Dáil Éireann - Volume 171 - 02 December, 1958

An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958—An Dara Céim (atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958—Second Stage (resumed).

[1287] D'atógadh an díospóireacht ar na leasuithe seo leanas:—

1. Go scriosfar gach focal i ndiaidh an fhocail “Go” agus go gcuirfear na focail seo ina n-ionad:—

ndiúltaíonn Dáil Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille de bhrí go gcreideann sí i dtaobh díchur chóras na hIonadaíochta Cionúire.

1. go gcuirfidh sin isteach ar chearta dlisteanacha mionluchtaí,

2. go bhfuil séin aghaidh ár dtraidisiún daonlathach,

3. gur dóigh parlaimintí neamhionadaitheacha agus rialtas stróinéiseach a theacht dá dheasca,

4. go mbeidh sé níos deacra dá dheasca deireadh a chur leis an gCríochdheighilt,

5. nach bhfuil aon éileamh air ag an bpobal, agus.

6. uime sin, leis an gcor atá faoi láthair ar an saol agus ar ár gcúrsaí eacnamaíochta, gur dochar agus nach sochar a dhéanfaidh sé do réiteach fadhbanna an náisiúin,

agus go molann sí ina ionad sin go ndéanfar, d'fhonn eolas a sholáthar don phobal, coimisiún saineolaithe a bhunú chun an córas toghcháin atá ann faoi láthair a scrúdú agus tuarascáil a thabhairt ina thaobh.—(An Teachta Seán Ua Coisdealbha.)

2. Go scriosfar gach focal i ndiaidh an fhocail “Go” agus go gcuirfear na focail seo ina n-ionad:—

ndiúltaíonn Dáil Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille de bhrí nach ndéanann sé foráil le haghaidh vótála de réir na hionadaíochta cionúire agus ar mhodh [1288] an aon-ghutha inaistrithe sna Dáil-cheantair aon-chomhalta.— (An Teachta Ó Blathmhaic.)

Debate resumed on the following amendments:—

1. To delete all words after the word “That” and substitute therefor the words:—

Dáil Éireann, believing that the abolition of the system of P.R.

1. will interfere with the legitimate right of minorities,

2. is contrary to our democratic traditions,

3. is likely to lead to unrepresentative parliaments and to arrogant government,

4. will make more difficult the ending of Partition,

5. has not been demanded by public opinion, and,

6. therefore, in present world conditions and in our economic circumstances will impair rather than assist the solution of our national problems,

refuses to give a Second Reading to the Bill; and recommends instead that for the purpose of informing public opinion an expert commission be established to examine and report on the present electoral system.—

(Deputy J.A. Costello.)

2. To delete all words after the word “That” and substitute therefor the words:—

Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill as it does not make provision in the proposed single member constituencies for voting on the system of P.R. by means of the single transferable vote.—(Deputy Blowick.)

Minister for Defence (Mr. K. Boland): When the debate was adjourned I was dealing with the remarkable fact that on the two occasions when it was proposed to submit a matter directly to the people this charge of attempted dictatorship was made by the Opposition Parties. The Opposition, and Fine Gael in [1289] particular, seem to have an inherent dread of submitting anything directly to the people. If this dishonest campaign is to be revived again on this occasion, there can be no complaint if we point out to the people the past anti-democratic record of these people and if we point out that in many countries where democracy has disappeared the change came about because of the impossibility of getting a decisive result at elections. There can be no complaint if the people draw their own conclusions from these facts: the past undemocratic record of these Parties on the one hand and, on the other, their present almost fanatical adherence to a system of election that seems specially designed to bring about a situation similar to that which has preceded the collapse of democracy in many other countries.

However, I would prefer that this matter would be debated in accordance with the arguments for and against the two systems of election in question. I have no doubt that if the people are allowed to decide the matter in a calm and factual way in accordance with legitimate arguments, they will decide to replace this system by a system more democratic and realistic. The speeches already made on the Government side have dealt very well with the main point: the dangers that are inherent in the present system of election. I listened to some of the speeches here but I heard no attempt being made to deny that the present system tends to foster a multiplicity of Parties, nor did I hear any attempt to counter the examples given of the damage done in other countries by a multiplicity of Parties securing seats at elections. Therefore, it is hardly necessary for me to cover the same ground now.

Elections in this country since 1948 have been contested by no fewer than 22 different groups, and that is counting Independents as one group only. That shows that the tendency of the system here is to foster these Parties.

General Mulcahy: Could the Minister give us a list of them?

Mr. K. Boland: I could. They may [1290] be got in the official returns of the elections since 1948.

General Mulcahy: I think they are worth recording on the records of the House.

Mr. K. Boland: Very well. Altiri na hAiseirighe, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan, Farmers, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Independents, Independent Farmer, Labour, National Labour, Socialist, Cine Gael, Independent Labour, Irish Workers' League, National Action, Sinn Féin, Young Ireland, Independent Republican, Independent Unemployed Worker, Ratepayer and National Progressive Democrats. As far as we know there are further splinter groups. It appears that the Clann na Talmhan Party is also split and that the National Progressive Democratic Party appears to have been split almost before it was formed. Apparently, the number is still growing.

There were these different groups contesting elections here in the last ten years. However, that aspect of the matter, arising from a multiplicity of Parties, has been adequately covered. I intend to devote myself mainly to the principal argument on which Deputy O'Higgins based his contribution. He seemed to base his case on a statement he made, but did not substantiate, that the present system was essentially fair and just. I do not think that the present system is essentially fair. It can be easily shown that the principle on which it is based is a wrong principle. In fact, my views on the matter seem to coincide very closely with those of Deputy Dillon.

The House has already had quotations of Deputy Dillon's views on this matter and I do not suppose it is necessary for me to repeat them. I hope to dispose of Deputy O'Higgins' claim, but I cannot hope to compete with Deputy Dillon in outright condemnation of the system. I can only say that the things Deputy Dillon said about the system in 1947 express my sentiments fairly well.

In this debate those people in favour of retaining P.R. start off with a certain initial advantage arising from the [1291] fact that the system has been given this title “P.R.” and that nobody has attemped to give it instead a title that would describe the operation of the system more accurately. It can be shown that that title is a misnomer and that the effect of the system is to give disproportionate voting power to a small section of the people. The differential voting power that it confers is conferred, not on the people who would normally be considered more responsible, but rather on people who appear to vote in an irresponsible way. I think it is fair to say that the theory on which the democratic system is based is that the majority of the people are likely to choose from those on offer the type of Government most suitable to their needs.

If that be so, if a case could be made for giving extra weight to the opinions expressed by any section of the community, it would be given to the opinions of the majority rather than those of the minority but, under the system we have, we give extra weight to the opinions expressed in the ballot boxes by minorities, and, the smaller the minority, the greater the weight that is given to their opinions. For instance, a person who votes for a Party which gets only negligible support from the electorate may eventually have his fifth or sixth vote treated in the same way as the first preference vote of the majority.

Mr. Kyne: But he has only one vote.

Mr. K. Boland: He has five or six counted in the same way as the first preference of the majority.

Mr. Kyne: No. He has only one vote.

Mr. K. Boland: Anyway, the case I want to make is that equal consideration should be given to the opinions expressed in the ballot boxes by every voter. The only feasible way to do this is by means of the system we are proposing now, that is, single seat constituencies with the direct vote. We give people who choose candidates [1292] who can receive only very small support almost as many votes as they like until eventually they work their way down to a policy that is so conceived and so presented to the people as to command a reasonable volume of support. But even if such a policy is fairly well received by the electorate generally, if a man votes for it only as his fifth or sixth choice, surely it cannot be contended that he thinks very much of it? Nevertheless, his vote counts for exactly the same as the vote of a person who chose that policy in the first instance.

I have often thought that if I were to try to arrange matters in my Department in accordance with this peculiar idea of P.R., I would, for example, arrange in future that the shooting competitions in the Army should be conducted on the basis that the soldier who could not hit the bull's eye at the first attempt would be allowed to keep firing away until such time as he did hit it so as to give him a chance of having as good a score as the marksman who could hit it at the first attempt. That is what we do under P.R. The intelligent and responsible voter gets one attempt to elect a candidate but the man who votes for the small crackpot type of Party gets almost as many chances as he wishes. He gets at least sufficient chances to bring him from his original choice to one of those Parties that approach the problems of Government in a responsible and realistic way. It is not right to do this, and if a person in the exercise of his own free will decides to disfranchise himself by voting for such a Party, it is wrong that the State should contrive, by an artifice such as P.R., to give him what is very often a decisive voice in the ultimate result, seeing that through his ill-considered use of the franchise he has done everything he could do to waste his vote.

