Dáil Éireann - Volume 2 - 28 April, 1922

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE.

MRS. O'CALLAGHAN: I wish to propose that the report of the Minister for Defence be not adopted. As far as Army matters are concerned, I regard myself as one of the plain people to whom appeal is so often made in the Dáil and I want the Minister for Defence to know how his report strikes the ordinary member. One of the very few consoling things that I took away with me from the December—January Session of the Dáil was the assurance of the newly-appointed Minister for Defence that he would maintain the army as the army of the Irish Republic. I have reason to dread war and I felt that it would be more than any of us could bear if that war should be between brothers. I said to myself, knowing the record of the Minister for Defence when he was a soldier fighting for the Republic, “Surely following this promise all will be well.” What do we find to-day, however? The war between brothers has begun. I listened to the Minister for Defence when he read his report for us the day before yesterday. I read it myself last night to see what excuse he gives us for the present dreadful condition following on the Army trouble, shall I say. When the Minister for Defence speaks in the Dáil, he gives one the impression—he gives me at any rate the impression—of being a man of great strength of character, of great decision, and of being above all a man of his word. Now, I submit that this report does not bear out that impression. I, for one, cannot see how he has maintained the Army as the Army of the Irish Republic. Under his management, it has split into two camps and it is very hard for the plain people to follow the position. I read the report, as I say, for myself and it seemed to me that the whole trouble—I am speaking now as a person unacquainted with Army matters —hinged on the holding of an Army Convention. Trying to understand the [334] trouble, as I say, I found the following things stated in this report:—first it seems that certain Army officers demanded an Army Convention in order to put before it a certain resolution. The Minister for Defence replied that permission must first be asked from the Dáil to hold this Convention; that the proposal contained in the resolution was a proposal to change the supreme control of the Army and was entirely outside the constitutional powers vested in the Dáil Cabinet by the Dáil. So far so good. Then I find the Cabinet, in spite of its last statement, deciding that the matter of the Army Convention is not to be submitted to the Dáil, and accepting the recommendation of the Minister for Defence that the Convention be proceeded with. Next I learned the opinion of the Minister for Defence on the resolution to be placed before the Army Convention. In his note for the Dáil meeting of the 28th February he says: “The setting up of an Army Executive in this way does not in actual fact take the Army away from the control of the Dáil but it secures that just as in the earlier days of the recent operations, the work of the Army shall be along lines agreed to not only by the Dáil but by its own Executive.” On March 15th, however, I find that at a Cabinet meeting he admits that if such an Army Convention were held he could not guarantee that such an Executive would not be set up, and at last—on March 15th—the Convention is forbidden with what disastrous results you know. Now, I ask every Teachta here to consider this opinion of his written in that note for the Dáil and to decide for himself whether the consequences of setting up such an Army Executive, even if it meant the scrapping of the Treaty and terrible and immediate war with England, would not be better than the civil war which we are beginning at present apparently. This report, I submit, is but a very poor excuse for the condition of things that have happened under the Minister's control. For the rest—the list of raids and other disturbances with which he supplied us—they reminded me forcibly of a certain list of outrages furnished not so long ago in the enemy Parliament in connection with the Irish war. Does he want us and the public to regard as common crimes acts committed in the defence of the Republic? I say—and I am sure I am not the only one in the country who will say—that all the disturbances that are taking place at present are the consequences of the unstatesmanlike, hesitating and unnational way in which this Army trouble has been handled by the Minister for Defence and the rest of the Cabinet. The Minister spoke somewhere about the spirit of brotherhood and comradeship between those who fought side by side for the Republic. That spirit was there but I do not see much of it in his report. I think I can claim to have been a quiet member of the Dáil. I have not said, though I have thought, bitter things to anybody or about anybody. I would ask you, a Chinn Comhairle, is there not enough love of Ireland in the Dáil to guide us to some solution of the present differences? I have lost many illusions during my short time in public life. Unless we set ourselves to the question of settling the present strife, we will all lose something very precious—that is, our national honour and our national hope and I do not think membership of the British Empire will compensate us for that.

