Dáil Éireann - Volume 67 - 13 May, 1937

Bunreacht na hEireann (Dréacht)—Dara Céim (Resumed).

Minister for Defence (Mr. Aiken): Deputy Costello speaking here last night accused the Government of drafting a Constitution which would set up two dictators in the country. Before Deputy Costello spoke other Fine Gael Deputies in the House accused the Government of setting up only one dictator. When the President was speaking on the Second Reading of this Draft Constitution he asked the lawyers on all sides of the House to criticise the measure fairly and to make use of their legal knowledge to put forward amendments that would make this Constitution a Constitution that would be respected by the vast majority of the people. Unfortunately Deputy Costello did not use his legal knowledge to that end. Instead he did, in my opinion, a very bad day's work for the profession of the law. It is a noble profession, one which the layman can respect. I think it is up to the representatives of the legal profession in this House to show that the lawyers of this country, as professional men, will do their duty to the people, to their clients, and give them clear advice on the law and Constitution of the land.

Deputy Costello, instead of trying to explain the Constitution and its implications, endeavoured, in my opinion, to misrepresent it. Instead of trying to give the people clear advice as to the constitutional safeguards which it [326] provides for their liberties, he endeavoured to scare certain sections of the people and tried to make them believe that this Constitution was robbing them of the liberties that rightly belong to all citizens. Deputy Costello and the members of the Fine Gael Party were asked to substantiate this charge of dictatorship. Instead of substantiating the charge that we were endeavouring to set up one dictator, Deputy Costello went one better and charged that we were setting up two dictators. I do not know how two dictators could get on in one country. “Two dictators” is an expression that cannot very well be used for it conveys no sense. If a dictator is a man who dictates, a man whose will is law, no matter what anyone else says, we cannot have two such men in the country at one time. Instead of the President under this Draft Constitution being a dictator he is, in my opinion, a person who will guard the rights and liberties of the people against any attempt to set up a dictator by either the Executive Council or the two Houses of the Oireachtas. I was myself very anxious to see that there should be a functionary of that sort above ordinary or everyday politics who would be specially sworn and specially charged and who would in an especial way pledge himself to look after the constitutional rights of the people and be their guardian against any internal dictatorship. The President will have two functions.

He has two powers which he may exercise at his own discretion. One of these is to refer a Bill, which in his opinion contains an amendment of the Constitution, to the Supreme Court for their judgement. If the Supreme Court holds that that piece of legislation does, in fact, amend the Constitution, the President has the right to refer that to the people for their decision. He is not himself deciding whether the Constitution shall be amended in that respect. He simply decides that the particular piece of legislation is an amendment of the Constitution and that, therefore, before it becomes law, it must be submitted to the will of the people. The other power that he exercises [327] at his own descretion is this: if in his opinion the Executive or the Oireachtas of the day passes a piece of legislation upon which, in his opinion, the people should be consulted; he has a right to refuse his signature to that Bill, he has the right to refuse to allow that Bill to come into law before the people are consulted upon it. Where is the dictatorship in that?

One of the biggest criticisms made against this Government in the last few years since the abolition of the Seanad was that we were absolute dictators; that we had here a Parliamentary majority which acted according to the will of one man or one set of men composing the Government and that no matter what the desires of the people were that the President, with the help of the Executive Council, could amend the Constitution in any way, and pass any law he desired to pass. We put in a safeguard here against such a thing happening, and for the future neither the Taoiseach, the head of the Government, nor even the Dáil and Seanad combined can pass laws amending the Constitution or laws of such a nature as clearly to indicate that the people should be consulted about them, without the people being so consulted.

It is usual when you read a Constitution, at least in any Constitution I have ever read, to see provisions made against the greatest evil from which the people have suffered in the past. In my opinion, one of the greatest evils that this country has ever suffered from was the fact that the Executive of the day completely ignored the wishes of the people; completely ignored their pledges to the people, abolished the Constitution under which they were elected, and proceeded to set up a completely new State. The new State that they set up was not one which went further to uphold the sovereignty of the people, but was one which surrendered the sovereignty of the people and made their will subject to laws passed in another land and subject to a Treaty that was passed by threat of force. If we had had in 1922 a functionary such as the new President will be, whose duty it would have been to safeguard [328] the Constitution and safeguard the rights and liberties of the people, no such thing as the coup d'état of the 28th June could have happened and no such unfortunate occurrence as the civil war would ever have occurred. You had then the Constitution abolished; you had a new State set up in which even the representatives of the people were not called upon to attend. Eventually when the Parliament was summoned a large number of the representatives of the people were either dead or in gaol and were, consequently, not available for consultation upon the Constitution that was brought in.

An Ceann Comhairle: It was once stated by the leader of the Opposition that the worst possible tribunal to fix responsibility for the events of 1922 would be this House. That is because of the fact of having protagonists on both sides. In the circumstances the less said on that matter the better for calm debate.

Mr. Brennan: Hear, hear!

Mr. Aiken: I entirely agree with the Ceann Comhairle. I did not intend to go into the merits or demerits of the civil war beyond saying that in my opinion had there been such a functionary as the President in power then, that unfortunate occurrence would never have taken place.

Mr. Brennan: He would have held it all up; he would have held the Dáil up.

Mr. Aiken: Deputy Costello also accused the Executive Council of wishing to take away women's rights. He said that the new Constitution, if passed into law, would leave it in the power of either the new dictator, as he called him, or the Dáil to abolish the right of women to the vote and could even abolish their rights as citizens. He claimed that the old Constitution safeguarded their rights in both those respects. If you read the old Constitution you will see that the right of the citizens to vote was granted, but that the termination of that right was left to an electoral law. You will also see that the [329] right of citizenship was granted to all persons resident in Ireland or born of Irish parentage; but in that regard also the conditions governing the future acquisition and termination of citizenship of the Irish Free State shall be determined by law. This Constitution is as tight and binding as the old Constitution, both in regard to the rights of all sections of the people to vote and to the rights of citizenship.

The words “without distinction of sex” have been left out, and it could be argued that, the majority of the citizens of this country being women, they could exercise their majority right or their majority voice and select representatives and so deprive the male citizens of votes. I do not think that is at all likely; neither do I think it likely that any Party in this country would be so foolish as to abolish the right of the great majority of the electors to the exercise of the franchise. He would be a foolish man indeed who would go forward on a policy of the abolition of the rights of women to vote and expect the majority of the electorate, who are women, to support him. If they did not support him he could not get elected, and if he were not elected he could not pass such a Bill into law. It seems to me that instead of derogating in any way from women's rights, this Constitution has gone very much further than the Constitution of 1922 and it has not only guaranteed the right of women to be citizens, their right to a vote, but it has also guaranteed to them the support of the State in getting a livelihood.

The people who are now very exercised about the rights of women to vote were in office for ten years here, and they left the section of women who are most in need of support without the support that was their due. I refer to the widows and orphans. It was left to the Fianna Fáil Government, in what is described by the Opposition as the greatest depression this country has ever suffered, to provide money to give pensions to the widows and orphans. In this Constitution it is indicated that it is the desire of the people of this [330] country—and this Constitution when passed by them, will indicate the desires of the people of the country— that instead of derogating from women's rights the Government elected by the people should do their best to support the home and the family and enable mothers of families, if it is their desire to stay at home and look after their families, to do so, and not be forced out into work unsuited to their sex in order that they may provide a livelihood for themselves and their dependents.

It has been truly said that such is not the case to-day. We admit it. We make no claim to have made this country an ideal State in the five years of our office, but we are indicating in this Constitution that, with the help of God, all classes of citizens will be in a better economic and social position in this State in the future. I think it is advisable that we should enshrine in this Constitution the ideals which the vast majority of the people have. We are doing it in regard to our national rights. We are doing it in regard to various other matters and there are clauses in the Constitution which indicate that it is the duty of the State, as soon as it is possible for it to do so to arrange the social life of the community so that mothers of families will not be forced by economic necessity to neglect their children and engage in work unsuited to their sex. I would like to put this to the Opposition: Which of them stands for the abolition of that section?

Mr. Morrissey: It is only a pious resolution. It is the most ineffective section in the Constitution.

Mr. Aiken: Which of the Deputies opposite will move an amendment to delete that section?

Mr. Brennan: It is quite harmless; nobody wants to delete it.

Mr. Aiken: I do not care what the Deputy may say in regard to his refusal to put in an amendment to delete it, but the fact of the matter is that he will not put in such an amendment. Another accusation that was made by Deputy Costello last night was that the liberty of the Press and the liberty of [331] the subject was being taken away; and that heretofore the Press and the citizens were guaranteed liberty, and that it was stated in the Constitution that that liberty was inviolable. Without going back into past history, let me say that that guarantee did not count for much. In the last 15 years, I do not think it can be claimed that either the liberty of the subject or the liberty of the Press was inviolable. Drastic action was taken both against individuals and the Press, and certainly it would require more than the mere insertion of the words “the liberty of the subject shall be inviolable” to get the people to believe that, under the right circumstances and under a right Government, either the liberty of the subject or the liberty of the Press would be held to be inviolable.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Why do you leave out the word “inviolable”?

Mr. Aiken: The fact of the matter is that those words were a lie. They conveyed to the people, who had a right to know the truth, an untruth. They left the people under a false impression.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Have no houses ever been raided?

Mr. Aiken: Of course they have.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: And still you say that you have the inviolability of the house or residence.

Mr. Aiken: The dwelling of every citizen is inviolable and cannot be invaded except in accordance with law. The inviolability of the house cannot be invaded, and the liberty of the person is inviolable, and no person shall be deprived of his liberty except in accordance with law.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Why is it that you have left in the word “inviolable” with regard to the dwelling of the citizen, and have not left it in with regard to persons?

Mr. Aiken: When the Deputy himself was Minister, both the liberty of the Press and the liberty of the person were violated, although the Constitution said that they were inviolable.

[332] Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Neither was done. Why does the Government leave in the word “inviolable” as far as the residence of the citizen is concerned, and not as far as the person is concerned?

Mr. Aiken: I shall go into that point later.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Why not go into it now? The Minister is trying to evade it.

Mr. Aiken: Let the Deputy refer me to the section concerned and I shall deal with it now.

Mr. Morrissey: The Minister read it himself.

Mr. Aiken: I have read all of it, but I do not pretend to have all the sections in my head.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Does the Minister suggest that that does not occur?

Mr. Aiken: If the Deputy will refer me to the section he is referring to, I shall read it out and deal with it. Is not that the best way?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I am refer ring to Article 40, sub-section (5), which says that the dwelling of every citizen is inviolable, and shall not be forcibly entered save in accordance with law.

Mr. Aiken: Yes, save in accordance with law.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Why have you not the word “inviolable” in with regard to the citizen—that the liberty of the citizen shall be inviolable save in accordance with law?

Mr. Aiken: It seemed to me that the words “save in accordance with law” were a very big saver in the old Constitution, when they permitted, as constitutional, acts done by the previous Government. That is all I shall say about it.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: In other words, the Minister cannot answer the question.

Mr. Aiken: I have answered it to my own satisfaction, at any rate, and if it is not satisfactory to the Deputy, let him say so when he is replying.

[333] Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: The Minister dodged the point.

Mr. Aiken: When Deputy Costello, last night, was making the charge that the rights of women would, or could, be abolished, I was reminded of the fact that, when he was Attorney-General, a Bill was brought in abolishing equal treatment for women and men under the Civil Service Commissioners. In 1926 a Bill was brought in giving the Civil Service Commissioners power to exclude women from certain posts. Last night Deputy Costello pretended that this Constitution was doing away with the complete equality of men and women—that heretofore they were, not alone equal as human persons, but were taken to be of equal capacity, and that all classes in the State were taken to have similar social functions. It is a pity that Deputy Costello should so prostitute the legal profession—he spoke as a lawyer and in the name of lawyers—and that he should so drag the name of lawyer in the mire as to try to confuse the issue in the way in which he did. I said last night, and I repeat, that I would much prefer to take the opinion of a chance passer-by in any public place in this country— at a fair or market—on constitutional law than to take the opinion of Deputy Costello.

Mr. Morrissey: Yes, because it would be more likely to coincide with your own.

Mr. Brennan: It looks like that.

Mr. Aiken: Judging from Deputy Costello's behaviour last night, it would be more likely to coincide with the truth.

Mr. Morrissey: If the Minister would listen more carefully to the prompter behind him he might do better.

Mr. Aiken: Deputy Costello, of course, is a most peculiar gentleman. He was responsible for introducing and passing, with the help of Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney and a few of his friends, Article 2A.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Which you have put in force yourselves and which you are enforcing.

[334] Mr. Aiken: Of course we have, and with very good effect in regard to certain things.

Mr. Cosgrave: With great respect, I should like to point out that Deputy Costello was not a member of the Government.

Mr. Aiken: He was the Attorney-General.

Mr. Cosgrave: Yes.

Mr. Aiken: He was the legal adviser to the Government. He advised the Government, and I take it that Article 2A was constitutional. It was put into the Constitution and made a portion of it.

Mr. Cosgrave: Now, be careful.

Mr. Aiken: I am being very careful. Whether it was constitutional or not is a matter of whether it was passed as an Act of Parliament, but it was put into the Constitution and made portion of it.

Mr. Cosgrave: That is not what I meant. Deputy Costello was not a member of the Government.

Mr. Aiken: He was responsible for giving advice, and I take it that Deputy Cosgrave took his advice. Now, after having done that, when we came along and endeavoured to enforce the authority of the Government, with the help of Article 2A, Deputy Costello went into court and pleaded that that Article of the Constitution, which he had drafted and put in, was unconstitutional, ultra vires so far as the Constitution was concerned, and, in fact, according to constitutional law, never should have been put into operation. That is the type of lawyer that Deputy Costello is.

Mr. McGuire: For what purpose did he do it?

Mr. Aiken: For what purpose?

Mr. McGuire: For the liberty of the subject.

Mr. Aiken: Yes.

[335] Mr. McGuire: He should put his own work before that?

Mr. Aiken: He should put truth before his own work, anyway, and before his own political interest. The court did not hold with him.

An Ceann Comhairle: And this is not a court of revision.

Mr. Aiken: Last night, Deputy Costello held himself forth here as a constitutional lawyer whose every word on the Constitution was to be held to be the last word on the subject.

Mr. Morrissey: Would the Minister tell us what he himself called Article 2A in 1931? Would he give us the name he called it at that time?

Mr. Aiken: I am dealing with this Draft Constitution now, and Article 2A is going out of it.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Will the Minister deal with Article 2A?

Mr. Aiken: I shall deal with it, if I am allowed to do so. One critici m of this Constitution made by, I think, Deputy MacDermot was that the word “Eire” was a misnomer and that the new State we are setting up should not be called Eire. I think he put it forward, as one argument why it should not be adopted, that the powers of this Government would not in fact be operative throughout the whole of the ancient Irish nation called Eire. That is a fact which we must admit, that when this Constitution is passed and made law by the people it is not likely that its powers will be operative over the 32 counties of Ireland. Is that any reason for not calling it Eire? Was Germany any less Germany when the Saar was outside her constitutional jurisdiction? Was France any less France when Alsace-Lorraine was outside her jurisdiction? Was this old nation any less Eire in the old days when the only portion outside the jurisdiction of its native kings was this little bit of a Pale around Dublin? We had a Pale in the past. It happened to be around Dublin. We have a Pale at the present time. It happens to be the six northern-eastern counties. [336] At present we cannot enforce the authority and sovereignty of the Irish people, and of the Government elected by them, over the whole of the new State of Eire but, with the help of God, that position will be abolished some day.

Mr. MacDermot: The Minister will perhaps allow me to correct him. He has not correctly stated the point I made, which was that it seemed to me childish to compel us, when talking English, to refrain from using the name “Ireland,” and that that seemed the kind of thing that is likely to keep the people in the North from being attracted towards us.

Mr. Aiken: There is nothing in this Constitution to prevent the Deputy calling it Ireland if he wishes.

Mr. MacDermot: There is the fact that even throughout the English text of the Constitution the country is described as Eire, and not as Ireland.

Mr. Aiken: I say that, if the Deputy wishes to call it Ireland, he is as much entitled to do so as France minus Alsace-Lorraine was entitled to call herself France. There was one very significant note in Deputy Costello's speech last night, and that was the utter contempt he had for the voice of the people as a whole and for the votes of the majority of the people. He said that the people although they would have a few months to consider this Constitution, would not know what it means. He said that there was no greater tyranny than that which masquerades under the cloak of democracy. I think that the vast majority of the Irish people—99.9 per cent. of them or more—will have a complete understanding of this Constitution and of the principles and the ideals which it embodies. Not alone will they understand it, but I believe they will all come out and vote for it. I am glad to say this for the Opposition, that up to now they have not opposed it. This has not been at all a Second Reading debate. I am glad to say that the principles enshrined in the Constitution have not been opposed. A few of the Opposition Deputies have spoken on this measure. Some of them steered [337] completely clear of the Constitution and talked about economic matters. Others of them made it a Committee debate and went into detail on certain arguments which would suit very well on the Committee Stage. But the principle of the Constitution as a whole has not been debated. It has not been opposed, I am glad to say, and I hope it will not be.

Mr. MacDermot: What does the Minister call the principle of the Constitution?

Mr. Aiken: The principle of setting up here Eire as a sovereign, independent, democratic State.

Mr. Morrissey: A Republic?

Mr. Aiken: The Deputy can call it a Republic if he likes.

Mr. Morrissey: The Constitution does not do so.

Mr. Aiken: The Deputy can call it a Republic if he likes. The principle, I repeat, which no one in this House, thanks be to goodness, so far has opposed and which I hope no one will oppose, is to set up Eire as a sovereign, independent, democratic State.

Mr. MacDermot: Is that not the principle of the constitution of every self-governing nation of the Commonwealth?

Mr. Brennan: That principle was set up and has been in operation since 1922.

Mr. Aiken: That is the principle of this Constitution. There are no tags on to it.

Mr. MacDermot: Nor to any of the others.

Mr. Aiken: Under the old Constitution which we are abolishing and which we had amended from time to time, it was laid down that the Constitution had to be read according to the Treaty and that legislation here was subject to adjudication by the British Privy Council and so forth. There are none of these tags in this Constitution. It is declared clearly and unequivocally that this is a sovereign, independent State, deriving its powers, not from [338] any British Act of Parliament or from any person outside. As I said to Deputy Costello last night, it will not be left to any set of men here in this country to judge this Constitution by what is legal in the eyes of British law. This Constitution is not being brought into operation because of any British Act of Parliament or by the legal powers conferred on the Government that existed heretofore by the British Parliament. It is simply being discussed here in the Dáil and it will be enacted by the people. No lawyer, such as Deputy Costello and certain other gentlemen outside who have the British legalistic point of view, can turn this Constitution down as being unconstitutional. It will have been enacted by the people and it will clearly and unequivocally proclaim this, our nation, Eire, to be a sovereign, independent State. I am delighted that up to now that the principle of that has not been opposed.

Mr. MacDermot: Of course not.

Mr. Aiken: I am delighted to hear it.

Mr. Morrissey: The only people who opposed that were yourselves.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: And you did it by post.

Mr. Aiken: We are not to go back on the past. If we did, I should have something to say to that remark. I believe that this Constitution will be something of which we can all be proud. I believe that it holds within it the basis of security for the Irish people, security for their system of Government, security for their sovereignty and independence, and that in that way it forms the basis for peaceful progress here, political and economical, in the future. It is a Constitution such as the vast majority of us here in this House worked for at one time. Even though we may differ at the coming general election as to who will work it in the future, as to who should be Taoiseach, Uachtarán, and all the rest, I hope at least we will agree that this Constitution should be put to the people and brought into operation as the fundamental law of the land. There may be things in it that should be changed. If there is [339] anything in some of the legal points that have been made—that additional safeguard should be given to the people; that this Constitution should not be in any way changed without their will being expressed on it—I think such amendments should be put in. I do not think such amendments are necessary, but if they are necessary it would be a good thing that they should be debated and that they should be put in. If further protections than those given under the old Constitution for the rights of citizens, the rights of the vote and all the rest of it, are needed, then that matter can be considered. I trust that the Opposition will continue to treat this as a Committee Stage debate, and that when this Constitution is put before the people it will be passed unanimously or almost unanimously by the people. If that is done, I think we can all be very proud of the work we are doing here during these days.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Speaking in this House as a member of the Parliament of a sovereign, independent, democratic State, set up under the Constitution of 1922, and functioning at the present moment, I wish to convey my commiseration to the Minister for Defence, because it was very painful to hear the Minister for Defence and to see him put up to talk upon a subject to which he had obviously given no attention at all. With that, I think I will leave the speech to which the House has just listened.

I think the first thing that must strike everyone, no matter to what side of the House he belongs, is that there is one criticism which must be passed on this Draft Constitution. No matter what you may think of its contents, in whole or in part, I think there is one thing which must be admitted by every Deputy in this House, and that is that no more inelegant or no worse drafted document than this Draft Constitution has ever been placed before Dáil Eireann. It is full of contradictions. It is full of general principles, which can be immediately whittled down until they mean absolutely nothing at all. In a great number of parts this Constitution, [340] which ought to be put in the clearest and plainest language, is so involved and so ambiguous that I— I am sorry to say—am one of the 1 per cent. of the people of this country who have not got a complete understanding of the Constitution. That at least is the figure which the Minister for Defence gave the House.

The first thing which I should like to point out to the Dáil is this phrase: “We, the people of Ireland.” This is not being enacted by the people of Ireland. It begins with a false statement; it is not being enacted by the people of Ireland. It is being enacted by the people of 26 counties and not by the people of 32 counties. I am not a person who accepts the present state of affairs, and I do not accept the position that the people of 26 counties, voting upon a particular measure, are entitled to call themselves the entire of the people of Ireland; we are not. I do not like to see any solemn document passing out of this House, through this Assembly, and becoming operative in this State, commencing with a statement known by everybody to be false. Ireland is not 26 counties. Ireland is 32 counties, and the people of the Twenty-Six Counties have not got the right to style themselves the people of Ireland.

I go on; if I discover an untruth in the first part of this document, I do not go very far until I come to something which shows the extraordinarily bad drafting of this Constitution, and which, in my humble judgment at any rate, comes very close to if it is not entirely and completely a heretical statement. I mean, of course, heretical from the Catholic point of view. Article 6 says:—

“All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.”

That statement is not true. What does that mean? It means that all legislative, executive and judicial [341] powers are derived from the people; that they are inherent in the people and exercised by the people under God. That is not the fact. Every power that the people have got came to the people from God, and the power exercised by the rulers, designated by the people of the State, is power they had themselves derived from God. Whether they derived it immediately through the people, as was the view of Cardinal, now Saint, Robert Bellamy, or whether they hold it as derived immediately from God, as was the view of Leo XIII, every school of Catholic thought holds that power is derived from God. Why do we start off with a statement in Article 6 of our Constitution which, as far as moral philosophy is concerned, is completely and entirely wrong?

We asked what are the main principles of this Constitution? What new thing does it bring in? We were not answered. The main new thing which this Constitution brings in is the President and the powers which are given to the President. I should like, Sir, to examine those powers. The President is appointed by a general vote of the people. In my judgement that is not a very satisfactory way of appointing a President. President de Valera in his speech the other night said that powers should be given to the President to a great extent in order that his election by the people should be justified. But if a President is going to be elected by the people is that going to get the best President? We know what a popular election is. Think out how that is going to work. If it is anything like a close fight, is it not the man with the longest purse who is going to win? What will an election cost? Of course, it will cost the State exactly the same sum as a general election does now. There must be the same presiding officers, polling clerks and everything else that there is for a general election. There must be for each candidate likewise a personation agent or several in every booth. Deputy Kelly's famous approval of “vote early and vote often” will most certainly take place unless there are personation agents. I am sure if there are no personation agents that [342] Deputy Kelly will urge very vigorously “vote early and vote often in favour of the candidate for the office of President that I am supporting.” There must, therefore, be personation agents; there must also be transport cars to bring the voters to the poll, and the candidate for the Presidency who can supply the best transport is the candidate that is most likely to be successful. In other words, I will ask the House if there is an election for a President is not it perfectly plain that it is the man who can put down thousands of pounds in the fight for election rather than the man who can only put down £1,000 who is likely to be successful? Has not the whole cost of a Party election to be borne if that election is to be representative of the people, and if the voters are to go to the poll in any number? Is that a wise way of selecting no matter how good it may be in theory? I am not concerned with theory. Is it a good way in practice to select a President of this State? Because it means that unless a man has got the support of a Party with Party funds behind him, or that he himself is a rich man, he has got no chance against a person who has got a longer purse than he has, always, of course, assuming that there is not a colossal margin of difference in support for the two in the country. It does not seem to be wise. As a matter of fact, I think an election adequately run and adequately financed by a candidate for the office of President would cost more than a whole Party election would cost a Party at the minute, because personation agents at present give their services free. Candidates for the Presidency will have to pay their own personation agents. Is it a wise or a practical method of electing a President? When you have your President elected, what I object to and object to very strongly in this Constitution is the power which the President is given.

The Minister for Defence talked a moment ago, and so did other members of the Government who spoke in this House, that this did not create a dictatorship. We do not say it creates a dictatorship. This Constitution does not set up a dictatorship here now but what this Constitution does is that it [343] makes it easy for a dictatorship to be set up. This Constitution takes away the barriers which stood in the way of a dictatorship being set up. It makes smooth the road for setting up a dictatorship. This Constitution will in itself enable a dictatorship to be set up.

Let me take two things. First you have got certain powers given to the President by the Constitution. You have other powers which may be given to him by law. Section 9 of Article 13 states:

“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,”

with three exceptions. Those are the powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution. There are two classes of power conferred on the President. There is class No. 1, the powers conferred by the Constitution, and class No. 2, the powers conferred by law. There is no such proviso that the powers and functions conferred by law shall be exercisable and performable by him only on the advice of the Government. Any power can be given to him by law under Article 13:

“Subject to this Constitution, additional powers and functions may be conferred on the President by law.... No such power or function shall be exercisable or performable by him save only on the advice of the Government, or after consultation with the Council of State, as may be determined by such law.”

