Dáil Éireann - Volume 2 - 03 May, 1922

THE NATIONAL SITUATION—ARMY OFFICERS' DEPUTATION.

PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: A number of Army Officers who have been in Conference desire to be received by the Dáil in order to place before this Assembly their views and proposals in this present crisis. The time is one of grave national emergency and it is of the first importance that these officers should be heard. I move therefore that the following representatives of the Army Officers, who have been in Conference on the situation and who wish to address the House, be now received:—Comdt. Seán O'Hegarty, O/C. Cork No. 1 Brigade; Comdt. Dan Breen; Comdt. H. Murphy, O/C. Kerry No. 1 Brigade; Comdt. T. O'Donoghue; Comdt. Tom Hales, O/C. Cork No. 3 Brigade; Comdt. Seán Boylan, O/C. 1st Eastern Division.

MR. DE VALERA: I beg to second that motion.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I suppose that is generally agreed to.

Agreed.

The motion having been passed, the officers mentioned entered.

COMMANDANT SEAN O'HEGARTY: Mr. Speaker, everybody has doubtless seen the statement in Tuesday's papers and we are here merely to put that proposal formally before the Dáil. It may be necessary, perhaps, to say something about the negotiations of which that statement is a result, and I will be very brief. I have been in Dublin for perhaps three weeks and almost continually in that time public and private efforts were made to bring the two parties here together on some basis. They all failed. I was here myself last week at two meetings of the Dáil. What did I find? I found an atmosphere of absolute hostility, personalities indulged in across the room and a sense to me of utter irresponsibility as to what the country was like and the conditions in it. I will say that there is no blame to be put on one side or the other but upon both for this, and it was only when I realised that it was impossible for the leaders themselves to come to any agreement or, in fact, as I believed, to meet on any basis that I as a humble individual endeavoured to do what I could. I met Mr. Michael Collins on Friday and we talked over the situation generally. I met him again on Saturday with one other signatory to that statement—himself and Mr. Mulcahy—and we agreed that we would get together half a dozen men on each side—unofficially, as I took it—to endeavour to come to some agreement upon what appeared to me and to every man who signed that statement a condition [358] appalling to contemplate. I think at the meeting it was I who suggested that a public statement be made and a statement was drafted by two of the signatories, two who have been associated with the Anti-Treaty side. I have the original draft here and the only alteration made in it is this: “No. 2: an agreed election, leaving undisturbed the present representation.” The altered draft reads, “An agreed election with a view to forming a Government which will have the confidence of the whole country.” No. 3 in mine read, “A Government formed so as to give confidence to the whole country,” which is the same thing. The alteration was suggested by Mr. Michael Collins, who said it would be necessary to give Labour representation and I agreed—and everybody agreed— to that. That is the explanation of it. I thought it necessary to make that explanation about the drafting of the statement, because of the atmosphere of distrust which is everywhere between the two parties.

I want to say this about the army. What is the condition of the army? The army two days ago was drifting but it is now driving to destruction. You have two sections of the army in Ireland and you have for many months feverish activity on both sides, recruiting on both sides, and putting arms into the hands of men that never saw a gun. Both sides have been recruiting and making an army in portions of Ireland where a shot was never fired when shots should have been fired. For the last week little conflicts have occurred here and there, most of them in places where there never was anything done when hostilities were on. Let that progress and once the south gets into it there is nobody can stop it. What will that result in? We are told—it was an opinion I heard expressed myself in conversation and I have seen it in speeches quite plainly expressed—that the Republic cannot be maintained unless this thing is allowed to go on, unless there is civil war. What does civil war mean? To my mind it means not alone that you do not maintain the Republic but that you break for ever any idea of it, that you break the country so utterly and leave it in such a way that England simply walks in and has her way as she never had it before. You will leave a print on Ireland and a print in every man's mind that can never be removed; you break the country utterly and destroy any idea of a Republic.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I would ask the members, in the case of receiving a deputation, to make no remarks and utter no applause with regard to anything.

COMMANDANT O'HEGARTY: To that condition, in my opinion and in the opinion of those who have signed that statement, there is but one alternative, and that is the alternative proposed.

The responsibility for drifting into civil war possibly cannot be put on any individual, but I do say that the individuals responsible for allowing such a condition are political leaders. The responsibility for preventing it rests altogether upon political leaders and upon army leaders, and it is because I recognise that the political situation and the army situation are so very mixed up that it seems to me a statement such as was issued ought to be made, and that upon that basis alone can anything be done to save the country from civil war; because if you proceed to settle the army question on the basis of its association with the Government of the majority of the people, under a Free State, you will have so many difficulties you will never achieve anything.