MR. LIAM MELLOWES: I would very much like, with your permission, to speak on this report of the Minister for Defence. To me, the report is characterised from beginning to end by what he in his report so aptly terms mental sleight-of-hand. In seconding the motion that this report be not adopted, I would like to make the following observations. It is claimed in this report that propaganda is being used to the effect that they were soldier politicians. It is also stated that politics was introduced into the Army. I say that there was no politics, in the ordinary sense of the term, inside the ranks of the Army until the members of the General Head Quarters Staff, who were members of Dáil Éireann, voted for the subversion of the Republic that they, as soldiers of that Republic, had sworn to maintain and uphold. They were to be allowed, I suppose, to intrigue to destroy the Republic, while the ordinary volunteers were to be asked, as soldiers, to keep their mouths shut, to watch the Republic crumbling and see a Free State Army growing up—a paid, mercenary army, if I may say so—from which the Volunteer spirit that made the Republic possible was absent, see a Free State Army being superimposed upon the Army of the Republic so that when, if ever, it happened the Republic was disestablished, [335] you would have the Free State Army there to take the place of the Irish Republic Volunteer Army. When the Treaty was brought back here for consideration and when, by a majority of the Republican Government, the subversion of the Republic was decided upon, I say that the matters of the Treaty and of the affairs of this country in general, and in particular the maintenance of the Republic, became a matter for every individual Volunteer, because the Volunteers were there as the guardians of the Republic and they had to decide, and will have to decide, whether they will be content to become British subjects or not; whether they will see their country, which they fought to free, brought inside the British Empire that they fought against. Volunteers naturally had an interest in the subject, particularly when in this Dáil—the Government of the Republic —members said that the Republic never existed. When the Volunteers read that, naturally, they wondered what they had been fighting for it members of the Dáil—the Government of the Republic—said that they did not recognise that a Republic existed. I say that the unity of the Army was imperilled from the very moment the vote here in the Dáil was taken, and therefore, with a view to arriving at some basis for unity inside the ranks of the Army, certain officers of the Army asked for a Convention. The idea of that Convention is very well expressed in the words used by the Minister for Defence himself in the note that he had written for the Dáil meeting of February 20, which has already been quoted by Deputy Mrs. O'Callaghan but which I will quote again. He states the setting up of an Executive—that is an Executive as proposed on the basis of the Convention— does not in actual fact take the army away from the control of the Dáil but it secures that, just as in the earlier days of the recent operations, the work of the army shall be along lines agreed to not only by the Dáil, but by its own Executive. Then there is a note to the effect that this note indicates the spirit in which it was hoped the Convention would assemble. It was in the hope that the Convention would assemble in that spirit, to consider the resolution for the maintenance of the Irish Republican Army, that the Convention was asked for. Eventually, as the members may see from the documents appended to the report of the Minister for Defence, the Convention was agreed to and finally the date was fixed for it. Any hope there was then of securing unity in the Army, on the basis of the Convention, was destroyed when that Convention was declared to be illegal by the President of the Republic. There are precedents for such Conventions. From its very inception, the Army has held Conventions and even if there were not a precedent for a Convention of this kind, I say the necessity for such a Convention arose when the majority of the Government of the Republic undertook, by their vote, to destroy the Republic for which men of the Army have fought. In order perhaps to prove it could be done—that the Convention was illegal—we find that only certain divisions and only certain brigades were represented. Now, the Army is not concerned with majorities or minorities. The Army is concerned with a question of honour, a question of principle and a question of right, whether the majorities be big or the minorities be little. We are informed that, as a result of this Convention and the disunity consequent upon the action of the President in prohibiting the Convention, the pogrom was resumed in the north. That, I state, is not a fact. The pogrom was resumed in the North almost before what has come to be known as the Collins-Craig Pact had been published. Arms were asked from other parts of Ireland to help the people of the North to defend themselves against acts of aggression. These arms were sent up from the South of Ireland. We have yet to learn whether they have gone to the North of Ireland or not. Certain it is that some weeks ago these arms were still here and were evidently being kept here for the purpose of destroying the Irish Republican Army by bringing the Free State Army into existence. Raids and acts of obstruction have been enumerated and it was stated that this work has been done under cover of the Boycott. It has not been done under cover of the Boycott. It has been done as part of the Boycott work until this affair in the North— these murders and so on—is stopped. There is a statement in the Minister's report as to the reason debts owing by the Army throughout the country have not been paid. In effect, that part of the Minister's report means, that until such time as he is able to do away with the Republican Volunteers in those parts [336] of the country and substitute his own Army of Free State Volunteers, the shopkeepers have to go without their money. In portion of his report where he enumerates the raids, he mentions that explosives have been taken—explosives that were going to be issued under permit from the Minister for Defence. That is quite true. These explosives were taken and these explosives will be issued to the people who require them when they ask for permits from the responsible military authority in the country. We are referred to a statement by the Chief of Staff that appears in the papers giving the strength of the forces under his command. He characterises them as superficial. I will leave the matter at that. The main question I want to deal with is this, that at this moment the country is being threatened with civil war and is being threatened with civil war solely and wholly because of the Treaty. It is, if you like, the second fruits of the Treaty, the first being the dissension in this Government, followed by dissension throughout the country. The second is the dissension in the Army. There was no question of civil war in this country—except in so far as it applied to the people in the north of Ireland—until the members departed from the Republic, until they stepped down from the pedestal on which they stood, until they were false to the oaths they had taken here, until they undertook to destroy the Government of which they were members. The responsibility for these things must and will rest upon those who tried to destroy the national honour, those who have acted against those who have tried to uphold the national honour, who have tried to maintain the Republic which is the concrete expression of the people's will, who have tried to act up to the Declaration of Independence, which made this country a free country. They must bear the responsibility for what has happened. There would no question of civil war here now were it not for the undermining of the Republic. The Republic has been deserted by those who state they still intend to work for a Republic. The Volunteers can have very little faith at this moment in the Government that assembles here, because all they can see in it is a chameleon Government. One moment, when they look at it, it is the green, white and orange of the Republic, and at another moment, when they look at it, it is the red, white and blue of the British Empire. We in the Army, who have taken this step, have been termed “mutineers,” “irregulars,” and so forth. We are not mutineers, because we have remained loyal to our trust. We are not mutineers except against the British Government in this country. We may be “irregular” in the sense that funds are not forthcoming to maintain us, but we were always like that and it is no disgrace to be called “irregulars” in that sense. We are not wild people. We are willing to co-operate with a Government that acts and functions in accordance with the Declaration of Independence and we are willing to come under the control of such a Government as provided under the Constitution drawn up at the Convention held on the 26th March. We are willing to come under such a Government as long as it faithfully upholds the Republic but no Republican Volunteer can have any respect at the present time for this assembly when you have a majority in it pledged to destroy the Republic, to bring Ireland inside the British Empire and make the Volunteers, along with the rest of the people of Ireland, British subjects. I want to say, straight here, that it is well people should know that there are some in Ireland anyway who will never be British subjects. It is futile to talk of there being an Irish Republican Army, when the Republic has been destroyed. It is so much politicians' talk to say that when the Free State Government is being set up you can get the Republican Army to cooperate with it. Where is the incentive for the Republic, if the Republic has been destroyed—if the ideal has been shattered? I say it is not possible. We hear talk of the Army of the people. Yes, it is the Army of the people. The people, by their votes, declared this country to be independent, and the Army stands by that declaration of independence. We are told that the Army has a special sphere of its own. That is quite true. The sphere of the Army is to maintain and uphold the Republic. In this Dáil last January, when we were deploring the lack of unity here and the prospects of disunion throughout the country, I said, as I say now, “Unity is only possible upon the basis of the maintenance of the Republic.” Maintain the Republic and you will have unity from one end of Ireland to the other. Maintain the Republic [337] and you will have a unified army, you will have brothers again. If you persist in trying to destroy the Republic, it is very hard to know where it is going to go. The only basis on which you can have unity is that, because, as I have said before and as I repeat now, there are people in Ireland who, no matter what the consequences may be, will never become British subjects.

MISS MACSWINEY: Before you put the motion, A Chinn Comhairle, I would like to add—and it is with a great regret I do so—a word of strong condemnation, in which I ask every Teachta present to join, against the report of the Minister for Defence. I do so because it is the worst and the most abominable piece of felon-setting that an Irishman has ever been guilty of. It is unthinkable that the Minister of Defence could have so maligned his brother Irishmen as to give a list of what he calls “crimes,” mixing up very probably common crimes with acts which were carried out to maintain the Republic, exactly like many an act in which he himself took part before and after the Army came under the control of the Irish Republican Government. He has spoken of political intrigue and many on his side of the House have spoken of politicians interfering with the Army. What is that report of his but a political speech from beginning to end? We ask for the non-adoption of this report. I ask for it, in particular, as a vote of this House against civil war. An attempt is being made to throw the onus for the state of the country on those of us who have not changed our coats within the last few months. As I said yesterday, and as Deputy Mellowes has said now, the responsibility for every act of trouble in this country, for all the disunion, all the killing and all the wounding that may take place and that has already taken place rests entirely on the heads of those who have tried to subvert the Republic. The Treaty and the Treaty alone is the cause of all the trouble in the country. Opposition to the Treaty is the only possible course that those of us can take who believe in the Republic, which some members of this House can do no better than sneer at. One Deputy of this House says it was never anything but a paper Republic. Another Deputy of this House sneers at it in his writing and his speeches as the non-existing Republic. The English Government knew that it was an existing Republic and it was their recognition of that fact, though they did not acknowledge it, that brought about the Truce, that brought on the negotiations, that brought them to terms. We are told that we are able to go about and make speeches and talk of the existing Republic because of the Treaty, No; it is not because of the Treaty. It is because of the deeds of the Irish Republican Army, which made the Treaty possible. Lloyd George knew we had to offer something and Lloyd George would have gone on offering if the men who were sent to London could have kept their word and been faithful to the trust we reposed in them. They broke that trust, broke it miserably and, because of their breaking it, we are in this position to-day. We were ready to stand together and if we had stood together Lloyd George and his Cabinet would not have commenced the war. If they did, I ask you would not it be better for us to face Lloyd George's war than to face war with each other? We women members of Dáil Éireann, addressed to you, Treaty members, a letter imploring you to think where you are going with that Treaty. Are you going to stick to that Treaty in the face of what is happening in the country? You cannot honestly say that we who stand against it can give in. We cannot give in, because we stand on principle and on the maintenance of the Republic. You do not claim to stand on anything higher than expediency. You do not claim to stand on anything except a step towards the Republic. You call yourselves Republicans. You are Republicans in exactly the same way as a very notorious monarch of England who declared, after turning his back on the Catholic Church, that he was still a Catholic, and cut off the head of every man who said he wasn't. What is the use of calling yourselves Republicans, when the first thing you do is to turn down the Republic? You are only fooling yourselves in thinking you are going a step towards the Republic, a short cut towards the Republic. Do men show their devotion to a thing by killing it? Once more, and before it is too late, we ask you to pause and reflect whether any Treaty that could be offered by England, no matter how much material prosperity is in it, is worth civil war?

PADRAIC O MAILLE: On a point of order, is this a speech on the Treaty or on the report?