Therefore, any power or function of any kind may be given to the President which he can exercise after consultation with the Council of State, but the Council of State has no power. The Council of State is purely an advisory body, and the President need not heed in the slightest bit what they tell him. Any power can be given to the President. Complete control of this State can be given to him, to be exercisable by him after consultation with the Council of State, whose advice he need not take. Is it not smoothening the road within the Constitution for a dictatorship?

[344] There is another matter. Why it is put in, I do not know. It is Article 13, Section 5:

“The exercise of the supreme command of the defence forces shall be regulated by law.”

I should have read Section 4 first:

“The supreme command of the defence forces is hereby vested in the President.”

How he is to exercise that has to be regulated by law. There is not a single thing there about consultation with the Council of State. There is not a word about that:

“The exercise of the supreme command of the defence forces shall be regulated by law,”

and therefore he may be given complete power and control of the defence forces, and he can exercise that so given power—that proviso is contained in the Act giving him the power—without the advice of the Executive Council. Every dictator wants an army behind him. Most of the dictatorships have been started by armies. If the Dáil and Seanad, or a majority of the Dáil—we need not bother about the Seanad—and the President conspire to make the President dictator in this State, all they need do, within this Constitution, is to give him unlimited power, as they can do, and at the same time give him control of the Army, which he can fill up immediately with his own people. I have not heard any reasoned argument from the Government Benches as to why this one individual, who can be given these extraordinary powers; who has, even under the Constitution, such great powers as he has got, is being set up at all. What is the need for him? What is the necessity for having a President with these powers? It is a retrograde step; it is going backwards; it is setting up a Constitution much less democratic than the present Constitution.

Take the history of representative Government. The home of representative Government is in England. There you had a king with a tremendous power; you had a House of Lords with great power, and you had a House of Commons commencing with very, very small power. Even as [345] late as the great exclusion debates in the time of Charles II the House of Lords was the Assembly with greater power than the House of Commons. Gradually, the House of Commons begins to assert itself; gradually it becomes more important than the House of Lords; gradually it is encroaching upon the king's power; until the time comes, as it did come in the complete process of development, when the one man, that is to say, the king has got no active part in the Government at all.

You want to set up one man here. Under the old Constitution we had no such one man—no one man with any power. But you want to step back from the democratic position which representative Government had reached in this country, just as it had reached it in England. You want to step back from that position and, taking a retrograde and anti-democractic step, you want to put the power, not in an elected Assembly but to a considerable extent in the hands of one man. Surely that is anti-democratic. It is a step backwards—that is undeniable.

What is the reason for that step backwards? We have had none given. We heard, to my mind, a rather unsound argument with reference to an existing dictatorship. There is no doubt that, under the Constitution as it has been spoiled by Fianna Fáil, there is a power of dictatorship —it has worked down practically to that. But it is a dictatorship which must be exercised in public; a dictatorship which is subject to criticism in this House; a dictatorship whose acts are known. It is a dictatorship that only exists because the Seanad was abolished. A dictatorship which is subject to criticism and subject to public opinion is a different thing from the dictatorship which can be set up within the terms of this Constitution without taking away the dot from one of the i's or the crossing from one of the t's. Why do you do that? Certainly, we have had no reason given yet.

If there are going to be alterations in the Constitution certainly the burden of proof to show that there ought [346] to be alterations is on the person making the alterations. If there is going to be a new Constitution, the burden of proof to show that the old Constitution is bad is on the person bringing in the new Constitution. Neither in the speeches I have listened to, nor those I have read in the newspapers or in the Official Reports, has any sound reason been given for the introduction of this present Constitution; above all things, no reason for the introduction of this present Constitution with this very great change effected by giving power to one man. I see no reason, and I have heard no reason, why that should be done on the eve of an election, which is essentially a time when big changes should not be made by a House nearing its dissolution. If there are changes of this nature to be made, they should be made in the early days of a Parliament, not when persons' minds are fixed upon what are the real substantial issues before the country in an election.

There are other difficulties about this strange new office of President. Suppose the President does not do what he is bound to do under this Constitution, what is the remedy? There is none provided. Suppose a Bill is sent up to him and he refuses to sign it, what is going to happen? There is no method within the Constitution of making him do so. He need not sign a single Bill, and he need not do a single bit of work. He is irremovable for seven years, and there is nothing to compel him. I may be answered by saying that he makes a declaration, and that that declaration will compel his conscience. There is nothing else. Quite apart from the fact that things more solemn than a declaration have, as we know, on a famous occasion in this State been described as empty formulas, I should like the House to consider the nature of the declaration to be taken. It is very interesting, because it is on a par with everything else in this extraordinary Draft Constitution—it is contradictory. The declaration reads:—

“In the presence of Almighty God I do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will maintain the Constitution of Eire and uphold its [347] laws, that I will fulfil my duties faithfully and conscientiously in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and that I will dedicate my abilities to the service and welfare of the people of Eire.”

Suppose a Bill comes up to him: it is his duty under the Constitution to sign that Bill. But suppose he exercises his abilities, as he thinks, in the service and welfare of the people of Ireland, and he comes to the conclusion that this Bill does not help on the service or the welfare of Ireland and he refuses to sign it, where are you? He says: “I am not violating my declaration”—though there is no punishment even if he does violate his declaration. He remains there for seven years. You have no method on earth of getting rid of him. Is not that an extraordinary state of affairs?

Let me taken another thing. You may put in the office of President a man whom the people may think is of blameless life. There may be some domestic or other scandal. Unfortunately we know of a domestic scandal that had a terrific effect on the prospects and history of Ireland. Supposing some such scandal happened, or that some financial difficulty or something like that arose in the case of this person who was elected President, still, as the Draft stands, he must remain in that office. There is no method of removing him. He is above the law. He cannot be prosecuted. He cannot be sued on the civil side during his term of office. He remains there, and the finger of scorn may be pointed at him; he may be, in the opinion of every decent citizen, unworthy of holding the position. Yet he must remain there. There is no means of removing him. I would have thought that a sensible Constitution would contain some provision by which a declaration would be got that the person who has been elected President had shown himself unworthy to fill the office, and that an impartial tribunal should be set up to inquire into the charges made against him. Probably the most impartial tribunal would be the Supreme Court. I think it would be the fairest tribunal to try a matter of that nature. You could not possibly get a fairer tribunal.

[348] Quite apart from the details there should be some method of removing a President who has shown himself unworthy, and this Draft Constitution produces none. There is only one provision by which he can be removed and that is a most extraordinary provision. It is only if he has been guilty of high treason as defined in this Constitution or “other high crimes or misdemeanour,” that he can be removed. It must be a high crime or a misdemeanour. It must be an offence known to the law. Then what happens? It is provided that two-thirds of the members of the Seanad may go back to that oldest and most worn-out method, the procedure by impeachment. Somebody has been studying the history of the Stuarts and discovered that Stafford, Laud and various other persons were impeached before the House of Lords. In those days the House of Commons impeached an individual before the House of Lords who had power to pass the death sentence.

Under the regulations here the procedure is reversed; the Seanad may impeach for criminal offences before the Dáil. Is that a satisfactory method of trial or a fair method of trial? How long will the trial last? How many witnesses will be examined? Supposing the trial lasts three or four days the President is to sit there in the dock— wherever the dock may be—and he is being impeached before the Dáil. Is not the thing ridiculous and is it not an absurd tribunal? Not only that, but there is the period which the trial will occupy. I said for three or four days. As a matter of fact the impeachment of Warren Hastings went on for eight or ten years. I am not sure of the exact duration. I know this, that impeachments have always been extremely slow. The modern method, going right back to a worn-out thing, is the method that is going to be adopted in our new Constitution! Even here the framer or draftsman of the Constitution could not be consistent because in Article 38, Section 5, we have:—

“Save in the case of the trial of offences under Section 2, Section 3 or Section 4 of this article, no person shall be tried on any criminal charge without a jury.”

[349] In other words, under Article 38 the President is given the right of trial by jury, and under Article 12, Section 10, that right is taken away from him. Yet these two sections are left standing there in their complete inconsistency. Which is it going to be? Must he be impeached if two-thirds of the Seanad wish it, or is he entitled to trial by jury? As the two sections stand they are completely and entirely inconsistent. I presume that the interpretation of that is that the general is controlled by the lesser, and that is that the right of trial by jury is being taken away. That is the ordinary rule of legal interpretation—that the lesser controls the general. But why not make it perfectly clear in your Draft? The Draft Constitution is the same all the way through. Again, I would like to know what is the reason for setting up this very strange and extraordinary person?

There are a great number of things arising out of this Constitution. I am not going through the whole lot. I have dealt at some length with the position of the President because it is a real innovation. We have the bringing in of one man, possessing powers in the Constitution such as it is proposed to give. It is a new step, a retrograde step and an undemocratic step. It is an attempt to set back the hands of the clock. Let us look through these pious aspirations which are put into the Constitution for some reason or another. I do not know why in this Constitution you get some very curious things. Take the provision about which we have had so much discussion:—

“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 Section 2 of Article 41 of the Constitution. That is very excellent but why not push it to its entire conclusion?

If the object of the State is to ensure that mothers shall spend their time in the performance of their duties in the home why confine it to one [350] class? Why have this class legislation in your Constitution? Why put in about the duty of the mother being confined to the necessitous? Why not have put in that no mother in receipt of moneys from any public body shall engage in labour or in work from any public authority of any kind? Why not apply it to the national teachers, the secondary teachers and the university professors? Why not apply it to all these? Why not apply it to them if you are going to apply your good idea to mothers who are obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour? Why not also express your view in those other cases, because it flows naturally that no married woman should be engaged in productive work? It all flows one from the other. Is not that the principle which you are enshrining here? I am simply putting that forward. I am bringing it right down to the reductio ad absurdum.

If you want to put down your general propositions, you cannot put them in one Article. You must deal with every specific instance. If you are going to take that as it stands, unqualified, all the consequences which I have stated must flow from it. If you believe one, you must bring it right down to the end. There is no qualification there except that it is confined simply to mothers who are obliged by economic necessity. What is the difference between those and the ones who are not? If it is due to one, it is due to another. There may be an answer, and I would like to know what it is, but personally I do not see it at the moment.

It is rather interesting to take Article 45, paragraph 4 (1):—

“The State pledges itself to safeguard with especial care the economic interests of the weaker sections of the community, and, where necessary, to contribute to the support of the infirm, the widow, the orphan, and the aged.”

That is admirable, but there is a well-known doctrine of interpretation that if you make one statement clear, the statement of the one thing is a contradiction of its opposite, and also it is to be interpreted by what it leaves out [351] as well as what it puts in. Why infer that the infirm, the widow, the orphan and the aged are the only persons to whom the State should contribute? Why should they not contribute to the support of an adult hungry man. What is the difference? After all, has not the adult hungry man or woman the same right to a contribution as the persons named in this Article.

There is a portion of Article 45 that is really laughable, coming from the Fianna Fáil Party:

“That there may be established on the land in economic security as many families as in the circumstances shall be practicable.”

Established on the land in economic security! What a statement to come from Fianna Fáil. The Government that have made every single perch of land in Ireland uneconomic have now got the pleasure of saying that they believe in keeping people on the land in economic security. For the last five years this House has rung with denunciations of the policy which is making and has made Irish land uneconomic. Instead of spending your time in some effort towards making the land economic, you are discussing generalities here.

The policy of the Government has had the effect of driving down the price of cattle, destroying the market for eggs, destroying the market for all live stock. It has made Irish land completely and entirely unprofitable. Now, along comes this Constitution with the statement that they hope to establish on the land in economic security as many families as shall be practicable. They believe now in putting people in economic holdings. Why do they not go further and say: “We believe then in making them uneconomic as quickly as ever we can, because we have been spending the last five years in making all other Irish holdings uneconomic”?

There is behind this one very big question, and I would like an answer from Fianna Fáil or somebody who has gone into the matter and is qualified to deal with it. We are told that the Constitution shall come into operation on the day following the expiration of [352] a period of 180 days after its approval by the people, signified by a majority of the votes cast at a plebiscite thereon held in accordance with law. Who are the people? We are told the people are the people of Ireland. There is nothing in that Article which limits it to citizens of Saorstát Eireann. It is plain there that it is only to come into force when a plebiscite of the people has been taken. But how can you take a plebiscite of the people of Ireland? I would like to know how that is to be done. So far as I can see, you cannot do it; you cannot take a plebiscite of the people of the Six Counties.

There is no limitation there and I want to know how you propose to work this. Suppose this is challenged in court. Suppose any law passed under the Constitution is challenged in court and you are asked what gives that Constitution validity. If you say it has got its validity from a plebiscite of the people of Ireland, then there would want to be proof that there was such a plebiscite. But there cannot be such a plebiscite. Is your Constitution as it stands going to have the force of law and what is going to give it the force of law? The Constitution of 1922 has the force of law from Act No. 1 of 1922, which, of course, is not repealed here and is still in force. In other words, Saorstát Eireann still remains and, after the passing of this Constitution, Saorstát Eireann will still remain until Act No. 1 of 1922 is repealed. You cannot repeal it now, because if you repeal it there would be no Constitution. You are in the extraordinary position that you have got citizens who are citizens of Saorstát Eireann and you have Saorstát Eireann still in existence.

I do not think that even a referendum could be exercised at the present moment. I should like to know how it could, because there are no citizens of Ireland at the present minute. I should like someone to tell me how a referendum could be exercised or how this is going to have validity at all. This cannot repeal a statute. A statute can only be repealed by another one. If it is tested in a [353] court, how is it going to be argued that it is repealed? There will be such questions arising. They certainly arise in my mind, and I have endeavoured to see any answer to them, and I cannot see it.

Suppose, now, that this Constitution is brought before a plebiscite of the people of Saorstát Eireann, and that a court is asked: “Is that a binding document, or is that the Constitution now in force?” I do not see, for the life of me, how any court could say that it is. If there is any answer to that, I should like to know what it is. It may have its force because it is a repeal of the Schedule to the Act, No. 1 of 1922, which sets up the Constitution, but it does not profess to be that, and it does not profess to be enacted by Dáil Eireann or the Oireachtas. It does not profess to be enacted by any person with direct legislative authority, and I should like to know very much from anybody who can inform me where it is going to get its legislative or operative power from. It can get its operative power, possibly, if you regard it as a Schedule to the Act of 1922, but otherwise than that, it has no operative power, because we have got a Constitution which is now in force, and the Act by which it is established is not attacked and could not be attacked, because this document here can only be conceived to be of binding force if it is regarded as a repeal of the Schedule to Act No. 1 of 1922, and the insertion of a new Schedule in it.

These are big questions. They seem to me to go to the very root of the matter, and I should like to have them very seriously considered, and I should like to see a serious answer given. Mere rhetoric—and we have had very little except rhetoric from the Government Benches in the course of this debate—does not answer solid argument. Mere rhetoric does not answer, if you like, seriously meant questions, and I am putting my question seriously. I should like to have it dealt with seriously, because we may find ourselves in this position: that we have been spending days discussing this [354] thing as members of a mere debating society, whose conclusions cannot be received by our courts. I have nothing more to say upon this matter, Sir. There is an amendment before the House to the effect that the discussion should be adjourned for six months. I think that, quite apart from the reasons put forward by Deputy Mulcahy in support of that motion, the whole trend of this discussion here has shown that a delay of six months is eminently desirable. This is not a fully digested and fully thought-out document, and, besides, it is a wretchedly drafted document. I think that it ought to be postponed. This Constitution is supposed to last for all time, and a document that is supposed to last for all time ought to be clear. This document is not clear. It is confused and involved. It is giving most extraordinary powers to a President—powers which may be made more extraordinary still—and it is all being done immediately. Surely, if ever there was a document which ought to be carefully considered and the consideration of which should be postponed, it is this document.

Then, on the question of voting for this Constitution, how are we going to vote? There are things in this document which I like. For instance, I like the restoration of the Seanad. That could have been done under the old Constitution, but at any rate it is here in this Draft Constitution. I like a Constitution with a Second Chamber. On the other hand, I loathe portions of this Constitution, such as those which deal with the new power to be given to a President. Other people will have the same difficulty as I have. How are you going to say that the document has got the approval of the electorate when the electorate disapproves of a new principle enshrined in it? There are two new principles enshrined in it, if I may put it that way, although I admit that it is rather a loose expression to use. The entirely new principle in it is the creation of a President with undemocratic power—anti-democratic power, I should put it. The other new principle is not new to us, but it is new to our existing Constitution. It is not a new idea, but the restoration of an old idea. I refer to the bringing back of the Seanad. I like one of these principles. [355] I wish to see the Seanad back. But I do not wish to see a President being given undemocratic powers. Other people will be in the same position, and how are we going to vote? If we vote for the bringing back of the Seanad, will that not be immediately twisted into saying that there is a majority of the people in favour of the creation of an undemocratic President? That is what will be declared immediately in this House. We will be told that they have got a mandate for a President of that kind. If Fianna Fáil comes back to power, which is very doubtful——

Mr. Corry: The Deputy will not be here in any case.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Oh, I would not be so sure about that, but I think the Deputy will not be in Fianna Fáil, according to the stories I hear.

An Ceann Comhairle: These stories must be kept for some other occasion.

Mr. Corry: Have they any relation to the kicking cow?

An Ceann Comhairle: Order, Order!

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Before I conclude, I urge the House and the Government to accept this amendment, and, if they want to act in anything approaching a statesman-like fashion, I urge that the whole of this discussion should be postponed until after there is a general election and the people have expressed their views.

Mr. Corry: But then we will have lost the services of the Deputy.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): My outlook upon this discussion, Sir, is that of cordial agreement with the appeal of the President that every member of this House, in every part in this House, and that every elector in this country, whatever his politics may be, will regard himself as having a serious, personal and inescapable responsibility for the personal examination of this document with a view to the forming of a judgement as to its meaning and implication, and the expression of that view in so far as it may make for the betterment [356] of this nation. I think, in listening to the speeches, however intolerant, however exaggerated, and, in certain cases, however mad they may be, upon this subject, that it is our business to look behind the exaggerations and madnesses of them, to discount all the political prejudices of them, and as far as is humanly possible, to attemot to get out of them all the value we can in constructive criticism in relation to the Bill. For that reason, I, personally, would be very tolerant of any extravagance of expression so long as it did, in fact, lead up to something constructive. Now, 90 per cent., or at any rate 80 per cent. of this House—I am afraid it is a decreasing percentage—are not lawyers.

We come with laymen's minds to the examination of a document of this kind. There is a saying that the layman who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client, and it is very desirable that, to the extent to which legal knowledge can be made useful for the interpretation of a document containing fundamental law, to the extent to which that knowledge is useful and available, it should be used. Now, I think there are distinct limitations to the use of mere legal knowledge in relation to a matter of this kind, while the ambit of its use is very considerable. Very often, in dealing with such things as Constitutions, we are dealing with things which are not necessarily subject to purely legislatic interpretations. Phrases, words, clauses and expressions are used in Acts of this kind for the purpose of expressing fundamental ideas, the natural outlook of peoples and it is quite possible that a good many of the terms, words and expressions which would be used in any Constitution, which was sound from the point of view of being a document which was meant to represent the outlook on the present and future life of the nation, would not have a definite legalistic meaning. However, to the extent to which they have a legalistic meaning, it is very desirable indeed that lawyers ought to give us the advantage of their knowledge in the interpretation of them, and, even if the interpretation which is put upon them is an ex parte interpretation and the opinion of people who, at any rate, [357] would rather make the worse than the better appearance of an Act of this kind, it is valuable that we should get to know the worst that can be said about it. It is better that every destructive criticism that it is possible for the ingenious mind of men who are trained into the profession of finding out dangerous meanings in the law, should be used for the purpose of making clear in advance any risks which may eventually be incurred in the interpretation of a document of this kind. It is for that reason that I, personally, have listened with pleasure and with profit to what I should not like to say was the attack, but rather the examination, of the Constitution by Deputy Lavery, and the attack which has been made upon it by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. If there are any useful points in the arguments which have been put forward, it is our business to take advantage of them, and if there are any gaps shown by these examinations, it is our business as far as is humanly possible to close them.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney ended by saying that there were two principles in this Bill, one of which he entirely approved. That was the principle of the restoration of a Second Chamber, however restored. He approved of the doctrine which has been held, and which was expressed in my presence by the chairman of a chamber of commerce, that any Second Chamber is better than no Second Chamber. Without going in any way into the details or merits of that particular Chamber, its constitution or method of election, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney at any rate endorsed that particular principle. He said there was another principle to which he did object, the principle of a President with undemocratic powers. I think the whole House would object to the principle of a President with undemocratic powers and, therefore, it is only a question of fact. It is a question of fact whether or not this Constitution does create a President with undemocratic powers and, if it does, it should not. I, voting for it, will vote for it in the belief that it does not, and with the assurance that any risk that the presence of any possible word, or any lack of words, which would create a President with [358] undemocratic powers, will be dealt with when we come down to details.

There are phrases in this Constitution for which lawyers, feed on one side or the other, would find a different meaning. I mean it is quite possible to take two views in relation to certain Acts here. For instance, one difficulty was put up to me in relation to Article 12, Section 4, sub-section (1). Unfortunately I, like the majority of the House, am not in a position to read or criticise this document in the official text. I, also, have to use the secondary language. Article 12, Section 4, sub-section (2) (i) reads:

“Not less than twenty persons, each of whom is at the time a member of one of the Houses of the Oireachtas.”

I subjected that to the opinion of two or three people, who held different opinions on various matters, and none of them is clear as to the exact meaning of that, while, when it has been examined in the Irish text, I am assured by all who have examined it in that text that it is, in fact, absolutely clear. I am only giving that as an example.

The clause to which most objection has been taken is Article 13, No. 10, which reads:

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

The second sub-section of that reads:

“No such power or function shall be exercisable or performable by him save only on the advice of the Government, or after consultation with the Council of State, as may be determined by such law.”

I agree that that particular portion of the section has divided itself into two different categories. The President at the present moment is the President of the Executive Council and, as such, does affix his signature and does in that form, perform a certain number of functions under the Constitution as it now is, but those are formal functions —what I call nominal powers. He appoints the new head of this House, and the members of the Government, [359] and he accepts their resignations. He summons and dissolves the Dáil and Seanad in normal times. He signs and promulgates laws. He has the supreme command of the forces and grants commissions. He can address the nation and the Dáil. He can exercise additional powers as conferred by law, and he exercises the prerogative of mercy. With the exception of the second part, the exercising of additional powers conferred by law, his functions are entirely nominal. He acts for and on behalf of and on the advice and by the authority of the head of this House speaking for the House. While it would be a perfectly reasonable view for people to take, it is one of the matters upon which two views can be held, that as those powers are nominal, as the powers do not rest merely in that man or in his office, and he is merely exercising those powers on behalf of some other authority—it would be a perfectly reasonable view to take, and the House can take it without in any way interfering with this Constitution—that those powers should nominally be exercised by those by whom they are really exercised.

It is a different case, however, in relation to certain real powers which he has, and the whole question is whether or not those real powers are powers inherent in himself, or whether they are powers given to him by the community, to be exercised by him, under regulation, for the benefit of the community, and for the increase of the authority of the community as a whole. I think if you look back at all the existing powers that are here—I am leaving out now the question of additional powers— every existing real power that he has is a power to go back to the fountain of authority, to go back to Caesar, to go back to the people who sent him and gave him authority, to ask them to exercise a plenary authority over this Dáil and the Oireachtas. To the extent to which that is so, to the extent to which in relation to the existing real power of this Dáil it is a power and authority to go back to the people themselves for a more immediate and more definitely controlled [360] and more clearly exercised authority by them over the legislation of this country, it is very difficult indeed to say how the term “undemocratic power” can be applied to it. I have listened to the discussion, and I have certainly listened to it with the open mind which I have advocated in relation to other people, and no one has yet shown me any of the existing powers that are given to the President which is not definitely exercisable in that particular way, and for that particular purpose.

The question of whether or not any additional powers, other than the powers which are here declared, might have that effect, is a matter I think for consideration. No power which is given to the President—always assuming the fact that you require a new officer of this kind—to be exercised on the advice of the Government, can take away from the authority of the people who created that Government. But the powers which he exercises already, after consultation with the Council of the State, are in fact his own powers, and if this clause does bear the interpretation that powers can be given to the President of a kind which would be inconsistent with the authority of the people, then there should be some governing or amending clause. I am not sufficiently learned in the legislatic interpretation of words and clauses to say whether that is necessary or not, but the whole thing here is governed, as far as I can see, by the phrase “subject to this Constitution.” It seems to me that that phrase “subject to this Constitution” is intended to prevent the handing over to the President, by law or otherwise, of any powers which do not conform to this Constitution. If that is so, then as far as I can see there is no particular difficulty. It has to be remembered that any power which is given by law to the President or anyone else subsists only as long as that law subsists, and that law is completely under the authority of the Dáil which is elected by the people and given authority to pass such law.

A point that might possibly be put up is that any additional powers, other [361] than powers which would be exercised on the advice of the Government, might be regarded as constitutional amendments. As a matter of fact that was the one point which really was of any considerable importance in the speech of Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. He suggested that there were risks and dangers there. Whether or not his opinion is well founded in law, it is a legitimate subject to give expression to, and, to the extent to which there is matter in what he said, it is a matter for consideration. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney again had the difficulty that there was no means of enforcing on the new President the carrying out even of his own functions; he can do anything he likes and he cannot be brought within the rules laid down for him. As a matter of fact, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney was aware and did tell us that there was machinery by which that could be done, and his real complaint at the present moment is not that there is no such machinery but that the machinery itself is of a kind which is too cumbersome and complex. He said in effect, though he did not say it in fact, that if the President refuses to sign an Act, or do any other formal act which it is his business to do, the only method of dealing with him is to impeach him here in the Dáil, and he thinks there ought to be a simpler method. That again, I think, is a matter of perfectly legitimate difference of opinion. If there is any likelihood of the President refusing to carry out functions of that kind, I think some quite simple machinery can be devised to deal with the matter.

Mr. McGilligan: You say “can be.” It is not there.

Mr. Flinn: It is quite in order for anyone to propose a change.

Mr. McGilligan: I want an admission that it is not in the Constitution.

Mr. Flinn: There is power in the Constitution to impeach.

Mr. McGilligan: That is the only power.

Mr. Flinn: As far as I know.

Mr. McGilligan: There is no coercive power.