That kind of principle is all right at a sports meeting where the objective is to provide an artificially close finish to entertain the spectators, but if the objective is to establish the best performer in each event, then there are no handicaps allotted and all the competitors start on equal terms. What [1293] P.R. attempts to do, by giving this extra voting power to the minorities in the electorate, is to create an artificially close finish to elections. An election which is held to provide a legislative assembly and a Government for the country is an important thing and should not be treated in that way. It should be treated in a serious and straightforward manner. It should not be the objective to achieve a stalemate in an election by giving the majority one vote only and the small minority five or six votes.

I cannot see what anybody can say is wrong with asking a man who aspires to become a member of the Dáil to go into a constituency and convince more people in that constituency than any of his opponents can convince that his views are the soundest ones before them in the election. What is unfair is that after the people have voted, the returning officer and his staff can scrutinise the votes and manipulate them in accordance with a set of illogical and unjustifiable rules and produce a manufactured result that may not necessarily be in accordance with the wishes of the people at all.

Under P.R. we are not satisfied to get a simple expression of their views from the people. Instead of that we get them to indicate what we describe as their second, third, fourth and subsequent preferences, but we do not at the same time get any indication from them as to the extent to which the policies of these lower preferences are acceptable to them. We take that inadequate information and deal with it, as I said, in an arbitrary way and from that we purport to interpret the innermost workings of the voters' minds.

The advocates of P.R. contend that by this system one gets results which accurately reflect the wishes of the majority of the people. I do not think that is so and it is easy to show it is not so. It can be shown by taking an example of P.R. in its simplest form. In doing so, I hope to show the fallacy of the principle upon which P.R. is based. Since the question of substituting single seat constituencies with the [1294] transferable vote has been raised in this debate, I think this example applies with particular force to that type of electoral system.

The example I propose to take is where there are three candidates and one seat to be filled. That situation may obtain in a single seat constituency with a transferable vote, or it could arise in a by-election, or in a general election under the present system towards the conclusion of the count. Suppose we have candidate A with 6,000 votes, candidate B with 5,000 votes and candidate C with 4,000 votes. Under the system of P.R., we eliminate candidate C. The returning officer distributes his 4,000 votes among the other two candidates by counting the number 2's and treating the papers then as though these number 2's were votes for candidates A or B. A possible distribution would be that A would get 1,400 and B 2,600. These are added to their own votes and we get a result, A, 7,400 and B, 7,600. Candidate B is then declared to be elected.

Mr. Sherwin: That is the people's choice.

Mr. K. Boland: The people who support P.R. will say that is the correct result, because it has been established that the majority of the electorate wanted B. I say it has not been established that the majority of the electorate wanted B and I hope to show that that is not necessarily so at all.

Mr. Sherwin: That is the people's choice.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order!

Mr. K. Boland: There is no justification for that statement. It may be said that if C's votes were not distributed, the 4,000 electors who voted for him are disfranchised, but under the present system, the 6,000 electors who voted for A are disfranchised, and if it is wrong not to give the 4,000 who voted for C a second chance, there is a 50 per cent greater wrong in not giving the 6,000 who voted for A a second chance.

[1295] The argument in favour of this system, is, that since the voters who voted for C did not poll in sufficient strength to elect their candidate, they should get a second chance. As a result of the manipulation of the votes, candidate A is defeated, and I maintain that in these circumstances the 6,000 who voted for him have at least an equal right to get a second chance of electing their candidate. It is possible that if these 6,000 votes were distributed in accordance with the same principle on which the other 4,000 were distributed, they would go: 4,000 to C and 2,000 to B. The result then would be: B, 7,000 and C, 8,000. It is a reasonable proposition that the 6,000 voters have an equal right to have their second preferences considered as the 4,000 voters have. Therefore it could be claimed that if a majority wanted B, a bigger majority wanted C.

Take then the 5,000 who voted for B. Their second preferences have not been considered. It is conceivable that if their second preferences were considered, the result would be: 2,000 to A and 3,000 to C. A would then have 8,000 and C 7,000. I maintain it is unjust to consider the second preferences of one group only who have failed to elect their candidate, and to ignore other groups who have failed to elect their candidate. The fact that you do it in the case of a minority only aggravates the injustice. If it is an injustice to allow people to disfranchise themselves by choosing a candidate who gets a minority of votes, then you should devise some fair and logical way of bringing them back into the reckoning. The present system only results in transferring the injustice—if there is an injustice— from the minority to the majority.

If the second preference votes are to be considered, it should be done in the case of all. I have shown that if you do that in accordance with the ridiculous principle that a second choice is of equal value with a No. 1 vote, you are likely to arrive at the conclusion that a majority of the electorate wanted each of the candidates [1296] and of course that is absurd. But if you base your reasoning on an absurd. assumption, you are very likely to arrive at an absurd conclusion, and nothing can be more absurd than to allot the same value to a second preference vote as to a first preference vote. I maintain it is nonsense to do that.

P.R. would be unjustifiable even if it stopped at that, but a system of election that visualises the possibility of even a 13th or 14th preference vote being given the same importance as a first preference vote is obviously ridiculous. We are advised under P.R. to exercise the franchise fully by voting for every candidate on the ballot paper and I can remember seeing over 20 candidates on a ballot paper. Surely if in circumstances like that the earlier preferences indicate degrees of preferences for the candidates, the later ones merely indicate degrees of dislike. Under P.R., a vote, which merely means that a particular candidate is slightly less objectionable than any of the remainder, may be treated in the same way as the vote giving the person's first choice.

It is unjustifiable to manipulate people's votes in accordance with arbitrary rules like those, but when only a limited investigation is carried out, it is worse still. If there is to be manipulation of the votes, it should at least be done in a thorough manner and there should at least be a thorough investigation and application of the system. I have shown that if you have a thorough application of the system on which P.R. is based, the system will be exposed for the fraud and cod which Deputy Dillon has declared it to be.

Deputy J.A. Costello referred to the defects in the system. It is obvious that he has some other proportional system in mind, but he wants to leave the position vague. As he said himself, he wants to leave it vague so that the Dáil may be in a position to change it. So far, however, he has refused to be drawn as to what the defects are or how he would propose to remedy them. One thing is obvious, that whatever alternatives system he has in mind, [1297] it is not for submission to the people. He wants a blank cheque to bring in whatever change he thinks is desirable. I have pointed to a fundamental defect and I should be interested to know how it is proposed to overcome that.

One could think of other ways in which one could consider the distribution of the second and subsequent preference votes but I think, in any of these systems, and I can think of several, one would still be forced to the conclusion that they are all of an arbitrary nature. The correct and the most feasible thing to do is to accept the vote as the people express it and to abandon the mathematical manipulation of the votes after they are cast particularly as the system of manipulation has no logical or democratic basis at all.

In considering any of these systems, I am driven to the conclusion that it is much more simple and much more democratic to ask the people to indicate what candidates they want elected and to accept the result as they express it without making any attempt to prove by mathematical trickery that they did not mean what they said. In the example which I have quoted more people wanted A than wanted B or C and therefore, in common justice, I think A should be elected. It is very easy to give an actual example from an election of how the present system has operated unfairly. It is very easy to show from the figures in many actual elections that there is no logical basis and no justification at all for the way some of the seats were allotted.

However, it is hardly necessary for me to do that. In the last General Election in 1957 there were 13 per cent. of the voters whose votes were disregarded in the way I have described merely because they happened to vote for candidates who got sufficient support to remain in the fight up to the closing stages. On the other hand, there were 17 per cent. of the electorate who voted for candidates who got negligible support and who were eliminated in the early stages of the procedure and whose No. 2's were treated as No. 1's and in most [1298] cases their subsequent preferences were treated as actual votes also.

If that 17 per cent. which I have mentioned would have been treated unjustly in not having account taken of their preference votes, then the 13 per cent. mentioned were in fact treated unfairly. In contrast to that, you had the 21 per cent. of the electorate who voted for candidates who obtained surpluses. Their second preferences were taken into account in a different way. They were given fractional values ranging from .007 to .441. The remaining 49 per cent. had their votes credited only to those for whom they were cast. No account was taken of their second preference at all.

The net result of the 1957 General Election, therefore, was that 62 per cent. of the electorate had their votes treated in the same way as that in which we now propose they should be treated in future, 21 per cent. had their second preferences given fractional values and a favoured 17 per cent. had their second preferences treated as if they had been No. 1's and in most cases their later preferences also. I can see no justification for this and I think it would be much fairer if everybody's vote was treated as the votes of the majority of the 62 per cent. were treated in 1957.

