Dáil Éireann - Volume 6 - 03 April, 1924


The PRESIDENT: I undertook to mention this evening the personnel of the Committee of Inquiry which the Government proposes to set up in connection with the Army. It will be within the recollection of the Dáil that on the last day that this matter was before them I mentioned that it was the intention of the Government that [2821] three persons should hold this Inquiry —Mr. Justice Meredith, the Minister for Education, and Mr. McGilligan. On Friday last General Mulcahy raised this question on the adjournment, and during the debate there was a desire expressed, I think on behalf of two of the parties in the Dáil, that the scope of the personnel of this Committee of Inquiry should be extended. I think there was an objection from a member of one party to any member of the Dáil being on the Committee. I mention these things to show that while endeavouring, as far as possible, to meet those who have spoken in this matter since it was first raised that it is not possible in view of the conflicting opinions that have been expressed, to meet all sides. Having considered the matter, we decided that we should appoint a Committee of five, two legal persons and three others. Considering the matter subsequently, we came to the conclusion that the four parties in the Dáil ought to have representation on the Committee. On subsequent reflection I decided to ask the Chairman of each of the parties to nominate a member of their party to act on this Committee. The Committee then that I was proposing would consist of Mr. Justice Meredith, Mr. FitzGibbon, who was a member of the last Dáil, a representative from the Farmers' Party, a representative from the Labour Party, a representative from the Independents, and Mr. McGilligan. I have got a nomination from two of the parties, but Mr. Johnson informs me that the view of his party and himself is that nobody outside the Dáil should be on this particular Committee; that it is a Dáil Inquiry. I cannot subscribe to that. This Inquiry was originally intended to meet a case that was put up by Deputy McGrath for the purpose of inquiring into the administration of a Department of State. Events which occurred subsequently have altered to some extent the situation, but my undertaking was to Deputy McGrath. I have not been able to see Deputy McGrath to know if the particular personnel or the arrangement of this Committee of Inquiry meets with his approval. The [2822] personnel of the Inquiry is Mr. Justice Meredith, Mr. FitzGibbon, Mr. McGilligan, a nomination with which I agree from the Farmers' Party, a nomination with which I agree from the Independents. I have not yet received one—and from what has been said to me I do not anticipate a nomination, unless a change occurs in the course of the debate—from the Labour Party. That is so far as the personnel of the Inquiry is concerned.

General Mulcahy put several questions to me on Friday regarding the Inquiry:

“We should like to know if witnesses before this Inquiry shall be examined on oath?” —There is no legal power to examine on oath upon such an Inquiry.

“Whether there shall be power to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence if required?”—There is no legal power to compel the attendance of witnesses before such an Inquiry. I might add that there is no reason to anticipate a refusal to give evidence on the part of any necessary witness.

“Whether a verbatim report of the evidence would be taken?”—Yes.

“What will be the form of the Committee's report; whether they will be expected to fix responsibility for any matters involving mutinous conduct?” —Responsibility only to the extent of how far a threat of mutiny or insubordination is due to “muddling, mismanagement or incompetence” in Army administration.

“If it is intended that the Committee will make recommendations, what will be the scope of these recommendations?”—It is not suggested that the Committee should be asked to make recommendations other than such as they may make under the terms of Reference.

“Will persons who may be involved be allowed to be present constantly at the Inquiry or to depute persons to represent them, or, alternately, will any persons involved be given a copy of any evidence implicating them in any way, and may they appear before the Inquiry for the purpose of rebutting any such evidence?”—Persons involved will be allowed to be present during the whole of the Inquiry or to depute persons to represent them, copy [2823] of evidence implicating any person or persons to be furnished to them and an opportunity to be given to rebut.

That, A Chinn Comhairle, is all I have got to say on the matter.

General MULCAHY: Perhaps the President will go into my point with regard to extending the Terms of Reference.

The PRESIDENT: I have not read that in the Report, but I accept it that it is there. It is not intended to extend the Terms of Reference beyond what I have already announced in the Dáil.

Mr. JOHNSON: I think it is due to the Dáil that we should give some explanation of our attitude. On consideration of this matter, we have come to the conclusion that, in view of the Terms of Reference and the kind of Inquiry that has been called for, which is an Inquiry into the administration of a Department of State, it is not good policy to call in persons who are not members of the Dáil, inasmuch as this is a matter for which the Executive Council is directly responsible, and the Dáil is the body to whom the Executive Council is responsible. We think this course is liable to be taken as a confession that the Dáil is not competent to inquire into the affairs of State for which it has the ultimate responsibility deputed to it. The terms of reference read out by the President last week were:

To inquire into the facts and matters which have caused or led up to the indiscipline and mutinous or insubordinate conduct lately manifested in the Army.

While it may be true that the setting up of this Tribunal was the result of a pledge made by the President to Deputy McGrath, there was at the same time, or subsequently, a pledge made to the Dáil. Deputy McGrath may have been the first person to whom the pledge was made, but subsequently it was stated to the Dáil and became then the property and responsibility of the Dáil. The facts and matters which have caused or led up to, or which may have caused or led up to, or which are alleged to have caused or alleged to [2824] have led up to, the indiscipline and mutinous conduct were referred to publicly in the Dáil, and a charge was made of incompetence, bungling, and mismanagement. When that charge was made in the Dáil by a member of the Dáil it became the responsibility of the Dáil to make inquiry into the truth, or otherwise, of the charge. It is on those grounds we take the view that such an Inquiry must be made by the Dáil, and that the report must be made to the Dáil—that it should not be a mere Executive inquiry, and in any case, that it should not be an inquiry participated in by persons brought from outside who have no responsibility to the public. Though they may be infinitely more competent than any person in the Dáil, and assuming that that be true, nevertheless we have been placed here with responsibilities and we have no right to throw those responsibilities upon persons who have not been elected. Consequently, we take the view that this should be a Dáil Inquiry, and we are not inclined to participate in this Inquiry in which nonmembers of the Dáil are asked to take part.