[338] MISS MACSWINEY: It is in perfect order. It arises out of the report of the Minister for Defence. Is he going to stand for civil war in this country? Does he realise that what is happening in this country is the direct result of the Treaty? Of course, it would not have happened if we were all willing to be slaves. But we are not. We will stand for the Republic—those of us who believed in it and who believe in it still —and it is no use for President Griffith to stand up and talk about the excise, or whatever it was, he said had been seized. The people of this country are entitled to maintain the Republic, through the Army of the Republic, and the people of the country knew what they were doing when they elected representatives here for the Government of the Republic. You are told the voice of the people must be heard. Let the voice of the people be heard without any war or threat of war and you know perfectly well what the voice of the people will be. I ask the Minister for Defence himself to be the first man great enough and big enough in this House to get up and denounce the Treaty he has, up to the present, supported because it is not worth civil war. The Minister for Defence is a man who has had up to now our highest respect. Let him show himself still deserving of it and if any man ever owed an apology to this Dáil and to the country for this disgraceful example of felon-setting—the worst that I have ever read—he does. We have heard of “Parnellism and Crime.” We will hear of “Republicanism and Crime.” Just as Davitt's speech on the land system was quoted throughout the length and breadth of the world to show we were a divided people, this list of crimes will be quoted against Ireland and Ireland's soldiers for many a year to come.

MR. SEAN ETCHINGHAM: I was looking at the list of outrages in this report and it reminded me of Lord Ashtown's “Atrocities in Ireland.” MacPherson, the Scotchman, or Greenwood, the Canadian, would never equal this. The Minister for Defence has excelled all Englishmen, “damned” or otherwise, that ever came to this country. I was thinking of the writings of President Griffith; no one had a greater punch in his pen than President Griffith when he was writing for Sinn Féin amháin. How he used to attack Fox and Conan Doyle and other renegade Irishmen who would try to defame his country! I could give the Minister for Defence another couple of outrages which happened in Wexford. He gave a number here of incidents in connection with the meeting at Wexford. On that very day, there was a gate smashed belonging to a decent man, Mickey Murphy, known as “Mickey the Mouser.” I assure you it belonged to an old and respected family of gates. It was very well known in the district. There were some young fellows rushing for the train and they smashed this gate. There is also talk of the freedom of the Press. We have a number of very good papers in Wexford—very well printed papers, papers that will not refuse ink and type —and we have got a paper there belonging to the “mosquito Press”—The Boys of Wexford. We have had to get that to help the Republic. Only two per cent. of the Wexford people, I think the President told us, are against the Treaty. It is a large two per cent., and it is increasing. Every time I go away I wonder how the population increases so fast. I do not know why, as I cannot see anything in it, but the whole edition of this paper, with the exception of 200 copies, was seized between Gorey station and Enniscorthy. They were not burned—unfortunately for the Free State, as they are converting a number of people that are handling them. Now we heard the paper quoted here yesterday. There are just one or two things in it. We heard a paper quoted here yesterday. There is just one thing I will quote now:

“I tell you frankly and truly

That no citizen I will be

Of this part of the Empire,

The Free State “Colony”;

And there are thousands with me,

Who will not eat the leek,

But stand by the Republic

Proclaimed in Easter Week.”

That may be treason to the Republic. Except it was I do not know why this paper The Boys of Wexford was seized.

I assure you that it is with feelings of deep pain that I heard the Minister for Defence read that report. Like the Deputy for Limerick, Mrs. O'Callaghan, I have, and I hope I will have to the end, great respect for the Minister for Defence. I did think if we had one man in Ireland that we could depend upon to stand by the Republic it was Dick Mulcahy. It was mentioned yesterday [339] that at a secret session of An Dáil held in Dublin, President de Valera suggested an easing off of the fighting. It was not that President de Valera wanted the Volunteers to give up the fight, but what we wanted was what he described as “larger battles.” That was what he asked for. If we could possibly have it, it would have greater effect. And during the discussion, the Minister for Defence said that 1916 had evolved a generation of young men that will never give up the fight. I read in the Independent of December 5th an address delivered by the Minister for Defence in Galway to some Volunteers. In the same paper I read an address to President de Valera from the Country Council of Galway. It was read by the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Seoirse Mac Niocaill, and I think if he did not die three times he died twice for the Republic on December 4th. They gave de Valera that Sunday his Palm Sunday and on a week afterwards they were trying to give him his Good Friday. That day the Minister for Defence told the young men of Galway that so long as there was one man in the Irish Republican Army they would never give up the fight. You can see that in the Independent, December 5th last. This report, if adopted by this assembly, will give, if it has not already given, to the world copy for slandering our country the like of which was never given by any Irishman before. The Daily Mail man I suppose is here to-day. In this day's Daily Mail he tells us that the Minister for Defence scored heavily on the Republicans and he says in the same issue: “Mr. Griffith, with marked firmness, ramming the air with strong chin” —ah! that chin got us. They concentrated upon Griffith's chin. A glass chin it has proved to be, unfortunately for Ireland (laughter). It is no laughing matter. Even O'Connell examined his conscience when these papers plastered him as they are plastering this man to-day. And in God's name I ask the Minister for Defence, my friend, Dick Mulcahy, to shake himself clear of such stuff as that. I would ask him now to stand up and withdraw that report in the interest of my country, and it is only in the interest of Ireland I am speaking. I have read the report three or four times and every time I read it I felt more pained. Never has our country, I repeat, been so defamed as in that report. I thought that Dick Mulcahy was a soldier. I thought, when he spoke here in An Dáil in support of this Treaty, that he was driven to it. He passed a remark which has been mentioned here and which has been quoted throughout the world that the Irish Volunteers could not take a good-sized police barracks.

MR. MULCAHY: That is not true. It was never said.

MR. ETCHINGHAM: I withdraw it. There was some mention of a good-sized police barracks.

MR. MULCAHY: Often there was.

MR. ETCHINGHAM: I accept any version he gives me of that. Let him give us his own version now before this assembly and I will accept it. I do not want to say anything here but what is true. We accept anything you say.

MR. MULCAHY: I made a statement at that particular session of the Dáil speaking with regard to four or five positions on the coast—fortified positions —that England wished to hold here under the Treaty. I said roughly this: “England has to be got out of these positions. She has to be got out of them in one or two ways—either by negotiation or to be beaten out of them —and our experience in attacking fortified positions has been to the effect that we are not able to drive the enemy out of any position more strongly fortified than a fairly good-sized police barrack.”

MR. ETCHINGHAM: “Fairly good-sized.” I will accept that. Now I say I thought that he felt he was driven to that position to support the Treaty and I never thought he was a politician until I read this. It hurts me to think that a soldier, as the Minister for Defence proved himself to be, should stoop to such tactics for political propaganda. I cannot understand it. I hope he will try to give us some explanation of it— whether it is as a soldier or a politician that he submitted that to this assembly. I have never known a soldier to enter into politics in any history of soldiers I have read in the manner of this report. There is a question of the debts due by this Government—the Government of the Republic—to the Republican Army. I have heard the Minister for Local Government denounce Mayo County [340] Council for sanctioning a rate on the rate payers of Mayo for the upkeep of the Republican Army within the county. And why is that so? Because this Government of the Irish Republic has refused to pay debts legitimately incurred by the Army, even before the split, I understand. Is that not so? Why is that? Now I have asked the Minister for Defence to withdraw that report and not have it go to a vote, for I say to you here: in the first place, if you support that, you endorse the defamation of your country; if you adopt that, you stand for what we all most dread—civil war in this country.

MR. G. NICHOLLS: I never properly understand whether the Deputy for Wicklow intends to be humorous or not. When we laugh, sometimes he seems offended. In any case he has dragged my name into a speech he has made now. He has said that on the 4th December, I threatened to die three times for the Republic in the course of a reception to Deputy de Valera, the then President. Deputy de Valera will corroborate me when I say I made no speech on the occasion and I read no address. I simply presided. The whole thing was a matter to be got over in about half an hour and, as Chairman, I saw it was got over in half an hour. I have no intention of dying for the Republic, if I can help it. I intend to live for the Republic. That is why I, and several other back benchers, voted for the Treaty—because we think we are reconciling both principle and expediency and living, not dying, for the Republic.