The statement has been made here that the ideal Parliament would be one in which all groups would be represented. That argument is also unsustainable. Suppose we could provide such a system under which all groups would be represented in proportion to the support they got from the people throughout the country, I think that such a Parliament would not represent the will of the people. There are so many aspects to the national life and so many different interests that there would be a large number of groups represented in such circumstances. The object of elections is to provide the country with a Government to guide the nation along certain lines. If you have a large number of small groups [1299] the only result will be chaos and stalemate.

We have seen how the election of a large number of small groups has worked out in France and other countries. Even though the people in these countries did vote for these small groups nobody voted for the position of stalemate in the formation of Government. There may be some people who would be anxious to see such a condition of affairs here but their number would be very small. The present system is designed to bring about such a position.

Elections are not a game. They should be treated in a straightforward manner. They should not be used for the purpose of experimenting with all sorts of ridiculous theories or to bring about interesting but unworkable results. The results which P.R. bring about could be interesting. It is interesting to see the jockeying and the bargaining for position that goes on in the formation of Coalition Governments but it is a very serious position for the country. It would be all right if the objective was to provide a debating society for the entertainment of the people but the objective of elections is to provide a Government for the country and that it is serious business.

I do not know that it is desirable to encourage people to adopt a purely selfish or sectional approach to national problems. The nation consists of all classes of people and the proper approach to the election of a Government is to subordinate personal interests as far as possible to the interests of the well-being of the community as a whole. P.R. is admitted to be designed to encourage people to organise themselves into political Parties in accordance with their own narrow interests and it was imposed here because it was clearly seen that it must eventually lead to political chaos. The fact that it did not produce that result yet is due to the peculiar circumstances which operated here but it was with that object in view that it was imposed and it is time the people were given the opportunity to get rid of this dangerous system.

[1300] It is worth remarking that the man who presented us with this system made no attempt to confer the same benefit on his own country. Deputy MacEoin has stated that since opportunity was not taken of removing the system in the Constitution of 1937, it could not now be claimed that it had been imposed from outside. The Deputy knows well why it was not attempted to remove it at the time of bringing in the new Constitution. He knows that at that time there was very strong opposition to the Constitution and he knows that it was just as unscrupulous as the campaign which is now being waged against this proposal. The charge of dictatorship was made then. Women were to be imprisoned in their homes. Possibly, if this one more argument had been available to the Fine Gael Party, we would probably still have the foreign-imposed Constitution here and still have the Irish Free State here.

I went looking for the rules under which P.R. is conducted. I did that because I had noticed at different elections procedures I considered to be very peculiar. I find there are 12 rules, some of them being divided into as many as 11 sections and some of the sections sub-divided a number of times again. You would think that such a set of complicated rules represented a very thorough and painstaking attempt to establish a system of election giving effect to the idea of proportionality, to the idea of allocating votes in accordance with the number of people voting in a particular way.

The first thing which is obvious on looking through the rules is that the idea of proportionality was abandoned in the very early stages of the manipulation of the vote. I have dealt with the system on which the votes of eliminated candidates are distributed. Rule 6 deals with what is called the transferring of surpluses. That rule provides further evidence of unfair discrimination against the majority.

Rule 6 (2) (b) deals with the question of a surplus, when the votes credited to the elected candidate consist of original and transferred votes. It provides that only the transferred [1301] votes shall be considered in the distribution of the surplus. This means that, even if such a candidate had 9/10 ths of a quota of original votes and received the remainder from one or more candidates, it is the lower preferences of these candidates who made a negligible impression on the electorate that receive further consideration and not those cast for a man who made a reasonable appeal to the electorate, even though these votes which he got by way of transfer may have been used three or four times already. Surely, if the votes of an elected candidate are to be dealt with on a selective basis in regard to the distribution of the surplus, it should be the votes he got in the ballot himself that should be so considered and not those he got merely because of this system of P.R.—either that, or they should all be considered for distribution.

Rule 6 (3) deals with the distribution of the surplus of a candidate elected with original votes only. It provides that, if he has a number of non-transferable votes, some of these must be included in his surplus, thereby reducing the amount of the surplus available for distribution. I think that that contrasts with the way in which the second preferences votes of a candidate who is eliminated are dealt with. His second preferences are considered as No. 1 but, in the case of an elected candidate, his second preferences only have a fractional value depending on the relation of the size of his surplus to his total vote.

This Rule 6 (3) further reduces that fraction. It provides that a certain number of these non-transferable votes —in other words, votes in which the voter was so definite in his choice as to refuse to vote for anybody else except his own selected candidate—will be set aside and described as non-transferable votes, not effective. This is a system that is supposed to interpret the wishes of the people accurately but here, where a voter expresses his opinion with the utmost clarity, the Returning Officer can take the vote and set it aside and describe it as non-effective.

It is bad enough to give a candidate [1302] votes not cast for him as is done but to take from him votes that were cast for him in the most definite way possible and set them aside is a worse principle still. I wonder how many people who give candidates votes which are, described as “plumpers” know that they are liable to be taken and set aside by the Returning Officer.

Apart from this, however, the distribution of a surplus is at least dealt with in a proportional way. They are distributed in proportion to the people voting No. 2 for the different candidates. However, all pretence at distributing the votes in accordance with the proportions voting in different ways is abandoned at this stage because a further section of this rule, (4) (d) provides that the distribution of votes will be effected by a physical transferring of a number of actual papers to the appropriate continuing candidate and that the papers so transferred will be those last filed in the sub-parcels concerned—in other words, the papers to take a further part in the election are selected completely at random.

Remember that if, as a result of this, a further candidate is elected, it is these votes, selected at random as they are, that are eligible for redistribution. No attempt is made to distribute these in proportion to the No. 3's on the papers of the candidate for whom they were cast. Surely, if the second preferences are to be distributed proportionately, so also should the No. 3's. Obviously, the inventors of this perfect system could not face up to the difficulties involved in applying their theory consistently and so they abandoned the principle on which it was supposed to be based at an early stage in the manipulation of the votes.

It would have been quite feasible to distribute the No. 3's proportionately if the original transaction had been carried out as a paper transaction rather than by a physical transferring of actual papers but, while I say it can be done, to do so would make a system that is already cumbersome and complicated more cumbersome and more complicated and would expose P.R. for what Deputy Dillon described it to be. I suppose it was to avoid that that [1303] no attempt was made to apply the principle of the system beyond the preliminary stages.

I think that the vote of the people, which, is the basis of democracy, is an important thing. It should not be treated lightly. It should be exercised with care and it should be our objective to encourage people to treat the privilege of being able to vote in a responsible way, rather than encourage them to exercise their franchise in an irresponsible way.

Under present conditions, the irresponsible voter can say: “I can vote for this candidate, although I know he is not going to get many votes and then I can vote for someone else and it will not make any difference.” That is wrong and the system of election should not encourage such an attitude.

The line that has been taken in the speeches so far shows, I think, that the approach of the Opposition has been to try to make political capital for themselves out of this proposal rather than to consider what is best for the country. The future of Fianna Fáil is in no way bound up with the abolition of P.R. Everybody here knows that, but still there is an all-out attempt being made to convince the people that the idea behind the proposal is to perpetuate the Fianna Fáil Party. The Fianna Fáil Party will remain as the major Party so long as we can retain the confidence of the people and no longer.

If the people at any time decide they do not want us, the Party will decline, no matter what system of election is in operation. If we feared such a decline of public support, I think it is obvious that we would have been anxious to retain P.R. rather than change it. We have done very well, as a number of the Opposition Deputies have remarked, under P.R. The Party grew up with it. Our organisation is geared for P.R. and if it is abolished, it must be disrupted and re-aligned to suit the new circumstances. Therefore, if the only question in our mind was that of retaining our own representation at its maximum even if we were to lose public support, it is obvious that we would not dream of abolishing [1304] P.R., but because the possible effects of the system can be so disastrous for the country, we think the people should be given the opportunity of changing the system.

I should like somebody to tell us how the removal of P.R. can favour Fianna Fáil and Fianna Fáil only. If a Fine Gael candidate can get more votes at an election in any constituency, he will be elected. Therefore, the Fine Gael and Labour contention that this will mean the perpetuation of Fianna Fáil can only mean that they realise their own policy is so devoid of merit that they could not ever hope to gain more support from the people than Fianna Fáil. If their policy is better than ours, then surely it must be possible to convince the people that that is so. If they succeed in convincing the people that their policy is better than ours, then the only effect of the abolition of P.R. would be that the decision of the people would be decisive, but if they are to gain more support than we gain and if P.R. remains, the only difference will probably be that we will then be in a position such as they were in in 1948 or 1954 to bargain with whatever other small groups may be in existence in order to form a Government, that is only if we were prepared to abandon our principles, as they were, for the sake of office. The system we are proposing means stable government. It is well known that the Fine Gael Party, when they were first formed, were in favour of the abolition of P.R.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: That is not so.