General MULCAHY: Deputy Johnson's point is one with which I have the greatest possible sympathy, and one which I raised somewhat unavailingly in a different form with the President when I discussed with him the personnel which he suggested to me he was going to put on the Committee. I fully appreciate the point, but I was prepared, seduced by the promise to get a verbatim report of the thing down in black and white, to come and sit before any Inquiry or any Committee set up by the Executive Council. That was my position. I was prepared to go and see what evidence could be put before a committee composed as the President has suggested. I find myself unable at the present moment to comment on my attitude. If the President forces the matter, I find myself so anxious to get things in black and white, that I would go before a committee consisting of a representative of the Farmers and a representative of the Independent Party and any other nominees of the President of the Executive Council. That is a decision actuated more by a certain amount of desperation [2825] than by any judgment on my part. I do feel, in the circumstances, that I would be prepared to do as I have said. I am prepared to waive the point that evidence should be on oath. I am prepared to waive the point that witnesses should be compelled to come and give evidence, in order to see the nature of the evidence in black and white, and in order to give myself and the officers concerned in this inquiry an opportunity of putting down in black and white what we desire to put down. The position now is a very difficult one. We heard on yesterday week the voice of an Executive Minister shooting across the Dáil and saying, when challenged on a point of responsibility, “Take a vote on it.” We thoroughly realised the implication of that particular cry. The implication of it was that if persons here had any touch of the rashness that the members of the Executive Council had when they swept away the heads of administration from the top of the Army— if there was anybody here as rash as, without any serious thought, to challenge the Executive Council here in the Dáil, and, say, take away the Executive Council, they could face the position of putting up another Executive Council.

I do feel that we are in a position now in which the Executive Council say that they cannot give the committee of a certain kind, and more particularly that they cannot extend the Terms of Reference. I heard the same voice crossing the Dáil with the same implications and saying, “Try a vote on it.” Very extraordinary things have happened, and matters involving the confidence of the people and the confidence of the Dáil in the Executive Council have arisen and I would seriously ask the Executive Council to consider it, too, and to say whether, in the circumstances that have been created, that they cannot, both in the matter of extending the Terms of Reference of the inquiry, and in extending the nature of the Committee, meet the Dáil. In the particular circumstances of the present occasion I regret that they cannot be induced to meet the wishes of the Dáil as a whole in the matter of this Inquiry. Now I say very extraordinary things have happened. I do not want to touch on the fact that the administrative hands have been taken away from [2826] the head of the Army, the hands that have held the Army administration during the past two or more years, or perhaps more. I am satisfied that what I said of the Army was right, and that the Army will carry on. I do not want to have my tongue wagging about things that at present are purely Army matters. There has also happened this —three officers have been taken away— officers who had served the State during critical times, officers who occupied an extraordinary position, say, twelve or eighteen months ago, when the whole fabric of the State here was pretty well shaken. To-day they are looking for employment. As a matter of fact, they are looking urgently for employment. Their period of service was terminated without a day's notice on the 19th March, and at the end of March they received cheques paying them up to the 19th March, with deductions for income tax, that makes the matter of finding employment more urgent. I am only aware of the case with regard to one officer. His employment was terminated the 19th March, and two days ago he received a cheque paying him, to be accurate, £15 19s. 3d., and a notification that £87 15s. had been stopped for income tax. As I say, the matter of his employment is an urgent one. These officers go to the employment market, seeking employment, and their characters have been broadcasted to all prospective employers. They go with the broadcasted certificate from the Minister, in whom employers have confidence the Minister for Education. He has broadcasted the warning that so far as the prospective employers are concerned, there are as good fish in the sea as any of these three officers are likely to be. He put it that they were people who have a touch of chieftaincy about them, and that they have a certain tendency to find that they have certain proprietary rights in places where they ought not. The person whom prospective employers regard as being a person who soon will be called the Minister for Justice has had broadcasted to them that men with the experience and judgment of the Executive Ministers had come to the decision that these men had been too long in their position, that they were men who did not keep in the Army an impersonal discipline; that they were the [2827] water that had passed under the mill; that they were persons who had done all the useful work they were capable of doing, and that some of them suffered from incurable unpopularity. The Minister for External Affairs, who would take a high and wide view of things had to say of them that they had not realised his high hopes, that they had not turned out a model army, and that even ordinary members of An Dáil, with certain and well-earned reputations for commonsense and judgment, had allowed themselves to be drawn into giving them the character that to a certain extent they wanted to be a law unto themselves. They go on the employment market with characters like that, and with the knowledge that the Irregulars and the Irregular Organisation of the country look on them as members of the Army Council who Army Councilled the Irregular movement to what it is to-day, and with the knowledge that the new type of opposition that has raised itself up against the Government on important points of policy regards them as the Army Council that they asked to get rid of. These officers who have served the State as much as these officers have served it, are put in that position to-day by the Executive Council. The confidence of the country is, to some extent at any rate, undermined in the Executive Council because of actions like that, by refusing now to give an inquiry that will give any reason, apart altogether from satisfaction, to anybody as to why these three officers were removed from their positions in the Army. Opportunity has been taken here in the Dáil to criticise and to make charges, and to throw, I may say, into a certain political place these three officers, so that if they were shown to be very, very grievously wrong in the statements that have been made here, it could quite easily be argued by the ordinary person in the street and the ordinary person in the Dáil, that because these officers had become the subject of so much noise, so much talk, and so much suspicion, whether it was founded or not, there was good reason of public policy why they should not be returned to the Army or to the positions from which they were taken by the Executive Council. The attitude taken up with [2828] regard to this inquiry is an attitude that undermines the confidence of the country in the Executive Council, and we are put in the position that we cannot get satisfaction by an inquiry without having a voice coming across the Dáil from the Executive benches with its implications, “Try a vote on it.” It is a very difficult position both for me and for the ordinary Deputies of the Dáil to find ourselves in. I question very much whether I would be justified in trying a vote, or whether a member of any Party in the Dáil would be justified in trying a vote with the Executive Council on that matter, because the Deputies are not in a happy position. It has been put by the members of the Executive Council that three of the officers who had been removed and myself are a kind of Fee-Fah-Fum Society, and that is all you know about it. It would not be reasonable and it would not be just to the country that either I or any Deputy here would take up the challenge that was thrown out by the Executive Council and take a vote on it. It is because of that, that even with the restricted Terms of Reference that the Executive Council offers, and even that persons in the Dáil feel that they could not conscientiously be associated with an inquiry, I for my part would be prepared to go into the inquiry that the President suggests, because I am satisfied that even out of that restricted and unsatisfactory inquiry a clearing of the air will come, and that the Deputies will know, at any rate they will be clear in their minds, as to whether in justice to themselves and in justice to the country they can or could take up the challenge which the Executive Council is apparently slipping again across the Dáil for the taking of a vote. I should like to bring this matter in some way to a definite conclusion one way or another, but I do not quite see how exactly it can be done. I realise the very difficult position that Deputy Johnson is in, and if the Executive Council do not see their way to move further in the matter, then I think that the next move might be with Deputy Johnson to reconsider whether he would put up or would allow a representative of the Labour Party to sit on this committee [2829] and deal with the matter as far as that committee is able to deal with it in the present circumstances.