On neither side here in this controversy is the brains of Ireland. Neither side is clean. What I mean to say is this, that neither side is absolutely perfect in what it has done. There are faults on both sides but in the whole lot together cannot it be found that we can get men who will have the confidence of the whole country to bring the country out of the mess it is in now and set it on its feet. If we agree to accept the fact, and I say that the fact is admitted by everybody—if not admitted specifically in words, admitted at any [359] rate in the things that have been done towards preventing the country making a decision upon this Treaty—is it not better to evade that decision altogether. Is it not better to evade it by accepting the fact, which is admitted, that the people will take it. Let it be admitted that it is under duress. Everything is under duress. It is because you are under duress and that eventually you are faced with a condition of civil war that I and those who are associated with me are forced—reluctantly forced—to the conclusion that this is the only means of saving the country. It does not matter what you name the Government; when a crisis occurs in a country it is not the name of the Government that counts. It is the men. And if you can get the best men in Ireland into the Government, it does not matter under what auspices you put them when the crisis comes, because when the opportunity comes to set up a Republic it can be set up. Let the country drift on into civil war, let the civil war come and be worked out to its end not alone, as I said in the beginning, do you not help the Republic but you smash it utterly. Therefore, I have been, reluctantly as I say, compelled by the consideration of the circumstances and my knowledge of the condition of the army to recognise that fact. We deemed it our duty that we should come out publicly and that is why we are here. I moved in this because I conceive that it is the responsibility of every man in the country and every woman and every army officer and every member of the army and, particularly, the responsibility of political leaders and army leaders and every member of this House to take a stand now definitely whether it will be civil war or this thing. I cannot conceive that there is any other way out nor can those associated with me.

DR. HAYES having risen to speak,

COMMANDANT O'HEGARTY remarked, “I think, Mr. Speaker, we ought to withdraw.”

MR. W.T. COSGRAVE: I think they ought to remain.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: There is no objection at all to the deputation remaining?

MR. S.T. O'KELLY: Has the deputation finished speaking?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: No other member of the deputation wishes to add anything. Is there any suggestion as to what course the discussion ought to take? It is unprecedented.

DR. HAYES: In pursuance of the matter placed before the House by the representative of the Deputation we have just heard, I would like to propose that this House approve of the statement issued yesterday by the officers of the army of which this deputation is representative. If I am in order in proposing that, I would like to make it clear that in doing so I am not representing any section or any Party in the House. I am doing it with one object and one object only and that is that it may lead to some conclusion that would put an end to the present unnatural condition of things in our country and would prevent what will be, I am afraid, if things are allowed to drift, a still more unnatural condition of things. It is not a time for personal recrimination. It is not a time for trying to fix responsibility on this man or that man, on this side or on that side. It is a time for us to face the dreadful facts that are before us to-day. It must be a bitter thought to every member of this Assembly that the great national movement of the last five years—the greatest movement I suppose in the history of our country—should fizzle out into what will be, I think, the greatest catastrophe that has happened in the history of our country. For that reason, I appeal to every Deputy in the Assembly to support the motion that I put before the House. I appeal to them for the sake of our common country and for the sake of old comradeship. A small committee, or some machinery, can be set up which would be representative of the Deputies on both sides of the House, Deputies who have no personal recriminations to fling at each other, and who, for that reason, may perhaps be able to take a saner and more judicial view of things than others. I have nothing more to say except to propose that.

[360] AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The form of your motion I would like to have in writing.

LIAM DE ROISTE: Aontuighim leis an abhar rúin a chuir an Doctúr O hAodha os comhar an Tighe. Is iad na rudaí atá ag thuitim amach anois a bhí im' cheann nuair a labhras aimsir na Nodlag. Do bhí fios agam gur amhlaidh a bheadh an sceul mara stadfaimis den gcúrsa a bhí ar siubhal againn. Agus tá áthas orm go dtuigeann daoine eile an sceul anois chomh maith as thuig cuid againn é an uair sin agus go bhfuil seans go dtabharfaidh sé so síocháin do'n tír. I desire to second the motion of Deputy Dr. Hayes. As I reminded the House at the last Session——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I would strongly suggest that you do not go back on anything at present.

MR. DE ROISTE: I referred to the fratricidal strife to which the country was drifting. Now, a situation has come when some action has to be taken to prevent anything worse happening and I am very glad that the representatives from the south have taken the action they have taken. I therefore beg to second what has been proposed by Deputy Dr. Hayes, that the House endorses the agreement which has been come to between the army chiefs.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The motion is—

“That this House approve of the statement recently issued by a number of officers of the army, and suggests the formation of a committee of the House to consider the statement in detail.”

