Wednesday, 24 November 1948
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. In moving this motion, Sir, it would be the merest hypocrisy on my part if I did not give expression in public to the feelings of pride which animate me in being privileged to sponsor this Bill and recommend it to the Dáil for acceptance. Equally, however, it would be quite unworthy if I did not express my feelings of deep humility as I approach the discharge of the duty which I have to fulfil. Those sentiments of humility are genuinely and sincerely felt, and arise from the certain realisation and knowledge that there are on every side of this House people far more worthy, who have merited far more than I have, to fulfil the privilege accorded to me by the turn of events.
This Bill which I am introducing and recommending for acceptance to the House is not a Bill merely to repeal a particular statute which has caused much discussion and considerable controversy. It is a Bill which, when enacted, will have consequences which will mark it as a measure ending an epoch and beginning what I hope will be a new and brighter epoch for the people of this country. This Bill will end, and end forever, in a simple, clear and unequivocal way this country's long and tragic association with the institution of the British Crown and will make it manifest beyond equivocation or subtlety that the national and international status of this country is that of an independent republic. It is necessary for me to state what I believe to be the effect of this Bill as clearly and as emphatically as possible so that there can be no arguments in the future, no misunderstandings, no suggestions that lurking around the political structure of this State there is some remnant or residue of that old  institution and that politicians might be able to seize upon that for their own purposes, for the purposes of votecatching or for the purposes of evoking again the anti-British feeling which has been such fruitful ground on which politicians have played for many years past. While it is necessary for me to make as clear as words can make it what we intend and believe to be the purpose and effect of this Bill, it is equally necessary for me to emphasise with equal clarity and force that this measure is not designed nor was it conceived in any spirit of hostility to the British people or to the institution of the British Crown. Least of all is there any notion of hostility to the person who now occupies the throne in England, who has carried out his duties with efficiency and dignity, whose illness we regret and whose recovery we hope will be speedy.
Again, I want to emphasise that this Bill was not conceived nor is it brought into this House in a mood of flamboyant patriotism or aggressive nationalism, nor in a spirit of irresponsible isolationism nor with any desire or intention in any way to dislocate or interrupt the delicate mechanism of that community of nations known as the Commonwealth of Nations with which, in one shape or another, we have had some associations over the last quarter of a century. This Bill, as I want to state—and to restate, if necessary—is a constructive proposal, and not one intended to be destructive or to have any centrifugal effect upon another nation or nations, and particularly those nations that form the Commonwealth of Nations. It is recommended to this Dáil for what it is and what it is intended to be and what I believe it to be; it is recommended as an instrument of domestic peace, of national unity and of international concord and goodwill. We have—and it is hardly necessary for me to say it—had rather too much in the last 25 years of constitutional law and constitutional lawyers. For 25 years, we have arid futile and unending discussions as to the nature and character of our constitutional position and our constitutional and international relations with Great  Britain, with the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations and with other foreign nations of the comity of nations. It is hoped that this Bill will put an end to these arid and futile discussions, and make our international and constitutional position clear beyond all ambiguity and beyond all argument.
It will be necessary for me in the course of the remarks that I have to make in dealing with this Bill to refer critically to the effect of certain measures that have been passed in the years gone by and to suggest the possible effects and repercussions that they may have had upon our constitutional position. I do not intend in the course of my discussions or observations on this measure to enter upon those discussions or observations in a spirit of argument or to press that this or that view is the correct one. What I hope to do is to show that by reason of the legislation of the past 25 years, we have now reached a position which justifies the enactment of this Bill now before the Dáil. I do sincerely desire that the discussion on this measure will neither lead to nor be led into a competition of claims between this Party or that Party, this person or that person as to the part one or other played or did not play in the national events and policies of the past quarter of a century. While I am desirous that that above all should be avoided, I am equally desirous that my object shall be achieved; and I want to say here at the outset that it is my ambition that that object will be achieved. Anything I have to say cannot be regarded as and is not intended to be a justification or apologia or indictment of any Party and, least of all, a personal justification of my own policies or my own past.
I would like in the course of this discussion if acknowledgment were made and recognition given to all Parties and to all persons who each, in whatever measure, contributed a quota or even a mite towards the common cause in the national advancement. We have had, as I indicated, too many constitutional lawyers and too many constitutional discussions and too many occasions for these arid constitutional arguments. We have as a  consequence been too long occupied, divided and frustrated by fruitless and useless controversy and, therefore, I do not want to make this occasion an occasion of further bickering and further controversy, particularly when this Bill was conceived with the primary purpose, as I shall explain later on, and the compelling motives in my mind and in the minds of my colleagues, of bringing unity here in this country and particularly in this part of our country amongst those sections of our people that have hitherto been divided and of putting an end to the bitterness and personalities which have poisoned the stream of our national life-blood during the past 25 years.
In that spirit I approach the task that I have to fulfil, and I do earnestly ask Deputies to follow that headline which I have set for myself and which I hope and trust I shall follow. I earnestly ask Deputies, in the course of the observations I have to make— which, I am afraid, will have to be rather lengthy—to give me the indulgence of their charity if I should, either by word or phrase, stray beyond the bounds of those limits that I have set myself.
This Bill burns no bridges leading either to national unity or to closer friendship with the people of our neighbouring country, Great Britain. It places no obstacle in the way of the progress which we hope to make towards both those goals. I have said, and I want to repeat it again, because I am addressing here to-day not merely the audience that is immediately listening to me but to a wider audience, that not merely is this measure intended to be a Bill to promote domestic peace and harmony, but it is a measure designed to achieve and one which we believe will achieve a greater measure of friendship and goodwill than has ever existed in the long and tragic association between Great Britain and Ireland. We want to increase that friendship and that goodwill. This Bill is not a mere expression of nationalistic egoism or isolationism. We are a small nation and we require friends. It is only, as we believe, by goodwill and friendship  and fellowship and the recognition of our mutual rights and the appreciation of our reciprocal interests that that measure of goodwill and friendship which we wish to achieve shall be achieved.
Doubtless, there have been in the past few weeks some efforts made to bedevil the situation which we are considering here to-day. The dying embers of reaction and imperialism sent forth a few flickering flames in an effort to light the fires of turmoil and class hatred and hatred between the two peoples and between sections of our peoples here in Ireland. I am glad to say here to-day that those efforts have failed; I am glad to say that the fears and apprehensions that were aroused by that poisonous and malicious propaganda can be allayed and be calmed.
It will, I am convinced, when this measure has passed this House, still more when it becomes law, be apparent to the people of this country and to the people in every country that is watching us here now and that has watched us for the last few weeks that, as a result of this, this country will be able to take its place, without equivocation, without argument, without subtlety, without having to apologise, explain or discuss, as one of the independent nations of the earth, able to do its part and to contribute its quota to the maintenance of peace and the solution of the international problems that face each nation in the world to-day.
Let me say a few more words about our relations with Great Britain. I believe that as a result of this measure, our relationship with that country will be far closer and far better, and will be put upon a better and firmer foundation than it ever has been before. Deputies and those interested will only have to look in retrospect upon the history of this country during the past 25 or 26 years to see that every step made in advance towards the development and the recognition of our national and international sovereignty brought with it, between Great Britain and this country, an additional measure of good feeling and goodwill.
It is a sobering thought that  many people who are now in the flower of their manhood and womanhood were not born on the 6th December, 1921, when the Treaty was signed. Many of those do not know anything about the history of the previous years, and the conflicts that took place between this country and Great Britain, but whatever people may think of that Treaty of the 6th December, 1921, at least it can be now said in retrospect that it did play its part in bringing about closer relationship and an end of the centuries old feud between the peoples of these two neighbouring islands.
For ten long years those people who undertook the duty and the task of honouring the signatures to the Treaty walked the via dolorosa of those bitter years, the details of which I do not intend to recall, but at the end of those ten years, when the efforts of the representatives of this country at imperial conferences and international gatherings had borne their fruit, those developments had brought us to the point where we had achieved for this country international recognition as one of the sovereign countries of the world, and we had swept away all the old dead wood of British constitutional theory that lay or appeared to lie in the path of constitutional progress. All those contacts and those controversies that took place both at the imperial conferences and at the international gatherings at which this country was represented, where the efforts of the representatives of this country were directed towards getting complete international recognition for the country and achieving complete freedom for the institutions that were set up under the Treaty, gave their contribution to the goodwill that grew up in spite of all the difficulties and trials of those times between the peoples of these two islands.
After 1932, when the first Government of this State was succeeded by another Government with a different policy, a Government that carried out different Acts, carried out a different policy, as the years went on they too expressed their desire and, be it said, achieved their purpose to some considerable extent of bringing together still more closely the relationships  between Great Britain and Ireland and the peoples of these two neighbouring islands. With the Removal of the Oath Act, with the enactment of the Constitution of 1937, with the handing back of the ports, with the recognition of our neutrality during the war, all these things contributed their quota in bringing about the end of those old feuds and bitternesses that divided the peoples of these two islands for centuries.
This measure, in my view, and I recommend it to the Dáil as such, is not merely the logical outcome but the inevitable result of a peaceful political evolution that has gone on here in this country over the past 25 years. During those years we have had close association, some bond of one kind or another, between each of the States and nations forming what is now known as the Commonwealth of Nations. There has been a recognition that this country of ours is a mother country, a country with a spiritual empire beyond the seas and there has grown up, I believe, from my own experience, and particularly from the experiences which I had in Canada during my visit within the last few months, between those nations and this old nation of ours an abundant goodwill and fellow-feeling and an intense desire that we should prosper and go the road that our own people wish to walk.
For reasons which I think are cogent it would be unthinkable for us, by the action which this Bill proposes to take, to go further away from those nations with which we have had such long and, I think, such fruitful association in the past 25 or 26 years. Great Britain, of course, is the dominant partner in that association. Nothing that can be done by this measure will in any way be a retrograde step in our relations with that country. Our people pass freely from here to England. We have trade and commerce of mutual benefit to each other. We have somewhat the same pattern of life, somewhat the same respect for democratic principles and institutions. The English language in our Constitution is recognised as the second official language of this nation. But we have still stronger ties than even those. Our missionary priests,  nuns and brothers have gone to England and have brought the faith there, and are giving no inadequate contribution to the spiritual uplift which is so necessary in the atheistic atmosphere of the world to-day. We have our teachers there, lay and religious; we have our doctors and professional men there; we have our working men and our craftsmen and our girls who have gone over to earn a living there. All these things would, in normal circumstances, bring about and create and necessitate a feeling of fellowship and goodwill between our two countries. There is no reason why that should not continue. There is no reason why we should not get rid of all these causes of friction which have kept us apart for so many years. This Bill gets rid of one cause of friction and leaves only one to be removed, Partition.
With Canada, this country has been associated for centuries. I saw in Canada the memorials erected by the people of Quebec to the victims of the typhus brought on the ships that came there carrying our emigrants to Canada in 1848, a century ago. These French people in the province of Quebec, and the Irish people there who were the descendants of the Irish who went in that time to the province of Quebec, showed me, when I was there as the representative of this nation, an affection, and more than an affection, a measure of goodwill which it would be impossible for me to express here, but which I am endeavouring to express in order that our people may recognise it and may appreciate the feelings that unite us with Canada. It is not necessary for me to refer to the part played by Irish people in the building up of federation and the creation of democratic institutions in Canada and to the feelings of sympathy we have and had during all the years when the Canadian nation was fighting for and ultimately achieving full nationhood. Nothing could exceed the sympathy and sympathetic understanding of that great statesman, Mr. Mackenzie King, in our problems, our desires and our ideals when they were explained to him on my visit there a few months ago. I want to pay him, on behalf, I hope,  of all Deputies in this House and all sections of the Irish people, a tribute for his sympathy and understanding and to express our gratitude for what he and his Cabinet and all Canadians did for us in the past 25 years. What he did, his deputy and present successor, Mr. St. Laurent, did for us during the talks in Chequers and Paris a few weeks ago. Mr. Pearson gave us the same sympathy and understanding and support as his former chief, Prime Minister King, gave us so often in critical times in the past few years.
From Australia, we got the same support and the same sympathetic understanding, and I want to put on record here to-day our gratitude and thanks to Dr. Evatt for his sympathy, understanding and help, particularly in the past few weeks.
Although I mention Mr. Peter Fraser, Prime Minister of New Zealand, last, it is by no means least that I give him the tribute of our gratitude and respect for his sympathy and understanding of our point of view, of our wishes and of our ideals.
With South Africa we have not had the same close association as we had with Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but we have this tie at least—if it can be called a tie—that we looked with admiration and respect and gave whatever support we could give to the efforts of the South Africans to achieve their independence nearly 50 years ago. That admiration was increased by the fact that some Irishmen, headed by the father of the present Minister for External Affairs, fought and helped the Boers in their struggle during that period, and all the time when we were working at these imperial conferences the representatives of South Africa came step by step with us in our efforts to achieve the constitutional victories which we ultimately achieved and which were not achieved in any easy way.
I mention this now to-day for the purpose of making it known to the House that it would have been not merely unthinkable but impossible for us or any Irish Government to take a step which would jeopardise our relations  with these great nations who have such sympathy and understanding and such friendship for our own country. We felt, when we were taking this step, whatever malicious propaganda may have said and whatever lies may have been uttered about us, that we could rely upon their support, and that, with the smallest goodwill from all those nations, any problems that arose out of our action here could be solved, as they were in fact solved and as they have been solved, with goodwill. We will emerge from this House, when this Bill has passed, an independent nation stronger than ever we were and with closer associations with Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Great Britain, as an independent republic in such a way as we could not have done it had this measure not been brought into force.
I have also to ask your indulgence, Sir, to go back a little into the past, very briefly, I hope, or as briefly as I can. I have stated here, or, if I have not done so, I wish to state now that I have found an unexpected abundance of goodwill towards this country from practically every nation in the world with which we have contact, but particularly from those nations to which I have specifically referred. I have even found the existence in Northern Ireland of goodwill towards us, and there are people in England and elsewhere, people who are friendly to us, people who wish us well, not those people who are affected by the malicious and poisonous propaganda of an inspired Press during the past few weeks, but people who wish us well, who are troubled by what we are doing, who are perplexed, and who feel that they had done nothing, so to speak, to deserve this in present circumstances and they ask these questions. These are the questions which I propose to answer here to-day. It may involve me in trespassing upon the patience of Deputies for rather an undue length of time, but they are questions which should be answered and which must be answered.
Why are we doing this? Why are we doing this now? Why are we leaving the Commonwealth of Nations? Why are we breaking the last tenuous  link with the Crown? To these people to whom I address myself here to-day, people of goodwill, people who are entitled to an answer, I have already addressed the words with which I opened my remarks—that so far from having any feelings of hostility towards Great Britain, the British Crown, or the British people, we want to clear away from our past, the past of this country, all obstacles which are a hindrance to the greater and freer development of good relations between our two countries. Many of those people who are asking these questions and bona fide looking for information upon them, do not know anything at all, or practically anything, about the history of this country or its relationship with Great Britain in the years gone by. They know none of the details of the tragic story of British and Irish relationships. I suppose it is true to say that the vast majority of the British people who are looking now at us and wondering why we are doing this, have not the remotest idea or the smallest conception of the wrongs that were inflicted by their own nation upon this country and the people of this country in the centuries gone by. It is because they are asking for information, wanting to be convinced and genuinely anxious to understand our point of view, that I must take a little time in endeavouring to answer the questions to which I have referred.
In answering these questions, it will be necessary for me to say some hard things about the British Crown and the British people, but those who wish to hear or to read my remarks will take them in the context in which they are uttered and the spirit in which I am making them, as I have to recall those past events or to pass in review some of the tragic circumstances or considerations, in order that those people may know and understand why it has been impossible for this country permanently to accept the institution of the Crown as one of our Irish institutions. Again I want to ask those people, the people of goodwill to whom I am addressing myself, not to be misled by the ignorant, ill-formed, malicious and poisonous propaganda that has been spread by some sections  of the Press in the last few weeks, nor to let those sections of the Press twist my remarks, turn them into anything in the nature of an endeavour, on my part or on the part of my colleagues or those who support us, to create anti-British feeling or to give another twist to the lion's tail. I want those people to be informed and, being informed, to appreciate and understand and sympathise with our ideals and our aspirations and accept as genuine our efforts towards the promotion of an ever-increasing goodwill between our two countries.
This Bill, as I have said at the outset, will close the long and tragic story of the relations between our two countries based upon an acceptance of the institution of the Crown in such a way as to make it certain that there can be no misconception or ambiguity. We hope that, after this Bill is passed, it will open a new era in our relationships and while one tragic chapter is closed a newer and brighter one will be opened in our international record, in the record between Great Britain and this country. During the whole course of that long-sustained struggle for political, civil and religious liberty, the Irish people never lost the consciousness that they are not and never were a British people, that they were a race, an Irish race, with the distinctive nationality, a distinctive language, an ancient culture all their own. It is impossible for a people who for centuries had fought for and been denied those four essential freedoms of which President Roosevelt spoke and of which it is now so popular to speak—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want—to associate those ideas, those four freedoms, with the constitutional forms and ideals of the British common law, with the forms and ideas of the British conquerors. Those conquerors persistently refused those freedoms to the Irish people.
That phrase summarises our whole attitude. We could never accept, no matter what our views may have been or may be, as Irishmen, the Crown as a badge of freedom. To the minds of a lot of people, of most Irish people— I would almost say, all Irish people— because of our instincts and our tradition and our history, the institution of the Crown has been regarded as a badge of servitude and those instincts can never be eradicated from the tradition and the blood of any Irishman.
I mentioned some of the considerations which bore in upon our people and made it impossible for us to regard the Crown as a badge of freedom. In the course of the remarks that I will make later on, I will have to refer to the symbol of the Crown as it was stated to be in the Statute of Westminster and the symbol of free association, but may I here in this context say this, that those of us who worked in the Imperial Conferences of 1926, 1929 and 1930 to clear away all those real or apparent obstacles to freedom for our Legislature or for this country in its international relations, endeavoured to create the situation where that old instinctive feeling of the Crown being the symbol of servitude would be accepted by our people as the symbol of free association, and that they regarded it as nothing else but a symbol.
Having achieved our purpose of getting it stated in the most solemn way that it was a symbol of freedom, a symbol of association, then our effort was to make the position clear in that way to our own people and so to try to reconcile them, at least for a time, to the institution of the British Crown. But no people can be expected willingly and permanently to accept as part of their political institutions the symbol of the British Crown, when fidelity to the Catholic faith, the faith of the vast majority of our Irish people, was throughout the years regarded as disaffection and disloyalty to the British Crown, when love of country became treason to the British Crown, when  every attempt to secure personal rights and national liberty was deemed rebellion against the Crown, when entry into the humble homes of Irishmen, to arrest them as a prelude to their gibbeting or shooting, was demanded in the name of the King. Crown rent, quit rent and rack rents were demanded in the King's name. The evictions carried out during the land war were carried out to enforce the King's writ. The prosecutions against our patriots, against those who fought in the land war, were carried out by His Majesty's attorneys and sentences were passed by His Majesty's judges. Many of us remember during the days of our childhood, not being taught, but having it almost instinctively in our minds and in our blood, that the harp beneath the crown was the symbol of servitude and that the harp without the crown was the symbol of freedom.