Mr. K. Boland: I know it has been denied lately by——

General Mulcahy: It has been ignorantly asserted.

Mr. K. Boland: It was asserted by a prominent member of Fine Gael at the time. In any case, there was at least a considerable body of opinion in the Fine Gael Party, including Deputy Dillon, who was very much in favour of it——

Mr. O'Sullivan: The Minister is changing his hand.

[1305] Mr. K. Boland: ——not only at the time of the formation of the Fine Gael Party, but at a much later date. He is on record as being very much opposed to the whole idea of P.R. Those quotations were made in the House and can be given. I can give them again now if anybody wants to hear them. At least we can say that a considerable volume of opinion in the Fine Gael Party was then, and apparently still is, in favour of the abolition of P.R.

General Mulcahy: That is not so.

Mr. K. Boland: Deputy Dillon apparently is, anyway. It is an open secret that it was not a unanimous decision of the Fine Gael Party.

General Mulcahy: What was not?

Mr. K. Boland: The decision to oppose the proposal.

Mr. Sweetman: Is it the same open secret that Deputy O'Malley was thrown out of the Fianna Fáil Party meeting? That is not even a secret. I met him in the passage.

Mr. J. Lynch: That is not true.

Mr. Sweetman: I met him in the passage.

Mr. J. Lynch: I happened to be at every meeting and did not see him being thrown out.

Mr. Sweetman: I am more prepared to accept the evidence of my own eyes.

Mr. K. Boland: It is an open secret there were some members of the Fine Gael Party who retained some hope that at some time it might be possible to get sufficient support to form a Fine Gael Government and that those people were in favour of the abolition of P.R. but the old traditional attitude of the Fine Gael Party of approaching every question in accordance with the simple formula that if Fianna Fáil are for it, we must be against it, proved too strong for the few people who had confidence in the future of the Party.

Mr. Sweetman: Having regard to the draft things which Fianna Fáil have done, it was not a bad motto.

[1306] Mr. O'Sullivan: A few minutes ago, the Minister said there was a majority.

Mr. K. Boland: At one time. I was under the impression at one time that there was a majority. There was a considerable volume of opinion in the Fine Gael Party.

General Mulcahy: You do not say they had instructions from Lloyd George?

Mr. K. Boland: It is too much to hope that the people are going to be allowed to decide the matter in a calm and practical way. Instead of that, we have this spurious allegation that in some mysterious way this proposal will benefit Fianna Fáil and Fianna Fáil only. It is not a political issue at all. The question is a simple one. Which system of election is likely to produce the more satisfactory results from the point of view of stability in Government. We have no reason to be dissatisfied with P.R. from the point of view of maintaining the numerical strength of our own Party.

We have no doubt that if we retain the confidence of the people we will remain the major Party. We do not expect any increased support by the abolition of P.R. nor do we expect any decline in support if the people decide to retain it. It is from the point of view of the well-being of the country solely that we decided the people should be given the opportunity of abolishing P.R. An all-out effort is being made to prevent the people from seeing the issue clearly. I think the Fine Gael amendment was put down purely in an attempt to divert the people's mind from consideration of the simple issue as to which system is the best for the country.

The first point in the amendment is that this will “interfere with the legitimate rights of minorities.” No minority Party of the type envisaged when P.R. was imposed here has, in fact, developed because there was no need for it. Possibly it was expected that a minority Party would develop but those who might have been interested in the development of such a Party realised fully that their interests [1307] were not in any way threatened. They found it neither necessary nor desirable to organise themselves into a Party in order to defend their rights. On the contrary, they found it possible to take their place in the ordinary political Parties.

The minority Parties which we have here are minorities purely and simply because their social and economic policies are not acceptable to the people. But P.R. appears to be designed to give such Parties a decisive voice in the information and conduct of Government. We are asked to believe that it is the legitimate right of minorities to dictate policy, to decide on the formation of Government, and to decree how long a Government will remain in office. My conception of democracy is that it is the majority rather than the minority which should decide these things.

The second point is that “it is contrary to our democratic traditions.” I have shown that P.R. is the reverse of democratic. It differentiates between voters for no good reason. How can it be held to be contrary to democratic traditions to ask the people to decide the matter, as we are asking them to decide now?

The third point is that it “is likely to lead to unrepresentative parliaments and to arrogant government”. If the proposal embodied in this Bill is adopted by the people in a referendum, under the new system of election which will then obtain each constituency will elect the candidate who can command a majority vote in that constituency. Parliament will, therefore, be more representative. The candidate who is elected with some of his own votes and some of the votes cast for three or four different Parties cannot be said to represent any policy at all. I cannot see how one could decide what policy is represented by a man elected by votes cast for three or four different policies. If a voter says: “I am in favour of candidate A, but B is slightly less objectionable than C, and C is slightly less objectionable than D” if B, C or D is elected it cannot be said that any of [1308] them represent the views of the voter in question.

With regard to the suggestion that this would lead to arrogant government, I think it is admitted that the straight system of voting provides the people with a more favourable opportunity for changing their minds. Changing public opinion will be more definitely reflected in the results under the straight system of voting than it is under the present system. I cannot see then how such a system could lead to arrogant government. I cannot see how any Government could afford to be arrogant, knowing the people had such an effective system of election for expressing their displeasure with arrogant behaviour.

The fourth point is that it “will make more difficult the ending of Partition”. Of course the majority Party in Stormont removed P.R. years ago. I do not see how the existence of P.R. here could attract them. Are we supposed to believe that it will be an attractive proposition for them to come in under conditions in which they would have to be a minority Party? A strong argument in favour of ending Partition is that it has not been necessary to organise Parties down here on lines similar to those in the Six Counties. The best way in which to influence these people to come in here is not so much to assure them that their rights as a minority will be safeguarded but rather to point out to them that there is no need for them to consider themselves a minority and that there has never been any need to organise Parties on sectarian lines in this part of the country.

The fifth point is that it “has not been demanded by public opinion”. That is a matter which can be decided by the referendum. If public opinion does not want the change, then the proposal will be defeated. We think public opinion demands it. When the referendum is taken, the matter will be decided one way or the other.

The sixth point is that in present world conditions and in our economic circumstances it will impair rather than assist the solution of our national problems. The economic circumstances [1309] in which we find ourselves are largely the result of the two periods of Coalition Government, during which we had a number of different Parties each pursuing their own particular policy and Party advantage instead of pursuing common aims.

One of the most urgent needs for the improvement of our economic circumstances is that we should have a system of election which would enable the people to decide clearly what Government they want and provide the people and the country with a Government which will have an opportunity of putting its policy into effect and which will be responsible for its actions and cannot blame its failures on other Parties; that was the position that obtained in the two Coalition Governments.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Is this Government irresponsible, so?

Mr. K. Boland: This Government will be responsible for its actions.

Mr. O'Sullivan: There is a strong Government in office.

Mr. K. Boland: The straight vote system of election will have the effect of giving a Government, which will have the opportunity of putting its policy into effect. The present system because of the incentive it gives towards the formation of a number of small Parties makes it almost impossible for a decisive electoral result to be given. The two examples we have had of Coalition Government should be sufficient to warn us of the possible effect of a succession of such types of government on our economic circumstances.

The six points in this amendment seem specially designed to divert the people's attention from the actual issue under discussion, namely, that the present system of election does not work out for the betterment of the country and it is therefore desirable to replace it by the straight vote system and single seat constituencies. It was asked why this was not adverted to in the last general election. There was no point in introducing it into the election campaign. This is [1310] something that cannot be done without going directly to the people. It is something which should only be done when a single issue is involved and when no other issues enter into the reckoning. Nothing could be done in relation to this proposal at the general election. Why, then, should it have been raised on that occasion? I have no doubt that the Opposition would have liked any other side issues like that to be raised so that the main issue in the general election could have been clouded. That was the incompetent manner in which they had handled the country's affairs since 1954.

Mr. O'Sullivan: On a point of order. No doubt, Sir, we shall all be able to speak in relation to the governing of the country between 1954 and 1957?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I do not remember the Minister discussing that at length.