MR. LIAM MELLOWES: Speaking on the motion, this to me is plainly another political dodge. It is not an attempt to gain unification of the army, because the basis upon which unification is urged is not a basis that is going to secure unity in the army. As I stated here in this House last week, the cause of disunity in the country and in the army was the signing of the Treaty, and so long as that Treaty remains, as long as it is tried to be forced down the throats of people who will not become British subjects, so long you cannot hope for unity either in the army or in the country. This proposal that is put forward now would come very well indeed if it came from people who were acknowledged Free Staters, because it is a Free State document. What is happening in the country? This threat of civil war, this dissension, is all the result of the political chicanery that is going on and of the attempt to turn this grand national movement, of which we heard some nice words from one of the Deputies a few moments ago, into a game of political humbug—this movement that was an honest movement and a straight movement, a movement of principle, to turn it into the sea of Party politics, to try to get the people of this country who are pledged to a Republic, to desert the Republic on the plea that they may get the Republic sometime, and overthrow the Declaration of Independence upon which Ireland's claim for a Republic rests. All this is the result of the Treaty and as long as the Treaty is there so long will you have this state of affairs. We hear a lot about facing facts. Let us face facts. There they are. You can have unity to-morrow on the question of the maintenance of the Republic but you will not have unity in this country either among the people or in the army upon any other basis. It is hard, indeed, to stand here and make that statement but such is the fact. This movement was a wonderful movement, because Ireland had been placed on a pedestal. An attempt is being made now to take Ireland down from that pedestal. Hence the disunion. You had unity under the Republic until an attempt was made to subvert the Republic and to establish in its place Ireland as a British province. Until that happened, you had unity in the country and it is all very well to say that it is not a time to fix the blame. The blame lies on those who have deserted the Republic, who have betrayed the Republic and who would endeavour to make their comrades betray the Republic as well. Now the Republic exists. It is here still and the army, whether in whole or in part, will still stand by the Republic. I hope that no amount of hypocrisy will make men turn from that path. I think it is time for us to state these things very clearly. Some of us at any rate are sick and tired of this humbug. We are sick and tired of what I call this chameleon Government which is red, white and blue one minute and green white and orange the next. We want the straight road, the only [361] road that can lead to the Republic. We want to go straight and to be honest with ourselves and with everybody else. To turn this country again into the mire of rotten politics! Is that the way to keep the Republic or the way to win the Republic in the future? A Republic only became possible when people stood on the straight road and stated clearly where they stood. To pretend a loyalty to the British Government that you do not feel, to mouth towards the British Government a fealty which it is not intended to give, to say you admit Ireland is part of the British Empire when you do not intend to admit it is not straight and is not honest. The cause for which men died and for which men are prepared to die can only succeed as long as we remain honest. No man is going to die for hypocrisy. No man is going to throw his life away for humbug and if this is what the cause is going to come to, then certainly some of us will not have anything to do with it. I object to this motion and I intend to vote against it.

MR. D. CEANNT: I am in agreement with Deputy Liam Mellowes, because as he said this is a political dodge. I am sure, from what I know of the men who introduced it, that they would not do it deliberately. They have been great soldiers. But while here in the city for the last fortnight I have been listening to the intrigues that are going on, trying by every means to subvert and divide the army and to make it subservient to a Government, or what is called a Government, which is deliberately, by every means in their power, trying to subvert the Republic which cost this nation so much blood and sacrifice. The one great objection to this is “on the basis of accepting the Treaty.” Those men who introduced that motion know very well that there cannot be any compromise on the Republic. I think if every member of this House, independent completely of the Executive and the Cabinet, got in touch with the army in their own constituencies and took very good care that the army in their own constituencies would protect the interests of the Republic, they would be doing far better service. While we are sitting here in this House, fighting is going on up in the north. What are we doing to assist our fellow-countrymen who are fighting for their existence in the north? I ask the Minister of Defence has he any information to give us regarding the fighting that is going on? Perhaps there are hundreds of men slaughtered at the present time. And we have another appalling condition of affairs down in Kilkenny, where another big battle is raging. What is the cause of it? One Party sent down troops to try and put the Republicans out of Kilkenny. Why? Because they had the manhood to fight for the Republic, which they swore to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I can speak for the unity of the Army down in my part of the country. There is no trouble down there. But a deliberate attempt was made by the Minister for Defence to try and get men to desert from that Army. One of the biggest military centres is the town of Fermoy. The whole barracks there, which were a training ground for the English army, and also the camps at Kilworth were handed over to Commandant Seán Lynch, a man who did more fighting perhaps than any other man in Ireland and did it successfully. He installed in these barracks, not strangers, but the men who were true to their word and who, during the severest part of the reign of terror, went into the fight and did fight for the Republic. They were no sooner in than the Minister for Defence sent down a few recruiters into the town of Fermoy paying them big salaries and hotel expenses in order to entice the army from their allegiance to the Republic which they had sworn to defend. It is only by the grace of Providence that he had not that part of the country also fighting. I say it is time to put a stop to that humbug. If the Minister for Defence wishes to carry on in this fashion, I see what it is leading to. It is leading to civil war, or rather it has led to civil war because we are in civil war already. I would much prefer that, when I was out fighting in 1916, I met the same fate as my brothers than that I should see Irishmen fighting against Irishmen. But my duty now is to defend the Republic. If the Republicans are beaten, we hope to hand the cause down to another generation who will take up the fight where we laid it down. If this fighting at the present time is to be prevented and if the army is to be unified, let it be under the original constitution which contains the following oath:—