I have mentioned those matters for the purpose of addressing those people who have asked these questions: “Why cannot we reconcile ourselves to the symbol that the various nationalities comprised in the Canadian nation can reconcile themselves to, and when South Africa, with its various population, can reconcile itself to that symbol?” Those are the reasons. Those are the reasons why this Bill became inevitable. Those are the reasons why it was difficult and eventually impossible to get permanent acceptance for the institutions founded upon the British common law which were implicit in the Treaty signed on the 6th December, 1921. Those institutions were of a kind which were not acceptable to our common people. They did not grow up, as they grew up in the various countries which formed the Commonwealth of Nations, and particularly in Great Britain, as part of an inevitable growth and a natural growth. This country was never given an opportunity to develop its own institutions, its own political structure in an Irish way or in a native fashion.
The Treaty was accepted by those who put their signatures to it, and those who subsequently undertook to carry it out, with a full realisation of the difficulties confronting them by  reason of the practical impossibility of getting the Irish people to realise the true meaning of what was stated in the Treaty—the law, practice and Constitutional usage of Canada in relation to the Crown. May I, a Chinn Chomhairle, very shortly recall three passages which will give the headline and explain the philosophy of those who recommended that Treaty and those who subsequently carried it out, in view of the misrepresentations that have been made in the last few weeks about some of us who are sponsoring this measure here to-day? Arthur Griffith in the Treaty debates of the 7th January, 1922, as reported at page 337, column 2, of the debates said:—
“I do not recommend it for more than it is. Equally I do not recommend it for less than it is. In my opinion, it gives us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all nations desire and develop to, but the freedom to achieve it.”
“I hardly hope that within the terms of this Treaty there lies the fulfilment of Ireland's destiny but I hope and believe that with the disappearance of old passions and distrusts, fostered by centuries of persecution and desperate resistance, what remains may be won by agreement and by peaceful political evolution.”
In 1932 the work that had to be done in connection with our constitutional development, the effort to have recognised that we were a completely independent  sovereign State within the community of nations then known as the Commonwealth of Nations, had been achieved. The Statute of Westminster was enacted, I think, on the 11th December, 1931. There was no longer any doubt that each Parliament was fully sovereign, that each people within that Commonwealth of Nations was a complete national entity in the fullest sense of the term, and that there was no fetter or bond of any kind upon our Ministers or the Ministers who were carrying out the affairs of this country or the affairs of any country in that Commonwealth. Every act of a British Minister was taken away from this country and it was made perfectly clear that the Crown and the institution of the Crown, which was all the time recognised only as a symbol, and never in the sentimental or personal way in which the British people, the Canadian people or some other peoples had accepted it, had formed a symbol of our freedom, a symbol of free association and not a symbol of servitude. That is what we worked for.
Fortunately, or unfortunately—it is a matter of opinion—a change of Government occurred. I only mention that fact for the purpose of stating that the work that had been carried on in those years was hard work, difficult work, work that was not always facilitated by British officials and by British lawyers and by British statesmen. It was not finally completed, but was very near completion. The change of Government occurred and the new Government had different policies. Then, the subsequent Government introduced the Statute, the Constitution (Removal of the Oath) Act, 1933. There is no doubt that that oath was the cause of bitter strife, personal feuds and antagonisms, aggressive action of a kind that has left its mark upon this nation even to the present day. There is equally no doubt that that Bill was passed with the consent and approval of a majority of the Irish people. For passing that Act, whatever credit they claim or is due to them, I give it freely to that Government. For the subsequent actions that  they took, equally, I acknowledge whatever credit they are entitled to and is due to them.
It is not necessary for me to go through all the constitutional amendments that took place in the following few years. I want, in passing, and to make it clear, to put upon record this point before I deal with the real matters that I have to deal with in this discussion, that when the oath had been removed, when the Treaty had been taken away off the Statute Book of this country, when the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, had been passed, when the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the Constitution, removing out of the original Constitution of this State all reference to the King, the Crown, or the representatives of the Crown, had been passed and when the Constitution of 1937 had been enacted and had come into force, to use the words of Deputy de Valera, then the Taoiseach, “The Treaty of 1921 was sped.” I quote from the Dáil debates, Volume 71, columns 419 to 420. “That Treaty is sped. It is finished.” Those who carried on the work from 1932 onwards, to honour the signatures of the men who signed the Treaty recommended to the Irish people, felt themselves under an obligation, so long as that Treaty was in force, to honour the words and the bonds of those who had signed the Treaty. That is the explanation of the opposition here in this House to the Removal of the Oath Bill and the other measures. Once the British Government and the British people by their actions, express or implied, accepted, as they did in fact accept, the taking away of the Treaty from the Statute Book of this country, the removal of the oath, the taking away of the King out of the Constitution, the enactment of a new Constitution of 1937 where the King was not mentioned, once that was accepted by the other party to the Treaty, those who were under an obligation to maintain that Treaty were released.
I come now to the discussion of the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936. Now, as I said at the outset, I am not going to argue in this  House which view of the various views that can be advanced as to the meaning, purpose or effect of that statute and subsequent measures is the correct one. I want merely to direct attention, again speaking to those people who want to know why we are doing this and why we are doing it now, to the fact that this statute and all the subsequent measures that followed it have given rise to a controversy—I hope I will be pardoned for saying, a barren and futile controversy—as to what its effect was and what our national and international status was or is following the passing of that Act, following the passing of the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the original Constitution, following the passing of the other statutes and, particularly, following the enactment of the Constitution of 1937.
As I have said, people have been asking, “Why are you leaving the Commonwealth? Why break the last link with the Crown?” I want to show the confusion that exists and has existed in this country since 1936 without, as I say, taking up the part even of an advocate for one point of view or another and certainly without expressing any opinion, except in places where I feel I am bound to express an opinion, on any particular point.
What I want merely to direct attention to is this, that the passing of that statute and of the subsequent enactments has led to what I call a barren and futile controversy, even a disreputable conflict and unending arguments as to whether we were in or out of the Commonwealth, what is the meaning of being associated with the Commonwealth, whether we are a Republic, whether the President of Ireland created under the Constitution is the head of our State or whether the King designated in the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, is recognised as our King here for any purpose. That unfortunate organ, as it is called in the Constitution, the British Crown and the King, has fulfilled many roles in this country. It has fulfilled a role for those who have that sentiment and that feeling of loyalty to the British Crown which their position or faith or their upbringing has inspired within them. It has represented for us, for Irishmen, for  the majority of Irishmen, as, at best, merely a symbol and always until recent years a symbol of subjection not of freedom.
It was stated in this Statute of Westminister that it was a symbol of free association, a symbol of freedom. The King was used in the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act of 1936 as an organ, as an instrument, was used, if I may quote an expression of a point of view put forward, probably, I think, by the legal adviser of the Party opposite, as the statutory agent of the Irish Government for the purpose of carrying out the functions designated in the Act. Statutory agent, whatever he was, whatever he is, that Act has been a cause of futile and arid and embittered discussion ever since. Are we or are we not a member of the Commonwealth? I did not wish to express my own personal point of view on this and I do so now solely because of the fact that a few months ago in answer to Deputy Cowan I did not express my own personal point of view on that. I express it here and now. We were not since 1936 a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. I spoke on that Bill—or rather it would be more correct to say that I spoke in anticipation of this measure, the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, when the 27th amendment was going on Friday afternoon through this Dáil. I want your indulgence, a Leas-Chinn Comhairle, to quote some of the remarks I made on that occasion, again because of the misrepresentations that have been rife during the last few weeks. In Volume 64, column 1295, I stated this as my opinion then:—
“If this Bill becomes law in the form in which it stands at the present moment there will be no head of this State in this country for internal affairs. It is said by the President that we must get rid of the King from the Constitution, that he must no longer act in the symbolic capacity in which he did act in internal affairs, entirely on the advice of the Executive Council as a piece of harmless machinery. It is said that that must be got rid of, but he is to continue to act as head of our State for external  purposes. That is the provision in the second Bill, so that we are to have this extraordinary and ludicrous position—a state of affairs which will make us the laughing stock of international jurists throughout the world —that for one purpose we have no head of this State and for another purpose we have a foreign King as the head of our State. What sort of a State is that at all? What sort of political monstrosity is it that we are creating by this Bill?”
“Instead of having a symbol which we had reduced to the symbol of our freedom, a symbol which could not act except on the advice of the representatives of the Irish people, and in accordance with every wish and, in every detail, in accordance with the wishes of the Irish people, that is swept away by this Bill which we are asked to pass, and some new principle is substituted which is called the symbol of co-operation. I do not know what that means. The crown was never the symbol of our co-operation. There was a principle of consultation and co-operation, but that was not the symbol of our co-operation.”
“I do not care what the position is going to be from a constitutional point of view, provided we know definitely where we stand. I can understand the position, constitutionally and internationally, of this country being a member, a full, recognised, decent member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I can understand a decent declaration of a republic. But I cannot understand the indecency which is being perpetrated on this country by this Bill. I do not know into what political  pigeon-hole we are going to be put when this Bill is law, but whether we are in the Commonwealth of Nations, whether we are a republic, or whether we are neither one thing nor the other—a State unknown hitherto in political theory—I want at least that it should be definite, so that the ordinary person's rights in this country in his ordinary affairs should be clearly defined and ascertained.”
That is the position I took up at that time. When this Bill becomes law the position will be created where we will have a definite Constitutional position, a definite decision as to where we stand nationally and internationally. Adumbrated in that Bill were the questions: Are we or are we not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations? To that there has been, I think, until we came into office in this country nothing in the nature of a definite answer given, except by the other members of the Commonwealth who said when the Constitution of 1937 was enacted that they did not regard it—perhaps I had better give the exact phrase—in a statement issued by the British Government on the 29th December, 1937, it was stated —I am only quoting portion of it:—
“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 Éire or Ireland, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”
The British Government at that time stated that they were prepared to treat the new Constitution as not effecting a fundamental alteration of the position of this country as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It would appear from the objections made at that time by the then President of the Executive Council, Deputy de Valera, that his view at that time of the passing of the measure, the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, was that this country would continue to be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. That gave rise to a controversy  begun in 1936 and not yet ended.
The other matter I referred to— had we a head of our State or had we not—has also given rise to controversy. I know that Deputy de Valera took up a strong position and had the strong conviction that the President of Ireland was the head of the State but that was controverted. I am not saying which is right although I have my own point of view, my very strong point of view as a constitutional lawyer. The former Taoiseach, however, took the point of view that the President of Ireland was the head of this State.
But look at the position which arose in that respect by reason of the provisions in the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, providing for the position of the Crown. I do not intend to go in detail into this Act or to criticise it in the manner in which it could be criticised from my viewpoint. Under this Act the King was recognised for certain limited specified purposes. That was the intention, at all events. I do not want to go over that controversy again as to whether, when the 27th Amendment took the name of the King and the representative of the Crown out of the Constitution, there was some sort of king hanging round the place still or whether in a State which was declared by the the 1937 Act, which was passed subsequently to meet these criticisms, fully effected its purpose. I do, however, want to underline this again merely to show the position of argument and doubt that we have been in ever since.
The British stated that they would not regard this Bill as fundamentally affecting our membership of the Commonwealth of Nations. Foreign countries were not going and, I am sure, do not go into the constitutional subtleties on which our case was founded. Under this Act of 1936 the test that I applied to myself when I was asking: “Who is the head of this State? What can people say about us when we have here a President of Ireland in a republican Constitution and in a State which was declared by the Government at that time to be a republic?” was: “What will foreign jurists say when they find that a  foreign King, an outside organ, was the organ who was King in this Act of 1936 to enter into a Heads of State Treaty?” I want to mention that as one of these fundamental matters that cause confusion and difficulty in international affairs when foreign jurists saw that foreign representatives were accredited to this country through the medium of this organ of the King.
It is true that under this Statute it was not necessary, in law at all events or under the provisions of this Act, to accredit our representatives abroad through the medium of the King or this organ of the Crown, although I think that in fact that organ was used in recent years to accredit our representatives from here abroad. Under this Act it was not necessary, because this Act only deals with the accrediting of representatives to countries abroad by us; is was a one-way traffic. Foreign jurists are not going into these constitutional subtleties we had to put forward to justify our position. They found that that was the position as regards what was known in international law as the right of Legation, that that right was exercised through the organ or medium of the Crown and that when we were accrediting representatives to them the Crown was used. It is true that it was permissive. It is true that the provisions of the Act were merely permissive. Nevertheless, that was the practice and what affected my mind most in this whole affair when this matter was tested by putting a question: “If there were a Heads of State Treaty between Ireland and a foreign country who would be the party to that?” The King?
That was one matter of controversy. I know that Deputy de Valera had a strong view on this. Equally, I know there were strong arguments to the contrary and, equally, I know also that we had always, in order to try to keep up, as we did try to do, the standpoint that was being put forward that this country was an independent republican State with the King outside it—whatever it meant—to be arguing and asserting, always keeping our end up, always trying to assert ourselves, putting ourselves in that matter, from one point of view at all events, in the position  of trying to keep up an elaborate make-believe on that point.
In the Dáil debates of the 20th June, 1947, the question was put: “Who is our head of State?” Mr. McGilligan was speaking at the time and, as reported in Volume 106, column 2323. Mr. McGilligan said:—
“With regard to the Constitution, I have often queried whether or not we had an individual known as the head of the State. The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs is so bemused about the situation that he thinks the President is the head of the State. He told me so in a recent debate. I do not think he would claim that he is that. If we had a head of State in this country——
As regards the question: were we a member of the Commonwealth of Nations or not?—that was a matter of acute controversy also. On the 11th July, 1945, as reported in Volume 97 of the Dáil Debates, column 2116, on the Estimate for the Department of the Taoiseach, Mr. Dillon raised the point as follows:—
“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.”
So that nine years after the passing of the External Relations Act of 1936 the material necessary for a conclusive answer as to whether we were or were not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations was not available. I look then to the Act itself to find out can we get any material on which to answer that question. I find that in Section 3 the word used is “associated.” I am not able to find any satisfactory answer as to what form of association we had with that community of nations since 1936, but I do know that there is a careful avoidance in the Act of 1936 of the statement that we are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Act says:
“It is hereby declared and enacted that, so long as Saorstát Éireann is associated with the following nations (and then they are set out) ... 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.... for the purposes of the appointment of diplomatic and consular representatives——”
The Imperial Conference report  of 1926 for the first time purported to define the relations between the various members of the Commonwealth of Nations. It preceded by some five years the declaration of the Statute of Westminister. This is what was said about co-operation: “Free co-operation is its instrument ... and every Dominion is now, and must always remain, the sole judge of the nature and extent of its co-operation.” It is absurd to put on the face of that statute a statement that the Crown was the symbol—the instrument of free co-operation.
We have not been able to find out or to get a specific answer to that question, whether we were or were not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The matter was referred to again in the Dáil Debates of last year, Volume 107, column 86. The date is the 24th June, 1947. The then Taoiseach said towards the end:—
“I did not say that we are in the Commonwealth. I carefully pointed out that if being in the Commonwealth implied in any way allegiance or acceptance of the British King as King here, we are not in the Commonwealth because the position here is that we do not accept either of those things.”
Having regard to all those questions and answers, I do not know whether or not anybody can answer the question whether or not we were in the Commonwealth. Further on, at column 87, the Taoiseach said:—
 Nearly two years before that, Deputy de Valera, who was then Taoiseach, said—on the 17th July, 1945—that the materials were not available for the purpose of answering that question. In 1947 he said first that he did not say we were or were not: “I did not say that we are in the Commonwealth”. Then he stated specifically, as far as he could be specific, that: “We are not at the present time regarded as members of it, but we are regarded as associates.” Deputy Morrissey again intervened and asked: “Does that mean we are inside or outside?”, and the Taoiseach replied:—
“It means that we are external to the British Commonwealth so long as the States in it regard the acceptance of allegiance to the King as the necessary link. If that is the bond which they have, we have not that bond and we have made it quite clear that we have not that bond.”
Now, I do not know in that state of discussion what lawyer, however erudite he might be in constitutional or international law, could state specifically whether we were inside or outside the Commonwealth, whether we were in or out.
Let me again give a few more of these matters that arose or appeared to arise and that give colour to the extraordinary confusion that has subsisted in consequence of the enactments to which I have referred.
Let me summarise. The Crown is stated in the Act of 1936 to be a symbol of co-operation and not free association as is said in the Statute of Westminster. The co-operation was merely the instrument by which the members of the Commonwealth of Nations carried on consultations with each other. The extent of their co-operation was a matter for themselves. The formalities in connection with the issue of Full Powers to negotiate and sign treaties are ignored in the Act. The statutory provisions deal only with the appointment and not the reception of diplomatic representatives. That statute was, I think, a measure, which, from the point of view of a British person having sentimental or other affections or loyalties in connection with the Crown, would regard as  derogatory to the dignity of the Crown —called a statutory agent to be used only for specific purposes, and not, as has been said recently, by apparently an authoritative legal opinion on the part of the Party opposite, a recognition of the King as King. It introduced confusion and ambiguity into our relations with other States and gave the country a status which defied definition. It was a measure which reflected neither dignity nor advantage upon ourselves or the institution which is used as an organ. It associated the British Crown with our constitutional and legislative machinery in a manner as likely to be hurtful to the national pride of any sensitive Englishman as it was ignominious to ourselves. It, for the first time in all our history, provided in the statute law of Ireland for the law of succession to the Crown.
I have, so far as I can, just dealt with these matters as quickly as I could. As a matter of fact I could go into greater detail. That was the position until the change of Government. Then I was faced with the penetrating questions of Deputy Cowan last July and August. He put down a question on the 5th August, 1948, asking me if I would state on what date, in what circumstances, and by what authority Ireland became associated with the group of nations known as the Commonwealth of Nations—and I did the best I could with that answer, carefully keeping my legal eye on the very words of the statute and the words of the Constitution and, I may say now, I walked very warily. Deputy Cowan came along on the 28th July last and he asked me if I would state when and under what circumstances Ireland ceased to be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Again I did the best I could. The result of all these questions and the discussion which took place between the questions, I think on the 21st July on the debate of the Estimate for the Minister for External Affairs, was that both the Minister and myself, having to come down one way or the other, finally came down on the line that we were not a member of the we Commonwealth of Nations—that we were what we were described as  being by a combination of the Act of 1936 and Article 5 of the Constitution. The matter was debated on the Estimate for the Department of External Affairs and Deputy de Valera gave his quota of information to this somewhat vexed question. The matter finally came to a head without going into details on the Estimate, if I might put it that way, in the adjournment debate which took place on the 6th August, 1948. In column 2424 of the debate of the 6th August, 1948, Volume 112, No. 13, Deputy de Valera said:
“I say then, if we are looking ahead either to the solution of Partition or to any question of our external relations, the point from which we start at this moment is— that we are an independent republic —or as stated in the Constitution, a sovereign independent democratic State, which, in this instance, is a republic, and that we are associated with the States of the British Commonwealth in the peculiar form in which we are associated, that is, as an external associate.”