[362] Mr. Flinn: Speaking as a non-lawyer, the only thing I know that can be made effective is the power of impeachment.

Mr. McGilligan: There is no other way in the Constitution.

Mr. Flinn: I do not know of any other way. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney took a point in relation to the President that there were two contradictory methods of dealing with him in relation to criminal offences. He said in one clause of the Constitution it is such that every man has a right of trial by jury. It then goes on to say in relation to crimes of treason or other high crimes or misdemeanours the President may be impeached in this House. He said those were contradictory clauses. Speaking again as one who is not a lawyer, they do not seem to me to be so. The sanctions in the two cases are entirely different. The only sanction for any criminal act or any high crime or misdemeanour which is laid down for the President is that he be removed from his office. There is no possibility of trial by jury in relation to that. It seems to me that those two are two unrelated things.

Deputy Lavery spoke the other night. I must say Deputy Lavery, in my opinion, is outstanding as the one lawyer whom I ever heard who has kept the charm of personal expression in speech of which, apparently, the practice of the profession does seem to rob his colleagues normally. It is really a pleasure to anyone who has an appreciation of speech to listen to Deputy Lavery in his contributions here. His examination of the Constitution was, if I recollect rightly, divided into two classes. One was a rather philosophical complaint in relation to the fact that things had been included in the Constitution which might have been left out and had been devised in a way which was capable of ultimate extreme misuse. In the other case he raised the same small, fine points of law. I will simply take one of the examples and, mind again, it is a question open to entirely different views as to whether or not the Constitution should include declaratory clauses or not. We think it should. We think there are certain fundamental [363] things, certain opinions we have, certain outlooks we have upon life, personal and national, which ought to be expressed in a document of this kind. A purely legal mind is entitled to have an entirely opposite view, and to say that nothing is required in the Constitution but the dry bones and skeletons of fundamental law. But if one does take the view that declaratory phrases of one kind or another must appear, or may appear, in a document of this kind, you are inevitably in certain difficulties. He took a particular case, that there should be complete freedom of the Press. But the State claim the right and the duty, in the interests of public morality and the rest of it, to exercise certain control over the Press, the radio and the cinema. He says that limiting clause, the claim of the State to exercise a restrictive influence over these particular things, could be interpreted by a particular class of mind in such a manner as to completely wipe out the whole liberty of the Press. I am not denying that. There are no limits to the interpretation which a particular mind could put upon it. But assume for a moment that you had not put in those limiting clauses and you simply had written down the liberty of the Press, is anyone going to deny that by exactly the same reasoning an interpretation could be given to the liberty of the Press of a character that no State would stand for? You have such statements as the liberty of the individual, the right to private property, but the State claims the right and the duty in the interests of the whole community so to interpret the function of the right to private property that it shall not interfere permanently with the public good. “A Communistic Government,” says Deputy Lavery, “a people Communistic behind a Communistic Government, could give to that limitation a definition of private property—an extention —which would abolish private property. Undoubtedly that limitation could be left out and the right to private property as there declared left undefined and unlimited, and by a process of parity of reasoning an interpretation can be given to the right of private property which would so conflict with the public good that no State would [364] stand for it. Now to the extent to which I think that was a philosophic point taken by Deputy Lavery in good faith it did seem to me to the extent to which it proved anything it proved too much. It proved that it could prove precisely the contrary from the same reasoning which he adopted. If I might interpolate for one moment a personal difficulty which I have both in relation to private property, the inviolability of the person and the rest of it, it is this. You have over a period of years seen many changes both in the methods and intensity of taxation. Within living memory we have seen all sorts of taxes upon inheritances and the rest of it, built up to a very high value. You have seen an income-tax of 8/- or 9/- in the £ in operation throughout practically the whole of Europe during a period of war. You have had an 80 per cent. and 85 per cent. excess profits duty in operation throughout a period of that time. How far does the right of private property exist, in fact, having regard to a condition of that kind?

During the Great War I remember making a calculation in relation to the income of a certain man who had quadrupled his income during the war and yet when you took into account all that was left to him, and attempted to buy with it the goods at the then price of the goods, instead of actually quadrupling his income, his income had gone down to about one-fourth or one-fifth. I am only dealing now with the question of the degree to which private property in the existing state of the law is real. As to the inviolability of the person, throughout the whole European War you had conscription of the life of every single adult citizen, the State claiming the right to claim the life of every single one of its citizens without question, and the right to control throughout the whole of that period the whole exercise of his life. I would be very glad indeed to see this State giving an interpretation to private property and to the inviolability of the person which would not conform to what was the common practice and the common understanding of the value of these terms during that particular period, at any rate.

[365] There are some points in relation to the Constitution with which I am rather in a difficulty. One of my difficulties is why some things are made part of a Constitution and others are made part of a law. For instance, assume that we accept the principle that any Seanad is better than no Seanad, why should the membership of that Seanad be, at 60, sacrosanct and only alterable by the people at a referendum, and yet the whole constitution of the Seanad should be alterable by law? It is possible, by the operation of the ordinary law, to elect a Seanad on an entirely different basis throughout. I am not clear whether some of the things which are laid down to be done by the Constitution might not better be done by law, and some that are laid down to be done by law might not better be done by the Constitution.

For instance, I personally see nothing sacrosanct in the fact that the electorate for the Seanad should be made up of men who have received 500 first preference votes, any more than it might be 1,000 or that they should be elected by what would be mathematically the same thing—the membership of the Dáil which was elected by these votes. It is a curious fact that, if you take the total first preference votes for the Dáil and divide them by the number of Deputies elected in relation to the two big bodies in the House, they practically require mathematically the same number of first preference through whatever number of candidates they are divided in order to elect a Deputy. In relation to the smaller Parties in the House, the Labour Party and certain Independent Deputies, they do cast rather more first preference votes. To that extent, it might be said that voting of this character would tend to benefit the smaller Parties in the House. In practice, I am afraid it will not. In practice. I am afraid that, due to the lack of co-ordination which will exist in an election of this kind and the scattering of their votes at any postal election of this kind, any advantage which they were going to gain by this method— and I think that is the intention of this method—would be lost. If, in fact, on a mathematical examination—it is [366] purely a question of mathematics—it is proved that election by the Dáil will in fact produce the same results as election by the candidates, then it is certainly a question for the Committee Stage as to whether or not that method might not be altered. I am rather puzzled to know why the President should always have his residence in or about the City of Dublin while the Dáil can meet in the City of Dublin or such other place as may be determined. There may be some good reason for that which I do not know.

Mr. Aiken: To avoid Cork.

Mr. Flinn: That is the worst possible reason. This again is a matter for legal interpretation. Article 15, I think it is, declares that acts shall not be declared to be illegal which were legal at the time of their commission. I am under the impression that under the Public Safety Act, which now exists, it is possible to declare illegal an act which was not illegal at the time it was committed.

Mr. McGilligan: You say you believe that?

Mr. Flinn: I believe so.

Mr. McGilligan: Your Government sent a man to jail under that very Article.

Mr. Flinn: I am prepared to ask the Deputy for information, if he will give it.

Mr. McGilligan: Commandant Cronin was sentenced under it.

Mr. Flinn: Is that correct?

Mr. McGilligan: Quite correct.

Mr. Flinn: I am simply concerned with the question whether it is so.

Mr. McGilligan: It shows an amazing depth of ignorance when a Parliamentary Secretary does not know that his Government got a man sentenced in that way.

Mr. Flinn: What I am concerned with is, not any argument or discussion with the Deputy, but a difficulty which seems to me to be in the Constitution as I now find it. I find that my layman's interpretation [367] of the law was correct. Going further, I find that the existing law will be taken over under this Constitution. Therefore, it seems to me that, while we declare in the Constitution that acts cannot be declared to be illegal which were legal at the time of their commission, we are taking over, as part of the existing law still to be repealed, a law which does contradict that.

Mr. Aiken: That is in Article 2A of the present Constitution, which is going out.

Mr. Flinn: Then we do not take that over. If that is so, that answers my difficulty.

Mr. McGilligan: It does not answer it. It can be re-established.

Mr. Flinn: We will give the Deputy an opportunity to point out any difficulties he likes. I personally will be grateful to those who will point out difficulties. It is laid down that the Ceann Comhairle at the time of the dissolution shall be deemed to be elected, but it does not say that his constituency shall have the right to elect the whole of its members. I can quite see the present thing being put in a law, but I cannot quite see why it should remain in a Constitution. It seems to me that if the Ceann Comhairle's position in relation to his membership of the House is to be defined in the Constitution, then it ought to be defined in a form which would not leave the constituency for which he was originally elected short of a member.

In Article 47, which deals with the Referendum, it is made clear that a Bill which had been passed by the House and which is sent to the country on the Referendum, must be rejected by a majority of votes cast, such majority not being less than 35 per cent. of the voters on the register. It does not seem to make it necessary at all that there should be a majority for the Bill or Act. I may be misinterpreting the section but it seems that it would be possible for 30 per cent. of the people to vote against the Act and 20 per cent. to vote for [368] the Act which was sent on the Referendum and still the Act or Bill would be passed. I take it that the intention is that in so far as the Dáil has been set up to pass legislation—and an Act of that kind has to pass the two Houses of the Oireachtas—the implication is that unless the Act is rejected by at least 35 per cent. of the voters it is accepted by the people. That is a matter which I think might be made somewhat more clear, at any rate to the lay mind. Article 51 of the Draft Constitution says that this Constitution shall be alterable by the Dáil in minor particulars, at any rate, up to a period of three years. I think it is very desirable indeed that there should be some period in which this Constitution could be altered by minor legislation. Such a clause was put into the original Constitution and the experience of the House is that when the period of the power of the Dáil over constitutional legislation was expiring that that period was in fact extended. My own explanation is that in relation to this Constitution also that this period will be lengthened.

Mr. McGilligan: No, it cannot be enlarged by way of minor legislation.

Mr. Flinn: That is what I am not at all clear about.

Mr. McGilligan: Then read Article 51.

Mr. Flinn: I will; I am here as a student. I am here to learn.

Mr. McGilligan: No provision of this Constitution except the provision in Article 46 and the provision in this Article 51, provides for the amendment of the Constitution within a certain period. If the Deputy will look at page 102, Article 51, he will see that.

Mr. Flinn: It would seem then that the House would not have power to extend the period of three years?

Mr. McGilligan: Except by a constitutional amendment, that is by way of the Referendum.

Mr. Flinn: Frankly, I think that is [369] the case, and I am doubtful whether there should not be some power, at any rate, to extend that period. I see nothing sacrosanct about three years. At the end of two years and 11 months the Dáil will be in a position to do certain things, but after that you would not be in a position to do them at all. I do not see any reason why, on the face of it, that period of three years should be regarded as sacrosanct. I would like to see that whatever safeguards and precautions the House would think it necessary to have, there should be some power of extending this period.

In my opinion this is a Constitution that has been well thought out and into it every good purpose and intention has been put. I do think that this is not going to be the last Constitution of this State. I do think that there are a good many things which are still in a state of flux. The mere fact that we say to ourselves the Seanad may be elected in such a manner, and then say it may be by ordinary law, illustrates that. The House, in passing a Constitution of this kind, should retain, at any rate, some power of amending it in those particulars which the experience of the next few years will show.

I started to-night by saying that I regarded the invitation of the President to examine this Constitution fully—an invitation directed to every Deputy and every elector—as an invitation that ought to be seriously considered and responsibly accepted. I think in relation to a law of this kind which is going to influence the life of this country for a considerable number of years and which is going to decide the direction of the movements of the minds of the people and of the country into definitely new channels we should regard it as a very serious matter. I think every one of us should regard this not merely as entitling him but binding him to bring to the examination of that document the most critical powers that he possesses. Deputies should be anxious to find even in the prejudiced, even in the partisan and even in the angry criticism of those opposed to it any scintilla of truth and service by which it was possible to improve this Constitution. We will [370] have to live with this Constitution for a very long time.

It is our opportunity between now and the time this Draft Constitution is to be submitted to the electors to make it a better piece of work in every way in which an intelligent examination of it and an honest inquiry into it will help us to do so. That is a duty which I hope every one of us will discharge. It is a duty to which the President invites us, and it is a duty which I hope all Deputies will accept in the spirit in which the invitation has been given.

Mr. Fitzgerald: I rise largely with questions in my mind about this proposed amendment to the Constitution. I know that Deputies on the Government side have got up and spoken as if the Draft Constitution were such a limpid document that it was impossible to misunderstand it; that attitude puts me in false position perhaps in asking questions about it. But I justify myself by the very obvious fact that this Constitution is not only not clear, but that it has been drafted with the definite purpose of being ambiguous. I turn, right at the beginning, to the Preamble, which begins: “In the name of the Most Holy Trinity,” and then it says: “We, the people of Eire.” What is Eire? There is no such word in the English language. But, if we turn to Article 4 of the Constitution, we see: “The name of the State is Eire.” I want to know what is Eire and what is the State?

We are accused here of wantonly and willingly trying to misrepresent this Constitution. We are told that every body, 99.9 per cent. of the people, understand it perfectly well. I wish that the ordinary rules of this House did not apply at the moment, and that I could take on a number of bets with Deputies opposite by asking them to tell me what certain things in the Constitution mean, and get a sum from them when they failed to explain. How many Deputies on the other side can tell me exactly the procedure in relation to the single preference vote which is laid down here? But that is digressive. Here we have it stated: “We, the people of Eire,” then certain other [371] things, and the sentence continues: “do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.” What is Eire, what is the State, who are the people of Eire, and what is meant by “ourselves” to whom this so-called Constitution, which is an amendment to a Constitution, is given? On the face of it, I think that, although that Preamble begins with the most solemn invocation, it is definitely meant to be dishonest.

On the next page, Articles 1, 2 and 3 use the word “nation.” Article 1 begins: “The Irish nation hereby affirms.” Are the Irish nation and Eire identical? Article 2 begins: “The national territory consists of”. Article 3 starts: “Pending the re-integration of the national territory”. No reference to State so far. Then we come to Article 4, which says: “The name of the State is Eire.” Can anybody, other than the President, tell me what is meant by Eire and what is the State? We are told “do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution”. Who are the people of Eire? We read the Constitution, and what is going to happen? There is going to be a plebiscite in the Twenty-Six Counties of the Free State.

Then we read the Irish text and, mind you, part of this contemptible humbug, which is nationally degrading, to my mind, is the pretence that this Constitution is written in Irish and translated into English. I remember a time when a correspondence took place over a thing which was written in English. Interpreters were called in, but eventually, because an ambiguity in English could not be carried over into Irish, the English edition was sent over headed “English translation.” There is no such word as Eire in English, but in the Irish text the people of Eire become “muinntear na hEireann.” The Irish text means, in English: “We, the people of Ireland, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution.” How are the people of Ireland going to do it? Is there going to be a plebiscite of the whole of Ireland and, if there is not, why the dishonest humbug contained in this Preamble? “We give to ourselves.” [372] We do not. What is the implication of “ourselves”?

I would like, if I may show a rather childish simplicity, some straight answers from the President. We have often asked for them, but long experience has shown that we never get a straight answer. Still, with that buoyant optimism that one has to maintain while reading a document like this, I shall hope for an answer. If the Irish phrase “muinntear na hEireann” is going to be the official text, how is it going to be maintained that “muinntear na hEireann” adopt, enact, and give to themselves a Constitution?

In this Preamble, which apparently was definitely drafted, we observe the clumsiness of bringing into the English language a word that does not exist, putting into the English language an Irish word which has an English interpretation, which is Ireland. But we do not use the word “Ireland” there; we use the word “Eire.” In Irish we use the equivalent of “the people of Ireland.” There you have an absolute ambiguity and a possible contradiction between the two texts.

Donnchadh O Briain: We do not use the word “Speaker” here; we use the words “Ceann Comhairle,” speaking in English.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Yes, but that has reference to reality, the person who sits in the Chair and presides here. We have an Irish phrase to convey to the mind the concept of that reality, and that phrase is “Ceann Comhairle.” The English use for it and conveying the same idea is “Speaker.” What I want to know is this, is “muinntear na hEireann” in Irish the equivalent of the “people of Eire” in English? Will the Deputy tell me?

Donnchadh O Briain: Gan amhras.

Mr. Fitzgerald: The Deputy does not speak with authority, fortunately. I maintain there is no even proposed enactment by which the people of Ireland will adopt, enact and give to themselves this Constitution and, consequently, the very Preamble itself is a [373] lie. We come to Article 6, which says:—

“All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.”

I want to know is that the affirmation of a universal truth, or is that merely an enactment in the Constitution, making that the law of this country, or is it merely stating a universal principle from which certain other things will flow?

I think that the ambiguity that I find in the Preamble has two reasons: One is the desire to pretend, when it suits, as we have seen so often done before, that Eire is the whole of Ireland, when it suits, and the other is to accept, when necessary, that Eire is only the Twenty-Six Counties. I think that the Preamble itself and all this huggermugger is for the purpose of pretending that this is a completely new Constitution, that this State, somehow or another, begins ab initio, and the Constitution then says that the people shall adopt, enact, and so on.

My colleague, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, did mention a certain doctrine, the Suarezian doctrine. The wording of this document seems to me to have been specially arranged so as to go no farther, while what I might call the extreme Suarezian doctrine is in a different category. Suarez did say that authority belongs to the perfect community. I admit that as written in English that phrase, the people, could mean the unified entity of the people, the people in agreement of laws, or it could mean a plurality, meaning an aggregation of the individuals. When we come to the Irish in this document we find that “the people” are referred to as “Is ón bpobal.” Later on we find the expression “fúta,” which means “under them.” Here is a statement that the aggregations of the individuals in this country themselves have the power to legislate.

With regard to Eire, I remind myself rather of Captain Boyle in [374] “Juno and the Paycock” asking: “What is the stars?” Incidentally, of course, if “Juno and the Paycock” were translated into Irish, Captain Boyle would be known as “An Taoiseach.” Now, here I remind myself of Deputy de Valera, as he was at that time, when he sat over here on these benches, constantly jumping up, with a lock of hair falling over his forehead, thumping the bench and wanting to know: “Is this Dáil sovereign? What is the law-making power in this country?” By this we are told that the plural people—not the people unified in one entity, the perfect society, but the multitude as an aggregation of individuals—have power to enact laws. Now, power essentially belongs to a unity, and if power belongs to the multitude, what are we doing here, and what authority has the Government? The Government passes laws purporting to bind under conscience, and now, somehow or other, it is implied in this document that the Government has no power whatever; that this Dáil has no power—that there is, in fact, a necessary and continuous state of anarchy in here in which the law-making authority is the dispersed multitude.

Last week, it will be remembered, President de Valera got up and spoke over the wireless and said that sovereignty belongs to them, the people, and is indefeasible and inalienable. Now, if sovereignty belongs to the individual people of this country in their aggregation, and if it is inalienable, why has the Government here purported to make laws? It cannot do it. The Government in that case has no authority whatever. Now, all this position flows entirely—this is not an assertion, but merely my judgement of the situation—from the vanity of the President, who has desired to pretend that he is creating an entirely new State. I referred to this document in front of us as a proposal to amend the Constitution. You cannot call it a new Constitution. You cannot attempt to pretend that, somehow or other, the scattered multitude of the Irish people are being drawn together in agreement of laws row. It is perfectly absurd to do so. [375] We know perfectly well that, if that document is to be enacted and to become law, it is necessary that it should fulfil the conditions of positive law and what is considered to be the fundamental law of the land. This document cannot be enacted unless all that is laid down and required by the law of this country at this moment is duly fulfilled. You can submit it to the people of this country and try to get a majority of a section of this country, and it is not law by reason of that. If the requirements laid down by the laws of this country are not fulfilled, the question can be taken to the Supreme Court to decide whether or not it is law, and it will be judged whether or not it is law according as it has fulfilled the conditions of the Constitution and of any other positive law that might be involved. That is the condition.

Why cannot we be ordinarily honest here and admit that this is a proposed amendment of the Constitution of the Irish Free State? Why this change of name? There is the pretence—it has been put out by the propagandists— that this is, somehow or other, a great step, or a great gesture, towards the abolition of Partition. To my mind, it is quite the opposite. To make this change in the existing Constitution as drastic as it is, has definitely injured that position. When the Constitution of this State was drawn up and passed here, it was, in fact, a Constitution for the whole of Ireland. For it not to be so, a subsequent positive Act was required in order to withhold the jurisdiction of this Dáil from one part of the country. Now, however, that is not good enough. We now draw up this ambiguous document, which is merely for the fooling of the simple-minded, in a condition in which our jurisdiction has no effect beyond the Twenty-Six Counties. It does not apply in the Six Counties. So, somehow or other, we have made a great movement towards overcoming Partition by drawing up a Constitution which is necessary only for one part of Ireland, and rejecting a Constitution which was for the whole of Ireland and the application of which was withheld from one part of Ireland [376] only by a subsequent Act. To my mind, that is a definitely retrograde step.

As I say, I should like to know, both as regards the first part of Article 6 and the last sentence in the Preamble, what exactly was in the Government's mind. There is no doubt, to my mind, that there cannot be a perfect society —that unity of people—unless there be authority. Consequently, if that is authority, where is it? It is vested in this Dáil and in this Government, I presume. Well, if we have authority, will the Government explain to me how it is that the dispersed multitude, the mere addition of the individuals in this country, have themselves that sovereignty and that authority to make laws? It simply cannot be. It is not possible for a multitude as a multitude; it is not possible for anything but a unity to possess or exercise authority; and yet we have this phrase in the Preamble: “We, the people of Eire, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution,” and in the Irish text of Article 6 we have the word “fútha” —under them—implying, somehow or other, that I have authority, you have authority, and he has authority, and so on; but if it is not vested in a unity, then all I can say is that this country is in an anarchical state, and President de Valera propounded that as an immutable condition when he said that the sovereignty belongs to them, the plural multitude, and is indefeasible and inalienable. We all know, of course, that that was merely eyewash and that it was merely for the purpose of fooling and humbugging the people; but why on earth should we be called together here to assist a man in fooling and humbugging the people to, as I believe, the detriment of the people? Why should we be called here together and asked to agree to this document and to this Preamble, the first part of which, to my mind, is blasphemous, since it begins by invoking the name of the Most Holy Trinity, and then carefully lays itself out to be ambiguous and to try to mean two things at the same time, and winds up by saying that “We, the people, do give ourselves this Constitution.”

[377] What is the argument to be put up for this? I admit that the Suarezians say that the perfect community—the people in absolute unanimity—have authority, but there is nothing in positive law which says that a majority has it. One might just as well say that a majority decision, whatever position the minority may take, in this vote, will be effective. The implication, in my opinion, of the President's speech—even Deputy Hugo Flinn, a few minutes ago, talked about it—is that, somehow or other, although the people exercise a franchise and indicate the choice of rulers, the sovereignty and the authority continue to reside in the people. I could give many quotations that definitely refute that and that, as I think, authoritatively refute it. Even to give the most charitable interpretation to the English version of Article 6, there are certainly a great many authoritative writers, theologians, and so on, who definitely refute that statement as it is. I myself go to the extreme opposite of what is proposed there. Even on the Irish text, however, I do not think that anybody could possibly agree that that is what I might call a natural and universal condition. If this Dáil, as a sovereign authority, enacts that certain things shall be the positive law in this country, then, they may be against justice or against right reason—some of them have been—but certainly, with the power of the Government, they will be able to be enforced as laws. To my mind, all this comes from the desire to pretend that this is a completely new Constitution for a new State.

Why change the name of the State? So far it has been known as the Irish Free State. We are told now that either that same area and entity that has been the Irish Free State is going just to change its label and be called Eire, or that a new State out of the same element is going to be created. That is as President de Valera sees the Constitution. Another question I want to ask is this: The Irish Free State is known internationally; it is known as a moral person, speaking internationally through the voice of the King, who is himself part of this Oireachtas, and part of the law-making [378] authority in this country. Is this Eire going to be a new State, is it going to be known internationally, and if so, how? It was asked here the other day by interpolation when someone over there was saying how the original Constitution was taken over to England and read there beforehand, if this had been taken over. I think it was President de Valera who got up and asserted: “Nothing of the sort.” I do think we ought to know what the position is going to be when this comes about. Is Eire going to be known internationally as a moral person, as an international entity, and if it is, how is that going to be brought about? Is the King going to notify various States and say that the realm heretofore known as the Irish Free State is henceforward to be known as Eire? We require to know that.

I remember myself when President de Valera went over to America and spent 18 months there, at very large expense. He came back, and addressed the Dáil, and his message to the Dáil was that his experience during 18 months in America taught him one thing, and that was that it was ridiculous for us to continue to seek international recognition as we then were. Since then an Irish State, the first in history, has come into existence, has been accepted in the comity of nations and has been internationally recognised. That State is the Irish Free State. Now, we are not doing away with the Irish Free State. We are only pretending to the simple-minded outside that that is being done. We are just changing the name, and I want to know is this entity, Eire, going to be internationally recognised and what steps are being taken to see that it will be internationally recognised? What assurance can the President give us that full international recognition will be given to his alleged new entity here? These are the points upon which I really got up to speak.

There is another dishonesty in this matter. Yesterday, or the day before, in one of the instalments of that appallingly long and wearisome speech of the Minister for Finance he constantly referred to this new personage —called in the Constitution “an [379] tUachtarán” and generally known to the people as the “Octoroon”—as the head of the State. In this draft amendment there is no reference to him, as far as I noticed, as head of the State. If this proposed constitutional amendment does not refer to as the head of the State, I want to know why Ministers refer to him as head of the State? I want a clear and unambiguous statement from the President of the Executive Council as to whether or not this proposed new functionary is going to be the head of the State. Is he or is he not? If he is, what is the State that he is head of? If he is, what steps will he take to get international recognition for the State of which he is head, namely, the State of Eire?

