Dáil Éireann - Volume 2 - 12 December, 1922


Mr. GEORGE NICHOLLS: A Chinn Chomhairle, it is with feelings of joy mixed with sorrow that I rise to propose the following resolution:—

“That the Dáil returns thanks to the Governor-General for his speech and approves of the legislative programme of the Government as outlined therein.”

I say it is with feelings mixed with joy and sorrow. Joy, because to-day in the meeting of the Oireachtas the last touches have been put to the work for which the late President Griffith and the late Commander-in-Chief sacrificed their lives. Sorrow, because to-day we have still that mad minority bringing destruction on the country. And hope, I may say, because I believe that that [103] minority will soon either come to or be brought to their senses. I was very pleased with the stress that was laid in the Governor-General's speech on the restoration of order, because undoubtedly until order is restored in this country no progressive work can be done, and recent happenings show that we are dealing now not with idealists, but with fanatics. I think that no thrill of horror, although we have had many thrills of horror, could have been as strong as that which ran through every sane man and woman who read of the dastardly occurrence at Deputy McGarry's house. That shows the necessity, to my mind in any case, for strong measures to restore order in the country. I am also very pleased with the intimation that a Franchise Bill will be brought in, because the one argument that was used against the Treaty in the old Dáil was that every adult, man and woman, had not a vote. Under this Franchise Bill every adult, provided he is of good behaviour, will have a chance of pronouncing on the destinies of his country. Reference to the reform of the judiciary also appeals very much to me. There is no doubt that the old judicial system, i.e., the pre-Dáil Eireann judicial system, was to my mind hopelessly inadequate and incompetent. The judges did the best they could, but they were dealing with an obsolete and effete system. The old Dáil, the second Dáil, established a system of its own. That was purely a war measure, and everybody knows that it was. We know that decrees were given behind which there were no executive powers and they were not worth the paper they were written on. I understand that while a Committee will immediately be constituted to reform the judicial system, that Committee will also see that provision will be made for enquiry into these decrees, and that those that should be validated will be validated and that a general enquiry will be made into them. The portion of the speech dealing with the sanction for Local Government I presume deals with the legislation of the amalgamation of Unions. There is no doubt about it, the second Dáil did marvellous work for economy in the amalgamation of Unions, but there is no doubt now that [104] we have an Oireachtas and a Dáil that that economy that was effected will have to be reviewed and such of it as was proper will have to be legalised by legislation. I would also like to draw attention to the portion of the speech dealing with the Amnesty Proclamation by the late Commander-in-Chief, General Collins. Some dastardly occurrences happened in this country after that Amnesty Proclamation. I think the worst of all happened in my own constituency, Galway, but I must say that if it happened in Galway it is notorious it was not done by any man from Galway. This Amnesty should be absolutely frank and honest, but I think the other side should be just as honest and entire about the Amnesty as we are. I have a particular interest in this matter, being a Connaught representative, in the Connaught Rangers, and I think if we are honest and above-board on our side in the Amnesty the British should be just as honest and above-board on their side. I was very pleased to hear there would be legislation introduced to provide pensions for the wounded National soldiers and for the dependants of those who were killed. I think this Dáil can never realise what we owe to those noble, gallant men who are going around at the risk of their lives every day. No infamy is big enough to try and kill them—mine-traps of the most diabolical kind, unarmed soldiers shot, everything possible that can be done is done against these gallant defenders of their country's liberty, and I think it is about time, when we hear so many protests against anything done in a legal way by the Government——.

CATHAL O'SHANNON: And illegal.

Mr. NICHOLLS: That the rank and file of the Government supporters should speak out their minds and let the Government know that so far as they represent the country it is behind them in their action.

Mr. JAMES DOLAN: I beg to second the motion proposed by Deputy Nicholls, and I may say that I am pleased to know from the speech that has just been delivered to us that there is provision made for legislation governing the many immediate interests of the country. I recognise, too, that the first aim of the Government must be to establish law [105] and order, and in the action they are taking they are assured of the will of the Irish people. They may rest assured the people are behind them. It was also mentioned that we are going to have legislation dealing with the land of Ireland. We know that the land question has been for years a very big question, particularly in the congested districts, and the people will be pleased to know that we are going to tackle the land question and introduce here, in the people's own Parliament, backed up by their own representatives, who are sent here to voice their opinions, a Land Bill doing justice to all. When I think of this one item and of the great good that could be done by immediate action it is sad to imagine that in the Congested Districts of Ireland to-day you have so much Irregularism, Irregularism incited on by the inducement held out from those who are in armed opposition to the Government stating that the Irregulars can have the land for the taking of it. Well, this is the people's Parliament and our answer to such Irregular action is that people will get justice here. Those uneconomic holders and those landless men living in the Congested Districts will be looked to by the representatives they have sent here. I look upon myself particularly as a representative to voice the opinions of the Congested Districts, because I come from one of the Congested Districts of Ireland and I would like at this stage, when we have announced that we intend to introduce a Land Bill, to ask these people in opposition not to be taking Irregular action, but to have their views voiced here by the representatives that they have sent here. This is their own Parliament, and their own Parliament will give them justice. Now I would like to emphasise the fact that we are faced with compensation claims amounting to, perhaps, forty millions. This is a tremendous drain on the country, and if the destruction goes on it may amount to a hundred millions. Think of what this forty millions could [106] do in the Congested Districts to relieve congestion in the extreme West of Ireland. When I think of it it is indeed overwhelmingly sad to imagine that now when we have got control of everything that counts in the machinery of government people are so misguided as to listen to the wild shoutings of those who are chasing the clouds. I am pleased, too, to notice, as the proposer has stated, that steps are to be taken to legalise the Amnesty, and I, too, express the hope that there will be no niggardliness on either side in this Amnesty and that the Connaught Rangers will be sent back to their native country to enjoy the freedom which we have won and for which they, in their own way, struck a blow. All of us are unanimous in our determination to see that the wounded soldiers are not forgotten and I am pleased to notice that legislation on this point is to be introduced, that they will be properly provided for, and that the dependants of these gallant men who have laid down their lives to give us liberty will be properly seen to.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: The address that we have just heard was quite strange to us, and the Proposer and the Seconder of this motion are more conversant with its contents than the other members of the Dáil would be. Would I be in order in moving that the debate be adjourned until to-morrow in order that we may have an opportunity of reading the Speech and considering the matter?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The motion is quite in order if seconded.

Mr. J. MacBRIDE: I beg to second it.

Motion made and question put: “That the debate on the motion be adjourned until 3 o'clock to-morrow.”


The Dáil adjourned until 3 o'clock on Wednesday, 13th December.