MR. SEAN MOYLAN: Several Republican members have dealt, I think, sufficiently well with the national viewpoint of the report of the Minister for Defence. It may seem a small thing for me to take up a personal matter on the report of the Minister for Defence. I am not as quick on the draw as I would like to be but I am a gunman. During the war, the British enemy called me the leader of a murder gang. My hands are free from murder. The Minister for Defence, in his report, yesterday called me the leader of a robber gang. I am as free from the crime of robbery as I am free from the crime of murder. I do not rise in any spirit of hostility to the Minister for Defence. I have always thought him to be a friend of mine. When we were fighting for the Republic, he knows I served him faithfully. And I still serve the Republic faithfully. We, unfortunate plain soldiers, not being used to legal quibbles and legal methods of speaking, were easily gulled by the politicians here in the Dáil. Everywhere we were told that the Truce was a breathing space to give us a chance to organise to carry on the fight for the Republic. And we did organise. We took men away from their employments. We drilled them and trained and armed them and got them ready to fight. And they were ready to fight. Those men have been out of employment, without a smoke, ill-shod, badly clad and—we are not all Pusseyfooters—in want of a drink too. That is the fault of the men who told us that the Truce was a breathing space. We were guaranteed payment for those men, funds for the maintenance of those men. We did not get it. I have always seized every opportunity I could get to try and get comforts for my men—to clothe them, to put shoes on them, and to feed them. In February last, I issued an order in my area, seeing that no other action was taken by the Dáil, that the dog tax in the area should be paid to me. During the war, my word went in North Cork. In spite of any terms that would be applied to me to-day, my word goes there yet. I robbed nineteen Post Offices around Kanturk. In one particular village, I put up a notice on Friday evening that I would come to the parish on Sunday to collect the dog tax. I did, and I collected £47, and the people willingly paid me. Then I called to the local Post Office and I collected licences for two dogs that had been paid by two people who were up against us during the war and who are up against us yet. That is the extent of my robbery. I am not ashamed of it and, if the necessity arises again, I will carry out the same action, because I can say that, in doing things like this, I am standing up for and defending the Republic.

COUNT PLUNKETT: I am slow to speak on this matter at all, one reason being that my connection with military affairs is rather too remote. But as a man who has been in public life, I think it is necessary to add my protest against the abominable charges put forward in this document by the Minister for Defence. It is hard to understand how a man could so lose his judgment, [341] through Party passion, not to recognise that it is slandering the cause to which up to a few days ago he had devoted his life. It is hard to understand, just as I found it hard to understand when I spoke yesterday, that men should get up here in the name of the Ministry and insult the honour of their own country and do so much to degrade the credit of their own race—that they should do so much to ensure the division of their own people and the destruction of their own Army. I am slow to use terms of passion against others. I am slow to speak in this gathering at all. It is very hard to speak without using bitterness. My only bitterness is at the thought that so much wrong is done to Ireland and that the credit and the liberty of Ireland should be lowered by the men who were entrusted with power that this liberty should be secured. To think that a man here, a fellow-soldier of those who did the magnificent fighting of the past few years, shoudl for a moment forget not merely the obligations of fellowship and comradeship, the endurance of common hardship and the facing of common death, but forget the first principles for which he fought! It is very hard to realise that such things can be. And yet in this document, that we are asked now to approve, all of these things have happened. What is the moral of that manifesto that is being issued in the name of the defence of Ireland? It is this: that if this report is adopted it will be apparently the duty of the Ministry of the Cabinet of which this man is a member, to set the machinery of the law going against these faithful soldiers of Ireland and of the Irish Republic and to have them charged as offenders—against what—Against the liberty of Ireland. No! They can only be charged with being enemies of England. I want to know if the men who are soldiers here are going to stand by a document which means that. I want to know whether any Irishman is going to assist the system which we thought we had put down when it was in the name of England. Are you going to enforce it in the name of Ireland against the fighting Irishmen who are committed to sacrifice their lives, if necessary, for the complete independence of Ireland?

MR. MACENTEE: A Chinn Comhairle, I just wish to deal with that portion of the report of the Minister for Defence which has reference to the proclamation of the recent Volunteer Convention. In doing so, I would like to direct the attention of the members of this House to the series of questions which the Minister replied to at the opening of these debates, because I contend that these replies prove, from the mouth of the Minister himself, that the proclamation of that Convention was an unjust, a tyrannical and a flagrant violation of the terms under which the Irish Volunteers agreed to render obedience and service to Dáil Éireann, as the Government of the Irish Republic. The relations between this Dáil and the army of the Irish Republic were peculiar relations. I do not think that they were such as existed between any other Government and any other army in Europe, for the Dáil was the creation of the Army and the Army was not the creation of the Dáil. It was the Army that brought the Dáil into being; it was the Army that existed, as an independent organisation, from before 1916 and, after its organisation upon a formal basis from October 1917. It did more than any other agency in this country to establish the Irish Republic —the Republic which we are striving to uphold to-day and which the Minister for Defence upheld so valiantly in the days before the Treaty; the Republic that was established by the Irish Volunteers in 1916. The Irish Volunteers, therefore, in regard to this Republic stood in a peculiar position. It was their own creation and it was their aim, above all other things, to preserve the Republic that they had established. When, in December 1918 and in January 1919, the elected representatives of the Irish people re-affirmed the Republic of 1916, it was obvious that there ought to be a certain agreement—a certain formal and binding agreement—entered into between the Irish Volunteers and the Dáil of the Republic. There would naturally be a certain co-operation and sympathy between the military body and the legislative body of the Republic, since they were both working for one thing. In the words of the oath of the Dáil, the members were positively bound to support and maintain, to the best of their knowledge and ability, the Irish Republic.

It was found that, after the establishment of the Republic, there was a certain secret organisation at work, whose manifest purpose was clearly seen—that was to secure control of the Irish Volunteers, whether as a weapon of aggression [342] against or a support for the Irish Republic we, who were not members of that organisation, could not tell. But clearly we did see this; that an attempt was made to deprive the Irish Volunteers of that independence and of that openness of organisation which had been theirs from the foundation. As a remedy, it was suggested that the Irish Volunteers who, up to August, 1919, had been under the undivided control of their own Executive—but who, of course, naturally did act in co-operation with the Minister for Defence of the Dáil— should be put formally under the control of the Dáil. That suggestion was made to the former Minister for Defence— Cathal Brugha. When it was made, there were certain members of the Volunteer Executive who pointed out that there were certain members of the Dáil who, there was reason, perhaps, to believe from their former record, would not be altogether consistent throughout their whole political career and at some future time or other, under stress of circumstances, might agree to accept a compromise that would be something much less that the Republic. And if I may say it, one of the men whose name was mentioned in that connection was the present President of the Dáil, Mr. Arthur Griffith. Certain members of the Volunteer Executive refused to place the Irish Volunteers under the unqualified control of the Dáil unless certain safeguards were furnished to the Executive Council of the Volunteers against such a contingency as I have adumbrated. The safeguards which were devised were these. First of all, a common oath of allegiance to the Irish Republic was to be taken by the members of the Dáil and by the members of the Army. Furthermore all the activities of the Minister for Defence of the Dáil were to be more or less supervised by the Executive Council of the Volunteers, which was to be main-in existence as previously. This agreement was entered into. The Minister of Defence in his replies to me, with a dissimulation and want of candour which is not natural to him, but which he must have recently acquired, did not explicitly deny that this agreement was made but tried to insinuate that such an agreement was not made. Anyhow, there was such an agreement, not a written agreement but an agreement which between men of honour is even more binding than any written agreement can be—a verbal agreement in fulfilment of which men of the Irish Volunteers suffered want and hardships, imprisonment and torture, death on the field and death on the seaffold. And the greatest proof that there was such an agreement is the oath which, as I have said and which, as the Minister of Defence has admitted, was administered at the same time to members of the Dáil who, before August, 1919, were not bound by any oath. The few who were not members of the first Dáil—those who were members of the first Dáil have no reason to doubt what I am saying—can look up the first Constitution adopted by this body and they will find that there was no oath of allegiance embodied in it. The oath of allegiance was adopted afterwards and it was adopted in fulfilment of this agreement. Now there are some members of this House who declare in support of their attitude in connection with this Treaty, that the Republic of Ireland never existed. Read the terms of the oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I do not and shall not yield a voluntary support to any pretended Government, authority or power within Ireland hostile or inimical thereto; and I do further swear (or affirm) that to the best of my knowledge and ability I will support and defend the Irish Republic and the Government of the Irish Republic, which is Dáil Éireann, against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