There was another dishonest feature in this debate. I remember, at the time the Seanad was abolished, I got up here and pointed out that by the act of abolishing the Seanad the President and his Government were giving themselves dictatorial powers such as were possessed by no other Government in Europe because, as I said, although Italy has what is called a dictatorship, there is there a King and there is a Constitution which imposes certain limits upon the leader. Here the position was wantonly created in which the Government, with its machined majority in this House, could abolish the whole Constitution, the most fundamental law, and do it in one day. At that time the President and other Ministers denounced that as a dishonest misrepresentation of the case. At that time we were denounced for asserting it. Now the President gets up here and says—he had not the ordinary decency which the Minister for Finance had to accept the situation—that as some people feel that the present condition is a formal dictatorship, to relieve their minds we are changing the situation. The Minister for Finance got up and said: “At the present moment we have this condition of absolute dictatorship. Why are you complaining of the creation of this new office with its limiting powers upon the powers of the Government”? Now, [380] really, if that argument is going to be put forward, it did require an apology from the President for the untrue statement he made here when he said that the abolition of the Seanad was not giving that power to the Government. The Minister for Finance spoke about the complicated elastic mathematical arrangement that was resorted to here to try to pretend that we were giving the same security of tenure of office to the judges. At the time that we pointed out that the action of the Government was putting the judges in a position in which their independence was jeopardised or destroyed, we were denounced as misrepresenting the position. Then, as soon as it suits, the Government can turn round and say that is their argument, but the President has not the ordinary decency to apologise for what he stated at an earlier time.

I want to know what is Eire. I want to know whether Part I of Article 6 is an affirmation creating a condition by virtue of the passing of such law, or whether it purports to be a statement of a general and universal condition at all times. I want to know whether or not this proposed President is going to be, as the Minister for Finance said but as the proposed amendment does not say, head of the State. I think that those things should have been made clear. They would have been made clear if it were not for the fact that we have a leader of the Government who much prefers ambiguity to clarity. The Parliamentary Secretary a short while ago was saying with regard to the three years' period during which this Constitution can be changed by ordinary law, that he did not know why the period of three years was set down. It seems to me that there is one very obvious reason, that when this draft was being drawn up it was being drawn up with a view to the holding of a general election which would return a majority of Fianna Fáil Deputies. The Government coming in is nominally elected for five years, but three years is possibly about as safe a period as could be looked forward to. The only explanation of that period that I can think [381] of is that it can give to the Fianna Fáil Government, if elected in the next election, power to change the Constitution by ordinary legislation, and will deprive any subsequent Government of that power. I should like to ask what right has this one single Parliament, on the very eve of its dissolution, to purport to bring in a lengthy, long-winded Bill like this to be imposed upon this country in such a way that a subsequent Parliament will not be able to deal with it with the same powers as this Parliament has? That, to my mind, is a perfectly arbitrary and scandalous scheme on the part of the Fianna Fáil Government.

It was elected five years ago, and it now comes along and says: “We propose to legislate now in such a way that, by ordinary legislation, our successors will not be able to change the Constitution.” I remember when the Constitution was first brought in we did put in a period of four years during which it could be changed. Before those four years were up the head of the Government at that time said that that period should be extended. We extended it to eight years, and he said in any case it must be extended until such time and re-extended for such a period that it would overflow into the period of our successors, so that they would have equal power with us to change the Constitution; that it would not be one Government only which would decide the Constitution. The head of the Government at the present moment has brought in a period of three years to secure that if he is elected—if he is not elected, presumably this will not become law—his Government will have power to change this Constitution by ordinary legislation, but that future Governments will be deprived of that power.

This new functionary, the President, is given certain powers under the Constitution, and other powers may be given to him by law. Most people in this country, having read the Constitution, recognise certain handiwork in it, and can see what it is directed towards. Most people know perfectly well that President de Valera proposes to take that office himself. But just notice [382] how it is done. There will be a general election some time this year. If, as a result of that, his Party is returned to power, he then proceeds to enact this Constitution, and for about a period of a year he will act presumably as Taoiseach. During that period, with his Government power, he can legislate with his majority to give any additional power he likes to that functionary, then he can proceed to walk into that office to exercise those powers. He can extend those powers. He can, during that year as Government head, change the Constitution in all except two clauses. By ordinary legislation, with his majority in the Dáil, he can extend the powers of that functionary, and then having extended those powers he can step in and take them to himself.

The Minister for Finance and the President have put up the theory that this President is to be the protector of the people's right; that he is to be above politics. Now, what puts him above politics? Certainly, if the idea is that he should be above and uncontaminated by association with Party politics in this country, there should have been a condition laid down in this Constitution excluding from that position anybody who had been in too recent years or too intimately associated with Party politics in this country. That is not there. We are told he is to be above politics. As has been pointed out before—I do not want to labour it too much—everybody knows that when it comes to an election in the whole country, the whole area of the State, with universal franchise, such a contest can only be run by a strong organisation. My colleague, Deputy Fitzgerald - Kenney, spoke about the need for funds in a general election. We all know that, but we also know that a general election, although it is a very expensive matter, would be ever so much more expensive but for the fact that you have a political organisation in the country which is kept more or less alive for the whole time, and revivified for the election, and which is able to call upon many voluntary workers to come out and work in the election by reason of their allegiance to and membership of that political party.

Fianna Fáil knows that well. During [383] all the time between elections they keep their organisation going as actively as they can. President de Valera, in sending out an appeal for funds recently, stated two things which remained in my mind. First, he tells the people that for previous elections he got his funds from outside this country, but he cannot get them there now, and, therefore, the people of this country will have to pay for it. The other thing was, he assures the people that there is an abundance of voluntary workers throughout the country, and those voluntary workers are absolutely necessary for the political Party operating. If the political Party had to appoint salaried officers for all the work that is done—canvassing, electioneering and all the rest of it—it would require an enormous sum of money such as no political Party in this country could hope to get. Now, when it comes to the election for the President, that is going to be an election taking place in every part of the Free State, operating in every polling booth, and anybody who is aspiring to that office will require to run a very strong campaign. He cannot draw up an ad hoc organisation for that unless he has enormous funds. He must necessarily draw upon the existing political organisation in this country, and look to the assistance of the voluntary workers that that organisation can draw on. It means that we have an election this year in which Fianna Fáil will run their candidates and we will run our candidates, and a year afterwards there will be another election in which, if there is a contest, the whole resources of the Party will have to be thrown in, in order to give their candidate every possible chance of polling the maximum number of votes. Consequently, the holder of this office is going to be head and heels steeped in Party politics, and must necessarily be so for the reason that his appointment depends upon votes won in a general election in the whole country.

Just note this: when we meet here as members of the Dáil, time and again I have heard President de Valera get up and talk on the assumption that authority here derives solely and exclusively from the fact that we have [384] received a certain proportion of votes in the country. It is not more than a year ago, I think, that he wanted to suggest that one section of the Oireachtas, the Governor-General, was somehow or another denuded of the authority which belonged to us inherently and of right, because we had received votes and he had not. That is the doctrine which the President has at the back of his mind the whole time, and I believe it is one which is generally in the minds of the people of this country. It is to my mind a completely erroneous and false doctrine, but it is there. Now, this doctrine that authority comes exclusively and solely through the receipt of votes in the country puts us in this position. A Dáil will meet here in which roughly 51 per cent. of a Party is opposed by 49 per cent. of a Party, having received that proportion of votes. The Government here knows that it received only about half the votes in the country. It got a majority of seats, but not only did it not get the unanimous vote, but even in this Dáil it controls only a certain number of seats—about half the seats. Now, this proposed new functionary, with his enormous Party machine and his Party propaganda, will be going around trying to win the support of the people to give him a majority.

Whatever the result of that election is, it will not be a case of one side getting 49 per cent. representation and the other side getting one. That functionary will claim to be the only person elected in this country by a majority of votes of the people. He himself has been elected. If there is something particularly sacrosanct in authority deriving from votes he has the same authority as the Dáil. It can be argued to be rather more. He is going to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. We are told that he is going to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army in order to keep it free of politics. In our participation in Party politics; in our organisations we might say the ignominy of that is shared with our colleagues, so that it is very complete. Here you will have a man who in his own person has been the sole and central figure in this Party propaganda, in this exaggeratedly Party campaign, and he is going to [385] come in to take charge of the Army for the purpose, we are told, of keeping it out of politics as would be the case if it were controlled by Party government in this Dáil. The dishonesty and hypocrisy of that argument is perfectly sickening and is most unfortunate in this Dáil. He is to be called the non-political head. Anybody in this Dáil has a better claim to be non-political. We have independent members specifically claiming to be non-political. The one man in this country who clearly is steeped up to the hilt in Party politics is the man to be elected in a Party campaign with the whole country as one franchise. He is going to be elected by the people. It is not a bit of good for the Government to try to claim more authority than his. He can say to any member or the whole 12 or 15 Ministers together: “I represent the people more than you do; I got a bigger vote, you only got a majority in so many constituencies. I got mine in the whole country.” To my mind, if you were going to have such a functionary, the one thing you could say about him is that he ought to be elected in a different way from the Dáil. He is going to be elected by universal franchise and the Dáil is going to be elected by universal franchise and somehow or another we are expecting him to remain completely non-political, to be the person to have formal command of the Army and the Government. I would like if one could get—it was the purpose I really got up for—a clear and unequivocal answer as to who are these people mentioned in the last line of the Preamble who are adopting, enacting and giving to us this Constitution and what is the real office to be held by this person called the President? Is he or is he not to be a real head of the State here, because if he is to be a head of the State then certain things flow from that. Can we really know this before we are asked to give assent to this? The whole Bill shows very definitely clear thinking for the sole purpose of trying to make this document misleading. There is an Irish word Eire and there is an English world Ireland. In the English text we have the word Eire. [386] Why? Over here we are not told. We are told the name of the State is Eire. We are not told what is the extent of the State. We are not told who are those people, whether they are the majority of the people of the Twenty-Six Counties who are claiming to themselves as some inalienable right the right to rule over the Twenty-Six Counties or the 32 Counties. I think we should not have been asked to discuss these matters when these things have not been made clear. I think it was nationally disgraceful for the President to draft this draft very carefully for the purpose of enabling it to be misrepresented to the people.

Donnchadh O Briain: Tá an Dréacht-Bhunreacht so fé díospóireacht againn le dhá lá, agus ní raibh ar siubhal i rith an ama ag na Teachtaí ar na binnsí thall a labhair linn mar gheall air ach ag iarraidh beag is fiú a dhéanamh dí, cuid acu a rá ná raibh aon rud nua innti gur fiú trácht air, ná raibh ann ach leasú ar an sean-Bhunreacht go mb'éigean glacadh leis cúig bliana déag ó shoin. Is soiléir domh-sa nách mór an cabhair a bhéas le fáil ag an Uáchtarán ós na bínnsí thall, chun feabhas a chur air ná chun a leasuithe, aon áit is gádh san. Dubhradh linn go láidir, ná raibh aon géar-ghádh leis an nDréacht-Bhunreacht so, go raibh am go leor fós chun é chur le chéile agus é fhoillsiú, agus go ndéanfadh an sean-cáipéis stroichte leanta a bhí againn go dtí so ár ngnó go fóill. Is dóich liom gur cáipéis é an Sean-Bhunreacht céadna nách bhféadfadh aon duine sa tír seo bheith bródúil air. Fiú ambáin na daoine achtuigh na dlighe ní ró-shásta leis nó ró-bhródúil ar a bhíodar, agus thuigfeadh aoinne é sin a léighfeadh an díospóireacht a bhí sa Dáil faoi agus é dhá ritheadh sa bliain 1922. Tá sé annso im' láimh agam agus is leor féacaint tríd agus na línte dubha go léir atá ar bheagnach gach leathanach de fheicsint chun go dtuigfí láithreach go raibh géar-ghádh leis an nDréachtBhunreacht so atá dhá plé againn fé láthajr.

Dá bhfeiceadh aon eachtrannach a bhéadh ar cuaird annso againn an sean-Bhunreacht náireach úd agus na línte dubha san go léir ann, cad a [387] bhéad le rá aige mar gheall ar bhundlighe na tíre seo? Cád é an míniú a b'fhéidir d'aon Gaedheal a thabhairt dó a shasóchadh é go raibh bun-dlighe againn, dár gcuid fhéin. Ba chóir go n-admhócadh gach éinne go mba lánmhithid bundlighe a chur i n-áit an sean-Bhunreachta san go mba dheacair a dhéanamh amach cá bhfuil a thosach nó a lár nó a dheire. Rud eile fós, a Leas Chinn-chomhairle, is dóigh le mór-chuid de mhuinntir na hEireann go bhfuil droch-bhlas ar an sean-Bhunreacht san, go bhfuil stair ag baint leis a thug naire ar cine Ghaedheal agus da luaithe a cuirfear deire leis is amhlaidh is fearr é.

Chuala Teachtaí ar na binnsí thall ag gearán, freisin, gur cuireadh le chéile gan dul i gcomhairle roimh-ré le daoine eolasacha, tuiscionacha 'n-a thaobh. Seadh, a Leas-Chinnchómhairle, nuair a bhiothas ag cuimhneamh ar Bhunreacht a leagadh amach i 1922, cuireadh comisiún ar bun chun a dheanta, comisiún ar a raibh daoine leigheanta, ughdarasacha. Rinneadar sud a ngnó, ach, ná fuil 'fhios againn go leir anois gur obair i n-aisce mór-chuid de ghnothai an chomisiún sin, gurbh eigin cur le n-a shaothar nó baint uaidh, do réir mar d'órduigh Rialtas Shasana, sar ar bhféidir é fhoillsiú nó é achtú n-a dhlighe. Cé'n mhaitheas an Comisiún úd agus a gcuid oibre? Ach, ní thuitfidh sé seo amach an turas so agus sin ceann des na buadhanna is mó atá ag baint leis an mBunreacht nua so. Is i nEirinn a rinneadh é, gach aon bhluire dhe, gur cuireadh le chéile é gan spleadhchas d'aon chine iasachta, d'aon Rialtas iasachta, gur deimhniú é go bhfuil fuinn annso i nEirinn feasta ar ngnó féin a dheanamh, go bhfuil fuinn sheasamh ar ár mbonnaibh féin agus a fhogairt do'n tsaoghal ar fad gurab é ceart an Náisiúin so bheith saor glan ó smacht Shasana nó ó smacht aon Rialtais iasachta eile go mbeadh fonn ortha cur isteach orainn agus an ceart san a chosaint i ngach aon tslighe is feidir, aon uair go mba ghadh é. San am cheadhna, ní choscainn an Dhreacht-Bhunreacht so orainn siothcháin agus caradas a shnamadhadh idir muinntir na tíre seo [388] agus muinntir aon tire eile ar dhruim an dhomhain go bhfuil uatha siothcháin agus caradas a dheanamh linn. Tréis do'n Bhunreachta so a bheith achtuighthe n-a bhun-dhlighe ag an bpobul, ní bheidh sé i gcumas aoinne a radh feasta gur toil Rialtas iasachta a bheas a chur i bhfeidhm sa tír seo, ní h-ionnan is mar a bhí ó 1922 anuas go dtí le deanaí agus ba chóir dúinn bheith buidheach go mbeidh áis againn feasta, ma glactar leis an mBunreacht so chun ár gcúrsaí féin a riarú agus a stiuriú annso mar is áil linn féin é.

Chuala An Teachta Ó Muirgheasa a rá na raibh sa Dreacht-Bhunreacht so ach “dallamullog agus cur i gcéill.” Bhi an port chéadhna ar siúil ag an Teachta Ó Maolchatha. “Ni chuirfidh an Bunreacht so bulog aráin sa bhreis ar bhord an duine bhoicht,” ars an Teachta Ó Muirgheasa. B'fheidir na cuirfeadh, A Leas-Chinn Comhairle. Ní hé Bunreacht an gleas a dheanann é sin de gnáth. Acht tá cuspóiri agus prionsabail luaidhte sa Bhunreacht gur flulaing muinntir na hEireann ocras agus tart, cruadhtan agus ceasadh agus géirleanamhain ar a son, tráth. Tá athas orm-sa agus ar mhórán eile go bhfuil na cuspóiri sin leagaithe síos go cruinn.

B'shin easnamh mór eile a bhí ag baint leis an sean-Bhunreacht—nior luadhadh ainm Dé ann aon uair amháin óna thosach go dti a dheire. Má tá aon airteagail den Dréacht so is fearr ná is oiriúnaí na a chéile, isiad na hairteagail atá ann ag baint le cúrsai ár gcreidimh. Tá no hairteagail sin do réir duthchais agus tréithe agus oighreachta Gaedheal agus tá sé coir agus cothrom go mbeadh na cuspóiri Caitleacaca san gur sheas cine Gaedheal an fhod chó daingean dochlaoidhte riamh ar a son go mbeidis curtha síos go cruinn i slí go dtuigfeadh gach aoinne go bhfuil sé mar dualgae orainn i gcomhuní oighreacht san ár sinnsear a chamhnadh agus feachaint chuige go narochtar saol ar muinntire dá réir.

Cúis gearáin cile a bhi ag Teachtaí áirithe i gcoinnibh an Dréachta so— isé sin gurabé an tUachtarán a chuir le chéile é. Dar le daoine áirithe agus dar le páipéirí áirithe sa tíe seo, is leor baint a bheith ag an Uachtarán [389] le haon rud chun é dhamnú ach admhochaidh gach aon duine macánta gur cuireadh le chéile an Bunreacht go maith agus go cliste.

Rud eile a thaitn liom go mór mar gheall ar an mBunreacht so na an Ghaedhilg a bheith chun tosaigh ar an mBearla. Is mór an rud gur ag an leagan Gaedhilge a bheith féidhm dlighe. Rud nua agus rud bunudhasach i stáir teangan na dtire é sin. Tá súil agam agus ag Gaedhilgeóiri na tíre na fuil annsan ach chead chéim mhór eifeachtach cun na Gaedhilge a chur in-uachtar agus go geruthochaimíd fein go bhuilimíd lom dairiribh i dtaobh i thabhairt ar ais mar gnath-theangain na tire. Tá fios agam go bhfuil cuid mhór de lucht na dlighe agus nách róshasta a bheid siad leis an ngné sin de'n Bhunreacht. Is baoghal liom go bhfuil dligheadóirí annso sa Dáil a cheapann na fuil sa mhéid sin ach cur i gcéill, ach ní bheidh an sceal san amblaidh coidhche, le congnamh Dé. Le h-imeacht aimsire, tiocfaidh line dligheadóir a bhead naisiúnta Ghaedhalach agus a thabharfaidh a gceabhair go fonnamhar chun cúrsaí riaradh na dlighe in-Eirinn do Ghaedhealú.

Is deacair a mheas, a Leas-Chinn Comhairle, gur creid na Teachtaí ar na binnsí thall a gcuid cainnte féin mar gheall ar an oscailt a tabharfaidh an Bunreacht so chun deachtóireacht a chur ar bun sa tír seo. Ní doigh liom féin go nglacfadh muinntir na h-Eireann go brathach le corus Riaghla de'n tsórd son. Sílim gur thaisbeanadar é sin go soiléir cúpla blian o shoin. Pe'r dhemhan é, da dtarluigheadh go mbeadh fonn ar mhuinntir na tíre seo glacadh le deactóireachta mar cours Rialtais aon uair, ní stopfadh Bunreacht no Uactarán no aon rud elie iad.

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and 20 Deputies being present,

Donnchadh O Briain: Bhíos a rá go raibh a lán cainnte annso mar gheall ar deactóireacht. Níl san chainnt go léir atá ar suibhal mar gheall ar an gcontabhairt bhréagach sin ach cur i geéill. Tá cupla airteagail sa Bhunreacht i dthaobh na Gaedhilge nach bhfuil ro shasúil dhom, go mór-mhór airteagal a 8, ach is féidir bheith ag [390] cainnt faoi sin arís ar an gcéad céim eile de'n Bhille seo. Sílim go bhfuil moladh mór tuillte ag an Uachtarán mar gheall ar an mBunreacht so, gur cuireadh le céille é le stuaim agus le clisteacht agus le tuiscint.

Táim sásta go nglacfaidh muinntir na h-Éireann go ládir leis nuair a chuirfear ós a gcomhair é agus go mbeidh tír níos síothchánta againn dá bharr.

Mr. Corry: We have been told that this Constitution is not required or wanted. Deputy Fitzgerald wanted to know by what authority it was going to act. It is not going to act at least by the authority of Article 83 of the Constitution of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) Act, 1922, which states:

“The passing and adoption of this Constitution by the Constituent Assembly and the British Parliament shall be announced as soon as may be, and not later than the sixth day of December, 1922, by proclamation of His Majesty, and this Constitution shall come into operation on the issue of such proclamation.”

It is not going to be brought into operation in that manner, and will not need or require the assent of the British Parliament. Deputy Dillon, whom I am glad to see present, told us that this Constitution was going further to prevent the unity of the country. I do not think that this Party can be held responsible for Mr. Justice Feetham, or this operations. It is rather extraodinary, with all the loyal Article I see here in the present Constitution of this State, and all the declarations of loyalty to the King given in it, that the North did not come in between 1922 and 1923, and that the unity of the 32 counties was not achieved in that period. Deputy Dillon also told us about a change of mind on the part of our Party. Deputy Dillon should be the last individual to speak about a change of mind, considering that he was elected here to one particular Party and left that Party, apparently, without consulting his constituents. Now, when another election is coming along, he is afraid to go back to [391] the constituency which elected him previously and has to go to Monaghan to see if they will take him there this time.

We heard a lot about the authority of the President and the powers given to him under the new Constitution. Article 66 of the present Constitution provides that—

“Nothing in this Constitution shall impair the right of any person to petition His Majesty for special leave to appeal from the Supreme Court to His Majesty in Council or the right of His Majesty to grant such leave.”

It contains a right of appeal, not to any individual in this State, not to the President of this State, but from the Supreme Court of this State to His Majesty and his Council in England. Surely, then, the Opposition cannot complain of any power vested in any individual elected by the people of this State by democratic vote. Deputy Fitzgerald paid us a tribute by saying that when we come back here after the next general election we can amend this Constitution in any way we like for 12 months. I am glad he realises that this Party are coming back here. Apparently, he has given up the ghost and has no further hope.

The Party opposite brought in 17 amendments to the present Constitution, every single one of them curtailing the powers of the Irish people and not those of any foreigner to rule in this country. I remember on a famous occasion, when we had been in this House only a short period, they brought in an amendment to the Constitution to prevent any appeal to the Irish people by referendum to remove the oath of allegiance to a foreign King. They passed that amendment through here. Every single amendment brought in by the Party opposite to the present Constitution was not an amendment giving any further rights to the Irish people, but curtailing step by step the rights of the Irish people. It is high time that the Irish people got rid of a Constitution which, as proved here by Article 83, had to be assented to by the British Parliament before it [392] became a Constitution for the Irish people. That Constitution had to be torn into rags. Some 25 amendments to it were brought in. Seventeen of these were brought in by the Party opposite to curtail the rights of the Irish people, and eight were brought in by us to curtail and abolish the rights of foreigners.

Article 12 of that Constitution says that the Legislature “shall consist of the King and two Houses” —it is limited to one House now. Then Article 14 states: “All citizens of the Irish Free State, without distinction of sex, who have reached the age of 21 years and who comply with the provisions of the prevailing electoral laws shall have the right to vote for members of Dáil Eireann and to take part in the Referendum and initiative.” These things were wiped out also. Then that Constitution contained the famous Article 17: “The oath to be taken by members of the Oireachtas shall be in the following form:—I, ............, do solemnly swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State, as by law established, and that I will be faithful to his Majesty King George V, ...” I don't know if that is the joker blown up this morning in Stephen's Green or not. It is about time that the Irish people by open vote abolished that Constitution, which has been amended in most of its Articles, and adopted an absolutely fresh Constitution for themselves—a Constitution which will not have to go over to the British House of Commons to be ratified, but which will be ratified by the vote of the Irish people themselves.

We heard a lot of talk from Deputy Dillon about hungry people and about feeding hungry people on the Constitution. I remember statements like that in 1914. The advice given to the Irish farmers then was that their duty was not to look for any freedom or independence for this country, but to make money while money could be made—that it was not freedom or independence that mattered to this country, but bread and butter. Statements of that type were made then, and we know what the verdict of the Irish people was when their verdict was asked for.

[393] An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This does not seem to be very relevant to the Constitution.

Mr. Corry: It is very relevant in this way—that it was the ignoring of that advice at that period which puts us in a position now to bring in a Constitution here for the Irish people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I do not think that will be relevant to the Constitution.

Mr. Dillon: He is doing his best.

Mr. Corry: I am not a bit surprised at Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon was an able-bodied young man at that period and he did not go out to fight for his King, nor did he fight for his country at home.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Corry will please deal with the Draft Constitution.

Mr. Corry: I would like to deal with the Constitution, but I am sure the Constitution must be a very sore point to Deputies opposite.

Mr. Dillon: Deputy Corry is one of the President's shock troops.

Mr. Corry: When we get down to business on this matter and when we have knowledge of the manner in which the Irish people and their aspirations in this matter have been thwarted, and when we know their deep anxiety to end once and for all the rule of that kind which gave us a Constitution imposed from outside, a Constitution that had to obtain the consent of a foreign Parliament, then we need not be the slightest bit surprised or amazed at the bringing in of this Constitution prepared by Irish people's representatives, submitted to the Irish people, which will be voted on by the Irish people and a decision on it come to by the Irish people without any imposition from outside. When we hear statements made here as to the powers of the President under the Draft Constitution we need only take two Articles in the present Constitution into consideration. First there was the Article that gave power to a citizen of this State to appeal, not to any court in this State but to appeal from any court in this State to the King.

Mr. Morrissey: Deputy Corry has already read that for us.

[394] Mr. Corry: I hope it will sink in. It takes a lot to get a matter to sink into some of the skulls over there. Then when we take Article 60 of the present Constitution, we have this, that “the representative of the Crown, who shall be styled the Governor-General of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann), shall be appointed in like manner as the Governor-General of Canada and in accordance with the practice observed in the making of such appointments. His salary shall be of the like amount as that now payable to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia——”

Mr. Vincent Rice: What about his pension?

Mr. Corry: “——and shall be charged on the public funds of the Irish Free State——”

Mr. McGilligan: There is nothing in that about his pension.

Mr. Corry: Ah, no, there is not, nor about the £750 piano the Deputy's Government gave the last joker.

Mr. McGilligan: Would Deputy Corry like £500 a year pension?

Mr. Corry: There is not a word in this about the pension.

Mr. O'Leary: Then your man got very well out of it for doing his whitewashing.

Mr. Corry: Our man is all right.

Mr. Morrissey: Sure he is.