“If the present Administration wants to do that—(that is, get rid of the External Relations Act)—they will not find any opposition over here. I should have liked to have had in the past, in reference to a number of things I had to do, an Opposition that would deal with me in that spirit. I think the good that might be done by the Act has been counter-balanced by the mischief of the propaganda that has been carried on in regard to it. Can we now stand here on this, that we are a republic, and that if anybody says that we are not, then I am quite prepared to do anything myself—and I am sure that I speak for every member of the Party—”
“I feel perfectly sure that there is not a single member of our Party who will vote against any measure that is brought into this House to  clear up any doubts or difficulty that might be in that regard....
My view is one I believe that will stand. If, however, there is anybody on the other side, members of the Government, or other members who are able to influence the Government, if there is anything necessary to make sure that the present position is that we are a republic—and that we are not a member of the British Commonwealth—
Apparently, then, as a result of all that we had reached the point where everybody said we were not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. That is the answer to those who are asking us why we are leaving the Commonwealth of Nations. We are not leaving it because we left it long ago. In my view we left it in 1936. These remarks that I have quoted here from various debates are available in the Official Debates and anybody can make up his own mind on that. It is fundamental for those people who are asking that question to consider at least that there is doubt and confusion and that different points of view are held from time to time on that particular and perhaps very vital question. Was that a link with the Crown? Again, those who say that we, by this Bill, are cutting the last link with the Crown—what sort of a link was it? You can make up your mind on that. A link made by a rubber stamp; a link that was regarded by us in this country as confined to limited purposes. However, what was it regarded as outside? My experience has reinforced the view that I have always held, that the British and other foreign countries did not enter into our constitutional subtleties at all but shrugged their shoulders and said: “Oh, the King is there. We are not going to find out or consider how far he is there or what he is there for” and he was regarded as being there all the time. If those were the only reasons which impelled us to bring in this measure they would be cogent and conclusive reasons but they are not merely the only reasons, they are not even the principal reasons why this Bill  has been brought in. Those reasons for the repeal of that measure have existed for some years.
There is no doubt that the irritation and confusion that has been caused by these apparent controversial and legalistic arguments have been accumulating over the years. Some time or another I believe that those reasons alone would have coerced this Government or any other Government to get rid of the situation and the confusion that has been caused by it. As I say, those are not the principal reasons; they are merely supplementary reasons which induced my colleagues and me to bring this measure here at this time and in these circumstances for the approval of the Dáil.
I said at the outset of my remarks that this Bill was recommended as an instrument of domestic peace and international concord and goodwill. What induced me and what induced my colleagues to bring in this measure at this time was the firm purpose of bringing about in this country, so far as we could, an end to that bitterness that has existed in the last 27 years. That is the dominant reason why I have introduced this measure and why my colleagues have backed me in my request that this Bill should be brought in. I could have poured scorn upon the situation and the confusion that existed as a result of that absurd Act in 1936 and the constitutional provisions. But I do not want to base my case for this Bill upon that. I put this Bill to the Dáil and, through the Dáil, to the people, particularly to that section of the people who have a regard for the Crown and a sentimental affection for it and who may think that we are now doing something which will endanger their position or put an end to that association of sentiment and affection which they have for the Crown. I want such people to understand the real reason that coerced both myself and my colleagues into bringing in this Bill.
In February of this year conditions altered completely and absolutely in the entire political sphere of this country. I do not wish to intrude my own personal position into this debate. Everybody knows that I came in reluctantly as head of this Government. I  came in on two particular bases. One was that I was selected by all the Parties who form the inter-Party Government as one who was remote from the bitterness and controversy of the civil war and of the first 25 years of this State. They believed that I could be regarded as being some way apart from all that. The purpose that induced me to take the position which I now occupy was to put an end, so far as I could by my own personal efforts or anything that I could do while I remained head of this Government, to that personal bitterness and to take the gun out of Irish politics and bring about unity and domestic concord in our lives. That is the reason for this Bill so far as I am concerned. I want every man and woman in this country to know that and, knowing it, to appreciate it. I want to do all in my power to bring peace to this country and to put an end to that bitterness that was born of the civil war and bring about a position where there shall be no necessity for guns or gunning and where we shall get some symbol around which our people can rally, a symbol which will take its place here in this country similar to that position occupied by the Crown in England and Canada and Australia and New Zealand. That symbol is the ideal of the republic. That is why I asked for this Bill because its result will be to give us a rallying point around which all sections of our people can unite to end the bitterness and personal animosity and sometimes bloody feuds of the last 27 or 28 years. It was because of our sincere conviction that we would be able to achieve that desired and desirable result that before I went to Canada last August we decided upon this Bill. That was our reason. I was forced by no person into introducing this Bill. I came to my own conclusions in this matter because I sincerely believed that it was my duty to do that which I was put in this position to do —namely, to put an end to the bitterness and conflict between sections of our people and give them some symbol around which they could unite without discord or disunity.
I want Deputies, the citizens of this State and the peoples abroad to know.  that those are the compelling motives coercing me into coming into this Dáil and recommending this measure to the House. Those were the reasons that I gave to Mr. Mackenzie King in Ottawa in September last. I have lived through the years from 1922 to 1932 and from 1932 to 1948. It has been my lot to assist at the birth of two Constitutions of this State. It has been my misfortune, if I may put it that way, during the six years when I was Attorney-General, to devise and put into operation here measures which were and which were admitted to be oppressive in order to try to combat acts of violence of one kind or another, many of which acts were committed by people in the sincere conviction that what they were doing was right and for the benefit of the country. That was the time when the then Government had to bring in the Public Safety Act and Article 2A of the Constitution providing for the Constitution (Special Powers) Tribunal and for the internment of people without trial and for all sorts of paraphernalia of extra-legal jurisdiction which tended to bring into disrepute the ordinary processes of law and which prevented the first Government from doing what they wanted to do in teaching the Irish people that they had at last achieved an Irish Legislature and that their courts were Irish courts administering Irish law. I took no pleasure in carrying out the functions thrust upon me at that time. But the experience that I had then left its mark upon me. I went into opposition in this House and back to my own profession. Then from 1932 to 1948 I was on the other side of the road. I was defending people who were being prosecuted before the Special Powers Tribunal and who were being pursued by the then Government, perfectly properly, for acts of violence. The then Government were forced to use those very methods of extra legal jurisdiction to which they had objected so violently in the years from 1922 to 1948.
All through the history of this State from 1922 onwards we have had recurring cycles of violence and repression. We have had one Party with a majority  of the people behind it charged with a duty of enforcing law and with the distasteful task of putting Irishmen into jail, of executing Irishmen and of shooting Irishmen because of ideals in which those Irishmen believed. That is a problem which has confronted any Government taking office in this country in the past and charged with the duty of maintaining law and order over the last 26 years. I was determined that never again would I take any part in a Government that had to enforce order by extra-judicial processes. I never will. From February of this year there has existed throughout this country from north to south and from east to west a measure of peace, concord and goodwill between every section of our community—such a measure of peace, concord and goodwill as has not existed in this country for the past 50 years. I want that situation to continue. This Bill is designed to do that. I ask for the verdict of this House on that. I do not ask for a verdict upon the legal subtleties and constitutional arguments to which I have referred. I ask for the verdict of this House and the verdict of that section of our people who are known as the “Protestant Minority” whereby that effort, that ideal and that hope of mine and my colleagues will be achieved. I ask for a verdict on this measure which will put an end to violence, bring into being domestic peace and concord amongst Irishmen so that never again will an Irish Government have to execute an Irishmen because he wants a republic and because he takes illegal methods to achieve it. We are going to put an end to that here once and for all. From that stage then this Government, this Dáil, or any other Government or any future Dáil can move forward towards a solution of the remaining political problem that we have—the partition of our country.
At an early stage to-day I referred to the fact that there were meetings in Chequers and in Paris between representatives of this Government, representatives of the British Government, and representatives of the Governments of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, who was  present at these meetings, will give you such account as is necessary with regard to those meetings. I am merely giving you the result. I have said already that when we were taking this step we believed that we would create no problems, legal or political, which a fraction of the goodwill we ourselves had for Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, would not solve and which we had good reason to expect would be given in return and that we are justified in that belief.
These sections of the Press which were spreading their poison throughout this country during the past few weeks raised the bogey that we had not considered what we were going to do when we decided upon this Bill, that we had no notion of the awful difficulties we were going to land the country into; they told us that this country would be a foreign country, that our people were to be aliens in England and that we were going to be deprived of the preferences which, if you please, Great Britain was giving to us. I always understood that the fight which has gone on here for 700 years had as its express object to make us aliens in England, to assert our Irish nationality, and if I could achieve the purpose which my colleagues and myself hope and believe will be achieved by this Bill, of bringing peace and concord and unity here, then neither King nor Empire nor Commonwealth, nor the fact that there are little bits of inconvenience caused by having a passport instead of a permit or a residence permit instead of a free passage will deflect us from our resolve to continue with this measure in the interests of peace, concord and unity in our own country. Not even the question of preferences or trade rights would have done it and, as regards that bogey preached through the newspapers to cause uneasiness and unrest among the decent people who are anxious to support us and have goodwill towards us, it is a matter of profound satisfaction to us to be able to snap our fingers in their villainous faces and tell them that we have succeeded where they said we would have failed.
We will have our Irish nationality,  and from 1926, when the representatives of the last Government were fighting the constitutional battle of this country in Great Britain—in 1926, 1929 and 1930 —we asserted, and never let up on it, our right to have a separate Irish nationality. Never at any stage did we admit we were British subjects or that we had anything other than the nationality born to us and handed down to us by our forefathers. We will still have that when this Bill goes through; we will have it in a better way than we had it before.
Deputies are perhaps familiar, to some extent at least, with the difficulties that have arisen between this country and Great Britain during the last 20 years on the subject of nationality. We have our own Nationality and Citizenship Act, but throughout all that time the British people and legislature have insisted upon regarding us as British subjects and so far we have been unable to deal with British or Commonwealth subjects by means of the appropriate provisions of our Nationality Act. The appropriate provisions are those contained in Section 23 of our Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1935, which provides that where a country grants to our citizens certain rights we may grant to their citizens like rights in our country. Inasmuch as Irish citizenship was not recognised in Britain, the provisions of Section 23 were inapplicable and various devices had to be adopted to afford British and Commonwealth subjects the rights which they enjoyed and which we intend to continue. Reciprocity is, of course, the basis of all exchanges of citizenship and trade preference rights. Accordingly, we propose, as and when the Commonwealth countries grant our citizens recognition and rights, to make Orders provisionally under Section 23 (2) giving their citizens comparable rights.
At a later stage—but in the near future, I hope—it is the Government's intention to review our whole nationality law and to bring before the Dáil a comprehensive measure to rectify many of the anomalies that exist under the Act of 1935. In the new Bill provisions will be made to ensure that Commonwealth citizens shall be afforded rights comparable to those  afforded our citizens in the Commonwealth of Nations.
There is one thing I should like to make clear to our friends in Britain and the Commonwealth generally. It is that after the passage of this Bill we will continue, provided they so desire, the exchange of citizenship rights and privileges. Ireland does not now, and when the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act of 1936 is repealed, does not intend to regard their citizens as “foreigners” or their countries as “foreign” countries. Throughout, the position of the Irish Government is that while Ireland is not a member of the Commonwealth, it recognises and confirms the existence of a specially close relationship arising not only from ties of friendship and kinship but from traditional and longestablished economic, social and trade relations, based on common interest with the nations that form the Commonwealth of Nations. This exchange of rights and privileges, which it is our firm desire and intention to maintain and strengthen, in our view constitutes a special relationship which negatives the view that other countries could raise valid objections on the ground that Ireland should be treated as a “foreign” country by Britain and the Commonwealth countries for the purpose of this exchange of rights and privileges.
These are the considerations which we put forward to Britain and the Commonwealth countries. We found that they on their part were equally determined not to regard the passage of this Bill as placing Ireland in the category of “foreign” countries or our citizens in the category of “foreigners”, but were prepared to continue the exchange of citizenship and trade preference rights. Accordingly, the factual exchange of rights that has existed hitherto will continue unimpaired. By reason of the fact that we have eliminated from this exchange controversial forms we may reasonably hope that a greater spirit of goodwill and co-operation will actuate this factual relationship.
I have given the reasons for this Bill and what will be the results of this Bill, and I hope that those people who  tried to foment disunion amongst sections of this country, the Protestant section and the rest of them will make amends for their efforts to poison the relationships between the Catholic section of this country and our Protestant people. That Protestant section of our country has played a great part and has a great part to play in the future of this country, and I think it is a shame that any effort should be made by any person whatever his position may be to foment disturbance between the Catholics and the Protestants of this country. They have their part to play here and when this Bill has become law they will find that the position, so far from being in any way impaired, will be very considerably improved.
I have given an account, a very short account because I could spend quite a time on the subject, of the subtleties and controversial constitutionalities that arose out of this External Relations Act of 1936. I have explained my real reason and when this Bill has passed, I at all events will not have to face what I thought I would have to face from February to July. When Deputy Cowan was putting down his questions to me as to whether we were a republic or not and whether we were a member of the Commonwealth of Nations or not, and when these things were being discussed, I foresaw that there was an unending vista of barren controversy facing us and I must admit that I recoiled from the prospect of a constitutional Purgatory, wherein I should spend an indefinite period of my time in perilous pirouetting on constitutional pin-points. We are going to put an end to that, but we are going to do more.
I repeat that I believe that we are going to lay upon the passing of this Bill a foundation upon which unity and peace and domestic concord will be built and that we can move from that without the distractions which have so long affected our work here in connection with the problems we have to face and can work for the solution of our economic, financial and social problems without having these perpetual constitutional arguments impeding our progress and barring our path in our  efforts to better the lot of our people, and to give them an increased standard of living and such a measure of material prosperity as is within the designs of God's Providence. I have given, I hope, cogent reasons for the passage of this Bill.
What about Partition? What about its effect on Partition? When this Bill has passed, every section of this community in Ireland, every section of the Irish people, can unite with all their energies directed and not distracted towards a solution of this last political problem. When we have passed this Bill into law, we will have removed one of the two remaining causes of friction between this country and Great Britain. We will have given that further contribution of goodwill towards the betterment of our relations. We can have a complete measure of goodwill with the ending of Partition.
A foul Press campaign was engineered, why we do not know, to the effect that one of the awful effects of this Bill if passed into law would be to end for ever and make impossible any hope of achieving the unity of our country. The External Relations Act has, however, been on the Statute Book of this country for 11 years. Neither during that period nor in the previous years, has a single approach been made or a single friendly gesture advanced by the Government of Northern Ireland towards any Government of this State with a view to securing the union of our 32 counties. Why then should we continue the national indignity of perpetuating the External Relations Act in the vain and vague hope that our ambiguous constitutional status under that Act would prepare the way for co-operation from the Government of the six north-eastern counties of Ireland? Indeed, it is quite clear, that if that Act had remained on the Statute Book, friendly overtures by this Government or any Government in this part of the country to the Northern Ireland Government would still be opposed by the same cascade of scorn and derision as has been directed by the northern ruling classes towards every constructive suggestion from Irish leaders for the ending of Partition. The people  of this country and I think every Government of this country since 1922, have travelled far more than halfway along the road of conciliation with the Government of the six north-eastern counties and at no time and at no part of that road has there been even a friendly representative of that intractable ruling class of the six north-eastern counties. When northern spokesmen to-day and for the past few weeks shed, as they purported to shed, tears over our decision to break with the Crown, we are justified in questioning the sincerity of these men, these men who are the heirs of those who in the lifetime of many of us in this House endeavoured by a show of force to intimidate the British Government and threatened to discard the British Crown for the sceptre of a German Kaiser.
We are told by these spokesmen of the six north-eastern counties that this Bill will make it absolutely impossible to end Partition. They have said for 26 years that it is impossible and I do not know the difference between “impossible” and “absolutely impossible”; but I do know this that in the political and national dictionary of Ireland the word “impossible” does not occur because if it did occur, this nation would never have been free. If that word did occur, we would not have got to the position in which we are to-day. I repudiate that suggestion, that propaganda suggestion, that this will have any effect whatever. We are told that the passage of this repeal Bill, in the words of Sir Basil Brooke, as quoted in the Irish Independent of the 20th of this month, ends any faint hope which I or my colleagues “might have cherished that Northern Ireland will agree to renounce her position as an integral part of the United Kingdom and reunite herself with the Éire Republic.”“The Éire Republic”— that is a term that has been applied by the north-eastern Ministers of this country since 1936 or 1938 or thereabouts, since the time when the then Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, proclaimed that we were a republic, with the use of the King outside. That was what he called us at that time—an Éire Republic, a term of decision and scorn. Does that show any indication that this  External Relations Act, 1936, leaves any hope whatever—even such a faint hope as Sir Basil Brooke referred to in the speech from which I have quoted?
Now we know and can recognise and appreciate what political hostages Deputy de Valera and the members of his Party must have given to their political fortunes, to make use of this organ of the Crown. We can appreciate what it meant to them, with their republican attitude and what it must have meant in the derision and scorn that was poured upon them in the years gone by Deputy de Valera, two and a half years ago, made that offer or that statement regarding the six north-eastern counties of Ulster. In effect, it meant this: there is the statement, there is the External Relations Act and I am prepared to regard that as permanent, as a permanent arrangement, if it provides the unity for Ireland. Was there anything said in answer to that, for two and a half years? Was there any approach when this Government, representing as it does a cross-section of the Irish people, came into office last February, or from February to the present moment? Not a single approach. Our offers and our efforts were couched in more courteous terms than those of our predecessors, but we were laughed at— and we are not going to be held upon a string any longer. Let me say that I believe firmly that there is a growing feeling of goodwill towards us in the six north-eastern counties, where this ruling class is hanging on there with its class privileges and social and other conditions which no other country in the world would allow to continue. If they could pass from the political scene, good Irishmen and Irishwomen of goodwill on both sides  of the Border could be found to bring about a solution of this difficulty.
At all events, appreciating what it must have meant for the Leader of the Party opposite and its members to make that offer and to stand upon that position, as a permanent arrangement in the interests of removing Partition, I can say that the Act of 1936 which we are repealing, having been there for 11 years, and that offer having stood for two and half years, there is nothing but contumely and derision and scorn put upon it by the Ministers of the six north-eastern counties. It cannot be regarded as in any way an instrument by which the unity of Ireland can be achieved.
I do not have to give my view on the subject. I have the view of Sir Basil Brooke. This is what he says, in the same speech from which I have quoted, as reported in the Irish Independent of the 20th of this month:
“to move not an inch towards compromise with a people whose historical association and political loyalties are so different from our own, a people whose ultimate aim has been their renunciation of the Union Jack and Crown.”
There is the decision that was in force for many difficult years, according to Sir Basil Brooke. That is still in force, in spite of the External Relations Act, in spite of what Deputy de Valera said two and a half years ago—that if they came in under the provisions of this Act he would regard it as permanent. I have said, and I repeat, that I fully realise what that must have meant for that Party opposite, but no answering word of sympathy came even to that offer.