There are men who say there was no Republic, to-day, trying to secure allegiance from the soldiers of the Irish Republic, in virtue of the terms of that oath. “There was no existing Irish Republic.” How was it possible to impose upon the Army an oath of allegiance to a nonentity—to a Republic which did not and does not exist, to a Dáil which is the Government of something which does not exist or to a Dáil which is trying to destroy the Republic? These men cannot ride on two horses. Either there was a Republic or there was not a Republic. Then if there was no Republic the Army is not bound by its oath. The army can disobey and act against this Dáil if it sees fit to do so. But as well as the oath, there are further proofs that there was an agreement between the Dáil and the Irish Volunteers. I will read for you the general draft of the Constitution of the Irish Volunteers—the constitution which was proposed for acceptance in 1919 and [343] which embodied the terms of that agreement. It recites that the objects of the Irish Volunteers were “to secure and maintain the Irish Republic”—the Irish Republic which existed in the minds of the Volunteers in August, 1919, if it did not exist in the minds of some members of this Dáil—“and to train and equip for this purpose an Irish Volunteer force which shall be the Army of the Irish Republic.” After reciting that, this draft Constitution goes on to provide regulations for the government and control of the Irish Republican Army. “The administration of the Irish Republican Army,” says article (1) of the 3rd part of the Constitution, “shall be vested in the Minister of National Defence.” These are very important conditions. They are at the root of the whole of this matter and it is upon the heads of those who have violated these conditions that the responsibility for what may come out of the present position in Ireland will ultimately be placed by God and by history. “The administration of the Irish Republican Army shall be vested in the Minister of National Defence, who shall act in consultation with the Executive Council.” The Minister of Defence is to act in consultation with the Executive Council of the Irish Republican Army. Is the present Minister of Defence acting in consultation with the Executive Council of the Irish Republican Army? Let him ask himself that. It goes on to deal then with the composition of this Executive Council. I do not wish unduly to take up time in reading it, but one thing I want to make clear is this, that the Executive Council by article 4 of the 3rd part of the Constitution is to elected in the following manner:—

“A convention of the Army shall be held annually and will consist of three members from each Brigade area together with the Brigade Commandant and members of the existing Council and Headquarters staff, together with...”

Furthermore, Clause 5 of this same part goes on to say that a special Convention may be called at the request of two-thirds of the full Executive Council. This Convention shall consist of delegates to the previous National Convention. Furthermore, it proves clearly that all other relations of the Irish Republican Army with the Dáil and with the Minister of Defence of the Dáil were to be subject to the supervision and, in part, to the control of the Executive Council of the Volunteers. The following regulations were included in this draft constitution. Article 6—perhaps the most important of them—says: “The Minister of National Defence shall be approved by the National Executive.” Was the present Minister of National Defence approved by the National Executive of the Irish Republican Army? If he were not approved by that body, then he has no jurisdiction or control over the Irish Republican Army, let who will say otherwise. “All powers of making, modifying and amending the constitution of the Irish Republican Army”—this is also a most important provision—“shall be vested in the annual Convention of the Irish Republican Army or in the special Convention called together, as set out in Paragraph 5.” Members will refer themselves to the questions which I put this morning and to that portion of them which relates to the ratification or acceptance by the Irish Republican Army or the Irish Volunteers of this draft constitution. They will remember that the Minister of Defence, in his reply to me, stated that the Convention to amend the constitution was not held and that therefore so far as the Irish Volunteers are concerned ultimately—oath or no oath— they are bound by the Constitution of October 1917. This draft constitution which I am reading, in order to show clearly that there was an agreement between the Dáil and the Volunteers, states: “The Minister of Defence in consultation with the Executive Council shall appoint and define the duties of the Headquarters Staff.” Now every one of those provisions goes to show clearly that while it might be true to say that the authority of the Dáil was supreme or that the Dáil was in supreme control of the Army, that supremacy was limited and controlled, qualified and conditioned by the terms of the agreement entered into between the Dáil, through its Minister of Defence, and the Irish Volunteers, through their Executive Council. That is the grave and significant fact that rises clear and commanding out of the statement that I have just made. It rises clear and commanding out of this document. It rises clear and commanding out of the oath of Dáil Éireann itself. It is clear that the service and obedience that the Irish Republican Army gave to the Dáil was a conditional service and a conditional obedience— [344] conditional on the Dáil itself being faithful to its oath to maintain and defend the Irish Republic. The Dáil has not been faithful to its oath. The Dáil is not supporting and defending the Irish Republic. The Executive of the Dáil, through the Minister of Defence, among others, is now using all its energies and all its resources to subvert the Irish Republic. Therefore, the Army of the Irish Republic is released from obedience to the Dáil. It was for this contingency that all the elaborate machinery embodied in the amended constitution which I have just read was devised. It was devised in order that should circumstances such as those in which we live, arise, the Executive Council of the Irish Republican Army should take control of that army and preserve it intact and united against the actions and operations of the very man —the President of the Dáil—whose past record in the opinion of their National Executive made these regulations and these safeguards necessary. Such a contingency arose but, unfortunately, the Executive Council had previously dissolved itself—dissolved itself for very grave and very weighty reasons— reasons and motives that were, perhaps, praiseworthy but yet, as was pointed out at the time, were not sufficient to validate and regularise the dissolution by itself of that body. The motives were these. At the time it was thought that war was imminent and in order that our soldiers might no longer be referred to as “a murder gang,” in order that it might appear that they were acting directly as the Army of the Dáil, in order to make the position on the field absolutely unchallengeable, even in appearance, as it was in reality, it was thought advisable by some that the Executive Council should be dissolved and that Volunteer Officers who previously held their Commissions from the Executive Council should hold them direct from the Dáil. At that time, I pointed out that such dissolution should not take place, and that if it was to take place a Convention of Volunteers should be assembled and their judgment should be asked in this matter. The matter, however was pressing and the Executive Council did not dissolve but adjourned it sine die. It could not re-assemble. That was the position then in which the officers of the Irish Republican Army found themselves after the acceptance of the Treaty by this Dáil. Obviously, if the Executive Council had been faithful to its trust it would have been the duty of the Executive Council at once to have summoned a Volunteer Convention and for the Volunteers or Irish Republican Army to have taken action accordingly. The position of the Irish Republican Army required to be safeguarded and who were better fitted to safeguard the interest of the army and to secure that the Dáil should fulfil its part of this inviolable contract, which the men of the army had fulfilled when they went out to fight and die for the Irish Republic, than the senior officers of the army, and members of the Headquarters Staff who had not been seduced from their allegiance to the Irish Republic? There were men capable of taking that responsibility and they took it. At the same time, they tried to discharge that duty and that responsibility in a way that would be the least injurious to the prestige of the army and the prestige and reputation of the Minister of Defence himself. They approached him and asked him, since the Executive was not available, to summon a Convention of the army. The Minister of Defence quite obviously was satisfied as to the justice of that demand, for he assented to the summoning of that Convention. He knows well that when he did that he acted in accordance with his conscience and with his obligations to his comrades. What was the pressure that made him change and betray the men who had fought and stood by him and who had placed him first of all in his position as Chief of Staff of the Irish Volunteers? It was not worthy of his past—and I hope it will not be worthy of his future—that any influence, whether it were the influence of his colleagues in the Cabinet or otherwise, should make him go back upon his promise to the members of the General Headquarters Staff. Back upon it he did go. What then was to be the remedy of the officers who desired the Convention? They could find no fidelity in the Dáil, no fidelity in the Minister of Defence, no fidelity in the President of the Republic, no fidelity in the Chief of Staff. What was to be their remedy? The only remedy they had was to act themselves and call a Volunteer Convention upon their own responsibility. Upon their own responsibility they called that Convention and, in accordance with the traditions of the army, the majority of the army rallied to that call and re-affirmed their allegiance to the [345] Irish Republic and withdrew their obedience—for, remember, they never gave anything more than obedience to this Dáil—from this Dáil that was proving itself unfaithful and untrue to the Irish Republic. That is the reason you have the Irish Republican Army to-day existing under the control of an independent elected Executive and refusing to accept dictation or the control or authority of the Minister of Defence. That is the justification for all the actions that the independent Executive have taken in the past and it will be their justification for any action they may take in future. Now, there was issued the other day a Proclamation by a certain very high, very respected, and very venerable authority in this country. That statement called upon the young men of the army to yield obedience to the Dáil. Will not those who issued that statement call upon the Dáil to be faithful to its control to the army?

