Dáil Éireann - Volume 67 - 12 May, 1937

Bunreacht na hEireann (Dréacht)—Dara Céim (d'aththógaint).

Question again proposed: “That the Dréacht-Bhunreacht be read a Second Time.”

[191] Minister for Finance (Mr. MacEntee): When I was speaking last evening I had not the advantage of having before me the exact text of some of the statements for which Deputy Lavery made himself responsible in the course of the debate last evening. I have since, however, had an opportunity of perusing his speech, and as a result of that I have to marvel at the audacity with which Deputy Lavery was consistently inconsistent. For instance, in dealing with the position of the new President he says: “The functions he exercises if he (the King) is Commander-in-Chief of the forces, if he signs Bills in order that they may become law—if he does all these formal things, it is because he is a tradition and a symbol. It is quite another thing for this State, where there is no such tradition, to take the cue from that traditional institution to appoint a President merely for the purpose of doing these formal acts.” The formal act in this case is appending his signature to a Bill which is the final enactory act and the promulgating of the statute.

The other formal thing is that the President can act as commander-in-chief of the defence forces. But, scarcely three minutes later, Deputy Lavery, in dealing with the same high office, the office of President of the State, says:

“As I say, the President may hold the same views or different views from the head of the Government. In either case, he may be a source of danger to the State because he is supreme commander of the forces.”

That position has no longer become a purely formal one, as Deputy Lavery held it to have been about 200 words before. In the course of three minutes, it has become a position in which the President may be a source of danger to the State. Then—

“he must sign Bills before they become law; he must promulgate the law,”

says Deputy Lavery three minutes after he has informed this House that the signing of a Bill and promulgation of a law is a purely formal act. The fact that there is a person to sign the Bill has created a source of [192] danger to the State, according to Deputy Lavery three minutes after he has proclaimed that the act is merely a formal one. Then he goes on to say:

“He has the right of pardon and commutation and, above all, he is not answerable to either House in the exercise of his powers.”

Let me again remind the House of what Deputy Lavery said in this latter part of his speech dealing with the position of President. He said: “He may be a source of danger to the State because he is the supreme commander of the defence forces. He must sign Bills before they become law; he must promulgate the law. He has the right of pardon and commutation and, above all, he is not answerable to either House in the exercise of his powers.” I find it very difficult to believe that a gentleman with the high public reputation that Deputy Lavery enjoys could have made a statement of that sort, categorically dealing with aspects of the Presidency which may become a source of danger to the State, and including in that category the fact that the President was to be supreme commander of the forces and that he must sign Bills before they become law and that he has the right of pardon if he had read the Constitution. The fact that the President has these three rights under the Constitution, according to Deputy Lavery, constitutes him a source of danger to the State.

I say that I find it hard to believe that a gentleman who enjoys the public reputation that he enjoys should have made himself responsible for making such statements in so important a debate as this if he had read the Constitution. If he had read the Constitution and, consequently, made these statements knowing that, in fact, there is no foundation in the text of the Constitution for them, then I can only assume that Deputy Lavery has lent himself and lent his high legal reputation to the service and use of the Opposition for the purpose of bamboozling the public in regard to this matter. There cannot be any other explanation. Either Deputy Lavery did not read the Constitution, or Deputy Lavery is consciously, [193] and for the propose of the Opposition in this debate, lending himself in order to mislead and deceive the public. It is a shameful thing that a person who, as I say, enjoys a high public reputation should lend himself to a trick of that sort.

Let us see what the position is in regard to the supreme command of the forces. If Deputies will turn to Article 13 they will find that Section 4 of that Article provides that “the supreme command of the defence forces is hereby vested in the President.” That is the section which deals with the command of the defence forces. But Section 5 of the same Article goes on to say “the exercise of the supreme command of the defence forces shall be regulated by law.” It is clear that for a certain purpose the supreme command of the defence forces is vested in the President. Why? In order definitely and for all time to take the Army in this country out of the arena of politics. The President, according to this Constitution, is to be the non-political head of the State. Notwithstanding the suggestions that have been made here in the course of the debate, that that is not practically possible, I say that there is no serious force in the objection, and I do believe that we shall see that ideal realised. We have, Sir, a non-political judiciary. Several members of that judiciary have served in this House as members of a political party both under the present Administration and under the Administration of our predecessors. Is there any person here who will get up and say that the conduct of these judges since they were elevated to high office has been other than non-political and non-partisan?

Mr. MacDermot: They had not to undergo election.

Mr. MacEntee: They had to undergo election. The former Chief Justice of this State was elected as member of a Dublin City constituency, and appeared in this House as Attorney-General for a political party and the Government——

Mr. MacDermot: I will not be overpessimistic about this point if the Minister will allow me to say——

[194] Mr. MacEntee: I think I have grasped the Deputy's objection.

Mr. MacDermot: I would like to remind the Minister of what happens in America where the judges have to be elected.

Mr. MacEntee: Yes, but the position is entirely different here. I am perfectly certain that the one sure way for the President to secure re-election ——

Professor O'Sullivan: Oh, oh!

Mr. MacEntee: ——will be to abstain from active participation in Party politics during the period that he holds office, and show that he will not be a partisan and that he will be, what under this Constitution he is intended to be, the head of the State, charged with a solemn duty to safeguard and secure the liberty of every citizen irrespective of Party.

I was going on to show that the reason why the President is to be in supreme command of the Army is in order that the Army might definitely be taken out of Party politics. He is to be the people's President and to represent all the people in the State, and the people will understand as he is to be the titular head of the Army that the Army is to be the people's Army and is there to defend the rights of every citizen under this Constitution. That is the position as the Constitution envisages it.

What of the position in which the Army has been placed by those who criticise us for selecting the first citizen in the land to be the supreme commander of the Army? What is the present position of the Army? If it is undesirable that the supreme command should be vested in the President, what is to be said with regard to the present position of the Army which under Section 5 of the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act of 1923 is vested in that political body known as the Executive Council, which not merely has to undergo election by the people but subsequent nomination and, in the case of the President, subsequent election and nomination by a vote of this House? Here is the present position of the Army. “The command-in-chief of and all executive and administrative powers in relation to the [195] forces including the power to delegate authority to such persons as may be thought fit shall be vested in the Executive Council and exercised through and in the name of the Minister for Defence.” I am interpolating “for defence” there. The section continues, “the Minister who shall not however allocate to himself any executive military command and who may not be a member of the forces on full pay.” What effective difference is there between the command of the Army as at present embodied, and which by the statute is vested in the Executive Council, and as it will be under the new Constitution where the supreme command will be vested, as I have said, in the President and where it is provided that the exercise of the supreme command is to be regulated by law?

How can the President in such circumstances, even if he has dictatorial ambitions, utilise the Army in order to realise such ambitions? But Deputy Lavery, who is a learned lawyer and who, not for the first time, has considered constitutional matters and not for the first time has considered the position of the Army and the defence forces under the existing Constitution, comes along here and says that the position under the new Constitution, which if anything is an improvement on the present existing Constitution or, at all events, on all fours with it, would become in certain circumstances a source of danger to the State. Again, I say that Deputy Lavery could not have studied these Articles if he made that statement in sincerity and in good faith. He could not have read this Draft Constitution carefully, nor could he have read the statutes relating to the present command of the Army and the disposition of the defence forces if he made that statement in good faith.

Then another attribute of the President, which Deputy Lavery alleges would constitute the President a source of danger to the State, is that he has the right of pardon and commutation. Undoubtedly, the President has that right. It is conferred on him, I think, by Section 6 of Article 13, which reads:

[196] “The right of pardon and the power to commute punishment imposed by any court exercising criminal jurisdiction are hereby vested in the President.”

That is provided for in Section 6 of Article 13 of the Draft Constitution, and with this saver—

“but such power of commutation may, except in capital cases, also be conferred by law on other authorities.”

The saver, so far as the aspect of the law which I am at present discussing is concerned, is not of great importance. But what is of great importance is Section 9 of Article 13, which goes on to say:

“The powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution shall be exercisable and performable by him only on the advice of the Government, save where it is provided that he shall act in his absolute discretion or after consultation with or in relation to the Council of State, or on the advice or nomination of, or in receipt of any other communication from any other person or body.”

The House will notice the provisos and savers in this section—

“save where it is provided that he shall act in his absolute discretion.”

Otherwise the powers and functions conferred on the President shall be exercisable and performable by him only on the advice of the Government. If Deputies are interested in this matter, I would ask them to turn to Section 6 of Article 13 and they will not find any proviso in the text of that Article empowering the President to act in his absolute discretion.

If the right of pardon and the power of commutation are vested in the President by Section 6 of Article 13, according to Article 9 those functions are exercisable and performable by him only on the advice of the Government, and the Government are responsible to this House and to the people for whatsoever advice they might give to the President in a matter of this kind. Is not that the present position? Deputy Lavery, who can conceive a source of danger in the fact that the [197] President, elected by the people, has the right of pardon and the power of commutation, did not see any objection to having that right vested in the nominal representative of another power and another authority. A former Governor-General had the right of pardon and the power of commutation. A former Governor-General exercised it, as the President under the new Constitution will exercise it, on the advice, and only on the advice of the Executive Council, the Government of the day.

What difference is there between the two positions? If there is no difference between the two, what justification is there for Deputy Lavery, a person who enjoys a deservedly high reputation as a lawyer and as a public man, getting up here and endeavouring to arouse uneasiness in the public mind because the head of the State, as the symbol of the people's authority, is the source of mercy and consideration in the State? Again I say that Deputy Lavery must not have read this Constitution. Deputy Lavery is a lawyer. His high legal reputation should not be used in order to bamboozle and deceive the people as to what really is involved in this important document.

Let me come to another aspect of this matter. I referred to that part of Deputy Lavery's speech which was delivered about three minutes anterior in time to the portion in which he described the office of President of the State as a source of danger to the State. I come back to that portion of the speech in which he says that if the President signs a Bill in order that it may become law, he does merely a formal thing. I wonder has Deputy Lavery—I am not a lawyer, I am a layman—read and studied this Constitution and is it his considered opinion that under it the President, when he signs a Bill, does a mere formal thing? That may be the position in England, but it certainly is not the position of the President under the new Constitution, because the President's signature under that new Constitution is of the utmost public importance. It carries with it two public guarantees.

We all of us know the confusion which has been created in one of the [198] leading communities of the world, one of the most powerful and one of the wealthiest States, by the fact that laws which were passed by the Legislature were afterwards declared by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional. We know the confusion which that possibility creates in the public mind. We know the uncertainty which, in consequence of such a possibility, permeates business circles. We know how the whole course of trade and industry might be impeded and held up by the fact that an important measure touching the economic interests of a large number of citizens, even while it is in operation and even though it has been in operation for some appreciable time, might be declared by a judicial authority to be unconstitutional. It is a difficulty which those who have to frame written Constitutions must deal with. They are writing the fundamental law of the State and if the State is to develop and if the law is to be accepted and the whole machinery is to work, people at any rate must have a reasonable assurance that the laws under which they live are valid laws and will prevail.

That difficulty has been faced in this Constitution in this way, by the power which is given to the President and by the duty and responsibility which are imposed upon him before he signs a law of being reasonably certain in his own mind that it is not contrary to the Constitution. It does put the President undoubtedly in a position of great power, but I think no less power and no less authority is necessary if the democratic régime is going to survive in this country. One of the criticisms most frequently levelled against democracies is that they are so slow and that they are so uncertain; that when decisions are taken by democracies they may be reversed, or, where the democracy has a written Constitution, that some other people, some other court and some other organ not at all amenable to the people may step in and overthrow or override the decisions of the Legislature.

At the same time, if we are to have constitutional government at all, even the Legislature must be bound by the [199] Constitution, and one of the functions and duties and responsibilities which is reposed in the President under this Constitution is that before he appends his signature to the law, if he has any doubt in his mind about it—and a doubt must for him create the prima facie case—that the proposed enactment may be repugnant to the Constitution—he must refer the matter to the Supreme Court and if the Supreme Court, having decided the issue within a reasonable period of time, find that the enactment is not contrary to the Constitution, he signs the law and his signature to that law is no mere formal act. It is the guarantee that, at any rate, that law was not contrary to the Constitution.

The other important function which the President has under this Constitution is this, that upon him there is cast the responsibility of seeing that, if a fundamental change is to be made in the law which, in his view, is of such moment, importance and effect as to, I should say, upset the real balance in the Constitution, and if the majority of the Second House and a substantial section of the Lower House have also taken that view, the whole matter is referred to the people, who express their views upon it; and the President's signature to a law is a guarantee that, in fact, either he does not believe that or that he, believing it, has not got the necessary support in the other two organs of the Constitution to enable him to take a referendum of the people. Therefore, it is not true to describe the President of the new State as a mere formal functionary. He has important constitutional duties to discharge, and the fact that he appends his signature to the law is a guarantee that he has, indeed, discharged them.

Let me come back again, Sir, to that part of Deputy Lavery's speech in which he was painting the new President as a bogeyman for the delectation of his colleagues on the Opposition Benches and of such people as might be so foolish as not to read and study this Constitution for themselves. For, Sir, the Constitution is drafted so lucidly and so clearly that those who do take the trouble to study the document as a whole will not be deceived [200] by statements such as Deputy Lavery has made himself responsible for. I come back, however——

Mr. Dillon: I thought we were going to come to Deputy Lavery's speech.

Mr. MacEntee: I am dealing with Deputy Lavery's speech. In the short compass of six lines, Deputy Lavery has made himself responsible——

Professor O'Sullivan: For all this?

Mr. MacEntee: For all this. Precisely—for all this—because Deputy Lavery contended himself with making bald statements and not adducing one title of evidence to support his case. Deputy Lavery and Deputy McGuire, as lawyers, ought to know what would happen to them if they went into court and made a pure ex parte statement and did not produce a title of evidence in support of it.

Professor O'Sullivan: That is very nice—very gentlemanly.

Mr. MacEntee: I said, Sir, that in the short compass of about four lines Deputy Lavery has made himself responsible for no less than five misstatements, but I come to one, which is not a misstatement, but which has been included simply to heighten the horrific picture of the powers of the President which Deputy Lavery was endeavouring to put before the people of this country; and that is that the President has the right of pardon and is above the law. Now, Sir, it is an extraordinary thing that Deputy Lavery, who feels that there is a menace to the State in the fact that the head of the State should be above the law, does not object himself to the immunity which, under the existing Constitution, certain other people enjoy in respect of the law. I have heard statements made in this House, particularly by one Deputy from the Opposition Benches, which, if they were made outside, would involve that Deputy in a charge for criminal libel. I have heard Deputy James Dillon get up and charge Ministers of this House with nothing short of corruption, and Deputy Dillon, in that regard, has been above the law. An action for libel would not lie against him or against Deputy Patrick McGilligan in regard [201] to statements which they make inside this House, and which they are careful to make inside this House. Why is that? It is because that according to Article 18 of the Constitution, these Deputies, so long as they are members of the Oireachtas—and they must be members of the Oireachtas so long as they are Deputies—enjoy a certain immunity. Article 18 says:—

“Every member of the Oireachtas shall, except in case of treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest in going to and returning from, and while within the precincts of Dáil Eireann, and shall not, in respect of any utterance in Dáil Eireann, be amenable to any action or proceeding in any court other than Dáil Eireann itself.”

So they are above the law—they are above the law of libel and slander— and so long as their utterances are made in Dáil Eireann they are outside the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts. They are subject, of course, to Dáil Eireann itself, and can be made amenable in the Court of Dáil Eireann, because Article 18 clearly does contemplate that, for certain purposes, Dáil Eireann might constitute itself a court to try, say, Deputy Dillon or Deputy Patrick McGilligan.

Further, Sir, not merely under the existing Constitution are persons above the law, but institutions and things are above the law, because Article 19 lays it down that:

“All official reports and publications of the Oireachtas or of Dáil Eireann shall be privileged, and utterances made in Dáil Eireann, wherever published, shall be priviledged.”

So, not merely are Deputies above the law, but in regard to utterances of theirs delivered in Dáil Eireann which, if they were not delivered in Dáil Eireann, would, if published in any newspaper, make that newspaper liable to be sued, a special privilege is conferred upon the newspaper, and that is the present position in regard to some of the minor institutions, or rather some of the institutions of the State.

[202] Professor O'Sullivan: Minor institutions?

Mr. MacEntee: Well, possibly I was thinking of the individuals, and not of the institutions. However, not merely do Deputies enjoy a certain immunity and are they above the law in certain respects, but Ministers of State also are above the law in certain other respects, or may be above the law in certain circumstances. We are not responsible for having drafted the Ministers and Secretaries Act of 1924. That was drafted and enacted in the time of our predecessors, but it contains a provision to the following effect:—

“Ministers may sue and, subject to the fiat of the Attorney-General having been in each case first granted, be sued under style or name aforesaid, and may acquire, hold and dispose of land for the purposes of the functions, powers or duties of the Department of State of which he is head or of any branch thereof.”

So that, in certain circumstances, Ministers may be immune, not merely from the consequences of utterances made in the Dáil, but from the consequences of certain of their acts. If they can prevail upon the Attorney-General —if they were so ill-advised and so wrong as to try to prevail upon the Attorney-General not to issue his fiat, in certain cases Ministers cannot be sued. They are above the law, just as in certain circumstances it is proposed to place the head of the State above the law. That immunity was formerly a far-reaching one. Prior, I think, to the passage of the Transport Act or the Road Traffic Act—I am not sure which—of 1934, the Minister for Finance could not have been sued. If a vehicle belonging to him were to kill a pedestrian in the street, an action for damages even would not lie against him, and any payment that might be made to the dependents or personal representatives of a pedestrian killed in such circumstances would have been made as an act of grace. It would not have been made because the Minister was responsible under the law; in fact, he was not.

[203] We, all of us, know the old principle that an indictment against the Crown does not lie, and the position is the same as regards the judges.

Mr. Hogan: And you are Ministers of the Crown?

Mr. MacEntee: Yes. Until December last Ministers were appointed by the Governor-General.

Mr. Hogan: So the Minister is a Minister of the Crown?

Mr. MacEntee: But as long as a person was Minister of the Crown an indictment against him did not lie. Why should the head of the State, why should the people's President, be put in a less privileged position?

Mr. Hogan: The divine right of kings!

Mr. MacEntee: Yes, and the divine right of peoples if the Deputy wants it that way. We may go to whatever extremes, right or left, we wish, but ultimately the circle closes. In any event, the gentlemen who could not see anything wrong in permitting the representative of the Crown to be above the law come along now and say, as true democrats, that the people's President, the symbol of the people's authority, the guardian of the people's constitutional liberties, should not be placed by our Constitution at least upon the same plane as the Constitution which they drafted, and of which they got the people to approve, placed the representative of the British King. And, Sir, what ill consequences have flown from the fact that the Governor-General and the Ministers of the King in this country have hitherto enjoyed the immunities to which I have referred? We are dealing now with constitutional theories. Deputy O'Sullivan laughs. Deputy O'Sullivan even taunted us with the fact that we were Ministers of the King. We were until December last.

Professor O'Sullivan: What are you now?

Mr. MacEntee: We were until December last, when the functions of the Sovereign in our internal affairs [204] completely vanished. One of the grounds upon which the Opposition are prepared to criticise this Constitution is that it confers certain immunity upon the person chosen by the people to be the head of their State. We are told that this is going to be a source of danger to the State. But is it, in fact, true that the head of the State is placed in so privileged a position as to be above the law? I have said that I could not believe that Deputy Lavery had read this Constitution, for, if he did, he could not have made himself responsible for some of the statements to which he has given the support of his public reputation. Under Section 10 of Article 12 it is laid down that the President may be impeached at the instance of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of Seanad Eireann for treason as defined in this Constitution, or other high crimes or misdemeanours. If Deputy Dillon or Deputy McGilligan may be tried by the High Court of Dáil Eireann under the existing Constitution in respect of any utterances in Dáil Eireann, surely the High Court of the Oireachtas is as competent and is as suitable a tribunal before which to impeach a President who may be guilty of treason as defined in this Constitution or other high crimes or misdemeanours?

Provision is made in the Constitution, which, I think, it will not be necessary to avail of, but, should it be so necessary, will be availed of, to make the President amenable to certain aspects of the law, those aspects of the law which touch his administration and conduct in the high constitutional office to which he has been called. If he is guilty of the supreme crime of treason against the State or other crimes or misdemeanours of equal gravity, provision is made here in the Constitution to make the President amenable to the law. But for the lesser offences, would it be a seeming thing that the person who has been chosen by the people to be the keystone of their State, to be the apex of their political organisation, to be the symbol of their authority, should be hailed before the ordinary courts of the law and made answerable to those courts for minor crimes and [205] offences in respect to which you grant immunity to the judges of those courts? If it is wrong that the President of the State should be granted the immunity which is conferred upon him by Section 8 of Article 13 of the Constitution, surely it is equally wrong that judges should be granted a similar immunity, that Ministers of the Crown should be granted a similar immunity, and that in respect of the most despicable crime in the whole calendar, the crime of slander, immunity should be granted to certain Deputies of this House—to all Deputies of this House, only there are some who are more careful of their neighbours' reputation than to be guilty of the crime. That is the position.

Mr. Dillon: Does the Minister know the difference between a crime and a tort?

Mr. MacEntee: I should like, before I sit down, just to deal briefly with the amendment which is before the House in the name of Deputy Donnelly. I am as interested as Deputy Donnelly in this problem of Partition. I am as concerned as he is that Partition should be undone and our country reunited. Therefore, if Deputy Donnelly's amendment would, in fact, do anything to restore the political unity of our country, I should have a great deal of sympathy with it. But, let us study the amendment and particularly the reasons which are set out in it—the purposes for which Deputy Donnelly asks that the Second Reading of the Constitution be deferred to a date not sooner than 1st January, 1938. The first of these is that a special Governmental Department be set up for the purpose of uniting and co-ordinating all the anti-Partition forces in Ireland, North and South. If this Constitution is passed, will it make it any more difficult to set up such a special Governmental Department?

But would it be practicable, in fact, to set up such a special Governmental Department to-day for the purpose of uniting and co-ordinating all the anti-Partition forces in Ireland North and South, irrespective of political or religious outlook? The purpose is an [206] ambitious, is a comprehensive, one. I presume it would mean that this Governmental Department would take upon itself to encroach upon the territory of another administrative unit in the country; it would get in touch with public representatives there, irrespective of political or religious outlook, and co-ordinate and unite them for the purpose—in so far as any purpose is expressed here—of focussing world opinion on this grave national issue, and pressing the English Government to reopen negotiations on the reunification of Ireland. Does Deputy Donnelly, or any person who really understands the position as it exists in the North to-day, think that any Governmental Department, any Department established under the authority and with the support of this Dail, has the slightest chance of doing anything practical or effective to unite or co-ordinate all the anti-Partition forces in Ireland North and South, irrespective of political or religious outlook?

How would Deputy Donnelly, for instance, deal with the people who do not acknowledge the authority of this Dáil at all? How would he deal with those who, possibly, might be broadly classified as having the same political outlook as we have in so far as they would seek to reunify the country, but who feel at this moment that their best chance of doing anything to serve this country is to go and sit in the Northern Parliament? Again, how would he deal with those others who, while they would be prepared to accept the authority of this Dáil, at the same time would not seek election to the Northern Parliament? How does he think that it would be possible for any Department set up, as I said before, under the authority of this Dáil, to unite and co-ordinate people holding these three divergent views? I think Deputy Donnelly ought to have told us how this union and coordination was to be brought about, before he asked the Dáil to take the very serious and grave step of deferring the Second Reading of this Constitution until a date not sooner than 1st January, 1938. At least, I think he ought to have been in a position [207] to say to this Dáil, when he was bringing in this resolution, that he had received assurances from people who might not merely not have the same political, but not even the same religious outlook as the great majority of us here, that they would be prepared to act in union and in coordination with each other, and in cooperation with this Governmental Department in order to bring Partition to an end. It is easy to put those fine, florid phrases down on paper——

Professor O'Sullivan: Hear! Hear!

Mr. MacEntee: ——but it is much more difficult to try to devise machinery which will give practical effect to them.

Mr. Dillon: Hear! Hear! A Daniel come to judgment!

Mr. MacEntee: The next reason which Deputy Donnelly advances for deferring the Second Reading of this Constitution is that our attention should be devoted to organising the Irish race abroad for their assistance and support, and focussing, through the home and foreign Press, world opinion on this grave national issue. How, Sir, could world opinion be better focussed on this grave national issue than it has been during the last ten days by the publication of this draft Constitution, which includes, among other Articles, Articles 1, 2 and 3? I think that more has been done by the publication of this Constitution to direct world attention to the fact that our country has been divided than could be done by any Governmental Department or Governmental agency. Yet, notwithstanding the fact that this draft Constitution has, in such a signal way, drawn the attention of the world and of the Irish race at home and abroad to the fact that our country is partitioned, Deputy Donnelly asks us to defer consideration of it until a date not sooner than 1st January, 1938.

The fourth reason put forward is that we should press the English Government to reopen negotiations on the reunification of Ireland. I think Deputy Donnelly ought to have been much more explicit than in fact he was in dealing with that aspect of his motion [208] when he was speaking in this House. He ought to have told us what exactly he means by this proposal to press the English Government to reopen negotiations on the reunification of Ireland. In every discussion which the present Government has had with the British Government in regard to matters affecting the relations between this country and Great Britain, the fact has been stressed that there will be no really satisfactory solution of the difficulties until this question of Partition is met and solved to the satisfaction of the whole people of Ireland. The matter has been kept continuously before the minds of British statesmen, and I think that any person who studies their Press, who studies their pronouncements, must have but one opinion, and that is that they themselves are sufficiently aware of the vital importance of trying to find a solution for this very vexed problem. But that solution is not going to be hastened, and no greater pressure could be brought to bear upon British statesmen to solve it by giving effect to the terms of Deputy Donnelly's amendment.

I do not see how such statesmen could be thrown into such a state of panic if we deferred giving a Second Reading to this Draft Constitution until a date “not sooner than January 1st, 1938,” that they would be prepared to reopen negotiations on the reunification of Ireland. I think it is much more likely that the passage of this Constitution would make them consider the problem of Partition much more seriously than would its deferment to a date “not sooner than January 1st, 1938,” and therefore I think that while Deputy Donnelly may have been quite justified in putting down this motion in order to call attention to the existence of the Partition problem, nevertheless I cannot see that any practical good will come from the Dáil adopting and giving effect to it. I am perfectly certain that when Deputy Donnelly studies the position for himself he will see that there is no use pressing an amendment of that sort.