Mr. DAVIN rose.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Are we going to take a discussion on this matter now?

The PRESIDENT: I think it is better to have a discussion on the matter now. For the past week I have given it very careful consideration, and I have made many statements in the Dáil. I am anxious that there should be in the mind of General Mulcahy a conviction that I meant to see what I stated on Friday last would be carried out, and that is that he would have justice in the matter. It was in that sense that this particular Committee was nominated.

On that Committee I had hoped to have a representative from each of the four Parties in the Dáil. As to the Chairman of that Committee, he is a judge, one of the old Dáil judges. As to Mr. FitzGibbon, I think there should be some satisfaction with regard to his ability, impartiality and his desire to do something which would benefit the State. From the way in which Deputy Johnson has taken this, I would myself add anything I could to what General Mulcahy has said, so that he might reconsider his decision. I do not know that General Mulcahy correctly interpreted the interjection of the Minister for Education when he said to Deputy Baxter, “Take a vote on it.” I am prepared in this matter to leave to the judgment of the Dáil a free vote on anything in connection with it, if General Mulcahy will put down a motion.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I have not got any written document before me setting out the Terms of Reference of this Inquiry; I have not the names of the persons proposed to constitute it, and before we begin to discuss it, I would like to know precisely what we are going to discuss and whether there is going to be any finality in this matter.

The PRESIDENT: The names of the proposed Committee are as follows: Mr. Justice Meredith, Mr. FitzGibbon, [2830] Mr. McGilligan, Mr. Gorey, Major Bryan Cooper, and one nomination is yet to be filled. I have the Terms of Reference here and also the covering letter.

Mr. JOHNSON: On a point of order, I do not want to appear to be pernickety in this matter. We have no right to ask for, or take a decision on, the Terms of Reference or the personnel of the Committee that is to be set up on the nomination of the Executive Council to report to the Executive Council. We may approve of the action of the President in forming this Committee and composing it of certain persons. But it is not a Dáil Committee, and the Dáil is not in a position to say whether these Terms of Reference are satisfactory, or whether the personnel of the Committee is one that it approves of.

It is not a Dáil Committee; it is an Executive Council Committee. As a consequence, the composition of the Committee or its Terms of Reference are not matters which lie within the competence of the Dáil to approve or disapprove; it is not in the competence of the Dáil to approve or disapprove as they would in the case of a Dáil Committee. If the President asks us to approve of his action in forming this Committee with these Terms of Reference, that is one thing; but it is not the same thing as asking the Dáil to approve of certain Terms of Reference and the composition of a certain Committee as it would in the case of a Dáil Committee.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The President does not ask for approval or disapproval. He merely makes the announcement.

The PRESIDENT: That is so. I merely make the announcement.

Mr. JOHNSON: I took it that when you were asking for Terms of Reference and the names of the Committee, you were dealing with it as a Dáil Committee.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I was merely asking the question for my own guidance. The President has not asked for approval, and no motion has been moved. I do not see where the discussion is to end, or whether it will be possible to reach any decision. I assume [2831] that if we are to have a discussion it will be in connection with the President's statement. For my own guidance I desire to have the Terms of Reference so that I could use them as a guide to discussion. The discussion cannot eventuate in a decision, because we have no motion. Unless we are going to discuss the personnel and the Terms of Reference of the Committee which the Executive Council propose to set up to report to themselves, I cannot see what we are going to discuss.

The PRESIDENT: I thought it was right to bring these names before the Committee: I had been asked for them. I thought I should meet the views expressed here on the last day by the various speakers for the different parties, and to that extent I think my pledge is carried out.

Major COOPER: As this statement by the President was postponed from Question time, would it be competent for anybody to move the adjournment of the House in order to call attention to a matter of definite urgent importance—namely, the composition and Terms of Reference of this Committee?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: It is a matter of definite public importance, but it is not a matter of urgency. It might be decided if it came on next Tuesday without any matter of national importance being seriously interfered with. I allowed Deputy Johnson to speak because his attitude had been alluded to, and I allowed Deputy Mulcahy to speak as one of the persons primarily concerned; but if I am to allow further discussion, I would like to know where we would be going.

Mr. DAVIN: I think it is a matter of urgent public importance, in view of the statement made by Deputy Mulcahy.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I have ruled that it is not.

General MULCAHY: Apparently we have got some information, but we have got no further, and if we are to wind up simply in the position that we have got some information and that the matter is to be taken up in a more [2832] ordered way at some other time, perhaps the President would repeat what he is prepared to leave to the free vote of the House.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I am not to be taken as objecting to discussion now. If the President desires discussion and the House desires discussion now, then by all means let us have discussion, but let us be clear as to what we are to discuss.

The PRESIDENT: I would be anxious that this matter should be settled and that the Committee get to work, and I am particularly anxious on that in view of General Mulcahy's statement this evening. As regards the matter that I would leave to the House, there has been no dissatisfaction on the part of the House in regard to our decision in this matter.

Captain REDMOND: Would the President leave the matter to the decision of the House as to whether there should be a Dáil Committee set up and not a Committee set up by the Executive Council?