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I do not and shall not yield a [362] 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.”

I say that if the Minister for Defence was acting in consultation with the Executive of the Army, the deplorable state of affairs we see at present would not exist. The army was united until intriguers came to try and smash them. There will be no fighting in the South if we are not interfered with by outsiders. In God's name and in the name of Ireland, let each and every one of us do what we can to help our countrymen in the north.

MR. D. O'CALLAGHAN: Ní doigh liom go ndéanfaidh an ní a cuireadh romhaibh an sceal so do shocrú. Acht creidim go ndeanfar socrú ar má bhíonn an chroidhe ceart ann. Agus ba mór an truagh da mbeadh aon chur tré chéile insan dTig seo i dtaobh an rúin sin. Sílim go bhfuil an dara cuid don rún níos táchtaí ná an chéad chuid. I think, A Chinn Comhairle, that the form in which the motion and the representations of the deputation have been put before the House is rather unfortunate. Obviously, a division in this House at the moment on that motion would not get us anything farther than we are now. I think the far more important and hopeful part of the motion is the second part which provides for a committee who will, with the agreement presented by the Delegation possibly as a basis, go into this matter and explore all the avenues. Any agreement along the lines suggested by the Delegation, even if accepted unanimously by this House, would not ensure peace in this country, would not ensure that civil war would not result. Consequently, while it would be very satisfactory, on this or on any similar question, to have agreement in the House, we must look beyond this House. We must have in mind a very clear conception of what the result is going to be. When we have the definite fact, as we have, that there are people in the country, and probably the definite fact that there is a portion of the army who are determined and have definitely taken the stand that they will not allow the Republic to be disestablished, we must bear that in mind. Obviously, there is only one way in which the situation may be dealt with. That is by negotiation with those responsible with a view to seeing how far accommodation may be arrived at, if accommodation be possible, as I venture to think it must be. A time may come when this House, as the Government of the country, may be forced—I am sure there is no member of this House who will shirk doing so —to make its position clear and to take a definite stand on this question, no matter what the consequences may be. While there is any possibility of arriving at an agreed accommodation, to prevent the shedding of blood amongst our own people, such avenues should be explored. Consequently, I think the latter portion of that resolution alone should be put— that a Committee be formed of members of this House, who will have available not merely the members of the Delegation but all the signatories to that document, and who will be free to get into communication with any other leaders or representatives who may be absoutely necessary for the efficacy of any settlement that may be arrived at. On their report this House will be definitely able to take its stand and will be definitely able to declare that it is, or it is not, possible to make a settlement which will obviate trouble in the country. In the event of its being impossible to make such a settlement, it will be possible for this House to take a stand itself no matter what the consequences may be. I personally regret the form in which the proposals of the Delegation have been put to the House, for this reason, that I think that they could have been made with greater effect had they been treated or handled in another fashion. However that is merely my personal opinion. I may be wrong. But as the Delegation must see, and as this House must see, even if we were unanimous, we would be no nearer to obviating civil war than we were before.

DR. HAYES: I quite admit that the wording of my motion is a bit unhappy. My own object is that a little Committee representative of both sides should be set up to consider the statement issued by the army officers. I am willing to have excluded from my motion the first part of it, which is, that the House approves of the statement. I am quite willing to have it changed to “that the House [363] approves of the efforts made” or to leave it out altogether.