 Let us go back a bit. Men died in this country to maintain the position of the Crown here from 1922 to 1932. Those people who supported the Treaty during those ten difficult and trying years did so, not merely that the signatures of Collins and Griffith should be honoured, not merely that the word of the Irish people should be kept, but because they hoped that that instrument would be one by means of which the unity of Ireland could be achieved. There we had, under that instrument, the Treaty of 1921, the Crown in all its glory here in this country. We had it at the end of 1931 in the Statute of Westminster, declared to be the symbol of the free association of countries of the Commonwealth. That has been recognised by statesmen the world over. It had been a tremendous achievement. The crowning glory of that great community of nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, is that they can be His Majesty's Government in each of those countries and still be free. We had it there all that time. Men have died—Collins died, O'Higgins was murdered— because of it. Many men and women whose names are unknown and never will be known, humble people, lived in circumstances of poverty and in conditions of misery, because of the help that they gave to maintain that Treaty and to maintain the position under the Treaty, in the hope that thereby the unity of Ireland would be achieved.
During all that period of stress and strain, when scorn and derision was poured upon the people who upheld that Treaty and the instruments and institutions under the Treaty, when people hoped that it might lead ultimately to the unity of Ireland, there was never a sympathetic word, never a single approach—there was their unalterable decision, a decision reached 25 years ago—“not an inch”. Our people have died, our people have suffered and are living in misery, poor people, humble people. We know of the heroes, Collins and Griffith and all the others. There are many people in the Party to which I belong who, despite the derision and the scorn poured upon them by their political opponents, stuck to the Treaty and everything it stood for because they  hoped that one day it would enable them to bring about the unity of Ireland. Their loyalty to Collins and Griffith and their belief in the Treaty were founded on the hope that one day we would achieve the unity of Ireland. Nothing that has been done by any Government or any Party in this State since 1932 has in any way affected these people. Therefore we can say and assert that the passage of this measure will in no way impede our progress towards what is inevitable—the unity of our country.
While I am speaking here I want to say emphatically on this subject of Partition that I, and I believe my colleagues in the Government and those who support us, will still hold out the hand of friendship to the people of the northern counties who regard themselves as Irishmen and Irishwomen. We want to see the unity of our country, not for what we can get out of it, not for any material benefit, not that we want their factories or their industries but for the fact that we want to end this unnatural division between the Irish people, the Irish race. Look at what it would mean to us and to the peace-loving nations of the world if we could have the unity of our country. You have only to look at the map, or to ask any soldier to look at the map, to realise how the unity of Ireland would serve the cause of the maintenance of peace. Look at what it would mean to the cause of peace in this country; look at what a bulwark a united country would be to any menacing horde that might threaten the peace of the world. Look at what we could do with our millions scattered throughout the world in our contribution to the cause of peace if we had a united Ireland. Look at what it would mean if the millions of our race in America were satisfied that they had no longer to preoccupy themselves with our problems here at home, that there was no need for them to give us any further help in the solution of these problems, that Partition was ended and that we were satisfied. Look at what it would mean in the promotion of friendly relations between the United States and Great Britain. Look at what we could do with a small country but a country which has a large spiritual empire throughout the world. Look at  what we could do in international affairs, as a country that has no axe to grind, in bringing peoples and nations together who at the moment are suspicious of one another. European nations are suspicious of Great Britain at present. If we had a united Ireland so that we could live on terms of complete friendship with Great Britain, if we had the opportunities to enhance our prestige internationally, as our prestige has been enhanced by our Minister for External Affairs during the past seven or eight months, look at what it would mean towards the cause of peace and goodwill in the world. I ask people of goodwill in Northern Ireland to remember this, to forget the claims of privilege, to remember that we are all Irish people and, if I may use a homely phrase, that if we were united we could beat the world.
The last topic I have to deal with, apart from referring to one or two items in the Bill, is the charge that by taking this step we are adopting a policy which is referred to as a policy of isolation. I have dealt with that in the opening sentences of my statement here to-day. All the observations I have made use of lead to the one conclusion, that once we are enabled to take our place unambiguously amongst the free nations of the earth, as a free and independent Irish Republic, we can play our part and we will play our part. We shall, even pending the reintegration of our national territory, do the best we can to assist in the solution of the problems of the world. People may not perhaps agree, or fully agree with the aphorism of the late Tom Kettle when he said that to become Irish one must become more European but at least we can agree with another aphorism of his by slightly changing the context and say with him that a national policy—he was speaking of a national literature but I am adapting his words in this connection—that seeks to found itself in isolation can only produce the pale waxen growth of a plant isolated from the sunlight.
While Partition persists we cannot claim that Emmet's epitaph can be written in full but it can be claimed and I do claim that, under this Bill, the establishment of the Irish Republic  constitutes the most important step yet taken to enable Ireland to take its place among the nations of the earth. That we are taking that step to put ourselves right internationally, to free our constitutional and international status from ambiguity, can in no way connote unwillingness on our part to accept international responsibility, such international responsibility as devolves on every country to-day. We are not, as is suggested, looking inwards at ourselves instead of retaining contact with the Christian nations throughout the world. Our record in the last seven or eight months belies that allegation.
The clarification of our constitutional status achieved by the Bill will enable us to partake in international relations in a way that has not heretofore been possible. No other small country in the world has such ramifications internationally as Ireland has, as a great mother country. No other nation has sent forth so many exiles and no other exiles have retained, through good times and bad times, such unshakable devotion and loyalty to the mother country. It is therefore ridiculous and absurd to suggest that isolation would be the fate or the choice of a country which has so many ties with practically every other country on the face of the globe. At the moment there are 40 million people of Irish blood scattered throughout the world, each and every one of whom is at all times conscious that this small island is his or her spiritual home. Isolationism is absolutely impossible to a country connected by such links of spirit and sentiment with the countries of the earth.
Archbishop Cushing last September in Boston at a function given in my honour as a representative of this nation described Ireland as a nation that, in the Providence of Almighty God, has been chosen to extend the spiritual Kingdom of Christ to the ends of the earth, and that, like the grace of God, the Irish are everywhere and everywhere they go they do good. That is my answer to those people who charge us with isolationism.
We are a small country. Our material wealth is comparatively insignificant, and we have no acquisitive or imperialistic  ambitions. In our Constitution Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations, founded on international justice and morality. Though we are a small nation, we wield an influence in the world far in excess of what our mere physical size and the smallness of our population might warrant. We are sometimes accused of acting as if we were a big nation. But, in fact, we are a big nation. Our exiles have gone to practically every part of the world and have created for their motherland a spiritual dominion which more than compensates for her lack of size or material wealth. The Irish at home are only one section of a great race which has spread itself throughout the world, particularly in the great countries of North America and the Pacific area. More than ever to-day we conceive the need of the world for spiritual fortification when the dark forces of materialism are threatening the foundations on which the great Christian nations of the earth have endeavoured to build for their people peace and concord.
Before the American continent was discovered, Irishmen were bringing religion to the barbaric tribes of Eastern Europe and teaching philosophy in the Court of Charlemagne. St. Columcille brought tidings of Christianity to the Pict, the Briton and the Scandinavian. He laid the foundations of the great monastic citadel of Iona which was to become the source from which missionaries carried the faith to Britain and Iceland. St. Columbanus dedicated his life to spreading the faith in France, Switzerland and Italy, and students from every part of Europe were welcomed to the famous Irish seminaries and colleges. All our national instincts urge us to cooperate with democratic countries and our missionaries still labour in the darkest parts of the world.
Is that a country that is going to indulge, as a mere manifestation of nationalistic egoism, in this policy of isolationism? We have a task and a duty to fulfil. We are, as I said earlier to-night, a small nation, requiring friends in the world. Every small nation has need of friends and, above  all, has need for the maintenance of peace, and our duty and task is to contribute what we can and how we can to the maintenance of peace. We hope and pray God that there will never be another war in this world, so long as it can be avoided, but our task and our duty is to help to maintain peace and prevent war. This manifestation of our national desire and our national ideal is in no way inconsistent with our efforts and our duty to take our place amongst the nations of the earth.
There has been much talk in recent months about a United States of Europe and a united Europe. We can only have a united Europe on the basis of diversity of national institutions. Institutions which are satisfactory to and evoke the loyalties of our people—that is the kind of institution we are setting up here under this Bill, that will enable us to take our part in the international affairs of the world.
One of the great characteristics of European civilisation has been that it has been able to combine within itself at once cultural unity and political diversity. It is only on the solid basis of national or local patriotism that the lasting structure of a united Europe can be achieved and, therefore, what we are doing to-day is in strict conformity with the ideals of those who wish for a united Europe, for a union of people to maintain peace and in the cause of peace.
I have not brought Deputies down through the various sections of the Bill, as is usual on the Second Reading of a Bill. The Bill is a simple Bill but it has tremendous and, I believe and hope, very beneficial results. The first section repeals the External Relations Act. I have dealt fully with that. Section 2 provides: “It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland.” That section is so obviously necessary that it requires no advocacy on my part to commend it to the Dáil. Deputies will recall that under the Constitution the name of the State is Éire or, according to Article 4, the name of the State is Éire or, in the English language, Ireland. Now, this section does not purport, as it could not, to repeal the Constitution. There is the name  of the State and there is the description of the State. The name of the State is Ireland and the description of the State is the Republic of Ireland. That is the description of its constitutional and international status. Deputies are probably aware of the fact that tremendous confusion has been caused by the use of that word “Éire” in Article 4. By a misuse by malicious people of that word, “Éire”, they have identified it with the Twenty-Six Counties and not with the State that was set up under this Constitution of 1937.
In documents of a legal character, such as, for instance, policies of insurance, there is always difficulty in putting in what word one wants to describe the State referred to. Section 2 provides a solution for these difficulties, and those malicious newspapers who want to refer in derogatory tones to this country as “Éire” and who have coined these contemptuous adjectives about it, such as “Eireannish” and “Eirish”, and all the rest of it, will have to conform to the legal direction here in this Bill.
Section 2 does these subsidiary things but it does more than that. It does something fundamental. It declares to the world that when this Bill is passed this State is unequivocally a republic. It states that as something that cannot be controverted or argued about and we can rely, I think and I hope, on international courtesy to prevent in future this contemptuous reference to us and the name of our State being used for contemptuous purposes, as it has been, by some people and by some organs in the last few years.
Section 3 merely provides that the President, on the authority and on the advice of the Government, may exercise the executive power or any executive function of the State in or in connection with its external relations. We now, and we will under this clause and under this Bill, have clarified our international position. No longer will there be letters of credence sent furtively across to Buckingham Palace. Diplomatic representatives will be received by the President of Ireland, the head of the State. We now have the  unambiguous position that the President is head of the State and, if there are heads of State treaties to be entered into, if he goes abroad, he will go abroad as the head of this State, the head of the Republic of Ireland.
When this Bill is enacted there will be no reason for those fears, those apprehensions which have been so assiduously set abroad by the poisonous sections of the Press, but there will be certain difficulties though not of a major character. I can hardly call them difficulties because they are not difficulties but merely legal matters that have to be cleared up and which may necessitate legislation here perhaps or perhaps in Canada, Australia, or Great Britain and we must provide a time limit, a breathing space within which these matters of detail can be carried out in concord and agreement. There are no very important matters; they are matters of detail, legal technicalities, not matters of difficulty or controversy. They will take some little time. I cannot say how long it will take to have these details brought into operation and accordingly, however much we would like to see this Bill come into immediate operation, we will have to have a breathing space for the various Parliaments to settle up the details which require to be settled up. They are not matters of difficulty.
As I said before and now repeat, I recommend this Bill to the Dáil and ask for its unanimous acceptance by the Dáil. It will, I believe, if it is passed in a spirit of goodwill, if it is passed unanimously, do and achieve what its primary purpose hopes for; to bring peace here in this part of our country and by bringing this country well on to the international stage, by lifting this problem of Partition from the domestic arena and putting it on the international scene, give us not a faint hope but a clear prospect of bringing about the unity of Ireland.
I should like to say one more thing in conclusion. There have been sometimes smug, sometimes fearsome declarations  by British Ministers or British Governments that the problem of Partition is an Irish problem, that must be settled between Irishmen. That Pilate-like attitude can no longer be held by statesmen with the courage and decency to look facts in the face. This problem was created by an Act of the British Parliament, the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. It may be insisting on the obvious, but I have had occasion to insist very strongly on the obvious in recent months. That Act of 1920 was passed before the Treaty of 1921 and it is surprising how many people think that the Partition of our country was effected by the Treaty of 1921. The problem was created by the British Government and the British Parliament and it is for them to solve the problem. They cannot wash their hands of it and clear themselves of responsibility for it. The Act of 1920 is a very poor title for a claim which is not based upon morality and justice. The Government of the six north-eastern counties claim that and assert it by virtue of a majority, a statutorily created majority, a majority created deliberately under the Act of 1920 to coerce and keep within the bounds of their so-called State masses of our Catholic people and fellow Irishmen who do not want to be there. That Act of 1920 was put on the Statute Book and brought into operation without a single vote cast in its favour by any Irish representative in the British Parliament or without anybody North or South wanting it. Therefore the problem of undoing that wrong devolves upon the British Government. We are doing our part down here. We are doing our part by this Bill.
The whole basis of the case I make for this Bill is founded on goodwill, is founded on the end of bitterness. It is founded on a sincere desire to have greater goodwill with Great Britain. We hope through the creation of that goodwill, through fostering further goodwill, that that will help materially to induce the British Government and Great Britain to take a hand in the undoing of the wrong for which their predecessors were responsible in 1920. We believe that this Bill, by creating conditions  on which that goodwill can increase, will help towards the solution of the problem of Partition. We hold out, as I said here earlier to-day, the hand of friendship to the decent people of Northern Ireland and they can be assured if they come in here, end this great wrong and come into a unified Ireland, they will be doing good work for themselves, for the whole of Ireland and for that country to which they proclaim their intense loyalty, Great Britain, and the Commonwealth of Nations and be giving a lasting contribution to the peace of the world.
Dáil Éireann refuses to give a Second Reading to the Republic of Ireland Bill, 1948, believing that its enactment at this time would seriously impair the prospects of uniting the six counties of Northern Ireland with the rest of Ireland.
I will find it hard to follow immediately upon the Taoiseach, Mr. John Costello, whose career as a lawyer and as a statesman has earned for him the respect and admiration of the nation and indeed of very many other nations as well and whose wonderful three-hour exposition of the position as the Government see it has just concluded. My duty, however, to my constituents and many thousands of our countrymen and women north of the Border, south of the Border and abroad, encouraged me to place this motion on the agenda. In the first place, let me state that I do not think that after 26 years of an Irish Government we can be proud, or take any pride to-day in proclaiming a republic for only a portion of our country. I think that if we do so we will be making the removal of Partition much more difficult than ever it has been.
I had hoped that with the advent of the new Government last February we would have seen overtures made to our friends in Northern Ireland on the basis of the formation of a united Ireland. During the Taoiseach's long speech and his references to their failure to  approach our Government he did not tell us whether our Government had made any overtures to them. I believe that overtures to them, negotiations for the formation of a united Ireland—if necessary as a co-equal member of the Commonwealth of Nations—would ultimately meet with success. In my opinion, that will give satisfaction and protection to our people both at home and abroad. I recognise, of course, that the Taoiseach has spoken in favour of a republic for the Twenty-Six Counties. He has made a wonderful speech in favour of a Twenty-Six County republic. But I beg to differ with him on that. I beg to put the case that by declaring a Twenty-Six County republic now you are abandoning hope of declaring a 32-county republic.
Last week in Dublin we commemorated 1798. In the parades and the functions which were held special honour was given to contingents from the six occupied counties. Even still, the Arms of the six occupied counties and the Arms of Ulster hold an honoured place over the General Post Office in O'Connell Street, having remained there since last week. The six counties of the present partitioned Northern Ireland gave more than their share to the centuries of struggle for Irish freedom and for Irish unity. Throughout the centuries of struggle when the leaders declared that they would accept nothing less than a united Ireland, it was always 32 counties which we had envisaged and not 26 counties. The Constitution enacted in 1937 provides especially for the occasion when we hope Ireland will be united. Article 3 states:—
“Pending the reintegration of the national territory, and without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and Government established by this Constitution to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory, the laws enacted by that Parliament shall have the like area and extent of application as the laws of Sáorstat Éireann and the like extra-territorial effect.”
That is the position under the Constitution. As I said, all our greatest leaders always wanted a united Ireland of 32 counties and were never satisfied to take 26 counties, or 28 counties or 30 counties. It is my personal belief, a belief which I think is also strongly held by very many of our citizens, that rather than declaring a republic now we should take a step or two in the other direction, namely, towards conciliation with the North, always of course having in mind that, having a united Ireland, at a later stage a united Ireland is always free to step out of the Commonwealth and declare a republic for the whole of Ireland.
Even now I believe that we could make overtures and negotiate with our Northern Ireland friends and come to some arrangement whereby Ireland would be united and would still be a sovereign nation within the Commonwealth of Nations. I put forward this view having in mind the urgency of solving the Partition question and of bringing about a united Ireland. It may be that the step which the Taoiseach is asking the Dáil to take will ultimately bring about the unity of Ireland, but I have my doubts. I think the other way is the better way. I mentioned the urgency of the matter. Everybody knows that every day that passes new vested interests are created in the Border counties on both sides of the Border and that every day that passes makes the solution of the question of Partition more difficult. I repeat that I stand for a 32-county united Ireland.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There is a ruling that the seconder of an amendment  must speak when seconding the amendment. It is quite different in connection with the seconding of a motion. The seconder of a motion can reserve his right to speak later.
Mr. A. Byrne: I agreed with the putting down of this amendment on the Order Paper because I believe, with the Deputy who has just spoken, that, instead of bringing the settlement of the Partition question any nearer, the Government are pushing it further and further away by the introduction of this Bill. In that connection, may I say that, when the Taoiseach was so ably stating the case for the Bill for the country as a whole, I noticed that he referred to Deputy de Valera and said that Deputy de Valera made an offer to Northern Ireland when Taoiseach two and a half years ago and they did not accept it? I want to know what offer has the present Government made to Northern Ireland. The country had hoped when the new inter-Party Government was formed that they would be able to prepare some formula which would give them an opportunity to meet the Government of Northern Ireland either in Dublin or in Belfast or in London. I had hoped that at an early date, they might have been able to agree on a formula which would bring about the end of Partition. I, personally, would have gone a long way on the road to meet the people of Northern Ireland in order to find that solution. I hold that it is by goodwill, toleration and an appreciation of their views, with an appreciation on their part of our views, that a friendly agreement could have been arrived at.
This Bill will pass into law. In view of that, if it is not the intention of the Taoiseach to insert something in the new Act similar to what is in the External Relations Act in regard to membership of the Commonwealth of Nations, I have to ask myself what protection does he intend to afford to our own people throughout the world. I was going to say to our own 3,000,000 people throughout the world, but as the Taoiseach himself has pointed out, we have 40,000,000 of our own people or their descendants spread all over the world. I want to know what protection is he going to give them if they  require it, and what power have we to give them protection?