Mr. GOREY: I am not so much concerned with the personnel of the Committee, which, I think, would be quite capable of arriving at a fair and reasonable decision; but what I am concerned with more than the names of the Committee are the Terms of Reference, which, to my mind, are too narrow. I am sure it is the intention of the President and of every member of the Dáil, to do justice in this matter, but from the very restricted Terms of Reference, as I consider the terms to be, I do not see how justice could be done, and it is upon the Terms of Reference that I rise to speak.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Then we are to have a discussion on the Terms of Reference?

Mr. GOREY: I make a suggestion to the President to reconsider the Terms of Reference. They were drawn up some ten days ago. Something has happened since. I make the suggestion to the President that he should widen them. I believe they ought to be broader.

[2833] Captain REDMOND: Before the President answers Deputy Gorey, I would like to support Deputy Johnson's contention, namely, that as charges were made in this House by members of this House, it should rather be a matter for the setting up of a Committee of the Dáil than the setting up of a Committee composed of persons outside this House. Now, I am sure there is no Deputy in this House who has not got the highest regard for the personnel of the Committee enumerated by the President. But that, if I may be allowed to say so, is not the real point. The Terms of Reference also are an important matter, but that again comes afterwards. The real question, I think, for the Dáil is whether this is a matter for a Dáil Committee or whether it is a matter for a Committee appointed by the Executive Council. If it is a matter for a Dáil Committee to decide, then the responsibility rests upon the Dáil to appoint that Committee, and, of course, a discussion is perhaps both necessary and proper, but I do submit that if it is a matter for the setting up of a Committee by the Executive Council, and that is the nature of the Committee that has been proposed by the President, then it is not a matter for discussion in the Dáil as to the Terms of Reference in the first place or the personnel in the second place, but rather as to whether the House approves of the Executive Council's attitude in the matter, I would appeal, if I may be allowed to do so, both to the President and to Deputy Johnson in this matter. It is of vital importance to us all. I think the House will agree with me when I say that nothing could have exceeded the magnanimity of the tone and candour and general desire expressed by Deputy Mulcahy that in spite of the fact that he had not been met in the various ways which he had suggested, yet he was willing, and is still willing and only too anxious to throw as much light upon this unfortunate business as possible by appearing before the Committee, although neither the composition of it nor the Terms of Reference which are to govern it have been entirely approved by him. I would [2834] appeal, therefore, to the President, who has stated very candidly that he is only too anxious, as I am sure he is, to leave this matter entirely to the Dáil, to consent now to leave this question—and I think it is a vital question —to the Dáil as to whether a Dáil Committee should be set up or a Committee of the nature he has proposed. If he does that he will be doing a service which will be appreciated by all parties in the Dáil and by people in the country. If the President does not see his way to take that course, which I would very much regret, I would then appeal to Deputy Johnson. I think Deputy Johnson is actuated by the best possible motives in the interest of the Dáil in the attitude he has adopted in this matter, but with the example set to him by Deputy Mulcahy, who, after all, has got some say in the matter—he is himself personally and intimately concerned with the whole question—I say that the example set by Deputy Mulcahy, who has expressed his willingness to appear before and to accept this Committee, is an example that Deputy Johnson might follow, because it certainly is, in this instance, worth following. For the sake of unanimity in the Dáil I would appeal to him therefore, in the eventuality of the President denying the Dáil the opportunity of deciding whether it should be a Dáil Committee, to follow Deputy Mulcahy's example and agree to the setting up of this Committee and accept the Terms of Reference whatever they may be.

Mr. DAVIN: If the Terms of Reference that have been announced by the President this evening, narrow as they appear to be, are acceptable to, or have been accepted by, Deputy McGrath on the one hand, and Deputy General Mulcahy on the other, then I doubt if Deputies would be showing wisdom by interfering from that point of view with the progress of the Inquiry. Certainly, at any rate, it will not be my intention to interfere if that is the position that we have arrived at. What I am most concerned with is that part of the President's announcement dealing with the character and constitution of the Committee. I would be very [2835] jealous of any right that I assume I possess as a direct representative of the people, especially on a grave question of this kind, to pass on my authority, or to throw my responsibility upon any outsider who has no authority from the people and who is not responsible to them in a matter of this kind. Therefore, I would urge on the President, for many reasons, that he should leave it to the free vote of the House to say whether or not it should be a Committee of the Dáil or a Committee such as that which has been announced here this evening.

The President stated that the Inquiry had been agreed to as a result of the case put up by Deputy McGrath. Personally, I must plead my absolute ignorance of the case that was put up by Deputy McGrath, because, as far as we know, the only case that he did put up was put up at a Party meeting of which we have no knowledge whatever. But part of that case, such as it is, that is supposed to have been put up by Deputy McGrath involves, in my opinion, a charge equally as much against the Executive Council as against the State Department to which he referred. Therefore, I challenge the wisdom of the Executive Council, the old members of the Executive Council, who are endeavouring to set up a Committee of their own nomination when they themselves are under suspicion. I think in a case of that kind the Executive Council should be quite willing to leave it to the House to nominate the constitution of that Committee for the reasons that I have stated. The President made a statement in reply to a number of very important questions which Deputy General Mulcahy put to him on Friday last. One of these questions dealt with the power of this Committee to compel witnesses to come forward and give evidence on oath. We have had experience of that on one occasion before, and we are now informed for the second time that the Government have no power in this case, as apparently they had not in the other, to compel witnesses to come forward and give evidence before a Committee, the constitution of which had the approval of the Dáil. I say it is high time that such [2836] powers should be acquired, and if it is necessary that a Bill should be brought forward in order that such powers should be acquired by the Government, then I say that such a Bill is long overdue. I hope that what has occurred in this instance will influence the Government in bringing forward shortly a Bill such as I refer to, if one is necessary.