MR. MILROY: Suppress them.

MR. MACENTEE: No. Don't talk nonsense. As long as I am a Catholic, in spiritual matters I will give due obedience to the Hierarchy of Ireland, but when they act in any other capacity and when, particularly, they attempt to decide and adjudicate upon such a situation as exists at the present time between the Dáil and the army—they have no right whatsoever to deliver any judgment or issue any statement unless they have all the facts and all the evidence that are relevant to the position before them. In this matter, which may mean life or death, upon the issue of which civil war depends, they should not issue a purely partisan statement. Above all, men, no matter who they may be, who nine or ten months ago were denying the authority of this Dáil and were attempting to seduce the army of the Irish Republic from its allegiance to this Dáil, should not have the effrontery to append now their signatures to a statement asking that army to give its allegiance to this Dáil as the supreme national Assembly. They denied the supremacy and the authority of this assembly nine or ten months ago. (To Mr. Milroy) There is my answer to you and if you feel happier now——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Address the Chair.

MR. MACENTEE: Well, Sir, that is my answer to the Deputy for Tyrone and if that Deputy feels happier under the benediction of those prelates who ten months ago condemned the soldiers of the Irish Republic to excommunication, let him be content with whatever solace it gives him.

MR. MILROY: What about Doctor Fogarty?

MR. MCENTEE: The statement I have made regarding the relations between the Dáil and the Irish Republican Army are uncontrovertible. The Minister for Defence, out of his own mouth, this morning substantiated every word I have said. We are now upon the verge of civil war in Ireland. Let there be no mistake about that. There are men in the Irish Republican Army who are going to see that the episode of Keogh and Sadlier is not going to be repeated in our day in Ireland, that men are not going to mount to positions of power and authority in this country upon the sacrifice of life itself of others, when they were in a position to betray those who gave them their trust. The President of this assembly, in that scurrilous manner which is perhaps the most significant feature of his whole character, referred to me as the late member for Monaghan. I am no more the late member for Monaghan that he is the late Deputy for Tyrone. I am much less the late member for Monaghan that he is the late member for Tyrone and Cavan, for I am standing to my oath and I am standing faithfully to the pledges I gave the electorate when I asked them to send me to this assembly, whereas he is breaking the one and is unfaithful to the other. He who was elected to resist partition is assisting the English to accomplish partition——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: You must confine yourself to the report of the Minister of Defence.

MR. MACENTEE: What I am going to say is that when the history of this period comes to be written whatever else may be said of me I will be numbered with those who put principle above expediency, who placed honour above honours, and the interest of Ireland above the interest of the British Empire, whereas he will take his place with Keogh and Sadlier as a time-serving politician who espoused the cause only [346] to betray it and who entered into an alliance and agreement with the Irish Volunteers only to break it when it suited his time and his purpose. Now, I have stated fairly the position that existed between the Irish Volunteers and the Dáil. For what may come out of the present situation the attitude of the President and his Ministry—that attitude which reminds me of nothing more than the attitude of a little puny, pukey schoolboy, the sort that was always peaching on his comrades, whenever he was challenged with any offence, held up his hand and said “Please, sir, it wasn't I; it was the other fellow over there that did it”—the responsibility will not rest upon the opposition in the Dáil, it will not rest upon the independent Executive of the Irish Republican Army, but it will rest upon the President of Dáil Éireann and his colleagues and the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Finance as much as the rest.

PADRAIC O MAILLE: There are people in this House and they want trouble and turmoil. It would be well for the House to bear that in mind. In place of order, it is turmoil and strife they want and there are some of them who want to bring the enemy back again.

MR. O'ROURKE: It appears to me that most people on both sides are determined on giving their explanations or trying to excuse themselves for the civil war that they seem to see in the near future. Both sides seem to forget that there is a real issue, that there is a real crisis at the present moment. I may say that the Minister of Defence, in his statement, is just as guilty as the others. The Minister of Defence, it seems to me, tries to deny that there is such a situation for him to-day. That is, to my mind, sheer madness, playing with fire. The same applies to the others who try to justify civil war. If it comes, these explanations will be of very little use and I rise for the purpose not of creating more trouble but as one independent man in this House, at the moment, to appeal to the plain people of the Dáil, the back benchers, to try and find a means for bringing unity about in the army.

MR. DE VALERA: Hear, hear!

MR. O'ROURKE: To do that I suggest an independent body, say of five. Of course, I may say I would appeal to the back benchers to take the matter out of the hands of the leaders. We have had enough of those personal recriminations on the part of the leaders. My suggestion to the House is that a Committee of say five would be appointed to inquire into the differences that divide the army at the moment and to try to reunite the army. To my mind the army question in this country is the whole question. There is no use in the Minister of Defence or anybody else saying that the Executive are acting illegally or the Executive saying on the other hand that he is acting illegally. If the civil war comes, then it will be all the same and I don't see what is to stop it if immediate steps are not taken. I think there are some people, the leaders, perhaps, on both sides who will listen to nothing. They seem determined on bringing dissension. They give a lot of statements of course to prove that they are doing the right thing. I don't think anything can justify civil war, and unless we are absolutely madmen I think a way can be found. I suggest therefore, that five independent men be appointed by the Dáil, which you all seem to say is the supreme authority in the country, to inquire into the differences that broke up the unity of the army and try and bring about unity. Now I have been enquiring more or less into the minds of both parties and honestly I do not see how it can be impossible to reunite the army. I think it is possible, but of course this kind of talk will not unite any parties. I am not appealing to the people who are bitterly opposed—perhaps, the leaders— but I am appealing to the House in general. I have been speaking to some people in the House on both sides and they said they would support the motion. This may, perhaps, be out of order. I know this is a discussion on the report of the Minister of Defence. But in view of the grave crisis that exists, I hope that before the Dáil adjourns the matter will be taken into consideration and that some action will be taken.