Now, I am not opposed to the Taoiseach declaring the freedom of our country but, like the Deputy who has just spoken, I do just feel a little sting. I am sure there are a good many members of the House who feel the same way but will not say it, but I do feel a little sting if we declare our independence only for 26 counties.
I remember in the days of the Irish Party—I was elected a member for the Harbour division of Dublin in 1915— that when I went over to Westminister at that time, the topics of conversation there at the time were, first, the making of the Home Rule Bill effective, secondly, the Great War—it had been on from the previous August— and later conscription. I well remember the discussions that took place at that time. We were then offered 28 counties, Tyrone and Fermanagh being included. That offer was made to John Redmond and the Irish Party as a solution of the then troubles. John Redmond and the Irish Party rejected it. Now that is where the sting comes in. I felt inclined to say “hear, hear” when the Taoiseach said that Partition was the making of the British Government, and the British Government should try and undo something that Lloyd George perpetrated. I want to make this clear, because the Taoiseach has made it clear, that the youth of to-day—and not even the youth but the grown-ups of to-day—think that Partition came with the Treaty.
Michael Collins, God be good to him, and his colleagues, went over as plenipotentiaries to England to try and bring to an end the troubles that were going on here at that time because brave young Irishmen were suffering for the cause. When they went over they met Lloyd George. Deputies will remember that the first World War came to an end in 1918. In that year, there was a general election. The majority elected in Ireland were abstentionists and did not go to the British Parliament. The Irish benches there were empty from 1918 to 1920. In  1920, Lloyd George saw that the Irish benches in the British House of Commons were empty and he thought it was a grand opportunity, as the Taoiseach has just said, to force through the 1920 Act. It was that Act which created Partition. It was put through the British House of Commons in the absence of the Irish Party or of Ireland's representatives. It is well to know that not one Irishman asked for or voted for the Partition of this country. The Unionists of Northern Ireland did not want it and did not ask for it.
I am sure that the Chair will permit me to go back a little when dealing with this matter. In 1915 I was a member of the British Parliament about four months when I attended a meeting in O'Connell Street at which John Redmond presided. Joe Devlin spoke there and his speech was to this effect. “Thank God,” he said, “in the course of another few weeks, unless something extraordinary happens, the green flag will fly over College Green, over a free and independent nation of 32 counties.
Some years earlier there had been the Curragh Mutiny. British officers on the Curragh at that time, in anticipation of the Home Rule Bill being put into operation, mutinied. About 50 high-up British officers were concerned. That mutiny acted as a deterrent. Perhaps I should say it gave a fright to the British Government at the time, but at any rate they allowed the thing to proceed. They took no legal action against those who were responsible for that outbreak on the Curragh. In that connection, it has to be remembered that the Royal Assent had been given to the Home Rule Bill early in 1914. If the British electors voted for Home Rule for all Ireland in 1912—it took two years for the Bill to go through and subsequently to pass in the House of Lords and eventually to get the Royal Assent—I have to ask myself this question, and I also have to put it to the Taoiseach: if that could happen in 1912 why should we, 36 years later, not have the belief in these days of democracy in England, with the Labour Party in power, with the type of people wanting to put them in  power, that it is possible for something similar to happen again and, at that, almost immediately; that our 32 counties could be united and the Royal Assent that was given at that time, and rebelled against, or something similar to that Bill be put into operation. I am not going to give up hope that our people on the far side of the Border are not to this day prepared to come in. It is true that at the top there are a dozen, two dozen or five dozen big men anxious to hold their places because they are dug in. They use every opportunity, and it is their duty so far as they are personally concerned in order to hold their places, to keep Northern Ireland divided.
We at this end must give them no opportunity to discourage our followers in Northern Ireland or the moderates in Northern Ireland or that element who want peace and prosperity and who are not politicians but men of goodwill, Catholic and Protestant alike, who want to see goodwill in the whole country. I am not without hope that it is not possible to do that yet. That is the reason why I agreed to support the amendment and ask the Government to hold their hand for a little longer. We have an inter-Party Government with representatives of a very mixed opinion. That mixed opinion, surely, has some influence across the Border.
Mr. Byrne: I hold that the Labour men in this Parliament must surely have some influence with the Labour men in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I do not mean the Labour Members of Parliament; I mean the Labour people who think as our people here think, and who use their Labour Members of Parliament for the purpose of improving their conditions. That is their job. That is what they are there for and surely the big fellows who think from the Labour point of view in Southern Ireland could induce the people in Northern Ireland to come a bit of the way with them. That is the position that I am taking up at the moment with Deputy Byrne, Junior. I stand for a 32-county united Ireland; call it what you like afterwards when  you get the 32 counties united. I remember as a boy, as I heard the boys last week, singing Who Fears to Speak of'98? and A Nation Once Again. Surely the writer of A Nation Once Again never intended that the Twenty-Six Counties was going to be the nation. He did not.
Surely the men of 1798 and the men who rebelled a dozen times after it up to 1916 did not rebel and make the sacrifices which they made to bring about proceedings in the Dáil which would culminate in our declaring ourselves to be a 26-county Irish Republic. These men did not die for a 26-county republic and I hold that we are not now being fair to them. I would prefer to continue as we are. I congratulate the present Government and I am not speaking in any form of hostility to their Bill or to any member of the Government or of the previous Government. I realise that the two Governments have done their best to bring in the malcontents of the North of Ireland who to-day are just as bad as the malcontents who fomented the Curragh Mutiny and who brought 45,000 guns into Larne unmolested by the British Government. Somebody may correct me in regard to the figure but it was somewhere in the region of 40,000 to 50,000 guns landed at Larne. Why were these guns brought into this country? They were brought in to oppose the will of the majority of the Irish people and the majority of the English people and the British Parliament and the King of England who had given his assent to the Home Rule Bill for all Ireland. That is the little bit of history which I wanted to go back to, having been encouraged to do so by the Taoiseach who told us that there are people to-day who are suffering because they have upheld the Treaty. When Michael Collins and his party went over to Lloyd George they were outnumbered and they suffered very great hardships. In addition they were faced with the fact that the Northern Parliament had been established. Members of Parliament had been elected. A Civil Service had been built up and vested interests had been built up. Michael Collins and his party were faced with the threat of terrible war —those were the words “terrible war.”
 Lloyd George told them that the Six County Parliament had been established and that he had no intention of breaking it up. In spite of that, however, he encouraged Michael Collins and his party to believe that Partition was only temporary. Under the threat of the continuance of terrible war the plenipotentiaries, in order to save life, accepted the Treaty. This was a stepping-stone to their life's ambitions and to the ambitions of the men who fell from 1798 to 1916. I feel sad to-day that we are now creating a 26-county Irish Republic instead of a 32-county united Irish Nation. I would retain the External Relations Act and I would retain membership of the Commonwealth of Nations or of some similar institution—say, a combination of the nations of Europe plus America, a new association of nations who want to help one another to maintain Christianity. I would retain membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and I would retain the External Relations Act until our friends in Northern Ireland—that vast majority of people who want goodwill and freedom and friendship with our people in the South; and that is the case with all the people in the North except the men at the top—recognise that it would be desirable for them to come in with us and help the world in its present chaotic condition. The Taoiseach has asked the question—can you imagine what a help this country would be to Christianity if we were united? He went on to say that we would beat the world. I noticed a little laugh here and there when he said it but I know what was in his mind. He was thinking what a glorious strength we would be if we were united to any cause and I earnestly pray that the day is not far distant when he will be able to unite the North and the South.
Mr. de Valera: Listening to the first part of the Taoiseach's speech I could not help thinking how it would have cheered my heart, and cheered the hearts of many of us on these benches, and cheered the hearts of thousands of our people had that attitude been taken over the past 20 or 25 years. I rejoice that I have seen the day when that attitude could be taken. My only regret is that we are not in a position  of declaring on behalf of this Assembly a State which could be described fully as a republic for the whole of Ireland with its jurisdiction effective throughout the entire of our 32 counties. It is for that day that many of us have worked. That has been the dream of generations. Perhaps we shall live to see the day when we shall be able to say that our State is a republic and that its jurisdiction is acknowledged over the whole of its national territory. I indicated some months ago that we did not propose to offer any opposition to a Bill such as this. For my own part, I would feel quite inconsistent if I did so. I had come to the conclusion myself that the External Relations Act would have to be repealed because of the purely mischievous misrepresentation which surrounded it and because it was misunderstood accordingly. It was not misunderstood by the majority of our own people who had studied the matter; it was not misunderstood by foreigners and it was not misunderstood by jurists who had studied it. In my whole experience I knew of only one case where there seemed to be a necessity for informing a foreign State as to our precise position. But I asked myself whether, because of such misrepresentation and misunderstanding that did exist, it would not be better in the national interests to get rid of the Act altogether. At a later stage I shall indicate the reasons I had for the introduction of that Act and I shall explain once more how that Act came into being.
I had a reason for hesitating about its removal. I use the word “hesitate” because, as I have said, I was contemplating the question of bringing its repeal before the Government. Naturally before I could take that step I would have to be quite satisfied in my own mind that what I was proposing to do was in the national interest. I hesitated particularly about taking that step because one of the purposes which that Act was intended to serve was to form, if possible, a bridge by which the separated counties might come to union with the rest of Ireland. The problem of Partition and the problem  of our minority has been the same as long as I have been in public life. I had to face that problem as head of the Republican Government back in 1921. I have had to face that problem in the task we set ourselves to bring back and re-establish that republic which was destroyed as a result of the acceptance of the Treaty. In that task we had, of course, to realise that there was in this country a dissentient minority. Four-fifths of our people wished to have here a Republican State as an expression of national aspirations and national ideals; about one-fifth of our people, for a variety of reasons, wanted association with the States of the British Commonwealth and particularly with Britain. We were faced with the problem as to whether we could solve the difficulty without the use of force. If we were to attempt to do it by the use of force, no matter how right we might consider our cause and no matter how justifiable would have been the use of force, we were faced with the question as to whether or not we would be successful. Would the last state be worse than the first?
In 1921 a unanimous Dáil authorised me to say in correspondence with Mr. Lloyd George that we would be prepared to accept a certain form of association with the States of the British Commonwealth provided that that form of association would result in acceptance of the State by the dissentient minority. We discussed that in our Cabinet at the time and we came to the conclusion that the only form of association which could be contemplated as being in consonance with the national aspirations would be one of external association. We could not as a State go into the British Empire, be a part of the British Empire or accept the British Crown. We did, however, believe that it would be possible to have some form of external association. When we got down to discussing the details of that association we came to the conclusion that the only way in the circumstances of those days—27 years have passed since then and circumstances have changed—the only hope of a peaceful settlement with Britain was in some form of recognition of the King—the King who was  King of Canada and Australia and New Zealand but who would not be King of this country. We came to the conclusion that some form of association would have to be accepted and a symbol of our association so that, as far as other States were concerned, the association would be easily recognisable as such. If any of the Deputies care to turn up the correspondence which took place with Mr. Lloyd George at that particular time they will find that representatives of Dáil Éireann then went over to negotiate with the representatives of the British Government on specific terms of reference. They were to make an effort to evolve by personal contact, and personal discussion and exploration some solution of the difficulties—to find out whether it would be possible to devise some form of association with Britain and the other States of the British Commonwealth, which would be consistent and consonant with Irish national aspirations.
I will not bring the House over the results of these negotiations in detail. One result, however, was that the British Prime Minister finally brought the discussions to a close by threatening immediate and terrible war unless the terms of association which he was dictating were accepted. We had here the division on the Treaty. We had here, as the Taoiseach has indicated, one portion of the elected representatives of the people accepting the Treaty as a settlement. It was a settlement that involved our going into the British Empire and our acceptance of the British Crown, with allegiance to the British Crown—and an oath of allegiance to make that clear. We, on the other hand, were unable to accept that. We gave our reasons for it. We fought for the republic that we believed had been declared by the people and expressed their will and had been destroyed as a result of the threat of a British Minister. Having been defeated in our efforts to maintain that republic by force, we started to try to secure the re-establishment of the republic by other means. We went to the people and we got re-elected as Deputies and finally in 1932 we achieved the position in which we represented the majority in this House. Then we were in a position  to put our policy into effect. That policy was to get rid of these objectionable symbols one by one, to bring about a condition of affairs in which we would have here actually a republic in existence.
I think perhaps the best way that I could show what we had in mind would be to repeat a short passage from a statement which I solemnly made as Taoiseach at the graveside of the men who were executed in Arbour Hill in Easter Week. I made that statement on April 23, 1933. I said that no words could fittingly commemorate the sacrifices of these men except indeed the words of a new proclamation restoring the republic they proclaimed and to defend which they gave their lives. I went on to point out what the actual situation was in which we found ourselves and then I said: “Let us remove these forms one by one so that this State that we control may be a republic in fact and that when the time comes the proclamation of the republic”— which I referred to as a republic for the whole of Ireland—“may involve no more than a formal confirmation of a status already attained.”
We here to-day are not proclaiming a republic anew; we are not establishing a new State. The Bill does not purport to be establishing a new State. We are simply giving a name to what exists—that is, a republican State. As I pointed out when that question was asked some years ago, there is no doubt whatever about it that our State is a republic and if I wanted to prove that it was, I would only have to point to the terms of this Bill, because there would be no use in giving a description of the State as a republic as this Bill does if it was not so in fact. You are not declaring a republic, but you are declaring that the State that exists is a republic. I am glad that that declaration is made; I am glad, like the Taoiseach, that this controversy is ending. I want to see it ended and I am very glad that it will be ended by a vote that will be practically unanimous, if not unanimous. I hope it will be unanimous.
I would like to think, but I am afraid that even my goodwill in that matter, however great, will not get me to  believe that if we had proposed this Bill when on the opposite side of the House we would have got unanimity. But you will get unanimity from us, because we have been in public life not to retard, not to put barriers to the onward march of the nation. We have been in public life to try to secure that the age-long aspirations of our people would be achieved. This Bill, if it were drafted without political considerations, would not be called—no ordinary draftsman would call it—a Republic of Ireland Bill. He would call it the description of the State Bill, because that is what it is. It is simply a declaratory statement of the position. I am glad that this declaration is going to be made. Looking back, it would, in fact, have been a good thing to have brought into the Dáil a Bill to have such a declaration made when the doubts were raised and when my word would not be accepted; but of course if I did that we would have a very different attitude on the part of some of the people who will vote for this Bill—a very different attitude from the attitude we observe to-day and a very different vote.
I am glad of the change, very glad, because if this were effective through the whole of Ireland I would be able to say that this generation had seen what generations throughout the centuries had longed for but had not seen. I hope, as I have already said, that we will see the day in which it will be admitted by everybody that the State that we have will be the Republic of Ireland which was proclaimed in 1916, which was ratified by the vote of the people and formally proclaimed by the Dáil on 21st January, 1919, and for which very many lives have been given.
The first part of this Bill suggests that we shall declare here by a declaratory Act that the State is a republic. With that I am in agreement. I think it is wise in the national interest that it should be done. I should like to say at this stage that, in regard to the nonuse of the statutory agent provided for in the External Relations Act, the repeal of the Act was not necessary. The Government could have appointed any person in the State as their agent  for signing the letters of credence. The Taoiseach, before the passing of this Bill, could, with full legality, be appointed by the Government as the person to sign letters of credence. The Minister for External Affairs could similarly have been appointed. The Government could even have appointed the Leader of the Opposition as the person to sign letters of credence, if they wanted to.
There is no limit to the powers given to the Government under that Act. The Act was purely permissive—they were permitted to use the statutory agent, to use the more elegant term to-day referred to by the Taoiseach, or they could, instead of that statutory agent, have appointed any person in the State, except one, that one exception being the President. The President— on account of the fact that in the Constituation certain powers are assigned to him and that it was provided that if he were to get extra powers these powers were to be given to him by law —was the one exception. If it is desirable, and, I think it is, that the President should get these powers, it is necessary that a Bill with a clause like this—Clause 3—should be passed. In my opinion, it is the only thing which is essentially necessary in the situation.
We on this side of the House have done things in our usual way, without fanfares, without the blowing of trumpets, because the blowing of trumpets sometimes reallies opposition which otherwise would not arise, and I believe that a lot of the attacks of which the Taoiseach has complained in certain newspapers are the direct result of the methods used by the Government to blow this Bill up into something altogether beyond what it is. We did not believe in the blowing of trumpets and we did our work quietly in most of these matters because we wanted to achieve the results, and, if the Government to-day can blow trumpets on the position which obtains, they may thank those who worked quietly and were prepared to do the work without the fanfares. It is necessary and, in my opinion, desirable that the President should be given these powers. He will have to exercise them, of course,  by the authority of the Government and on their advice, which really means direction.
The Taoiseach has given some reasons why this measure should not come into operation at once. I must confess that I am rather surprised that such a clause is necessary. I think that, when such measures are passed and powers given to the Government, it is not unusual that the Order bringing them into operation should be laid before the House, but in any case this seems to me to be a strange provision. I can say for myself that, if I were bringing in this Bill and wanted to have a declaratory statement, although it might perhaps seem to give this Act an importance it did not deserve, I would be inclined to say: “Very well; we will bring it in on the anniversary of the day on which a previous Dáil Eireann proclaimed the republic, the republic that was destroyed, namely, 21st January, 1919.” I should like to see a fixed date in this Bill, and, if I were choosing the date, that is the date I would choose. The only objection I could see to it is that it would seem to give to what was being done an importance it did not deserve.
We will support the passage of this Bill, but, supporting its passage will, I hope, mean that there will never again be a going back, that never again will lives be lost, and lost in vain, and that those who now state that we have a republic will be ready to maintain it and that when there are negotiations with regard to the unity of our country, as there will be, there will be no change in that position. Do not forget that it is much easier to take up a position than to hold it. I hesitated about declarations of this sort and I left a bridge for a long time, in the hope that by it it would be possible to bring about the unity of our country, that we were going to meet the sentiment of the minority, of those who differed from us, by means of association. That was the utmost limit to which we could go, and we indicated that. In 1921, the utmost limit to which we could go by our professions and by what was done by the people was external association. We could not go into the British Empire; we could not accept  the British Crown and could not give allegiance to the British Crown. I hope that from those who come along to-day and make the declaration as to what this State is we will hear no more of going back and that, in future, if there are to be negotiations, the negotiators will know, the country will know and the world will know that, whatever association there is to be, it is not to be an association of inclusion and not to be an association in which allegiance will be rendered. You have no King here in this country, no matter how much some may wish to misrepresent the position. There has been no King of Ireland, either internally or externally, since 1936 and certainly not since 1937. We have not talked much about it, as we wanted to see the end of our job done if possible, but since a factious misrepresentation continued, I had come to the point in which I would probably—if I could get the Government to agree with me—have done what is in this Bill. That is the reason I am supporting the Bill.