Mr. Dillon: He is better off than he ever hoped to be.

Mr. Corry: He is a better Irishman than you ever will be. “——and suitable provision shall be made out of these funds for the maintenance of his official residence and establishment.”

Mr. McGilligan: That is being done.

Mr. Dillon: And £2,000 in cash.

Mr. Corry: That is one of the Articles under the last Constitution that I have read to you, Article 60.

Mr. Morrissey: What is the new Governor-General going to get?

Mr. Corry: The last Constitution went further. It enacted that all our [395] judges “shall be appointed by the Representative of the Crown on the advice of the Executive Council.” That is what Article 68 contained. Apparently nobody had any power in this country under the Constitution under which, as amended, we are at present acting, except he was appointed by the King himself or the Representative of the Crown. It is about time that the Irish people got a Constitution of their own.

Mr. Dillon: What about the President of the Executive Council?

Mr. Corry: The President of the Executive Council will be elected by the Irish people and will not be under the control and instructions of either a foreign Parliament or a foreign King— neither one nor the other.

Mr. Dillon: And he spoke in the name of His Britannic Majesty.

Mr. Corry: If Deputy Dillon had even the pluck to fight for His Britannic Majesty when he got the chance, or if he had the pluck to fight for our own people I would say he was something of a man, but anybody who crawls out from under the bed when the fight is over is one for whom I have very little respect. I am not—and I often thank God for it—a lawyer.

Mr. Rice: And the lawyers thank God for it too.

Mr. Corry: I know very little of legal phraseology of documents of that type.

Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy is praising himself and saying very little.

Mr. Corry: But I have heard lawyers here speaking on this Constitution during the last three days. Each lawyer on the other side contradicted those who had already spoken. I have seen one lawyer after another contradict another lawyer. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney contradicts Deputy Lavery.

Mr. McGilligan: Would Deputy Corry give us one case in point?

Mr. Corry: Whether there was a brief and who possessed the brief, I do not know. Deputy McGilligan has not yet made a contribution. I am sure when he does it will be rather a [396] lengthy one. I am sure he will tell us the legal flaws and mistakes in this document. But the Irish people are not going to judge this Constitution by legal phrases or legal phraseology or anything else.

Mr. McGilligan: Why not?

Mr. Corry: Neither will they judge it by what the lawyers say about it. They will judge it by common sense, and by their anxiety to see that whatever Constitution this country is going to operate under will be a Constitution prepared by the Irish people, voted on by the Irish people, and bearing no allegiance to anybody but to the Irish people themselves. That is why I say that this Constitution is acceptable to the Irish people, and will be acceptable to them no matter what arguments Deputies on the opposite benches may make against it. Deputies who have any kind of a finger on the pulse of the people admit beforehand what the verdict of the people will be. We hear a lot of talk about having a political head of the State. Where are you going to get a non-political head? That kind of thing makes me smile. I have seen men elected to local bodies and local boards, and I have seen men elected chairmen of these local bodies. For instance, we have in Cork, as chairman of the county council, one who is a member of the Party opposite, and he is an absolutely impartial chairman. Whatever misfortune led him into that camp over there, God alone knows. However, I will say this for him, that while he has been in the chair of the county council he has been absolutely impartial. We hear a lot of talk about non-political people and about Independents. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, or perhaps it was Deputy Fitzgerald, told us to-day about Independents. Will he tell me which of the Independents is non-political? Perhaps somebody will tell me that? We had Deputy Morrissey for a time when he was an Independent Labour Deputy. That made him independent.

Mr. Morrissey: Not a bit more than usual.

Mr. Corry: Not a bit more than usual. I am glad to hear the Deputy [397] admit it. We hear a lot of talk about this non-political thing. One would think, on hearing Deputies speaking here, that there was something wrong in the people electing a head of the State. Surely the head of a State elected by the Irish people is something better than the head of a foreign State imposed on us. That was the position under the Constitution adopted by Cumann na nGaedheal when they became the Government. That position will now be ended. If Deputies have any doubt as to the opinions of the people, all their doubts will be set at rest within the next few months. I do not know how many of them will be here when we come back, but they will be sadder and wiser men.

Mr. McGilligan: The one document which Deputy Corry did not open was the Constitution we are discussing. Now, it is rather the practice at the moment to take this document and criticise it, to offer it for comparison. It is impossible that that should be otherwise. When Deputies have been trained for a long time to think that a Constitution which has not a particular seasoning or relish is nothing more than cats' meat, it is difficult to offer it to a man-eating tiger of the Deputy Corry description. When the fe-fi-fo-fum type of politician is about he must get an opportunity, at any rate, be he alive or be he dead, to crunch the bones of a thing like Article 83. It may give him satisfaction.

If it was not for the peculiar change that has come over the Party opposite, we would not have the lonely spectacle of Deputy Corry speaking thus. The pack would be in full cry. They are strangely silent these last couple of days. In Bolshevik Russia, recently, they decided it was an inhuman thing to have a sheep sheared in the way that the operation used to be carried out. They discovered that by injecting these animals with a drug you can pull the fleece right off. Somebody has discovered that about the republicans in this country. The only thing is that if you give the drug in too big does the fleece does not come off neatly; it leaves a scurvy sort of patch. Apparently Deputy Corry has had too big a dose, for there is a little patch here [398] and there and he must flutter it in the wind.

The tactics all through have been to take this document and say: “Surely we must have something better than that.” Who made that what it is, and why was it done? It was an abuse of power, but that the power was left is a tribute to the people who left that power there, even though it might be abused. It is an attitude that is to be contrasted to the method by which this contribution is introduced. Let us get a brief comparison. That document was drafted by a committee of eminent people. They took evidence, if evidence was offered to them. We are told that the draft was produced as from them on the morning of an election. The election was fought on it and, as in the case of the Treaty debates, the people who fought it, fought it with all the odium that could be cast upon it in the most outrageous series of malevolent lies describing that Constitution as having nothing in it but subjection to a British authority.

The Party that came back after that election slowly discussed that Constitution in an assembly that was not tied by any oath. It was open to everybody and it secured the right to sit in this House by the votes cast by the people. When it had been discussed and amended, a further election was held within eight months, and that document then was left with a very easy power of amendment, after it had been discussed and subjected at least to the test of one election, at least to the test of the votes of one electorate having full knowledge of what was in the Constitution. It ran two elections, the first being marked by the prejudices that were attempted to be created against the instrument.

When that instrument was going through the Dáil, there was a power of easy amendment limited to a period of four years. It was suggested by the then leader of the Opposition that four years was not sufficient, and the question was immediately put: “What period could you suggest” and the reasonable answer came: “Two electoral periods; let this Constitution run the gamut of two further general elections if the Dáil lasts its full period, and three or four if the Dáil [399] does not last the full period,” and that was agreed to. A little later, consideration being given to that point, it was agreed that the period for easy amendment should be further enlarged and, instead of eight years, the period was enlarged to 16 years, and it was left deliberately open to the possibility of people opposed to our viewpoint coming in and desiring to make a change.

The Constitution as it was first phrased may have been new as a Constitution in this country, because really anything was new constitutionally in the country, but it was on ordinary formal, normal lines. There were very few novelties in it. There was nothing in the way of a constitutional tryout anywhere. Notwithstanding that it could run for eight years, a term later enlarged to 16 years, we get this document. Who drafted it? The President arrogates to himself that he took certain phrases out of it. Did he draft it alone? It is known who were the assistants in regard to the other Constitution. Who made that up? Who made up this Constitution? Are there any constitutional novelties in this Constitution? It teems with them. Are there any things upon which it might be prudent to await the experience of a five or six-year period? Is it so perfectly drafted that the lock should be turned on it immediately, so far as certain things are concerned and, taking the whole Constitution, inside three years?

The wit of mankind operating down the ages has lit on very much the same machinery in regard to constitutions. It desires to have parliamentary authority; it desires in the main to have some ceremonial head of a State with nothing in the way of real powers whatever; it desires to have a separate judiciary and mainly throughout the world parliamentary authority is divided between two Houses. The President, who has arrogated to himself a pride in having taken out certain things from phrases in the old Constitution, has told us with regard to these schemes devised by the wit of man throughout the centuries in [400] relation to a Second House: “A Second Chamber is no good; I do not want it; but the people will apparently have some old thing rather than nothing at all and let them have it.” When we come to the interpretation of the law the President says: “If there is any other way of getting it interpreted than by the Supreme Court or by the judges, I would be prepared to take it, but there is no other way out that I can see at the moment, so we may as well have it.”

So this Constitution, in so far as it presents any appearance of normality at all, is put up by the President as his own draft, the draft of a man impatient of the old ideas, having no belief in the old ideas, and constrained to accept them because nothing which he considers better can be suggested at the moment. To that, he adds powers, in regard to the Presidential position, which are unexampled in any written constitution at the moment. They may not be unexampled in practices, but they are unexampled in any written constitution which is being observed at the moment, and that Constitution, as far as Article 51 is concerned, is, I suggest, to be knocked down at once except by way of amendment by referendum, and the whole Constitution, in so far as amendment by way of ordinary legislation is concerned, is closed down tight and rigid three years after the President first takes up office.

To-day the Minister for Defence thought that every man at every chapel gate in the country, not merely knew this Constitution, but could give a better interpretation of it than the interpretation, say, that was given by Deputy Costello last night. After he had finished, one of the Parliamentary Secretaries here queried that very Article and here in the House proved that he did not realise what was the effect of it, and when it was put to him that that was the effect of it, he said that it was alarming and that it should be changed. Well, if the President did discuss this draft Constitution with his Cabinet, he either discussed it with them in the Irish language, so that they could not understand it, or he certainly must have excluded his Parliamentary [401] Secretaries from the discussion. Why should the President be so secure about this Constitution and its powers that he proposes not to leave the easy method of amending for a longer period than three years? Why is it that, in so far as he can secure it, even that three year period cannot be enlarged by an ordinary amendment? The President was given a liberty by his predecessors which he will not pass on to his successors, and he does that with regard to an instrument which contains many faults, and which contains features and matters that have been tried out nowhere else in the civilised world. The Presidential powers are the really alarming features of this Constitution, but there are two other points, and let us analyse the usual Presidential refinements in regard to them. Comment has been made here, and comment has been made in articles in the Press to the effect that the status of women in the Constitution has been definitely impaired—that the status that was given to them in the old Constitution is lessened. The President takes the stand that this new Constitution does not put women on any worse footing than men, and I am afraid that, by the emphasis that has been laid on the position of women under the Constitution, the position of men under the Constitution has been somewhat forgotten. Under the old Constitution every person, without distinction of sex, was made, by the Constitution, a citizen if they could pass certain tests. Those were tests which related either to birth or residence in the country. Under this Constitution that Article is to be repealed, and the acquisition and loss of Irish nationality and citizenship are to be determined in accordance with law. Now, however, even though both men and women are degraded from the old constitutional position, when the matter is further examined it will be found that there is still a further difference made as between men and women. They are both on an equality to the extent that citizenship can be taken from both men and women in this country by law, and it is not a constitutional amendment. It is for a new Dáil to say in this House, for instance, that only people of a certain [402] age shall be entitled to vote. It is for a new Dáil to say that only people who pass certain birth tests shall have the vote. A new Dáil is enabled to make any sort of artificial distinction, dependent on anything—features, pigmentation of the skin, and so on—a test, and it is not unconstitutional to do that.

There was an Article in the old Constitution which gave it as a constitutional right that every person, without distinction of sex, who had passed certain years of age, was entitled to vote. Not merely can that right be taken from women, but it may be taken from certain men in the future. There is a special point, however, which has been leant on, and which is perfectly true. When we get to the level that both men and women are without constitutional rights for the future, or that both men and women are without any tie as to citizenship for the future, there is the further point that the whole tendency of certain Articles of the Constitution is towards the putting of women in an inferior position to men. Deputy Lavery used the phrase—and no part of it may be changed after deliberation—that the Constitution invites legislation to discriminate between the sexes. We are told that that is not the intention. Whether it be the intention or not, there is no constitutional safeguard for women against such a proposal.

The second point that has been queried in this Constitution is the question of the fundamental rights. Here, certainly, I feel it would be of considerable interest to find where was the directing mind, because it shows a mind which, if it had accepted any learning from history, has learned the wrong lesson. Anywhere that one searches for these fundamental rights, one finds them phrased in concise terms. One finds them positively framed. The giving of fundamental rights is always positively phrased and in concise terms. The reason for that is obvious, and that is that it was only by degrees that these rights were fought for and eventually secured, and it has come down to us, because of history, that it was necessary to [403] give a slogan that the rights were there because they were so long denied. The thing that was paraded before the eyes of everybody in every Constitution, however, was the positive declaration that there were certain rights, and, generally, these positive phrases were not overcrowded by reservations and exceptions. Will anybody turn to our document and say that that is the position? We have certain declarations of rights, it is true, but the reservations and exceptions outweigh, as far as expression goes, the declaration of the right itself, and anybody reading that Constitution is entitled to interpret it as coming from a mind that was more keenly observant of the reservations and the exceptions than towards establishing the right itself.

When that was being done, the result is peculiar. It was put here, as a sort of a contribution by the Parliamentary Secretary this evening, that the phrase had been used that one Article in the Constitution might be operated by a Communist Government in a completely different way from that in which it would be operated by a Government of a different complexion, and he went on to say that, although that might be so, it could also prove precisely the contrary on the same method of reasoning. This was in reference to the Article dealing with the right to possession of private property. I say that it should be stated in such a form that one could start from it. If the Article is left as it is at the moment, I begin to join the President in one view, and that is that it is not an Article that should be put before a court of laymen for adjudication upon it at any time, and I say that the only court that should be left to adjudicate upon it would be a court which would consist almost entirely of Archbishops. However, that is going to be left as it is, to be operated by the two chief functionaries of the State, the President and the Taoiseach, and according to the view that they take will be determined the question of the right to the possession of private property.

That particular office has been discussed at length. The Presidential [404] powers have also been discussed at length, but it is a matter of interest that in three days new terms have been discovered in these Articles.

I do not know why an attempt has been made to give the President certain powers. I know that the Presidential paragraph is weakened by the fact that there are not in it certain things which appear in nearly every Constitution and which could not be put in here because they are governed by the External Relations Bill, and, presumably, these things will have to be excogitated in some way. The Presidential powers in other States are, in the main, occupied with the conduct of the State in its international relations. These are not here; they cannot be. The President accepts the position that they cannot be. Therefore we fill up. Now, there are two tests that I would like to put to this part of the Constitution. It is possible that the President may be able to do things positively—on his own or with some aid—which the country, through his Government, does not want done. It may be possible that the President is in a position to refuse to do what the people of the country, through their Government, desire he should do. Am I speaking merely from imagination when I say that these two things are possible? Let us take one of them.

There are a variety of Articles which say that in regard to a number of things the President shall do this, that and the other thing. Can he be coerced into doing them? Supposing the President does not want to sign a law that is presented to him, who says he must? How will he be made to do it? Not merely is there no way of making him do it, but there is a most comprehensive Article which says that the President is above the law and which says. further, that no criminal prosecution shall be brought against the President. One could, perhaps, understand a provision such as appears in some Constitutions, that no civil action should lie against him for anything done in the discharge of his functions; but there is a comprehensive clearing out of the courts so that no legal [405] proceedings of any kind, such as a mandamus, can ever issue against the President. That is found nowhere else in the world. I ask the President, if he is concerned about this matter of the Presidential powers and wants to kill an agitation that may grow up against these powers being left there, will he point to any country in the world in which there is a provision so comprehensive as the one used here to put the President completely beyond the power of the law? I suggest that is being done deliberately; but whether done deliberately or not, it means that in any one of the tests I put, the President can control the country. It is said that he shall be presented with the law, that he shall sign and promulgate it. If he does not—let us just imagine a madman, not the kind of madman that should be relieved of office on the grounds of mental incapacity, but a man so mad that he would defy the people—can he be made do it though the Constitution says that he should do it?

Let us come to the other side. Is there anything missing from this Constitution which appears elsewhere in regard to the positive use of the powers? Again I have gone through as many of the Constitutions of the world as I could get, and I find that there is always this train as between the President and the people and his responsibilities. I start off by saying that what runs through every Constitution is the idea that there shall be no power without responsibility. What is given in this Constitution is a position that one man I know would like to hold—power without any responsibility. The President in this Constitution is completely irresponsible. The way that such responsibility is fastened on him in other countries varies. The devices are generally two. In the majority of the constitutions of the world, wherever the President is given any power to do anything, the phrase occurs: “Every governmental and executive act of the President, to be valid in law, must be countersigned by a Minister.” There again he acts under the thumb of the Government. Sometimes when that phrase is not used [406] this other phrase occurs: “On every occasion on which the President acts some member of the Government bears responsibility for his action.” If that member is not marked out by the fact that he countersigns, he is marked out in the way that whatever Department of the Government falls for classification, the head of that Department belonging to the Government bears responsibility and must answer to the people and may be prosecuted for his lack of responsibility. Does this Constitution fix the President with responsibility in any way? I could, if necessary, give the President, going through a list of over 20 countries, the countries in which there are Presidents which start off with a declaration of presidential acts and which provide that every presidential act must be countersigned by a Minister to be valid. I could also give him a list of countries which are monarchies which provide, in giving powers to the king, that every act, governmental or executive, must be countersigned by a member of the Government to be valid in the country. Why have we not that here? Was it an oversight? Is it just that the President is impatient of Constitutions that represent finality in this country, as he was impatient of Second Chambers, or is it that, having mixed his reading before, he is afraid that there will be another Adams mistake and that he will be found out.

The President: I think it was the other side was found out.

Mr. McGilligan: I should not like to discuss the Adams dispute. It was lucky for the President that there were two men of the name.

The President: And unlucky for the other person that he picked the wrong one.

Mr. McGilligan: There were two men, one notable, the other completely unknown.

The President: Oh, no.

Mr. McGilligan: The President attributed a statement, possibly deliberately, to the wrong man, but we gave him the pardon of ignorance.

[407] The President: He was a well-known man.

Mr. McGilligan: The President quoted from the lesser known man, but that argument, from even the lesser known man, did not back up the President's statement.

The President: You did not read enough about it.

Mr. MacEntee: Let Deputy McGilligan not limit the knowledge of mankind by his own ignorance.

Mr. McGilligan: I have read quite enough about both of them, so far, at any rate, that I would not have made the statement that the President made here about either of them. I would show more appreciation of the men's doctrines than the President did. It may be that the President has misread Constitutions. It may be that he has neglected them. It is more like him to neglect them. In any event, we have here this series of powers, some clearly laid down. Of course, the ominous thing is not those that are laid down; it is this Article 13. If we did have precisely stated here the things that the President can do, and the things that the President should do, and could concentrate attention on seeing that all that he should do he could be coerced to do, and that what he may do he did under proper authority, then that chapter could be closed. But look at this for a pipe down which there may be given more powers to the President:—

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

No such power or function shall be exercisable or performable by him save only on the advice of the Government or after consultation with the Council of State, as may be determined by such law.”

Let me tackle one thing here. The Council of State, as a safeguard, can be put aside—a collection of yes-men, the President having control of the majority if he likes to use it. If he does not get a subservient group around him on the first appointment [408] he can sack all the appointed members within a week and get a new group; he can get that group changed and changed until he gets subservient people around him. In any event, if he was to have a Council of State of the best men that this country can produce, he could act despite them. He must consult them. They must be there. They must listen to the all-highest speaking. After that, the decision is the decision of one man, and it is doubtful if it could even be promulgated that he is acting in defiance of the unanimous view of his Council of State. If there is anybody who believes that, when the President does get new functions, he can only exercise them after consultation with the Council of State, and that that is a safeguard, let such a man disabuse his mind of that view. The President can exercise those powers or functions with a group of some 14 or 15 people around him, but he can use his own discretion and can operate his own choice.

What can that be operated on? Here is a definite mystery. In opening the debate on the Second Reading the President first of all skipped rather clumsily over Article 13, but on being brought to it he indicated that its use was merely to be certain formal duties that might be put on him through this Article 13. Later on— possibly the Minister for Finance has been getting a certain amount of criticism for opening up this matter by intervention—when the discussion on the Second Reading had advanced, and Deputy Lavery was speaking, we discovered that first of all the President thought that the whole duties in relation to external affairs could be passed over to him under Article 13. He added further—and this was a general statement of his with regard to the ruling principle—that if there were no prohibition by law, by the Constitution as law, on powers being given to the President, then under Article 13 all such powers as were not so prohibited could be handed over to him. Let us take one thing. The President is to be a member of the Oireachtas. The power of making laws is vested in the Oireachtas. It [409] has been found possible, under another Constitution which also vested power in the Oireachtas, to continue the Oireachtas when one of the Houses had been made to disappear from it. Supposing both Houses at a certain period decide that they would like to have all legislative power handed over to the President, is it possible under Article 13? I expect to be told that is a bogey. I expect to be told in any event that it is not contemplated. Is it possible? That is the only question I want answered, and I suggest it is possible. If the President tells me that he would have to exercise that in accordance with the law, I agree. But suppose the law is passed? It may be passed by a subservient type of Dáil.

We are told that when men seek to make a mighty fire they begin with small straws. There are many small straws in this that the President can collect around himself. The President may, after drawing a certain amount of small powers to himself, let his ambition grow upon what it feeds on, and decide that the legislative power should be his, and with the aid of a complacent Dáil and Seanad this may be done. I expect to be told that it is not meant. But surely the only way in which a Constitution should be judged is not by considering that the people who are going to operate it are going to be reasonable men. If you get into that mentality there is no necessity for constitutional provisions. What everybody who has ever written on this subject has accepted as the best test is to consider what the most evilly-intentioned man, greedy for power, can get for himself under the conditions of a certain instrument, and still be constitutional. Put that test. With Article 13 as wide open as it is, with Article 13 torn as wide open as the President tore it in answer to Deputy Lavery in the debate, there is hardly anything that cannot be handed over to the President. The President is intended to be a ceremonial officer. The President should be in the position of handling external relations, and is not, and can get out of that. In the meantime—and it is to make up, I suggest, for the bareness of the [410] Articles—he does take a certain number of dangerous powers, and there can be filtered down to him everything save, according to his own statement, some such authority as is precluded by law from being given to him.

Why should the President demand that all commissioned officers of the defence forces should hold their commissions from him? Can the President tell me any other Constitution where that exists? I can tell him a few, and I should like to follow the histories of those countries on another occasion, and see what happened. It is common in Constitutions to have the President made the supreme commander of the defence forces, with this prohibition mainly put in, that in time of war that stops. But there are a few Constitutions, and they are not the best, in which the President has got that particular right—that commissioned officers of the forces hold their commissions from him. I know there is a point of vanity about this. I know it would be rather unacceptable to have a President swinging into the presidential office and finding that the majority of the Army held their commissions from another person. It would be particularly galling that one chief of the Executive Council should succeed to the presidential chair and find that the Army officers all held their commissions, or held them in the main, from a successor of his in the Executive Council. But leaving vanity aside, why should that Article be there? Is there any point of principle upon which it rests?

Can the President make a case for that? Those presidential powers can be discussed in Committee. There will be various suggestions put before this House on the Committee Stage. One will definitely be this. As far as this Party is concerned, and I hope in this we will get the help of other people in this House, we are going to insist that the Constitution will not become law without containing a phrase about citizenship and in particular containing that phrase with the addition “without distinction of sex.” This cannot be accepted as a modern Constitution unless that phrase goes in. George Bernard Shaw criticised the Constitution [411] as being in the Dark Ages because of that omission. The President laughs.

The President: I have good reason to laugh.

Mr. McGilligan: I daresay he has the same status with the President as the Seanad and the Supreme Court.

The President: He talks through his hat sometimes.

Mr. McGilligan: And he has not as big a sombrero as the President on some occasions. Another thing that we must insist upon, if that Article about private property in the reserve part is to stand, is that there will have to be ecclesiastical authority called in for its interpretation, and if the President is going to have a Council of State to perform any useful purpose there is no reason why that Council of State in the interpretation of that Article should not have the assistance of the Archbishop of Armagh and his colleague in Dublin.

The President: Why is the Supreme Court so bad now?

Mr. McGilligan: I do not say the Supreme Court is bad. The Supreme Court is trained to adjudicate law, and they are the only people to adjudicate upon law. Let the President give me somebody who can, because nobody has been able to secure their practice or experience in the exposition of the Canon Law. Let the President give us somebody to expound and interpret that particular phrase in a safe way. Then we will have got somewhere.

The third amendment which I certainly will see is suggested to the Dáil and which I hope will be carried, is an amendment which I can take from at least 25 constitutions, that no act of the President will be valid in the country unless it bears the countersignature of somebody representing the Government. If the President accepts that we will know where we stand with regard to the Presidential powers. If he fails we know also what his position is.

For the rest of it, there are certain things in this Constitution which are [412] good—a lot of them taken from the old Constitution. But let people like Deputy Corry remember this: they may revile and lament as much as they like over Article 83, but if that proclamation had not been passed, this Constitution would not be in the process of being passed. This Constitution is as deeply embedded in the old Constitution as any two things could well be. It is stuck fast in the jaws of the old Constitution. It is only now capable of being brought before this House because of Article 50 with its power of amendment so widened by us as to enable this sort of thing to be done, and this Constitution depends on the old Constitution. If it does not so depend on it, this Dáil has no way of passing it and the proposal before the Dáil is a farce. The Constitution has root in the same thing. It has been described as being the greatest wealth of make believe pivoting upon a pinpoint of reality that the world has ever seen. It is amazing that men can bemuse themselves with words to this extent. Eire when genitive is a country in shackles. Eire in the nominative is a free, independent and sovereign State. Incidentally, what is the adjective to apply to this country here? Here it is “Eire-ish,” or will you have an Irish term popularised? Eire is an Irish term. We cannot call it Partition in this Constitution, but we get the delightful phrase, “pending the reintegration of the national territory.” This has occurred in other fields. Emigration is no longer emigration in this country; it is the outward trend of our population. Unemployment is no longer unemployment; it is better registration. We cannot mention a King in this Constitution of ours. We cannot mention another word opposed to it. We let in the word “royalties,” but only in a limited sense in a particular Article. We had a High Court, a Supreme Court, a Seanad here before, but it was Saorstát Eireann, that ugly genitive. Now it is Eire and everything is all right. I never knew a case in which it was found so easy to cure what were represented as old diseases by the plastering of a few labels as has [413] been found possible here. Will the President, when he is replying, clear the air upon the point made by Deputy Fitzgerald on the question of the application of this term Eire? Eire has a territorial significance. Is Eire the Twenty-Six Counties or the 32 counties? Does the President know? Or is it something that has to wait “the reintegration of the national territory”? Can the President hereafter go on a visit to Belfast without getting the leave of the Council of State, or is Belfast outside Eire? Does the President know? If the President does know, will be answer that, in any event, if he cannot answer any other?

