell us that it is his policy to pull out. But, in doing so, there will [2611] be an obligation on him to show us how he proposes to better our position by doing that.

When there was another Government here, the Taoiseach and his Ministers never lost the opportunity of a parliamentary debate and never lost the opportunity of a week-end in the country to denounce that Government which was in office for a bare, few troublesome years because they had not ended Partition. That Government was in office for a bare ten years. With all kinds of trouble and with all kinds of problems, with the whole structure of the State to be laid down, with a sense of law and order having to be driven into the minds of people who now hold responsible positions, with the Civil Service, the Army and the Judiciary having to be built up and with the country's position, nationally and internationally, having to be defined and recognition secured for it from the rest of the world—with all that work to do, inside a bare decade, the Taoiseach never lost an opportunity of denouncing that Government because they had not ended Partition. Thirteen years ago, with a majority that no other Premier ever enjoyed, the Taoiseach took over responsibility for the running of this State. He got on all international questions not only the strength of the majority behind him but the added strength of every group and every Party in this House, and he had no building to do. He had merely to carry on. At the end of 13 years, he has nothing to say about Partition except “So be it”.

Cannot anyone see the speed with which we are going backwards, because we have not courage enough to use the instruments that are at our hand, because we prefer to sulk in squalid isolation rather than play our part and take our place in the greatest group of nations the world has ever seen? It is easy enough to trample and spit on the graves of those who went before us. There was some reference made in the debate to what that Commonwealth of Nations was 22 years ago, what it is to-day, and the part that Irishmen, members of an Irish Government, Deputies of this House, played in [2612] changing completely the whole conception, in mind and in words, of what that Commonwealth should be. At one time it was a group of subordinate nations held together by the might, the domination and the strength of one— one mighty nation, acting for all. It was Irishmen who gave courage and pride to representatives of other Commonwealth countries. By impressing on others the strength, the dignity and the righteousness of the stand taken by these Irish representatives, little by little, one by one, the others were won over to the side of the Irishmen and what began as a family dominated by one, controlled by one, one acting for all, ended up as a group where no one was superior to the other and no one inferior to the other, where the combined strength and the combined resources of all were there available for each.

They went further than that. Having dealt with political matters these Irish representatives said: “Now we have dealt with the political matters; we have laid down the basis of our family life, the principle that we are all equal, that one of us can go to war and the others remain out, that the whole lot except one can go to war and that even that one can take the opposite side.” When they reached that stage they said: “Now that we have the political constitutional side attended to, what about the business side? We are a family; we must help one another first and help the outsider afterwards”. Little by little they began to build up what was known as Imperial preference under which the Irish farmer sold his goods, not under penalties but at a distinct advantage, a distinct preference as against other non-Commonwealth competitors in the British market. While that was applied to certain articles at one time, it was intended step by step to apply it to all articles. All that is thrown away. Prosperity does not matter; trade does not matter; international intercourse does not matter. We are too busy looking up Webster's dictionaries. Partition does not matter.

Any realist there is sitting behind the Taoiseach or elsewhere must have felt as humiliated to-day as I did. [2613] Any sincere nationalist who reads the statement made to-day by the head of the Government who has ransacked the bookshelves to find out exactly what kind of Government he is head of, will hang his head in shame. Anybody inside or outside this Assembly, that takes seriously the division and mutilation of our country and genuinely desires the re-unification of this country will clearly understand the damage that has been done to the hopes of nationalists by the Taoiseach in the last week or so. But we are told now, at least according to Webster, that we are a republic, that we elect the head of the State but that every foreign representative that is being sent from any country into this country presents his credentials to the King and that every Irish representative that is going from here to represent the Government in any capital in the world carries his documents accrediting to that country by and from the King. We have two heads apparently to this peculiar Webster's republic—an elected head here inside the State and a crowned King as the head outside the State.