I am sorry that I have detained the House so long in regard to this matter. I have had to deal with some of the [209] statements for which Deputy Lavery made himself responsible. I hope, however, that I have not dealt with him in such a way as to intensify the asperities which sometimes exist in this House. I hope that if the debate on the Constitution is to be continued that, instead of playing the old political game of trying to create bogies and point to dangers and pitfalls where in fact they do not exist; that instead of surrounding this Constitution with fictitious objections, those who do feel and who still carry in their hearts some remnant of the spirit that inspired them in 1916-21 will come along and say that “after all, we know that this is the sort of Constitution that we would like to have been able to draft and put before the people in 1922; this is the sort of Constitution that we thought when we signed the Treaty we should be able to get for the people; this is the sort of Constitution which contains no symbol of British authority; this is a Constitution drafted, as I said yesterday, for Irishmen by Irishmen, and we will co-operate with the Government in making it as sound and as good as possible.” It has been our responsibility and it has been our lot to prepare the original draft. It has been drafted as carefully as men could do who had considerable experience behind them, by men who have gone through a rather trying time during the past four or five years. We have seen the dangers to which democracy may be exposed if there is not a proper balance of power and authority in the Constitution. We have tried so far as we can to secure the people and the State against such dangers. I hope that those who sit on the opposite benches will appreciate the spirit in which this Draft Constitution is offered to them: that instead, as I say, of trying to create bogies, that they will come along and deal with the facts of the Constitution, which has its merits and no doubt its defects also. Let us hope that we shall all try to enhance its merits and remedy its defects, so that we may make this Constitution, which is to be the fundamental law of the State, one which will give us stability in internal affairs, one which will enable us to restore peace and [210] concord among our own people, one which will give us a rule of order to guide us in the future—in short, a Constitution to which all our people will subscribe and which they will accept as binding upon them as loyal citizens of the motherland.

Professor O'Sullivan: After the very concise and conciliatory speech of the ex-Minister of the Crown who has just sat down—ex- only since last December —of the ex-Minister of the King who has just sat down, ex- only since last December, I feel chary about discussing the Constitution at all. In view of the gentle spirit with which the Opposition has been dealt with and of the fact that we have been asked to consider this Constitution in a non-Party atmosphere, it is very difficult, I confess, to live up to the high standards that have been set us by the Minister—his conciseness, clarity of exposition and clarity of expression. I hope, Sir, that he did not raise a new constitutional issue. I cannot recall all that happened last December, but I hope sufficient provision was made to carry him over from being a Minister of the Crown to being a Minister of State. I hope that that was properly looked after and that he is now a Minister of something. That is a matter that does not quite arise at the moment, but I was a little uneasy about his position. I did get the suspicion— I do not know if it was well-founded— I hope not—that there was an effort being made, judging by the length of the speech we have listened to, to create an artificial interest in this Constitution that it otherwise lacks. It is very hard to understand the speech of the Minister under any other supposition. For, the fact is, that this Constitution that proclaims all sorts of things has not evoked the slightest interest in the country for which it has been promulgated.

We have been asked by the President to consider this in a non-Party fashion, not to make it an election issue. That is the last thing the Government would think of doing! They really want the people of this country to concentrate on the real facts that the people ought to concentrate on, the economic issues [211] and the development of the country, but the last thing the Government would desire would be to make this Constitution a Party issue at the elections, and so divert their attention from these matters! For that reason, fully carrying out that spirit as the Minister who has just sat down has carried it out, we have the President going down to Clare to a Fianna Fáil Convention and orating there on the Constitution. At two other conventions we had two Ministers who also dealt with the Constitution. I admit, according to the views of the Government, that nothing could be more above Party, nothing more national, than a Fianna Fáil Convention. The best proof of the non-Party attitude was the line taken up by the President. He asks us to do these things. I might have been a little surprised if I had not very long experience of the President, if I did not know that the President's words very often mean the very opposite of what they seem to mean on a first examination. The non-Party atmosphere! Full criticism and full co-operation!

We see an extraordinary display of pettishness—I cannot use any higher term—when there is an attempt to point out some very patent omissions, some very patent faults, in this Constitution. People are railed at and told that they are deceiving the people; that they are prostituting their high position in a great profession to Party interests merely because an attempt is made to bring before the people and the Dáil certain grave faults in this Constitution. We have had repeated in the House here by the President himself and by his Minister—the ex-Minister of the Crown and the ex-President of the Crown—that any important criticisms that were put before the country and before the House could only be explained by a desire on the part of those putting them forward to deceive the people. Yet an attitude of high reasonableness is adopted by the very people who resent the slightest criticism of anything that they do or of anything in this Constitution. That is all called the spirit of democracy!

I do not think the country thinks this is an important measure. I know [212] it does not. My experience for the last six months, when there was talk about this Constitution coming forward, when everybody expected to see it week after week, is that there was not the slightest interest in the Constitution. Since the text has been published, down the country and here in the city I find no display of interest in this Constitution by the great bulk of the people. We know perfectly well that when there is anything of any importance on in the Dáil, the approaches to Leinster House are crowded and there is difficulty in finding places in the strangers' gallery and in the ordinary gallery. The absence of any such demonstration of that kind, any such physical attendance of the people at the entrance to the Dáil is symptomatic of the profound interest of the people of this city and of the people of the country in this Constitution! There is no interest in this Constitution in the country. When dealing with an ex-Minister of the Crown like the President I do not like to use the word rigmarole. But if he had not been in such an exalted position—and we heard to-day from the Minister for Finance how exalted the position of a Minister of the Crown is—I would almost call it a rigmarole to which we had to listen.

It is impossible to believe that the President expects the people to take this thing seriously. The people, as I say, do not take it seriously. The President asked us to do certain things. He asks for a detailed, careful, non-Party, judicious examination of this Constitution and he adopts measures to secure that any deliberate or full consideration of it by us or by the people is impossible. If he wanted any such consideration, why does he bring it in now on the eve of a general election? Why did he not bring it in two years ago? Why not postpone it for another 12 months until the election is over, so that people can be interested in the details of the Constitution, if they feel so inclined?

How can they be interested in the details of the Constitution at the present time? Everybody who knows this country knows that they are much more interested in the general election [213] and the result of it than they are in this pettifogging amendment of the Constitution brought forward here. They are not interested in this amendment of the Constitution. It is wrong that it should be brought forward now. The pretence is that we are going to have the verdict of the people on this Constitution. We are going to have nothing of the kind. In present conditions, it is impossible that you can get the real verdict of the people on this Constitution. The bulk of them are not going to bother their heads about it one way or the other. They may vote for or against it, but whether they vote for or against it, it will not be as a result of having examined the Constitution or of the interest displayed in it.

The President, by fixing this debate now, by putting the decision to the people on the same day as the general election, as I understand he is going to do—whether it is on the same day or not does not matter so long as the election looms ahead or looms there with the Constitution— has seen to it that the people will not give this Constitution the consideration that he professes it deserves. Many will simply ignore it. Then the claim will be put forward that this Constitution has got the fiat of the people; that the people consented to the shackles this Constitution puts upon them. Nothing could be further from the truth than such a contention.

Any referendum under present conditions with a general election on vital issues, in which the people are much more interested than they are in this Constitution coming on, is a mere sham and adds nothing to the authority that an instrument like it has. He has taken every step—and it is very difficult to believe that in doing so he was not acting deliberately— that would militate against his professed desires in this particular matter. We had him yesterday deliberately adopting an attitude of sweet reasonableness in proposing a measure that is not reasonable and a course of conduct as regards that measure that is the opposite of reasonable, namely, asking the people to consider it at the present time.

Yesterday we had a striking example [214] of the difference between the professions of the President, on the one hand, and his practices and actions on the other hand. He made an appeal to the lawyers to help him with this Constitution. It was quite obvious that he was quite genuine! The only condition he would require—but he did not state it—was, that they would agree with him. If they stated that it was splendid, that all the criticism levelled at it in the Press was wrong, then they were men learned in the law and good sound patriots. That is what he meant by asking their help. Their help to amend the Constitution meant praise for everything in it, not a word of criticism. I admit that the President always did love that sort of liberty. I will admit further that he will not impose anything on any body so long as that body does what he wants. The lawyers will have his full approval and nobody could be more hearty of approval in circumstances of that kind. A learned man in his profession is the person who is blind to the faults of this Constitution. A good Irishman and a sound patriot is a man who follows the President to the destruction of the interests of the country.

He told us that when drawing up this Constitution he was not thinking of the lawyers. I will say for him that he never had much use for lawyers or courts, Supreme or otherwise. He confessed yesterday that he did not think they were up to much, even the Supreme Court, so far as protecting the fundamental rights of the people is concerned. He would like something better. He is always striving for the ideal he can never get. He tells us that he did not think of the lawyers. He had only the plain people of Ireland before his mind. Did he consult them about this Constitution? Was there a tittle of an indication of what is in this Constitution before it was published? He will say he is going to consult the people; they are going to have a choice; they can reject this Constitution if they like. Is that consultation—to fling a document of this kind at the people and say, “Take it or leave it”? That is what he calls [215] consultation; that is looking to the wishes of the people by flinging it at them in circumstances that prevent them considering them. They cannot, as I have said, possibly consider this Constitution. They are much more interested in other matters; their minds are full of other things. Therefore, there is no consultation with the people, though he professes such a profound desire to consult their wishes and fall in with their desire. As far as we can judge, every word of the President's yesterday backs this opinion up. What has been the attitude really adopted? Consulting the Irish people? Completely unnecessary. The obvious way for the President to consult the Irish people is to look into his own heart, and when he knows what is there he knows what the Irish people want. Then he retires to his study. I do not know that he even consults the Cabinet—he may have. Listening to the President one would think he did not consult them, but listening to the Minister for Finance one could see that there was a kind of effort made there to say, “We have some responsibility for it, too.”

The President retires to his study, looks into his own heart and produces this. Then the Irish people are to say whether they will have it or not, “take it or leave it.” They have to take it or leave it, but if they do take it, the shackles that are in this Constitution will be bound on them for a long time. That is democracy! That is looking after the interests of the people! That is letting the Irish people express their views! A plain, simple man coming forward in plain, simple language that everybody interprets differently puts forth his views on fundamental matters before the ordinary people of Ireland. And of course, suffering from his ordinary complaint, the poor man is misunderstood and his words are misinterpreted ! Nobody can understand him! Of course it is always their fault that they cannot understand him! It is not always through want of intelligence that they are at fault; they wilfully misunderstand him. It is a hard, wicked world, Sir. I wonder [216] why he does not retire to the garden and eat worms, everybody is so bent on misinterpreting his plain, obvious words and wishes. But the plain words seem to mean something different from what he says he intends. Yet to call these words in question is almost high treason, though luckily not so provided for in the Constitution. But there are Articles in the Constitution which if passed would prevent the Press calling these things in question. Understand that the people must be educated to have a proper respect for the Government, so we may be accustomed in the future to find that the Press had better get into a proper frame of mind and get to understand the real wishes of the President behind his words. But unfortunately it is not with the wishes of the President that we are concerned just now. It is with the words that are being put before us in this Draft Constitution. We had the familiar bleat from the President in Clare recently and here yesterday that he is being misinterpreted and misunderstood. Is it not time that the President was able to make some one statement that was clear to somebody except himself? The President has had pretty fair practice in the making of statements, and he ought to be able to express his views now so that the ordinary person might understand him.

We on this side have a certain amount of difficulty in discussing this instrument. I feel, and I think the people feel, that the whole thing is a deception. It is undoubtedly a matter of importance for the official Opposition Party how far they should lend any countenance to what is a deception of the people. The people at the present moment are faced with a deception. This is intended to be a red herring across the path of the ordinary people to divert their minds from the ordinary things which they are to face. Let any member of the Government Party speak for 2½ hours, 3½ hours, or even 4½ hours, and indicate to us what problem, national or economic, that faces this country at the present moment is brought a single inch nearer solution by the enactment [217] of this amendment of the Constitution? I do not ask that the Constitution should solve these things. The answer will be easy enough, and we will be told that that is not the business of the Constitution. But I want to know how this Constitution helps and what contribution it gives towards solving these problems. These are weighty problems. And when these weighty problems are waiting to be considered we are asked to divert the attention of this House and the attention of the country from really important matters affecting the people to trifles of this kind so far as the good is concerned, but not trifles, unfortunately, where everything is concerned, because there are matters in this Constitution that give ground for a certain amount of grave uneasiness.

We have been told about the urgency of this matter. What is the urgency? We are told by the President that this is most urgent. Why? Why is it necessary that this discredited Party and its dying Parliament should bring forward as its last act this particular matter? Could it not wait until the country has pronounced on the policy of the Government as a whole? Could it not wait until the country has pronounced judgment on this Dáil and on the Government Party? What is the urgency? There is none, Sir, except the imminence of the general election and to divert the attention of the people, so far as the Government can do it, from the really serious problems that the people have to face. That is the only urgency, and that is why we are getting this instrument now at the eleventh hour or the half-past-eleventh hour. You will not get a genuine verdict of the people on this. In the circumstances it is impossible. You cannot. Is it a fair thing to put a matter of this kind, not a simple matter that can be dealt with definitely, but to put a conglomeration of principles and powers before the people and say: “Take it or leave it?”

I believe in the Two-Chamber Legislature. That is not there at present. I admit, as far as the Second Chamber is concerned, this is much the [218] same kind of Constitution, and there is much the same method of electing it the Second Chamber as that which the President condemned and damned a short time ago. It is not an ideal Constitution, of course. Some time ago the President wanted an ideal Constitution and would have nothing else. Yesterday he almost suggested that it is we who are demanding the ideal Constitution. We protested against any such desire, knowing it could not be got. Supposing I am an ordinary elector in the country, and I am in favour of two Houses of Parliament. Very good. If I am in favour of that and want it, I must also submit to the new super-Governor - General. That is not a proper thing to put as a referendum before the people, for it is a constitutional law and so will bind you for a long time and will be extremely difficult to change. It will be most difficult to get people to take part in these referenda in the future. We shall have a spate of them. It will be really a difficult thing in the future to alter the Constitution by one iota. The referenda will become more frequent, real nuisances, and people will ignore them. The necessary majority probably will be there, but can you get it? We can get only a machined verdict. I can understand a straight, simple issue being put before the people in one or two sentences in which you are to say whether you are in favour of what is proposed or against it.

But to put forward a whole Constitution of this kind and say that if you want a Second House you will have to swallow the super-Governor-General— that is most unreasonable. And remember the permanency. This is not an ordinary law. So far as it is in the power of the President, he has tried to make it permanent. He has copper-fastened it down upon the Irish people so that it will be extremely difficult for them in future to shake themselves free from the shackles he is now placing upon them.

I shall not discuss the trivialities and the puerilities that there are in this Constitution, but there are a couple of things with which I should like to deal. [219] I cannot help dealing, first of all, with one particular matter in the speech of the ex-Minister for the Crown. Here is the statement: “It is easy to put these florid phrases down on paper, but much more difficult to devise machinery to give them practical effect.” I wonder was he referring to certain Articles in this Amendment of the Constitution? It would look as if he were, because the Constitution itself almost provides in one particular case that “we are putting these things down on paper but we cannot give them practical effect.” The Minister is quite right. It is very easy to put general principles down on paper, but it is extremely difficult to devise machinery to give them practical effect.

In Article 45 we have this extraordinary statement:—

“The principles of social policy set forth in this Article are intended for the general guidance of the Oireachtas. The application of those principles in the making of laws shall be the exclusive care of the Oireachtas, and shall not be cognisable by any court under any of the provisions of this Constitution.”

It is extremely difficult to devise machinery to give practical effect to certain things, but it is extremely easy, as the ex-Minister of the Crown would say, to put them down on paper. I admit, if you take a number of these principles individually they are excellent. They are certainly harmless, and some of them are splendid. I could say that some of them might be taken out of a Papal Encyclical. They are very sound.

But my difficulty is this, that even Papal Encyclicals are rather difficult to interpret. People have an extraordinary habit of taking what they like out of documents of that sort. I have seen an Encyclical directed against Communism so interpreted as to be almost a demand for Communism. Similarly this Constitution may be variously interpreted. You have a set of principles here, no doubt excellent and splendid, but I find myself face to face with this difficulty, that they can be interpreted and accepted in practice by the most extreme individualist, [220] on the one hand, and a rather advanced Communist on the other hand—as a matter of practice. I have no doubt the courts will find it easy to interpret these things, and I have no doubt the Oireachtas will find great guidance in these particular matters.

As regards Article 45, I understand its social principles are not very seriously meant by the President, because I think he told us yesterday that they are more or less like the headline of a Party programme. Anything more futile than the headline of the Fianna Fáil Party programme I cannot imagine, and it is an insult to these principles to put them on that level. When you come to the principles dealing with the rights of private property, not one of them could I quarrel with; they are absolutely sound, but, taking them as a whole, I cannot make up my mind whether they are an incitement or otherwise. I am not saying that of them in the context from which they may have come originally. As the Minister for Finance will put it, it is easy to put down these things in black and white, but it is so hard to carry them out.

There is another objection, and it is a more serious objection, I will frankly confess. There is this danger: there are serious menaces threatening society. With these I have often dealt, and I have a very uneasy feeling that there are a certain number of people in high positions in the State of this country who think they have done all that is necessary against this menace when they have put down a few principles on paper. They think that the menace is scotched; that the bulwark is set up, and that the mere setting down of these things relieves them of the responsibility of facing the real problem of how to deal with those things. That is the real danger and you have it illustrated in another portion of this Constitution.

I can quite understand some of the motives that are responsible for Article 4, which is very unlike the Minister for Finance in one respect —it is very brief. “The name of the State is Eire.” I can understand the emotion that led to that change. If I were a cynic, I might say I [221] can understand that the man who puts forward proposals for the new powers of the Governor-General that we find in this amendment of the Constitution is desirous to knock out the word “free,” but, I take it, his desire was to express Irish unity. But is there not a danger? Supposing we are internationally recognised, as we are as a State, the unit that is recognised is this State. The unit that will be recognised is this State where this State has jurisdiction, and that is the Twenty-Six Counties. Internationally, therefore, Ireland and the Twenty-Six Counties become identified and instead of bringing the Six Counties into Ireland, you put them out of Ireland internationally. Ireland and the Twenty-Six Counties under this proposal become identified. The Six Counties are expelled from Ireland. They were in it before; you had that common name, but now all that will be changed. That is the danger of thinking you have solved problems by writing a few sentences on paper. That is one of the objections I have to things of that kind. They blind you to the real issues.

There are certain matters that cause grave uneasiness. With one of them we are very seriously concerned and we will have to propose an amendment. One of the matters to which the President directed his attention yesterday was the rights of women. I am prepared to make that a test case so far as his sincerity is concerned—I mean his sincerity in his explanation yesterday—or his capacity to interpret this document that he evolved out of his heart and brain and now puts before us and says everybody can understand. I cannot grasp why it is that the President cannot see that he has destroyed the constitutional bulwark of women's rights. He said yesterday that this Constitution does not deprive them of any rights they have.

They had the vote yesterday. They have it to-day. The professions were open to them yesterday and the professions are open to them to-day. Quite so. The Constitution does not do away with these things, but it makes possible laws that will do away [222] with these things and that will still be in conformity with the Constitution. That is the real issue, and the President knows it, and he is throwing dust in the eyes of the people by saying that we are taking nothing away from them. He is taking away their constitutional guarantees and he knows, as the head of a Government, that that actual provision, which he deletes owing to the sensitiveness on his part with regard to the rights and privileges of women, actually has been the guardian of their rights and privileges. It has prevented governments from discriminating against them, and the President knows that very well. When efforts were made to discriminate against them, these very words, which the President now proposes to delete, were their salvation so far as their rights were concerned.

Reading the report of his speech yesterday and also his speech in Clare, the President conveyed to me the impression of a man suffering from a bad conscience because he was caught out. He was slipping this thing nicely and quietly through, and because it was pointed out to him by the ex-Attorney-General and by the women's organisations that the effect of this would be to discriminate against women, we had an immediate display of temper by the President and an evasion of the issue. The issue is not whether the Constitution deprives them of certain rights which they have now, but the issue is that it makes it possible for ordinary law to do so, and that is the issue the President cannot evade. That is the issue which should be kept before him so far as this matter is concerned. Take even the question of the vote. It is provided that the Dáil shall be elected by every citizen of the State, so far as they are not disqualified by law; but what is to prevent the Oireachtas passing a law disqualifying women on account of their sex? There is nothing to prevent it. It would be quite in conformity with the Constitution to do so. There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution to prevent their doing that. Then there are other Articles dealing with this matter.

Not merely is there nothing to safeguard [223] or preserve their rights, but there are pointers in the Constitution to show that the President does intend to interfere with their rights. His speech yesterday shows that. It shows not merely that there is nothing to safeguard and guarantee their rights, but that they may actually look forward to legislation that will interfere with the rights they enjoy at the present moment. If there were any doubt as to the purpose behind the omission of these words: “No distinction of sex” from the Constitution, that doubt must have been removed by the President's speech yesterday and by his speech in Clare. Then why did he do it? Because it was a reminiscence, we are told, of the time when women had not rights. Yesterday he donned the robe of chivalry. He was filching their rights from them, but he did it in a most sanctimonious way. Well, he always does wrong things in a sanctimonious way. Whenever he does wrong, he always does it under the mantle of righteousness.

With many of the principles he enunciates, many of the people naturally will be in agreement, but that does not justify him in doing what he is doing here and in trying to slip it through quietly and then losing his temper when these things are pointed out to him, and say that it is an attempt to deceive the people just because we are pointing out the only possible explanation of what is in the Bill. I say, not merely is there a possibility of laws discriminating against women being passed—that is there as a result of the omission of certain phrases—but it is asked for by other provisions of the Bill and is foreshadowed by the President's speech. I wonder whether the women are satisfied with the expressions of the President yesterday and with the noble sentiments which he expressed and about which he almost broke down in giving them? Will that be any guarantee for them? What they want are not his promises. What they want are the legal guarantees that should be in a Constitution of this kind, and they have not got them. We know all about promises. Every class in this State has fallen down on the promises of the [224] President, and they have found out what these promises have meant—the civil servants, the Republicans, the women—practically every class—their name will be legion. We cannot legislate on what is at the back of the President's mind for two reasons: first, because the law is what is written down, and secondly, because we never know what is at the back of the President's mind. He gets up and tells us that he intends by this provision so-and-so, but that is no use. It is what is in the provision that counts, and that is what we have before us. If he did not draft it properly—and I am afraid he did draft what was in his mind and that it was quite deliberate on his part to leave out this phrase— he should have been glad when the mistake was pointed out to him, instead of pettishly turning on his critics and accusing everybody of bad faith because they had the temerity to point out the wrong features in this document that has been drafted, as far as one can see, without even consultation with the Executive Council. They may have been shown it and their formal approval obtained.

We are told—I wonder how much we gain by it—but it is the fact that we are told—that there is now a sovereign, independent, democratic State. Well, if it remains so, the credit will not be the President's and it will not be as a result of this amendment to the Constitution which we are now discussing. It is a democratic, sovereign State at the present moment—I hope it will keep sovereign—but I fear that we are taking a distinct step—constitutionally a step—or one of the steps towards ceasing to be a democratic State. Now we have the liberty of the individual guaranted. The President struck it out. It was there in the old Constitution. Why did he not leave it there and let the courts interpret what it means? What harm was it doing? The President knew perfectly well—it was not by accident, as he confesses himself, that he struck it out, and let us not be under the impression that it was because it did not express the truth. This document has many other things that are palpably untrue, and yet we are told that it is the President's squeamishness for exactitude [225] and truth that induced him to take away the protection of the rights of the individual and the protection for the individual as well. It is the same way with other Articles. There are changes that, at first sight, might seem to be minor changes. The courts are deprived of a great deal of the power they have at present to protect the individual. There is the question of the right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions. The Press is free at the moment. The courts are able to protect them, but how in the world will the courts protect them when we see this Article in the Constitution which deals with the Press? It says that the State guarantees the right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions, but then it goes on to say that, the education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the Press, and the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State. Those are splendid sentiments, and I am not quarrelling with the sound doctrine of these sentiments. Far be it from me, but I would feel much easier in my mind if I did not know that two of the most undemocratic States in Europe, two of the most autocratic States in Europe at the present moment, are autocratically ruled because they took in hand the “proper” political education of their people, because they got control of the Press, the radio and the cinema. Why, that is the great instrument that Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany have in their hands at the present moment! It is on that education of the people that they base a great deal of their authority and a great deal of their power. These things could have been left as they are and let the courts protect the people and see that there was no undue licence so far as these agencies are concerned.

There are many things in the Constitution that need not surprise us. By now the House must be familiar with the President's real contempt of [226] Parliament and Parliamentary institutions. If I might use a word that he used yesterday, this document “enshrines” his contempt for Parliamentary institutions. He does not understand Parliaments. He does not understand the spirit of Parliaments. He does not understand the spirit of real discussion, or real agreement come to as the result of discussion. He does not understand the conditions that make Parliamentary government possible. It is nothing strange if this document reeks with real hostility to Parliamentary institutions, as it undoubtedly does. Much has been said about the powers of the new Governor-General, the super Governor-General. One thing is clear —that any powers he has got do not come to him at the expense of any outside authority. They only come to him at the expense of the liberty of the people and at the expense of the powers of Parliament. But, Sir, we can expect nothing else from a man who has always shown supreme contempt, not merely for Parliamentary institutions, but for the Dáil itself. The other matter that was discussed—and I am sorry the ex-Minister of the Crown did not clarify the position——

Mr. T. Kelly: On a point of order, I gathered from the Deputy's speech that he referred to ex-Ministers of the Crown. We do not know who they are. We should like to know who they are. I submit that it is not in order to refer to any of our Ministers here as ex-Ministers of the Crown. He may be referring to Lloyd George or somebody like that.

Professor O'Sullivan: I think I can satisfy Deputy Kelly. I am glad——

Mr. Kelly: I have submitted a point of order to the Chair.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: What is the Deputy's point of order?

Professor O'Sullivan: I am using the words used by the Minister for Finance, referring to himself.

Mr. Kent: As representative of the King.

[227] Professor O'Sullivan: He said that up to last December he was a Minister of the Crown and that now he is an ex-Minister of the Crown.

Mr. Kelly: He never said that he was an ex-Minister of the Crown.

Professor O'Sullivan: I cannot appeal to you, Sir, in the Chair for corroboration of my statement, but you were present in the House in another capacity when the Minister said that. May I ask you to cast your mind back to the time when you were sitting on the benches? That is the point of order, that the Minister never said that he was an ex-Minister of the Crown.