MR. COLIVET: The general subject of the report of the Minister of Defence has been fairly well debated and I only wish to refer to one particular portion of it. I would let that pass only that the Minister of Defence bases the non-holding of the Convention somewhat upon this “Limerick episode,” as it has been [347] called. The idea seems to have been held by some that the Volunteers were soldiers, mechanical, mercenary soldiers, who were to have no opinions of their own whatsoever about their own country. That may seem all very well in theory but in Ireland, as we know, the Volunteers were founded for one plain and distinct purpose; that was, to achieve the independence of their country. This question of accepting the Treaty or not was a matter that was right on the spot for them. There is no use shutting your eyes to the facts. The fact is every man in the Volunteers was vitally interested in this question of the Treaty. Nobody will say they were to pass on and take no notice of it whatever. It was reasonable to expect that while allowing them full liberty to hold these opinions, as an army they should be held solidly together, pending the final decision on this question. Where the vital mistake was made was by the Minister of Defence not keeping his guarantee to keep the Irish Republican Army intact, as the army of the Irish Republic; by compelling officers and men of the I.R.A. to do things which the men definitely objected to do. It is a pity it was done and it could have been avoided. Take the question which was the immediate cause I think of the first Proclamation issued from the army on this question: that is the Mid-Limerick Brigade. That concerned the handing over of the barracks. Now many of us here in the early debates on this question read the Treaty through and through and everyone will agree with me that there was hardly a clause in it that was not full of ambiguities and open to dozens of different interpretations. As a matter of fact, most of the material for the debates arose from the fact that there were so many interpretations capable of being taken from it. Then the Minister of Finance himself admitted that he did not quite understand it yet—I think he used words to that effect at one stage, that he did not quite get to the bottom of all the implications of the different clauses. I do not think anybody can say that they fully understand what was exactly meant by that clause calling into being the Provisional Government—how the Provisional Government was to act, whether it was to act as a liaison body taking over the machinery of Government then held by the British and hand it over to the supreme authority in this country. Dáil Éireann, or whether it was to function as a Government owing allegiance to nobody. My own view of the matter is that the Provisional Government has been responsible to nobody. The Ministers have stated here that they would not be responsible to anybody. Now the very moment that an officer of the I.R.A. was asked to act on behalf of the Provisional Government you were putting up to him “Are you for the Treaty or are you not?” That is a plain fact and no amount of quibbling will get out of it. The Minister of Defence states in his report, Appendix C:

“The position with regard to Limerick is that on Saturday, February 18th, the Brigade Commandant of the Mid-Limerick Brigade in whose area Limerick City is, issued a proclamation repudiating the authority of G.H.Q. On Thursday, February 23rd, certain barracks in Limerick were evacuated by the British and had to be taken over from them. The O/C. of the 1st Western Division (Clare—Sth. Galway) was instructed as being the nearest responsible officer to occupy these barracks.”

Now that is—I don't say deliberate— utterly inaccurate and false. I don't believe it is deliberate. I don't believe the Minister of Defence issued that without believing that he was telling the truth. The opposite is the truth. The fact that the Minister of Defence or some officer in his Department had decided to hand over these barracks not to the Brigade in whose area they were situated but to an outside Brigade was the immediate cause of that Proclamation being issued. He has also referred to political influences in the army. When the Treaty was accepted and approved of by this assembly in January, many members of the Mid-Limerick Brigade Staff, who politically did not agree with the accepting of the Treaty, were anxious that some step should be taken to settle the army position. The opinions held by the various members were naturally various. Some were for extreme measures, others for middle measures and others for leaving things as they were. That continued for a considerable period and as far as political influences were concerned I was a member of the staff, and also a member of this House, and it may be presumed that by political influence was meant that I as a minority member of this [348] House should use my political influence on that staff to get this Proclamation issued. But my efforts all the time were to prevent any such thing being done, because I considered that the guarantee given here by the Minister of Defence, in view of the opinion I have always held of him, would be carried out to the letter. I strenuously fought all the time against any step being taken that would tend to break up the unity of the army. That continued for weeks, until the evacuation of barracks came up. Some weeks before that, the local Liaison Officer, Captain O'Shaughnessy, was addressed by the British Military authorities, not as “Liaison Officer I.R.A.” but as “Liaison Officer, Provisional Government” with reference to the handing over of barracks. The Liaison Officer at first protested verbally, pointing out that he was not Liaison Officer to the Provisional Government, that the only credentials he held were as Liaison Officer to the Republican Army. He was asked by the Brigade, in order to avoid misunderstanding, to put that in writing as the Brigade could only act on behalf of the Army of the Irish Republic. This he refused to do. Then the Brigade urged him six times not to sign it acting on behalf of the Provisional Government as he was an officer of that Brigade, not an officer of the Provisional Government. He declined to give any guarantee to that effect, although he expressed himself as willing that the Brigade should go into the Barracks and displace any caretakers he put into it. The next step was that he was informed from the office of the Chief Liaison Officer in Dublin that if the Brigade did not co-operate with him in arranging with them to take over the Barracks that they would see that the enemy troops would remain there until they had troops to take them over. About two days later, the evacuation was temporarily stopped. That message from the Liaison Officer here to the Liaison Officer in Limerick informing him that the enemy would remain there until they had troops to take them over was the immediate cause why those in the Brigade who wished to take extreme measures could no longer be stopped. There was also another reason about that period. The army was being constantly referred to in the Press and in the British Houses of Parliament as the army of the Provisional Government. We are being told that we are to listen to what Mr. Churchill says and what Mr. So-and-So says in the other House. On 13th February in the British House of Commons, Mr. Churchill, in reply to Viscount Curzon, said that no arms, transport, or ammunition had been handed over to the Provisional Government by the military authorities except 200 rifles and 500,000 rounds of ammunition by the police authorities, subject to a valuation. This transfer was made for the express purpose of furnishing the Provisional Government with the means of equipping a small uniformed force with which to maintain their authority. That is a sample of thousands of similar quotations which I could give only I do not want to weary you. No definite repudiation was given by the responsible Ministers of this House of that statement. That was what the army was listening to and watching and, in view of that, can you blame men who joined the army, sworn to maintain the Republic, if they began to doubt the guarantee given here by the Minister of Defence. On the 18th February, those members of the Staff whose opinions were in favour of the Treaty and others like myself who were not, but who did not wish to proceed to that extremity and to resign, breaking the unity of the army but preferred trying to have it settled by other measures, could not longer stop that Proclamation being issued. That was the first step leading up to the present position. What followed that has been called “the invasion of Limerick.” What occurred afterwards was the direct consequence of that. An outside division was brought in to take over these barracks and they took over on behalf of the Provisional Government. With my own eyes, I have seen the receipt of the officer who signed for the property of one of the barracks on behalf of the Provisional Government and not on behalf of the Irish Republican Army. Now in view of these things I think it is most unfair for the Minister of Defence to ask us to agree that the I.R.A. has been acting under his authority as the army of the Irish Republic.

MR. PATRICK BRENNAN: I wish to give the House some information. The Deputy who has just spoken made reference to this conviction that every Volunteer had a right to his opinion on the Treaty and that that opinion should [349] not affect his membership of the Volunteer organisation. Prior to the arrangements made about this Sectional Convention, I knew very little about it but I got information about it in a very definite manner. Volunteers, members of a Brigade in Clare—in one case the Commander of the Brigade—came to me and told me that their Brigade Commandant had, on parade, informed them that if they were Free Staters they should clear out of the Volunteer organisation or he would put them out. That man is associated with the Deputy who has just spoken on the Sectional Convention business.

MR. O'ROURKE: In view of the possibility of some settlement between the parties, I move that the consideration of this report be postponed until Wednesday. Perhaps a division on this question now may only make bitterness more bitter, and I put forward the suggestion that it be postponed without a division in order to try if anything can be done in the meantime to get unity. I therefore propose that it be adjourned until Wednesday.

MR. ETCHINGHAM: I second that. I may say that I heard a remark to-day that there is a conference to-morrow and that proposals from the Labour Party will be under consideration. I expect the matter of the army will be included in the terms of reference of the conference. Therefore I support what Deputy O'Rourke said, that it would make bitterness more bitter to take a vote now. I think you will all agree that that is so. That is why I ask the Minister of Defence to withdraw that report. I hope you will all agree that we now do adjourn until Wednesday and that we do not proceed with the further consideration of the report until we resume.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: It is within half an hour of the time fixed for the adjournment.