I want the country, and every representative here, to see that we are, by doing this, burning our boats. I do not say it is a bad thing to do. There are times, but rare times, when it should be done. I hope there is to be no further disestablishment of the republic. It is possible for us—and it was what I was working to secure—association with the States of the British Commonwealth on the factual bases of consultation and co-operation that have been represented by the Taoiseach here this evening. If you go back on the declarations I have made, on behalf of our country and on behalf of our Party over the years, you will see that the Taoiseach to-night was simply echoing the things that we had said time after time over the past 20 years. I am glad that the truth of these principles has been driven home to those who have been opposed to us during that time. These principles are true and I hope that the truth will be driven home to all those who in the past have been persistently opposed to the satisfying of Irish national aspirations.
I, and those who were with me in the last 30 years, wanted good relations;  with Britain. We wanted to lay the foundation of those good relations with Britain on a lasting basis. Britain shortsightedly wanted them on her own terms. We wished to have good relations and were prepared to go tremendous distances to try to get them. We have never wanted to oppress a minority in this country. We were prepared to try to meet their sentiments, in so far as it was right and proper that we should. But it is not right that to meet the views of a minority one should have to go to the extent in which you would outrage the opinions of the majority. That is what was done in 1921 by the pressure of force. We were compelled by the threat of force to sacrifice the satisfaction of our own aspirations. I believe a minority is entitled to justice but that making offers and promises of specific privileges and all that is all nonsense. I do not think these offers and promises affect them in the slightest. Justice is what they are entitled to, justice is what you can give them. Promise them privileges and they will be deprived of those privileges later. In the world to-day people will not stand for allowing special privilege to a small body or class. Therefore, if you promise them privileges, you are promising them something which cannot be maintained for them. I do not believe and never have believed in the policy of trying to coax them. We have got to the situation in which the whole force of public opinion, both of our people throughout the world and of every fairminded person, must be brought to bear upon the situation in their regard.
I saw where somebody recently said that we were a disrupting force. It is they who are the disrupting force. The whole of our history has proved it. As I have said before, some English historian some day, writing the history of the later relations between Ireland and Britain, will say that the minority that prevented, in the days that Deputy Byrne was talking about, the unity of our country and prevented good relations, which might have been established—for the time being anyhow; there would probably have been a natural evolution—are the people who  have been disrupting. They have disrupted this nation and they have been preventing the good relations which the majority of the people of this country want with the people in the neighbouring island. The only way to deal with it is to tell them that they are entitled to justice, that justice they will get; but that they cannot look for and will not be accorded special privileges.
You know the position that has been established by them. They have cut off six of our counties, cut off areas like Tyrone, Fermanagh, Derry City, South Down, East Down and South Fermanagh, in which there is obviously a majority opposed to their point of view—opposed to being cut off. The principle which they want to have applied to themselves, wrong as we hold the principle is, they will not themselves apply it to others. There is no justification for the cutting off of these areas, on any principle. I am not saying that there is any just principle which would entitle a political minority, because they happen to be a local majority in a certain area in any nation, to cut itself off; but if there is an appeal made by them to a principle, surely it should apply to them and they should not be allowed to take away with them areas in which there is a majority against them.
All I ask and hope here this evening is that, when we pass this Bill and when we have taken the responsibility for declaring in the most public manner that this State is what it is— a republic—every single one of us and every single person in the nation who approves of this, will make up his mind that there is no going back on the republic. It must be on the basis of that republic, existing as a State, that the relationship and the association, whatever it may be, whatever its form, with the States of the British Commonwealth will be founded.
As I have said, I was anxious to have this association based on a factual basis. The facts of consultation and of co-operation are the things that really matter, the fact of meeting, the fact of having a common interest and working for this common interest. These are the things that were important—not symbols. It was not we who wanted  the symbols at any time; it was the other party that was insisting upon the symbols. We did not want them, as they did not accord with our tradition and our history. We did not wish to have those symbols, but the other party wanted them. The question was whether there was any extent to which these symbols could be used. I had hoped for progress, by leaving the Act as it was. I knew we could get rid of it at any time, and you are not really bound if you know that you can open your bonds at any moment. I wanted to leave it there for a time. It was necessary, in the first instance, as a transitional measure.
At the time we got rid, as we did get rid, of the King in every Article of the Constitution for both internal and external matters, we had here a number of foreign representatives who had been accredited to him and just as the present Government, in order to get time to see what the developments may be, are looking for a respite during which time they can make such adjustments as may be found necessary, so we, too, on the 11th and 12th December, could not foresee all the possible difficulties which might arise. We had to make provision. We thought we were making provision in the way that was most satisfactory from the national point of view at the time. The External Relations Act was then, to start with, a necessary transitional measure. We kept it on because there were certain advantages in it. First of all, it indicated our willingness to meet our own minority and the British even as regards a symbol so far as the symbol was consistent with a republican State. Next because it gave us time in which to meet the other parties and work together so that ultimately we would be able to point to the fact that the association could exist on that basis without any special symbols. These were the temporary advantages there were, advantages which might have continued and be available for a time longer, had it not been for this factious misrepresentation of our position. I want this to go on record, and lawyers of any kind can examine my statement afterwards to see whether I was telling what was  a fact or not. I said before we were a republic. I say it now, and this Bill is the best proof of it, because you are not establishing a republic; you are simply declaring that the description of the State shall be a republic. If it were not capable of being so described, then this would be a lie and a nullity. If there was anything inconsistent under the Constitution in being a republic, we could not declare a republic by ordinary legislation.
The next question was: what was our position with regard to the States of the British Commonwealth? The Taoiseach used this evening a statement which I made as to our status. I repeat it and say that it was perfectly accurate. I said: “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 availed 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.” It was open to us to use him or not. The Taoiseach spoke about the Heads of State Agreement. In my time there was no such Heads of State Agreement signed that I know of. If it came to the position in which we might have to deal with that, it would be a very important matter for us to consider whether we would use the statutory instrument that was provided by the External Relations Act for that purpose or not. We did not have to.
The Taoiseach made play of the fact that apparently I could not a couple of years ago say whether we were in the British Commonwealth or not. The fault was not mine. The fault was not our Government's fault. We passed, or the people passed and we approved here, of the Constitution of 1937. That Constitution was a public document. Obviously there was no question either in that or in our External Relations Act of allegiance of any sort. The States of the British Commonwealth back in 1926 were described in the following general terms: “They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no  way subordinate to one another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations”. It was obvious that we had publicly repudiated by our Acts of Parliament here and by our Constitution, any such thing as allegiance. It was perfectly clear, therefore, that if the States of the British Commonwealth were going to hold to the 1926 declaration and to allegiance as the bond, then we were not in the Commonwealth. If they were not going to hold by it, if they were going to take up the position they had taken up previously, that the Commonwealth was a growing, expanding flexible organisation, an organisation that was developing from day to day, and if the development was in the line that they were going to shed allegiance as being indicative of the bond of association, as the symbol of association, then, in accordance with the general scheme that we had pursued— our general policy for trying to bring about the unity of our country—I was not going to press that they should declare that we were or were not members. If we are going to bring about the unity of our country and if the form of association was to be so changed so that it would be consistent with our national aspirations, why should we stop that development? It did not matter, as far as we were concerned, from a practical point of view whether we were in or out at the time, and I was induced to believe that the development I have mentioned was actually taking place. I doubt if the war had not come that it would not have taken place. The British Government in 1937 issued that statement which was quoted by the Taoiseach here this morning and which I shall requote for you.
“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 29th.”
As I read it, I noticed an interesting omission. They did not say: “Enacted by the people of Ireland”. They said that they had considered this Constitution which was approved by the Parliament of the Irish Free State and which came into force on December 29th. They added:—
“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 “Éire” or “Ireland”— as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”
In other words, they declared we were a member of the Commonwealth even though we had repudiated allegiance, even though we had by our Constitution, enacted in a manner which was deliberately adopted so that it could not be ever suggested that our State derived from British law, from a British law point of view, a revolutionary enactment, made our State a republic. They saw all that. They knew all that and they declared, none the less, that our position as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations was not altered.
If the British Commonwealth of Nations had developed to such a point that they were prepared to take such a view of it, that our republic could be associated with them on that basis, then, in my opinion, such association would not have been contrary to the aspirations of our people. The aspirations of our people were embodied in the State and the State's relations with other States. So long as our State can take its place as a sovereign State in international associations, that is perfectly consistent with our national aspirations. Our membership is a matter of policy. I would not then have pressed the matter further. I was waiting to see what the development in that particular line might be. They knew that if they did not abandon allegiance we were out. If they wished to develop in such a way that they would regard us as being associated as a member, on the terms of non-allegiance,  I, for one, would have been prepared to take the responsibility of submitting that policy here to the Dáil, provided it brought us a united Ireland, and I would have worked towards a united Ireland from that basis. I would have said: “I am prepared to advocate such a policy, if it gives us unity.”
We will not solve our problems by simply dodging issues. We have got to face these issues and the sooner Deputies and the country realise that if we are to have a united Ireland we will have to face certain issues, the better. We, as people who have been responsible, were prepared to face the issues and, although these particular thoughts of mine did not necessarily have to come to my colleagues, because no Government action was required, and was not a matter that they had definitely to form decisions upon, these were my thoughts on the matter and I do not mind making my thoughts public at this moment. These were my thoughts and that was the position, and there was no ambiguity whatever about it as far as the ambiguity was something that could be removed by us.
We were a republic. There was no King because after all in a republic it is a question of contrast with monarchy. There was no King of Ireland since 1936 and certainly not since 1937. We were, then, a republic. We used a statutory instrument to show our association with these States and we did that in such a way as to provide to the utmost for our national independence and sovereignty.
The question has been raised, who is the head of the State here? I have given a good deal of thought to that since the question was raised and I have had time to think the matter out fully. The question really is whether in our Constitution there is an individual head of the State. There is no head of the State directly named. The head of the State can be not merely an individual but it can also be a body, or group. I think there are States in which that is so. Our Constitution was intended to be as explicit as it possibly could be, with as few fictions as possible and if you read our Constitution you will find that the executive  power of the State—if that indicates the head—is exercised with the authority of the Government. Anything that the Government uses is an agent. The authority lies with the Government. The authority does not devolve down from some head, like a King, and to be exercised in his name or he exercising in his own name but with the advice of other's. Probably the best answer to who is the head of the State here, was that the head of the State was the Government. But we had a President and we wanted to give to that President as many powers and functions as we could. If he has not got more, I would like to have those who say that to throw themselves back to the time of the constitutional discussions here.
When we were discussing the Constitution here, the allegation and the charge was that we were giving such power to the President that he was to be a dictator. I am glad to see the President getting these powers. I am glad to see the person who is the first citizen of this land and so described in the Constitution, given these powers. I am glad he is getting these powers. This Act is necessary to give him these powers. Afterwards, however, will people, these jurists to whose opinion the Taoiseach seems to defer so much, will these people who may be writing about us, if they are interested, say that even by giving this Act we have constituted him the head of the State?
I do not care whether we should fall into some category of States or not. It was not to fall into a category of States our people have fought through the centuries. Our people have fought for independence and the point about the republic was that it was in that form that our independence was crystallised in our time. That is the significance of the republic but it was not that we might be classed by some jurists as this type of State or not that we were worrying. We knew perfectly well that, if they wanted to, they could find out from the fundamental documents exactly the type of State we were and that any real jurist was not going to be fooled into thinking that a statutory agent appointed in the way in which the King of Canada, Australia,  and so on was appointed by us, was in any sense the head of our State.
There was no jurist that deserved the name of jurist that would hold that the “statutory instrument” provided by the External Relations Act was the head of our State. He was acting not on his own authority but by the authority, as an instrument, of the Government which had the authority. As I said, there has been a good deal of trumpeting about this measure. If it does any good in letting people who have been deceived know the truth, I certainly will be glad; if it helps to prevent any confusion that there has been, I will be glad. As to whether it will prevent the unification of our country, I would say to Deputy Byrne exactly what the Taoiseach said to him, that everything that we here-representing the majority of our nation have done through the years in showing goodwill has been quite ineffective to get these people to advance to any sense of their responsibilities, either as regards justice, or peace, or good relations with their fellow countrymen or good relations between Ireland and Britain. If there had been even a single indication of such a sense, something might be said for Deputy Byrne's amendment, but there has been none. It may even happen that the passage of this Bill may bring about in many quarters a realisation of what the position is and has been. I hope it will. I will end in the further hope that what appears to me to be a conversion is a genuine one. I may be wrong in using these words, I am only saying what I believe. I think that any historian who goes over our history for a number of years would be inclined to think as I am thinking. There are some lines that I may adapt:—
Mr. C. Lehane: Ba mhaith liomsa labhairt ar son an Bhille seo atá tarraingthe os comhair na Dála ag an Taoiseach. Cuirimidne, sinne i gClann  na Poblachta, fáilte roimh an mBille seo mar is dóigh linn go gcuirfidh sé deire le staid náireach agus le rud ba chúis náire don náisiún.
On an occasion such as this I feel that it would be out of place for any Deputy in this House to approach the consideration of this Bill with any desire to make Party capital out of it. I think that the greatest possible effort should be made to achieve the greatest possible degree of unanimity in the passage of the Bill which the Taoiseach has laid before the House. While I cannot agree with every statement that was made by the leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, Deputy de Valera, or perhaps for that matter, were I to analyse them, with every line of the speech delivered in support of the Bill by the Taoiseach, nevertheless I think that it is a matter for congratulation that this Bill is receiving the support of all Parties in this House. Deputy de Valera sought to minimise the necessity for this Bill. I am sure he expressed that view quite honestly but we, particularly in the Clann na Poblachta Party, cannot subscribe to the view that this External Relations Act which to us and to many of the people of this country was a mark of national humiliation and shame was merely a necessary transitional measure. Even were we willing to subscribe to that view it would be difficult to understand how a necessary transitional measure introduced in 1936 should still be either necessary or transitional.
We welcome this Bill in the first place because it ends what we believe was a humiliating position created by the passage of the External Relations Act, Section 3 of which Act provides that immediately upon the passage of that Act the instrument of abdication of the late King should have effect according to the tenor thereof and the King for the purpose of the Act shall be the person who, if Edward Windsor had died unmarried, would be for the time being his successor according to the law of Soarstát Éireann. We welcome the Bill because of the things it does in putting an end to that humiliating position. We do not regard this, nor do we think that any Deputy in this House  can regard this, as the declaration of the republic for the Twenty-Six Counties. We endorse this Bill because this Bill taken in conjunction with Article 3 of the Constitution, removes the restrictions upon the sovereign authority of the people which the External Relations Act made it possible to impose and because it dissipates the shadow which lay upon the country's status, caused, may I suggest, by the lack of explicitness and definiteness of Article 5 of the Constitution. But we relate this Bill to the Constitution and relate it to the Constitution which declares the territory of the State to consist of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas. Relating this Bill to that Article of the Constitution, we endorse it as a redeclaration or a restoration of the republic proclaimed in arms in 1916 and ratified by the votes of the representatives of the people on 21st January, 1919.
In the course of his remarks, Deputy de Valera made a statement which certainly evoked in my breast a considerable amount of sympathy and I would appeal to the Government to examine the possibilities of following the suggestion which he made, namely, that the date upon which this Act will be brought into operation should coincide with the anniversary of that declaration of independence. One other matter which occurs to me is that when the Constitution of 1937 was introduced both the Irish language and the English language versions were passed through this House. I should like to suggest to the Government that, having regard to the historic character of this measure, a similar course should be followed. I understand that even at this stage there is no difficulty about that being done.
This Bill, as the Taoiseach told the House, gives an opportunity for ending the disunity and the division that have existed in this country since England caused that division by a threat of immediate and terrible war, a division the tragedy of which lingers with us in one form or another even to this day. It gives an opportunity for a united advance. It can quench the embers of fratricidal and internecine strife which still linger on. With the restoration  of the republic and by the coming together of all sections of our people in a common allegiance to the republic, national unity can be achieved.
It is true that this Bill does not, nor does it purport, to, restore to us the territory which is at present held from us by the occupying forces of Britain. That invasion of our six north-eastern counties is a physical fact which no merely legislative Act of this Assembly can affect. The important thing is that it does establish the claim of this Assembly to legislate for the whole territory of the nation as a fundamental right, a claim, to endorse what Deputy de Valera said, from which there should be no going back or no abatement in the future. The fact that portion of our territory has been held from us by force does not take away from the sovereign nature of our status as a republic, any more than the French Republic ceased to be the French Republic during the years between 1870 and 1918 when Alsace and Lorraine were occupied by another Power. The important thing about this Bill is that it gives an opportunity to the people to unite once more on a national policy for a 32-county independent republic.
Mr. S. Collins: Like Deputy Lehane, I rise to add my voice in endorsement of what I consider to be a very honest and very courageous decision taken by the present Government and introduced into this House by way of this Bill by the Taoiseach to-day. I am going to start on the note on which Deputy de Valera finished when he referred to what he might term a conversion of certain people within this House. I am not prepared to accept such a suggestion either in fact or in logic. On an occasion such as this, I have no desire to allow anything to obtrude upon this debate that might be termed merely Party politics. I myself thoroughly, honestly and sincerely believe that, whatever may have been the motive for the acceptance by the Irish people of the Treaty in 1921, this is a logical, constitutional sequence, a logical, constitutional realisation of a position that was accepted, as I believe it was accepted, by this country as freedom to achieve freedom or as the stepping-stone to further freedom, and to describe as a conversion what I  would rather deem a sincere effort by the inter-Party Government to clarify the constitutional position is a rather mean description, if one were to go no further.
I welcome this Bill very earnestly on the following grounds. First of all, I hope it is going to allay for all time the claim of any Party in this country to be more national than another. I hope it is going to be a unanimous decision of this House to ratify within itself that, no matter what may be levelled against Parties, there is a wealth of deep national sincerity about all Parties and a real necessity for all Parties such as exist in this House at present.
I welcome this Bill because it is going to lay as dead as a door nail the assertion that there is one Party in this country that can be called a Commonwealth Party. I think the real merit of the Bill is that we can now have international relationships on a better basis, that we will have no lie or no false position at home on which to try and build an international situation. I think that, far from in any way limiting what future associations and relationships may exist between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, this Bill is going to help to put them on a more solid, a more realistic and a more normal basis. If I subscribe in full to any statement that the Taoiseach has made in his brilliant effort to give the House the real motive that is behind this Bill it is to this, that there are two completely different peoples and two completely different ideologies as between Ireland and England, and that the best way those peoples can work together is by realising their difference and building on the sound basis of that realisation.
I do not care whether this Bill is to be described as a declaratory Bill or how you describe it. To my mind it is reiterating at a very necessary time the allegiance that is in the heart of every one of us who has any national consciousness, an allegiance to what must ultimately be a 32-county Irish republic. I have never had any other allegiance. I have never looked upon the present position of this country as being anything other than the starting off ground  for the realisation of what is traditionally and rightfully ours, and what we can reiterate in an honest way to-day is Ireland's claim to be a 32-county sovereign independent republic. I think that this Bill gives a very real opportunity for us to realise that there is in this country a basis on which men can differ on certain policies and outlooks, but that all can agree on the one thing that is nearest and dearest to all our hearts—that is the realisation of a full independent, free 32-county Ireland. I am glad that we now have a chance of seeing clearly and distinctly that though our roads may in many cases be different, or seem different, the object is the same with us all.