The President: A Chinn Comhairle, the first question I think that we should answer is, how did this Draft Constitution come into being? It is the work of one person, one man! It is going to be sent to the people under conditions quite unlike the conditions under which the Constitution of 1922 was prepared and sent! Now, that is this Assembly? Is it not an Assembly of people who have had practical experience of parliamentary institutions, a body of people who ought to be better equipped, through experience, to deal with the Constitution than, say, a body of people who were elected in 1922 when already cut and dried for them there was presented to them a Constitution which was the policy of an Executive, agreed upon with the British Government, and of such a character that it had to be enacted by a British Legislature with the nice additional words “that nothing in the Act or in the powers given under it was to detract from the sovereign authority of the Imperial Parliament.” There was a body of Irishmen, a committee, that were asked in a short time to prepare a Draft Constitution. They sat down. They got the Constitutions of the world as far as they could, examined them, and prepared three drafts. These drafts we have. One of them, with certain modifications, was taken over to Great Britain, and the draft was scored and a certain number of Articles added to it. The Executive that came into the House at that time, [414] when a certain number of the people's representatives were absent, said: “You can change this, but we hold by this draft. It is a matter for us to use the majority if we can get it to put this draft through,” and there were certain Articles of it which were so fixed that the supposed Constituent Assembly could not touch it. The Constitution that was made, was made subject to a Treaty which was imposed by the threat of force, and was so admitted in the Dáil that considered the Treaty. That is the Constitution which is held up as a model. First of all the draft, immediately it was agreed upon in London, was put before the Irish people on the morning of the election, and it was held that, because a certain majority at that election voted for those who were in favour of the Constitution, the Constitution was adopted.

Now, this Constitution had to be drafted by somebody—some draft had to be presented here. We are choosing this body as the committee to consider it. When it has been considered by this committee—the committee being a committee of the whole Dáil, with a procedure which is sufficient to allow the matter to be completely, fully and thoroughly discussed —it is going to the Irish people to be enacted by them. It is all nonsense for anybody, because he is a lawyer, to ask the people to accept the statement that this is nothing more than the twenty-eighth amendment of the Constitution. This repeals the old Constitution completely. It is going to be repealed by the sovereign authority and will of the Irish people. If anybody says that that cannot be done by the Irish people, then he must suggest that the Irish people have not the power to do it; in other words, that we are still subject, as far as this part of the country is concerned.

This draft is going to the Irish people after consideration by a body that I hold is more competent than any other body you would probably get, because both sides of the House have had experience of practical government over a long period of years. If this body [415] is not able to say whether an instrument is practical or not, then I say you can get nobody in this country who can do it. We have, therefore, here, as far as the committee is concerned, the best committee that I think this country can get from the practical point of view; with experience, not theories, of the working of Parliamentary institutions, with knowledge of the conditions in their own country over a long period of years. On the opposite benches you have men who had experience of government for ten years. We, on these benches, have had experience of it for the last five years. Many of the Deputies have been here for a period of up to 15 years and have had experience of Parliamentary institutions and their working.

I say that nothing can be said against the mode in which this Constitution will be presented to the Irish people. Somebody had to draft it. We had the work of the committees that had attempted the drafting of constitutions before. These were available to us. We had all the constitutions of the world available to us. We have had the advantage of having men trained in the working of the Constitution— people who are at least as expert as any you can get on these benches or outside as to how Parliamentary institutions work and of the dangers that have to be apprehended. With the help of all the men that I could get, both in the Government service and outside it, this Constitution has been prepared. This is not an unsuitable place to mention that I want to thank sincerely every person who has given me help, whether it came from the official staffs or outside, in dealing with difficult matters in regard to the Constitution. I hope then that nobody is going to be able to pretend that this Constitution is being presented to the Irish people without giving anybody except myself or the Executive Council an opportunity of considering it in detail. This House can consider it in detail.

Dr. O'Higgins: And vote according to orders.

The President: That is why the procedure of a Bill has been adopted [416] as the method for doing it. It is not a Bill. This is not going to be enacted by this Parliament. This Parliament, I think, could not enact it. If Deputy Costello were here, I should like to put him this question. The courts here have expressed certain opinions in dealing with certain cases and made certain suggestions as to their views about the powers here to pass Acts in relation to the terms of the Treaty. We were not going to risk a Constitution like this, even though it was the right way to judge a Constitution like this, being enacted here and being operated with such possible views held by the courts. What we are doing is, we are going back to the sovereign authority, to the Irish people, or that section of the Irish people whom we can consult on the matter. We go back to them and ask them to enact it. It is they who will enact it and, as I said in my introductory speech, when they enact it there is a provision that any judge, or anybody else, who is not prepared to function under it can resign and get out.

Now, in connection with this going to the people, I believe that I have been accused of heresy. Blasphemy and heresy are the smallest things I understand that are in this Constitution. It is very interesting to think that, although this has been several days before the country and in the hands of ecclesiastical and other authorities, we should not have heard a word about this except from the theologians on the opposite benches. We had to wait for them to discover the blasphemy and the heresy. I forget whether it was Deputy Fitzgerald or Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney who said that one Article was heresy. I believe that Deputy Fitzgerald complained that there was blasphemy in it. I want everybody to realise what this Constitution states about authority. In the Preamble, and in the Article that refers to that, there is a clear, unequivocal statement that authority comes from God. That is fundamental. It does not matter what view a group of Catholic theologians may take as to how it comes to the immediate rulers. What we have here is clear at any rate—that authority [417] is from God. That is fundamental Catholic doctrine, and it is here. It is true doctrine. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney raised a question with regard to Article 6 which states: “All powers of government legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.” He said that statement is not true. Just listen to that—“that statement is not true.” What does that mean?

It means, he says, that all legislative, executive and judicial powers are derived from the people. Now, that is magnificent coming from a lawyer who has suddenly become a theologian. He read a document, and although it is explicitly stated in the document “derived under God” the phrase “under God” is eliminated by him and you are to read it as if it were not there at all. The poor man must have got his information very quickly. He must have got muddled. He was possibly handed a document that he did not understand. Otherwise, I do not see why he went on in that line at all. The fact is that there is a difference of opinion amongst theologians. But all agree on one point, that authority comes from God. They all agree that the rulers are not immediately designated by God. The question on which they differ is how the authority does come to the rulers and the part the people play in it. If we want to discuss that in detail we can take up our theologians opposite when we come to the Committee Stage. But I want everybody to realise that what we have here is that authority comes from the author of Nature, from God.

Now we are going back. I would like to point out that. We indicated in that paragraph that the function of the people is to designate the rulers to decide questions in accordance with the common good. One of the things the people will decide is the form of government, and we are going back to the authority that is there for us, the people, to ask them to decide the form of government. They will also have to decide as a separate question, who [418] are the people who are to possess and exercise authority. Another question has been raised in this connection. It is said it is unfair to put this question to the people at the same time as a general election. Yet almost in the same breath you will get people who are complaining that the Referendum or the election of a President involves expense.

We are to take it, of course, from this that the people cannot have two ideas in their heads at the same time; that they cannot possibly think of two separate questions at one time. One question is what are the institutions of the State to be? What is the form of government and what the State institutions are to be? We are told that they cannot carry that idea and examine it and at the same time have an idea as to the kind of government they want in office. Well, that is only in line with what we have heard from Deputy Costello, to whom I may refer as the principal speaker on the opposite side. The Deputy said that 99 per cent. of the people did not know anything about this Constitution and did not bother about it. Now 99 percent. is a fairly high fraction. Then we are to take it that the people of this country who have been for 15 years agitated and disturbed about this constitutional matter, the people who have in certain elections been appealed to mainly on the ground of changing certain points in the Constitution, are completely careless and heedless and do not know that such a document as this is in existence. We are to believe that they do not know that we are here as a Parliament discussing it although every paper in the country has been printing pages of the speeches delivered here for three days.

The man who stands up and makes a statement of that kind, and then expects that to be taken as a serious contribution to the discussion of this document, surprises me. I wonder what he thinks of us all. He said that 99 percent. of the people know nothing about it, and he said that there are 90 percent. of them who do not know what the Constitution is. That shows ignorance of what our people think, and that is the sort of ignorance that [419] put some Deputies here on the benches which they now occupy. They imagine that the average man in the street has not a fair knowledge of——

Mr. Anthony: Would the President not acknowledge that the people to-day are more concerned with economic questions than with the Constitution?

The President: There is no contradiction between the people being interested and anxious about economic affairs and also being anxious about this Draft Constitution—no contradiction whatever. We have been for months talking of economic matters. Nearly all our legislation is connected with economic matters. This Constitution is a fundamental thing with regard to the life of the community as a whole. This is a thing which is vital if we are to make economic progress, and vital if this community is to act as a progressive community and to move towards any definite end at all as an organised unit. This Constitution is fundamental. It is more essential to the economic advantage of the State that its fundamental law and its institutions should work properly than any single economic issue that might be mentioned.

Mr. Anthony: Might I ask the President to develop that point?

The President: I will answer that question if the Deputy will wait until the end of my speech.

Mr. G. O'Sullivan: Up the Republic.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputies must not interrupt.

The President: I wish some Deputies would stay out of this House and not be making a disgrace of themselves and others here. I have been talking about this and going back to the fundamental position, namely, that this Constitution has been drafted with the best help that I could get. Somebody had to prepare the Draft. It has been prepared, and the main lines have been carefully examined by Departments who have special knowledge of the working of these institutions in the past. It is presented [420] here to a very competent body, who have been asked to turn their attention to it and to consider it from a non-political standpoint. This Constitution should be drafted by the Government as if they were the Opposition, and should be discussed and considered by the Opposition as if they were the Government. That is the way I have tried to look at it. Notwithstanding the suggestions from the opposite side, I have tried, and my colleagues on these benches have tried, to look at it in this way, and it is with this idea before our minds that it has been drafted and presented here.

Dr. O'Higgins: There is an old-style touch about it, all right.

The President: It has been drafted with the view of getting for this country institutions which will work no matter what individuals happen to occupy the posts, because I hope, at least, that this Constitution will have a period of life which will be much longer than that of any of us in this House. I have shown how this was carefully prepared and presented to you as a Draft Constitution. This is a body that is competent to discuss it and to see it discussed. Notwithstanding the fact that it does make one almost close one's mind when one hears from the benches opposite arguments that are clearly wrong—and it is hard to keep an open mind when one sees the attitude taken up by those who are discussing it—however, the hope and desire to get the best out of it will still persist. I say that, notwithstanding that it is difficult to keep an open mind when you have arguments addressed to you—arguments that cannot stand for one moment.

Now, I will pass on from the question of how this Draft Constitution is presented. I simply repeat the conclusion that this Draft is carefully drawn; it is before the people here through their representatives, all of whom are competent to discuss it, and I hope we will get some measure of agreement on it before the end. If not, we are prepared to take the majority view here as determining it [421] and then send it to the people for their approval or rejection. Finally, it is not this Parliament that is to enact it. On the last stage here the motion will be, not “that this measure do now pass,” as if this body were enacting it; the proposal will be “that this Draft Constitution, as amended,” whatever way it is amended,“shall go to the people for them to enact it.”

Now, trying to pick up the big things in connection with the debate for the last couple of days, I think most people here will admit that, leaving aside the small things which can be dealt with better on the Committee Stage, the whole debate has ranged on two main questions— the powers of the President and the status of women. I think it is not unfair to say that that has been the main trend of the debate. Well, it is a certain tribute to the document containing all these pages and all these Articles, submitted to a test which few documents of the kind are likely to be subjected to, with lawyers and others scanning it in its every word to find out whether there was not something that could be pounced upon so as to disparage the document, to find that, after all that has been done before the people, there has been nothing revealed, nothing of an extraordinary nature found, and that there have been simply two matters on which the debate has been concentrated from the opposite side.

A writer dealing with this bogey of the Presidential powers said it was a bogey so contemptible as to be dismissed. I think that any fair-minded person listening to what has been said about it, and reading the Articles themselves, will come to the same conclusion, that it is so contemptible in its character that it can be put aside and not bothered with. However, apparently those on the opposite side think that there are 90 per cent., of the people who do not know what a Constitution is, that 90 per cent. of the people form a fairly big bulk to be operated on, and that if they know nothing about a Constitution, nothing about its terms, that they can be deceived, and, therefore, it is a good thing to go to the people and go with [422] the cry “‘They are about to establish a dictatorship; that is what Fianna Fáil are doing; that is what this Constitution proposes to do.” They think that would be good politics.

I have again a much higher opinion of the intelligence of the average person in the country than they appear to have, and I would like Deputies on the opposite benches to go down after a while to the cross-roads and try to tell some of the people who would be interested in this that dictatorial powers are going to be given to the President. They will find that a good deal of the sophistry which has been indulged in is as apparent to the man at the cross-roads as it is to any intelligent person in this House, just as apparent. The powers of the President are well defined and clear. There are powers in the executive domain, in the legislative domain. The powers in the executive domain are clearly limited. They are limited by the fact that he acts on the advice of the President of the Executive Council or of the Government. He has to act on the advice of the Executive Council.

Dr. O'Higgins: In every case?

The President: All his appointments are made on the directions or the instructions—for that is what it comes to—of the Government. But we are told by Deputy McGilligan, a lawyer whose business it is, in fact, to study constitutions, and who told us he has been going over them trying to compare the powers given here with the powers in other constitutions, that there is nothing to compel, that there is no way we have to compel, the President to act if he is unwilling to act. Not merely must the President be unwilling, but the Council of State also, because there is an Article which deals with that matter. Any Deputies who have a copy of the Constitution can look at page 24—I will take the English version; it is even more definite in the Irish—and they will see:—

The Council of State may make such provision as to them may seem meet for the exercise and performance of the powers and functions of [423] the President under this Constitution in any contingency in which the President or a Commission appointed under this Article fails or is unable to exercise and perform the said powers and functions or any of them and which is not provided for by the foregoing provisions of this Article.

Now, it is clearly provided for there that if the President should fail, the Council of State can do it, and, therefore, you have a means of compelling the President to do it. But, of course, this wonderful man, who is able to get the whole Parliament to vote him full power and is able to get the Council of State to give him full power and has nothing but yes-men in the Chief Justice, in the head of the Government, in the Attorney-General and everybody else, will be able to do as he likes. They are all yes-men, and this wonderful man, this superman who is to come upon the earth and be a President, is going to be of such a character that everybody about him is going immediately to kneel at his feet and offer him all these powers.

In these circumstances, of course, if we get such a person on this earth, there would be no need of a Parliament or anything else. Nobody would go to the trouble of electing or bothering about a Parliament if they could hand over powers to a man like that. Not merely the Parliament, but the whole people will put him into that position. This is the dictator we are to look for. The people are going to elect him, and then the representatives of the people are going immediately to abdicate and give to him all their powers. If such a thing could happen, there is no Constitution that can stop it. If some remarkable person is going to come to this island and the Parliament will give him all their powers and the judges and others will be purely yes-men—if such a thing can happen, it is very vain for anybody to try to frame a Constitution.

We are told that a Constitution should be framed, not on the principle that it is to be worked by ordinary beings under ordinary circumstances, but that when we are framing a Constitution [424] we must let our imaginations run riot, and we have to think out carefully all the extravagant things that might possibly happen and we have to provide for them. For instance, the sky might fall; we might have an earthquake; we might have some extraordinary genius before whom all the people are going to bow down; and all that has to be provided for, and we have to provide a Constitution to meet these circumstances.

I do not take that view. I say that it should be viewed from the normal point of view, that we should view it as working under normal conditions, and I think, as I have said before, that the best way to frame this would be, largely, for the Opposition, who have previously been a Government, to take the view that they were still a Government, and for us over here who, at this moment happen to be a Government, to take the view that we were in opposition. If we were to take that view, we would be getting much nearer the mark than by letting our imaginations run riot and letting our minds be influenced by all the horrible things we can imagine and which were put before our minds.

This Constitution has not been framed on such a basis. It has been framed on the basis that we were going to have generally normal conditions, because if things are so abnormal that they are going to sweep these things away, then we cannot provide against them. What we can provide for is the normal and the general, and this Constitution has been framed on that basis: to meet ordinary conditions and to be operated by ordinary human beings. As I said when I spoke about it the first time, it has been framed from a severely practical point of view, and it is because it has been prepared from a severely practical point of view that we have not been content to make broad, general statements which were incapable, and have been proved to be incapable, of being put into practice. You had grand and very fine professions of principle in parts of the old Constitution. Did they last? They did not. They were not able to stand up against the stress of reality.

[425] If you put them in again, they will not be able, possibly, to stand up against the stress of reality. What is being aimed at here is to produce a document which will stand up against the ordinary stresses which the experience of the last 16 years here should have shown to both sides are likely to have to be borne. It is meant to bear up against the ordinary, severe stresses by practical operation. It is not a theoretic document. It is a practical document from beginning to end. I have to repeat what I said formerly—unfortunately one has to repeat certain things—that it is not being narrowed down to a mere framework, merely giving you the institutions of the State. That is the view that some people hold of what it should be. This is intended to do more. It is intended to offer directions in which the State, as a whole, should move. There are directive principles there, and fundamental principles are stated there with the necessary qualifications to enable them to be stated truly. You cannot talk, for instance, about the liberty of the person being inviolable, when you know that, in fact, you have to have laws which interfere with his liberty. You cannot talk about the dwelling of a person being inviolable when you know, in fact, that there may be circumstances in which a dwelling has to be forcibly entered. What you have got to provide against is that, if his liberty is to be taken away from him, or if his home is to be forcibly entered, these things will be done in accordance with the due process of law and not according to the arbitrary will of an individual.

In the same way, when we talk about the question of private property, which has been referred to on the opposite benches, we state the principle that the right of private property shall not be taken away; but there is the general, social right as well as the individual right. There is the good of the community as a whole, and there is the individual; and what is stated here is that, consistent with the recognition of the right of private property, there is also recognition on the part of the State of the right for [426] the common good—that the common good each time would be the test, and a nation's Parliament and the institutions set up are to be the judges of what is for the common good. For the common good, you can delimit the use of that property; but of course we are told from the opposite benches that that is Communistic. When a person accepts the right to private property, by the very fact that he accepts that right, he is not a Communist; and, what is more, these principles are principles which are deducible from the natural law. These principles are deducible from the natural law and are so deducible, and can be deduced, and have been deduced, by pagan philosophers even before the coming of Our Lord at all on earth. You could not state one of these if you did not state the other, because one of them alone would be untrue. You have to state the two.

In the same way, with regard to individual liberty, with regard to the inviolability of the home, with regard to these rights of individuals—these rights also have to be co-ordinated with reference to the common good. You have to take the two aspects, put them side by side, and try to get the proper balance between them, before you are able to arrive at real truth. Deputy McGilligan tells us that, in order to administer any of these, we would need to have a court of Archbishops. It is possible that, by their special training in matters of this particular sort, they might be a better court for that purpose than the Supreme Court. Yet it is very interesting that, when I said that I was looking around for something better than the Supreme Court, I immediately was scoffed at. Of course we are told a Constitution must be interpreted by the courts, and why should I look for any other body? And we have somebody who has studied all the Constitutions of the world, as far as they could be got, and he pooh-poohs the idea that any court other than the Supreme Court should be thought of for the purpose of interpreting the Constitution. He knows perfectly well that in other countries, special courts—in some cases, even the Legislature itself— [427] have been taken as the interpreters of the Constitution. He knows that, even where there is a Supreme Court, as there is in the United States of America, some of the best judges of those courts, when asked to decide as a constitutional court, have said, and put it as the foreground of their work and interpretation, that, ordinarily, the view of the Legislature in interpreting their Constitution should be their guide: that there is a presumption, and should be a presumption, that they are doing their work reasonably and fairly, and that it is only in cases where there is clearly and definitely a departure, not merely from the letter of the Constitution, but from the spirit of the Constitution, that they should hold differently.

I think I indicated, on the Second Reading speech, that at one time I was thinking of whether or not it might not be possible to put a cannon of interpretation here, specially designed as a direction and indication to the Supreme Court that, in dealing with a document of this sort—particularly when you have in parts of it phrases such as “as far as you can,” and so on—that would necessarily be left to the Legislature and that a canon of interpretation would be inserted which would indicate to them, broadly, the lines on which they should act when they were coming to a judgment as to whether a particular Act was against the Constitution or not. Believing, however, that our Supreme Court here would take, in matters of that sort, the view that some of the best judges in the United States of America have taken in regard to their Constitution, I thought it was far better not to put in anything that might possibly be restricting their judgment or, possibly, cause them to fail to use their general common sense and appreciation of the fact that the Legislature, in doing these things, ought ordinarily to be expected to be acting in accordance with the intent of the instrument itself. I finally decided that it would be better not to put it in. It would be very difficult to draft it and, in the long run, putting it in might not be so good. I do not accept and I do not think that any Constitutional lawyer would say that the [428] Supreme Court interpreting this document would interpret it exactly in the same way and with the same canons of interpretation, if you like, as he would interpret an ordinary Act of Parliament.

I have digressed considerably from the point I was about to make in regard to the President. I was taken off it to point out that Deputy McGilligan had evidently not read this “novel document.” It is extraordinary how novel it can be according to some Deputies at one time, and how commonplace and so much a reflection of the other document it can be at another time. The Deputy evidently had not read it or, if he read it, failed to see the significance of the fact that if the President refused to do something which he is supposed to do by this Constitution, it can be done in his name by the competent body, namely the Council of State. Let me refer again to his powers and try if I can to end this thing once and for all. The appointments which the President will make under this Constitution, every one of them— except the appointment of seven people on a purely consultative body, the Council of State—will be made on the advice of somebody. There is no section that I know of in this instrument—and I should be glad to have it pointed out to me if I have, through any oversight, forgotten any part of it —under which there is any appointment made by the President except on the advice of somebody else. In other words, the selection of the person to be appointed is made either by the Taoiseach, the Dáil, the Executive or the Government. How then can anybody pretend or continue to pretend that a man who cannot choose is a dictator?

I do not know if there is any modern definition of the word “dictator.” I have not looked up the dictionary definition of it, but everyone knows that a dictator is a person who himself wills certain things to start with. Having willed a certain thing, he decrees and executes it. Where is the instance in regard to any of these appointments, where the President fulfils any of these obvious requisites for a dictator? He has no will in regard to these appointments. [429] The only question that can arise is whether he will sign the document or not, and if he does not sign the document it will be signed for him by the Council of State, whether he wills it or not. He does not decree anything except in a formal way. He certainly puts it in the Iris Oifigiúil and if he fails to do that, it will be done for him by the Council of State. He does not—and let nobody pretend that he does—in regard to these functions exercise any power which is not more or less of a formal character.

I had better, perhaps, come to the legislative functions. He has in the legislative sphere important functions, but surely it does not lie in the mouths of Deputies on the opposite benches, who have been all the time talking about the power that is vested in this Front Bench, to say that there should not be checks on legislation which might be contrary to the common interest or the general welfare? Have they not been crying out for the last few years that there must be checks? Now when we mention one, they have turned the other way. Now it is a check, if you please, on the people's Parliament. There was, apparently, no people's Parliament up to the present! It can only be a people's Parliament when there is a check put upon it! When it was here acting as such, it was a dictatorship, the dictatorship of a Party! We had them describing with horror how, by a single vote here, we could come in in the morning, pass a Bill overnight, and all your bank balances would be wiped out. A speech something in that style was made by the leader of the Opposition on a previous occasion. We could come in here, take the judges and make them “yes-men.” We could do all these things, because there was no check like the check of a Second House. Now when we introduce a Second House, which to a certain extent is a check, and when we establish a check by having somebody who has also the authority of the people for the very definite specific functions he exercises, we are told that it is a check on the people's Parliament. If it is a check, it is a check which the people themselves have deliberately arranged for. This [430] man, whoever he may be, will be deliberately chosen with the knowledge that he is entrusted with the very big responsibility of being a check in certain instances.

What are the instances? There is the case of the Money Bill which I spoke about. I do not suggest—it has happened only once, I think, in a large number of years—that there would ever be a dispute about whether the certificate of the Ceann Comhairle, in a case like that, was properly given, but no one is infallible and when an emergency of that kind can be provided for, it is wise to do it. Here you have an appeal. If the Second House, which is limited in the manner in which it can deal with a Bill once it is certified as a Money Bill, thinks that it should not have been so certified, it can make an appeal. The President cannot take the initiative in the matter. The Seanad is the body which must make the appeal to him and ask him to have a Committee of Privileges set up to investigate the question as to whether the Bill that was certified as a Money Bill by the Ceann Comhairle was in fact such. What harm can there be in having that appeal? What dictatorial powers does he exercise there? If there is an appeal by the Second House he can consider the question. Why is it that he is not compelled automatically to accede to it? For this reason: that there might possibly be frivolous appeals—frivolous attempts by the Second House to interfere with the ordinary operation of the First House, the House of Representatives.

You have that extra check; it is not merely a check by the Seanad. The President hears the views of a number of sensible men who are not “yes-men.” Nearly all of them have got powers quite independent of the President, except six or seven who can be introduced by him. The proposition here is that the President should have the power of consulting these, and that he might have the power of making the Council of State as representative as possible. It might happen, as an example, that there might be no member of the Opposition, that [431] there might be no member of the Labour Party, in the position that he could get in under the heading that he had formerly held offices which would entitle him to come in. Therefore, it is advisable that he should have a certain number. It is not a question of a vote being taken. I do not think a Council of State ought to be operated by any President on the question of a vote. Clearly, if there was a legal matter being discussed, he would, if he felt that there was no politics coming in and making lawyers say differently from what they would say if they were advising a client or advising the Government. When talking about lawyers, let me say that the Articles in this have been passed by lawyers, and that the difference between the lawyers who have passed this and the lawyers who are criticising it has been mainly that the lawyers who have passed this have no part whatever in the politics of the situation.