We were told in the case of the Food Prices' Commission that it turned out to be a farce, simply because the Committee nominated by the Government had not the power to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of certain documents. I suggest also that a Committee of the Dáil would have, and must have in a case of this kind, although it may be restricted to a certain extent, much more powers in regard to the conduct of an inquiry, than a committee constituted with outsiders on it would have. I should have said earlier that I had no personal objection whatever to any of the members who have been nominated by the President, and who have been referred to as outsiders. I take no exception whatever to the individuals whose names have been given here. I do not know, but it may be so, that the President, in nominating a number of legal men on the committee, did so simply because he wanted to have legal advice at the disposal of the committee. I suggest that if a committee of the Dáil is agreed to and set up, even though it might not include legal men, it will be presumed to have power to call in legal gentlemen, the Attorney-General or anybody else who may be required to give a decision on any legal question that may arise.

Therefore, if that is a consideration that influenced the President in bringing in these two outsiders who are prominent legal gentlemen, I say that that aspect of his case falls to the ground; that is if they were brought in for that reason. However, the charge that has been referred to by Deputy McGrath in the Dáil is a charge of muddling, mismanagement and incompetence against a certain Department of State. This is not a Party matter, but it is a matter in which every member of the House, quite apart from Party associations or connections, has a direct responsibility to the people who sent him here. If [2837] there is any charge of that kind, and I think it is agreed that when the charge is made it should be and will be investigated, then the investigations should be made by a committee that has the approval of the members of this Dáil who have a direct responsibility to the people who sent them here. It is for that reason that I am not prepared, under any circumstances, to agree to the inclusion on a committee of this kind of men who are brought in from outside, and who have no responsibility to the people and no authority from them. I suggest in the interests of the Executive Council, whose attitude and actions will only be clear when the committee's recommendations come before the Dáil, that in their own interests and being under suspicion as to responsibility for what has taken place—because they are collectively responsible for the administration of this particular Department of State—they should allow the free vote of the Dáil to say whether the committee shall be nominated by the Dáil or whether it shall be nominated by the President.

The PRESIDENT: My undertaking was not in respect of this. This is the first time, as far as I can find out from the reports, that the claim has been made that this Committee should be a Committee of the Dáil only. The claim was made first by Deputy Johnson, if my recollection is correct, that somebody should be on it other than members of our Party. I think that was the case that was made. Then I went a step further than that. At least Deputy General Mulcahy mentioned the last day that he thought it was due to the various Parties that they should get a nomination on the Committee. Now I have met that, and having met it, I do not think it is fair that the other case should be made now that it should be a Dáil enquiry. If that is the claim that is being made now, I suggest that it ought to have been made here on the 26th March when we asked for persons other than members of our own Party to act on the Committee. Now we have allotted three more persons who are not members of our Party. Two of them are legal men, neither of whom I ever saw at a political meeting as far as our Party is concerned.

[2838] Mr. DAVIN: I am not raising the question, as I stated before, because of the alleged political claims of any of the gentlemen named on this Committee as outsiders. Many of us in the Dáil, particularly those of us who have not heard all that has gone on inside at the Party meetings, are rather inclined to sit here and listen very carefully to what is said from the Benches opposite. If I have refrained from making that suggestion before now, it was because there was no definite proposition before the Dáil until this evening.

The PRESIDENT: May I say that I did give names before. It was on giving the names that the objection was made.

Mr. DAVIN: I, at any rate, have taken this as the first opportunity that I could avail of to give expression to the view that I have given expression to here this evening, and if I stand alone on this issue I will be quite willing to do it for the reasons I have given.

Captain REDMOND: You are not the only one. I made the suggestion originally.

Mr. HEWAT: The President has indicated the lines on which he enlarges the original Committee by giving representation to the different bodies outside the Government Benches. In doing so, I think he has met any demands that have been made in the Dáil up to to-day. As far as I am concerned, had that Committee that he proposes come up as a proposition from the Executive Council I would have felt that the President had met everything that I asked him to do. But the matter becomes serious when one of the parties who were most insistent that an extension from the purely Executive Committee should be granted by the President now takes up the attitude that they will not nominate anybody on the Committee because it ought to be entirely a Dáil Committee. I have great sympathy with that line of argument, but I do think it is hardly fair that this question should be raised now for the first time. I think it places us in a very grave difficulty. General Mulcahy has, I think, said that individual deputies [2839] are in a somewhat unhappy position over this Army crisis. We all want to do what General Mulcahy claims we should do and must do; that is, to inquire into the cause of what has taken place. It is reasonable to say that we are the elected representatives of the people and that we are responsible, but in the Committee that is proposed it seems to me that the addition of outsiders does not necessarily weaken the Committee as a Committee of Inquiry. I do say that it would be singularly unfortunate if this Committee were to sit and the Labour Party were not represented on it. If, therefore, it is a case of the Labour Party persisting in not being represented on the Committee, because there is somebody outside the Dáil on the Committee, then I would suggest that the matter is too important, and that the matter of the outside representation is too unimportant, that the Dáil should be severed in this matter. Rather should we try and come to an unanimous conclusion, whereby we will all give every possible assistance to the Committee that will be set up.

I think Deputy Redmond's suggestion to the President is a fair one. If he is not in a position to persuade the Labour Party to sit on this Commission with outsiders the matter is too serious, as far as the country is concerned, to go on with the Committee. I do not know whether anything I could say would influence Deputy Johnson in the attitude he has taken up, but I do say that the constitution of this Committee, if the Labour Party is not on it, will be very incomplete.