MR. SEAN NOLAN: I am glad that Dr. Hayes has agreed to alter that resolution. From the beginning I saw that it was dangerous. Unfortunately, for the first time in my life, I was caught in an interview on yesterday and my views are known. I agree with practically every word that Deputy Mellowes has said, that the present position has been brought about by the Treaty and those who signed the Treaty. Now, that being so, I myself face the facts as they are and, seeing an effort to make peace on an honourable basis, I came to a certain conclusion. I am still satisfied that this House can make peace on an honourable basis if it attempts to do so. I am satisfied that if what are generally called the back-benchers of this House met, excluding the leaders, they could come to an agreement and save the situation still. Instead of that resolution reading that “a Committee be set up” to my mind a better way would be that the House would adjourn so that the back-benchers of both sides would meet and discuss not alone these proposals but every proposal that is possible to be brought forward about the necessity of peace and hammer out the question between them. When they have discussed it at some length, they might then set up a Committee with equal representation of both sides, to bring a statement to this House on the question.

MR. SEAN MOYLAN: I was a member of the Conference from which this statement has come. I was the only army officer there who did not sign it. Every thinking Republican views with horror the possibility of strife between comrades. To myself, personally, the idea of fighting the men who fought with me is particularly abhorrent and I was willing to explore every avenue to peace. It was for that purpose I went to the Conference. I went there and said to the other side that one of my great failings was that I found it difficult to believe evil of anybody and they all the time said they are as good Republicans as we are. I am willing to meet any man who is a Republican, because a Republican can only work for the Republic. Rightly or wrongly, I took up the Truce as an opportunity of making preparation to carry on the fight for the Republic. I am not a politician. I am simply a soldier of the Republic. I will remain a soldier of the Republic and I will serve no other Government but a Republican Government; but I am very anxious to accept, if possible, an assurance that the Treaty can be made a step to the Republic, that the Constitution, when drafted, will prove that this assurance is correct. I and the men I represent will anxiously await that. But in the light of the knowledge I have at present, and in the highest interests of the country as I conceive them, the men who are Republicans, like myself cannot agree, much as we want peace, with the document that has been presented here. We must stand by, or act to preserve the Republic.

MR. MACENTEE: Like every other person in this House, I feel that the greatest possible evil that can befall this nation is an outbreak of civil war and, like every other man here, I would do all I could to prevent it. But it is not enough to say prevent civil war. We must take into account all the factors that are making for it and then we must take cognisance of those factors that will prevent it. The situation in the country is due, of course, primarily to the signing of the Treaty, but so far as the present army situation is concerned it is due more immediately and directly to the breach of agreement between the Executive Council of the Volunteers and the Dáil. It is due immediately to the Proclamation of the Army Convention by the President of the Dáil. Therefore, I am not at all—because in the present situation the army enters into it—sanguine that it is within the power of any back-benchers or any Committee of this House, dealing by itself with the situation, to bring about a settlement. Therefore, if a Committee is to be set up that committee would have to enter into negotiations to secure representation from the Army Executive. I have said that the present situation is due, so far as its present gravity is concerned, entirely to the Proclamation of the Army Convention and so far as I can see, the only way in which an outbreak of civil war can be prevented is by the Dáil itself determining that it shall honour the agreement which it made with the Executive of the Volunteers when in August 1919 the Volunteers placed themselves under the control of the Minister of Defence. That agreement is contained in the draft constitution of the [364] Volunteers which has been circulated among the members. I think if we resolve, in accordance with that Constitution, that the Army shall be put under the control of the Minister of Defence, who was to act in consultation with the Army Executive, which was to approve of the Minister of Defence, and which was to appoint and define the duties of the Headquarters Staff—I believe if we put that forward and state that we would be prepared to make the Cabinet of Dáil Éireann honour that agreement, we would take the first and most important step towards peace. What really has been in the minds of a good many of the Army leaders is this—that in the event of an election being held and the people turning down the Republic the Army itself would be so demoralised by the contral which is now being administered by the present Executive, that even at that time, as well as the Republic being ended, the Republican Army itself and the Irish Volunteers as they existed previous to 1916 would have become defunct. It was to guard against that that this draft Constitution was drawn up. Therefore, I suggest to the members of the Army who have brought their statement before this House that they should take into account also the fact that there are other members of the army who will want an assurance that from now until the elections the Army will be maintained, in fact as well as in theory, the Army of the Republic and that this agreement, which really governed the Army from 1919 to 1921, shall be honoured by the Dáil. If that were done, I think we would be taking the first and greatest step towards preventing civil war in this country.

DR. JAMES RYAN: I think there is no use in entering into an agreement in this Dáil if we are not sure we can get the Army to agree to it. An agreement which is made under duress is no use. Unless we can get real agreement, there is no use going ahead with it. I think it is quite possible for some of the private members to make recommendations that might be acceptable to all the parties. It has been suggested that the back-benchers alone meet for this purpose. I think it is very hard to decide who is a back-bencher and who is a leader. I want to make a suggestion as to the way to choose this Committee. It is this—that our Party meet and select eight or nine from the other Party and that the other Party meet and select six or eight from our Party. If they do that, nobody can object. Let them select leaders or back-benchers if they like.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE (to Dr. Hayes): I understand you have amended your motion.