Let us come down to brass tacks. There was blood shed for an Irish republic away down through the ages, and an Irish republic, whatever it may be, should not be treated as a joke. An Irish republic, be it bad or good for us, must be taken seriously. There can be no doubts left whether we are a republic or not, if we repeal the External Relations Act which makes the King the head of the State for the purpose of representatives going from and coming to this country. There can be no doubt as to whether we are a republic or not if, having done that, this Assembly declares that we are a republic—not Webster, but Dáil Éireann acting on behalf of the Irish republic. If the Taoiseach believes that a republic is good, that it is the best thing for this country, he can do that within a week. There is no necessity for quibbling, no necessity for Webster. If he considers it is not a good thing, not in the best interests of Ireland as I do, then leave things as they are. I am not either afraid or ashamed to say what I believe in and what I stand for, irrespective of [2614] who disagrees with me or agrees with me, or irrespective of whether it is popular or unpopular.

Does the Taoiseach believe that our present position is bad? If so, why does he continue to have it bad? The same applies to the Commonwealth. I believe intensely, sincerely and genuinely that membership of the Commonwealth interferes to no extent whatsoever with our freedom, our sovereignty or our independence, judged from any angle. I believe further that membership of the Commonwealth is giving us greatly increased strength, greatly enhanced prospects, that we can become something nationally and internationally by using sensibly, persistently and continuously the strength and the advantages that that membership gives us. That is what I believe in, and so I ask: what does the Taoiseach believe in? Does he believe that membership is bad for us? If so, why does he not declare that it is his policy to get out? If he believes there is something to be gained from membership, why then can he not stand up as head of the Government and say: “I believe membership of the Commonwealth is a good thing, a valuable thing, and an instrument which can be worked in the interests of the Irish people”?

In opening this debate, the Taoiseach dodged behind Webster. In closing this debate, we ask him to stand on his own legs, to tell us exactly whether it is his intention, so far as he can direct things, to retain that membership of the Commonwealth, and that if he considers it a good thing to do, he will retain it. If he considers it bad, he has to give some justification for retaining in any shape or form, or leaving any doubt as to why this country should continue to remain as member of an assembly which his Government and his Party consider is either bad for the country or nationally degrading.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan The vast majority of our people for the past week or so have been eagerly awaiting a statement from the Taoiseach on the republic. He has made a statement to-day which I think is the worst [2615] we have ever heard. Anybody with a drop of blood in his veins, anybody anxiously awaiting the day when we will have a republic in this country, would be inclined to leave the House and not to return on hearing the hypocritical statement made here by the Taoiseach to-day. I listened patiently to Deputy Dillon, and while I say and hold that Deputy Dillon is the greatest hypocrite in this House. I am convinced that the Taoiseach is the greatest traitor this country has ever had.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy Personal abuse adds nothing to the debate. The debate, so far, has been on a level worthy of a deliberative Assembly. Keep it on that level.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan I am sure that when republicans throughout the country read in the morning's papers the explanation given here, they will be very disheartened and discontented. I am further sure that Mr. de Valera——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy The Taoiseach.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan ——that the Taoiseach knows quite well the feelings of the vast majority of our people on this question of great importance. When the Taoiseach was giving us extracts from every dictionary his Department could lay hands on for the last ten days, he also gave us some quotations from the Constitution. Surely every Deputy knows something about the Constitution. We know that while the Taoiseach read certain sections to-day, the Taoiseach did not read a very important section. He did not read for us Article 44 of the Constitution which sets out that the State recognises the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens, or Section 3 of the same Article which says:

“The State also recognises the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland, as well as the Jewish Congregations and the other religious denominations existing [2616] in Ireland at the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution.”

I submit that the Taoiseach and his Government under the Constitution recognise the Roman Church as the Church of this State, that they believe in the God who died on the Cross for us. Yet the same Government under the same Taoiseach recognises the Jewish Congregation which believes in the Redeemer to come. How can they recognise both right and wrong?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy Will the Deputy resume his seat? It is not permissible in discussing Estimates to discuss the merits of any Act of Parliament, of any Statute. A fortiori, it is not permissible to debate the Constitution or the Articles thereof, and the Deputy is quite out of order in his remarks. They have no bearing whatever on this debate.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan The Taoiseach says we are a republic, according to Webster's or the Oxford Dictionary. If we are a republic or if we are an independent State, is it not our duty to look after the interests of our nationals abroad when they are in difficulties? Is it not our duty to take appropriate steps in the event of any of our nationals abroad being in serious difficulties, such as William Joyce at the moment, who claims to be of Irish descent, who was born in one of the Twenty-Six Counties within the last 40 years. William Joyce claims that he is an Irish citizen and has no allegiance to the British King. I hold that if we are an independent State or if we are a republic, it is our duty to see that our nationals abroad are fairly and justly treated, and it is up to the Government of the Irish republic, if there is such a Government, to see that counsel is briefed in all cases where our nationals abroad are in danger. Has the Taoiseach any statement to make so far as that is concerned, and not alone on that particular case, but in the case of the Irish people who were charged in respect of the Coventry explosions— one of them a constituent of mine, the late Peter Barnes, who was executed?