General Mulcahy: And they were seven.

The President: They have responsibility, the same responsibility that made the former Attorney-General, when he was Attorney-General, advise the Government to do a thing that was upheld by the courts even when he went out as a politician.

Mr. Dillon: On a point of order, is it regular for the President to put in issue the merits of civil servants? If that course is to be pursued, then it must be open to the Opposition to draw those civil servants——

The President: I should like——

Mr. Dillon: I wish to submit a point of order, and I intend to do so. If that course is to be pursued, it must be open to us on this side to draw the President's advisers into the debate and criticise their capacity to advise.

An Ceann Comhairle: The point put to me was whether it is usual or lawful to draw civil servants' qualifications or actions into the debate [432] here. It is not, and I have not heard the actions of civil servants criticised by the President.

General Mulcahy: Just seven lawyers!

The President: I have not referred to it specifically, at any rate. Perhaps the Deputy, by some sort of generalisation, may be entitled to say that I did. We have law advisers. That is known. When the previous Executive were there they had the same. It is not uncommon to be asked the question, “What do your law advisers say on this matter?” Am I wrong, a Chinn Comhairle, in saying that we have behind this document the support of the legal advisers of the Government? What is out of order in that? I was saying that this document—as well as the interpretations which I give it—has behind it the authority of people who are just as competent as any of the lawyers who have spoken from the opposite benches. In addition to that, there is this difference between them—and it is apparent from the views which have been expressed by lawyers on the opposite benches—that the people who have given it on this side have not had and could not have had any political interest in giving it, because they are outside politics at the moment, anyhow.

Mr. Dillon: Who are they? Name them.

The President: The law advisers.

Mr. Dillon: Name them.

The President: I am not going to name them.

Mr. Dillon: Anonymous opinion against known opinion.

The President: The Attorney-General, for instance.

Mr. Dillon: Well, that is one of them.

The President: And he is responsible in the last resort for giving the Government advice on legal matters. The Attorney-General is entitled to get, either from the Civil Service or outside the Civil Service, the best [433] legal advice, if he is ever in any doubt. If there is ever a question on which he wants to get further advice from lawyers outside, he is entitled to ask them to advise as they would advise a client.

General Mulcahy: Has that been got?

The President: That is the business of the Attorney-General, and what the Attorney-General does or does not do is his own business. I am not going to answer any question as to whether he has or has not done so.

General Mulcahy: It is getting clearer.

The President: He has adopted the practice which is usual in all those cases, namely, that where he has no doubt himself, and where there is no reasonable reason for a doubt, he gives the advice. If he thinks there is a matter on which there is a possibility of difference of opinion, and upon which it may be well to get other advice, he has the right to get that other advice. I am presenting it here with full authority from the Government Benches as a document which has been carefully examined by the different Departments, by the different lawyers. I am only a layman, and there are gentlemen on the opposite benches who are lawyers; lest they should fool the people by getting them to think that, because they as lawyers are speaking against this, their opinion outweighs my opinion and interpretation as a layman, I am putting it before the country that my opinion as a layman is completely and absolutely reinforced by the law advisers of the Government.

Mr. Dillon: To wit, Mr. Patrick Lynch, K.C.

The President: To wit, every person whose opinion the Government thinks worth having.

General Mulcahy: The best that can be got!

The President: Yes—the very best. When we come to examine this in detail it will be found in the long run [434] that there are very few things in it that will need modification. Let me continue with the dictatorial President. I have been talking about his legislative functions. I have pointed out in connection with Money Bills that he is merely a court of appeal; in fact, he is not a court of appeal in the proper sense, because he does not decide; he is simply a medium. If there is a question in dispute it must be referred to a competent body, namely, a committee of privileges picked from each House. Again, if anybody wants to suggest a better committee of privileges I have an open mind. As has been the case in regard to a number of other things, the actual way decided upon here has been the result very often of rejections of other methods which we thought of as solving the difficulty. It will be found that the suggestions rejected were ones which we had very good reasons for rejecting.

There is the position of emergency legislation. If we were to come here and propose that this Dáil were to have power to curtail the power of the Second House, and say: “You must have, in a certain time, a certain Bill through,” we would receive very serious opposition. Is it not quite obvious, if you are going to have a second chamber at all, and if it is to exercise any of those functions which are usually associated with a second chamber, the primary chamber ought not to be in a position—except in the very rarest circumstances, which would have to be clear to everybody to be such—to curtail the power of the Seanad and say: “You must meet this evening and have this passed by 10 o'clock”? It is clear that to give the primary chamber such power would be practically to wipe out the second chamber. I can imagine people saying: “You cannot give that power to the Dáil.” I admit that, if you give them that, you give them tremendous power.

Why do we give it to them? Because there may be occasions in which the very safety of the State, the welfare of our whole people, may depend upon getting a thing done quickly. Can you depend upon the goodwill and the commonsense of the Seanad alone to do that? I would say generally “Yes”, and I would expect that that power [435] which is provided for there would perhaps not be exercised once in a lifetime. But it may be. Am I now transgressing and running in the same direction as Deputy McGilligan wanted us to go in making provision for this extraordinary thing? I may be accused of that. It would not be an unreasonable argument to say that I am trying to provide here for something which is very unlikely, and that we can leave it to the good sense of the Second House to accommodate the First, and to be as sensible of the emergency as the First House or as the Government.

I can understand the argument— and it is one which weighs very much with me—that the Second House can be so depended on. I will take it that, generally, if there was such an emergency, the first thing the head of the Government would do would be to try to see the Chairman of the Seanad and say: “Will you try to get the Seanad to meet, and let us get this thing over quickly, because, if there is delay, immense harm will be done to the community?” Ordinarily, that will work. It ought to work anyhow. But in case it did not, you are giving the primary House the power of overcoming the opposition, if it were offered, and you are only asking that there should be some impartial person who is not in the political arena, so that the head of the Government could go to him and say: “Here is the situation.” He will already be acquainted with the general circumstances. “If we do not pass this Bill by to-morrow, such and such will be the consequences.” The President will have heard the views of other people who are, again, outside the ruck of party politics. If he is able to persuade the President in those circumstances, then it can be done with the President's consent. That is one place where the President has considerable power and considerable responsibility. But, again, this is a thing which is not likely to come into operation except in rare cases, and if anything can be found fault with, it is not that the President has to come into it. What you have to find fault with is the power that is given to the First House to override, even with [436] the President's consent, the Second House.

Therefore you are not conferring on the President any dictatorial powers. If you are conferring them on anybody you are conferring them on the primary House, the House of the people's representatives. It is pretended that by giving the President a certain power of check you are giving dictatorial powers. If you like, even with this check, you should not give these powers to the primary House, but do not let us hear any more of the pretence that we are giving by that dictatorial powers to the President.

It is very interesting and most amusing when you hear the leader of the Opposition making that plea, that you are giving the President powers at the expense of the Parliament. Technically it is incorrect, because he himself is part of the Parliament. If you mean giving him power at the expense of the people's representatives, he is a representative of the people, too, so that that would not be correct. So if you say you are giving him powers at the expense of the people's representatives in the primary House, then I say that comes very badly from the man who was all the time telling of the danger to the country of a single Chamber, which might put its will into operation overnight by a vote in which it had a majority of only one. Where are his further functions? If a Bill is passing through, he can say this appears to me to be contrary to the Constitution; but can he say because it is contrary to the Constitution it shall not become law? He cannot. All he can do is refer it to the Supreme Court and have a decision upon that matter. But, of course, if it is the idea that they are all “yes-men”——

Mr. Dillon: Who ever said that?

The President: That was said on the Opposition Benches.

Mr. Dillon: Not in my hearing.

The President: Well, the Deputy is not infallible and he is not always in the House. It was said here in the House.

[437] Mr. Dillon: By whom?

The President: Deputy McGilligan.

Mr. Dillon: Never. The Council of State was so described, not the Supreme Court.

The President: The point was made on the question of going to the Supreme Court, that they were yes-men. He may have intended that that should apply to the other, but it was clearly the Supreme Court in the context. I suppose I am fallible as well as the Deputy. It may be a question between us then. But to my recollection, and it surprised me very much——

Mr. Dillon: He never said it.

The President: In connection with the Council of State, what about the judges in the Council of State? In the Council of State there will be people who are ex-presidents. When the statement was made there immediately came to my mind a picture of the President of the Supreme Court, the President of the High Court, ex-presidents and other people all being yes-men.

Mr. Dillon: When you make a mistake do not wriggle.

The President: Sometimes I do make mistakes, but, unlike the Deputy, if I am not perfectly certain, I am always willing to admit it, as I have done now.

Mr. Dillon: You did not withdraw that statement.

The President: Let us continue with the examination of the President's functions. In regard to Bills that are said to be contrary to the Constitution his function is simply one of reference to the Supreme Court. In regard to ordinary Bills the pretence is made that if the two Houses pass a Bill he can interfere. He cannot. The only case where he can interfere in regard to a Bill passed by the two Houses is if he thought it was contrary to the Constitution he can send it for a certain time to be examined by the Supreme Court. He can do that certainly, but with regard to ordinary legislation he has to sign it. There is [438] only the case in which the President comes in actively in regard to ordinary legislation with another big power. That is where the matter in question is so grave that it is regarded by the majority of the Seanad and at least one-third of the members of the Dáil of such a grave character that if it passes without having the people's will expressed upon it, it would be a wrong use of a parliamentary majority in the lower House. But he must be satisfied that it is a grave matter, and no President is likely to be so foolish as to refer to the people a Bill unless there is grave doubt. If he were a wise man at all he would want to be almost certain that the people were opposed to it before he would have a referendum. What he does is: He says the matter in this Bill is of such grave importance that the people ought to determine upon it. What is he doing? He is seeing that the Bill is referred to the sovereign authority. Surely the people themselves, when they are referred to, are a higher authority than their representatives. The only objection that I can see to referring it to the people is that it is an expensive process. Therefore it would not ordinarily be used; because anybody who would use it wilfully and carelessly, without full appreciation of the circumstances, would lose the good opinion of the people. That is one of the checks you have on the President's powers all the time, that he is put there trusted by the people, that they expect him to carry out his trust properly, and that if he abuses it they will let him know their opinion very quickly.

I am asking where there is this extraordinary dictatorial power. Mind you, it is not that he comes in and some how interferes, but that he has some dictatorial power. Where is it? We hear these vague things; that he has this great power; that it is too much to give to one man—all these things are conjured up. Let us find out where it is. It is not in any of these I have spoken of. But, it is said, there is a little paragraph hidden away quietly, that paragraph which says that, subject to the Constitution, the President may, by law, get extra powers and provides that, if he does, by law, get these extra powers, these [439] powers must be exercised either on the advice of the Executive Council, or after consultation with the Council of State.

Take the worst—take the widest possible meaning you can have in that and let us see what it comes to. When I was asked about it the first time, I said that, in addition to the express powers you gave to the President, in order to have a certain amount of similarity in the method by which things were to be done that you did want to have some means by which the Parliament, the two Houses, might, by law, confer upon the President the power of doing things other than those expressly provided for here; but that they could not be repugnant to what is provided here. I was trying to think of what particular type of function you could possibly want, and the first one that occurred to me was that the former Governor-General had, before his office disappeared, on the advice of the Executive Council, to appoint visitors to a university. I gave that as an example. Later on Deputy Lavery made a mis-statement or misinterpretation. It was not so much a misinterpretation, because it could not be a question of misinterpretation. I do not want to be misunderstood in my reference to Deputy Lavery, and I do not want to say that he wilfully mis-stated it or anything of that sort; but the statement could not be a misinterpretation of what is in the document. It was simply a mis-statement of it. The suggestion was that the President was purely to be a person confined to internal affairs. I said, not necessarily so; as long as the present relationship is maintained, yes.

General Mulcahy: What present relationship?

The President: The relationship provided for in the Act of last December. Those Acts are taken over by the Constitution. The ordinary laws are taken over. As long as that position is maintained, the President will only exercise those functions that are given to him which have relation to internal affairs. What you do here is, you give [440] power to the Executive Council to use any organ or instrument, whether it is a league of nations, or any new group, or the King—if that is what the Deputy wants me to say—as long as that relationship is maintained you can use it. But there is nothing to prevent you any time, by law, changing that situation. Therefore, if you change it, you can equally by law give to the President these external functions as well as the internal functions. It is not correct, therefore, to say that this confines the President to internal functions. Law can confine him to it. It can be confined by law. But this Constitution itself does not do it. This Constitution gives full power to the Parliament to use it for external affairs if they want to. If the Parliament and the people want to change the connection between this country and Britain, and if they want to change the Act of December last, they can do it. I should like to see the person who will tell me that the Irish people have not the right to do it. They can do it. It is provided here that they can. If they want to, the Parliament can give to the President the functions which, under the existing circumstances, with the Act of last December in operation, are not to be done by the President. It is wrong to make the statement that Deputy Lavery made, that the President is purely for home affairs. No. He can be for home or external affairs, according as Parliament and the people decide.

General Mulcahy: So that we can have either the President and his relationship——

The President: You can have either one, as the Irish people want, and as the interests of the Irish people determine, and that is the way it should be—whichever you want to have; either use the Act of last December, if it is the King is used by that, or if that is changed to-morrow, and you have some other method of getting these things done, that method can be used. If you want to cut it altogether, you can do it by this Constitution. If you want to have a league of nations, and there is a new [441] league put up and you want to go into close association with it, and it is agreed, in the general interest, that some other method should be used so as to do it, you can do it, provided the Parliament and the people agree.

Therefore, there is full liberty given here in this Constitution for the use of the President in external as well as internal affairs. But I am told: “If you give that power to the President by that Article, then you can give him any power.” That is nice reasoning. If the President is given one sort of power, he can get any power—well, that is nice logic. The President is given powers. You can add to the existing powers, or rather you can add the ones that are definitely designed for him and definitely specified in this Constitution. You can add those other powers—but that does not mean to say you can add any other powers—the other powers—those powers which are specified, those functions which are specified in the Act of December, 1936. You can confer on the President those functions which are provided for in that, or to be operated otherwise.

Mr. O'Neill: Why not do that now?

The President: Because we want to have that as a separate issue to the people.

General Mulcahy: When?

The President: Is that a bit of information for you? Because we want to have that discussed separately and independently by the people; so that when the people think that that line of action should be taken they can do that, and that when it is being done by the Parliament we can have under this Constitution a Parliament of all the people's representatives, without anybody who is a member of that Parliament necessarily committing himself to any line of foreign policy, as you have in other Parliaments. That is the difference between this Constitution and the others. This Constitution puts in its proper place the question of external relations and makes it a matter for us to deal with as a matter of foreign policy, as it would be dealt with in any other country.

I gave the example of the United [442] State and the question of its association with the League of Nations. That is a burning question and has been a burning question in America, one way or another, since 1919. The people of America have had different views upon it. What would you think if they were to introduce and make, through the Constitution, the question of entrance into the American Congress depend on the fact that any section entering it had to take either view in regard to that matter; in other words, if they had to make it a part of the American Constitution, say, that the United States should be a member of the League of Nations? If that were in their Constitution and there was an obligation on those who entered the Congress to accept that, then you would have the United States in somewhat the same position that we have been trying to get out of in this country for a number of years. To get out of that position, and put the question of external relations into its proper position as a question of foreign policy, has been mainly the underlying thought in the drafting of this Constitution. I was talking about the provision to add to the President's powers those powers which are mentioned, which are of a formal type. It is here in the Constitution that these must be exercised on the advice of the Government. He cannot do these things of his own will. He has to do them on the advice of the Government. But Deputy McGilligan says:

“That is not enough; it is not enough that he should be advised to do these things. He must have his signature attested or at least implemented in another way by having a member of the Executive named with it. You must not merely have his name on the document but you must have it countersigned.”

Deputy McGilligan had a grand opportunity when Minister for External Affairs of putting that principle into practice. He did not do it. He had to wait until our time to do it. That principle could have been put into operation by him if he wanted to do so. At least, he might have [443] tried to see it was done. I am not aware he did. It was extraordinary that there was no need of that in the case of an authority which was not elected by the Irish people but they have to safeguard it now when there is a man going to be elected by the Irish people themselves. That man is going to take their advice and he is not going to take any conflicting advice that he could get. There is no danger of any conflict of that sort. But they had to wait until the person elected by the Irish people, who has only one set of advisers to advise him on that particular matter. He is to have his signature attested by that particular officer who is to be a member of the Government. If his signature is wrongly affixed you may be perfectly certain that the Government will have a manner of dealing with it and that the Parliament of the people will have a manner of dealing with it. He, no more than anybody else, can exercise functions or give law to something which is not law. Now, I was continuing on that issue that because he got certain powers he can get all powers. I hope I have shown to the Dáil that these extra powers are prescribed and that consultation with the Executive cannot give him any other matters because it is explicitly stated that whoever acts in regard to external affairs is bound to act on the advice and authority of the Government of the day. What extra powers can we give him?

Mr. Dillon: Hear, hear.

The President: Let the Deputy tell us.

Mr. Dillon: I was waiting for the President to tell me.

The President: The Deputy does not know.

Mr. Dillon: I will tell the President. Every extra power that the President's mind is capable of conceiving——

The President: My mind is not capable of conceiving these powers. The exact functions which the Executive is exercising were told us by Deputy McGilligan

[444] Mr. Dillon: The President asked me to tell him and he will not let me answer when I start to tell him.

The President: Deputy Dillon has answered, and he said anything my mind could think of. Now, the answer is this. Deputy McGilligan, when he was talking about the Constitution a few moments ago here, said that after all when you go through them, once they are past the democratic principle, they are confined within very narrow lines. They have been examined time after time on various operations. They are in three main classes, and the functions that the President can exercise in these matters are very limited. We have them all. If there is any place where they are all taken in, it is in the Government of the day. If there is any place where anything is outstanding, or anything lying about, these are all caught up into one net, the central net, into which all authority is brought to the elected Government which is chosen by the people's representatives and which is responsible to the primary House day after day.

Mr. Dillon: Can you not embody all under Article 10?

The President: The Parliament can abdicate and say that “anything the President likes to bring in, we will say ‘yes’ to it.” So can the people in the extraordinary circumstances that we are told the country is going to produce: everybody is going to say “Let his will be supreme.” When that happens there is nothing that you can provide against. When you envisage the circumstances that the elected Government, elected by the representatives of the people, is, as we are told, going to abdicate; when the House of Representatives is going to abdicate; when everybody is going to abdicate—if you envisage these circumstances, I cannot help you.

General Mulcahy: Sure it has already happened. It has been happening for the last three years.

The President: Deputies over there are talking very loudly for the last three years. They have not abdicated.

[445] General Mulcahy: I am speaking of the members behind the President. That body of members over there has abdicated.

The President: When you are trying to work up another thesis, when you want to say there is going to be a clash, it is a different matter. I should imagine how Deputy Fitzgerald would catch on to this—that the person has power, he wants to get more of it, and here now we are going to assume that everybody elected by the people is going to be a “yes-man”; that the Parliament is going to abdicate, and that the people are going to stand for it. If Parliament were to do that, the people may not support them.

Mr. McGilligan: That is why the President wants seven years.

The President: The Deputy had a chance of showing that, and he did not show it.

Mr. McGilligan: I did.

The President: The Deputy had his chance and he will have his chance in Committee. We are getting ready to meet him in Committee, and then we can see exactly what powers are being given. I have gone over the gamut of his powers in the executive field and in the administrative field, and in not one of them can you suggest that he has dictatorial powers. He has quite the opposite. He is deprived of any power of action except reference; except in so far as he puts his name to a document sent to him his action is confined to a certain matter for decision by somebody else. He cannot decide himself. The Deputy knows that perfectly well.

We next come along to this other matter, this question of the rights of women. This is the second wheel of the cart in which this whole thing has been going on for two or three days. This Draft Constitution is said to be taking away the rights of women. Deputy McGilligan was frank enough, at any rate, to admit that in so far as there appeared to be a taking away of the rights from women they were taking away the rights from men as well.

[446] Mr. McGilligan: The President is not to put words into my mouth that I did not use.

The President: As far as I understand, the Deputy said there was power to take them away from men as well as from women.

Mr. McGilligan: I object to that phrase. I said it was clear.

The President: It may have been very clear to the Deputy, but I think I should save myself from making, possibly, a mistake about it, though I, too, agree that it appeared to me to be clear.

Mr. McGilligan: I do not agree with the word “appeared”.

The President: I am going to use my own words. It refers to me; the word “appeared” clearly refers to me, and I, in this case, am the judge. It appears—I will repeat it—from the statement which was made by Deputy McGilligan, that this power of taking away rights is not a power merely, as those who want to pretend that there is some special attack on women would have us believe, in relation to women, but is for women and men, and, therefore, they are on a basis of equality there. Is that so?

Mr. McGilligan: It is hard to call it a basis of equality; it is a basis of degradation.

The President: We want to be clear about it. The whole suggestion is that we are trying to put women in an inferior status, to give women an inferior status to men.

Mr. McGilligan: So you are.

The President: I have met many times representatives of women's organisations and I have been acquainted with their views on a number of those matters, and one of the things they are asking for is that they should be put on a basis of equality so far as civil rights are concerned. I say that this Constitution puts them on a basis of equality as regards their political rights. There is not a single Article in this which takes away from women any right [447] which they have. Our citizenship law is the most liberal in the world in regard to the position of women.

Mr. McGilligan: Are you talking of the Constitution or the law now?

The President: I am talking about the law.

Mr. McGilligan: And I am talking about the Constitution. I thought we were debating the Constitution.

The President: We are, but you say that the Constitution takes away from the rights of women.

Mr. McGilligan: So it does.

The President: I say it does not.

Mr. McGilligan: Will you let me put my case?

The President: You had your chance and now let me start to try to show you are not right. I say this Constitution does not take away from any women's rights. I say that categorically. I am told that in relation to another Constitution it appears not to be so good. The other Constitution, Article 3 of it, came in under a very special set of circumstances. It was dealing with a very special situation. It was the first time that we were getting any body of citizens. No body of citizens had been defined as citizens of this State, of Saorstát Eireann. They had to be defined for the first time. You were getting this defined and we defined it in a certain way and at the time the Constitution was passed Saorstát Eireann was applicable to the whole of Ireland and it brought into the definition people who were domiciled in the country for a certain period before the coming into operation of the Constitution.

We had people in the North of Ireland who were brought in under that. A month after its passage there was, according to the agreement, power to opt out, and the people in the North opted out and left us with a rather complicated citizenship position. That citizenship position was rectified by our Citizenship Act. It is a complicated Act. And because the intention is that this Constitution should be capable of being operated [448] as for the whole country, and because we do not want to lose any rights that we had before, whilst we are getting the rights for the whole of Ireland we are anxious, naturally, to get in and give the right of citizenship to all those who had the right before. You cannot say that in simple terms. The moment that the reintegration which is provided for in the sense that if it comes about it can operate——

Mr. McGilligan: You envisage that?

The President: Yes, and it is quite right to envisage it, and it will come yet.

Mr. McGilligan: With the lever of this Constitution?

The President: The Constitution gives the basis, the first necessary basis for anything, and that is to get order down here and loyalty, complete loyalty here. You cannot express the citizenship position in any simple way suitable for incorporation in this Constitution. It is not unusual to leave the question of the loss and acquisition of citizenship to law. There are some States that leave it in that position and where, as in our case, the definition would be at all complicated, it is right to leave it to law. Does any one of us think that it is likely in this year of grace that we are going to turn back the clock and deprive women of the rights which they possess at the moment?

Mr. McGilligan: Not if we can help it.

The President: No, not if you can help it. That is the attitude of everybody. No one wants to deprive them of any rights. The Citizenship Act is there and, unless the people of Ireland and this Parliament want to deprive them of their rights, there will be no suggestion of it. I would like to know what security can anybody, man or woman, any class of the community, get against the will of the people as a whole or the will of the people's Parliament? They cannot get it under any constitution which is not a rigid one, and a rigid constitution is always changed by revolution. You can change this Constitution by a vote of [449] the people at any time. This is not a rigid Constitution in that sense. You have a simple way of changing it. It may be a little bit costly, I admit, but if there is a big question at issue the cost would be only a trifle. But you can settle the issue and change the Constitution by a vote of the people.

We find, therefore, in this, immediately and directly, a definition of the class of citizens. It is in the law, being carried over in the law, and the day when you can get a simple definition of citizenship, such as that all who are born in this island and those who are born of parents who were born in this island—once you can get a simple definition which will fit the situation at the time, then you can insert it into the Constitution; but at present to deal with the complicated situation you want something like an Act, and the Act may be possible. It can possibly be simplified, but in my opinion it is better in our circumstances to follow the example of those countries which leave the definition of citizenship to the Parliament and to Acts of Parliament rather than to the Constitution itself. We are in this position, that we have passed the citizenship law; there is a law in existence. It is not as if we were going out into the void with no definite class of citizens who could be called our citizens. They are well defined and this takes them over, but there is a possibility of a time coming in which you can get your whole body of citizens simply stated in a form suitable for insertion in the Constitution. That time has not come yet.

With regard to women and the phrase, “without distinction of sex,” to my mind, anyhow, so far as they are concerned, that is a phrase that may have been applicable just after the time that they got, under the British law, the vote. As far as we are concerned here at any time, there has been no suggestion that women should be denied the franchise. There has been no suggestion from any side, or from any section of the people even; no threat of any kind has been made since we began to rule ourselves, from 1919 onwards—no suggestion from any quarter whatever that women should be denied the franchise, and the fullest powers were [450] given to them. As I said here on the last occasion, women can vote for any office. They can vote at any election —at a referendum election, presidential election, Seanad election, or Dáil election. They can hold any office in this State. That being so, I say that this does not deprive women of any of the rights they have got, and I state that proposition categorically.