General Mulcahy: The Minister for Defence, I am afraid, must have been watching sputniks and going into questions of the kind of calculation that would have to be made in order to deal with the defence of this country against unknown terrors. He seems to have paid a visit to the School of Cosmic Physics or to some section of the school of higher learning. I can give no other explanation for his approach to the general ideas with regard to how persons should be elected, on the one hand, and his mastering of the rules of P.R. down to and including Rule 6. I suggest that he give his imagination, his mind and his reason a change of air and a little rest and go to the Dublin Corporation or to some county council and see how they elect, say, their chairman, or how, say, a county council would elect a rate-collector. I imagine he will find there that where there is a number of candidates for one position there is a common-sense arrangement of elimination of the people who are not particularly desired for the position or have not the greatest preference among the electors for the position, until the number is reduced to the last two and then every member [1311] of the committee or council who wishes to have a vote is given a vote.

Would the Minister consider some of the examples that he has in mind and about which he appears to be so outraged, from the point of view of whether the ultimate thing that happens, when it comes to the last manipulation—as the Minister calls it —of the figures in regard to a P.R. election, is that everyone who wants to have a vote at the final assessment or determination of the situation is given one vote? I should like him to consider that. If it is too far to go to a county council or if that is too complicated, it might be a greater relief from considering things at the level of the school of higher learning if he went to a Fianna Fáil convention and could figure out in a case where, say, there are nine candidates for a general election how the candidates are selected.

I would imagine that some of them are eliminated in a common-sense, natural, friendly kind of way, at any rate a businesslike kind of way and, when it comes to the last two, everyone present who wants a vote is given a vote. I would have felt that there was, an element of pure and fair democracy about that. I do not know what other kind of system you may have, but I think the idea of the transferable vote, to speak alone of the transferable vote, is a lot simpler than the Minister seems to make it at the present time wherever his studies have been carried out.

Before leaving what the Minister has so flat-footedly said, I should like to ask him a question in relation to his statement that the man who presented us with the system of P.R. did not present it to his own country. I am sure the Minister would like to say that it was Lloyd George who forced P.R. on this country.

Mr. K. Boland: That is right, yes.

General Mulcahy: If so, what are we to imagine by this statement, issued on 4th May, 1921, by the present Taoiseach in the person then of Deputy de Valera, the President [1312] of Dáil Éireann, when he issued a proclamation reaffirming the aims of Sinn Féin:—

“The policy of Sinn Féin remains unchanged. It stands for the right of the people of this nation to determine freely for themselves how they shall be governed and for the right of every citizen to an equal voice in the determination; it stands for civil and religious equality and for the full proportional representation and all possible safeguarding of minorities”?

The Taoiseach, in the person of President de Valera, at that particular time, speaking on behalf of the First Dáil and making a declaration on the 4th May, 1921, does not say, “by direction” or even “under the inspiration” or even “with the agreement of Mr. Lloyd George”. What has happened between 4th May, 1921, and to-day or between December, 1947, and to-day? These are questions which I would put earnestly to the Minister.

The net proposal before us is that the country should be honeycombed with areas that would be represented by one person in the Dáil and that that person would be selected by a straight vote. I like the word “straight” and I can imagine how that one word will be enough on a Fianna Fáil poster to guide people along the right lines—“A straight people should vote straight.” Take the straight vote in a constituency which will be represented by one person and in which at least 20,000 vote. We have been terrified by the number of Parties that there are in the country. If all these Parties put up their candidate in any constituency in which there are 20,000 voters the compact solidity of Fianna Fáil would certainly keep their representative at the top and he would get in.

Take a normal constituency where, in accordance with the development of their political interests and in an endeavour to bring to their political work the most qualified and the most capable experience and information that they can bring, men have organised themselves in a farmers' organisation, a Labour Party or a Party. They want to develop along a broad [1313] national line. Let us suppose that they have found out Fianna Fáil, and feel that Fine Gael was so badly tarred by all the things that had been said about it that they, wanting to put in a real national Party, could not join Fine Gael, that they want to go off on their own as Clann na Poblachta did. In a constituency of 20,000 voters you might have, in an election called in the morning, a Fianna Fáil representative, a Fine Gael representative, a Farmers' representative and a Labour representative and some new uprising people who had a particular type of interest, a particular type of qualification or a particular type of broad national outlook, who wanted to be a real national Party who would win the interest and the support of a large number of people interested in broad national questions.

Let us suppose the Fine Gael candidate gets 5,000, the farmer 3,000, the Labour Party man, 3,000, the other Party candidate, 3,000, and the Fianna Fáil man, 6,000. Then the Fianna Fáil candidate, with 6,000 votes, goes in over the 14,000 votes, cast for the others. That is the pattern contemplated at the moment, that in a free country, where the people were encouraged to be free, to devote them selves to those aspects of social political, economic and cultural life in which they felt they were qualified, and in touch with, and having got a Parliament in which to express themselves, in which they might get enough support, they are now to be squeezed out. The 14,000 people who think on these lines are to be set aside, and their votes made null and void, while the man with 6,000 votes is elected. That is the trick this Bill is intended to play on the people at the present time.

The question of dealing with that type of trick is one thing, and it may very well lead to the introduction of that element of bitter criticism in the debate here, and in the country, that Deputies on the Government Benches suggest should not be brought into this.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce says that he would prefer to see this matter discussed entirely [1314] without reference to Party, and it is explained that Fianna Fáil has no vested interest in the decision that is being taken here. That may be simplicity on their part, but, unfortunately, we have had a considerable amount of experience of that type of simplicity. However, I should like to keep as far as I can to the principle of the question. The Minister went a considerable distance to prove that the manipulation of the votes under the P.R. scheme is doing people out of their votes, and is giving an unfair advantage. We say that the P.R. system, that is enshrined in the Constitution, involves a principle and that it is a principle for which the free Irish mind in politics naturally stood.

Quotations have been given by Deputy Costello from the writings of Arthur Griffith in 1911. I should like to quote one or two other things from his writings. On 29th June, 1912, again in Sinn Féin, he was writing with regard to the question of the extended franchise that was to be associated, it was hoped, with the Home Rule Bill, with the women's vote brought in. He said:—

“All that the extended franchise is going to do—even with the women brought into it—is to increase the power of the boss and decrease the liberty of the individual unless the electoral system is reformed on the basis of one vote one value.

If democracy is to survive as a working principle of Government it can only survive on the admission of the minority to a share in representation with its strength in the government of the State.”

Twelve months before that, dealing with what the idea was of fair representation, he wrote:—

“A Sinn Féin voter in a Parliamentarian district, a Redmondite voter in a Conservative district, a Conservative voter in a Redmond district would be equally powerful with his brethren in the places where they are strongest. A vote would always be a vote.

At present a vote in a district where there exists a large majority of voters of the opposite Party is [1315] of no value whatever. P.R. would invest every voter with absolute equality.”

That was the approach to how the people ought to get fair, and ought to get exact representation in Parliament. I do not know whether there was any consideration, at that time, as to why a Parliament was represented to give the people a strong Government, to take decisions on their behalf and to take action, or whether there was an undue emphasis on the representation of the people. I think it is representation of the people that is wanted and, if the people are intelligently and honestly spoken to by people on the political level, then the nature of the Government, in carrying out its work, could very well be left to what the people, working in their own way and on their own political basis, would make of their Parliament. That was the theory before the people were subjected to the trial to which they were subjected in establishing their Parliament.

At that time it was undreamt of that the opposition to the passage of the Home Rule Bill, on the side of the British Parties, would be as great or as violent as it turned out to be But it did turn out to be so violent that an English historian, within the past 18 months, writing generally on European history, declared that the attack being made by the Conservatives against Home Rule in 1912, 1913 and 1914, was a rebellion against the British Constitution; that it was a crisis, not only for the Irish nation, but for the British Constitution, and that the guns of Sarajevo sounded only in time to save English parliamentary institutions. It is no harm to repeat that so violent was the opposition that the people of Ireland were to meet in having their own Parliament established that, as early as 1914, looking back, an historian could say that parliamentary institutions in Great Britain would have been jeopardised, if not destroyed, through the viciousness of the attack on Government policy, if the first world war had not broken out.