Mr. Kelly: That is not the point of order. I have raised the point that throughout your speech you have made references to ex-Ministers of the Crown. We do not know who they are and we want to know. I submit that if you are referring to any Minister here you should not refer to him as an ex-Minister of the Crown.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The proper title of a Minister is Minister of the Department for which he is responsible. Ministers must be referred to as Ministers of the Departments of which they are the political heads. That is the proper title for a Minister.

Professor O'Sullivan: The Minister for Finance here at one time described himself as an ex-Minister of the Crown. That is the title he took to himself. I submit that I cannot be precluded from using the title which he took to himself, with a great deal of pride and with an evident desire to show how extraordinarily important Ministers of the Crown were and what great people they were—even above the law. I know that he thinks he is still above the law. He thinks that he could have run down people on the street and not be held responsible for his action—whether in his private capacity or as a Minister of the Crown I do not know. That is the view he put before us. It was he introduced the phrase. I can assure Deputy Kelly that if it hurts his susceptibilities, I shall not refer to it again.

[228] Mr. MacDermot: On a point of order, it seems to me desirable that this matter should be clarified. I quite accept your ruling, Sir, that when referring to an individual Minister, it is proper to call him the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Defence or whatever Minister he may be. I submit, however, that it is perfectly in order to allude to Ministers in general, as Ministers of the Crown unless and until this country is declared a republic.

Mr. Kelly: I submit that under Standing Orders if a Minister is referred to he should be referred to as the Minister of the Department for which he is responsible and not as an ex-Minister of the Crown. Our Ministers never were that and never will be.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I have already indicated that Standing Orders provide that Ministers of this State should be referred to as Ministers of the Department over which they preside as the political heads. With regard to Deputy MacDermot's point, I am afraid that he must seek a higher authority elsewhere for that.

Mr. Kent: The Minister for Finance stated emphatically here that he was a representative of the Crown. I doubt very much that he is.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There are many things that we may not like in statements made by other people.

Professor O'Sullivan: Let us discuss the super-Governor-General. I hope that a point of order will not be raised because I refer to him in that particular way. I think Deputies all know the individual to whom I refer, called the President. Undoubtedly, that is one of the striking features in this amendment of the Constitution. We had the injured innocence of the President yesterday and the Minister for Finance to-day pointing out that really we were traducing the democratic ideas and intentions of the Government in suggesting that there was anything undemocratic, any danger so far as the future of the State was concerned, in these powers. I am not quite sure [229] whether Deputies were influenced by the dilemma, or at least the circle, in which the President found himself. You had to give to the President, the Governor-General, increased powers because you elected him, and I gather that you elected him because you wanted to give him increased powers. I have not the slightest doubt that an argument of that kind will appeal to the President. But the powers proposed to be vested in that First Citizen by this instrument are dangerous. When I say that they are dangerous, I do not mean that at the present moment a dictatorship is established by this instrument. When we are discussing constitutional matters, that is not what we have to look to. We have to look to the possible and probable development of what we are doing. What I have to complain of, and what I think others have to complain of in the case of the President, is that he approaches constitutional questions without any sense of political development. He has no idea that things can develop. It is the last thing that enters into his head. It is a purely mathematical hard mind, and there is no question of development there.

We are taking a step; we are not establishing a dictatorship. Two developments are possible. It is quite possible that in the course of years the following development may happen: when the political mentor of the President, the Abbé Siéyés, whose type of mind is like his own, was drawing up one of his many perfect constitutions —because he was essentially a constitution-making machine—he did provide a position as head of State for the great Napoleon, who strongly objected. One of Napoleon's phrases was that he did not want to be the fat pig, and he struck him out of the constitution. The other phrase was that he did not want to be the “royal lounger.” I quite admit it is possible that the head of State here may develop into the “royal lounger.” But it is only one of two possible developments. The other development is much more serious. The other development is that he may develop either in his own person a dictatorship or he may help to create a dictatorship here.

[230] Let us envisage two cases. What I object to is this: here you have power without responsibility. There is no responsibility except the person's own conscience. Now, in legislating, in drawing up constitutions, we cannot take account of what people's consciences are liable to inspire them to do. We know perfectly well that conscience can inspire a man to do most extraordinary things. When I speak of responsibility. I mean he is not responsible for his official acts in any way, to the country or to the House or to anybody. Still, he has power. I think it is a mistake to divorce power and responsibility in that way in what professes—it may be possible in other forms of State—to be a democratic State. Let us assume that there is a clash. Let us assume that the high ideals of the President are not carried out and that a Party man is elected. What else is likely to happen I cannot say. Am I to imagine that the present President and his Government will look all over the country for an unknown citizen of great virtue, who had nothing to do with politics, and put him forward as the candidate, the innocent, a kind of Parsifal coming forward to us, and to be put forward on account of his belonging to no political organisation and no political Party? Supposing that idea fails. What chance he would have of getting elected I do not know unless he had a political machine behind him. In any case, you are going to get a Party man.

Let us assume there is a clash. Remember, there is no coincidence between the term of office of the Government and that of the Governor-General. There may be a President in office for five years of his term of office, with a Government of an entirely different policy. There you have a clash. It is useless to ignore the power that the President will have to make the work of that Government impossible. He can hold up the Government, at every hand's turn practically, in a variety of ways. Deadlocks will be the order of the day, and deadlocks can only lead to one thing in politics, a coup d'état. You are asking for it, and it has nearly always happened. When you have had divisions of power of this kind it [231] has been very frequent that a deadlock has been reached, a coup d'état carried through, and a dictatorship established. You will find that in the history of the first French Republic, of the second French Republic, and of the recent German Republic. That is the great danger. With our political inexperience in this country we cannot hope to escape what other countries have suffered from.

That is one danger. As to the second danger, let us assume there is agreement between the two of them, that a Parliament like this, drawing to its close, with a Government in power that is discredited through the country, still desirous of clinging to office, with a conscience that can justify them in taking, and in fact compels them to take, any measures that will secure their continuance in office—for the good of the country! Let us assume that position. I listened to the Minister for Finance in his long oration about the powers of the Governor-General. One of the matters that he dealt with was the Army and the Governor-General's position as regards the Army. Now, Sir, what this Constitution may say is one thing, but, having listened carefully to him, I have not the remotest idea of what the Minister for Finance wanted the attitude or the power of the Governor-General to be in regard to the Army.

Mr. Aiken: On a point of order, what personage is Deputy O'Sullivan alluding to as the Governor-General?

Professor O'Sullivan: Glorious points of order! So important! I will allude to anybody I like as anything I like if he is not a member of this House.

Mr. Aiken: He will be a member of this House——

Professor O'Sullivan: He will be a member of this House?

Mr. Aiken: Or at least he will be an official of this State. The Deputy might at least be truthful.

Professor O'Sullivan: Is there any doubt as to whom I mean?

Mr. Aiken: It is not a proper description.

[232] Professor O'Sullivan: Is there any doubt as to whom I mean?

Mr. Aiken: There is.

Dr. O'Higgins: His Majesty!

Professor O'Sullivan: I am told to be truthful, and he says there is doubt as to whom I mean! Well, “the royal lounger,” if you like. Let us get a solution. I do not want to hurt the susceptibilities of the incoming President. I will refer to him as “the President” in future.

Mr. Aiken: There is a President at the moment.

Professor O'Sullivan: That is my difficulty. Let us assume a position in which the President is in full agreement with the Government. Let us take a concrete example; let us suppose it is President de Valera, and that the Premier—may I refer to him as the Premier?

Mr. Aiken: An Taoiseach.

Professor O'Sullivan: May I refer to him as the Premier?

Mr. Dillon: The Deputy forgets that the Minister speaks Irish.

Professor O'Sullivan: Let us suppose they are in full agreement, and that the Premier happens to be, say, the present Vice-President, and that we have in power the magnificent Party that attends this Dáil so well when important constitutional measures are under discussion, that Party of “Yes-men.”

Mrs. Concannon: There is a woman here, too.

Mr. Kissane: There is a woman here.

Professor O'Sullivan: I understood that you attached importance to this measure. We do not.

Mr. Aiken: You are talking enough about it if you do not.

Professor O'Sullivan: Oh, but mind you, two-and-a-half hours or two-and-three-quarter hours from the President, and two hours odd—very odd— from the Minister for Finance, was not a bad contribution from the Government Benches.

[233] Mr. Aiken: No; it was quite good.

Professor O'Sullivan: Let us suppose this happens, does anybody imagine that the then President de Valera cannot induce the then Premier to give him, according to law, Article 13, paragraph 5, full real command over the Army? I could not gather from the Minister for Finance, I confess, what his position is to be. At one time I thought he was contending that the real command of the Army ought to be with the Governor-General; that it was not to be a mere nominal affair. A few minutes afterwards he was referring to it as a mere symbolical command. I certainly cannot make out what it is.

Remember, furthermore—I say it with all respect to the exposition that we got yesterday from the President —Article 13 (10) says:—

“subject to this Constitution additional powers and functions may be conferred upon the President by law.”

Now, Sir, the President made great play with the words “subject to this Constitution.” Let us see what barrier that puts to him or puts to the Dáil by ordinary law to confer new great powers upon the President. It simply means this, that every power that man can get that is not prohibited by this Constitution can be given to the President. It is a kind of residuary power that we have to give. Yesterday in the Dáil we saw how rapidly that sort of thing can develop. The President, following an interruption by Deputy Dillon, said that all that he had in mind was the matter of appointments such as the appointment of visitors to universities and so on. But in a short space of a couple of hours he had already expanded his ambitions, and we find that this President is to be given the power to receive and present credentials to diplomatic Ministers and people of that kind. If in the short space of a couple of hours we had that rather remarkable development, I ask you what may happen in six months?

If you had a subservient Dáil, and the President wants to get power into his hands and has a subservient Party [234] in this House, what is to prevent him getting it? That is enormous power that is given to practically destroy the Constitution so far as the reality is concerned. I could not quite follow the Minister for Finance when he dealt with the powers of the Governor-General. One time he seemed anxious to exalt them and another time to minimise them. The danger is there in these Articles and various other Articles. The President is not going to get away from that danger by giving us what are his pious intentions. His intentions are expressed in very pious language, but such intentions, unfortunately, have the habit of not being carried out.

I ask the House to consider these things. First of all this is an instrument of deception. The pretence that the people are going in any real sense to ratify or reject it is a deception also. In present circumstances there is no such reality before us. Proper and full consideration of this instrument by the people is impossible. With the general election pending, it is out of the question. All the powers given the Governor-General, the rights filched from women and from the ordinary citizens, cannot be camouflaged or covered over by the callous and cynical humanitarianism voiced by the President.

There are certain things in respect to which we are left where we were. Status! Where are we? What this instrument says practically comes to this: We are where we were, but we are afraid to say it. As regards the liberties and the powers of the people what does this Constitution give them that is not there at present? It tells the people: “You have certain powers, and we tell you that you have them, that is in so far as this instrument does not take them away from you.” Finally, what grave problem that faces this country is brought one foot nearer solution by the passing of this Constitution. There is every reason why this should be postponed until there is sufficient time after the elections for the people to calmly consider it. It is impossible for the people to do that at present, and for that reason I ask the House to support the amendment.

[235] Mr. Kent: I do not propose to say very much. I was pleased to hear the President yesterday introduce the Constitution in our native language, but I was disappointed myself because I could not follow him. I hope that whatever Government is returned after the elections will give the Irish language its proper place in our national life. Objection has been taken by the Opposition that the Constitution proposes to confer dictatorial powers on whoever may be elected as head of the State. I do not know whether that position is ambitioned by President de Valera, by the leader of the Opposition, by Deputy Professor O'Sullivan or by the popular Lord Mayor of Dublin. I would be pleased to see a leader from amongst the Opposition Party going before the electorate, seeking that position. I do think the time has come to end all the damnable nonsense that has been going on here in this House for the past five or six years or perhaps longer, on such issues as “Who fired the first shot in the civil war?” or as to “Who fired the first shot in the economic war?” The time for these recriminations has passed, and in my opinion the two big political Parties should become united and do their utmost to unite the country. Some may say that the President has not gone far enough in this Constitution. They may think that he should have declared a republic for the 32 counties.

I have been in the struggle for Irish freedom for the past 50 or 60 years, and I would like to see the determination to do that enshrined in this Constitution, but at the same time I see that there is a barrier there. There is a gulf there, and I fear the time has not yet come for a Government elected by the votes of our people, and it is the people who are the bosses of the whole situation, to declare a republic. We are not yet in a position to do that for the 32 counties. We hear a good deal from loud voiced people on this question. I doubt very much if President de Valera declared a republic in the morning that he would get very much support from those people. They would be as mute as mice in their feather beds if there was any danger threatening our country.

[236] The one thing that perturbs my mind in this Constitution is the right of property owners. I do not see one word in it to safeguard their rights. It seems to me that under this Constitution this Government or any succeeding Government will have the right to acquire the property of any individual without any compensation whatsoever. I do not mean to convey that that is the intention of the present Government, but the danger is there. Deputy Lavery pointed out last night that that danger exists and it should be removed.

The President invited the members of the Opposition Party to put forward constructive ideas, and said he would closely examine the whole situation. I have listened carefully to all the speeches made, and no such constructive or helpful ideas have been given to the Government in that respect. Listening to the speeches last night and this afternoon reminds me that a general election is looming up in the near future. In fact, you would fancy you were at the cross-roads or at the chapel gate when listening to the speakers trying to make the best possible case for themselves or their representatives.

There is another matter to which I wish to refer. Article 15 states: “The right to raise and maintain military or armed forces is vested exclusively in the Oireachtas.” With that I thoroughly agree. The Article goes on to state: “No military or armed force, other than a military or armed force raised and maintained by the Oireachtas, shall be raised or maintained for any purpose whatsoever.” We have an armed force at present under the control of the Minister for Defence. We have an army of which the country should be proud. But that army may be totally inadequate in case of a foreign invasion of the country, of which there is every sign and indication. I should like to see every young man of military age in this country given a military training. In case of emergency, we could then fall back on the youth of Ireland, as we did in 1916, to defend that proclamation which was issued by the men who are now dead and gone, to defend our national rights and our country and to [237] give it the freedom which we all wish to see it given.

At the present moment there are a great number of young men behind prison bars in this country, perhaps through no fault of their own; young men who were instructed in the use of firearms by the late Government and the present Government for one purpose and one purpose only, to secure the independence of our country. This Constitution will be before the electorate in the very near future and it is for them to accept or reject it. The President is not here now, but before that general election comes along, I appeal to his representative who is here, the Vice-President, to use all his influence with the Executive Council to open the prison gates and release those men. The only charge, so far as I can see, against them is perhaps that they love their country not wisely but too well. I do not for one moment agree that a second army should spring up in this country. I should like to see the Army under the control of the Executive Council. I doubt very much whether the newly-elected President will have power over the Army. Whether power over the Army is given to him, I cannot see.

A great deal has been said in this debate about the unity of Ireland, for which we all wish, and as regards the peace for which we are all longing. As far as I can see, the only thing which will bring about unity is for Southern Ireland to put its own house in good order and set a good example to those religious bigots in Northern Ireland who are holding aloof at the present moment. These religious bigots are the barrier to unity at the present moment. That is the only thing which will induce the North to come into our national Parliament. All doubts should now be removed on that head as under this Constitution freedom of worship to every individual of every denomination is guaranteed. No more convincing proof of that could be given to these objectionable religious bigots than that which is enshrined in this Constitution.

Reference has been made to powers of dictatorship being given to our future President. Surely, the Irish [238] people are not so blind or so dense as to elect a dictator in this country. That would be a most appalling thing. All down through the Golden Ages that was one of the characteristics of our people—to insist on freedom of speech and freedom of religious worship for all classes of the community.

This Constitution has, to my mind, boiled down to this. It has been drafted carefully and after serious consideration, not to-day or yesterday perhaps, but over a number of years past. I do not know whether the President has submitted it to the members of the Executive Council or not, but I take it for granted that the draft of the Constitution has been submitted for the careful consideration of every member of the Executive Council and that it has got the approval of every member of the Government. It is sheer nonsense to think that the President of the Executive Council had, at the back of his mind, aimed at taking dictatorial powers. I, for one, do not believe that for a moment. I honestly believe even if it were his ambition to go to the country as President under this new Constitution, that these false impressions would be dispelled from the mind of every voter who would go to vote for him. I cannot visualise for a moment that men who are out for the good of their country—and we have Deputies on all sides of this House who were prepared to make the supreme sacrifice of their lives for the freedom of Ireland—will go now to the public and ask for the support of the electors to set up a dictatorship in this country. God forbid that I should ever see the day that such a situation should arise!

I am supporting this Constitution. I am voting for it here. Indeed, I am happy to have the privilege of being elected a member of the Farmers' Party of East Cork, whose trust I have never betrayed. I take this opportunity and privilege of voting for this most democratic Constitution with no word inscribed in it as regards Communistic ideas or principles. Further than that I do not wish to go. I say that this new Constitution will bring new life into this [239] country. The old national spirit that was always in our people will welcome that Constitution, and it will open the doors for those men who have held to the same political ideas and views the same as well all have. Let it go forth that we are supporting and accepting this Constitution which will do more for the peace and unity of the people of Southern Ireland than has been done by any man in recent times.

As regards the unemployment question, we were told last evening that at the present moment there are 100,000 unemployed persons in the country. Well, the unemployed will remain always with us, as well as with the people of every other country in the world. We have thousands of our boys and girls going to foreign lands at the present moment seeking the livelihood which, perhaps, they could not get at home. We must, however, remember that it is a characteristic of our race that our young people did always have a love of travel and the ambition to go to foreign countries. I think it would be inadvisable for any Government, present or future, to try to put a stop to these young people. Some of these become dissatisfied, perhaps, with their present surroundings. Others of them have the ambition to improve their positions in life. For the last 60 years —or, I might say, for the last 100 years—millions of our young people have, under the old landlord régime, been forced out of our country to seek a living in Australia, New Zealand, and, in short, in every habitable country under God's sun. However, that is a thing of which we should feel proud. Many of these people and their descendants to-day, in the great Republic of the West, in the far-back blocks of Australia, and in nearly every quarter of the world, hold high positions of which every one at home should feel proud. Now we are told there are 100,000 unemployed——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Would Deputy Kent help me by showing me the relevancy of this to An Bunreacht na hÉireann?

[240] Mr. Kent: I am only just pointing out that I heard this thing mentioned last night, and its relevancy is this, that under the new Constitution there would be no remedy whatsoever as regards the unemployed or as regards the emigration of our young people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That can be done by ordinary legislation.

Mr. Kent: I may not be relevant, but I only wish to point out to the Government that it is only through their own fault that there are so many unemployed in the country. If the Government only took their courage in their hands they would find enough employment for all our young people who are now emigrating or unemployed. Between reafforestation, water schemes, tourist schemes, turf cutting and other works of a reproductive character there is a big field of employment. I will not go further than that. I do not know whether I have any further remarks to make, only just this, that as regards the ownership of private property I have one suggestion to offer to the Government. I ask them to safeguard the interests of the private owners. Under the Articles of this Constitution there is no guarantee whatsoever whether this or a future Government will be given powers to evict private owners and to take over by compulsory measures private property belonging to the people of this country. I would like if the President, when replying, would give us an assurance on that matter. The President mentioned something about the employment of our womenfolk. I know personally many and many a case where the mother has been compelled through economic reasons to go out to work in order to help to make a livelihood for the family. The President, in speaking last night, did not mention what means he had in mind to do away with that necessity. How is he going to get over it? We must all remember that wives and young families in this country at the present moment have to work from dawn to dark in order to bring in the necessaries of life to the home. It will not detract from any young farmer's wife or labourer's wife to help in making a livelihood for [241] the family. The youth of this country, the boys and girls who perhaps are not in a position physically to go to work in the factories, are glad enough to earn the means of subsistence at farm work. But that is a different question altogether. We have all had to work in our younger days, and it takes from no man to do a little work on his farm or on the acre attached to his cottage; it merely adds to the physique of youth.

The President did not mention how he was going to remedy the existing state of affairs, and I would ask him to make some allusion to it when he is concluding this debate. I am glad to have the privilege of voting for this Constitution, which I am prepared to support in this House and outside. I hope it will be the means of bringing about a new Ireland, of bringing prosperity to our people of all denominations, and when we go forth to look for a republic for the 32 counties I sincerely hope that all our soldiers will be prepared to toe the line, to shoulder their rifles and proclaim to Ireland that they are willing to lay down their lives if necessary, just the same as did the men in 1916, in order to establish our State.

Mrs. Concannon: So much of the discussion both inside and outside this House in relation to the Dréacht Bunreacht has turned on its possible effect on the status of women that it seems to me it would be unfitting that this debate should close without a woman's voice being heard in connection with the matter. Deputies are aware, and Deputy O'Sullivan has again reminded us, that many women's societies are perturbed by certain Articles in the Draft Constitution, and we have been told that should this measure go through the House unamended the status of women in the State will be definitely lowered. This attitude has been taken up by, among others, the National University Women Graduates' Association, to which I owe a particular allegiance. They have given expression to their fears, and in a statement from a meeting they held on Monday last (supplied to the Press and published in the [242] Irish Press of yesterday), I find, after enumeration of the various women speakers, each of whose names has a national significance, the following:

“The omission of the principle of equal rights and equal opportunities, enunciated in the proclamation of the republic in 1916 and confirmed in Article 3 of the Constitution of Saorstát Eireann, was deplored as sinister and retrogressive. Articles 40, 41 and 45, which leave the door open for reactionary legislation against women in every department, were discussed with particular care.

“Measures were then proposed to secure their deletion and the restoration of Article 3.”

Other women's societies, such as the Joint Committee of Women's Societies and Social Workers and the Women Workers' Union, have also expressed their fears as to the possible effects of Articles 40, 41 and 45.

On the other hand, we have had an unequivocal declaration from the President that there is nothing in the Constitution which detracts from the rights which women possess in this country. Clearly then, the framers of the Constitution had no intention in their minds to interfere in the slightest way with the rights of women, and I am very glad to have that assurance. But since it happens that the opinion of the women's organisations has been backed by the opinions of two very authoritative lawyers, Deputy Lavery and Deputy Costello, and there seems to be a fear, by reason of the ambi-guilty of certain phrases, that in future times, whatever be the intentions of the framers of the Constitution, these might lead to a lowering of the status of women, I welcome very much what the President stated last night. He said, in reply to Deputy Costello, that if he were convinced that Deputy Costello or any other Deputy was making a good case, he would be willing to let the jury decide it and, if the case were sustained, to amend the Constitution. I would be glad if the President would give us an assurance that he will look once more into these Articles and satisfy himself that by no error of draftsmanship, by no [243] ambiguity in the Irish or English versions, could any interpretation be given by future courts that would lessen the status of women. It might happen that, although we know the intentions of the framers of the Constitution—we have had them very clearly expressed—at some future time it might come before others who might be inclined to interpret those clauses differently from what they were meant by the framers to mean.

Deputy Lavery said a very strange thing last night. I considered it strange because it came from Deputy Lavery, a man for whose opinion we all must have respect. He said the President wanted women put in this position, that they ought to be in the home and stay there. The Deputy took care not to quote any Article from the Constitution which, by any possible turning or twisting, would bear such an interpretation. I expect, however, that he was referring to Article 41. Article 41 refers to the family, and the sub-sections can only be read in conjunction with each other. What Deputy Lavery did not read to the House, I am going to read:

“The State recognises the family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.

“The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the family, in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the nation and the State.

“In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

“The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

That is a principle that has been already accepted by this House. We accepted it when we passed the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act.

[244] I, for one, never heard a speech that moved me more than that made by Deputy Dillon on that occasion. I feel it was the same principle that inspired the framing of the section to which I have referred. I sincerely hope that not a comma of this noble declaration will be altered. I think it is due to women who have so bravely carried on the battle for civilisation, and who have had to bear the hardest part, that the State should give them this recognition. Do we not all know that the price of each human life is some woman's agony? Do we not know that the rearing of each child is purchased at the cost of some woman's sleepless nights and hardworking days, and are we not all aware of the life of sacrifice that each woman has to experience to launch her family on the world? Why, then, should we begrudge to women that the State should honour them for their contribution to the State's support and its common good?

In the Sunday Independent of last week there was a very interesting article which has a bearing on the question we are now discussing. It was an account of an interview which Mrs. James McNeill had with the wife of the Polish Consul-General here. I hope that most Deputies read the article, because it has a bearing on this matter we are now discussing. It shows what the people of Poland have achieved and what they, and especially the Polish women, did for the uplift and education of their race. The following is an extract from the interview:—

“Poland had more than once kept the vigil for Christendom. Trebly partitioned between Austria, Russia and Prussia, Poland, from the end of the 18th century up to the Great War, and the Peace of Versailles, had to endure the bitter experience of alien rule, alien persecution of religion, language, nationality. During that time Polish children had to attend State schools, in which they could neither speak nor hear their native tongue; in which their native customs were derided, their history suppressed, their religion ignored. It was the Polish home [245] and, in particular, the Polish mother, that preserved our language and the love of faith and fatherland in Polish hearts. She taught Polish to her children and spoke it with them. She taught them the truths of the Catholic Faith and made them practise it devoutly. She taught them the history of their native land. She filled them with love for their religion and their country, and the courage to die, if necessary, in their defence. When Poland became free once more at the end of the Great War, the fact that the whole nation had one faith and one language was a strongly unifying factor. Polish women were, to a large extent, responsible for that fortunate circumstance.”

It is to Irish mothers and Irish homes that we owe the fact that we have won, to the extent to which we have won it, success in the long fight we have had for our faith and nationality, and I am very glad that Article 41 has recognised the services of women in the home. It does not mean— and I for one would protest most actively against it if it did mean— to close the door to work for women in any other sphere. That is not the intention at all. It will be found that women will work better in the homes if they have been educated and if they have had contact with outside life. Therefore, I hope that this Article will remain as it stands and that women will avail of it and draw from it its full substance and advantage. I hope they will insist that the education of girls shall have some relation to the work they will have to do for the “common good” in the home, and be a preparation for it. I have read somewhere in a Belgian paper, where they have paid great attention to all these things, that the woman in the home has to be mistress of 14 professions. She has to be a bit of a doctor; she has to be a cook; she has to be a dressmaker; she has to be a nurse; she has to be a carpenter, very often; above all, she has to be an educator, and so on. Therefore, the education of woman is very important, and I am very glad that the Minister for Education is here to listen to me, [246] and I hope that he will see to it that some far-sighted woman will be in the administrative side of the Education Department. I believe that such a course of education for women, even if it requires revolution, would be of inestimable benefit. The home should be made as comfortable as possible, and therefore I shall say what I said before, and that is that in the Housing Board there should be a woman to tell the men how to plan houses that shall make housework easier, how to plan the home so that the needless waste of energy may be obviated, the maximum of comfort secured.