It is said, however: “Oh, but they may be deprived of their rights. You deprive them of their rights in the sense that you do not see that they cannot be deprived of their rights.” I say that you cannot provide against the people depriving any section of the people of their rights if they want to do so. However, I think it is like Deputy McGilligan, who went on the line that we should frame our Constitution to meet extraordinary and abnormal circumstances. He seems to think that the question should be approached from the viewpoint of the abnormal and the extraordinary. Quite frankly, I say that it has not been approached in that spirit, because I do not believe that it would be the right spirit in which to approach the matter; because if you did, you would be making a Constitution to deal with a lot of absurd exceptions instead of the work that a Constitution has to do, namely, the ordinary work from day to day. In so far as the political rights of women are concerned, I state, then, that this Constitution does not, itself, in any way, interfere with the status of women in the community, and the proof of it is that, under this Constitution, they can hold any office, vote for any election, and there is no distinction made between them and men so far as political action is concerned.

Now we come to one of the Articles which has been brought in, in this connection. One of the Articles says that all citizens are, as human persons, equal before the law. In fact, that is the only sense in which there is equality anywhere. Inequalities are in nature. Inequalities must exist in any organised community. It is essential. You cannot get on without it. You create inequalities here the [451] moment you put one section in office as an Executive while the others are not. You create inequalities the moment you order an army. You create inequalities the moment you have a group of people and have to put a foreman over them. As human persons, they are all equal, but you have to face inequalities in nature, and it is absurd to say that the abstract proposition, that all citizens are equal, is right. It is equally wrong to state that you can give equal opportunities to everybody. It cannot be done.

Deputies: Oh!

The President: No. It cannot be done. You cannot give equal opportunities to everybody, because unless you narrow the meaning of opportunity down until it has no longer its ordinary meaning, the people who, by nature, have been put in certain positions or given certain endowments, are given at the very start an unequal opportunity, and it is nonsense, and it is not facing realities, to say that there are not inequalities. It would be absolutely absurd to strain the phrase that all people are equal in that way. You may try to level up the inequalities. It is a very laudable and proper aim to try, as far as possible, to level up the inequalities. It is a very proper thing to do. The workers try to do it when they try to end piece-work and when they say that they will not have piece-work, because under that method of working, if you have unrestricted competition, the piece-worker, if he is a good craftsman and a better worker, perhaps, than others, would be able to get into a better position than one who was not. We have accepted that, however, because, taking it all around, it would work badly for the community generally; and therefore, in order to enable the weaker members to level up the inequalities which exist as a result of different capacities, we deliberately bring in an artificial idea, and that is that there should be no piece-work.

Mr. Dillon: And you abandon equality of opportunity?

[452] The President: I can abandon what is not correct.

Mr. Dillon: But you do?

The President: I say that equality of opportunity is not possible. Do you mean to tell me that Deputy Dillon was in the same position and had only the same opportunities as some person who, let us say, was born down in a tenement and had not got the same opportunities of education?

Mr. Dillon: The object of this State ought to be to create equality of opportunity.

The President: That man starts at a disadvantage. There is no use in not facing the fact that nature does not work by giving equality. We have not got it. What we have got to aim at is to try to get it.

Mr. Dillon: Hear, hear!

The President: Very good, then.

Mr. Dillon: I thought you said it was quite impossible.

The President: If you say to me, “Do you give up trying to level the inequalities?” my answer is: “No, certainly not.” The aim of society ought to be——

Mr. Dillon: Equality of opportunity?

The President: ——to try to give equality of opportunity. It cannot give it absolutely.

Mr. Dillon: But it ought to try to give it?

The President: Exactly. It ought to try. But there is a difference between trying to do a thing—trying to reach an ideal—and talking about that ideal as if, by the wave of a wand, it could be achieved, or as if it were a natural thing to be achieved. There is in these Articles opportunity for a good deal of thought and debate, and we will all be the better for it when we have debated these Articles out.

Mr. McGilligan: Oh, no. According to the Minister for Defence, every man at a chapel gate in the country knows [453] more about the Constitution than we do.

Mr. Aiken: Oh, no—than Deputy Costello knows.

The President: I will say to Deputy McGilligan—and he knows it very well —that you may have a thing that is quite succinct and you could write an essay on it.

Mr. McGilligan: But I could not make as long a speech as the President has made on this.

The President: No, the Deputy would not have as much material, perhaps.

Mr. McGilligan: At any rate, I would get it clearer at the end.

The President: Deputy McGilligan had an excellent opportunity of making constitutional matters clear either here or elsewhere, but, judging by his contribution to-night, I am afraid he has not done very well in that line. Now, with regard to this question of the modification of that general proposition: First of all, it is modified, as you notice, by putting in the words “human persons”. It is only in regard to their equality as human persons that you can make the same proposition. It is only as human persons that there is equality. In all the other ways, you have differentiations right through, but I have seen people try to argue from that statement that, not merely should people be treated as human beings, impartially, in courts of law, but there has been an attempt to strain that in a completely wrong direction and to suggest that, because you have that statement, all your laws must be of such a character that they will be universal; in other words, that you cannot distinguish between capacity or function or any of the things we distinguish between from day to day.

We are constantly making distinctions. We have to do it. If we are going to have anything like distributive justice at all, we need to do it. We cannot deal with these matters as if we were all on a dead level. We have definitely to take into account various sections and the way in which these Acts will impinge upon them and affect them. We are doing it constitutionally [454] and are laying down that it shall not be held by the courts to debar the Legislature from doing what it obviously must do, that is, in its Acts, take full account of different functions, different capacities and so on.

Mr. McGilligan: This is metaphysics.

The President: Whether it is metaphysics or not——

Mr. McGilligan: It is metaphysics through the medium of Irish, because I confess that I cannot understand it. It is not capable of being understood.

The President: It is a wonder how much Deputies can understand when they want to understand it.

Mr. McGilligan: I have been trying hard to understand it.

The President: I doubt it. I have at least that much respect for the Deputy's intelligence. He knows full well what I am talking about. I am showing that that first part of the proposition, to be accurate, has to be stated in the form in which it is stated, and secondly, that that proposition, proposed in the strict form in which it is stated, has to be clearly safeguarded from being applied in a sense in which it should not be applied. That is to say, this is my attempt to state these propositions in a form in which they are true, and not in a form in which they are false. There is no attack upon women, none whatever. The Deputy will tell us that you could possibly strain this and use it against women. You can use it against any section if you want to strain it. In fact, it is only an enabling power to see that Parliament is not debarred by the first part of the proposition from doing the things it has to do.

Again, there is equality. There is no discrimination against one sex in that particular matter. To go further, we have this Article about the home. Perhaps I had better read that, as it is here, until we see this terrible sin which I am supposed to have committed. Article 41, Section 2 (1), reads:

“In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a [455] support without which the common good cannot be achieved.”

I should like to know who is the woman who is going to tell us that there is an attack on womankind in that?

“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.”

Is that proposition true or false? Is it a thing that should be recognised by the State or not? It is a recognition of a fact that is universally recognised and unless the word “home” seems to hurt, I see nothing in that statement to which any woman could object.

Mr. Dillon: In so far as it refers to the “mother”?

The President: It is in connection with the family. The Deputy will find it in Article 41. I shall read it again.

Deputies: Oh, no!

The President: Yes, I shall. It will be read many a time in the country yet.

Mr. Morrissey: Faith, it will for the general election.

The President: If Deputies think that they can fool women with this, they have less respect for them than I have.

Mr. McGilligan: And that is saying a lot.

The President: “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.” I know that there has been a cheap jibe thrown from time to time at women telling them that they should be in the home. Because that jibe has been hurled at women, am I to be prevented in a document such as this in giving a tribute where tribute is due?

Mr. Dillon: “Woman” there means mother, does it?

The President: It is in the Article dealing with the family, and clearly [456] in the next sentence what it means is clucidated further: “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”.

Mr. Dillon: An excellent principle.

The President: An excellent principle, a good, sound, solid principle. That is that mothers should not be forced by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home. Clearly it is necessary that the duties of the home which devolve mainly upon mothers, should be carried out. That is a tribute, in the first place, to the work which mothers do, and, secondly, it is a statement that the State shall endeavour by the means understood, the natural means, that it considers best to secure that purpose, and “best” includes justice as well, so if it is going to do it, it is implied in all this that the methods should be in accordance with justice. “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 one of the Articles which has been used by the Opposition and by those who have listened to them to say that this is an attack upon women. Deputy McGilligan thinks apparently that he can work upon the want of understanding or want of knowledge of the 99 per cent. that Deputy talks about, that these can be worked upon because they will not take the trouble to read the Constitution and that they will take the interpretation that he and Deputy Costello put upon it.

Mr. Costello: I dealt with Article 16, not with Article 41.

The President: We shall deal with the various Articles as they come. I say this is one of the Articles which has been made the basis of the charge, that I have some particular idea in my mind to deprive women of their rights. I say there is nothing in that Article which anybody who reads it, who does not import into it something that is not normally there, and who does not try to interpret the word “home” by [457] harping back to some cheap sneer by people whose attitude has not been my attitude, can justifiably challenge. I defy anybody here or elsewhere to give an example of a case where I have ever done anything either in public or private that would suggest that I wished to deprive women of their rights. I say it is a false statement; there is no truth in it, and anybody who says so here or outside is not telling the truth.

Mr. McGilligan: Article 16 is a bit that way.

The President: We shall deal with that Article in its proper place. We have another Article which has been made the basis of an attack upon this document, and as further indicating a personal attitude, if you please. We have Article 45 (4), dealing with the directive principles.

Mr. Dillon: Surely it has no effect at all?

The President: It has no effect at all, and yet although it has no effect at all, it is a mortal sin as far as I am concerned.

Mr. Dillon: Not at all. The President is doubtless in the state of grace.

The President: It is wonderful the way you can shift from one foot to the other. When the dictatorship scare started, the presidential office was going to be a dictatorship. When that is exposed they have to go somewhere else; then the head of the Government was going to be a dictatorship. Before long, the whole House is going to be a dictatorship. Before long the people as a whole are going to be a dictatorship. Indeed, Deputy Costello went very close to it—so it was reported to me anyhow. I have not got his exact words.

Mr. Costello: Was it the Minister for Defence gave it to you?

The President: It was reported to me anyhow, from notes, that the Deputy seemed to talk about the tyranny of democracy.

Mr. Costello: What I talked about was that there was no greater tyranny [458] than tyranny masquerading under the cloak of democracy.

The President: If the Deputy said that——

Mr. McGilligan: That is what he did say. Deal with that as a thesis.

The President: If the Deputy said that, it is a careful statement.

Mr. McGilligan: But that is the statement that was made.

The President: It is not as originally reported to me.

Mr. Costello: Who reported it?

The President: If that were the statement, I take the Deputy's word for it.

Mr. McGilligan: It was.

The President: I take that.

Mr. McGilligan: So that is finished?

The President: That is a careful statement. Anybody can say that anything is masquerading. I could say, for instance, that the lawyers over there who have been talking about this were only masquerading as lawyers and were really politicians.

Mr. Costello: You did say it.

The President: I did say it, but I did not say it quite like that.

Mr. Dillon: You were not quite as honest.

The President: I said what was a real reproach from my heart to them, that I knew if they approached this from the technical and legal point of view, and confined themselves to that——

Mr. McGilligan: They would agree with you?

The President: ——they could give wonderful help.

Mr. McGilligan: But when they disagreed with you they were politicians.

The President: I said they could give us wonderful help, but I regret that I found their very words could convict them absolutely of putting the lawyer aside and appearing, for the [459] purpose of this debate, not as the lawyer who was calmly either advising a client or judging a case. I should be very sorry if any of the lawyers who spoke here on this matter would talk on the bench as they have been talking on this Bill, because it would be a sorry day for us.

Mr. Costello: Are you speaking of their own words or what was reported to you?

The President: They have been trained as advocates—trained to support for the time being whatever case they want to try to push forward.

Mr. McGilligan: Completely different from you!

The President: I have made no comparison with myself. I am making none whatever. If anybody honestly shows that there is in this something different from what I take to be in it, I hope I will be able to keep an open mind.

Mr. Costello: Will you deal with Article 16? You are at Article 45 now?

The President: Let me finish this. I am going to finish this thing anyhow. Deputy Dillon, to start with, says it is of no account. The community as a whole when it adopts this Constitution will adopt certain social objectives, and will indicate certain lines along which their representative in Parliament will try to proceed in order to reach the goal. Now, it is clear that as it can only be defined as an objective, and as it can only be upon directive lines, you cannot let anybody except the Legislature itself interpret it, and therefore it is between the Legislature and the people. The people having said, “This is the goal,” the legislators will be open at any time to being asked by the people, “How far are you proceeding in this direction? Are you going forward or backward?” It is in that context that we have this section:—

The State pledges itself to safeguard with especial care the economic interests of the weaker sections of the community, and, where necessary, to contribute to the support of the [460] infirm, the widow, the orphan and the aged.

Surely Deputy Dillon will not carry his ideas so far as to deny that there are weaker sections in the community——

Dr. Ward: He knows it.

Mr. Costello: Yes—the Fianna Fáil Party for instance.

The President: ——who, notwithstanding any opportunities they may have been given, are still behind in this race of competition, a race which if left to itself, would mean the elimination of all but the specially fit. There are weaker sections in the community, and it is the duty of the community to protect them. I was talking about piecework in connection with labour a few moments ago; because of the fact that you could not allow to go unchecked this fierce competition between those who had special capabilities, and the average person, trade unions, and so on, had to come along to protect the weaker sections of the community. The weaker sections of the community ought to be the object of care of the community as a whole, and we say here that the State pledges itself to safeguard with especial care the weaker sections of the community.

Mr. Costello: Read it now. Read “...the inadequate strength of women.”

The President: We will come to that. We will have plenty of time for the next couple of weeks to talk those things out. There are weaker sections of the community. The women, or those who speak for them, seem to think they are so weak that, although they are a majority of the voting strength in the country, somehow or other they are going to be deprived of fundamental political rights. That and equality do not go very well together. There are, from the economic point of view, weaker sections whose interests need to be safeguarded and protected. We pledge ourselves here, the people as a whole, as a community, pledge themselves, and their representatives are bound to take especial care of those weaker sections—the widow, the [461] orphan, the aged and the infirm. Some genius of a lawyer—or would-be lawyer or pseudo-lawyer, because I do not think that any real lawyer said this —tried to suggest that, because we speak of certain classes here, there is some rule of interpretation which tells us that we are not to look after other sections at all. There is some idea that, because we enumerate those, we cannot protect any other sections —that the others are excluded. That is absurd. The meaning there is quite clear and nobody can doubt it. Secondly, “the State shall endeavour to ensure that the inadequate strength of women and the tender age of children shall not be abused.” Deputy Costello is smiling.

Mr. Costello: I got great amusement out of that phrase.

The President: I am sure you did. You got great amusement when you halloed and you saw that the chase had started. Is not that the fun you got out of it?

Mr. Costello: Not at all.

Mr. Jordan: He was gallant!

The President: “The inadequate strength of women.” Well, there are women who compete with men and can swim the Channel, women who in long air tests show that they have the same physical strength as men, or at least a strength that is as good as that of men. I have not denied it. I have never denied that there are exceptional women who are as strong as the strongest men, but I do not think that any woman is going to suggest that her average strength for hard work— manual labour—is equal to that of the average man. I do not believe it is. I would be very sorry indeed to see a state of society in which women were forced to do the same sort of work as men. We know very well that there is nothing in this Constitution which suggests that women are to be excluded from any occupation, but there is in it a suggestion as to the general aim of our social policy, and the general aim of our social policy ought to be not to impose burdens beyond those which they can bear on any section of the community and not to force women, by [462] economic necessity, into occupations which are not suitable to their sex. Similarly, not to impose on children or on others, by the necessity of living, tasks which they are not suited to bear. We have, for instance, to differentiate in the case of the army. I think there are laws passed by our predecessors which differentiate. For instance, I do not think that women can go into the army. Deputy Dillon will say, of course, that it is denying women equality of liberty.

Mr. Dillon: Why pick on me?

The President: Because you are talking about denying women equality of opportunity. When the Deputy spoke about equality of opportunity, I knew, of course, it did not exist. Is the Deputy going to suggest that in order to give equality of opportunity we should open the ranks of the army to women? I have often been asking myself why it is that some people have been spreading the idea that I was somehow or other opposed to or have reactionary views about women. I have not, as far as I know, and I challenge anybody to show it, in public or private.

Mr. Dillon: Wait until the Cumann na mBán get on your trail. You will not let the ladies into the Army.

The President: That may be the beginning of all my trouble. In 1916 it is true that some Cumann na mBán section offered to serve with us. I do not remember whether it was directly or through some officer. I said we have anxieties of a certain kind here and I do not want to add to them at the moment by getting untrained women, women who were clearly untrained for soldiering. I did not want them as soldiers in any case. I am not saying for a moment that they may not fight as well as men. That was not the question I had to decide, but I said I did not want them. I did appreciate their services but I did not want them to accept any such work at the time. I said we may have some people wounded, and I would be very glad indeed if we can get some women to take over the dispensary in Grand Canal Street. I think [463] I also indicated that we would have to take some of the men out of the firing line for the purpose of cooking food and that sort of thing. Perhaps that is the origin of the suggestion that I wanted to put women in the kitchen. I think any sensible woman will admit, in these circumstances, that it was not disregard for women's rights that impelled me to act like that. That is the only thing I can remember that could give rise to the suggestion about women in the kitchen.

The only other case of this kind in which a suggestion could be made that I have not given women equal opportunities is in regard to women going up for election. In a constituency Parties do not put up anybody for election unless they hope the constituency will be won by that particular person. Nobody who has responsibility in the selection of candidates would put up a person who would not get support, whether it was a man or a woman. It is possible that I may have said in a case of that sort it would have been better to select candidate A, who happened to be a man, rather than candidate B, who happened to be a woman.

As far as I know, that is the sum total of all my offending in regard to having any reactionary ideas about women. My line of approach is not one of prejudice against women or women's rights. There is no truth whatever in it. It cannot be suggested that it is if I say that the average strength of women is not the same as the average strength of men. You could very legitimately say, for instance, that stoking a furnace on a trans-Atlantic liner is not a job that women, by economic necessity, should be forced to take.

Again I say there is not anything whatever that I know to sustain the charge that we are here depriving women of their rights. What is the Article?

Mr. Costello: Article 16, page 30.

The President: Is this a second leg that the Deputy is standing on?

[464] Mr. Costello: This is the leg. The others are not my leg at all.

The President: It is now two dictators. We have the President and the head of the Government. The Article reads: “Every citizen who has reached the age of 21 years, and who is not placed under disability or incapacity by this Constitution or by law, shall be eligible for membership of Dáil Eireann.” Who is disqualified by law! I suppose that is the point.

Mr. Costello: “Who is not placed under disability or incapacity by this Constitution or by law.” The law might place women under incapacity.

The President: Does this refer to women?

Mr. Costello: I say that a law can be passed under Article 61 placing women under incapacity to vote.

The President: That applies to other people as well as women. This in itself is not directed against women. Will the Deputy admit that?

Mr. Costello: Certainly, and I think it is very objectionable for that reason.

The President: The first point, then, that it is directed against women, is not sustainable.

Mr. Costello: Certainly. But an ordinary law can be passed.

The President: The Deputy admits that there is no discrimination against women as women in this. Is not that fair? The Deputy is anxious to watch as the guardian of the women. He wants to see that there is no loophole by which Parliament could possibly interfere with women's rights.

Mr. Costello: A constitutional guarantee.

The President: I completely share the Deputy's view. I do not want this Constitution to deprive women of any rights which in justice and in nature they should have. Undoubtedly by this as it stands nobody who is not disqualified by law is interfered with. The Deputy will understand that in our electoral laws and other laws there are classes of people who are [465] disqualified. There are people of unsound mind. It is a common form in these laws. It is in the old Constitution too.

Mr. Costello: You do not get this Article in the old Constitution. You left out the words “without distinction of sex.” The Minister for Defence does not know as much as the chapelgate man knows about Article 14.

The President: This is one of the cases where, with the beautiful phrases of the old Constitution ringing in my ears, or the draftsman's cars, we took the phrase “disqualified by law.” “Disqualified by law” is used in the electoral Acts and in other Acts referring to three or four classes of people. You have got people of unsound mind. You have got people who are bankrupt. You have got people who are prisoners. There were four classes in one of those laws —those who were guilty of corrupt practices. The intention of this phrase as it stands here was to cover them. It is possible—I have an open mind on it—that you may strain that and say that the extraordinary thing could happen, and that half of the electorate was going to be disqualified. In this State we are rather peculiar. We have more men than women.

Mr. Morrissey: A lot of them are gone away.

The President: That is so, unfortunately. They are being attracted by higher money. It may be possible to stop it artificially, but we do not want to deprive people of a livelihood till we are certain that they have got a livelihood here. I do not want this to be strained at all beyond the intention for which it was put in here. That is the sort of thing that I should like to get from the lawyers on the opposite benches. That is the purpose of discussing this thing here in Committee. I assure them that if there is any single point in this where they can put forward an amendment which will enable this thing to be restricted to the intention and not to be capable of widening, I will be only too happy, as I am anxious that this should finally [466] be as perfect an instrument as discussion in Committee can make it. That is honest. I will have this examined. I think what has been suggested is absurd. I think it is something that will be altogether unlikely in the nature of things to happen—that we should go back now and try to deprive women of their votes or anything of that sort; but if it is capable of that I will meet it. I will be only too willing to do it. It is the sort of thing I want to discover. I have asked every Government Department to sean this draft before the Committee Stage to see if, from their knowledge, there is anything in this that if left in would make it a less perfect instrument than we want it to be. When it has gone through, I hope it will be regarded as the work, not of an individual or even of the group of men who helped me in this, but that it will be the offering of this Irish Dáil to the people as the instrument of fundamental law in this State.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Will the President answer my question as to what is Eire?

The President: Eire is the name of the State.

Mr. Fitzgerald: What is the State?

The President: The State is defined in the first part. I have distinguished between the nation and the State. The provision regarding the nation refers to the whole Irish nation, and it claims that the Parliament and so on have a de jure right over the whole country, but that in fact it is not possible to exercise that right at the moment, and, therefore, that the State coming into existence—the Parliament and so on—will be one which can exercise jurisdiction only over the Twenty-Six Counties. Therefore Eire in practical application——

An Ceann Comhairle: I should like to call attention to the fact that the motion must be put before 10.30 p.m.

The President: The Deputy knows quite well what the point is. The State in common parlance, and even [467] on the map, may be represented, people outside may represent it, as only referring to the present area, but, as far as we are concerned, the State has a de jure right and should refer to the whole of Ireland. In practice, [468] we are not able to exercise our authority beyond the particular area; in other words, it is like “Saorstát Eireann.”

Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 69; Níl, 43.

Aiken, Frank.

Allen, Denis.

Bartley, Gerald.

Beegan, Patrick.

Blaney, Neal.

Boland, Patrick.

Bourke, Daniel.

Brady, Brian.

Brady, Seán.

Breathnach, Cormac.

Briscoe, Robert.

Browne, William Frazer.

Carty, Frank.

Concannon, Helena.

Cooney, Eamonn.

Corkery, Daniel.

Corry, Martin John.

Crowley, Fred Hugh.

Crowley, Timothy.

Derrig, Thomas.

De Valera, Eamon.

Donnelly, Eamon.

Flinn, Hugo V.

Flynn, John.

Flynn, Stephen.

Fogarty, Andrew.

Gibbons, Seán.

Goulding, John.

Harris, Thomas.

Hayes, Seán.

Hogan, Patrick (Clare).

Jordan, Stephen.

Keely, Séamus P.

Kehoe, Patrick.

Kelly, James Patrick.

Kelly, Thomas.

Kennedy, Michael Joseph.

Kent, William Rice.

Keyes, Michael.

Killilea, Mark.

Kilroy, Michael.

Kissane, Eamonn.

Lemass, Seán F.

Little, Patrick John.

Lynch, James B.

McEllistrim, Thomas.

MacEntee, Seán.

Maguire, Ben.

Moane, Edward.

Moore, Séamus.

Moylan, Seán.

Murphy, Patrick Stephen.

Neilan, Martin.

O Briain, Donnchadh.

O Ceallaigh, Seán T.

O'Grady, Seán.

O'Reilly, Matthew.

Pattison, James P.

Pearse, Margaret Mary.

Rice, Edward.

Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.

Ryan, Martin.

Ryan, Robert.

Sheridan, Michael.

Smith, Patrick.

Traynor, Oscar.

Victory, James.

Walsh, Richard.

Ward, Francis C.

Níl

Anthony, Richard.

Beckett, James Walter.

Bennett, George Cecil.

Bourke, Séamus.

Brennan, Michael.

Coburn, James.

Cosgrave, William T.

Costello, John Aloysius.

Desmond, William.

Dillon, James M.

Dolan, James Nicholas.

Doyle, Peadar S.

Fagan, Charles.

Finlay, John.

Fitzgerald, Desmond.

Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.

Haslett, Alexander.

Holohan, Richard.

Keating, John.

Lavery, Cecil.

Lynch, Finian.

McFadden, Michael Og.

McGilligan, Patrick.

McGuire, James Ivan.

McMenamin, Daniel.

Minch, Sydney B.

Morrisroe, James.

Morrissey, Daniel.

Mulcahy, Richard.

Murphy, James Edward.

Nally, Martin.

O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.

O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.

O'Leary, Daniel.

O'Neill, Eamonn.

O'Sullivan, John Marcus.

Redmond, Bridget Mary.

Reidy, James.

Rice, Vincent.

Roddy, Martin.

Rogers, Patrick James.

Rowlette, Robert James.

Wall, Nicholas.

Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.

[469] Question declared carried.

Bill read a Second Time.

An Ceann Comhairle: When will the Committee Stage be taken?

The President: I do not know how long the Opposition would like to have for consideration of amendments. I suppose they would be outraged if I suggested that we should take the Committee Stage on Tuesday week.

Mr. Morrissey: This day week.

Mr. Dillon: Whatever suits the President will suit us.

The President: I am anxious to give reasonable time for examination of this long document.

[470] Mr. Dillon: If you want it next week, we will take it next week.

The President: I should like to have it on Tuesday week. We will have a better opportunity then of looking over the points made to see if there is anything in them.

Ordered: That the Committee Stage be taken on Tuesday, 25th May.

Mr. McGilligan: When is it proposed to take the Governor-General's Pension Bill?

The President: Probably in the interval. My Estimates will probably be on next week, so that you will have plenty of opportunity.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.40 p.m. until Friday, 14th May, at 10.30 a.m.