I welcome the Bill because I think it is something that is necessary if there is to be a basis in this country for the continuance of a unity that was courageously laid: the foundation of which was so courageously laid by the gathering together into one Government of all the various Parties that did band themselves together to form this Government. I think it is giving expression to one of the things on which this House is really united: that is what our constitutional position is at the moment and what the ultimate aspirations and aim of this country must be if we are to be true to tradition and true to our chequered and bitter history. I say this in the fullness of my own family tradition. I feel that the Taoiseach has taken an honest and a courageous step in the fullest sense of the word, a step in which his only consideration, I honestly believe, was that impassioned plea that he made to this Huose that in our generation and within so much of the territory that we now control, this Bill will give an opportunity for peace, unity and concord. I feel that is the real approach that should be made to this Bill, and that it is the duty of this Dáil, realising what the real concept behind this Bill is, to make its passage completely unanimous, and so reinforce and reiterate throughout the world again in a very singular and effective way that the real fundamental claim of this country is to be a sovereign independent republic.
 I welcome the Bill for another reason —that we will now get an opportunity to build further from a position that has already been built on. That position is now clarified. We can build on from this situation, and gradually allow what were the bitternesses of the past and the disunion of the past to fade into a memory and so become a guidance to this nation rather than be a source of developing further hates or further personal differences. I believe that if the country takes the Bill in the right spirit we are going to get to the position in which we can all get together to work for the benefit and for the betterment of an Ireland that we all want to see. I feel very pleased and was also very respectful as regards the attitude adopted by the Opposition on this measure. I have on many occasions expressed my utter contempt for them, but on this occasion and in an honest way, I think it is due to say that I did feel, listening to Deputy de Valera, the Leader of the Opposition, that his speech was a complete justification for the Taoiseach's courageous step, and that the Leader of the Opposition approached this problem in a manly, chivalrous way. He lifted it— and I hope it will remain there—outside the realms of any kind of political Party issue.
This measure is going to give to this country a clarity in its internal and external position. I honestly believe that it is going to have this effect: that we will be able to build a stronger internal Ireland and a more honest and straightforward Ireland in external affairs—that we will be able to build a better and a more friendly relation with England that will ultimately find its complete expression when the goal which the Taoiseach has laid before us and which generation after generation of Irish people have laid before themselves may be reached: when the British Government will be forced by circumstances and by realisation of the position to undo the terrible wrong inflicted on this country.
If we could keep in the spirit that this motion has been met in this House, if we could keep in the spirit pervading this House to-day, I feel that the solution of Partition in this country and the urge that will have to be put upon  the British Government to undo it would come far quicker than it would by any type of dissension that has arisen in this House in the past. I feel that this may be a headline to us to-day on this Bill to engender and foster a spirit on main national issues that may bring in our lifetime—in the lifetime of this Dáil maybe—the solution of the problem we want solved, namely, Partition.
Mr. Keyes: I do not think that any words are necessary from any Deputy in the House to commend the measure that has been so capably put forward this evening by the Taoiseach. He delved carefully into all the issues involved and he has left very little to be said by anybody else in the House, which is, I am glad to say, practically unanimous in its acceptance of the measure. I intervene to state briefly on behalf of the Labour Party our welcome and acceptance of the measure. Some 12 years ago in this House the Labour Party voted against the passing of the External Relations Act. We thought then that it was unnecessary and unwise, and the passing of the years has not altered that view. The very fact that the Act was placed upon the Statute Book automatically opened the way for complexities and misinterpretations which have teemed one upon the other ever since. I think it is time for the Act to be removed. It is certainly very satisfactory that it is being removed with the consent and goodwill of all the elected Parties in this House. I should like to join with Deputy S. Collins in congratulating the Taoiseach and the Leader of the Opposition on the magnificent standard that has been set during the debate of this very solemn and important measure. I would say to the mover of the amendment, who seems to have a fear that the passing of this Act may militate against what he believes to be a hope of the ending of Partition, that I take a completely opposite view.
I know of nothing so deadly as ridicule. Our opponents outside the country did, on occasion, hold the Republic of Ireland, as it stood under the External Relations Act, up to ridicule. We heard talk of the “Royal  Republic” and of the “Republic with the King in the midst of it”. Our people in the northern counties who do not think our way treated it more or less as a jibe. I believe that when we place this measure unequivocally on record by the unanimous voice of this House these people will commence to realise the seriousness of the situation. There will be infinitely more respect for our protestations and profession of being a republic following the removal of the External Relations Act from the Statute Book. I deplore the fact that there has been an amendment. I feel that the measure ought to pass as a unanimous gesture by the elected representatives of this country that we are wholeheartedly behind the Bill in its honesty and sincerity. This measure will clarify the position for our friends abroad. I believe that the people in the Commonwealth—Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and so on—will have a through realisation of the motives inspiring Ireland to clarify once and for all where we stand. We do not want to intervene in the affairs of any other country. We just want to live our own lives in our own way and to co-operate in a friendly way with the trading and cultural relations of all the people of the Commonwealth. We must, however, run our own business for our own people. I believe that that right will be conceded by all rightthinking people. We have removed the anomaly of masquerading as a republic with a King signing the credentials of our representatives to any country throughout the world.
Mr. Madden: I shall be extremely brief. I endorse the brevity and the very excellent remarks of Deputy Keyes. As perhaps one of the oldest members here now, I am delighted to be present this evening. It is well to be here now. Thinking back and being associated with the whole political drive of the people for the one ideal during these past 40 years, I say again that it is well to be here to-night. I  have met some occasional individuals in the last week or fortnight who asked me what purpose it would serve to remove the External Relations Act. Out of sympathy for the purposes of the Bill that is now being discussed, my answer was that it would achieve nothing but the vindication of the generations that are gone and that we have lived to see realised in our time the dreams and the efforts, after much tragedy and sacrifice, of the various generations down along the line. I forget which Prime Minister of England said, speaking of the Irish nation and of the efforts for national and individual freedom, that the one thing constant, subject neither to eclipse nor to wane, was the insistence and persistence of the Irish race, now by physical effort and now by constitutional methods, and that in the whole interim of centuries they never surrendered that individual right to nationhood and that claim to be a mother country and a mother Parliament. Would we not surrender it if any individual stood up in this Parliament to-night and said anything derogatory in regard to the effort that is being made and to the terms of the Bill with its realism and its inspiration? I do appeal to Deputy Byrne not to put a blot on the escutcheon of this great effort by a united Parliament.
If, perhaps, we do not see in the immediate future the complete unification of our motherland we have seen to-night a great unification, namely, the unification of what have been for years conflicting parties and conflicting outlooks. We have seen the unification of practically all the Parties in their honest, patriotic and determined effort to see realised in our day the dream of the dead and the hope of us who are living and to hand to those who come after us that Irish republic for which so many died. Was it not a hideous travesty to introduce the External Relations Act? Did anyone ever hear of such hybrid legislation? It reminded me of a pig with wings. We had a King in the Statute Book and a republic in the Constitution. I remember that at the time of the introduction of that Act, they laughed at us in the British House of Commons—at  the dupes who believed and the knaves who pretended to believe that one could have an Irish Republic with a British King. That is now past and gone. I make a special appeal to Deputy Byrne to let a united Dáil and a united people register its approval to-night of the Bill which is now before the House. That will have some effect and some unifying influence. Perhaps before the older generations pass away to join their forefathers, they may see the ultimate unification of our partitioned country. The work we have done here to-day is a stepping stone towards the achievement of that end.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins (Junior): In joining with Deputy Collins to welcome this Bill on behalf of the Fine Gael Party, I am merely acting in accordance with the note of unity struck by the Taoiseach and by the Leader of the Opposition here to-day. I join with Deputy Madden in an appeal to both the proposer and the seconder of this amendment that at some stage, after the amendment has been discussed, they will withdraw it in the interests of a united decision of this Parliament to clarify our national position. I appreciate the motives that prompted Deputy Byrne in putting down this amendment. I appreciate his concern as to the ways and means of achieving our ultimate political goal—the unity of our partitioned nation. On any subject which treats of the ambition of a nation there will always be divergent views as to how specific objects can be attained or how they might best be accomplished. I think nobody would deny that perhaps the best way of ending Partition might be to outbid those in the North in loyalty to England and English institutions. I do not think that Deputy Byrne or any other Deputy would suggest that was a feasible method or an acceptable one. After 26 years, during which we were, so far as Britain was concerned, in the Commonwealth and of the Commonwealth, Partition has remained as great a problem as it ever was. It was at a very early stage in the past 26 years that the motto was adopted by a Northern Prime Minister “Not an inch.” Undoubtedly we were  at that time within the Commonwealth of Nations. To read Mr. Warnock's speeches and those of other members of the Northern Ireland Government now, one would imagine that over the last two or three years they have been busily engaged in drawing up a plan to solve Partition and that this Bill is knocking that plan down. We all know that is untrue. We all know that they will endeavour to maintain their identity in the North until better sense and a better idea of national responsibility force them to change their minds.
I do not see why in this very difficult period of world history we should not try to clarify our national position in relation to the territory over which our laws apply. By doing that, we are clearing the decks for action to end Partition. Unity has been the underlying spirit of this House to-night. Every speaker has expressed the hope that this country will achieve unity and end Partition. I trust that as a result of the clear definition of our status, our national efforts can be turned with advantage towards the solution of our one outstanding problem.
I join with Deputy Collins in affirming that our Party's contribution to this Bill and to this subject is in accordance with our policy and our national tradition as a Party. We regard this Bill and the objects which it hopes to attain as justified by the advice given at the time of the Treaty “to accept it as a means to achieve freedom”. We have achieved that freedom in 26 years of Irish history. Were the great Griffith and the great Collins alive to-day, they would join with every Deputy in applauding this measure. The Taoiseach has said that it is a means of achieving domestic peace. He said that was one of the reasons why this Bill should become law. No Deputy can fail to see his reasons for that assertion or the motives which prompted him into introducing the Bill. No longer in this country can there be any doubt as to where we stand. No longer can there be any reason for any section of our people having a doubt that authority in this country comes from the people under their republican institutions. If that alone were the end intended by this Bill I think that it  would have a great deal to commend it to the House, but I think it also has this important aim, that it isolates the problem of Partition and leaves it as something on which all of us, irrespective of Party, can concentrate our efforts in the future.
In conclusion, I want to express my appreciation of what the Taoiseach has said concerning doubts expressed in some quarters, either bona fide or mala fide, that this Bill represents a policy of isolationism in this country. I am glad that from the mouth of the Leader of our people and the head of our Government there is asserted the clear realisation that here we recognise our duties and responsibilities as a free country, that we are not going to shut ourselves off from other countries, that we will seek friends in other countries, that we will recognise our responsibilities to those countries and in that spirit that we will freely take our place amongst the nations of the world.
Captain Giles: As an old Republican Army officer who took the field and helped to achieve the freedom of our country, I feel grateful that I am alive to-day and that I am a member of this Parliament. This is to people like me a great day. Never did people in my position think that in our lifetime we would achieve the amount of freedom that we have achieved. We know that all we have to do is to stand firm and, with charity in our hearts, continue to work until the unity of the whole of our country is achieved. There has been a great deal of talk on a clear-cut issue. There is no quibbling and no double dealing in connection with this proposal. The Bill is straight and clear and there will be no going back. I agree with the ex-Taoiseach when he says that there is no going back. There will not be.
The chief thing that will be brought about by this Bill is national unity. When unity is achieved it will be for the common good. There is only one thing outstanding and that is to get in the Six Counties of the North. I am satisfied that that will happen within our lifetime. We have in our midst a Protestant element, and these  people can play a great and valiant part in bringing back the Six Counties. They are a grand people, a great people, even though they are in a minority. We have found them straight and honest and fair in their dealings. We respect them and we will protect them if they need protection. But these people have a duty to perform. I ask them to call to their brethren in the North to stop bickering and to think of Ireland and the need for unity and peace. If they send out that call it will have a good effect. It is up to them to do it. We of the old Republican Army from 1920 to 1927 saw one comrade after another being killed in defence of that minority. I protected many of their homes; I saved them from being burned out. It is only right that they should observe the sincerity of the Irish nation in trying to bring about the unity of this country. That unity will be good not alone for Ireland, but it will improve our relations with Britain.
I ask those people, in the name of God, in the name of Ireland and in the name of England, to do their part. I am satisfied that our influence cannot be nearly as powerful as theirs. If their cry goes out to the North, what can the people in the North say? They will say that the Irish nation needs unity and they must fall in. This is a day for Ireland to remember, because when this Bill passes it will bring peace and charity and goodwill. It is grand to see the Taoiseach, the ex-Taoiseach and the leaders of the different Parties solid and united in an endeavour to make this land a place worth living in.
Our action to-day will bring consolation to many small nations that have been struggling and having desperate times just like ourselves. It will bring consolation to Poland and Finland, countries which have been subjected to indignities, which have been coerced to do unpleasant things. Many of their people have had to die in defence of their liberties. We say to those small nations “Hold firm; do not sell your birthright. The eternal vigilance of nationalism will in time bring its reward and your day will come, as ours has come.” The small nations will give a mighty lead to a world struggling under a cloud of darkness.
 We are now on the high road and there is only one obstacle in our way. At the same time, we must realise that there is more than national freedom needed for our people. The masses need uplifting. They are not in the happy position in which they ought to be. Work and decent wages are needed by our people. When this Bill passes we can then concentrate our efforts on seeing that all these things are achieved. The uplift of our nation is important. All of us who travel through the country know that such an uplift is badly needed. I ask all Parties to unite in order to make this country a great place, better than ever it was in the past. I am satisfied that by a united effort we can make this country a place worth living in. We should endeavour to have peace and plenty, not alone for those who fought for the republic but for the Protestant minority. They should do their part now as we did our part for them in days of trial.
Mr. Dunne: Everybody who has listened to this debate cannot but feel that this is a memorable day in the history of our nation. The expression “The Republic of Ireland” has a far greater historical significance for our people than any language we could utilise here can express. In company with all the Deputies who have spoken in support of this Bill, I welcome it as a long overdue expression of the desire of our nation to be regarded before the world as a sovereign, independent nation. There is one matter which struck me as being of some importance in this connection and I would like to address a question in relation to it to the Taoiseach or the Minister for External Affairs. I would be obliged to have the views of either of them on this subject. I refer to the question of titles which issue from and are dependent upon the King. We will by this Act wipe out and eradicate the King from this country, so far as we are able, and I think it would be a healthy thing too that we should remove any vestige of imperialist power that may remain in the Twenty-Six Counties, no matter what shape or form it takes and I take it that all titles that may exist in this country, issuing  from the King, as from this day no longer hold.
I want to refer to the question of Partition, the last outstanding barrier in the way of this country's march towards full nationhood. A recent statement was made by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland to the effect that there were in this country two distinct and separate peoples. Everybody will agree that there never was a greater travesty of the truth than that statement. The Irish nation is one and indivisible, North and South, and the people across the Border, no matter what their political allegiance, whether they follow the orange or the green flag, are as Irish as everyone on this side of the Border. The orangeman, however much we at times feel irritated by his ebullience, we must agree, is essentially an Irishman, and anybody who poses the proposition that there cannot be unity between North and South because there cannot be unity between orange and green is denying history. Unity was found amongst the working people who followed both the orange and the green, notably in 1909, when the late James Larkin united the orange and green workers in Belfast in the struggle to achieve economic emancipation and later, during the course of the history of the trade union movement in Belfast, that same unity was evident. I believe that unity will come and will come on the basis of the inevitable unity of working people, who must cling together and stand together in order to get a better share of the world's goods.
As I say, I feel that this day is a day to be remembered in the history of our country, and, in common with all the other Deputies, I appeal to all sections of the people of this country to unite in one determined last effort to get over the last obstacle that stands before us, Partition. References have been made in recent weeks to the question of force being used in this matter. I am one who believes that force will not be a solution of this problem. We will solve the problem of Partition, I believe, with God's help, by a spirit of goodwill, by proving to the people across the Border that we are willing to accord to them every right that we here in the  South enjoy, and fundamentally I believe that the real solution of Partition eventually will depend upon the unity of all working people, north and south of the Border.
Mr. Sheldon: The House will doubtless appreciate that I oppose this measure from a different point of view from that of any other speaker so far. This measure is one which is very largely motivated by sentiment, and a desire, a very legitimate desire, on the part of what I am sure is the great majority in this country to pursue what they honestly believe to be the correct path of national aspiration.
I do not want to make any secret of the fact that with that sentiment I disagree. The purpose of the Bill, the sentiment behind the Bill and so on has been very fully, very fairly and very expressively explained by the Taoiseach. I have neither the training nor the ability—I frankly admit it—to meet the Taoiseach on the grounds he has put forward. I have my own view of history, but I am certainly not prepared to take on any one of the calibre of the Taoiseach in a debate on the precise details of history or the precise interpretation of the various events. What I propose to do is to be very brief and very frank and to state my opinion, which is, I think, the opinion of a minority, and to attempt to do so in so far as in me lies in a non-contentious way. It is an opinion which I think ought to be expressed. I hope the House will appreciate the difficulty of expressing sentiments which are not in accord with the general sentiments of the House.
I am opposing the Bill, first, because I do not agree with it; secondly, because I do not like the hasty way in which it has been introduced; and, thirdly—a very minor point—because I do not like the way the intention to introduce the Bill was announced. By and large, the Bill is actuated by one sentiment, a desire to leave the Commonwealth. Whether or not we have in fact been a member of the Commonwealth since 1937 is for my purpose not material. What I am concerned with is the clear intention now expressed to make our departure, in the words of  the Taoiseach, simple, clear and unequivocal. I must say that, with that policy, I am in complete disagreement. Furthermore, I believe there is a much greater volume of opinion on what I might call my side than might be supposed, having regard to the sort of thing which it has been popular to say for some time past. Since I am convinced that it is foolish to leave the Commonwealth, if I stand at the next general election, I propose to do so as one who favours our being a full member of that group of nations. To me, as an Irishman, there is nothing degrading to my status as an Irishman in being a partner with Canada, Australia and the other dominions, with the Crown as the common link.
The Crown has been described as an irritant. That is a point of view which I had hoped would have gradually disappeared. I feel that, when it is expressed that way, it is as if we were continuing to speak and think as if George I, or some earlier monarch, were still on the throne. Since the enactment of the Statute of Westminister, in what way specifically has the Crown, in fact, been an irritant? We have had, since then, the fullest responsibility for our actions, internally and externally. It is fully recognised that the constituent members of the Commonwealth had those national rights. I can quite appreciate that historically many people do regard the Crown as an irritant, because of things that have happened in the pastPersonally, I believe that the overwhelming mass of our people would certainly have given up thinking of the irritations of the past, if the dying embers had not been fanned by politicians for their own ends. That is a very natural thing for a politician to do. It is always easier to provide circuses than to provide bread.