That forceful objection to giving [1316] their own Parliament to the people of this country was continued, not only during the war, but after the war. It gave us the Black and Tans. What was the response of the people? In November, 1913, every Party, creed and class were called upon to come together and, if necessary, to arm themselves to secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland. Every Party, creed and class came together in the Volunteers, so that from 1913, all through the struggle that went along to 1919, 1920 and 1921, there was a unity of feeling a coming together of every Party, creed and class in Ireland, to set up parliamentary institutions here. That ideal, that was looked forward to by Arthur Griffith in 1912 and 1913, was declared in May, 1921, by the Taoiseach, speaking then as President of the Dáil that was established, as a fact and as a force, and we are sitting here to-day because every Party, creed and class came together. They came together to set up a Parliament bound not only by its pledges to see that there was fair representation for every section of the people but bound also by the natural traditions and instincts of the people.

Now we have a Government elected under the system that set up the State here saying, in its day of power, that they want to sweep away all that. They say that Irish parliamentary institutions are to be based upon two artificially created columns. One is Fianna Fáil, stemming from those years which we must regard as very unfortunate, slipping its hand into the “Soldier's Song”, which became the National Anthem, and taking its name out of it so that school children and people who wanted to honour the country in the National Anthem, and wanted to cement the country's institutions, would be expected to sing “Since Fianna Fáil”.

The other is supposed to be the combination or group of Parties which came together in 1948 to set up an inter-Party Government—Labour, which at that time was divided, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and Fine Gael. We were sneered at by the [1317] Leader of Fianna Fáil for doing gallant and heroic work. He declared across the floor of the House that he hated that Government, that he hated Fine Gael, Labour, Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan working together in an Irish Parliament and implementing policies to improve our economy, our social living and our finances. That was a group representing all the various responsible sections of Irish life. It was based on comradeship, mutual trust and mutual understanding. It came together and studied the facts, examined the real strength of the people and led our people along constructive lines. Those lines were adopted not by bargaining but through honest informed thought, not only around the Cabinet table but in Party conference and here in the Dáil. So much was that so that when an inter-Party Government sat over there we had complaints from members of Fianna Fáil that the members of the inter-Party Government were talking up the time of the Government by talking. They complained that the representatives of the people who sat on those benches actually talked. The Taoiseach hated them in Government and now the Minister for Industry and Commerce gibingly suggests that they ought, to come together and form the Opposition.

I would like to know what the Minister for Industry and Commerce thinks he has in mind. We heard him the other day jeering at the members of the Labour Party because they could not make up their minds in relation to the Apprenticeship Bill.

Mr. Corish: Then he went and did what the Labour Party suggested and consulted the two bodies.

General Mulcahy: Now they want the Parties to come together in one Party to provide the Fianna Fáil Government with an Opposition at which they could always gibe saying that they were a heterogeneous group drawn from all sections and classes. It is part of the insolence with which the Government treats this House. It is part of the arrogance which we say would operate if they were in the position that they could reduce to a nullity 13,000 or 14,000 votes cast for [1318] other Parties in the various constituencies and form a Government because 6,000 or 7,000 votes cast for the Fianna Fáil candidate were more than the votes cast for any other single candidate.

As I say, it is trickery and a piece of insolence and it is treating this House in a way intended to destroy the influence of this House and to bring apathy amongst the people so that Fianna Fáil may hope to get this referendum through. There is another aspect of this matter which shows how utterly irresponsible the Government is. Take the other day when it was declared, with a certain amount of insolence, that we were to deal with the Committee Stage of the Apprenticeship Bill to-day——

Mr. Corish: To-morrow or Thursday.

General Mulcahy: Yes. The Minister was to have the Committee Stage on December 3 and then he did what was suggested to him in the House. That is all to the good, but if parliamentary institutions are to last and if they are to work in a way in which a properly oiled and adjusted machine is to work, without friction, that is not the way things should be done. We sat here for four hours discussing difficulties raised with regard to the wheat levy. Appeals were made to the Minister and the case was very strongly and effectively argued that the money raised by the levy should be repaid in the circumstances, when the conditions under which it was statutorily permitted did not materialise.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This does not seem to have any relevance to the amendment of the Constitution Bill.

General Mulcahy: I am dealing with the insolent way in which this House is being treated and I am discussing the type of Government we, have at present, a Government which is seeking more and more power in a way that is simply tricking this House and the people. I merely want to say that the Minister sat during the debate and gibingly suggested that the speeches being made on the subject [1319] might be of local or political use. He gave the House no information, no “soot”, as they say, for the way things were being done. He then turned his back, went to his office and did the very things he was asked to do, but only after he had wasted the time of this House for four hours, while his own Party had sat behind him dumb and silent while important matters were under discussion.

Now, at Dáil level, we are discussing proposals, that the Government wish to put before the people to change a vital principle in the Constitution. The Bill was introduced before it was printed or ready. A practice has grown up here that if the Dáil is going into Recess, the Ceann Comhairle will give permission to put a Bill on the Order Paper and give it a First Reading, so that during the Recess it may be printed and circulated; but in this case the House had been in Recess for quite a long time. We assembled, and permission was given to introduce this Referendum Bill on the basis that we would get it in a short time. More than a week passed. Actually, the Bill was not prepared at the time and a week or so later, we were offered another Bill that has some afterthought reference to the measure before us. We have not seen this other Bill yet, so that we are discussing this matter for the second or third time, one might say, without having the Bill before us. That is how the Dáil is being treated.

This institution has been established because every creed and class in the country united to resist pressure from outside which would prevent us exercising our freedom. Yet this is the sort of treatment we are getting from people who say they want the country to be run on democratic lines. This is the democracy we get under P.R., when you have an Opposition in the House of various Parties reflecting various aspects of the country's life, keeping closely in touch with the life of the country, considering and explaining the position of the country and how necessary it is that the House should be informed of what is wrong and that the House should be advised [1320] along the right lines. We are being treated in that way by a Government which is pushing through proposals of a very serious kind at the same time.

In our reasoned amendment, one of the things to which we draw attention is present world conditions and we suggest that in our economic circumstances distractions of this kind will impair rather than assist in the solution of our national problems. What are our national problems?

The Minister for Industry and Commerce on 18th June last in discussing references made to proposals published before that for the economic improvement of the country said, as reported at column 294 of the Official Report:—

“First, I wanted to stress the magnitude of the economic problem confronting the country, to make it clear, in so far as I could do it as an individual, to the Government then in office, to the trade unions, to the employers' associations and to the public generally that the position developing was far too serious to be capable of being put right by pettifogging, fiddling methods. I wanted to emphasise that only a tremendous effort embracing all sections of our people would be adequate to rectify it.

Secondly, I set out to try to demonstrate that it could be done, to try to deny the pessimism of those who were talking as if the country was finished, to show that by making the effort, given the combination of policies and plans embracing all sections of the people, it could be done.

Deputies have quoted these statements who obviously have not read them or, if they have, they have certainly forgotten their purport. My main object was to emphasise my view that the economic situation of the country, our unemployment and emigration problems, could not be put right by Government action alone, that there was no Bill that could be passed, no resolution that could be adopted in this House that would solve these problems; that there was no slick, easy solution; [1321] that it would be a long, tough job to put the economy of the country right and that we could succeed in doing that only if every section of the people was pulling in the same direction.”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Might I point out to the Deputy that a discussion on the economic situation is not relevant on this Bill?

General Mulcahy: I do not presume to discuss the details of the economic situation. I am discussing the fact that there is a serious economic situation and that, in connection, with proposals for improving it, one of the things pointed out in the economic development memorandum recently issued by the Government (P.R. 4803) it is pointed out in page 19, paragraph 32, that Ireland has the significant advantages of political stability among other things. According to that document in the letter written by the secretary of the Department of Finance on December 12th, 1957, it is stated at the beginning of the letter to the Minister: “This note records what I have said to you orally about the desirability of attempting to work out an integrated programme of national development for the next five or ten years which, I believe, will be critical years for the survival of the country as as economic entity.”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy seems to be embarking on a discussion of the economic situation and I should like to remind him and the House that an amendment tabled by the Labour Party on similar lines has been ruled out of order.

General Mulcahy: I am simply telling the House that we are dealing with this proposal in the temper and manner in which the Government is dealing with it at a time when we are told by the most authoritative and recent publications of the Government that the next five or ten years will be critical years for the country's survival as an economic entity. When dealing with violent constitutional changes, intended radically to affect the foundation of parliamentary institutions and to withdraw from the Constitution a [1322] principle which not only affects the parliamentary representation of the people in the House, but which enshrines deeper and more intangible things with regard to the spirit that inspires the work of the people of the country and its representative institutions, I feel entitled to point out that these matters are being dealt with now at a time when we are told the next five or ten years will be critical years for the country's survival as an economic entity.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I maintain that this is not the time to discuss the country's economic situation.