Another Article which seems to have caused some misgiving is Article 45. I think it was very necessary. Strangely enough, it was only the other day I read in a newspaper something that convinced me that such an Article was very necessary, and that it was the desire of women themselves that they should be protected. I shall read it for the House. This is an extract from an account of a meeting of women telephonists who were attending the Post Office Workers' Conference at Whitley Bay, and who stated emphatically that they would not agree to night work. The extract reads as follows:—

“Miss D.A. Pearce, of London, said that under no conditions at all would they work until half-past eight, let alone any other time at night, and her statement was loudly cheered; complaint was made of the effect on telephonists' nerves of the special buzzer used for emergency calls. Miss Doris Curnow, of London, said the girls felt that the red warning light was sufficient without a buzzer as loud as a siren. In one or two London exchanges girls had been carried out with hysteria owing to the sounding of the buzzer when they were working at high pressure.”

That shows that the nervous system of women needs to be specially protected, and I think that Article 45, which gives them a constitutional right to that protection, should not be interfered with.

Now, with regard to the restoration of Article 3 in the Constitution as it at [247] present stands, I myself would be more enthusiastic about it if I felt it were a real protection to women, but I found an advertisement in a paper this morning from the Board of Works asking for an assistant architect, and in that advertisement it was made public that there was a difference of £1 a week in the salaries to be paid to a man and a woman. It is quite clear that, in such a case, a woman would have the same professional education and equipment as a man, and certainly, in face of the competition, she would have a harder struggle and would even have to be better than a man. Why, then, should she be paid £1 a week less than a man? You have the same thing occurring in other spheres and in other Departments of State. Woman is supposed to be equal with man, but in every Estimate you will find a difference of about £100 in the pay of women in the State service as compared with that of men. If it were a question of special pay for married men, of course, one could see that the idea behind that was the supporting of the family, but there should not be this difference between men and women, as such, and I say that it is time to stop it. Accordingly, I do not think that Article 3 was of such great use when it made that possible.

Mr. Dillon: Sir, Deputy Mrs. Concannon deserves to be, and is, in fact, listened to with respect in this House. She spoke in moving accents of the benefits to be conferred on women by Article 41 of the document at present before us, and she welcomed the announcement that an opportunity was to be given to the mother of a family to discharge her primary duty in peace, and that was to preside over that family, to hold it together, and to constitute herself the centre of its life. Those are sentiments to which I expect every Deputy of this Dáil will cordially subscribe. It is very easy to set them out in draft Constitutions, but there is rather a grim contrast between Deputy Mrs. Concannon's optimistic hopes and Deputy Kent's deplorable observations. Deputy Kent, who says that he is going to vote for the Constitution, and who [248] admires President de Valera, says that he feels bound in honesty to say that he knows many families in this country the mothers of which are driven out to work by hard economic necessity because their husbands cannot find work to do. Now, does not Deputy Mrs. Concannon think that there is something wrong somewhere when she can be brought into this House to sing the praises of a Constitution drafted to guarantee to the people what Deputy Kent tells us here has been taken away from the people by the man who drew this Constitution?

Deputy Mrs. Concannon moved on to Article 45. There also she found a charter of liberty for women enshrined. I wonder did she read the first paragraph of that Article! She rejoiced at the constitutional rights that had been conferred upon women by Article 45. The first paragraph of that Article specifically declares that it confers no constitutional rights on any woman. That paragraph reads as follows

The principles of social policy set forth in this Article are intended for the general guidance of the Oireachtas. The application of those principles in the making of laws shall be the exclusive care of the Oireachtas, and shall not be cognisable by any court under any of the provisions of this Constitution.

Does Deputy Mrs. Concannon still rejoice in the security of the constitutional guarantee she enjoys under that Article? I would like that lady not to be deluded by highfalutin, but to try and concentrate on the hard facts which affect mothers like herself in this country who get no solace at all from highfalutin in a Constitution when they have got to go to work in mud because their husbands cannot bring home on Saturday night the wherewithal to feed the children which they bore.

Deputy Mrs. Concannon's speech is notable for one feature, and that is the note of reality which it brings to this debate. Look around at the constituent Assembly that is supposed to [249] be framing the fundamental law of this country. Eleven Fianna Fáil Deputies mournfully dozing on the benches! That is typical of the whole country, which takes no more interest in this ráméis than they do in the Persian Koran. Faced, as are the people at the present time, with the task of living and surviving, they are to be fed with the Constitution. President de Valera comes in here and beams, calls on the House to consult with him, to give him their unbiassed help in improving this document, then fades from the Chamber and is seen no more. We are now supposed to be discussing with the President of the Executive Council the terms of this document, the fundamental law of the country, and he has not put his nose inside the House to-day.

Mr. Corry: To listen to you?

Mr. Dillon: Is it not all moonshine? Deputy Donnelly suggests that we should adjourn consideration of this document until such time as partition is solved. I could imagine if the Fianna Fáil Party were in opposition they would all say what Deputy Donnelly said. They would all clamour for whatever cheap publicity could be got for themselves by a demonstration of that kind, but having for the time being the responsibility of office on their shoulders, they are constrained to get up and say: “What can we do by the Constitution to solve that problem?” Nothing. All we can do to solve that problem is to promote and uphold good government in this country. Everything that Fianna Fáil could do to exasperate and perpetuate the partition of this country they have spent the last five years in doing. Now, at the end of that time we are told in ringing accents that this document is the greatest contribution that could be possibly made to the solution of partition. This document is the contribution of the Minister for Finance to the solution of the problem of partition. It is difficult, in face of these facts, to attempt a serious discussion of a document of this kind. Personally I do not think that this document matters a row of pins. What matters to the future of this country [250] is if it has good government. If it has good government, the rights and the liberties of the people will be protected. If it has bad government, these rights and liberties will be prostituted.

I do think that it might be well to direct attention to three or four net points in this document. The first and most interesting, to my mind, is Article 5, which declares that this State is a sovereign, independent and democratic State. It is. It was made so by the predecessors in office of this Government. It was handed over to this Government a sovereign, independent and democratic State, and every member of the Fianna Fáil Party stumped this country to denounce as a traitor and West Briton anyone who said so. Now that declaration is incorporated in the fundamental law. Well might the Minister for Finance say that men frequently change their minds! Here we have an instance of a whole Party changing their minds and swallowing all they have ever said in regard to that matter and declaring it to be the national duty of this House to incorporate in our fundamental law a statement which they at one time declared it to be treason to make. Yesterday the President, when referring to Article 13, was asked by me to explain paragraph 10. He said that paragraph 10 was designed to provide facilities for routine work that it might appear necessary to authorise the President to do. He even particularised the types of jobs that might be given to him. Two hours later he told Deputy Lavery that that was not the purpose he had in mind at all.

The President is a man who has changed his mind frequently in this country. He has changed his mind, as is evidenced by Article 5, as to the true political status of this country. He has now discovered that it is a sovereign, democratic, independent State. He has changed his mind about the Military Tribunal. He at one time declared that it was the most damnable invention of the human mind for the oppression of our fellow-citizens. He is now incorporating it in the fundamental law of the country. He [251] has changed his mind also in regard to the I.R.A. He was entertaining them in his study about 12 months ago with the object of forming a united front against the Opposition in this House. He has now proclaimed them an illegal body. If these striking changes of mind can take place and if such persons can attain to preeminence in this country as the head of the Government, does this House think it wise to leave the powers contained in paragraph 10 of Article 13 within the scope of the authority of any Government of this country? Does this House know what the meaning of the word “President” will be so long as paragraph 10 of Article 13 remains the fundamental law of the country? Paragraph 13 makes it possible to constitute this person who is to be President an absolute dictator and leaves the door wide open for any change any passing Government may see fit to make.

Article 41 I have already referred to. Article 41 purports in its course to declare and establish the sanctity of marriage. That, I believe, is a purpose that will command the assent of every Deputy in this House, but I feel bound to point out that in an attempt to assert fundamental matters of that kind care in the choice of language becomes very necessary, and we have in paragraph 2 of paragraph 3 of that Article a declaration that no law shall be enacted to provide for the grant of a dissolution of marriage. At first glance that would seem to represent accurately the almost unanimous view of our people, but on a closer examination I think the President should concern himself to find out whether that declaration, if it be enacted into the fundamental law of this country, can be reconciled with the Pauline privilege in regard to marriages. Can it be reconciled with certain circumstances that can arise in which a marriage, which in the eyes of the civil law of certain States is valid, but which in the eyes of the Church in this country is invalid, can be regulated? I suggest that a situation may arise under that in which there would be an obligation on a Catholic priest to administer the [252] sacrament of matrimony to persons who, in the light of that document, would be indissolubly married according to the civil law.

Highfalutin, in addition to being deceiving, was very dangerous. There is no difference of opinion amongst any sections in this country as to the fundamental law in these matters—no substantial difference, in any case— but great damage can be done by trying to career away with loosely drafted documents dealing with such fundamental matters. The way in which this document has been prepared reflects little credit on the Government responsible for introducing it to this country. No adequate time has been given to examine it with the care that it ought to receive, and there may be various other lacunae in the Draft which could give rise to very serious difficulty in the hereafter. That at least appears to me to be one of them. However, my primary interest in this business is exactly the spirit shown by Deputy Mrs. Concannon here to-day. She has been carried away by the highfalutin, and, carried away by it, she lets herself be blinded to what is in fact going on all round. You cannot feed hungry people with Constitutions. You cannot stop the flood of emigrants with a paper dam. While this country is being asked to work itself into a frenzy of excitement over a document of this kind, we who live in the country see our neighbours getting poorer, see the mothers of families, as Deputy Kent has said, driven out to hard manual labour by a necessity that has been thrust upon them by this Government; see every day as we come in the train to Dáil Eireann groups on the platforms such as we used to see 25 or 30 years ago, caoining the departing emigrants.

We are expected, in that state of affairs, to work ourselves up to enthusiasm over a new Constitution; a new Constitution which changes nothing fundamental in our existence, which, by loose drafting, if we are to believe the President of the Executive Council, contains in it formidable potential dangers for the people who have learned hardship and who are [253] threatened with greater hardship, for a country that is sinking deeper and deeper into destitution, for families that have hanging over them the threat of destruction by poverty. Is there any common sense left in this House at all?

Surely our first charge, as the temporal Government of this country, is the happiness of our own people. Everything we do here is contributing to their unhappiness and to their undoing, and the compensation we offer them is a Constitution. Surely we ought to wake up to some sense of reality. Surely we ought to go down the country amongst our own people, see how they are living, and learn what they want to make life better than it has been heretofore. This Constitution can do nothing whatever towards that end. It is towards that end we ought to be working in this House, and it is towards that end we are not working now. That is why this Constitution disgusts me. It is as irrelevant as a nursery rhyme, and it revolts me that, in the condition of our people, the mind of the country and the mind of this House should be thrust by this Government under a grotesquely irrelevant Constitution, while the people are perishing on the land.

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: Bhíos ag éisteacht leis an Teachta Ó Diolúin ag cur síos ar an mBunreacht seo agus a rá ná raibh aon dul chun chinn ann, ach caithfidh a rá ná cuireann aon nidh adeireann an Teachta Ó Diolúin íontas ar bith orm. Bhíos ag éisteacht fós leis an Teachta Ó Suilleabháin ag cur síos ar an mBunreacht seo. In ionad an Bunreacht do phlé is ag tabhairt fén Uachtarán a bhí sé ar feadh an ama uilig, beagnach. Is don Uachtarán atá againn fé láthair atáim ag déanamh tagairt anois. Tugaim fé ndeara go bhfuil na daoine ar an dtaobh tháll ar buile mar gheall ar an mBunreacht.

Domhnall Ua Laoghaire: Ní chuireann siad puinn suime ann.

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: Tá siad ar buile mar gheall air agus sé an fáth go bhfuil an fhearg sin ortha ná gur fearr an Bunreacht seo ná mar a cheapadar [254] agus gur oiriúnaí don náisiún seo é ná mar bhí an Sean-Bhunreacht. Tá na Teachtaí thall ag leigint ortha ná fuil aon deifríocht idir an Bunreacht so, Bunreacht na hÉireann, agus an seanacheann a bhí againn. Cuirfidh mé Airteagal (1) den tSean-Bhunreacht i gcomparáid le hAirteagal (1) den Bhunreacht so. Sé adeir Airteagal (1) den tSean-Bhunreacht ná:—

“Ball có-ionann iseadh Saorstát Eireann den Chuideachta Náisiún a dhineann suas an Có-chiníochas Briotáineach.”

Deir Airteagal (1) den Bhunreacht nua:—

“Deimhnigheann náisiún na hÉireann leis seo a gceart do-shannta, do-chumhscuighthe, uachtar-cheannais chun cibé cinéal Riaghaltais is rogha leo féin do bhunughadh, chun a gcaidreamh le náisiúnaibh eile do chinneadh, agus chun forbairt do dhéanamh ar a saoghal i gcúrsai poilitidheachta is geilleagair is saoidheachta, do réir dhúthchais is gnás a sinnsear.”

Im' thuairim-se, is mór an deifríocht atá idir an dhá rud. Taisbeánann sin go bhfuil sé ar aigne againn ár gcúrsaí féin do stiúriú díreach mar is mian linn, gan leigint do dhuine ar bith lasmuich nó do dhuine atá i gceannas lasmuich den tír seo do chur isteach orainn.

Bhí an Teachta Ó Súilleabháin, agus ina dhiaidh, an Teachta Ó Diolúin, ag iarraidh a dhéanamh amach ná raibh aon tsuim ag muintir na tíre san mBunreacht so. Dubhairt an Teachta Ó Súilleabháin ná raibh morán daoine anso chun bheith ag éisteacht leis an díospóireacht seo. Bhíos annseo indé nuair a cuireadh tús ar an ndíospóireacht, agus bhí an Tigh lán de Dháilirí agus an galairí thuas lan de dhaoine, agus is dócha gur chun bheith ag éisteacht leis an díospóireacht ar an mBunreacht a tháinigeadar anso.

Bhíos ag éisteacht leis an Teachta Ua Maolchatha ag cur síos ar an mBunreacht agus dubhairt sé gur chun na daoine a dalladh a thugamar isteach an Dréacht-Bhunreacht roimh an Olltoghchán. Tuigeann na daoine an scéal i gceart mar tá siad cliste ar cheisteanna mar seo agus níl sé chó furusta dallóg do chur ortha agus mar [255] ceapann an Teachta Ua Maolchatha. Bhí sé ag cur síos ar bhochtanas agus ganntanas na tíre agus rinne sé tagairt do leitir do léigh an Teachta Ua Laoghaire amach sa Tigh le déanaí. Is dócha gur minic a léighfear sin sul a thiocfaidh an t-Olltoghchán. Nuair a tharraing sé an pictúir sin—pictúir bochtanais agus dealbhais—nach maith nár chuir sé san bpictúir an bochtanas bhí ann nuair fuair daoine bás sa chondae céanna.

Domhnall Ua Laoghaire: An seanrud.

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: Tá an ceart céanna agam tagairt do dhéanamh dosna rudaí seo agus a bhí ag an dTeachta Ua Maolchatha tagairt do dhéanamh do bhochtanas na tíre.

Domhnall Ua Laoghaire: Níl sé fíor.

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: An bhfuil an scéal eile fíor?

Domhnall Ua Laoghaire: Tá. Is ó mhuintir Bhaile Mhúirne a tháinig an scéala.

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: Is ó uimhir a sé, Cearnóg Mhuirbhthean, a tháinig sé. Níl ann ach stocaireacht.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Ní bhaineann an scéal sin leis an díospóireacht seo.

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: Deineadh tagairt do Bhaile Mhúirne, áit atá san nGaeltacht. Tá eolas agam ar an nGaeltacht agus deirim-se gur fearr an cuidiú atá an Rialtas seo ag tabhairt do mhuintir na Gaeltachta ná an cuidiú a thug an dream eile dóibh nuair a bhí siad i réim. Is iad na daoine is boichte atá i gceist agam anois. I rith na bliana seo caithte, do caitheadh £88,583 ar bhainne a tugadh saor do chlanna bochta.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Cionnus a bhaineann sé sin leis an mBunreacht?

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: Ní bhaineann sé leis, ach deineadh tagairt do bhochtanas na tíre san ndíospóireacht seo agus shíleas go raibh sé ceart agam freagra do thabhairt do sna Teachtaí ar an dtaobh thall. Ar na Teachtaí a dhein tagairt don scéal seo, bhí an [256] Teachta Ua Murchadha, agus bhí an Teachta Ua Laoghaire ag tabhairt congnaimh dó.

Domhnall Ua Laoghaire: Níor ghá aon chongnamh do thabhairt do mar do thuig sé féin an scéal go maith.

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: Ní fheadar ar thuig sé. Dubhairt tú, a Leas-Chinn Comhairle, ná raibh baint ag an scéal seo leis an mBunreacht agus aontuím leat agus fágfaidh mé súd mar atá sé. Taithnigheann an Dréacht-Bhunreacht seo go mór liom. Sé an fáth go dtaithnigheann sé liom ná go bhfuil rudaí áirithe ag baint leis go mba cheart a bheith ag baint le Bunreacht ar bith le haghaidh na tíre seo. Ar an gcéad dul síos, tá sé Gaedhealach agus tug-tar an chéad aít do theangain ár sinnsear. Tugaim fé ndeara ar Airteagal 18, a bhaineann leis an Seanad, na focla seo:

“An Ghaedhilg agus an tSaoidheacht náisiúnta, Oideachas agus pé garma a léireochthar le dligheadh chun críche an rolla seo.”

Chímíd go bhfuil an chéad áit tugtha don teangain náisiúnta. Is mór an dul chun cinn sin agus is ceart an chéad áit do thabhairt don Ghaedhilg san Dara Tigh, chó maith leis an gCéad Tigh. Dá mhéid a chloisim de sna cainnteanna o lucht na taoibhe eile ag cáineadh an Dréacht-Bhunreachta so an rud is mó atá buailte isteach im' aigne ná fuil ar siubhal acu ach lagiarracht chun Bunreacht na hEireann do chur os cóir na ndaoine mar rud nár cheart dóibh aon tsuim a chur ann.

Anois fáth eile go bhfuilim sásta leis an nDréacht so iseadh go bhfuil léargus ceart Críostamhail ann. Tír iseadh í seo go bhfuil dílseacht fé leith ag na daoine don chlainn, don phósadh agus don creideamh agus is ceart go mbeadh áit fé leith dó-san i mBun-Dligheadh na tíre seo. B'é teagasc na bhfeallsúnaidhthe nótálta poilitidheachta ó aimsir na sean-Ghréige anuas gurbh í an chlann préamh cheart an Stáit agus an Stát ná beadh bunuithe ar an slighe sin ná beadh rí ná rath air.

Annsin tá le feiscint sa Dréacht-Bhunreacht so an smaoineadh gurbh iad na daoine na máighistrí. Thríd síos tá sé soiléir gurbh é a theastuigh ó lucht a cheaptha ná toil agus údarás na ndaoine bheith in uachtar. Má [257] bhí daonfhlathacht riamh ann beidh sé in Éirinn againn nuair a bheidh an Dréacht so rithte. Beidh údarás na ndaoine i mbun is i mbarr gach nidh a bhaineas le rialú na tíre. Tá na teachtaí eile ag iarraidh a dhéanamh amach mar dheadh, ná beidh san Uachtarán ach deactóir. Ní chreideann siad féin é sin ach is amhlaidh atá siad ag iarraidh eagla a chur ar na daoine. D'fhéadfaí a rádh go mbeidh trí cinn de dhualgaisí ar an Uachtarán. Má bhíonn a mhalairt de thuairim ag an nDáil agus ag an Seanad i dtaobh cad is bille airgid ann agus má loirgeann an Seanad breith agus réidhteach air sin cuirfidh an tUachtarán fé bhrághaid Chomhairle an Stáit é, agus cé bheidh na gComhairleoirí Stáit: An Taoiseach, an Tánaiste, an Prímh-Bhreithimh, Uachtarán na hArd-Chúirte, Cathaoirleach na Dála agus Cathaoirleach an tSeanaid, Atúrnae an Stáit srl Cá bhfuil an deachtóireacht annsin? Ní chuireann an tUachtarán a thuairim féin i bhfeidhm ar na daoine, agus deachtóir iseadh duine a chuireann a thuairim agus a thoil féin i bhfeidhm is cuma an ceart no mí-cheart é.

Maidir le huimhir a dó, má cheapann an tUachtarán ná fuil bille áirithe ar aon dul le téarmaí agus le sprid an Bhunreachta, ragha sé i gcomhairle le Comhairle an Stáit féachaint an ceart é chur fé bhraghaid na Cúirte Uachtaraighe agus tabharfaid sin a mbreith ar an scéal. Cá bhfuil an deachtóireacht ag baint leis sin? Ní féidir a rádh go bhféadfaidh an tUachtarán an lámh láidir d'imirt ar an breithimh sa Chúirt sin.

Maidir le h-uimhir a trí, má ceaptar gur ceart Bille a chur fé bhrághaid na ndaoine mar gheall ar a thábhacht don náisiún, má chuireann an chuid is mó de bhaill na Seanaide nó trian den Dáil athchuinge isteach go dtí an tUachtarán ag iarraidh air an Bille do chose go dtí go mbeidh caoi ag na daoine a mbreith do thabhairt air agus má cheapann Comhairle an Stáit gur ceart é chur fé bhrághaid na ndaoine agus má dheineann an tUachtarán é sin an féidir a rádh gur deachtóireacht é sin? Ní headh go deimhin ach a mhalairt, agus dá bhrí sin, na daoine a deir go mbeidh an t-Uachtarán [258] 'na Dheachtóir, níl ar súil aca ach baochaint agus ráiméis.

Anois maidir le hAirteagal (4) Éire is ainm don Stáit. Do chuala an Teachta Mac Diarmuda á rádh indé gur ceart an ainm Ireland do bhaisteadh ar an Stát. Ba mhór an náire é sin mar do bhí an ainm Éire ar an Stát so sar a raibh aon trácht ar Ireland. Éire na nGaedheal no seo. Nuair a bhí ainm na tíre seo in airde fadó nuair ba mhór le rádh muinntir na tíre seo maidir le saoidheacht, maidir le cultúr, oideachas agus teagasc, sé Éire an ainm a bhí ar an dtír seo. “Is mise Éire is sinne mé na an Chailleach Béara,” adubhairt Pádraig Mac Piarais. Níor taithaigh an t-ainm “Saorstát Éireann” liom riamh, níor samhluigheadh dom gurab é an ciall o bhí leis na Stát gan Saoirse iomlán, d'ainneoin an méid adubhairt na Teachtaí thall. Gidh ná fuil smacht éifeachtach againn ar na Sé Condaethe sa tuaisceard ní orainn an milleán sin, ach ar na Teachtaí ar an dtaobh eile.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Ceist eile 'seadh sin nach mbaineann leis an mBunreacht.

Domhnall Ua Laoghaire: Cad a thug sibh isteach?

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: Muintire na tíre a chuir annso sinne.

Domhnall Ua Laoghaire: An Connradh.

Eamonn Ó Ciosáin: B'féidir go dtiocfimíd isteach arís níos láidre, gidh go bhfuil ganntanas agus bochtannas sa tír, do réir na Theachtaí thall. I gceann tamaill, beidh seans ag na daoine a dtuairim do nochtú ar an gceist seo, ach ós rud é ná fuil baint aige leis an mBunreacht, fágfaidh mé an scéal mar atá. Dubhairt an Teachta O Súilleabháin ná beadh caoi cheart ag muintir na tíre a mbreith do thabhairt san olltoghachán ar chursaí economice na tíre toisc iad do bheith fighte fuaighte le ceist an Bhunreachta. Ná beidh faill ag na daoine a mbreith do thabhairt ar an dhá rud? Ná fuil cead acu a nguthanna do thabhairt don Rialtas agus guth do thabhairt in aghaidh an Bhunreachta. Deirimse go mbeidh caoi níos fearr acu a mbreith do thabhairt ar an [259] mBunreacht so agus ar a n-aigne do dhéanamh suas maidir le cursaí na tíre ná bhí acu nuair a cuireadh an Sean Bhunreacht os comhair an phobail. Is cuimhin liom an t-am san. Cuireadh an Dréacht-Bhunreacht os comhair na daoine maidin an Olltoghacháin.

Mar adubhairt, táim lán-tsásta leis an mBunreacht agus táim cinnte go bhfuil saol nua roimh mhuintir na tíre fé. Níl aon eagla orm ná glachfar go fonnmhar leis nuair a cuirfear os comhair na daoine é. Bunreacht Gaedhealach 'seadh é a chuireann toil agus údarás na ndaoine in uachtar.

Mr. Hogan: I am very slow to intervene in this debate because any remarks that I may make may be considered as detracting from the value of, may be taken as belittling the value of, the Constitution—that would be thought to belittle the value of the Constitution at present before us. I am slow to intervene, more so because I think that we could be employed in far better work at the moment than in discussing this Constitution. I think that there are many more pressing problems asking for solution at the present moment than the problem that this Constitution will solve, or than any Constitution could solve, problems that could be solved within the four corners of the present Constitution—not that I like the present Constitution. There is also this reason: I think it is very bad to put so much into the present Constitution, to make a rigid Constitution now when so much of the ideals and hopes and aspirations of our people are in flux. I think we ought to wait and give these things time to take shape before we frame for ourselves a rigid Constitution of this kind. I also think it is rather inopportune that we should ask the people to decide upon the fundamental law of the State at the same time as we are asking them to decide what Party is to be put first in power to operate that fundamental law. You will not be able to separate the two questions in the minds of the people, and the people will not be able to give that full attention and that full care to the consideration of [260] the various items of that fundamental law that will be put before them. They will be influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by the political arguments that will be put before them at the same time, and therefore it is not giving a fair chance to the Constitution itself, bad or mediocre or good as it may be. It is not giving a fair chance to the people to express an opinion on it. Political and partisan views will be expressed more in the voting papers, in whatever form papers will be offered to the people in respect of the Constitution, than would be otherwise if it were offered to the people at a time when calmness, quietness and normal conditions would prevail.

There is another argument. The spokesmen of the present Government never tire telling us, and no doubt there will be a spate of that rhetoric within the coming six weeks or so, that they are going to return with an enhanced majority, that they are going to return with a majority that will make them independent of all Parties in the House. If they believe that, why not wait until they come back with that enhanced majority, and then submit this Constitution to the people when the people, in normal conditions, will have an opportunity for considering it? I am not going to pursue the false hope that they are expressing, but it is relevant to refer to it.