Captain REDMOND: I just desire, before Deputy Johnson speaks, to repeat my appeal to the President. It is probably true that this is the first time he has heard the suggestion that this Committee should be a Committee of the Dáil. I for one plead guilty to the fact that I did not make the suggestion previously. However, as in other things, perhaps, better late than never. My appeal to the President was this: that if Deputy Johnson does not see his way—he and the other members of the Labour Party—to be represented upon this Committee, will he leave the [2840] question as to whether there should be a Dáil Committee appointed to the free vote of this House? That is the question that I ask the President. I know that he has gone a very long way indeed towards meeting the various requests that have been made to him about representation on the Committee, and I give him all credit for the steps that he has taken in that direction. I confess that I am now asking him to go one step further. But the step that I am asking him to take is of paramount importance, because, after all, if a Committee is to be set up to deal with a matter of such vital importance as this, it would, indeed, be a grave matter for the Labour Party, and those whom they represent in the country, not to be represented on that Committee. Let the fault lie at either door, but, at any rate, let us try to arrive at a decision whereby the Committee shall be composed of as many elements in the country as possible. I do not want to reiterate my opening statement in regard to the question of the rights of the Dáil, but I think that that argument in itself should have great weight with the President, in persuading him to come to the decision to allow the Dáil by a free vote to express themselves as to whether this should be a Dáil Committee or an Executive Council Committee. This House should be, and is, most jealous of its rights and its privileges, and on this occasion this is undoubtedly a question for a decision by members of the Dáil on charges made in the Dáil, by a member of the Dáil, against the administration of certain Departments of Government by other members of the Dáil. Nothing that anyone could say would make me depart from the stand I take that this is supremely a matter for the elected representatives of the people, and for nobody else. That being so, I would urge upon the President, having regard to the attitude taken up by the Labour Party, that he should see his way—I do not think it is asking very much—to allow the Dáil to express their opinion as to whether this should be a Dáil Committee or a Committee of the Executive Council.

Mr. JOHNSON: I recognise that the [2841] President has some justification for saying that this plea that this Committee should be a Committee of the Dáil has not been put forward in these terms before. But I want to draw attention to certain considerations. First, let me say that I am moved, and those acting with me in this matter are moved, mainly because we want to insist upon the powers of the Dáil. There are possible Committees of three chief kinds—a Departmental Committee, which is more or less a minor affair; a Committee of the Dáil, which has very considerable powers, and a specially-appointed Committee, which may have, and ought to have, given to it special powers. The Minister read out last Thursday the Terms of Reference, and there was a discussion the following day. On that day he was asked certain questions regarding the powers of the Committee and the Terms of Reference. He has answered to-day that the powers of the Committee are to be limited. The Committee is to have no power to insist upon attendance of witnesses or to take evidence upon oath. Notwithstanding his confidence that there would be no difficulty regarding attendance of witnesses and that presumably there is no risk of witnesses who do attend saying anything but the truth and the whole truth, I am not quite confident. If we have not a Dáil Committee, if we have not a special Committee with special powers, we have merely a Committee appointed by the Executive Council. If it is a Committee appointed by the Executive Council to inquire into matters of Departmental administration and to report to the Executive Council, then let the Executive Council do as they have done, and, as I presume, they were going to do—name the Committee. We have been asked to nominate somebody on such a Committee. We have not seen our way to do so. That does not prevent the Executive Council from appointing a Committee to inquire into the work of one of its Departments. We are not obstructing the appointment of this Committee. We are saying it is not the kind of Committee that is required, that it is a Committee that will not be able to make the inquiry that is necessary and which will not [2842] have to report to the Dáil. If you are to have a Committee composed of persons, some of whom may be outside the Dáil, then raise that Committee to a category where it will be of a very special kind and have very special powers, and if you are appointing legal men of eminence upon that Committee, do so because of the importance of the Committee and because that Committee has exceptional powers. In such event, the aspect will be changed completely. They will be able to compel witnesses to attend. They will be able to take evidence upon oath and they will make the most thorough possible inquiry. But the Committee that is to be set up will depend wholly and solely upon the willingness of the various people concerned to give evidence. That is not a satisfactory Committee for the Dáil to appoint. If the Executive Council thinks that it is enough to appoint a Committee of its own nominees, or persons who may be suggested to them, to report upon a departmental matter and to report to them, that is their responsibility and not ours. But, if we are asked to do this thing in the name of the Dáil, let us do it with a Dáil Committee, and that Dáil Committee may then come to the Dáil and say, “We want more powers,” and the Dáil will undoubtedly grant those powers. If, on the other hand, it is said by the Executive Council, “We do not think a Dáil Committee is capable of doing this work and think that a much more important Committee even than a Dáil Committee, a Committee set up by special Act, if you like, with special powers, should be appointed,” then let the Executive Council act accordingly, and I have no doubt we shall be quite willing to reconsider our views. I do not think a Departmental Committee, without powers, can do the work satisfactorily, because I do not think they will get the evidence that they may believe to be necessary. If the Dáil does not accept my view, that will not prevent a Committee proceeding on the lines desired by the President. It becomes a minor matter; it is an Executive Council matter then, alone, and they will proceed to appoint their own Committee. Consequently, I do not think there is any need to appeal to those of us who are sitting on those [2843] Benches to make any move in favour of the Committee or against the Committee. We simply say that such a Committee does not meet our view of what is required and we are not nominating anybody to act upon it. Give it powers or let it be a Dáil Committee, and then we are quite prepared to consider the matter afresh.

Mr. GOOD: I do not know whether Deputy Johnson is quite fair to the President in suggesting that this Committee should be a Dáil Committee. We have had a number of discussions on this subject, and I understood during the previous discussions both Deputy Johnson and Deputy Hewat to urge that other persons should form this Committee than members of the Executive Council.

Mr. JOHNSON: May I interrupt to say, as I did intend to say, that I have considered the matter more seriously than I had done before. We are all aware how this matter came upon us, and it is the considered judgment rather than the immediate or more or less impromptu decision, which has led to the course we have taken.

Mr. GOOD: To begin, I say that it is hardly fair to the President at this stage, having taken up the attitude which has been taken up, to press now that this Committee should be confined to a Dáil Committee. You will remember that when this Committee was first proposed it was to inquire into the difference that was then confined to the Executive Council, and the proposal was that it should inquire into the differences that had arisen within the Executive Council out of charges made by one member of the Executive Council against another member of the Executive Council, and that the proper Committee to inquire into that matter was a Committee of the Executive Council. When that proposal was put forward it was urged, as I have said, that that Committee should not be confined to the Executive Council alone, and I think that point was made clear because the question subsequently became a very much bigger question than the form in which it appeared before us in the first instance, as a difference between two [2844] members of the Executive Council. I agree with the President when he enlarged the Committee and took in outsiders to deal with the larger situation that had arisen. But I do not agree with the President that having enlarged the Committee to meet the larger situation, he still confines the operations of that Committee to the original Terms of Reference. As the question has developed and enlarged, I think the Terms of Reference and the personnel should have developed with the question.