DR. HAYES: I am quite prepared to leave out the first part.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The motion as it stands now is this:

“That a Committee of the House be set up to consider and discuss the statement issued by the Army Officers on the 2nd May, the said Committee to report to the House.”

COMMANDANT O'HEGARTY: A Chinn Comhairle, would you allow me to explain a personal matter. Two members of this Delegation were Dan Breen and Tom Hales. I will say that they, the one in Dublin and the other in Cork, were the first two men to start the fight and I will say this, that the suggestion made here that this document which appeared in the papers is a political dodge is an infamous one and it should be withdrawn. This is an honest attempt to settle a situation that is drifting to disaster.

MR. LIAM DE ROISTE: I second the motion as read by the Ceann Comhairle.

MISS MACSWINEY: I thought that the suggestion was that the Committee set up should explore every avenue to a settlement and not the statement only issued by the Army officers. If it was that, I for one would have to vote against it, but if it is a Committee set up to explore every possible avenue to a settlement, with a view to averting civil war, it will have the approval of the whole House.

DR. HAYES: I would be willing to accept that.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Then it will have to be altogether re-cast.

DR. HAYES: If you worded it “in connection with the statement we have [365] heard from the Army Officers” to explore every avenue.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: It would meet the situation if a Committee be set up to report to the House.

MR. COSGRAVE: Is it intended that the Committee, when set up, will take into consultation the Army officers?

DR. HAYES: That is a matter for the Committee.

MR. M. COLLINS: A Chinn Comhairle, I hope that every Deputy has listened to the statement at any rate with the attention it deserved. I was sorry to hear some Deputies characterise it as a political stunt. This much I will say about that, that the men who signed that document know each other and they have known each other in worse days than to-day and it is no political stunt on their part. We do not care who thinks it is, it is not a political stunt. An effort was made by one Deputy—it has been made on many occasions—to make my position an impossible one. It has been said that I have said that the Treaty is a step to the Republic. I can assure that Deputy, and I can assure every other Deputy, that I do not withdraw one atom of any statement I have made about the Treaty. I do not care how impossible the situation may appear. I do not withdraw from any statements I have made about it. I am prepared to make them all again. That however should not be the consideration at the present moment. I support the setting up of this Committee and they can examine every statement, including the statement that has been submitted. So far as I am concerned, I hope the Committee will examine not only that but that they will examine closely the condition of the country at the present moment. An effort is made to fix the responsibility upon certain people. That effort will not succeed in the way it is being made. Wherever the responsibility lies, no one can deny the fact that, quite apart from the political situation, the condition of the country at the present moment is one that should give us all concern. Let any Deputy here go and speak to any business man, labourer, farmer, or shopkeeper and I will promise him that the substance of the information he will receive from any one of them will be the same—that the country quite apart from any political differences is drifting into economic chaos. That is a situation that must be faced at the present time, as well as the political situation. That is the situation that had to be faced all along —before the signing of the Treaty, at the time of the signing of the Treaty, and since the signing of the Treaty. If the Committee be set up—at any rate, it has our support—they ought to take into account that situation in the country, as well as the political situation at the present time. Great parts of the country are faced—for all we know or for all certain people care—with circumstances which will make business impossible. If it is a fact that the banks are going to close down over large areas of the country, what will be the economic substitute for the banks? What is the proposal to fulfil the ordinary business requirements of those communities in those areas if the banks close down, and what is the proposal to deal with the general situation where there is general under production in the country. If a Committee is set up, they can examine those things as well as the purely political matters. And this much I would like to say—I do not care what some of our opponents think of it but I do care a great deal what our supporters think of it. If this matter is not going to be faced in a spirit of goodwill, then we may as well not have any Committee at all. These proposals were made spontaneously. There was no canvassing on the part of any of the signatories to that statement and there was no bickering at the conference about advantages for one side or the other. And if the Committee that comes up here do not approach the question in the same spirit then it is useless for them to meet. But if they do approach it in that spirit, there is no doubt that agreement can be found. If the Committee is to be appointed, I would also suggest that speeches like those we have listened to will not make it easier for the members of the Committee to meet or for those who may have any proposals to settle the question.

Motion put: “That having heard the statement put before the House by the Army Officers, a Committee of the House be set up to report to the House.”

Motion unanimously agreed to.

[366] MR. DE VALERA: What about the time? It is an urgent matter.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: You have now to make definite proposals with regard to the appointment of this Committee—the time and so on.