There are a few matters with reference to the Constitution itself which I suppose it may be relevant to refer to. We are told in Article 5 that “Eire is a sovereign, independent, democratic State.” Well, one would think that that would be amplified or extended in some fashion. What kind of State is it going to be? There are several very well recognised forms of State. There are limited monarchies, there are republics, federated and confederated republics. What kind of State is it going to be? The limited monarchy in England is a sovereign State. Is this State going to be a limited monarchy? The Republic of America is a sovereign, democratic State. Is this State going to be a republic? No doubt the people of [261] Germany would say that their State is a democratic State for, notwithstanding whatever may be said regarding it, they did elect Rudolph Hitler— the people of Germany did elect him. There was an election and he was elected. Is it going to be a totalitarian State like Germany? What State is it going to be like? Or what exactly is one to read into Article 5? Is one to read it that Eire is a sovereign, independent, democratic, limited monarchy, a republic or a confederated republic? What can I substitute in place of the word State in that Article? In other Constitutions we find some definite form that the State will take. Why are we afraid to say here what form it is going to take? We were told by the President that we are going to be: “Dilis do'n mbrat na bopalachta.” I think these were his words. Is this Constitution going to be the swaddling clothes of the expected republic, or is it going to be the winding sheet of the republic? So far as this Constitution and Fianna Fáil Administration are concerned, I think it is going to be the winding sheet of the republic, and, so far as the present Administration is concerned, speaking a funeral oration over it in Irish will not make it open its lovely blue eyes to this new mother Éire found for it. The State Éire is to extend over all Ireland. That may be optimistic but it certainly is not realistic.

The President himself told us yesterday that he did not expect that our writ was going to run in the Six Counties. It is foolish for us then to say that the State Éire includes the Six Counties. If my Irish history is anyway correct, we did at one time claim that we had some governmental control over Scotland, or portion of Scotland. Could we include Scotland in Éire, and would it have any effect? It would have much the same effect as including the Six Counties. Of course, it is possibly a way of hiding what we want to do, but to my mind we ought to say that Éire is a sovereign, independent dominion, republic or kingdom, and have done with it. To say that it is a sovereign, independent, democratic State and not to indicate what form [262] the State is to take is certainly endeavouring to deceive ourselves and probably succeeding.

Deputy Lavery told us that we were creating a new dynasty. Of all the Parties that should speak with reference to the creation of a new dynasty the Party that Deputy Lavery belongs to should be the last to speak of that. They did not create a new dynasty. They found one already made, and they incorporated it in the Constitution that they gave us. If we did create a new dynasty it would have this advantage, that it would be an Irish dynasty. So far as we are concerned, the dynasty that they introduced could be qualified by only one word, a word that probably Shakespeare would not balk at using. If I were to use it I would probably be reprimanded by you, Sir, for doing so, but it finds a place in the English dictionary as a good Anglo-Saxon word. That is the only word to qualify it.

There has been a good deal of reference to the privileged position that the Irish language is to have under this Constitution. Article 8 says “the Irish language as the national language is the first official language.” I can conceive of only one official language. I cannot conceive of two official languages. “The English language is recognised as a second official language.” One may be permitted to use it, but to say that English is the second official language does not seem to me to be right sense. The third provision in Article 8 says “Provision may, however, be made by law for the exclusive use of either of the said languages for any one or more official purposes, either throughout the State or in any part thereof.” That seems to me to be a concession to certain people who, we say, are included in Éire, but who, in fact, are not included in Éire. Is that a concession to the Six Counties, or is it not? Within the Twenty-Six Counties if there are people who object to have Irish as the official language, does this mean that permission is given for the other language—English—to be used? What is it a concession to? It is quite possible in that connection that we can cuddle our friends in Northern Ireland and [263] make them very amenable. But, if I were giving advice to the Executive Council on the Constitution, I would suggest that they give them a bear's hug, which is probably a thing they would appreciate better.

Article 13 (10) states:—

“Subject to this Constitution, additional powers and functions may be conferred on the President by law.”

That seems an innocuous kind of provision; but one can easily visualise a state of affairs in which it would be a very dangerous power. One can easily visualise a time when a President would be elected who would be, so far as political ideals are concerned, in conformity with the Government. That Government, holding a majority in the Dáil, could confer powers on the President by law; then with a Seanad with limited powers and a Council of State which he may consult but on whose advice he need not act what is to prevent a President in these circumstances, three years after the passing of the Constitution, abolishing the Oireachtas? I do not think there is anything in the Constitution to prevent him from doing it. Additional powers may be conferred on him by law. The legislation can be enacted here by a majority. The Seanad is limited in its powers and, after three years, he can act without referring that law to the people. Is there anything in the Constitution to prevent the President under such a set of circumstances from absolutely dissolving the Oireachtas? I would remind the people who give those very extensive powers that when they speak about the excessive use of those powers in Continental countries, they forget that some of these people in Continental countries who are using those powers in a dictatorial fashion were actually elected by the people. We should not place ourselves in the position of having a democratic President who may be in a position to do away with the machinery of Parliament.

Putting the President above the law may be very useful, but I did not expect to find such a dyed-in-the-wool democrat as the Minister for Finance [264] pleading for the continuation of the tag, “The King can do no wrong,” in this Constitution. There is no reason why the head of the State should not be amenable to law. The Minister for Finance knows perfectly well that putting the King outside the law simply meant that “the King can do no wrong.” Making the head of the State not amenable to the law is a continuation of the old bogey, the divine right of Kings, “the King can do no wrong.” I did not expect to find that in this ultra-democratic Constitution and that we would have a pro-democratic Minister for Finance defending it.

The Minister for Finance told us a few other interesting things. He told us that the President's signature is a guarantee that an Act of the Oireachtas is not in conflict with the Constitution. The President, of course, before he signs a Bill can submit it to the courts for a declaration as to whether anything in it is repugnant to the Constitution. But, once he signs it, I understood from the Minister for Finance that that is a guarantee to the citizen that nothing in it is repugnant to the Constitution. That is a very dangerous provision, in my opinion. At present I think there is a provision by which any citizen can test the validity of any Act passed by this Parliament in the law courts to see whether it is valid or invalid. The Minister for Finance told us that it was not merely his signature the President was putting to it as his signature, but that by it he was indicating to the citizens that there was nothing in the Act repugnant to the Constitution. There should be some provision by which a citizen would be entitled to take the opinion of the courts as to the validity or the repugnancy of any Act to the Constitution.

There is one thing in which, possibly, I am more interested than anything I have referred to so far, and which may be raised on Article 45. Much play has been made about the family, about the rights of women, and about the right of preserving family life and such things. But one would expect that in the fundamental law of the country, which justly respects private property and the rights of the family and the maintenance [265] of family life, there would be some statement as to live. The only of all citizens to live. The only private property of a certain section of the community is the labour of their hands or heads. If the labour of their hands cannot be utilised, they are condemned either to a dragging existence or to death. One would expect to find in Bunreacht na hEireann some reference to this. At the beginning of Article 45 we find this most extraordinary statement:—

“The principles of social policy set forth in this Article are intended for the general guidance of the Oireachtas. The application of those principles in the making of laws shall be the exclusive care of the Oireachtas and shall not be cognisable by any court under any of the provisions of this Constitution.”

In other words, they are pious aspirations so far as social legislation and social conditions are concerned. I should have thought that there would be expressly set out in a Constitution of this kind the right of all citizens either to work or maintenance. That is one of the most serious omissions in this Constitution. It is one of the most serious omissions in this Constitution, and even although subsequent legislation guided by this may be enacted, this Constitution says that all it suggests here are merely pious aspirations for the guidance of the Oireachtas. I do not wish to stress any further any of these points. I have endeavoured to indicate what seem to me to be flaws in this Constitution. That is the greatest flaw of the lot. There is no provision made by which citizens who, it is alleged, have similar rights to other citizens, will find any means of existence provided for them. One would expect to find in a Constitution a provision somewhat of this kind, on these lines, perhaps somewhat better worded: “that every citizen shall be afforded an opportunity of sustaining life and the lives of those dependent upon them by labour, physical or mental, and where such is not available that the State shall maintain him and his dependents in frugal comfort.” That is a provision [266] that should find expression in a Constitution of this kind. I commend this provision, or something similar to it, to the consideration of the President and the members of the Executive Council. I also say that this is not an opportune time to put before the people, with an election coming on, the fundamental law of the country when, whether they like it or not, people will be influenced by political arguments and political prejudices.

Dr. O'Higgins: I am very pleased to hear from the Labour Benches a speech of the type to which we have just listened. I say that because there was a note of sincerity running right through that speech, and unquestionably there was a straightforward expression of uneasiness and anxiety with regard to the possibilities of this particular instrument. There was expressed, too, a note of fear with regard to the powers it is proposed to put into the hands of a single political individual. I welcome the statement to the effect that a great portion of this lengthy document of 115 pages is just so many pious aspirations strung together without any serious attempt to implement, or put into operation, such pious aspirations. As one speaker said already, the Constitution should not be something like a Fianna Fáil election poster. The Constitution, if it is to be taken seriously —and the Constitution should be taken seriously—and if it is to get close study and interest from all Parties and sections—should be devoid of all meaningless phraseology. If a Constitution is to be read, studied and examined in the homes of the people, as the President asked in his broadcast message, then very definitely the Constitution should be free from all evasiveness and free from ambiguity, and should be set forth in the plainest and simplest language. The outstanding feature of this document is its very evasiveness and the clumsy attempts to hide what is really there. There are certain big things that matter in every Constitution. One is the type of State we are going to have, whether it will be a monarchy or a republic or a State associated by [267] its Constitution with other States. That is definitely one of the things that matter to each one of us, no matter for which of these States we stand. That is one of the things that should be set forth most fully and should be stood over most bravely. A person going through this document with a magnifying glass and with the mind of a constitutional lawyer will get one cause for uneasiness removed. Because he will see within that document that one of the things it does, in fact, is to keep up the association of this country with other nations in the Commonwealth. But would the ordinary citizen, unversed in the peculiar acrobatic tactics of the author of that document, be able to find this section and interpret its meaning? On the very face of it, there is a laboured attempt to mislead the ordinary citizen. To the ordinary citizen who wants to study every line of it there is revealed a want of candour and a want of frankness which is stamped on every clause of that instrument. When I read through the 115 pages of that document for the first time, I regarded it as a kind of political curate's egg, good in spots. The closer I studied it, and the more I listened to the views of the author, the more I began to feel that the good spots were remarkably absent, or that the egg was so thoroughly scrambled that every bit of it was tainted and that it was hard to get at the good spots.

There are things in this Constitution that are good, and it is a remarkable fact that the outstanding case of merit in this Constitution is where it is proposed to undo the work that was done in recent years by the present Government. One of the things in this Constitution, and in fact I am inclined to say the only thing in this Constitution that got full and frank, free and impartial consideration was the re-establishment of the Seanad. The re-establishment of the Seanad and the reconverting of this Parliament into a bi-cameral legislature is one of the remarkably good things in this Constitution. There we are undoing belatedly the damage that was done by the present Government. We are also re-establishing the principle [268] of direct university representation in the Parliament of this country. None of us need have very long memories to recollect the type of speeches that were made from the Government Benches when the Fianna Fáil Government was abolishing the Seanad. When we had visions of the danger of a unicameral House, and when we listened to the speeches from the Government Benches, we were told how undemocratic university representation was and what an evil thing it was in a democratic State. Were those people sincere then or are they sincere now? Were they preaching the truth that was in them then, or are they preaching the truth that is in them now? But I accept the Seanad as one of the good features of this document for this reason, that these 115 pages of the Constitution were produced, drafted, drawn up and given to us without the consideration of any individual outside a small select group of politicians. It is quite clear that more attention was paid to the constitution of the Seanad or the revival of the Seanad than was paid to the Constitution of this country. When it came to evolving a Second House we had invitations sent out to all Parties, all classes of society, to participate in that work, to give their aid and their counsel and to express their views. When those views were expressed, the result of the combined opinion of all these was that a Second House should be established. That is the attention, that is the consideration, and that is the non-political manner in which the Seanad was reconstituted.

But when it came to the more important thing, when it came to the Constitution under which, presumably, we will live and die and children will be born, what happened there? The greatest political fanatic in the whole country did it, and he alone, and no outside view was expressed, no outside voice was heard, and we have here a document that is the normal birth of such a brain. We have a document before us, the only outstanding feature in which is that the whole 115 pages and the whole 60 or 70 Articles are so many props, so many bricks, to build an edifice for one man to sit in. The [269] whole document we have here is building a throne for one individual, and that throne is to be built by materials stolen from the Parliament of the people, and the powers that are passed into the hands of that individual are powers to be filched from the Government and the Parliament of the people.

We listened to arguments yesterday about the powers that are to be conferred on this new all-highest, and at one awkward corner in the discussions yesterday we had the President attempting to rub down the worried nerves of people who were anxious about that particular clause. What line did he take? When that point was made and when it was indicated that the new President, in addition to his powers and functions, would have other powers and functions conferred on him by law, and that those might be, in a legal sense, unlimited, the President's line of argument at that time was “No. Such a thing could not be done. That is merely a clause inserted in order to make provision for such a thing as a new university, so that the President might have power to appoint visitors to such a new university.”

A few hours later, when a point was made by Deputy Lavery that there were certain functions reserved for the King and that the President would be powerless to have anything to do or say with those reserved functions, Deputy Lavery was contradicted by the President. The Deputy asked the President to point out, in this document, where he had those powers, and the President's answer was to refer Deputy Lavery to the particular Article that laid down that the President would have any further powers conferred on him by law; in other words, in addition to the powers here given to an individual, the powers that might be given to him by a friendly or allied Government or by an obedient majority Party in this House. Such powers were definitely unlimited. So we are to pass this document in haste in order to make it possible for an autocrat or dictator, partly through the machinery of this document as it stands, and partly by the legislation of a docile or servile Government, to have powers conferred on an individual in this country that the country would even shirk giving to an executive group. [270] The individual who is to get those powers is to be immune from all law except high treason or high crime for the full period of seven years, and he is to be answerable for the performance of his duties to no person or persons inside or outside Parliament. Parliament cannot reduce by one penny his salary, income or allowances for the full period of seven years.

This weapon that was used on many a platform for the past two years is the charter of liberty for the people. When it is here before us in all its ugly nakedness we find that the only real change that is proposed to be made in the powers of the Parliament or the powers of the people is in the direction of taking from the people and taking from Parliament powers which they enjoy at the moment. This President, this new functionary, is to take precedence over every other person in the State. He is to be elected for seven years. He is the only individual in the whole State, after his term of seven years is up, who will have the right of self-nomination for re-election. All others must get so many Deputies or Senators, or so many borough or county councils to nominate them. He and he alone is to have the exclusive right of self-nomination. He is to be immune from all the laws of the land. The law is good enough for you or for me, the law is good enough for the man and woman outside, but this particular individual, during his seven years, can commit any or every crime and there is no law made by Irishmen that can touch him.

He is above the law, immune from the law, unanswerable to the people, unchecked by Parliament. The Parliament is merely to supply the funds but not to question his actions. He may or may not dissolve the Parliament on the advice of a Premier who has lost the confidence of the Parliament. If there happens to be a Premier over there who is beaten on a vote of no confidence by, we will say, four-fifths of the members of this Parliament, the system at the moment, the normal system in every democratic country, is that the majority of people in that Parliament then elect [271] that man's successor and the new President either carries on or dissolves. But there is a special provision made here that he may or may not dissolve Dáil Eireann on the advice of a Premier who has lost the confidence of Dáil Eireann. It is not the Dáil that is going to decide whether or not there will be a dissolution of the Dáil. It is not the newly-elected Premier who will decide whether or not there will be a dissolution of the Dáil. It is this individual, this functionary, this all-highest, who, we are told, is above and outside politics, who will decide— and he alone will decide—how this House will conduct its business.

He is to be Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and the powers he will exercise under that title will be whatever powers are given to him by law, and those powers are unlimited. He will not only have a stranglehold on Parliament, but he will have the operative command-in-chief of the Army. You have got to visualise things, just not as they are at the present moment, just not as they are with you people over there the majority Party, and the Opposition over here a minority Party. If you pass that Constitution, it will be, or should be, a Constitution for the rest of our lives, a Constitution, as far as we can see, for all time. What Government Deputies, as well as Opposition Deputies, have got to ask themselves—not thinking in terms of President de Valera or Deputy Cosgrave—is whether it is safe to give anybody that comes along, or that may come along, such awful powers to strangle your Parliament, and to grab your Army, as can be given in this document.

Now this individual is to be elected by the votes of the people. We have all read history, and we all know that in this as well as in other countries it is the experience of all to be applauded one day and spat on the next, and that the popular life of any individual can be written in the same number of years as you have fingers on your hand: that the popular life of any individual is strictly limited. It is all very well [272] to give these powers to a man on the crest of a popular wave, but you have got to remember that, once given, they cannot be withdrawn, and that when the day comes that both Deputies and public are up against that particular man as intensely as they can be, not one of the powers given can be withdrawn or limited or curtailed without the particular type of cumbersome and unwieldy machinery in which he has a say as well as anybody else. It stands to reason. We have all gone through elections and we all understand how election work is done. It is nonsense to talk of this individual as being outside and above politics. Who can get there except the most successful politician? Who can get there except the most active or most prominent politician? No individual could get there. On an adult suffrage vote no one could be elected without the entire support of one of the great political Parties in this country. It would be a political impossibility for anybody to be elected to the position of President except with the active support of one of the great political machines, and, to get the support of that great political machine, he must be a prominent political leader. That being so, the man who gets to the position of President in this country will be a prominent and leading politician.

Now, a man cannot shed his political convictions and inclination like a Scotch partridge changes its colours. A man may say: “I am above and over politics,” but he is just as much a rabid politician the day after he gets on that throne as he was on the day before he ascended it, and he will never ascend it without being a Party man until the last vote is polled. Now, the day after his election, one of two things happens. He may have a Government whose political label is similar to his own, and that will be the Government that will legislate what further powers, if any, that man is to get. Presumably, he was their late leader. Presumably, he was the big bashaw of that Party up to a week or so before. His word was law. The place each of them occupied in the political sun was due, to a great extent, [273] to his successful leadership. Those will be the men who will decide what powers he will have—what further powers he will have—with regard to the Constitution and to what extent his command in the Army will operate. Any one of us and every one of us knows that in that set of circumstances his powers will be greatly increased over and above what is indicated there. Having increased them for that individual, they are powerless to alter them for his successors, and powerless, without a very unwieldy type of machinery, to limit them either during his tenure of office or subsequently. The alternative is this: that you have that highly political President elected and you have a Government of an opposite political colour, and you must have that every now and then. I believe that the position will be definitely worse and more dangerous in that situation. He has powers to withhold sanctions or to force the Government to proceed through certain very devious and difficult ways in order to get their legislation through. He can, in fact, paralyse the legislation of that Government. There is nothing that I read into that document to say that he is bound in any event by the advice of the advisory council, but having listened to that advisory council, and having let them talk, he can then absolutely paralyse the elected Executive of the State.

It may be that he can justify that paralysis because he can satisfy himself that they are going in a direction that, he believes, interferes with, or is dangerous, or not in the best interests of the people. I will give everybody this much credit, that whatever stand we all take, each one of us is convinced in our own minds that we are doing the right thing by the people of this country. Yet, see how obstinate we are, and we are all equally convinced that we are right, and conscientiously right, and right in honour. Now, that man, if he is to subscribe to the oath he takes, has got to use his brains and ability on behalf of the people who elected him, and if he is a strong-willed man with an opinion of his own, and if he is the type of man that is capable of convincing himself, at all events, that he is right in whatever [274] attitude he takes, even when he takes opposite attitudes in different weeks, then, surely, there is grave potential danger in having such an individual over the elected Executive of your Parliament and over the elected Parliament of the people.

There is one significant thing about this debate and I welcome it. I have never seen it before in this House. We have proposed legislation brought in by the leader of a Government. We have an amendment asking for delay or for postponement of that legislation from the political Opposition. That is a normal feature. That is what happens in the case of almost every Bill. But then you have a Deputy of the President's Party tabling another motion also asking to have that legislation postponed. We have that seconded by another Deputy elected as a follower of the President and elected as a member of that Party. In addition, we have another motion down asking for delay from a member sitting on the Independent Benches. Furthermore, we have a Labour Deputy, speaking presumably on behalf of his Party, warning the Government and the Dáil as to the dangers inherent in that document, warning us that it is unwise and dangerous to give such powers over Parliament and the people to any single individual, no matter whether popularly elected or otherwise. We have seen Governments doing unwise and foolish things. A Government consists of ten or 12 men taking counsel with one another and yet, very hasty, very foolish, very unwise things have been done by Governments. Well, it would be wiser, far wiser to give vastly greater powers, practically unlimited powers, to any group of men than to give even moderate power to an individual. I would warn you again in giving these powers: do not think in terms of persons. What powers you are inclined to give now, to the person you are thinking of now, will be conferred on anybody in ten, 15 or 20 years time.

The underlying idea in this amendment to the Constitution is that when it goes through, Parliament, at least, will be powerless to amend it. [275] Amended it will be some time, but, as Deputy O'Sullivan said, amended it will be following a deadlock. When that deadlock occurs between this all-highest and Parliament, either in the near or distant future, the situation may be met by an amendment to the Constitution or it may be met by the establishment of a dictatorship. If the command of the Army is on one side and the confidence of the people on the other, then there is a situation precipitated that is charged with nothing but danger and evil to the future of the country. Why invite or make possible a situation of that kind? Even if it is only remotely possible, why bring such a situation within the sphere of possibility? Is the office of President of this country not a high enough office for any individual? Outside that, are there not plenty duties to be carried out by the ceremonial head of the State, over and above those assigned to that individual, which would keep him busy enough, that would keep him engaged, that would take social and other duties off the shoulders of the Premier, who will have a lot of important work to do in the legislative field, without conferring or making it possible to confer all the powers that this Draft is conferring on an individual?

We have dictatorships here and there in Europe. Is any one of these defensible or made more desirable on the ground that the leader or the dictator was first popularly elected? I do not know. There may be one or two, but I do not know of any dictator in any of the dictatorial countries that was not first of all the product of popular election, of mass voting, of broad choice, of the enthusiastic selection of the democratic people in that country. Then, in their moment of frenzy, excitement and enthusiasm, they gave him a Government of his own, with authority to that Government to give him further powers, and they ended up where they never thought they had even begun to go. Everyone of them, or at least the bulk of them, was first elected by the popular vote. Powers were given to a docile and obedient Government to [276] define by law what further powers that elected Government should give to the President, and that obedient, docile and servile Government increased these powers so widely that it was only a short step to handing over all control to the dictator. Then you had Parliaments brushed aside one by one, and the individuals remained. The Parliaments were gone or, as far as they remained, they were only just the ballet called together to applaud the prima donna. That, at least, is one of the possibilities and one of the things that must stare out of that document at everybody who examines it impartially.

We, over here, have been accused of political bias. Will you hurl that accusation at the Labour Party? You have got a service from that Party during your five and a half years of office that no Government ever got from any Party not subject to the Government Whip directly. Will you level that accusation at the members who were elected as members of your own Party who have spoken in this House? Would each one of you not ask your neighbour or ask yourselves in private: is it wise to give such powers, we shall say, to Deputy Cosgrave or to Deputy Norton? Ask yourselves what you would say if that proposal came from a Cosgrave, a Norton, or an O'Duffy Government and you were asked to pass it here. Would you not be all in full cry, everyone of you? Some of you in Irish, most of you in English, would be in full cry against this proposal to establish a dictatorship in this island of ours. There is a clause in that document which says: “This is a democratic State.” It must have been the wisdom of the lawyers that put in that clause, because, if it were not there, nobody reading that document would know it.

Aire um Oideachas (Tomás O Deirg): Is iongantach an rud gur féidir leis an Teachta O hUigín codladh ina leabaidh san oídche agus an méid sgannraithe atá air roimh dheachtóireacht fén mBunreacht seo. Da mba rud é go mba mhaith linn deachtóireacht do chur ar bun, ní bheadh am ná ocáid níos feiliúnaí chun é sin do dhéanamh ná an tám [277] atá anois ann. Níl acht an Dáil againn; nil Seanad ná Seanascal ná rí i gcursaibh inmheadmacha againn agus, i ngach rud a bhaineas le saol na tíre, tá a lán comhachta ag furmhór na Dála agus, dá bhrí sin, ag an Rialtas. Dlí ar bith go mba mhaith leo a chur i bhfeidhm, thiocfadh leo é do dhéanamh láithreach bonn. Thiocfadh leo deachtóireacht do chur ar bun anois láithreach dá mba mhian leo. Taisbeánann sin nach bhfuil mórán céille ag dul leis an bport a bhí dha sheinnt ag an dTeachta O hUigín. Níl aon chúis imnidhe ann. Ba cheart go mbeadh níos mó faitchíosa ar an dTeachta anois, agus an Rialtas atá ann— dubhairt sé nach raibh aon mhuinighin aige as baill áirithe den Rialtas—ná a bheadh air nuair a bhéas an Bunreacht seo i bhfeidhm. Ba dhóich le duine go raibh an tUachtarán togtha cheana féin agus go raibh gach rud leagtha amach againn i dtaobh na hUachtaranachta. Caithfidh sé gur beag muinighin atá ag an dTeachta as muintir na hEireann má shaoileann sé go nglacadh sead le socrú mar sin, nó go dtoghfadh siad duine ar bith nach bhfuil oiriúnach don oifig agus nach mbeadh ullamh an Bunreacht d'oibriú d'réir dlí. Ní thig leis an Uachtarán dul thar an dlí. Shaoilfeadh duine ó chaint an Teachta go dtiocfadh leis an Uachtarán a rogha rud do dhéanamh, ach ní mar sin atá an sceál in aon chor. Is cuma cad a deireann lucht cáinte an Bhunreachta—thig leo é do rá gach uair sa ló—tá fhios ag an domhan agus ag éinne go bhfuil ciall aige agus a léigheann an Bunreacht seo nach féidir leis an Uachtarán dul lasmuich den Bhunreacht. Ar an gcéad dul síos, caithfidh sé a chomhachta fén mBunreacht fheimiú ar chomhairle an Rialtais, go mór-mór sa rudai a bhí i gceist ag an dTeachta—rudaí a bhaineann le náisiún eile agus le caidreamh idirnáisiúnta. Caithfidh sé comhairle do ghlacadh ón Rialtas agus ní thig leis aon rud eile do dhéanamh ach dul ar an gcomhairle sin.

Tá a lán cur síos freisin ar an fóráiltatá sa Bhunreacht mar gheall ar na chomhachta is féidir cur le comhachta an Uachtaráin. Is leis an Oireachtas amháin na comhachta sin do thabhairt, má fhaghann an tUachtarán, comhachta eile, caithfidh [278] sé iad d'oibriú do réir dlí, cosúil leis na rudaí eile a bhaineas le na dhual gaisí.