General Mulcahy: I insist that I cannot shut my eyes to the fact, or allow Deputies on the Government Benches or any other benches to carry on this discussion, without a realisation of the fact that they have been told by high authoritative quarters that the next five or ten years will be critical from the point of view of the economic survival of the country, that the Government cannot do much to solve our difficulties, that the Government cannot do much to solve the situation and that the greater part of the productive effort required is one that requires to be made by the private sector.

I shall leave this with one quotation from page 18:—

“It would, indeed, be impossible for Departments of State or other public authorities to visualise more than a fraction of the future possibilities of productive development. One would naturally expect the principal source of new productive ideas, in a predominantly free enterprise economy, to be the private sector, enlarged by imported enterprise, organisational ability and technical competence, and the principal function of the State to be that of stimulating such ideas and helping to bring them to fruition by the provision, where necessary, of capital, fiscal incentives and other facilities.”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This has no relation whatever to the Bill before the House.

[1323] General Mulcahy: There is this important element in the situation. The Government, fiddling with the public mind in relation to this measure and with the foundations of our parliamentary institutions, is a Government responsible for giving a lead in these, matters, responsible for binding together all the strength, enterprise and energy of the people, and for holding high the credit of this country, so that, if technical or financial assistance from outside is required, our prestige in dealing with any matters affecting our trade and economy will find our people a strong people, supported by a strong and representative Government.

I want to know what do the members of the Government and the members of the Fianna Fáil Party sitting behind them think? What will be the position of our people facing their work throughout the country, if they are to be told that in a particular constituency with a straight vote, there is one Deputy to be allotted to them to be closely in touch with the constituency, and that, if any other Party goes up against Fianna Fáil, the rest —the non-Fianna Fáil vote—will be so divided that Fianna Fáil will get in on the minority vote?

I should like to ask Deputy Davern, say, about dealing with this matter in South Tipperary. There they have had farmers' Parties. In certain places, integration has been going on and some of the farmers have lined up with Fine Gael and maybe some with Fianna Fáil. But you had Labour in the field there and Clann na Poblachta also. You had Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. It is quite on the cards that at any election in South Tipperary, you will have, five candidates. What kind of argument is any Deputy in Tipperary going to make outside the church doors as to why the farmers should step aside and leave Labour in, Labour step aside and, leave the farmers in or Clann na Poblachta or anybody else, if they want to escape from under the wing of Fianna Fáil? While they might touch them at Cabinet level, they might not want to do so locally in the Party conferences. They are going to be deprived by the Constitution [1324] of the right of feeling that they stand for themselves.

Mr. Davern: The answer to that is, of course, that Fianna Fáil represents all the interests in every constituency.

General Mulcahy: Go down and tell the people that plainly and straightly.

Mr. Davern: Our Party is composed of all sections of the community.

Mr. Kyne: You do not need an Opposition.

General Mulcahy: Let them go down and tell the people that, but in the meantime, why is it necessary to have all the twisty explanations and misrepresentations that Ministers and Deputies have given us here in regard to the proposal? Why say you are running away from something stuck down the throats of the Irish people by Lloyd George and going back to straight, Irish things. I challenge the members of Fianna Fáil to let us know in this discussion, now that we know what exactly the main principle of the thing is, as shown so nicely by Deputy Davern, what their views are. I know I may be creating difficulties for you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, by suggesting this, but I think they ought to be able to explain how this is going to affect the situation and to deal with the economic troubles caused. The Minister for Industry and Commerce stated in the most explicit way that if this was passed, the economic work of the Government would be tremendously improved and the general work of the country would be developed in an astounding way. That may be found in the Minister's statement, but I think his statement requires to be backed up.

A principle is being taken out of the Constitution by this measure that refers to more things than representation. It has been suggested here by one speaker that the Protestant minority do not require separate representation and that they have been integrated here, there and elsewhere in the various Parties. I regret very much the unprecedented temper of the statement made by Deputy Booth here the other day. To those [1325] who had the pleasure and privilege of listening to the voice and seeing the graciousness of men like Dr. James Craig, Professor Thrift, Professor Alton, Dr. Rowlette, Major Bryan Cooper, Major Myles and the late H. M. Dockrell, certainly the voice and attitude was far different from what we were accustomed to. It was a really unprecedented atmosphere and I think a little reflection, and a little more touch of the comradeship of this House will exorcise Deputy Booth of any queer feelings he may have at present.

If it is a fact, and no doubt it is a fact, that the Protestant community have been integrated in one way or another with the various Parties, they are not the only minorities in this country and they ought to have, and I am sure they have, an appreciation of other minorities. Why should we depart from a principle in our Constitution that has been so happy and effective in its effect of integrating a minority of that kind into our various political groups in the normal way?

We had the pleasure of seeing under an inter-Party Cabinet the two sections of the Labour Party joined together as a unified Party. That is an integration which took place under P.R. and which otherwise might not have taken place. There are other integrations necessary but one real integration which requires to take place is among the families and parishes, among all the people dealing with our economic work. That is where, to the greatest and most disastrous extent, the policy of Fianna Fáil has split and crippled the efforts and energies of the people. If there is considerable unemployment in the country it is unemployment caused by opportunities lost as a result of much of the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party back over the years. If there is unnecessary emigration, much of it is from distaste brought about by the stink in the political atmosphere, the unhealthy and unsavoury atmosphere which shrouds all our public and private life due to playboyism on the one hand and, on the other hand, pure dissension-making on the part of Fianna Fáil in many of their activities.

It is not profitable to go over these [1326] things but it is inevitable to remark on them, particularly in the light of the way in which this Bill has been presented to us and the implications in it. I have no hesitation in saying that, far from its being any kind of gift by way of last will and testament, I regard this as the last shake of the bag from which many seeds, of dissension and disruption have been poured. When this is offered to us as the last chance the people have of securing their democratic strength and power, I say it is not so much a last chance for the people as the last challenge of this kind they will ever get. I believe the people will understand the challenge for what it is.

It seems to me, who has looked at so many of the doings of the Government leaders and knows so much of the reactions of some of their more thoughtful people, even if they have to surrender in a spirit of loyalty to their conscience, that an anti-Irish and an anti-Christian philosophy is inspiring their actions and that there is an opportunity now, when the people are being brought to face what is being done, of exorcising the evil.

I have not made any contribution to the many biographies of the Taoiseach that have been made, but on page 86 of De Valera and the March of a Nation by Mary Bromage, the statement is made with regard to the Taoiseach:—

“The extent of his calculating determination surprised one of the newly elected Republican Deputies, Dick Mulcahy, who understood the chief to say to him when they met one day in Fitzwilliam Square: ‘You are a young man going in for politics. I will give you two pieces of advice—study economics and read The Prince.’ ”

That was in April, 1919.

The Dáil had been set up in January, 1919, and the full Cabinet was established by April. With responsibility as Chief of Staff and Minister for Defence and in the circumstances of the newly established revolutionary Government having been set up and the struggle about to begin, I did not think the study of economics [1327] was particularly necessary for me and I did not know what The Prince was. I would like to be clear as to what spirit is driving the Government at the present time. Some time ago a book was sent to me by a private citizen who wished us well in handling the heavy responsibilities of our political positions. The sender considered it to be the most valuable book he had ever read and he believed it to be of value to us.

I shall quote what a Catholic writer, F. J. Sheed, in Society and Sanity says with regard to The Prince. He is talking of the realist and he says:—

“You will find the realist in the naked state, so to speak, among the practical politicians. For these men (the Machiavelli who wrote The Prince is their arch-priest) the only problem is how should man be handled—that is bullied, coaxed, bluffed or tricked into doing what they want him to do. Their art, such as it is, lies not in understanding men, but in knowing how they will react. It is the art of getting men to jump through this or that hoop: but the true object of politics is to help men to be more completely men. Where the doctor studies man in order to heal him, this sort of blackguard studies man in order to use him. You could make a sort of ‘Politician's Handbook’ of their rules. Every man has his price. There's a fool born every minute. Throw enough mud and some of it will stick. If you can't beat them, join them——”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That is not relevant to the Bill before the House. The Bill deals with the question of P.R.

General Mulcahy: I am dealing with man.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy has already told me what he is dealing with but he is out of order in dealing with it. The Bill before the House relates to the Third Amendment to the Constitution. It deals with whether a single member constituency [1328] with a single non-transferable vote should replace the present system of P.R.

General Mulcahy: And the Constitution deals with man and the institutions that man sets up to make use of his powers to strengthen the community and to enable man to discharge his duties on this earth in the light of his eternal destiny and with the divine and the human powers given to him.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The question before the House is a little narrower and I would ask the Deputy to come to the Bill before the House.