MR. R. MULCAHY: A suggestion is made that this Committee report to the House on this day week, but there are some very urgent matters to be attended to in the meantime and there should be some responsibility put upon the Committee so far as they could with some of these urgent matters. One of them, for instance, arises out of the occupation of the Ballast Office. I understand that 600 or 700 workers belonging to the Port and Docks will have their employment terminated by the Port and Docks Board on Saturday next, as a result of the fact that the Board are not able to carry on the work of the office. I just mention that in order to emphasise the fact that there are certain matters requiring to be dealt with urgently and that should be taken into consideration in seeing that the Committee report at the earliest possible date.

PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: I would suggest that the Dáil adjourn after choosing this Committee and that the Committee work to-morrow and Friday and that the Dáil reassemble at 3 o'clock on Friday when we can have the report.

SEAMUS MAC GEARAILT: I would suggest that the Committee be formed now and while the House can get ahead with the ordinary reports this Committee can sit. They can come back to us in the evening and place before us a request for certain terms of reference and also ask for a certain time limit to be put on their endeavours. I do not know whether they will be able to make an agreement within 24 hours or within a week.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The principal thing is to choose this Committee.

PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: I would like to press for consideration of the suggestion I made. We cannot go on sitting here if the Committee is meeting. Let the Committee get to work to-night and to-morrow and on Friday it can report.

MR. DE VALERA: Is there not a good deal of work for the Dáil—reports and so on—meanwhile to go through? Would not it be possible for the Ministry to see that we get on with that work. It seems to me the whole question is very urgent. As far as we are concerned, what I might call the Party leaders have discussed this already. Both sides have put forward proposals. There were proposals made, which were published, at the Mansion House Conference and these, taken with the Army suggestion, ought to form a basis on which any Committee could get to work. I believe, for one, that it is possible to solve this question. I believe that peace can be got. If advantage is taken of the opportunities we have got and if we attack them properly, we can have a Government in this country which will be a credit to the country and which will restore the reputation which we had some five or six months ago.

MR. MILROY: The immediate question is the selection of a Committee and, as I presume there will be an equal number selected from each side, will it not be necessary for the House to adjourn and let each side make its own selection.

MR. H. BOLAND: If it is agreed that each side nominates its own members, are we take it then that, in the event of the Committee agreeing, the leaders of each side will honour that agreement, because the time has come when, if we are to have another conference, there should be some finality to it. If men are appointed on this side and on the other and if they come to an agreement, can we take it that that agreement will be honoured by the leaders. If not, I think it would be useless to have such a Committee appointed. I think the problem is very easy. It does not matter how much the so-called politicians may differ. If the Army can get together men who, as the Minister of Finance said, may understand each other—which is equally true of the present Army Executive—and settle the Army question, there will be very little difficulty in dealing with the politicians, so-called. I think if it is agreed that each side nominates six men to explore every avenue and they succeed, we should insist on the leaders getting into line and honouring the decision arrived at.

PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: I would suggest five instead of six. Six from each side would make too big a Committee. As that Committee is meeting, there are certain members of the Dáil on both [367] sides that would need to be called in. As to the point of Mr. Boland, about honouring any agreement, that is a matter, of course, for the Dáil. This Committee reports to the Dáil and the Dáil decides.

MR. MILROY: I formally move that we now adjourn in order to appoint representatives to meet to-morrow or to-night.

MR. SEAN T. O'KELLY: If this Committee is to be appointed by the House, the House should meet to approve of the names selected. We could adjourn for 15 or 20 minutes and come back again to get the approval of the House for the Committee.

COMMANDANT O'HEGARTY: If you will allow me, before the House adjourns, what is vital for the work of this Committee is a Truce between the two sections of the Army. In my opinion, if the House passed a motion asking for such a Truce, it could be got.

DR. MACCARTAN: I move that the House ask for such a truce.

MR. P. HUGHES: I second that.

The motion was not put. It was agreed to adjourn for twenty-five minutes.

The House adjourned at 5.5 p.m. and re-assembled at 5.45 p.m.

MR. M. COLLINS: A Chinn Comhairle, the five names that have been selected on this side are: Seán Hales, P.O Maille, James O'Dwyer, Joseph McGuinness, and Seán McKeon.

MR. SEAN T. O'KELLY: The five names selected on the Republican side are: Mrs. Clarke, P.J. Ruttledge, Liam Mellowes, Seán Moylan, and Harry Boland.

MR. O'ROURKE: Before the business proceeds any further, I would like to suggest to the House that the first business of this Committee should be to release the prisoners on both sides.