Do labhair an Teachta O hUigín mar gheall ar an Uachtarán a bheith i gceannas an Airm agus ba dhóigh le duine go mbeadh an tUachtarán i ndon an tArm do chur amach amárach agus a rá le muintir na hEireann “beidh mé im' Uachtarán feasta. Ní bheidh aon Dáil agus ní bheidh aon Seanad, nó aon Oireachtas chor ar bith ann.” Ní thig leis an Uachtarán é sin do dhéanamh. Ní foláir dó oibriú do réir forálacha an Bhunreachta. In Airteagal 13 (4), gidh go ndeirtear annsan go bhfuil an tArm fé cheanas an Uachtaráin, deirtear ann, freisin, nach féidir leis é do rialú ach tríd an dlí. Caithfidh an dlí do chur tríd an Oireachtas ag leagadh amach an modh ina n'oibreachthar árd-cheannas an Airm. Níl aon chiall, dá bhrí sin, san méid adubhradh fé sin: go mbeidh comhacht ag an Uachtarán dul lasmuich den dlí agus comhachta neadleatha do thógáil dó féin agus dul amach i gceannas an Airm gan cead ón Rialtas nó ón dlí. Ní thig leis é sin do déanamh i gceist a bhaineann leis an Airm níos mó ná is féidir leis é do dhéanamh i gceisteanna a bhaineas le caidreamh idirnáisiúnta.

Maidir le cheisteanna eile a bhaineas leis an Uachtarán agus na comhachta eile atá leagtha amach dó fén mBunreacht seo, caithfidh sé, uair eannta eigin, comhairle do ghlacadh ó Chomhairle an Stáit agus uair eannta eile, dul do reir chomhairle an Rialtais; ach, ar aon chuma, caithfidh sé oibriú do réir na forálacha atá curtha síos sa Bhunreacht.

Gearóid O Súilleabháin: Ach, féach: “Is ón Uachtarán a bheidh a ghairm——”

Tomás O Deirg: Ba cheart don Teachta cead do thabhairt dom-sa labhairt gan cur isteach orm. Más mian leis labhairt im' dhiaidh, beidh sé i ndon é sin do dhéanamh agus fáilte.

Gearóid O Súilleabháin: ——Ach cuimhnigh air seo: “Is ón Uachtarán a bheidh——”

[279] Tomás O Deirg: A Chinn Comhairle, bhfuil cead agam labhairt gan daoine bheith ag cur isteach orm mar seo?

Gearóid O Súilleabháin: Ba cheart don Aire an rud atá i gceist agam do scrúdú.

Tomás O Deirg: Dubhairt an Teachta O hUigín go rabhamar ag baint comhachta atá ag na daoine fé láthair agus go bhfuilimíd dhá thabhairt d'fhear nua—fear ceannais an Stáit, ach ní mar sin atá; níl pioc de'n fhirinne san scéal sin. Nuair a deireann sé gur féidir leis an Uachtarán é seo agus é suid do dhéanamh gan cead ó éinne, cad tuige nach dtaisbeánann sé don Dáil cionnus mar féidir leis na rudaí seo do dhéanamh. Tá sé ag caint ar nós an Papa. Aon rud a deireann sé, is lom-firinneach é toisc gur éisean a deireann é. Más mar sin atá an scéal, níl aon mhaith a bheith ag cur trioblóide orainn féin mar gheall air.

Má tá lochtanna san Dréacht-Bhunreacht seo, is féidir iad do leasú agus do cheartú. Ní dubhairt éinne ar son an Rialtas go raibh an Bunreacht chó-cruinn, beacht san nach féidir é d'fheabhasú agus do leasú ina lán caoi. Ní féidir a thuille molta do thabhairt don mBunreacht ná a rá nár bhféidir leis an lucht táinsimh agus lucht cáinte níos mó ná dhá nó trí point do thógáil—ceist comhachta an Uachtaráin, ceist cirt na mban agus cúpla mion-poinnte eile. Ní féidir leis an Uachtarán áthrú do dhéanamh ar rud ar bith. Níl aon comhacht fén mBunreacht seo ag éinne dlí do dhéanamh ach ag an Oireachtas. Ní féidir leis an Uachtarán dlí do dhéanamh. Ní féidir le dream nó duine ar bith dlí do dhéanamh ach amháin an tOireachtas. Agus, freisin, nuair a bheidh an Bunreacht leasuithe agus rithte tríd an Dáil agus curtha os comhair na ndaoine, má glacann furmhór na daoine leis, ní bheidh sé ar chumas an Uachtaráin leasú do dhéanamh nó a ainm do chur fé leasú, ar son aon Rialtas, gan an cheist do chur fé Reifreann os comhair na ndaoine. Má glacann furmhór na ndaoine leis an leasú sin, caithfidh an tUachtarán glacadh leis fosta.

[280] Is féidir a rá go bhfuil breis comh achta ag an Uachtarán fén mBunreacht ná mar bhí ag an Seanascal ach caithfidh gach duine admháil go gcaithfidh duine eigin do chur in ionad an tSeanascail mar priomh-shaoránac agus príomh-dhuine an Stáit. Toghfar ag na daoine é. Bun-prionsiobal den mBunreacht 'seadh an t-údarás a bheith ag na daoine agus is ceart comhachta feileamhnacha do thabhairt d'fhear a toghfar mar seo ag na daoine. Dá dtogadh ag an Oireachtas é, thiocfadh linn é chur chun siúl am ar bith go mba maith linn, ach fhaid is tógtar é ag muintir na tíre is ceart comhacht speisialta bheith aige. Má tógfidh na daoine duine cosúil leis an duine a bhí i gceist ag an dTeachta o hUigín, beidh iongnadh orm—go mór mhór mar go mbeidh seans ag an Teachta agus a dhream chur ina luighe ar na daoine go bhfuil na “comhachta uathbhásaighe” seo ag an Uachtarán agus go mbeidh sé baoghalach na comhachta seo do thabhairt do dhuine ar bith ach duine ciallmhar a oibreoidh i gceart iad, agus laistigh d'fhorálacha an Bhunreachta, is cuma cén Rialtas atá i réim.

Rinne an Teachta Ó hÓgáin léirmheas maith ar an mBunreacht, chó maith leis an Teachta Lavery. Is féidir linn a rá, pe'ca aontuimíd nó nach n-aontuimíd leo, go raibh puinte ina ndubhairt siad gur fiú iad do mheas, do bhreithniú agus do scrúdú. Shílfeá o chaint an Teachta Ó hUigín go raibh breith tugtha ag an Dáil ar an gceist seo cheana, gidh go bhfuil a fhios aige go ndubhairt an tUachtarán indé go mbeidh sé lán-tsásta aon moladh no leasú ó aon Teachta do bhreithniú, má tá ciall nó bunús leis. Dubhairt an Teachta Ó hUigín gur olc an rud an t-olltoghachán agus an plebiscite i gcóir an Bhunreachta a bheith ar an lá chéadna. Sin pointe is fiú do mheas ach tá a lán costais ag baint le hobair mar seo agus im thuairim pearsanta, ba dheacair na daoine do mhealladh chun an Bunreacht do dheimhniú no d'iompodh síos, dá mba rud é nach raibh an dá rud ar an lá céanna, toisc nach mbaineann forálacha an Bhunreachta go minic le gnáth-shaol na ndaoine i gcoitchinne. Gidh go mb'fhéidir go mbeidh an cheist pholitíochta [281] ag teacht isteach, is dóich liom gur maith an rud go mbeidh na guthadóirí in don a rá go bhfuil siad i bhfábhar an Bhunreachta nó nach bhfuil nuair atá siad ag vótáil san Olltoghacháin. Is dóich liom go dtuigfidh siad go mbeidh siad saor a rá go bhfuil siad ar son, no in aghaidh, an Bhunreachta, is cuma cén dream pholitíochta go bhfuil siad ag cuidiú leo. Má bheireann siad a nguthanna don Rialtas, ní fáth é sin nach dtabharfadh siad vóta in aghaidh an Bhunreachta, más é a dtoil é no vice versa. Maidir leis an argóint gur ceart dúinn fanúint leath-bhliain sul a gcuirfimíd an Bunreacht os comhair na ndaoine, is féidir le duine ar bith a amharcas ar an sean-Bhunreacht a fheiceáil go bhfuil sé strócaithe o thús deire, go bhfuil leath na n-airtiogal leasuithe agus go bhfuil cuid mhaith aca curtha ar neamh-ní ar fad. Mar sin, is mithid Bunreacht nua do chur ar bun.

Dubhairt an Teachta O hOgáin gurb é an Bunreacht seo bás na Poblachta. Ní féidir a rá deir sé go rugadh an Phoblacht san nDréacht-Bhunreacht seo. Abramaois an rud adubhairt na daoine thall 15 bliana o shoin—nárb é seo an choiscéim deiridh den Náisiúntacht agus gur féidir le haon dream dul níos fuide má's toil leo. Acht dream ar bith a thiocfas inár ndiaidh, is féidir leo glacadh leis an mBunreacht seo, agus le forálacha iomlána an Bhunreachta seo, má tá Bunreacht i gcóir iomlán na tíre uatha, chó maith le forálacha aon Bhunreachta eile. Ní abraim ach gur mór an choiscéim ar aghaidh an Bunreacht seo. Níl aon dabht ná gur oiriúnach an Bunreacht é seo mar bhun-chloch d'Ehirinn iomlán, más gá é Bunreacht iseadh é in a bhfuil neamh-spleachas, agus saoirse. Duine ar bith a léigheas an Bunreacht seo, chífidh sé nach bhfuil an méid den tsean-“liberalism” a bhí san sean-Bhunreacht ag baint leis an Bunreacht seo, ach o thaobh meoin na tíre, agus o thaobh stair agus tréithe na ndaoine, tá sé i bhfad níos feiliúnaí don náisiún.

Bhí eagla ar an dTheachta go rabhamar ag géilleadh do mhuintir na Sé Contaethe nuair a dubhramar go [282] mbeidh comhacht againn glacadh le teanga eile seachas an Ghaedhilg mar theanga oifigiúll in áiteanna áirithe. Ní ceart é sin. Is do na daoine sa Stát seo nach bhfuil eolas acu ar an nGaedhilg atáimíd ag geilleadh—daoine nach bhfuil i ndon a gcuid oibre ná obair na tíre do dhéanamh tré Ghaedhilg. Tá an Ghaedhilg ina teangain oifigiúil ach tá a fhios againn nach bhfuil an Ghaedhilg ag formhór na dTeachtaí ná ag cuid de na Stát-Sheirbhísigh ná ag cuid eile de na daoine, agus sé sin an fáth nach bhfuil an Ghaedhilg go hoblagáideach i ngach áit agus i ngach caoi a bhaineas le hobair an náisiúin. I ndiaidh a chéile, beimíd i ndon, le cuidiú Dé féachaint chuige go ndéanfar obair an Stáit tríd an nGaedhilg sna ceanntracha Gaelacha san Iarthar, agus fiú amháin i mBaile Atha Cliath, agus sa Dáil nuair a bheas na meastacháin ós ar gcomhair, cuir i gcás, no nuair a bhéas adhbhar dlí áirithe mar seo fá dhíospóireacht. Sa chaoi sin, is féidir linn deagh-shompla do thabhairt don tír agus a theasbáint go bhfuilimíd i ndáiríribh agus gur teanga beo í an Ghaedhilg atá chó feiliúnach chun an obair do dhéanamh agus atá an Béarla.

Ní thig le duine ar bith a chruthú go bhfuil blas na deachtóireachta ar an mBunreacht seo. Níl blas na deachtóireachta ná blas na cumannachta ná blas iasachta eile air. Chun forálacha an Bhunreachta do thuisgint agus do mheas, ba chóir caighdeán no tomhas éigin do bheith againn chun iad do scrúdú i gceart. Sé an chéad tomhas ba chóir a bheith againn ná: an bhfuilid sásúil i gcoitinne le bheith mar bhun-phrionsabail i ndlí bunúsach na tíre. An bhfuilid feiliúnach i ngach slí, cuir i gcás do Stát neaspleách 'na mbeidh dúil láidir ó chroidhe ag á muintir deimhniú solamanta do dhéanamh gur aca siúd, na daoine féin, fá dheoidh, atá an chumhacht i ngach ceist a bhaineas le polasaí náisiúnta ná eadarnáisiúnta agus gurbh iad féin na máistri ar gach Rialtas agus comhacht riaghla san tír seo. Níl aon rud leagtha amach níos soiléire san Dréacht-Bhunreacht, im' thuairim-se, ná gur ag na daoine atá an chomhacht ar fad [283] agus go dtig leo pé ar bith cinéal Rialtais is rogha leo féin do bhunú annseo.

An dara pointe: An oibreoidh an Bunreacht? D'ainneoin a bhfuil ráite ag na Teachtaí thall, ní raibh siad i ndon ach cúpla pointe do lochtú, mar adubhras chéana. Is féidir linn a thaisbeánt go bhfuil cosca san mBunreacht a choimeádfaidh an tUachtarán agus gach gléas eile laistigh den dlí. Caithfidh siad uilig a gcuid oibre do dhéanamh do réir dlí agus laistigh d'fhorálacha an Bhunreachta. Rinne Teachtaí gearán toisc go dtoghfaí an tUachtarán go ceann seacht mblian. Sé mo thuairim gur ceart seal fada do thabhairt dó i dtreo go mbeidh leanúnachas leis an obair agus go mbeidh sé go buan-tseasmhach. Tá an rud céanna le rá i dtaobh Comhairle an Stáit. Is insan slí sin a gheobhaimíd aontacht, seasmhacht, agus leanúnachas san obair.

Na daoine bhí ag cáineadh an Bhunreachta, ní dhearnadar aon tagairt don chomhacht chun comhairlí gairme-bheatha do chur ar bun. Táimíd ag tabhairt faill do na daoine san Stát ag a bhfuil an tuairim go bhfuil a lán rudaí mí-cheart san domhan go bhfeádfaí a leigheas thre'n gléas san, na comhairlí gairme-bheatha, a chuirfidh suim san saol chó-dhaonnach agus in obair economaice agus a leithéid, na comhairli sín do chur ar bun chun deire do chur leis an easaontas i gcúrsaí economaice agus tráchtála má's féidir é do dhéanamh ins an tslighe sin.

Deir Teachtaí ar an dtaobh thall nach n-oibreoidh an Bunreacht, ach ní féidir le duine sin a rá go dtí go mbeidh sé fé lán-tseol. Tá 15 bliana de thaithighe againn ar rialú na tíre agus ba chóir go mbeimís i ndon job níos fearr do dhéanamh den Bhunreacht seo ná mar rinneadh den tsean-Bhunreacht.

An tríú tomhas: Caithfimíd na forálacha do mheas o thaobh meoin agus bun-tréithre agus stair an náisiúin. An bhfuil na bun-fhorálacha go dílis, ceart, agus feiliúnach do bhun-treithre na nGaedheal? Is dóich liom go bhfuil ár meanma náisiúnta agus na tréithe fé leith a bhaineas le muintir na hEireann le feiceáil go soléir ar gach leathanach den Dréacht-Bhunreacht. [284] Tá cur síos ann ar phréamhacha an náisiúin—an creideamh, an teanga, an teaghlach, an t-oideachas, an mhaoin phríobháideach agus a leithéid. Táin cinnte go dtaithneofai na n-Airteagal so le n'ár muinntir, go gcuirfidís spéis agus suim ionnta, agus go mbeidís dílis dóbhtha. Tár éis na céadta blian de chruatan tá an lámh uachtair againn anois agus ba chóir dúinn na rudaí seo a thug misneach dúinn san aimsir géarchrádha do láidriú chó maith agus is féidir linn. Tá an Bunreacht bunuithe ar chuspóirí cirt, carthannachta agus Críostúlachta—rudaí bhaineas leis an náisiún seo níos mó ná le haon náisiún eile ar dhruim an domhain. Na forálacha atá leagtha amach san mBunreacht, siad cuspóirí an Rialtais iad agus tugadh a lán machtnaimh agus cúraim dóibh. Cuirfear i bhfeidhm iad chun leasa na ndaoine agus chun maitheasa na tíre. Táim cinnte go mbeidh siad mar shompla do thíortha eile ar fud an domhain atá scaoilte agus atá in easaontas fé lathair toisc gan aon fheallsúnacht fíor ná cuspóir spioradálta bheith aca. Tabharfaimíd sompla dhóibh agus taisbeánfaimíd dóibh gur féidir linn obair mhaith do dhéanamh do na daoine i gcúrsaí sóisealachta agus economaice, gan dearmad do dhéanamh ar an saol saoidheachta. Is maith an rud go bhfuil tagairt déanta don tsaol saoidheachta san gcéad Airteagal den Bhunreacht. Tá sé leaghtha amach go gcaithfai forbairt do dhéanamh chun an saol saoidheachta do chur chun chinn. Táim deimhnitheach go mbeidh an cuspóir sin in ár gcuimhne i gcomhnaí agus go ndéanfaimíd iarracht ar é do chur i bhfeidhm agus do choimeád i bhfeidhm. Ar an tslí sin, beidh Bunreacht seasmhach agus cóir againn—Bunreacht a bheidh sásúil do na daoine i ngach slí. Gidh go mbeidh sé buan, beidh sé in ár gcumas é d'athrú o ham go am, díreach mar a bheidh sé in ár gcumas leasuithe do dhéanamh annseo is annsiúd ann sna seachtmhainí atá romhainn.

Mícheál Og MacPháidín: Amuigh shiar san Ghaeltacht, an áit a rugadh agus ar tógadh mé, is beag suim a [285] chuirtear anois i n-Achtanna agus i reachtanna no i mBunreachtanna. Is mó go mór atá imirce an aosa óig ag cur bhuadhartha agus imnidhe ar na daoine bochta ag smuaineadh gach lá ar na buacaillí agus na cailiní atá ag imtheacht uainn go h-Albain agus go Sasain siocair nach dtig leo slighebheatha a bhaint amach 'na dtír féin. Is dinear dén ghaoith é do mhuinntir na Gaedhealtacha an Bunreacht so. Acht caithfear Bunreacht éigin a bheith ann agus badh mhaith linn go léir ceann maith a bheith againn. Mar sin de, glacaim go fonnmhar leis an chuireadh a thug an tUachtarán nuair chraoibh-scaoil sé an chainnt fán Bhunreacht seachtain go hAoine seo a chuaidh thart. Seo an rud a dubhairt an tUachtarán: “Ar na Dáilirí a bhfuil an Ghaedhilg aca, iarraim go dúthrachtach an chabhair sin agus an chomhairle sin a thabhairt dúinn, agus an Ghaedhilg a chleachtadh nuair a bhéas an Bunreacht fa dhiospóireacht sa Dáil.” Dubhairt an tUachtarán fosta go mbéidhfí fíorbhuidheach den mhuinntir a bhéarfadh comhairle nó moladh ar bith le feabhas a chur ar Ghaedhilg an Bhunreachta; isé sin ar an iarracht seo le deagh-thús a chur leis an fhás nua atá i n-ann don Ghaedhilg. Deirtear nach bhfuil saoi gan locht agus, da bhrigh sin, is annamh obair na saoi gan locht Níl an Bunreacht so saor ó lochtannaí, acht creidim go dtig é a cheartú mar theid sé fríd an Dáil. Tá poinntí maithe ann mar bhí sa tsean Bhunreacht acht tá poinntí eile ann nach bhfuil ar mo mhian.

Sa chead dul síos, caithfidh mé an t-Uachtarán a mholadh ar shon an Bhunreacht a chumadh agus a chur roimh an Dáil i nGaedhilic. Bheirim an moladh so do go fonnmhar no tá sé tuillte aige. Is mór an chéim ar aghaidh do'n teangaidh an chéim seo agus tá bród orm mar gheall air sin. Acht cé go n-abrain seo, caithfidh mé innse dó nach bhfuil an Ghaedhilic atá san Bhunreacht saor ó locht. Níor cheart sin a bheith amhlaidh agus é luaidhte thiar i ndeireadh an Bhunreachta gurabh é an téics Gaedhilige an ceann a mbéadh éifeacht dlighe aige. Ma táthar le téics Gaedhilge an Bhunreachta a achtadh, is ceart agus is cóir an Ghaedhilig atá ann a bheith ar [286] fheabhas ar fad agus é bheith aisdrighthe i gceart da thaobh chiall na cainnte már cumadh ar tús é. Ní béidh sé ar mo chumas an iarraidh seo na lúbthacha ar lár uilig do dtug mé fa dear a luadh annso acht tá súil agam go ndeanfar tseán-iarracht le Gaedhilic an Bhunreachta a cheartú sul a gcuirtear i bhféidhm é. Sé an reacht so an ceann is mó tábhacht dá mbéidh againn i riaghlú na tíre san am atá le theacht agus badh cheart dó a bheith saor ó locht.

I mbrollach an Bhunreachta, gan a dul thairis, tá an oiread sin earráideacha agus go mbéadh amhras ar dhuine go bhfuil an chuid eile de comh lochtach céadna. Tá sé ráidhte go soiléir san téics Sacs-Bhérla go dtig gach ughdarás on Tríonóid Ro-Naomhtha. Duine ar bith a bhfuil ciall do Ghaedhilic aige agus a bhfuil an Teagasc Críostaidhe a d'fhogluim sé nuair a bhí sé óg ar a theanga go fóill aige, tá fhios aige gur aon Dia amháin i dTrí Pearsanna an Tríonoid Ro-Naomhtha agus nuair a thráchtamuid ar an Tríonóid Ro-Naomhtha mar tá sé luaidhte san Bunreacht ní smaointimid ar an ainm Thríonóid mar ainm acht ar Dhia amháin. Da bhrigh sin, badh cheart don fhorainm a bheith fhirinnstin. Ós rud é gur luadh mé an Teagasc Críostaidhe, caithfidh mé a rádh gurab é “ceart” an focal atá ann ar an fhocal “justice” i mBéarla. Sé an rud atá san Bhunreacht an focal “ionnrácas.” Is mar so a d'fhóghluim mé-fhéin na ceithre príomh-shúbhailcí: “Críonnacht, ceart, neart, agus measardhacht.”

Badh mhaith liom rud eile a rádh fosda go bhfuil seo síos ar dheireadh bhrollach an Bhunreachta: “Atámuid leis seo ag gabhail an Bhunreachta so chugainn agus da achtú agus da tiodhlachadh duinn fhéin.” Sé mo báramhail nach mar sin a ba cheart é a chur síos de bhrigh go bhfuil an bhrígh ins na briathra sin ag dul ar aghaidh go síor gan stad. Measaim gur fearr “Gabhamuid chugainn” “achtamuid” agus “bheirimid” a rádh in ionad an rud atá curtha síos ins an Bhúnreacht. Bheirim fa dear go bhfuil an rud céadna síos ins na h-Airteagail a bhaineas leis an dearbhadh atá ar an Uachtarán agus [287] oifigeacha eile an Stáit a dheanamh. Badh mhaith linn uilíg an chuid a bh'fearr den Ghaedhilic a bheith san chead Bhunreacht Gaedhilige dár cuireadh romhainn san Dáil seo. Badh mhaith linn go mbeadh sé mar oighridheacht liteardha ag gach glún da dtiocfaidh ár ndiaidh le maoidheamh agus le mórtas a dheanamh as mar badh dual do Ghaedhil.

Tá rud eile san Bhunreacht nach bhfuil mé sásta leis agus caithfidh mé tagairt dó. Is minic a chuala mé an t-Uachtarán agus lucht Fianna Fáil ag maoidheamh gurab iad san an t-aon chumann amháin a bhí réidh i gcómhnaidhe le na cheart fhéin a thabhairt do'n duine choitcheannta agus comhthrom na Féinne a thabhairt do'n fhear bhocht agus san Bunreacht so tá sé ráidhte gur ionann na Saoránaigh uilíg i láthair an dlighe. Acht ma bhreathnuighthear an Bhunreacht go cúramach, gheobhthar amach go bhfuil dá chineal dlighe ann, ceann fa choinne an duine shaidhbhir agus ceann fa choinne an duine bhoicht. 'Nois, cad tuige a n-abraim sin? Cruitheochaidh mé go bhfuil an ceart agam. Admhuighthear nach féidir saoirse an duine choitcheannta a chur i bhfeidhm agus a choimhead i gceart mar bhfuil na cúirteanna agus na breithimh saor agus gan baint a bheith aca leis an Rialtas agus cúmhacht os a gceann ag an Uachtarán nó ag an Taoiseach no aon oifigeach eile de'n Stát. Deirtear san Airteagal 35 den Bhunreacht seo “Beidh gach breitheamh saor maidir le feadhmanna breitheamhain d'oibriú.” Is maith ciallmhar an t-Airteagal é sin acht is léir duinn go léir nach bhfuil aon bhreitheamh neamh-spleadhach mar bhfuil a phosta buan tseasmhach agus is fa choinne sin a cuiread isteach san Bhunreacht Airteagal 35, mír 4 (1). Acht tá rud eile againn le deanamh ma's mian linn na breithimh a dheanamh neamhspleadhach. Caithfear a shocrú nach mbéidh cead ag an Rialtas turasdal breithimh ar bith a laghdú fhad as bhéas sé i n-oifig.

Admhuigheann an tUachtarán go bhfuil an ceart agam fa'n dá phoinnte [288] seo no bheir an Bunreacht postanna seasmhacha do bhreithimh de'n Chúirt Uacdaraigh agus de bhreithimh de'n árd-Chúirt, Art. 35, mír 4 (1), agus tá turasdal gan laghadú ag na breithimh chéadna da réir Art. 35, mír 5. Ach siad na hÁrd-Chúirteanna cúirteanna na ndaoine mór, cúirteanna na ndaoine saidhbhir, agus ma tá an tUachtarán chomh réidh sin le ceart agus saoirse lucht an airgid a choimhead agus a chosnú cad chuige nár chuir sé san Bhunreacht na riaghalacha céadna fa dtaob de cúirteanna na ndaoine mbocht —an Cuirt Chuardha agus an Cúirt Dúithche?

Is beag baint atá ag muinntir na Gaeltachta leis na cúirteanna acht leis an Chúirt Dúithche amháin agus más ceart saoirse breitheamh na n-Árd-Chuirt a choimhead, is mó an riachtanas atá ann saoirse breitheamh na mion-chúirt a chosnú. Bionn an mhaoin agus an chumhacht ag an duine saidhbhir i gcómhnuidhe a cheart féin a bhaint amach acht nuair a sheasas an bhochtán ós comhair na Cúirte Dúithche agus oifigeach an Stáit ag cur an dlighe air, níl coimirce faoi Dhia aige acht ionnracas agus neamhspleachas an Bhreithimh. Tá súil agam go gcuimhneochaidh an t-Uachtarán ar so. Bhí Dives i n-uachdar fáda go leór i gcúrsaí dlighe ins an tír seo agus, do réir mo thuairim-se, is mithid a cheart a thabhairt do Lasurus bocht fa dheire thiar thall.