MR. MACENTEE: I think, in all fairness to the Minister of Defence, he should be heard before this present debate concludes. I only throw that out as a suggestion.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: It is a matter for the Dáil whether they wish to adjourn now.

MR. ETCHINGHAM: There may be other speakers upon it and the Minister of Defence would, of course, wind up the debate. Therefore, the debate can be resumed then, and further speeches can be made and the Minister of Defence can wind up in the usual way.

MR. COLIVET: I think it would not be fair now after so many have spoken in opposition to the Minister of Defence, that we should adjourn without hearing him. After all, what we have said will appear in the Press and he will get no opportunity of replying. I think it is only fair that we now hear the Minister of Defence and then adjourn. This is not to be taken as the final closing of the debate.

CATHAL BRUGHA: Is the Minister of Defence then to be given an opportunity of speaking again, because I intend to speak before the report is put before the House for adoption? The Minister for Defence should therefore be given an opportunity of speaking twice.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: He did wish to speak in this discussion on the report. It has been suggested, and I am in favour of the suggestion, that the matter be held over until Wednesday. I was going to say if you wish to speak——

CATHAL BRUGHA: Excuse me, Sir, until I finish what I am saying. It has been also suggested that as several speakers have criticised the report that the Minister of Defence be given an opportunity now of replying. Now, I wish to speak but I would prefer not to do so, in the hope that the Army may come under a unified command between now and Wednesday. Therefore I am in favour of the suggestion, that further discussion be postponed until Wednesday. But in view of the other suggestion that the Minister should speak now in reply to criticisms that have been made I propose that he be allowed to reply later on to any other criticisms that may be made.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I would suggest if that be so, that we take the adjournment now. It is within half an hour of the time. (“No.”) Very well, I only wished to test your feeling about it. It will be better for us than to proceed with the discussion.

[350] MR. MACENTEE: A Chinn Comhairle, it would be quite easy by the courtesy of this House to permit the Minister of Defence——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: It is a matter for the Minister of Defence. It is not for you to arrange when he is going to speak.

CATHAL BRUGHA: Except this, that by the Minister of Defence speaking now, it might mean that the debate would be closed then and no one else would be allowed to speak.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: That is just the point.

CATHAL BRUGHA: I suggest that further discussion be held over till Wednesday.

MR. MULCAHY: I am absolutely now as at all times, in the hands of this House. This House is responsible for putting me into the position I am in and as I say I am entirely in the hands of this House. I do not mind how long this Defence Report is debated and if you wish to further discuss the question on Wednesday I do not mind. If you do wish to discuss this matter on Wednesday, there are just one or two things that I would like to say now before the House adjourns if it is the desire of the House to adjourn.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Is it agreed that the Minister of Defence can speak now on the motion to adjourn and speak again closing the debate?

DEPUTIES: Yes.

MR. MULCAHY: We may live in a very complicated world but the political situation, so far as it appeared to me, and the military situation through all this, has been very simple. I am not unmindful of the ties of comradeship or of what honour requires of us, or any of these things that have been so nicely spoken of to-day. But when this Treaty came before the Irish people and when the question of taking a decision as to whether personally as a member of this House, or personally as the one on whom the military responsibility in the army rested—when the responsibility came upon me in this position of saying whether the Treaty ought or ought not be accepted, I was faced with the responsibility of myself deciding whether I would accept the responsibility of war for the Irish people. That responsibility was on each particular member of this assembly but there is such a thing as responsibility for war. People in other countries are called on to face that responsibility from time to time. In times of peace men are saddled with the responsibility of being in a state of preparedness should any outside enemy come upon them and the responsibility is divided over the whole Government and the whole army. When that responsibility came my way I was faced with the question of preparedness of the army for war and the strength of the country to support a war. When asked, on behalf of the Government, what was my opinion with regard to the army, I gave what my opinion with regard to the army was. I stated that with regard to the army we could do very much the same thing that we had been doing and we could do that with greater strength and great assuredness and that perhaps we could do it over a certain period. But I said the situation does not depend on the army alone, even if the army had any of the elements of military success. It depended on the state of the people and it depended on the economic condition of the country and I said no army knowing the country, and no army just entering upon a war campaign, can enter that campaign without knowing what the political atmosphere is. Even an army entering on a war with elements of military success in it will not be expected by any Government, the army chiefs will not be expected by any Government, to enter on a war without being told what is the general political situation which is being worked up to. I said the army was capable of doing a certain thing but, as I said, particularly in our case, where we have not the elements of military success in the army, it is necessary that we should know on what political plan we are working. I could not be told on what political plan the army was to work if, on rejecting this Treaty, we found ourselves into a war position. My whole intelligence told me that I would not be right in accepting for the Irish people war; whatever might be said about honour, I would not be adding to the honour of my country if, knowing in my heart and in my mind and feeling at any rate that we were not prepared [351] and that we had not the material strength to put ourselves into war if I plunged my country into war. Understanding that, as I did, and for that reason, I said that the Treaty ought to be accepted. I did not say that I was prepared to ram the Treaty down the throats of the Irish people and to say they must take it at the point of the bayonet. My view in saying that the Treaty ought to be accepted was that in voting in this assembly I would vote for it and recommend the Irish people to accept the Treaty and having done that it is for the Irish people, when they get the chance, to do the rest. Because I took that stand, I am branded as a soldier-politician and told I am working against the army. Because of the fact that a stand like that was taken by me and was taken by other members of the General Headquarters Staff who thoroughly knew the Army and thoroughly knew the conditions and the difficulties under which it worked and also the strength of the various sections of it, personal attacks are made on them to undermine the confidence of the army in its leaders, and to divide the army. We were faced in the beginning of the life of the Ministry with the demand for a section of the army having a Convention. As my report states, I was against the holding of a Convention knowing the circumstances. I was against the holding of a Convention of the Volunteers until after the people had voted on the Treaty and until after the people had shown what they thought of the whole position. Then the Convention of the Volunteers could be held and any definite position that the army wished to take up with regard to the whole situation could have been voiced there, in a steady atmosphere and knowing what the people of the country as a whole thought of the situation. Instead of that, the Convention of the army was tried to be rushed at a time when the atmosphere was filled with Party passion, driving us between a smash up of the army and division of the army. At a time when the enemy were beginning to evacuate the country, I gave in to the holding of the Convention and only was forced to go back on that decision when it was made clear that if a Volunteer Convention was held that it would set up a body definitely setting themselves out to prevent the Treaty going before the people. That was the pressure under which I was forced to change my attitude with regard to this Convention. I think the justification of that step is contained in my report. I wish to say that my report is made in a non-party spirit. If this report has shocked the House, the fact that it has shocked the House has been the justification of the making of the report. The fact that this report contains what it does is a justification for stopping the Convention at the time, because it is more than probable that the Executive of the army which was set up at the Sectional Convention held in March last, and which now has its headquarters at the Four Courts, would be able to boast that it was set up on democratic authority and that its work was carried out with some shred of democratic authority if it could show that it had the permission of this Dáil to go and hold the Convention and set it up. That is the real and the only reason for stopping or withholding permission for that Convention. If this House is going to carry over the consideration of this report and the consideration of the implications in it until next Wednesday and if it is going to think over where the policy is leading us which makes the making of that report possible then I do not wish to say anything else, but I do want to press it home on the House that we started out facing the situation that we were either going back into war or not. That was my reading of it, at any rate. The continuation of a policy such as is indicated in this respect will surely bring us back into this war and it will bring us back divided in our forces, broken in our credit and all the prestige and the strength that came of that prestige and the strength of anything that came out of that prestige in the Irish Republican Army— all that broken and shattered. If we would not face, as I believe we could not face, a war back in the beginning of December last, we certainly cannot face war in which a policy like this will hand us some day. That is all I have to say at the moment.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The adjournment will take place now until Wednesday at three o'clock.