MR. P. COLIVET: I suggest that the less you tie the Committee's hands the better. They know the necessity of having an immediate cessation to the acts of friction that are taking place through the country. I would suggest that the mere mention of it here ought to be sufficient. These ten members will be just as fully alive to these things as this House.

DR. HAYES: I move that the House approves of the names proposed.

MR. D. O'CALLAGHAN: I second the motion.

Agreed.

PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: It is now for the Committee to meet and discuss their procedure. I move now the adjournment of the House until 3 o'clock on Friday, when the Committee will report to the House. The remainder of the agenda, of course, will be unchanged.

COMMANDANT O'HEGARTY: Before the House adjourns, Mr. Speaker, perhaps you will allow me again the privilege of speaking. If this Committee is going to do anything, there must be a truce between the two armies. I have a report now that there is heavy fighting going on in Kilkenny and that 18 have been killed. That is a good start—is it not? And people are sitting down here discussing whether they will compromise themselves by stopping it.

MR. DE VALERA: I move formally that the Cabinet issue orders immediately to its forces to cease fighting and arrange for a truce and so far as we are able to affect the Army Executive they also will get a similar order. It ought to be possible to arrange an immediate truce between the two parties.

MR. MULCAHY: So far as the troops under the orders of the Cabinet are concerned, there has been a definite truce from the time we started negotiations with the officers from the south of Ireland who came to us. Yesterday evening we endeavoured to arrange with the Executive that a formal truce should be established. We were not able to do that but we, on our side, have established a truce and we are keeping out of any conflict that we possibly can. We were not able to keep out of, or disengage from, the Kilkenny conflict in the time that has elapsed.

PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: In regard to what Mr. de Valera said, I wish to say that the troops on our side are only defending themselves. He states he will do his best to stop the other side. We [368] must have a definite assurance that the other side is going to stop.

MR. DE VALERA: As I said before, we are in a very different position from that of the Executive. The Army has taken up an independent position in this matter. All we can do is what I stated. It ought to be possible to arrange, between the Army Executive on the one hand and the Cabinet here on the other, an immediate truce. Every minute means lives are being lost. They ought to arrange to send couriers.

PRESIDENT GRIFFITH: I suggest that Mr. de Valera should proceed to the Four Courts.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I think it would be better to leave it to each side to take their own steps in regard to what they will do.

MR. DE VALERA: All I can do in the matter is to get the Army heads of both sides together and let them arrange for a truce. That is all I can do in the matter.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I think I am expressing the views of the Dáil in saying that everything possible will be done to arrange a truce.

MAJOR GEN. MCKEON: At present it may be difficult to arrange a truce in some particular instances. Men are engaged in the pursuit of men charged with serious offences, and justice demands that certain things be done. It would be difficult to stop men out at the moment to cause arrests for these incidents.

MR. DE VALERA: Is Commandant McKeon speaking as a member of the House or in a military capacity? If this matter is to be raised it must be arranged with the Chief of Staff and not with a subordinate officer.

MAJOR GEN. MCKEON: I think I should speak without being interrupted by anybody—I do not care who it is. When I am here I am a member of the House. When I am in the field, I am a soldier and do not you forget it—or any other person. I am speaking from information at my disposal that such is the case. If you want me to act as a soldier, I can go outside and I will tell you.

MR. DE VALERA: I suggest that any information Commandant McKeon has had better be given to the Chief of Staff. My suggestion is that the Chief of Staff and the Chief Executive Officers get together and arrange a truce. It is for them to get information from their subordinate officers as to the conditions.

MR. M. COLLINS: Lest there should be any misunderstanding, I take it that no one member of this House is censor over the remarks of another member of this House.

MR. DE VALERA: I formally beg to move that a truce be arranged between the two sides. As the President put the question to me as to what I was to do, I said that all I could do is to arrange to bring the two army heads together.

MR. MULCAHY: In seconding the motion, I just wish to say that everything possible will be done to arrange a truce. We have done everything possible to arrange a truce but we have not been able to get acceptance of it from the Executive.

MR. DWYER: Would it not be possible for the Committee to meet at once with a view to arranging a truce?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: That is evidently one of the things the Committee can take into account. The opinion of the House has been expressed upon it now.

MR. MELLOWES: I would like to say, with reference to the remarks of Mr. Mulcahy, that a proposal came for a truce but there was no basis suggested by which a truce could last, and until that was first put forward and discussed there was no use in talking of a truce. I say that, lest the impression should go abroad that those on the Republican side were not just as much in favour of a truce as anybody else. They were in favour of a truce which should be based on some reason, but that document put forward could not be taken as a reason for discussing a truce.

MR. GRIFFITH: A Committee has been appointed. Let that Committee, see if it cannot effect a truce.

The House adjourned till 3 o'clock on Friday.