Cormac Breathnach: I rith na díspóireachta ar an nDréacht Bunreachta so, tá ár gcáirde thall ag cur síos ar stáid na tíre fé láthair, ar an méid daoine atá diomhaoin ar seo agus ar siúd. Sé an Teachta O Maolchatha is mó a lean an bealach sin. Dubhairt an Teachta O hOgain go mba cheart don Dáil cúram éigin a bheith idir laimh aice seachas an Bunreacht so, de bhrígh go bhfuil an oiread san daoine ar ceal oibe agus mar sin de. Ní bhaineann an Dréacht so an greim as bheul énne agus ar aon cuma ní thuigim cad é an bhainnt atá ag na nidhthibh seo le Bunreacht. Fé mar a thuigim-se an sceul, níl i mBunreacht sa gceud dul síos ach gléus nó úrlais chun Riaghaltas a cheapadh, chun cúrsaí na tíre do ríaradh is do stiuradh mar is dual is mar is cuibhe.

[289] Dubhairt an Teachta O hUigín ná raibh, ar éigin, nídh ar bith sa Dréacht so ach iarracht dul amugha is dalla an phúicín a chur ar an bpobal. Dár ndóig, ní fíor dó san agus éinne a deireann a leithéid sin níl sé ach ag leigint air mar ní dóibh liom gur léigheas aon nídh riamh atá chomh soiléir so-thuighthe i Saos-Bhéarla agus i nGaedhilg leis an Dréacht seo.

I nídh chomh tábhachtach le Bunreacht, ní h-iongmadh go mbeadh tuairmí éagsamhla ag daoine. Ní cúis ghearáin againne ar an dtaobh so den dtigh go bhfuil malairt tuairmí ag ar gcáirde thall seachas mar atá againne ach is é t-adhbhar gearáin atá againn—agus fáth againn leis—nách bhfuilid ag cur a mbaramhla i n-úil go stuamda is go réasúnta. Ní mar sin atá mar go minic táid ag cur a mí-dtaithneamh den mBunreacht so i n-úil le tarcuisne is le masla agus ar uairibh le feirg. Is doigh liom-sa nách bhfuil aon nídh ar suibhal acha acht magadh.

Dhein an tUachtarán athchuinge ortha cabhrú leis an Riaghaltas chun an Bunreacht so a dhéanamh chómh maith agus is féidir. Dubhairt sé gur cheart an scéal só a phlé lasmuich de phoilitidheacht agus dubhairt freisin go mbeadh sé sásta glacadh le haon tuairim ion-mholta a thiocfadh ón dtaobh thall. Is beag áird a tugadh air agus is suarach ar fad a bhfuil de chabhair á fhághail aige ón dtaobh san. Ní hiad dlighthe na Mídeach is na bPeirseánach atá siorruidhthe sa Dréacht so. Má tá locht ar aon tairisgintí atá ann is féidir, fé mar adubhairt an tAire Oideachais, iad a leigheas.

Is é an chúis chlamsáin is mó atá ag lucht Fine Gael fé an mBunreacht so ná go bhfuiltear chun deachtóir a cheapadh mar Uachtarán. Deirim-se seo agus tugaim mo dhubh-shlán d'éinne dhár gcáirde thall é bhréagnú gurab é toil an phobail agus nách é toil an Uachtaráin a bheas fé réim gach tráth fé gach airteagal is alt den mBunreacht so. Agus déanfadh sin a dheimhniú ón nDreacht féin. Ba dhóigh le héinne a bheadh ag éisteacht le óráidithe Fine Gael gur duine ar ar thóil féin a bheas san Uachtarán nuadh. Is fuiriste é sin a bhréagnú [290] ón nDréacht so. Tógaimís cur i gcás Airteagal a 12. alt a 9:—

“Ní cead don Uachtarán imtheacht ó Eirinn le linn é bheith in oifig, ach amháin le toil an Riaghaltais.”

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Ach tá cead ag na mílte daoine imtheacht as an tír.

Cormac Breathnach: Do léigheas é sin chun thaisbeánt gur toil na ndaoine atá in uachtar.

Gearóid O Súilleabháin: Cad déarfá mar gheall ar Airteagail 40?

Cormac Breathnach: Tá caint i dtaobh Airteagail 13, agus deirtear go bhfuil an iomarca chomhachta dhá thabhairt don Uachtarán, ach tá fó-alt anna ann a deireann:

(2) “Tig leis an Uachtarán uair ar bith, tar éis comhairle do ghlacadh leis an gComhairle Stáit, teachtaireacht do chur ós comhair an Náisiúin i dtaobh aon nídh den tsórt sin.”

(3) “Acht i ngach cás díobh sin ní foláir an Riaghaltas do bheith sásta roimh ré leis an dteachtaireacht nó leis an aithease.”

Nach ró-léir uaidh sin go bhfuil ar an Uachtarán geilleadh do thoil an Riaghaltais? Uí foláir don Uachtarán cead fháil ón Riaghaltas sul a dtéigheann sé chun an microphone chun teachtaireacht do chraobhsgaoileadh— cuir i gcás.

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Chun “Hello, America,” do rá?

Cormac Breathnach: Tá alán cainte maidir le Airteagail 13. Seo a deireann sé in alt a 10, mir a 1:

(1) “Fá chuimsiughodh an Bhunreachta seo, féadfar tuilleadh cumhacht agus feadhmanna do thabhairt don Uachtarán le dligheadh.”

Ach má seadh, tá mír a 2º ann a deireann:—

“Ní cead don Uachtarán aon chumhacht ná feidhm díobh sin d'oibriughadh ná do chomhlíonadh acht amháin ar chomhairle an [291] Rioghaltais, nó tar éis comhairle do ghlacadh leis an gComhairle Stáit, fé mar cinnfear leis an dligheadh sin.”

Admhuím go bhfuil fó-radh annsan gur bhfearr liom é do bheith as. Bfearr liom na focla “tar éis comhairle do ghlacadh leis an gComhairle Stáit” do bheith as agus na focla “ar chomhairle an Riaghaltais” amháin do bheith ann.

Gearoid O Súilleabháin: Tá an ceart agat.

Cormac Breathnach: Bféidir go bhfuil agus bféidir nach bhfuil. Cá bhfuil an deachtóireacht sna? An dóigh le héinne thall go gcuirfead Hitler nó Mussoliní ceangail den tsaghas san ortha féin? Im thuairimsé, tá ceangal no gcúig gcaol ar an Uachtarán a bheas ann agus níl sa chainnt seo fé dheachtóireacht acht bladhman.

Tá comhachtaí áirithe ag an Uachtarán agus is ceart agus is cóir go mbeadh mar is é cosantóir an Bhunreachta é acht má seadh, níl cead aige na comhachtaí sin a ghlacadh chuige féin.

Tá tóir mhór á thógaint ag Fine Gael fé Airt. a 13, alt a 8, mír a 3º:—

“Ní cead caingean i gCúrsaí dlighidh ná ceartais, ná cúis dlighidh ar bith eile, cibé cúis sibhíalta, nó cúis choirtheach í, do chur ar an Uachtarán le linn é bheith in oifig.”

Deir Fine Gael go gcuireann an mhír seo an tUachtarán a bheas lasmuich den dlighe; go bhfuil cead aige a rogha rud a dhéanamh, bheith na réabóir roilge más mian leis sin gan eagla an dlighe. Tá freagra beacht ar an ngearán san le fáil in Airt. a 12, alt a 10, mír a 1º. Sé seo é:

“Ar agra dhá dtrian ar a laighead de lán-chomhaltas Sheanad Eireann, is féidir an t-Uachtarán tháinseamh, as ucht tréasa mar minighthear é san Bhunreacht seo, nó as ucht mórchoirthe eile nó mór-mhí-iomchair eile.”

Nach leor é sin mar chúirt chun an tUachtarán a thriail má dheineann sé [292] coir? Cad is gadh dhá chúirt nó dhá thriail? Níl a leithéid sin de thriail leagtha amach i gcomhair éinne eile sa Stát acht an tUachtarán, agus is dóigh liomsa gur leor mar chúirt í.

Gearóid O Súilleabháin: Nach féidir leis an dara bean do ghlacadh dó féin agus í do phosadh?

Cormac Breathnach: Dá mbeadh sé chó-dithchéilleach sin——

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Cá bhfuil sé sin sa Bhunreacht?

Gearóid O Súilleabháin: Níor bhféidir leis an Rí Sasana é do dhéanamh acht tiocfidh leis an Uachtarán é do dhéanamh.

Cormac Breathnach: Bheadh sin in aghaidh an chreidimh agus bheadh comhacht agan oireachtas táinseamh do dheanamh air. Má phósann sé an dara bean is féidir an dlí do chur air.

Gearóid O Súilleabháin: Cad é an t-Airteagail?

Cormac Breathnach: Airteagail a 12, Alt a 10 (1). Siné mo fhreagra. Sid é é:—

“Ar agra dha dtrian ar a luighead de lán-chomhaltas Eireann, is féidir an tUachtarán do thainseamh, as ucht tréasa mar minighthear é in san Bhunreacht so, nó as ucht morchoirthe eile no mor-mhi-iomchair eile.”

Gearóid O Súilleabháin: Ní freagra é sin, ach bféidir nach ndéanfaidh sé é.

Cormac Breathnach: Gan amhras, más dóigh leis an dTeachta nach “mór-mhí-iomchair” a leithéid sin de ghníomh, ní hiongnadh an tuairim sin aige, acht táim cinnte nach bhfuil an Teachta acht ag magadh.

Ní aontuím le gach moladh dá bhfuil sa Bhunreacht so. Cuir i gcás an moladh atá i nAirt. a 12, alt a 4, mír a 4º:—

“Tig le haon duine atá nó a bhí ina Uachtarán é féin d'ainmniugnadh d'oifig an Uachtaráin.”

Admhuím ná taithneann sé sin liom. [293] Dheimhnigheann Airt. a 5 gur Stát daonfhlathach Eire. I Stát daonfhlathach, ní dóigh liom gur ceart cead is comhacht a bheith ag aon duine é féin d'ainmniú le h-aghaidh puist ar bith sa tír. Tá dhá shlí eile leagtha amach i gcóir ainmniucháin agus, im thuairim, is leor iad.

Rud eile dhé, bronntar comhachtaí áirithe ar an Uachtarán fé Airt. a 26 maidir le Billí a chur fé bhreith na Cúirte Uachtagraighe. Dé bhrí gur ar an Uachtarán seachas éinne eile a luigheann an dualgas an Bunreacht a chosaint, is a choimhdeadh, is ceart an chomhacht san a bheith aige. Acht b'fhearr, dar liom, dá gcuireadh sé é féin i n-úil sul a mbeadh Bille rithte in san dá Thig den Oireachtas. B'fhearr dá gcuireadh sé é féin i núil díreach tar éis rith den Dara Céim, mar, fé'n am so, tuigfidh cách cad é an fuadar atá fé'n Riaghaltas agus cád é brígh agus éifeacht agus cuspóirí an Bhille atá fé cheist. Má fhanann an tUachtarán na thost nó go mbeidh Bille rithte, tar éis diospóireachta ratha b'fhéidir, in san dá Thig agus má chuireann sé fé bhreith na Cúirte Uachtaraighe annsan é, agus má chuireann an Chuirt ar neamhnidh é bheadh adhbhar acrainn ann idir an Uachtarán agus an Oireachtas. Agus fós ní bheadh an pobal sásta mar bheadh sé le radh aca ná raibh An Dáil i n-a leithéid sin d'ócáid acht ag cur ama amú. Toisc lucht na Cúirte Uachtaraighe bheith na ballaibh den gComhairle Stáit, b'fhearr dá gcuireadh an tUachtarán an scéal lom díreach fé bhreith na Cúirte gan bacaint leis an gComhairle.

Dubhairt an Teachta O hUigín ná raibh sa Bunreacht so acht áis chun duine áirithe a choróiniú agus ba léir gurabé Uachtarán na hArd Chomhairle a bhí i gceist aige. Nách aisteach sin? Deir Fine Gael lá go bhfuil an tír briste, bruighte, bascaithe ag Riaghaltas Fianna Fáil, nách bhfuil meas madra ag an bpobal ar an ndream san agus indiú deir an Teachta O hUigín gurabé Uachtarán Fianna Fáil a thoghfas an pobal nuair a gheibhid caoi chuige sin. Tá an dá thuairim sin i naghaidh a chéile. Acht is cuma le Fine Gael, déarfaidh siad aon lá go bhfuil dhá nidh atá díreach i naghaidh [294] chéile comh-thréorach nuair is mian leo bob a bualadh ar an bpobal.

Gléas iongantach an Bunreacht so. Tá grádh Dé is grádh tíre suidhte ann. Tá ceart is cóir is cothrom do chách suidhte ann, agus tabharfad-sa bhóta go fonnmhar chun é chur i bhfeidhm.

Mr. Costello: I suppose it will be chalked up to the much despised legal profession as an additional bad mark that I, after this flood of Gaelic oratory, should face realities and address this House in the English tongue. As a lawyer, however much despised by the President, it is my duty to face realities. We have to face the reality that this draft amendment to the Constitution which we are debating will affect, if it passes into law, the lives and perhaps the liberties of every section of the community, and of that community at least 90 per cent. are ignorant of the Irish language. The other 10 per cent. are ignorant of the Irish language in its technical and proper sense—5 per cent. of them anyway. It is reported of Napoleon that he said: “I shall not go down to posterity by the battles I have fought, but by the codes I have given to France.” The President, in introducing this draft amendment to the Constitution. apparently has endeavoured to emulate the great Napoleon. Like Napoleon, he wants to go down in history not because of the battles he has fought but of the Constitution which he has given to this country. This draft amendment to the Constitution, as is notorious, is the work of one man. It is, in my opinion, nothing other than a trick upon the Irish people. This draft amendment to the Constitution has been under consideration by the President behind closed doors, with not even his Executive Council taken into his counsels in connection with the proposals that are now contained in that draft. It is submitted to this Dáil within a very short time of its expiring.

Mr. MacEntee: Perhaps the Deputy would be good enough to give the Dáil the authority for the outrageous statement he has just made?

Mr. Costello: The Minister occupied [295] the attention of the House for a considerable length of time——

General Mulcahy: That is another outrageous statement.

Mr. Costello:——in making outrageous statements, and I think he might at least keep quiet for a few moments. This draft amendment to the Constitution is submitted to the Dáil just as the life of this Dáil is expiring. It will be submitted to the people, as we understand it, by a farcical plebiscite that is to take place on the same day as the general election. Let us face realities on this matter. Ninety-nine per cent. of the people of the country at the moment do not know there is such a thing as a Constitution being enacted here in this House, and do not care, and 90 per cent. of them do not know what a Constitution is. Yet we are told and expected to believe that when this draft amendment is rushed through this House and submitted to the people by a plebiscite—to a people who have not the faintest notion what it is all about—it will then emerge, if it merges into the law of this State, as something sanctified, as something that never emerged in the history of this State before nor ever will emerge again. The very fact that this amendment to the Constitution has been brought out as the work of one man is a complete condemnation of the system enshrined in that document. I am not quoting my own opinions. May I refer to the opinion of a reverend and learned clergyman who wrote in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record of January of this year, 1937, on the principles of Constitution-making? That was some months before this draft amendment to the Constitution saw the light. Perhaps the President in his cogitations on this document may have seen those words of warning. If he did, he took no notice of them. I am quoting from page 18 of the Irish Ecclesiastical Record of January, 1937:

“Constitution-making is not a merely secular matter, just as it is not a matter for a Party politician, or indeed for any single [296] individual who is not a super-man. It is a task for a commission of experts, experts in practical politics, in moral science, in political theory, in knowledge of contemporary States and other forms of government. A constitution may be sketched by an individual, of course, but it should be finally and definitely drafted only after consultation with the various experts, and in deference to their criticisms and recommendations.”

Mr. MacEntee: Would the Deputy tell the House how the Constitution of 1922 was drafted?

Mr. Costello: That aspect of the matter has not been given the weight that it deserves in connection with this Constitution. We are asked to debate in this House in a few short days, immediately, or almost immediately, before a general election, a document of this sort, practically every Article of which bristles with difficulties and possible errors. And then, if you please, it is to be sanctified by a plebiscite, by people who do not know what it means and who, in the existing conditions and the necessity of the case, have not the remotest idea of what it does mean.

We were told here by the President yesterday that he invites the assistance of the lawyers on this side of the House. The Minister for Education told us to-day that the President had already indicated that he invited amendments and suggestions, but added the significant addendum, “provided that they had sense and substance.” That is to say, whether our suggestions or amendments have substance or not, there is only one man who is to say, irrespective of the question, whether or not, in fact, there is sense and substance in our suggestions. If they do not fit in with the President's own ideas, his schemes and his theories, then they have ceased to have any sense or substance in them. I wrote, as the President has advertised for me, an article on this subject in the Irish Independent a few days after the Constitution was given into our hands. He went down to Ennis and described the things that I said practically as [297] nonsense, and he was reduced to the last refuge of a person who is devoid of argument to say that the person who had stated the things that I had stated did not know what he was talking about. That, as I say, is the last refuge of a person who is devoid of any substance in his contentions or in counter-argument to counter suggestions put forward to his ideas. He asked for the suggestions of lawyers yesterday from this side of the House and for help in making this a perfect Constitution. Almost in the same breath he uttered his contempt for the lawyers and for the legal profession. The lawyers and the legal profession can look with equanimity upon the President, his Government and Party doing without the lawyers. This will mean a rich harvest for those of us who make our living at the Bar. If this Constitution is persisted in, as it stands at the moment, we who expect to be making our living for some years at the Irish Bar can look forward to making a rich harvest from this draft amendment to the Constitution.

The President has no use for lawyers. He told the American people about this Constitution before he told the people's representatives here in Ireland what the Constitution was about. He addressed America over the radio. Did he forget or know that the American Declaration of Independence was drafted by a lawyer? Did he forget or did he know that the American Constitution was drafted by lawyers and adopted by a Convention of 55, 31 of whom were lawyers or men trained in the law? Did he forget the famous Federalist essay contributed by Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States of America, or Alexander Hamilton, the father of the American Constitution and the founder of the United States of America? Has he forgotten about the world wide reputation of Chief Justice Marshall? Does he not recollect the names of the Adamses, the Jeffersons and the Monroes, all lawyers, and has he forgotten how Abraham Lincoln pulled his country together from the rift that was caused by the American Civil War?

I hesitate to refer to any English [298] lawyers in case I might offend the Irish susceptibilities of the President. Magna Carta was won by the Barons from King John. It was drafted by lawyers. The principles of independence and freedom which came down and are now the dearest heritage of the British people, as well as of the very large number who have inherited the principles of freedom from the English system, were all developed and given practical expression to by English lawyers and by the development of the English common law. Perhaps the President would recollect or remember the names of Justinian and Grotius, and perhaps when he has done that he will at least have some respect for Irish lawyers, and may turn to the Irish Bar to help him if he wants to make a Constitution which will not be, as it cannot be, a perfect Constitution, but which, at least, will be in some respects as legal a document and as perfect a document as the brains of the Irish Bar and the experience of Irish constitutional lawyers can make it.

The President can have a present of his sneers at the lawyers. He is treating the Irish people in just the same way that he has treated the lawyers. This is a Constitution drafted by him to be put before the people in the turmoil of a general election without any possible hope of educating Irish public opinion on the implications that are in this Draft Constitution, on what it will mean to them, or as to how they will stand under it. If we did what our natural inclinations would suggest that we ought to do, namely, to say that we have not been consulted in this matter: that we, as the representatives of the Irish people in an Irish Parliament, are given no adequate time to discuss this matter or to bring the implications of it before our constituents, we would say: “Take your Constitution, and do what you like with it.” If we did that we would be doing no more than what we would have a perfect right to do in the circumstances in which we find ourselves with this draft amendment to the Constitution given into our hands a little over a week ago. But we felt that it was our duty to our constituents and to the people as a whole, irrespective of Party, to point out to them in outline [299] only the dangers that are inherent and implicit in the amendments and draft proposals to the Constitution which are before the House at the present time.

I have listened to the various discussions and speeches made here on what is, and what is not, in the Constitution. The spokesmen from the Ministerial side, from the President down, made no effort to justify the proposals that are in this measure. Their efforts were directed, in so far as they had any sense or substance in them at all, to merely answering the criticisms that were put forward from this side of the House. The President devoted a considerable portion of his speech yesterday answering some of the criticisms that I put forward merely from the legal point of view on these draft proposals. He said they were put forward by a politician and a lawyer who did not know what he was talking about, but the President took a long time to explain away some of the criticisms that were put forward. He made no case for the substantive proposals in these draft amendments to the Constitution.

We have pointed out the dangers that lie in the institution of the President that is proposed to be set up under these proposals. We got no justification from the President or any of his spokesmen here for the creation of any such functionary in the circumstances in which we find ourselves to-day. What is the necessity or the justification for his election by popular vote? We have pointed out the dangers that may arise from the powers to be given or, worse still, that may be given under this Constitution to the President. But, leaving that aside, what is the justification for the appointment of this functionary by popular vote? The President was at great pains yesterday to explain that he was nothing more than a rubber stamp in a vast number of instances that he enumerated at great length. Why, then, should there be the expense and the consequent disturbance of political life that will be caused by an additional popular election in this country?

[300] I think the time is not very far away when the ordinary people will react from the number of elections which are being imposed upon them. We have general elections, municipal elections, county council elections, and now we are to have a Seanad election and we are to have another election for the President. What is the justification for the election of this functionary by popular vote? Is it merely as a cloak? Is it merely for the purpose of justifying that flambuoyant phrase that comes so trippingly from the President's tongue— the guardian of the people's rights? Because he is elected by popular vote, therefore he has the title deeds to be that extraordinary entity, the guardian of the people's rights. Before this debate ends I hope we shall have some justification for the proposal we have here, because up to this we have had none.

What is the justification for the variety of institutions by which this man is surrounded—this ridiculous Council of State, whose only practical function in the Constitution is to declare the President an idiot? That is the only power they have in the Draft as it stands at present. They solemnly sit there and are entitled to be heard. They are entitled to talk and to be heard. But the President may waft them and their advice aside and act on his own absolute discretion. Possibly the worm will turn if the Draft is allowed to stand, and this Council of State will some day declare: “We are satisfied, and it has been declared to our satisfaction within the meaning of Article 14 of the Constitution that the President is incapacitated from carrying on his powers and therefore he must go off and we will set up this commission to carry on his powers.” That may be a very useful function for the Council of State to have, if this extraordinary system embodied in these draft proposals is ever, unfortunately, enacted into law.

We have 150 pages of a Draft Constitution in which there are 63 Articles. Analysed, what do they mean? They mean that this State in future is going to be governed, so far as its [301] internal affairs are concerned, by two men—the President and the Prime Minister. The draft proposals in this Constitution analysed come to that and nothing else. You have the President and you have the Prime Minister and the Government is a mere cypher in the background. The solidarity of the Executive Council as it is supposed to exist, the functions of the Government as they are supposed to exist under the Constitution at the moment, are put into the background. They are not swept aside—that would be too drastic—but they are put into the background. The people who are to be with this functionary—the Prime Minister—are to be members of the Government. They are not even to be Executive Ministers. They are not dignified in the Irish or English version of the Draft Constitution as Ministers—they are merely members of the Government. There is a Prime Minister, but no other Minister, according to the Draft as it stands. There is a Prime Minister who is a Taoiseach and the word “Taoiseach” has been translated over the German wireless as Fuehrer during the last few days. There is a Prime Minister and a Fuehrer or Taoiseach, whichever you like to call him. There is no Minister —there is a member of the Government, or members of the Government, and each and every one of the members of that Government can be dismissed without a moment's notice at the will and pleasure of the Prime Minister, Taoiseach or Fuehrer, whichever you like to call him. The Prime Minister is the only man in the Government. The others do not count—they are hardly even mentioned in these draft proposals of the new Constitution.

Under the existing Constitution, the President of the Executive Council is merely a member of the Executive Council. The Executive Council is the Government of this State with collective responsibility, and each and every Minister has a dignity and responsibility. Preserved here in one of the Articles in these draft proposals is the semblance of collective responsibility. We have to keep the [302] goods in the shop window. Analysed, it means that the Prime Minister has complete control over each and every one of the members of the Government. He can dismiss them very much easier than the Executive Council dismissed the Secretary of the Department of Local Government a few months ago. It took all the Ministers to do that. Now it only takes the Prime Minister at his will and pleasure, without a meeting of the Executive Council, without coming to the Dáil, whose servant he is supposed to be. We have the Prime Minister there, one man, and we have the Uachtarán, or President, another man.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: We also dismissed O'Duffy.

Mr. Cosgrave: And sent him a wrong dismissal—a dismissal under an Act which was repealed.

Mr. Costello: The fact that you dismissed O'Duffy may be a matter of amusement for the Vice-President, who also dismissed Mr. McCarron.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: I did not.

Mr. Costello: There is no distinction in justice between the dismissal of General O'Duffy and Mr. McCarron. It is only one of degree. They were both acts of injustice by the Vice-President.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Did we not do you a great turn? Did we not give you a leader?

Mr. Costello: If the Vice-President, as a member of a collective authority, knows his Executive Council is responsible——

Mr. O Ceallaigh: We gave you a leader—a Fuehrer.

Mr. Costello: We will look forward with amusement to the Vice-President being translated into Uachtarán of this State and to having the President of the Executive Council for the President. There we will have the perfect system envisaged by the framer of this draft. That brings me to this point, that these draft proposals are so framed by the framer of them that he is free to make up his mind whether [303] he will be Prime Minister or President. If he is going to be Prime Minister, he has the whip hand and will put in somebody as President over whom he will have the whip hand. If he is President he will see that whoever is Prime Minister will be subordinate and subservient to him. That is the scheme embodied in the draft proposals which is to be submitted in this farcical way to a plebiscite of the people. We have heard speeches referring to the dangers inherent in this office of President. There is the graver danger that there are two men envisaged in this. It may be that you will have this clash of personalities and wills in years to come between the person who is President and the person who is Prime Minister; that you will have an equally serious situation if you have the position where the President is the dominant personality and the Prime Minister the “yes” man; and an equally serious situation if you have the Prime Minister the dominant personality and the President the “yes” man.