If we are a republic to-day in the [2617] eyes of the Taoiseach under the present Constitution, we were a republic eight years ago. Why did he not take the action that should be taken if we were a republic for the past eight years? What has been secret about the position that it is only after eight years we can be told that this is a republic? I say, as one republican— and I have had republican ideals since I left school—let the Taoiseach use any dictionary, any book or any authority he likes to say that this country is a republic, and I will say it is not a republic and could not be a republic. Surely the Taoiseach does not think that the people's elbows have contracted to such an extent that they are going to let that up their sleeves?

No one believes for one moment that this country is a republic. The Taoiseach in his heart knows that it is not a republic, and could not be a republic while England controls the country's finances and while England controls six of our counties. England has no more right to the six counties which she controls at present than, as the Taoiseach said over Radio Eireann, we have to six of the counties of Southern England, or any other country either. Derry, Armagh and Fermanagh belong to the Irish people, just the same as Waterford, Tipperary and Clare, and if this is a republic, having been brought into the world within the last few days, the republic that the Taoiseach fought for in Boland's Mills, with the great heroes, the 77 or 78 he has behind him, the republic they told the people about at every general election, they will have very little to tell them from now on.

No one with intelligence, or no one outside Grangegorman Mental Hospital, can believe the Taoiseach when he says this country is a republic. We have our own views as to what a republic is. My view of a republic is this: that our country must be free, from north to south, from the centre to the sea, not only politically, but financially and economically. That is what I call a republic. The republic that the Taoiseach tells us about here this evening is what I call a King George republic, because Deputy O'Higgins, who represents the same constituency as I do, told us here a [2618] moment ago that the King has a certain control and authority over this republic. Am I not right, then, in entitling our present Fianna Fáil republic a “King George republic”, or, in order to make use of a polite expression, I might refer to it as a royal republic?

Surely to goodness the Government responsible for the birth of this new republic are not serious when they use the expression “a republic”. I would not be one bit surprised if every Irish patriot who gave his heart's blood for the freedom and independence of his country, I would not be surprised if the men of Easter week, yes, and Wolfe Tone, turned in their graves when the Taoiseach mentions a republic, because the republic that the Taoiseach mentions is not the republic that the Irish people want. It is not the republic that he was fighting for before he got his big job, and the same applies to the Party behind him. It is not the republic for which the men of Easter Week fought.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy If the Deputy cannot refrain from personalities he will have to resume his seat. Personal abuse is not argument.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan The financial agreement of 1938 gives the British Federation of Manufacturers and Wholesalers, who, I might say, are all Jews, complete control over all our industrial——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy That is a matter for the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and was discussed on his Vote. It does not arise here.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan We are one of the grandest and oldest nations in the world, and I think it is about time that the present Government realised their responsibilities to the people. Since I became a member of this House in 1943 every question addressed to the Taoiseach got the most crooked type of reply he could possibly give. The reply to Deputy Dillon——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy It has nothing to do with this Vote.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan The reply to Deputy Dillon——

[2619]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy The Deputy will have to resume his seat if he persists in irrelevancies and abuse.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan The reply to Deputy Dillon——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy The Deputy will desist from speaking.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan I cannot speak?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy No—for persisting in irregularities.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan I insist that I have a right to proceed with my address.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy Deputy Donnellan.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan I object to your ruling.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy The Deputy may object, but he will have to obey or retire from the House.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan If I submit to your ruling, I may carry on with my address?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy The Deputy is not complying with the ruling unless he resumes his seat. Deputy Donnellan.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan With all respect to your ruling, the truth is bitter, and I am going to proceed to speak on this question of a republic.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy Zoom on Frank Fahy The Deputy will retire from the House for the remainder of this day's session.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan It is only five minutes. I may as well carry on. I insist—

Proceedings of the Committee suspended.


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