I quite agree that, under the Constitution, there is no legal necessity to ask the people for their opinion on this matter, but there is an obvious disturbance in people's minds, which may or may not be due to certain newspapers arousing emotions. I do not think it is necessarily due to them at all. People are not quite sure where we are going, or what the effects of this will be in  the future. That disturbance, morally, if there is no legal necessity, demands that the opinion of the people be sought. Section 2 of the Bill makes me suspicious—suspicious that that recourse to the people is being deliberately avoided. The name of our country cannot be changed without altering the Constitution and, therefore, without a referendum; so in the Bill we are to be described as the republic of Ireland. To me that is a quibble, especially—and I say this advisedly—when we look back at the type of thing that was said a few years ago, by those who were then in opposition.
When Deputy de Valera was talking about the republic, scorn was poured on him because the word “republic” did not appear in the Constitution. I certainly clearly got the impression that those in opposition firmly believed that we would not be a republic until the word “republic” was in the Constitution. If it was felt essential then that, to make our position clear as a republic, the word should appear in the Constitution, why are those same people now avoiding it? I believe that the answer is that it is felt undesirable that the number of our people who are opposed to this should be clearly known. I admit I may be quite wrong about that, but there is that element of doubt. It is more than probable that my sentiments towards the Crown are not shared by most of the members of this House, but I am sure that many members, and certainly many people in the country, are disturbed by the way this matter is being rushed.
It is disturbing, to say the least of it, to find that consultations to discover the consequences have come after rather than before the decision. There was nothing said by the Taoiseach to indicate that any real attempt was made to discover what the repercussions would be. Now, I can quite appreciate the point being made that our national view was that we were determined to be a republic come what may; but I certainly do not understand it, when it is decided that it must be made clear and unequivocal that we are to be a republic,  and then, having made that decision, we start to find just what it contains. To me it is as if we were sailing along in a plane above thick clouds and jump out. We are now hurtling down and then begin to wonder what is below the cloud. Possibly, we may have been wondering even more whether the ripcord will have any effect on the parachute—what is below the cloud—a safe landing, the tops of the trees of the forest, the open sea? We just do not know. I suggest it would have been proper to have found out first.
In a matter of such importance, I believe that not only should there have been a complete prior investigation as to the possibilities but the people should have had the matter clearly before them in the last general election. Explanations on that score that have been made are to me quite unsatisfactory. To me the quibble that friendship with the Commonwealth entailed this step is nonsensical. To argue that, by going further apart we are getting nearer together, is an insult to the intelligence of those who have been repeatedly assured that Fine Gael desired association with the Commonwealth. I believe that such arguments are sophistry, pure and simple. I regret to have to state that, but that is the way it appears. There is still the mystery of the haste for this situation. I can appreciate that to many people our association with the Commonwealth is irritant. The Crown may be an irritant, but surely there were other irritants which were of a much more pressing nature? I think the farming community at any rate would agree that the rising tide in the county rates which threatens to engulf them is a more pressing irritant. We are within a few weeks of the end of the year and there is still no word of the measure to take the place of the one which expires on the 31st December.
As I said at the start, I want to be brief and frank. I have covered the points I particularly wanted to make and have tried to do so in an noncontentious way, in the circumstances that lie before me. There is just one further point I wish to make, in conclusion. I have already said that I believe the  people should have been consulted. I am still convinced of that and in order to fulfil that belief I propose asking the House, in Committee, to consider an amendment which will delay the operation of the Act until, say, March 1st, 1953. That would ensure that by law a general election must take place before this Act comes into operation. Such a long delay might not possibly be necessary but, in framing this I think it will be necessary to take into account the possibility that the House would last its full legal course. I hope that I can convince the House in Committee that that would be a desirable course. I do not want to say anything more about it now and will reserve my arguments to the proper time.
In conclusion, I reiterate that I fully appreciate the sentiments that I have stressed are those of a Northerner and I fully appreciate also that there is no necessity for a majority to pay any attention to the desires of a minority. I have not spoken in any belief that I could so persuade the House. I speak purely from the point of view that I believe that at this juncture it is important that it should be recognised that there is a minority which believes that this nation could find full expression for its national outlook and at the same time remain within the comity of nations called the Commonwealth of Nations. There need not be anything degrading in the middle of the twentieth century in accepting a symbol as a link between those nations and I believe that without some such symbol no group of nations can hold together. I do not think it is necessary to remind anybody that for a number of years, throughout the entire world, treaties and solemn conventions have had no weight whatsoever. They have merely lasted so long as it suited one or other party to keep them and they were then torn up.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Like other speakers, I intend to be very brief on this Bill. I want to say straighway that, as a member of the Fine Gael Party, I am supporting the Bill and I am supporting it without apology. I should like to say also at the outset that I think I can appreciate very  deeply the motives which prompted Deputy Sheldon to make the speech which he has just made. I should like to say also to Deputy Sheldon—and I think it is due to him—that if every Deputy opposing a measure, and opposing it with such deep feelings which obviously animated Deputy Sheldon in opposing this, were to couch their opposition in the terms which Deputy Sheldon used and make their approach in the same manner as Deputy Sheldon did, we would have a very much more orderly and pleasant Assembly in our National Parliament. I think it is due to Deputy Sheldon to pay him that tribute even though I disagree to a very great extent with what he said. I want to make this point, and I intend making it even if Deputy Sheldon had not mentioned the matter. It is a fact, which none of us can overlook, that there are in this country, as the Deputy mentioned, a minority who are in all probability opposed to this measure. As Deputy Sheldon has been at pains to point out, they are a minority, but I think no one can say that the majority of the people of the country have, at any time, acted in a manner which the minority, in any personal way at any rate, could resent. I do not think that the enactment of this Bill will cause any personal resentment to the minority.
A point of view I want to express— and I should like to put it to Deputy Sheldon and to those who think like him—is that I believe it is a mistake for members of the Dáil or members of political Parties inside or outside the Dáil, always to assume that the members of the minority of whom Deputy Sheldon spoke are necessarily unnational, if I might put it that way. I believe that is nonsense and I believe it is unjust to a very great number, if not the majority, of the people to whom the Deputy refers. I think it is a very great pity that in a matter such as this, the type of propaganda which has been indulged in, inside this House and outside it, should have been carried on. I think great damage has been done in that way in our own country and a certain amount of damage has been done abroad. I believe that if clear thinking had prevailed that damage would not have been done. I believe  that the resentment, if there is any, of the people to whom Deputy Sheldon referred would certainly not be felt as foreibly as it may be. However, I do not intend to deal with that at any length but I do think it right to mention it.
As I say, as a member of this Party I make no apology for supporting this Bill. I myself on several occasions during the last general election, and before it, criticised the External Relations Act. I believe that a great number of others in this Party did likewise. We make no apology whatever for having supported the continuance of the position as it existed up to the passing of that Act. We make no apology now for carrying into effect what is agreed by all speakers in this House to be the will of the majority of the people in this country. I believe that that is an undoubted fact and Deputy Sheldon himself has stated more than once in his speech that that is so. I want to say also that I think that anyone who reads the speech which the Taoiseach made to-day is going to be fully convinced that the enactment of this Bill is a very proper step and that the fears as to the consequences, which some people pretend will follow, will cease to exist in the minds of these people.
I am very glad the Taoiseach dealt very specifically with the suggestion that by the enactment of this measure we are going in for a policy of isolation. I think such a policy would be entirely wrong and the people of this country generally will be very pleased to know that the Taoiseach has dealt with that so ably.
The only other matter I wish to raise is the question of the amendment which has been put down. I think Deputy Byrne served a useful purpose in putting down the amendment, in so far as he directed the attention of all Deputies to the urgency of the problem of Partition but it would indeed be a pity if on an occasion which for all of us, no matter what view we may take, is a solemn occasion, this House were to be divided on this issue. The main purpose for which I stood up was to appeal to Deputy Byrne, now that he has focussed attention in a very urgent and direct way on the problem of Partition,  to be content with that, to withdraw his motion and not to divide the House.
Mr. M.E. Dockrell: This is one of the most important Bills which we have had in this Chamber for many years. I regard it personally as the most important debate in which I have had the privilege to have taken part. We are discussing the Republic of Ireland Bill. I think in order adequately to cover the ground one would require to start away back in history and discuss the relations of this country with England and the various historical aspects, up to the present day, but that is impossible. I do not intend to speak at great length but I should like to put my point of view. My point of view is not that of the majority of this House and I speak as a member on the Government side of the House, as a member of the Fine Gael Party. I speak freely for my Party know something of the views I am going to put forward. I do not believe in this Bill.
Ireland is a small country. She has been, up to now, part of the Commonwealth of Nations. I regard that Commonwealth of Nations as a group of nations in which lies the hope of the world in company, of course, with the United States of America. We are only at the beginning of the rise of the Commonwealth of Nations and I do not want this House to misunderstand me or to think that when I say the Commonwealth of Nations I am meaning England. I am not. I am meaning the great self-governing members of that group—Canada, which is already supposed to be the second greatest country in the world; Australia, which is rising; New Zealand which is rising, and South Africa. We do not know to what heights these countries will rise and it seems to me that we in Ireland, who were a part of that great body, speaking the same language, having Christian faith—because those particular members of the Commonwealth that I have named are Christian like we are—and, also, having largely the same ideals, could have had an influence on world affairs far out of proportion to the size of our country or the numbers of our population. However, Ireland must go her appointed  way because—I am not now speaking to this House—a republic is the appointed way of Ireland. It is not my way because I think Ireland could have taken a slightly different road which would have brought her to a still more glorious future. But, she is going her appointed way.
I am not, perhaps, alone in thinking that the republican way was not the greatest way for Ireland. I think it was Henry Grattan who, speaking of England, at a time when the conception of the Commonwealth was unknown, said: “Just as the sea prevents union, the ocean forbids separation.” That was long before there was any idea of self-governing States in a Commonwealth. I think Daniel O'Connell also was prepared for a form of federalism. So that, if I err in that respect, I err in good company and in good Irish company.
But there is some hope in this. I am talking now of the Commonwealth. We are a funny people, we Irish. We want to have our own way, and rightly so, and then, I think, when we have got that, we can give generously and, perhaps, although we now are about to become the Republic of Ireland, we will still remain in amity and friendship, if not in absolute membership, with the Commonwealth.
There was one thing in the Taoiseach's speech to-day which struck me very much, and it is really a profound truth. He said something to the effect that as Ireland in the last 25 years has gained one measure after another more of freedom so the relations with England became better. Now, although that seems to go contrary to common sense, it is perfectly and absolutely true, as anybody will see who takes the trouble to read something of the history of the last 25 years. So that I am not without hope that, in the long run, this Bill, as a result of our somewhat peculiar Irish virtues, will be a means of greater co-operation in the world in which we find ourselves, and we find ourselves mainly surrounded by an English-speaking world which is very friendly to us. It is for that reason that I would be long sorry to see us giving up our status and our  right to talk to the Commonwealth as an equal member.
How one views a matter like this Bill is largely a matter of sentiment. If you wish a republic, you welcome it. If you do not, you feel sorry that we should have lost that heritage to which I referred but, nevertheless—and I speak now to people outside, to that minority to which the Taoiseach spoke earlier—I say that certainly the Government in introducing this Bill are sincerely actuated by motives which, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, have malice towards none. That is absolutely true and I think that that is a good augury for the future relations of this country. I will not go into the question of why this Government brought it in, except to say that it was with the sincere wish of ending trouble in this country. Heaven knows that in the lifetime of every person in this Dáil there has been a terrible lot of trouble and bloodshed; men have died, men have been wounded, hardship has been suffered and distress too and these are things which we want to see removed from our country. If this Bill is going to help towards that, then I think it will not be in vain.
In connection with that, I am sorry that I must oppose the Bill for those reasons, chiefly because of the Commonwealth, but to some extent for the effect it will have on the North of Ireland. The question of Partition is a very vexed one, and I do not think that anybody can deal with it in one speech and I do not attempt to do so, but I do say that complicated as the difficulties have been in the North of Ireland in the last few years, unfortunately this Bill does not help. The union with the North of Ireland was far distant, but this now makes the distance an astronomical one. However, we cannot help these things; Ireland is going her appointed way, and though I do not think that in all the circumstances it is the best way, still I and others like me wish her God's speed and hope that with this Bill—because this Bill is going to be passed—will come a measure of peace in the Twenty-six Counties.
Mr. Lemass: The Taoiseach said in his speech that the passage of this Bill  would promote peace and concord and unity among our people. Deputy Lehane said the same thing. Whether or not we will have peace and concord among the citizens of this State, it is obviously desirable that we should have an agreed basis for political action. I take it that the declarations which have been made by the Taoiseach and Deputy Lehane are indicative of the termination of the controversies that developed round the enactment of the Constitution. If that is so, if we can regard that page of our history as closed, if these controversies have been forgotten, if it is accepted by all the various political sections, as, apparently, it is accepted by the leader of Fine Gael and the spokesman of Clann na Poblachta, that the Constitution enacted in 1937 is acepted as the basis for political action, then undoubtedly we have got something of value, something which tends to the establishment of that fundamental type of unity which is essential for the proper functioning of democracy. I think that the Taoiseach made for the Bill a claim which would not coincide with its provisions as he explained them, but the declarations which accompanied it are more important than the measure itself and they are a cause of satisfaction to Deputies on this side of the House. May I say that for many years, since 1922, we have been trying to secure the acceptance of the truth that unity and concord among our citizens, that type of fundamental unity which is necessary for our national progress, are possible only on the basis of the full acceptance of the national demand for independence. Anything which appeared to be restrictive of our independence was a cause of friction; every attempt to establish a workable system here on something less than full independence failed.
The Cumann na nGaedheal Party in the ten years prior to the election of the Fianna Fáil Government endeavoured to do it, endeavoured, on the basis of the restricted status established by the Treaty, to establish unity, concord and peace, but failed. If I think that the Taoiseach's hope is, perhaps, unduly optimistic, it is because the full bill of national rights has not yet been met. As long as Partition is still there a  position exists in which a cause of friction, a cause of strife among sections of our people may reappear. Let us say however, that we share the Taoiseach's hope. I want to add that I am glad of the course of events which has brought from him and from Deputy Lehane the declarations we heard to-day. Deputy de Valera described it as a welcome conversion. I am not going to argue that the conversion was due to the persuasive abilities of Deputies on this side of the House or the consistency with which they advocated their point of view. It was due, I assume, to the logic of facts and I for one am prepared to accept it as sincere. I think, however, in considering this matter and all its implications, there should be from some Deputies opposite a franker appreciation of what is happening. I think that Deputy Sheldon has a legitimate grievance against the leaders of the Fine Gael Party. I do not know what Deputy O'Higgins meant when he said that the introduction of this Bill and its support by members of the Fine Gael Party is in accordance with that Party's national tradition. It is a matter entirely for the Taoiseach's own conscience whether he can reconcile his course of action here to-day with the declarations he made when he was seeking election or even with the declarations he made following the formation of the Coalition Government. I am not trying to lead his conscience. I think, however, that it would have been from the viewpoint of securing respect for the traditions of our public life if some evidence of this change in viewpoint had been given to the electorate before the election.
Let me not be misunderstood. If there has been a change of viewpoint, I welcome it. If there has been a clearer realisation of the requirements of the national position when seen from the viewpoint of a Deputy in office rather than from the viewpoint of a Deputy in opposition, that is all to the good, but a large section of those who supported the Fine Gael Party require some fuller explanation of the reasons for the change than has been given.
I do not think it is sufficient to say that the enactment of this measure will tend to promote peace and concord amongst our people or “remove the  gun out of Irish politics.” That is a phrase I do not like. It is a phrase which will be quoted abroad to belittle this country. I do not think it is true to say that the gun has been in Irish politics—certainly not for a quarter of a century. Possibly the Taoiseach has in mind some shootings which occurred during the course of the war. It is surprising to me to know that these shootings were inspired by political motives in the sense that they were intended to influence the course of political events here. Some of them on the face of it, appeared to be inspired merely by motives of revenge. If that is what the Taoiseach has in mind, let him say so. But, if he is intending to suggest that the election of Governments or the determination of Government policy is now or has been for a quarter of a century in this country influenced by the use of force or the threat of force, then it is not true.
So far as the public knows there has been a change of policy and I think it is desirable that the members of the Fine Gael Party should face up to the need that rests upon them to explain it. This action is not in accordance with the traditions of their Party. The Taoiseach gave an account of history, with which I shall deal later, which appeared to convey a picture of continuous development from 1922 to 1937 when, with the enactment of the Constitution, we stepped out of the Commonwealth and the British King ceased to have any legal position in the affairs of this State. In the election of 1937, in the course of which the plebiscite on the Constitution was taken, the Fine Gael Party published an advertisement in the newspapers in which they declared their policy to be: “The restoration” mark the word there, “of our membership of the Commonwealth.” There certainly did not appear in that advertisement any indication of a stepping-stone policy. If there was any suggestion of stepping anywhere, it was of stepping backwards. In 1944, after the last general election previous to the one which produced the change of Government, we had from Deputy Mulcahy, the then leader  of Fine Gael, a statement that his Party stood unequivocally for full membership of the Commonwealth. These are on the records; they cannot be ignored.
I opposed the Fine Gael policy in 1937 and in 1944, and I oppose it still, in so far as I know it. But I think it is, from that point of view, wrong and undesirable that an attempt should be made here now to represent what is happening to-day as being an inevitable or natural development of the course of Fine Gael policy in the past or as in accordance with the traditions of their Party. Very few of those who supported that Party at the election will accept that contention and, if there is left in their minds a feeling that they are in any way being tricked, it is not merely the Fine Gael Party that suffers, it is the whole reputation of our political institutions.
Mr. Lemass: I am going to be much more controversial than that. The Leader of this Party has informed the House that we are supporting the Bill, but we are not going to support it on the basis of a false interpretation of history. That is what we are being asked to do. I have been asked to support this Bill, not for the reasons given by Deputy de Valera, but because I am told that the Treaty was a steppingstone to freedom. It was nothing of the kind. On behalf of those who fought with me, those friends of mine who died or who were broken or exiled in opposition to the Treaty, I am going to deny that assertion with all the vehemence I can. It is not true. I am not going to support the Bill in silence  if by doing so I am to be taken as accepting now the very contention I fought against all my life.
Mr. Lemass: Did not the Taoiseach state to-day that this is a development from the Treaty? The Minister for External Affairs has been trying to put me into a false position. I am not going to be put in a false position. I am supporting the Bill, but I am supporting it for good reasons, for logical reasons, for reasons which will stand up and bear examination, not the false reasons which were given here, partly by the Taoiseach and by other Deputies who spoke afterwards.
Mr. Lemass: It was stated here to-day that the Treaty gave us freedom to achieve freedom. I say that that is false in theory and contrary to historical fact. I say that the justification of those who fought against the Treaty and who ultimately destroyed the Treaty that it was designed to be——
Mr. Lemass: There was given to-day a picture by the Taoiseach of constitutional progress beginning in 1922 and continuing in an unbroken stream until to-day. I again assert that that is a false picture. I say here that when the Statute of Westminister was being enacted by the British Parliament the then Leader of Fine Gael and the then President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State wrote to the British Prime Minister and gave him an undertaking that the Statute of Westminister would never be utilised by them to amend the position created by the Treaty, that the Treaty would not be altered except with the consent of the British Government. Is that a historical fact?
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