The scheme is one for dictatorial powers, come what may, to whoever is President, whether it is the present President of the Executive Council or somebody else. Under the proposal to have the President of this State elected by popular suffrage, it inevitably follows that the President must be the centre of political activity in the future. He must have a political Party of his own or else he must be allied to one or other of the big political parties which must subsist in this State for years to come. Either he must have his own Party or be allied to one of the other political Parties. From the very conception of this Constitution if it comes into operation, you will have the Presidency as a political office and you will have the unique spectacle of this dignified guardian of the people's rights being stopped in the street, as some of us who are members of the Dáil are stopped in the street by our supporters and told: “I worked for you at the last election; will you get me a job?” This is the dignified guardian of the people's rights. The President will either direct the political activity of his “yes” man, the Prime [304] Minister, or he will do it on his own. Whichever way this Constitution works out it is not going to work out for the general good of the people who are being asked to vote, in a few weeks' time, for this new Constitution. They are asked to do so without having the remotest idea of what it is or what its provisions are. If we tell the people of the country to vote against it we are being attacked as unpatriotic. If we tell them to vote for it we will not be doing our duty to the people. At any rate, we will be told that these proposals have the blessings of the plain people of Ireland and that they express the will of the plain people of Ireland. I tell the House there is not a greater tyranny than the tyranny which masquerades under the cloak of democracy. That is the sort of tyranny that is embodied in that document before the House, a tyranny which masquerades under the cloak of democracy.

Mr. MacEntee: What about the tyranny that masquerades under a blue shirt?

Mr. Costello: I wish I had time to deal in detail with this Constitution. We are only allowed a short space of time to touch on the fringe of this document. I would like to go into the question of the effect of Section 10 of Article 13 in reference to the dictatorial powers that may be assumed or given in the Constitution to the President in collaboration with the Prime Minister in the circumstances that I have outlined. Under Article 13, Section 10, the Prime Minister of this State may be turned into a dictator. In the very short space of time at my disposal now——

Mr. MacEntee: The Deputy has another three-quarters of an hour——

Mr. Cosgrave: He has said more in the half hour he has been speaking than the Minister for Finance said in two and a half hours yesterday.

Mr. O'Leary: Why does not the Minister move the closure?

Mr. MacEntee: I am encouraging the Deputy to go on. The longer he speaks the better pleased I am.

[305] Mr. Costello: I want to refer Deputies who are interested in this matter to Article 37 of the Draft Constitution. That has not been referred to yet. That Article is one of great significance. In the Constitution of this State there was provision made, following the American headlines, for the division of powers, executive, legislative and judicial. Where is that provision in this document? I notice that the President, who is so fond of using the radio to America, has considerably departed from the principles of the American Constitution in the document that we are dealing with this evening. One would expect, indeed I had expected, that we would have seen a tremendous similarity between the draft proposals that would emerge from the President's office and the American Constitution. The greatest surprise I found was that there was hardly a single item in this Draft Constitution even remotely resembling the symbols or practice of the American Constitution. In the existing Constitution we provided that the judicial power in the Irish Free State would be vested in the judges. That provision was put in to safeguard the democratic rights and liberties of the people.

This great, democratic document we have before us to-day provides that the judicial power is not to lie with the judges. Article 37 provides that though the taxpayer may have the pleasure of paying for his judges,

“Nothing in this Constitution shall operate to invalidate the exercise of limited functions and powers of a judicial nature, in matters other than criminal matters, by any person or body of persons duly authorised by law to exercise such functions and powers, notwithstanding that such person or such body of persons is not a judge or a court appointed or established as such under this Constitution.”

We want to make civil servants judges. We want to set up bureaucracy in this democratic State—bureaucracy in excelsis. What can you do with the President under that power? You can pass a law providing that the President can decide anything he [306] likes except matters of criminal law. He may issue letters of cachet lodging persons in jail without trial and there is nothing in this Constitution to prevent him. He may adopt the precedent set by the Government in connection with their collection of the land annuities and provide authority whereby a civil servant may issue a decree. It may be provided that anything the President says is law; it may be provided that whether a citizen owes money or not, the President's decree, irrespective of recourse to the courts, may be absolute. There is nothing to prevent a law being passed under a threat from the Prime Minister that if the Dáil does not pass it, “I will sack the whole gang, the whole lot of you.” This Draft Constitution allows the President to raise taxes on the people, on any and every article, without consideration by the Dáil.

I could spend the rest of to-night and to-morrow showing how this Article 37 confers powers on the President, powers which may be used in reference to these matters—dictatorial powers for the so-called guardian of the people's liberties. The outstanding conclusion that must be come to is that the scheme of this Constitution is two-men. It is a two-man Government and a two-man country; the Dáil, the Seanad, the people and everything else sink into insignificance, in comparison with the authority, the position and the power that is given to these two people under this proposed draft to amend the Constitution.

Let me say in passing, or rather let me emphasise this—that we are not here as a Constituent Assembly. We are here as a Parliament passing this law and we are here as one of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We are here proposing to pass this draft amendment to the Constitution, not a new Constitution, as the President would like the people to believe. We are proposing to pass these amendments to the Constitution under the powers contained in the existing Constitution. This Bill or this proposed law, whatever one calls it, that we are considering at the moment is nothing but ordinary legislation within the meaning of Article [307] 51 of the existing Constitution. I would like to throw another brick into the placid pool of the President's political fantasy by asking him would he consider—I would not ask him for the world to consult a lawyer—whether this Draft Constitution is a Constitution at all and whether as an ordinary Bill it can be repealed by an ordinary Bill by a subsequent Parliament here? The President can chew upon that either with or without a lawyer.

Now, there are some very serious matters that I have to refer to in connection with the draft proposals, other than these very vicious powers that are or may be given to the President under this Constitution as it stands. I do not want to go in detail into all this; I can only deal with the very fringe of the topics that ought to be dealt with, and to which the attention of the public ought to be very specifically directed. I apparently hurt the President by my reference to his dealings with women's rights under his proposals in this Constitution. It was in reference to that that he told me I did not know what I was talking about. He alleges that if I can convince him that he is wrong in his proposals, that he is mistaken in his view that he has not in any way, by his proposals in this draft amendment of the Constitution, derogated from the status or rights of women as enjoyed constitutionally at the moment, he will be prepared to reconsider the matter. I do not believe for one single instant that the President is open to conviction. He dare not admit that he is wrong; he will not admit it. I do not suppose he would consult a lawyer either.

He cast aside my opinions as those of a politician, or, alternatively, as those of a person who does not know what he is talking about, or alternatively, as those of a mere nuisance, and he cast aside Deputy Lavery's opinions somewhat in the very undignified fashion in which the Minister for Finance endeavoured to do it yesterday and to-day. He cast those opinions aside in a very undignified and extremely unconvincing fashion. [308] having regard to Deputy Lavery's position at the Bar. The well-known habits of the Minister for Finance to lose himself in verbosity were amply displayed. I propose to demonstrate, not for the President, because I have no hope of doing so, but to those who are interested in the matter, that the rights and status of women under these proposals are liable to suffer a very serious setback, and that their status under the Constitution, if this becomes the Constitution of this State, is seriously jeopardised, or may be seriously jeopardised.

None of the speakers on the opposite benches, including the President, who has been chewing on these proposals for years past and puts them forward as his own draft, apparently realises what ought and what ought not to go into the Constitution. Deputy Lavery indicated yesterday the matters that ought to go into the fundamental law of a country. Generally speaking, the less in a Constitution the better. A Constitution provides for the erection of the necessary machinery of the State, and the only other thing that it ought to provide are safeguards for certain essential privileges and liberties of the citizens of the State. Nothing else ought to go in, no verbosity or flapdoodle or boloney. But what ought to be there, and what is not in this Constitution, are effective guarantees for the rights and liberties of the ordinary citizen of this State. They are conspicuous either by their absence, or by the manner in which they have been surrounded, in the public interest if you please, by certain alleged safeguards.

The President said yesterday that he took out from Articles 3 and 14 of the existing Constitution the very significant words “without distinction of sex.” He gave an explanation of why he took those words out, an explanation which failed to convey any significance whatever to my mind. He said he took them out because they were a sort of insult to women, and then he proceeded constitutionally to insult the same women in his own proposals. Deputy Lavery has pointed [309] out the defects in this connection implicitly in Article 40. There is a very much more fundamental matter to be considered in connection with other Articles of the Constitution. The only place in these proposals for a Constitution in which citizenship is referred to, does not confer any right on any citizen of this State, man, woman or child, to be a citizen of the State.

In these proposals for a new Constitution, nowhere is there a constitutional guarantee to an Irish-born person, a person born in Ireland, that he is a citizen of this State. If he is born in Ireland, or of Irish descent, there is no constitutional guarantee that he will not be deprived by law of that right that he has as a natural right. The only provision we have as regards citizenship in these proposals is that contained in Article 9:—

“The acquisition and loss of Irish nationality and citizenship shall be determined in accordance with law.”

An Irish-born person, a person born in Ireland, has no right to the Irish nationality that he ought to have by the mere fact of his being born in Ireland. He may be deprived of that right by a law passed by a sectional Government or by a class Government that may be elected here at some future time.

Of course, as the law stands at the moment, passed under the existing provisions of the Constitution, we have provision made for citizenship for Irish-born persons and persons of Irish descent and others. That law can be changed and it will not be a breach of the proposed Constitution. There again, I want to emphasise that the President has not apparently realised the necessity for putting into this Constitution the things that ought to be there. Constitutional guarantees of citizenship and nationality—they are not there; they are not there for men much less for women. A woman can be deprived of her citizenship by an ordinary law passed by the Parliament here that cannot be set aside as a breach of any constitutional right guaranteed by the new Constitution. That is the first fundamental matter that has not been adverted to. No [310] person has a constitutional right to citizenship or Irish nationality; it is not guarded in any way.

Now we come to Article 16, which is the Article to provide for membership of Dáil Eireann. The President said he knocked out the significant words “without distinction of sex” from the two Articles of the existing Constitution to which I have referred because he did not want to insult women, did not want to remind them that they had only emerged from a period when they had not the right either to vote or to be in Parliament. In the Article of the Draft Constitution he has provided a means by which they can be deprived of the rights which they obtained only such a very short time ago. Article 16, paragraph (1), sub-clause (i) provides that:—

“Every citizen who has reached the age of twenty-one years, and who is not placed under disability or incapacity by this Constitution or by law, shall be eligible for membership of Dáil Eireann.”

Under that provision of this proposed Constitution a disability or incapacity may be created by law and there is no constitutional safeguard against the creation by law of a disability or an incapacity for a woman to become a member of Parliament. She has no constitutional right under that Article to be a member of the Dáil. No person has a right to be a citizen. Every citizen shall vote, but he may be put under an incapacity and a woman, though she may be a citizen, may be put under an incapacity by reason of her sex.

Articles 41 and 45 merely supplement the point I am now making, and rather tend to indicate, in my opinion, that it was not done inadvertently. Then, the next sub-clause of the Article provides for the vote for members of Parliament. It says: “Every citizen who has reached the age of 21 and who is not disqualified by law... shall have the right to vote.” Does not that make it possible for women to be disqualified by law from having a vote? I should like to hear the President, with or without the advice of every lawyer he can put his hands [311] upon, telling me how he answers that argument? He will not be able to answer it, and I doubt if he will have the courage to accept the amendments which we propose to put down, providing constitutional guarantees that Irish-born citizens will not be deprived of Irish nationality and their citizenship by an ordinary law passed in the ordinary way by the Oireachtas.

When you come to Article 40, what I have just said is merely reinforced by the consideration of the provisions contained in Articles 40 and 45. We found that incapacity and disqualification may be created by law, and that deprivation of citizenship may be provided for by law. The President says that he has set headlines for future generations of legislators to follow in these pious aspirations that he has enshrined, towards the end of his proposed Constitution, in Article 45. Here, however, is the headline as regards women. Article 40 says that all citizens shall be held equal before the law. Characteristically, the next sentence is added: “This shall not be held to mean that the State shall not in its enactments have due regard to differences of capacity, physical and moral, and of social function.” In effect, the President says: “All citizens shall be held equal before the law, but I do not want you to take that too seriously; I do not want you to take that too literally, because I must add the following addendum”; and then we are told—presidentially characteristic—that this shall not be held to mean that the State shall not have due regard to differences of capacity—it sounds very like the capacity of women to do certain things —physical and moral, and of social function. Certainly, when reading it for the first time, it seemed to me to fit in completely with the idea that it was intended to allow—and I emphasise the word “allow”—women, if it were thought fit, or any section of women, to be deprived of their right to vote or their right to be members of Dáil Eireann. This phrase about the difference of function had a curiously familiar ring about it when I heard it first, and it was some little time before I realised where I had [312] heard it previously. I wondered where I had heard this phrase about the difference of capacity and difference of function before, and then I remembered Lord Balfour and the Imperial Conference of 1926, and I recalled where the phrase came from, and I remembered Deputy MacDermot's reference in connection with it.

Mr. MacEntee: Was not Deputy Costello the father of that?

Mr. Costello: In 1926 the Dominions were asserting their rights as co-equal States of a League of free nations. Lord Balfour was the president of the committee that sat to consider these constitutional matters, and, out of his philosophical ingenuity, he devised the famous—the world-famous declaration of equality of status. Well, we had sufficient experience to know that words meant nothing even then. We still think that words, in this Constitution, if I may say so in parenthesis, still mean nothing. At any rate, we found that the principle of equality of status was affirmed, but later on the astute Lord Balfour says that: “Of course, equality of status does not mean equality of function.” Accordingly, when I saw this phrase about the differences of capacity and of social function in this draft Constitution, I wondered why it rang so familiarly to my ears, and here we find that it was got from Lord Balfour. Here is the phrase from the Report of the Imperial Conference of 1926: “Equality of status is thus the root principle governing our inter-Imperial relations, but the principles of equality do not universally extend to function.” Now we have the philosophical Lord Balfour copied by the equally philosophical, but more mathematical, President of our State.

Mr. Curran: The Irish phrase came from the Book of Kells.

Mr. Costello: Now we have the equality of status pared down, as regards women, in Article 40, just as Lord Balfour tried to pare down the declaration of equality of status that had been given by the British Commonwealth of Nations. At that time, however, the people representing the Irish nation at that Conference were not to [313] be taken in by that sort of rubbish and verbosity, and I said: “That is all very fine—that phrase about equality of status—but come along now and put it into practice”—and in the succeeding Imperial Conferences we had it put into practice. In the same way, I want to see Article 40 functioning. I want to see it in practice. When Article 45 speaks of the inadequate strength of women, I want to know how is that going to be operated, and I want to know why it has not been operated up to this. It says in that Article:—

“The State shall endeavour to ensure that the inadequate strength of women and the tender age of children shall not be abused, and that women or children shall not be forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their sex, age or strength.”

The President is going to leave that sort of verbosity and flap-doodle behind him as a headline for his successors. I say, there is the head-line set for you, and why have you not been carrying it out? The President has been five years in office, and what has he done to ensure that the inadequate strength of women should be safeguarded, and that those unfortunate women whose husbands are drunkards should not have to go out to work for their families, and that those women who have good and sober husbands who cannot get work, should not also have to go out and work for the maintenance of their families?

I want to see these Articles in practical operation, and I will not take account of those high-falutin', flambuoyant utterances. I want the principles of social justice put in practice, and not merely set down in flambuoyant terms, about the rights of property and the equality of citizens before the law, and all the rest of it— not set down in such terms as would allow them to be interpreted by a possibly Communistic Government in the future in a way to suit themselves.

Mr. MacEntee: What about the phrase that it is no part of the duty of a Government to provide work for the citizens?

Mr. Costello: I have drawn attention [314] to the infirmities that exist in this Constitution as regards women's status. In my opinion—and I do not state it merely from the point of view of one who thinks that his opinion is infallible; I state it because I believe it to be accurate and because I have the support of legal opinion of greater eminence and experience than my own —in my opinion, there are inherent defects in these provisions of the Draft Constitution with regard to the status of women. What is the President going to do about that now? What is he going to do as regards the status of women? What is he going to do about the liberty of the Press? He said yesterday that he did not believe that the liberty of the individual was inviolable. Of course, he does not believe that it is inviolable; he took it out. Not merely did he take out that sanctified phrase, that solemn utterance in our Constitution, but he proceeded to take jolly good care that if this is passed into law the liberty of the individual will be subject to the whim and will of the President. The liberty of the person was at least stated to be inviolable. At least, we could resort to that argument in court when questions of constitutionality were at issue. At least we could argue that these words were there. They are taken out now—because they are not true, the President says.

He must have, in connection with organs of public opinion, his veto—in the public interest, if you please, in the interests of President de Valera, I suggest, or in the interests of any other politician who may succeed him. Every politician thinks that his particular views and fancies coincide with the public interest. This phrase may be resorted to merely for the purpose of proving, if proof were required—and none is required according to the President—that the liberty of the person is not inviolable, that the freedom of the Press that was supposed to be enjoyed in this country can be encroached upon at the whim and will of a politician, and that all that can be justified in the name of democracy. Again I must repeat what I said at the beginning of my observations, that there is no tyranny so great as a tyranny masquerading as democracy.

[315] Mr. MacEntee: That from the author of Article 2A!

Mr. Costello: The right of citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions is supposed to be safeguarded but the tag is added, just as the tag was added in another instance, about the education of public opinion. Public opinion must be educated until it coincides with the whim, will and pleasure, the peculiar views and the constitutional pirouetting of the particular President, whether he is the framer of this Constitution, the framer of some other amendment or the exponent of some particular theory. The radio, the Press and the cinema are to be controlled so that they will not undermine public order, public order being equivalent to the ideals of the particular politician who happens to control the State at the moment. I suppose it was because the President wanted to control the radio and wanted to educate public opinion that he used the radio last night. What were we told over the radio last night, over this free Irish air? We were told, in order that public opinion might be educated at 10.30 last night, that when the President made his speech the gallery of the Dáil was crowded, that there was a packed gallery, that people could not get seats; the fact being that there were plenty of seats and that the gallery did not get full until the Opposition started to criticise the Constitution. The gallery came to hear the criticisms, not to hear the Presidential pirouetting. What did it give, this radio, in the interests of the education of public opinion? In fact, it gave the entire time devoted to the announcement of what had happened in the Dáil that day, to what the President had said. The President finished his speech at a quarter past six or shortly before it. The announcement over the radio, for the purpose of educating public opinion, was made at 10.30 or a few moments afterwards. Not a single syllable or sentence went over the air of this nation, taken from the speech of anybody else between 6.30 and 10.30, not a line from the speeches of anybody other than the sublime [316] utterances of the President of the Executive Council. That is the way the organs of public opinion are going to be used under this Constitution. That is the way public opinion is going to be educated. That is the liberty that the Press is going to enjoy, directly or indirectly, by law or intimidation outside the law, if this Constitution goes through as it stands at the moment.

The Labour Party are going to vote for the Second Reading of this Constitution. Have they adverted to the fact that they have no guarantee, no constitutional guarantee of their right to form trade unions? It is stated there, of course, that citizens have that right, because we must keep the goods in the shop window. We are all familiar with the sight of whiskey bottles full of coloured water in shop windows and these guarantees are as worthless as the bottles of whiskey one sees in publicans' windows. The right to form unions is guaranteed, but what way is that right to form a trades union, either of employees or employers, going to be exercised? It is going to be exercised in accordance with law.

There are many other matters to which I should like to refer but I want to emphasise a matter to which I drew attention before, because whether it is by reason of the fact that I am one of those much despised lawyers or not, I have considerable respect for the liberty of the subject and the writ of habeas corpus. The writ of habeas corpus is gravely cut down in this democratic Constitution, for what reason I know not. The original jurisdiction which the High Court has at the moment to deal with questions of constitutionality or otherwise is transferred to the Supreme Court. If a law is passed which appears to be unconstitutional and that a citizen of the State is imprisoned illegally, the High Court, to whom alone is given the right to grant a writ of habeas corpus has no right to interfere until the Supreme Court has satisfied itself whether that law is constitutional or unconstitutional.

I should like to advert to the change that is taking place in the status of [317] the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General, it is proposed, shall share the same fate as the members of the Government but he has this advantage: that whereas members of the Government lose their names and are no longer Minister under the Constitution, he at least keeps his name. He is still Attorney-General, but a shoeblack may be Attorney-General. Even Deputy Corry could be Attorney-General. There is no provision in the Constitution providing for any qualifications for the Attorney-General but whoever he is, he should have, at least under the Constitution, certainly in the legislation of this country, a position independent of the Executive. He ought to be allowed to exercise his functions irrespective of the political opinions of the Prime Minister or the Fuehrer. Under this Constitution he will be nothing other than a person subservient to the will of the Prime Minister. He is at present appointed by the Executive Council; now he is to be appointed, in substance, by the Prime Minister and be dismissed by the Prime Minister. The other members of the Cabinet or Government as it is called—it can hardly be a Cabinet after this goes through—have nothing to say to the appointment of the chief law officer, the person whose duty it is to look after the rights of the people. He has no independence of status. He holds office at the will and pleasure of a politician. Dare he give an opinion contrary to the opinion of that particular individual and out he goes. That is one of the most reactionary proposals in the entire Constitution but it is in line with what is the general scheme of this Constitution.

The President yesterday, with tears in his voice, almost begged somebody to tell him how to get a better tribunal that would decide on the interpretation which ought to be placed on this Constitution. He said he could think of nothing else but the courts to interpret the Constitution. Any person other than the President would have imagined that the only body competent to interpret a legal document would be the courts, but according to the President it is [318] the last resort. The Supreme Court of this country is the only body he could think of to interpret this Constitution. Will anybody tell him a better body to interpret the Constitution than the Supreme Court? I will tell him—and I will end on this, because it is all in line with the fundamental framework and intention of this Constitution—the President himself. There is no person—I was almost saying in heaven or on earth— who will be able to interpret this Constitution in the way that the President will want it interpreted. He is the only one who would satisfy his ideals of a perfect tribunal to interpret the Constitution. Perhaps he would, in his leisure moments, now that he has got rid of this five-year job of drafting this Constitution, set down as his last will and testament— and enshrine it if he likes in a message to the nation by the new President when he is appointed—what he meant by every word and every line of this Constitution. That last will and testament would be even more interesting as a document than this document which we are considering at the present time.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Aiken): I must thank Deputy Costello for handing us the next general election on a plate.

Mr. Costello: Is the Minister referring to the cost of living?

Mr. Aiken: We were inclined to be optimistic about the next general election——

Mr. Costello: Then do not talk about plates.

Mr. Aiken: ——having consulted the people of Galway and Wexford, but we thought there might be some little doubt about it until we heard Deputy Costello telling us that not alone were we going to get the Taoiseach and the Government at the next general election, but that after it, when the Constitution was put into force, Fianna Fáil was going to select the President. I am sure the organisation of the United Ireland Party—or whatever it calls itself down throughout the country — will not thank Deputy [319] Costello for such an expression of despair before they are beaten. Deputy Costello has presented us with a second dictator. It is a pity he was not here all of to-day and yesterday when his Party concentrated upon making out that the new President to be elected under the Constitution was to be the sole and absolute dictator; that he could do anything he liked. Deputy Costello has raised another one. We are going to have two; the Taoiseach is also going to be an absolute dictator, so we are going to have two dictators in the country. Which is going to dictate to which? After having denounced, in all the moods and tenses, the two dictators that we are going to have at the one time, Deputy Costello made the best possible case for a dictatorship. He made the case that was being made in the organ of his Party when they were running General O'Duffy as dictator. They had not got the courage to go out and organise the Blueshirts, and nominate a dictator from the old Party. They had not got the courage to nominate Deputy Cosgrave as one. They nominated General O'Duffy, and when he did not succeed they kicked him out.

An Ceann Comhairle: Those matters are irrelevant.

Mr. Aiken: The argument that was being used then for installing our late friend as dictator was that this business of counting the heads, this business of consulting the ignorant people of this country, was out of date; that we should be more in step with modern affairs, and select the gentleman in favour of whom Deputy Cosgrave stepped down so as to place him in leadership.

Mr. Cosgrave: It is not fair to discuss a man who is not here.

General Mulcahy: Those people would hit a woman!

Mr. Aiken: We do not have to go back to the rantings of the United Ireland Party in 1934 for arguments in [320] favour of dictatorships. What more contemptible utterance was ever made about the Irish people than that which Deputy Costello made here to-day, when he said that, notwithstanding the fact that this Constitution has been published for ten days, and will be before the people for the next several weeks or several months, they will not know what is in it. He said it is nothing but a trick on the Irish people; that the Constitution will be sanctified by a people who do not know what it means. I can tell him this much: I would take my chance on getting any man outside any chapel gate or at any fair, and he would offer a better explanation of the Constitution than Deputy Costello. The vast majority of the men and women of this country are going to show that at the coming general election and plebiscite. I want to say also that this Constitution and its legality are not going to be judged upon by a person like Deputy Costello, who has the British legal point of view on what the Irish people should do. Once it is put into operation, sanctified by the Irish people and made the law of this land, people like Deputy Costello will have to toe the line in regard to it.

Mr. Costello: That is an awful threat!

Mr. O'Leary: Or they will be put against the wall, I suppose.

Mr. Aiken: It is going to be sanctified by the Irish people, and only the Irish people will be able to change it. Deputy Costello referred to a farcical plebiscite, and said that the people would not know what was in the Constitution. According to him, the people are so ignorant that a matter which has been under public discussion for several months will be unknown to them. They will put a tip on his knuckle when the plebiscite comes along. What about the Constitution which, about 15 years ago, was thrown at the Irish people on the morning of an election, not I per cent. of them having had an opportunity of even reading it before the election came off? What about having that Constitution afterwards spoken of as having been sanctified by the people, [321] and action of a most drastic character taken by a few men on the head of it, without consulting the Deputies or the Parliament of the people?

Mr. G. O'Sullivan: When?

Mr. Aiken: On 28th June, 1922.

Mr. O'Sullivan: When was the drastic action taken?

Mr. MacEntee: On 8th December, 1922, if the Deputy wants to know.

Mr. Aiken: On 28th June, 1922, there was a Parliament in this country under a Constitution that had been passed by the majority of the representatives. It was swept away by eight men on the plea that they had put the existing Constitution before the people. They did, on the morning of the poll, when nobody in the country had a chance to read it. [322] There is one thing which the new President will be able to do. Deputy Costello wanted to know what functions this personage was going to carry out.

Mr. Costello: I did not; I never asked that question at all.

Mr. Aiken: There is one thing which the new President can do. If the Executive Council try to sweep away this Constitution when it has been established by the people, or try to put through a law which would be an amendment of the Constitution, he can say: “No; you must go to the people.” I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on to-morrow, Thursday, 13th May, 1937.