Mr. GOOD: The question, to my mind, is not alone one that seriously affects the Dáil as it does at the moment, but it has become a great national question, and one of the biggest problems that the Dáil has had to deal with. To my mind the Committee that should be set up to deal with such a problem as that, would be an impartial outside tribunal whose decision would carry the confidence of the country, and I would urge the President that now, since all the different parties are not prepared to cooperate in setting up a mixed Committee of the Deputies of the Dáil and outsiders, that an impartial Committee composed wholly of outsiders, should be set up, and that the Terms of Reference should be so widened as to give that committee an opportunity of dealing thoroughly with all the aspects of the question. Furthermore I think that the Committee should be endowed with powers to enable it to call for such evidence as it is necessary to call for. That, to my mind, would be the form that that Committee should take, and I think, as I said before, that the matter is one of such importance that it calls for such a Committee. I think that having set up such an impartial Committee, and given them wide powers of reference and full powers, we have done all that we would be called upon or expected to do in this very important matter.

Mr. O'MAHONY: The matters to be determined by this Committee are of national importance. The decision of the Committee may have far-reaching consequences. A fortnight ago the country was very pessimistic as to the [2845] result of the Army differences then disclosed. Under conditions such as these, there should be no question as regards the composition of the Committee or as regards the compass of its operations. Everybody should be satisfied that the Committee should be composed of those that will satisfy every representative element in the Dáil, and that the compass of the inquiry should be one that will enable every circumstance leading up to the disturbances being thoroughly discussed, and enable the Committee to arrive at a conclusion that will make it clear to the country from what causes the present troubles arose, and what are the remedies that should be applied to prevent a repetition of them. I regret very much that Deputy Johnson cannot see his way to be associated with the Committee as it is proposed at present. The severance of the Labour Party from that Committee would be a serious loss. I know that they would approach the questions connected with the serious position that will have to be considered by that Committee, with a freedom and criticism that would be very helpful to arrive at a just conclusion, as regards what it was that caused the disruption that we have now to deal with. I feel, also, that the request of Deputy Davin is a reasonable one, that if the law does not enable us at present to take evidence on or to compel the attendance of witnesses, that a short Bill or such measure as may be necessary to enable evidence to be given on oath and to compel the testimony of witnesses, is absolutely necessary to enable the Committee to come to a definite and satisfactory conclusion as to the causes that were originally responsible for all this trouble. Personally I feel that the inclusion of two outside gentlemen would be rather helpful than otherwise. They are men whose legal knowledge would undoubtedly be of great service to the Committee in coming to a satisfactory conclusion in this matter. The Terms of Reference, too, should enable a full and exhaustive inquiry into all the causes to satisfy the demand—what I would consider a reasonable demand—made by General Mulcahy last week. He has given us an admirable instance this evening of the sinking of self, and whilst he states he is not satisfied with the compass of the inquiry, [2846] he is prepared under these unsatisfactory conditions—conditions that undoubtedly would be a disadvantage to himself personally—to contribute all he can to enable a definite and correct solution to be arrived at, as regards the troubles resulting from the Army differences. I would add my appeal to the appeals of the other Deputies in the Dáil to Deputy Johnson to ask if he and his party could not reconsider their decision. After all, the inclusion of these two legal gentlemen, to my mind, would be helpful. It is a case in which we should not differ over what, after all, is a trifle. The dignity of the Dáil will not suffer anything by the inclusion of these two gentlemen. They will, as I have said, be helpful as regards the reception of evidence, and I consider their inclusion of much more consequence than the compass of the inquiry, for if one is to measure the compass of the inquiry on the basis of the inquiry into broadcasting you can discuss everything, because there they discussed everything from the establishment of a Casino to the rebuilding of Cork.

Mr. McGRATH: I am sorry I was not in to hear the names of the proposed Committee. I have had a list handed to me, and I expect that is correct. Personally, I do not see any reason why two legal gentlemen from outside the Dáil should be brought into this inquiry. I will just take you back to the day when I promised to make a statement on the succeeding day to the Dáil, and to my acceptance of a statement by the President on that succeeding day that a Committee would be set up to inquire into charges I had made, or was prepared to make. I was at all times ready to give here in the Dáil any information I had. I was asked not to, and I agreed.

I do believe that, in view of the fact that publication of what will be brought up at this inquiry may not be wise, the best thing to do is to have each Party represented in the Dáil represented on this Committee of Inquiry. That will place individual members of the Dáil in the position of seeing that at least there is nothing kept from the Dáil. If and when the question of publication arises, the [2847] Dáil will be the best judges as to whether the public should get the full details of what went on at the inquiry.

I think I mentioned to the President last week that as far as one legal representative was concerned, it might be necessary to have him, as there might be a necessity to keep things in order. What is required in this is not the legal mind, but the commonsense mind. Legal people do not control all the commonsense of the country, and if there is any necessity for a legal man, it is merely to keep matters in order. I believe that if there is any obstacle in the way, it is the very composition of the Committee. The classes represented by some of those nominated will be a barrier to me in taking part in this inquiry. It will not be a barrier as far as I am concerned, but it will be a barrier to the people that I may be speaking for. It may prevent their participation in the inquiry and affect some of the things they would have to say when they are there.

Things have changed a great deal since I agreed to attend this inquiry. When one hears people speaking of powers to make witnesses attend, I think those people are very wide of the mark in introducing anything at this moment to compel people to attend—particularly at this inquiry. My position at the moment is this: You will remember that last week I mentioned I was keeping an open mind. The principal witnesses that I have to depend on at this very moment say, and say very definitely, that they will attend no inquiry and give no evidence.

I sincerely hope that I will be able to get over that difficulty. If I do not my position will be perfectly clear. It will be then quite plain that I cannot, and will not, have anything to do with the inquiry. It may be said that that is a very extraordinary attitude to take up. If you remember the events that have taken place since I agreed to attend the inquiry, and if you consider them you will see that after all there is some reason behind this action and some reason why they will not attend [2848] as witnesses. They have been treated, as I alleged before, and as I allege now, in a scandalous fashion, just as I have been treated myself. There have been broken agreements.