General Mulcahy: The Bill before the House deals with the State, and the individual who carries out his own work is incapable of living a full life or doing even his own work without the help of his neighbour, without the help of the community. Throughout the community, we set up bodies of one kind or another for economic, social or business purposes and at the top, elected by the political Parties, we set up a Government and a State, and every day and every month that passes in the developing world has caused man to give more delegated powers to bodies of one kind or another, and to the State it gives a power which is of the very highest order. To a State set up by man by constitutional or statutory means, they transfer part of their power and part of their rights. They want to be free to go about their own business, business within their own reach, properly, and they have to see that the persons to whom they transfer the rights of the State are persons in whom they have perfect confidence, people who will express their wishes and honestly do their duties and they want to feel that they will be able to keep control over them.

When I give quotations here, I am giving quotations in relation to a certain type of approach to setting up a State and the policy by which people can be fooled or gulled into handling over powers, a policy by which advice is given as to how to win a kingdom and hang on to it rather than anything else. I am quoting in relation to advice given by the Taoiseach on a [1329] former occasion, which has been referred to in rather approving tones by a biographer and which is intended to impress the people. I propose to give just a small quotation as to what the advice given in that book is.

I suggest, Sir, that I am in order in giving a quotation which shows why I am throwing out the challenge that the spirit that inspires the Fianna Fáil leadership and brings them to the point that they can hate co-operation between other Parties is a spirit that is un-Irish and unchristian. I am quoting this small paragraph to show what that advice means and I suggest I may read just this further paragraph:—

“Its theme is how to win a kingdom in Italy and hang on to it, nothing else: no advice on how to be a good ruler or how to serve the interests of his people: simply how to get power and keep it. It is not a book on politics, therefore, but a sort of Gangster's Manual. As such it has to be tough. ‘A prince should have no other aim or thought but war.’ ‘A prudent ruler ought not to keep faith, when it is against his interest.’ A prince must often act against faith, against charity, against humanity, against religion.' ‘Men will always be false to you unless they are compelled by necessity to be true.’ ‘Men must either be caressed or annihilated.’ ‘A conqueror should commit all his cruelties at once’ (it unsettles everybody if he has to keep recurring to them).”

It is my purpose to refer Deputies, who want to examine why it is that some things happen which they do not understand, to F.J. Sheed's book Society and Sanity. I ask Deputies seriously to consider what the tradition of our people has been which has enabled us to establish a Parliament in this country, in spite of the difficulties with which this country was faced, and what will guide this country through the troubles in the world, and raise it out of the confusions, the disillusions and the dissensions, of which there are so many in the country but the seed of which is here. From every debate which is not satisfactory, the [1330] seed goes out and is sown far down the country.

At a time when it is proposed to take the principle of P.R. out of the Constitution and it is declared that that is being done to strengthen democracy, we must consider what democracy means and the extent to which we have it as an inspiration and a legacy from the Christian faith. In the light of that, when Ministers and Deputies go down the country to speak at a meeting after Mass and preach what this thing is about and preach that the straight vote means an improvement in the economic conditions of the country and the strength of the people, will they try to remember that they are talking to people who have just come out from Church, having prayed that they may be partakers of the Divinity of Him Who partook of our humanity, that they are dealing with problems which arise, as their own financial documents tell them, from neither financial nor technical difficulties, but are really psychological difficulties in the way of development and that the element that is missing in our economy and our activities is the element that regards man for what he is, that he has his own gifts of humanity and divinity and has a supernatural order to assist him?

When we look back over the opportunities that have been lost, the losses that have taken place——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy is getting away from the Bill. We are discussing the amendment to the Constitution Bill.

General Mulcahy: The Bill is intended to deal with man's affairs, with all man's affairs and all man's strength. This Bill is an attempt to trample on them and particularly is it the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Party in dealing with this measure here and in the country.

Only the other day, a military writer writing in the Irish Press dealt with what happened in France, which has come in for so much notice here. I feel that if many of the people talking about Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and so on, would put their noses rather closer to what is happening here we [1331] would probably be a lot clearer about what we are thinking and what we are doing. In France, they built a Maginot Line. We saw the Maginot Line of the Fianna Fáil Party in the debate on the wheat levy the other day. They sat there like lumps of mortar, like slabs carefully put into position. Nothing could shift them; nothing could move them in any way. They sat there until the blinds were pulled down here and then they went home. Somewhere something came along the flanks of the Maginot Line and with their arguments got around them and broke them down.

The Maginot Line of concrete is there but little Parties are coming in and putting up their heads here and there and they look like ghosts from the past. Something is coming round the flanks of the line and something must be done to hit the people before they wake up a little more. They are generations of the past and the memory of every Party, class and creed from 1913 onward——

Mr. Davern: Where did the Deputy stand in 1918?

General Mulcahy: It was they who stood up in 1918 against the conscription threat. The Irish Parliamentary Party, parts of British Parties, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and everybody else, people of every Party, creed and class were there in 1918 and where would you be if they were not there?

Mr. Davern: The Deputy did not say all those nice things about them in 1918.

General Mulcahy: The Deputy is a prevaricator and a misrepresenter. The Irish Volunteers embodied men of every Party, class and creed. In order to defend the work of John Redmond and his generation the Irish Volunteers came together.

Mr. Davern: The Deputy did not always say those nice things about John Redmond and what he did.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputies may not discuss that.

General Mulcahy: I shall meet the [1332] Deputy if he likes. I shall tell him what he is—something I would not be allowed to tell him here.

Mr. Davern: I can assure the Deputy I shall reciprocate.

General Mulcahy: I shall meet Deputy Davern on any ground he likes. I again assert that I came into Irish public life, and many young men with me, to stand for the safety and security of a generation of our people in the matter of the Home Rule Bill. I also assert that, as far as Arthur Griffith and the Sinn Féin movement were concerned, they stood aside in order to give John Redmond and his followers the opportunity of having the assistance of the whole country in dealing with the problems of that kind.

If there are Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party who are being misled by assertions such as those made by Deputy Davern, that is typical of some of the other assertions made. They are unaware of the traditions of Irish political leaders which can be put into the phrase: “Ní nearth go cur le chéile.” There never was an Irish movement that had any strength or an Irish leader who added to Irish strength who was not aware of the necessity of uniting the efforts of the people. It is because that is not the spirit that Fianna Fáil leadership has brought into the country that we oppose them. We do not oppose them as a matter of Party feeling but because we are unable to do anything but resist a spirit of that kind. The reason for that is that we were brought up and lived in an Irish tradition that all the work ever done for this country was done by unity in spirit and leadership.

We are told that we are keeping the Bill from the people but it is we who have made it possible for the people to decide matters of this kind. We could not have done that as members of Fine Gael alone if we did not also have the support of members of the Labour Party, the Farmers' Party and of all the other Parties, and even of some people who now sit on the Fianna Fáil Benches. I ask those people who now occupy our old seats on the Fianna Fáil Benches, where do they think they [1333] are going or where are they being led. Who is leading the Taoiseach in this proposal? To my mind, the action he is taking here now is typical of action he took before. He is being blinded by the conceit of thinking that what he alone thinks himself is right. He is not right; nor has he been right all along.

Mr. Davern: He was proved right on every possible occasion.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Mulcahy must be allowed to make his speech.

Mr. Davern: That is why the Deputy is jealous of him. That is what is responsible for most of the dissension in this country.

General Mulcahy: I am asking that those sitting on the Fianna Fáil Benches should know well what the impact of the policy they are now following on the social, cultural and economic life of the country will be.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That does not arise. A discussion on our economic policy does not arise.

General Mulcahy: I am only asking them these questions.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy has asked that about six times.

General Mulcahy: I shall finish at 6 o'clock, Sir. I ask those Deputies to think of the things that have happened in this country because they have walked blindly along paths of policy dictated to them. They are now going out, with all the paraphernalia of misrepresentation, to get the people, by their votes or by their apathy, to surrender rights that they have got over every aspect of the economic and social life of the country, to surrender rights to express themselves through political machinery so far as they want to do so, so that the State which is set up here will be behind all their efforts, so that it will be a reflection of their wants and their needs, so that it will carry out its work in such a way that it will safeguard and co-operate in the work of the people. Let the people indicate themselves the kind of [1334] Parliament they want. The Parliament will come here worthy of the people. What is wrong with the people is that they have been divided and distracted. That is why there is so much make-believe and hypocrisy by the Party responsible for so much of the confusion and the difficulties in the country.

Cuireadh an díospóireacht ar athló.

Debate adjourned.