I appealed to them to wipe this out, as it were, and they have agreed to do so. They are out now, and their attitude is that they are finished, and let the Dáil or the Government or anybody who likes clear up the mess; they will not lend a hand. That is their attitude. It may be right, and it may be wrong, but there is a good deal on their side. If I can get them to agree and get over that difficulty, I will attend the inquiry. I do not want to say definitely that I will not attend the inquiry. I am of opinion there is no necessity for bringing two legal gentlemen from outside to form part of this inquiry. As a matter of fact, there is one legal gentleman already named, Deputy McGilligan, who would be quite competent to keep things in order, and he is a member of the Dáil.

As regards the representative from the Independents, and particularly the one mentioned, I have no objection; he is a bit of a mutineer himself. Those, together with a representative from Labour, and a representative from this Party, would be quite sufficient to inquire into everything that will have to be inquired into. People need only have a little common horse-sense in order to arrive at a proper decision. I think it would be a calamity, and I would regret it very much, if Labour is not represented on the Committee. If the President is not definitely committed to it, I think he might reconsider that point regarding confining the Committee absolutely to members of the Dáil.

General MULCAHY: Is Deputy McGilligan's position as Minister for Industry and Commerce a full-time one or not?

The PRESIDENT: It is a very full-time position. There are several points raised in connection with this matter which, as I have said already this evening, are now raised for the first time. We knew perfectly well, when I undertook to set up this inquiry first, that there was no legal power to compel the attendance of witnesses, and there was no legal authority for administering [2849] oaths to persons giving evidence. We knew that. If there were that power in our hands I am positively certain the inquiry would not be in the nature of an inquisition. We could not, as it were, take a man off the street by the back of the neck and say to him: “We want to examine you on what you know about the Army and its administration.”

I do say, without intending any disrespect whatever to a Committee of the Dáil, that this question is not a question which would admit of absorbing something like four months of our time and resulting in 600 pages of a verbatim report. It is reasonable to assume that if this Committee means business its inquiry should be over inside a fortnight.

I think the plea made by Genaral Mulcahy on behalf of certain officers who have now to earn their living is one that should be considered. His plea was that it is a matter of urgent necessity with them that this subject should be dealt with, and it is possible to deal with it within a reasonably short space of time. I have some experience of inquiries, and in a few spare moments I have read over some of the evidence submitted to the Broadcasting Committee. My experience is that I think much of the material that was under discussion there would not have been allowed as evidence. We are not in any worse position now in regard to having authority to administer, than we have been since we started.

The application was made to us first, or the representation was made to us, for the inclusion of somebody other than what was called the Party or the Cabinet in the Inquiry, and we consider we were more than meeting that by extending it in the form in which it is proposed now. I do think that while Deputy Johnson may be perfectly within his right, and his Party may be within their right, nevertheless, either when this Committee is sitting or afterwards, he will come to the conclusion that it would be a mistake to stand out from it and not to take part in it. His is the only Party in the House not doing so, and he has been at all times anxious that the authority of the Dáil should be supreme, and should be admitted as such. Very well, if you take [2850] up that attitude and if you admit, also, that every Party in the House is a part of it, you cannot stand out and say then: “I resign my responsibility.”

Mr. JOHNSON: This is not a Dáil Committee.

The PRESIDENT: I said so from the beginning, but it was put to me that we should associate the Dáil in this matter, and I am associating it to this extent, that so far as the various Parties in the House are concerned, I have put on three members from other Parties to one from my own. And to that extent no longer can the allegation be made that we are acting with injustice.

Mr. JOHNSON: There is no suggestion of injustice.

The PRESIDENT: Well, then it is a question of business.

Mr. JOHNSON: It is a question of the constitutional authority of the Dáil.

The PRESIDENT: On that question I have already said this was a matter of a Cabinet inquiry, and I thought we were entitled to call upon all Parties at the particular moment to subscribe their quota towards solving this problem or trouble, or finding out the cause that led to this regrettable incident. We certainly are entitled to do that.


The PRESIDENT: That is a strange conception of one's responsibility—the strangest I ever heard, and this is the first time I ever heard it.

Mr. DAVIN: What Parties would the outsiders represent?

The PRESIDENT: I have already explained; we cannot afford four months for an Inquiry of this sort, and it is unreasonable to expect that a Committee of Inquiry on this matter, before it can make up its mind, should have six hundred pages of printed evidence. That is my answer to that question. We were invited to bring before the Dáil everything; to tell the Dáil everything, and we have taken this opportunity of doing so, and now we are told you cannot do it that way, you must do it another way.

[2851] Mr. JOHNSON: The Committee will not report to the Dáil?

The PRESIDENT: No. But every member of the Committee will have all the information that transpires at that Inquiry, which is the next equivalent to bringing it before the Dáil. I submit it is not fair to ask me to leave this to a free vote of the Dáil. What is meant by a free vote is that the Party Whips will be withdrawn. Does it mean that if the Party Whips are withdrawn and the vote is against me I will not resign? These are matters which ought to be explained. I am prepared in this matter where there is danger of injustice and of unfairness—where any person affected by this is likely to feel there is any injustice to be done to him —I am prepared to leave that to the free vote of the Dáil—free to that extent, either to bring about the resignation of the Executive Council or not to bring it about—either the one or the other. If it be asked that it should be a free vote without any resignation of the Executive Council I agree, and if it be asked the other way whether it should bring it about I agree also. Would Deputy Johnson object if I nominated him from his Party to act upon this Committee of Inquiry? If he agreed I would include his name as one of the members, so that his Party would be absolved from any responsibility in taking the initiative in regard to the matter.

Deputy McGrath asked me why bring in two legal men. I think I have explained that. This is a matter that requires attention immediately. I do not know to what extent it may be possible for either, or both, of these two gentlemen who have kindly consented to act upon this Committee, to sit day after day if required; I do say, having regard to the appeal of General Mulcahy this evening, that this is a matter that ought to be dealt with urgently and at once, therefore, there should be no delay, but a real attempt to try and find out this cause, and see if it is possible to remedy that, and if the Committee thinks fit, to apportion the blame.