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The Treaty Debate:
~ The Treaty ~
The Treaty Debate 17th December 1921
The Acting Speaker¹ took the Chair at 11.45 a.m.
It is not clear that this was the Deputy Speaker.
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: Sir, before we begin the work of the day I wish to make a statement. Now the atmosphere was well cleared last night (Hear, hear). It would be most disastrous that there would be any tense feeling again especially when the public session comes (Hear, hear). Now there is one way that this tense feeling could be recreated and that is by our Ceann Comhairle not giving fair play to everybody. Now yesterday—first by the way, two days ago you, Sir, acted in a just and dignified manner when you left the Chair and you had something to say and you spoke from the same level as everyone of us here. That was a proper action for the Ceann Comhairle. Just when we were concluding the proceedings yesterday before the interval you made what I cannot describe any other way than as a partisan harangue. I wish now to get an undertaking from you that this will not be repeated, otherwise I will object to your occupying that Chair during the proceedings here today or on Monday.
THE SPEAKER: It was my intention before the Minister for Defence rose to speak and before I would call on any one to speak, to make a statement with regard to the statement which I made here from the Chair yesterday. Several of the most respected members of this Assembly have also said to me that the statement I made from the Chair was a partisan statement. Now I assure you, everyone of you, that if it was a partisan statement—and I do not contradict the interpretation that has been sincerely placed upon it—it certainly was not so in my interest (Hear, hear). And I can say plainly when the representation was made to me that the concluding portion of my statement could be held as bringing in a matter of argument on one particular side with regard to the course of the discussion which took place, I admit that and I apologise to the Dáil for it (Hear, hear). In making that apology I hope you will all recognise it was not my interest to make a partisan statement. However strangely [recte strongly] I may feel in matters, whereas it has been my duty to be Chairman—and it has been in many assemblies of different kinds—I think it is the first time it has been my misfortune to be seriously supposed to have acted unfairly towards any side. I have most scrupulously tried to be fair to every individual in the Dáil (Hear, hear). That will be my endeavour. When I say that, I say it not because of any anxiety that I have to bear this responsibility. I have no such anxiety. I am here as the servant of the Dáil doing a duty because it devolves on me to do it. It is an honourable duty— a duty anyone has a right to be proud of and at the same time a duty I suppose, considering the weight of it, any member of the Assembly would be glad to be relieved of. If there is anything that remains for me to say, if what I have said has not satisfied the members of the Dáil, first of all my regret for having said anything which could possibly bear the imputation of partiality and secondly my sincere desire to conduct the affairs of this Assembly with impartiality, if anything can be suggested that remains for me to say in order to satisfy you on that point I will say it (applause).
PROFESSOR W.F. STOCKLEY: May I say I certainly have not anything to suggest further and as a colleague of Professor MacNeill—I have the honour to  be representing the University—I do not know whether I am in a minority of one on the matter but I can honestly say I did not think yesterday that there was any partiality in the statement made and I will further confess I do not understand it now. I do not know if I am in a minority of one —whether everybody else did think otherwise or not. At least the impression on the one private member was that there was no partiality.
THE SPEAKER: I am afraid we cannot make it the subject of the discussion
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: I am fully satisfied on the matter (applause).
MR. SEÁN ETCHINGHAM: There is a matter of urgency. May I ask that the public session on Monday be held in the Round Room of Mansion House? The Aonach will close tonight and the room could be arranged. I am looking at an English paper. It is their idea to get us into factions and they say the Dáil does not like publicity. Being out against the Treaty I am not following any particular man in it. I am following a principle. But I would like to have a public session held so that the people could hear it. There are matters discussed here which I am sure every member from the President or the Leader of the House down would like to be in public. We had a good feeling here last night and I will not say anything to affect it. We do not want to disrupt that feeling. I think we could have the public session held in the Mansion House; tickets could be issued to the public. The room can be cleared tomorrow.
MR. KEVIN O'HIGGINS: I am in total disagreement with the views of the last speaker.
THE SPEAKER: This point has been raised. It is really a matter for those who have charge of the arrangement of the agenda. We will take the agenda now before us in its proper course.
MR. F. FAHY: I sent in on the day before yesterday a notice to the effect that I wanted to ask questions. The most important one perhaps dealt with the probable action of the minority whatever way the Treaty would go. That has been answered already. It was answered yesterday afternoon. Another question I wished to ask was, have we not been a government, a Republican Government, for two years? If we had not been was the action of our army in dealing with the spies and other enemies of the country illegal? If we have been a government, a Republican Government, have we the power to abrogate now—do away with our powers and consider the rejection or sanctioning of the Treaty? Is it in our power? It is a question I would like some legal opinion on. Another thing I wanted to ask for was a definite statement from those conversant with the position of the army as to how long they think the army can hold out in the event of a war that might be waged in certain contingencies. I do not refer to such war as the war in this country for the last two years but to regular warfare in an intensified form. Now I just want to refer to a matter that perhaps many would consider to be fully discussed yesterday—the essential difference between the draft Treaty now before us for consideration and the alternative suggested by the President. The essential difference strikes me as that in one we were British subjects and in the other we are not. I maintain there is that difference in the Oath apart altogether from the matters of defence and the infringement of our rights by holding our harbours and the permission to England to use all the resources of the country in the matter of rail transit and other resources in case of war. I just want to get information on those points particularly as to the probable result if this Treaty is to be rejected. Is it likely there will be immediate war? If so what steps will be taken? It will affect every member of the House equally and we want to make quite sure that those responsible for the defences of the country at least would be away from the House in time to see to those defences of the country as far as is humanly possible. Remember it will be an open debate and information as to how the voting goes will be in Dublin Castle within a few minutes or seconds after the vote is taken. We do not know what action the enemy will take and I want certain steps taken so that those responsible for defences will be able to get to their posts or to get away from the enemy in time to make arrangements. There is another point and that is that some members have drawn to my notice an article in the Daily Mail which reviews practically everything that  happened here yesterday. There is someone certainly giving information from Dáil Éireann to the British press. It is a very serious matter and attention should be drawn to it.
MR. DESMOND FITZGERALD: Press men were out in the lobby during the last few days. I have asked the members I have seen talking to them to be careful about what they say. Last night I gave orders to the police not to allow the pressmen beyond the lower hall. When pressmen are walking about they cannot but overhear what is being said.
MR. F. FAHY: I should like to get an answer to my question.
THE SPEAKER: The difficulty is you have not addressed them to anyone in particular.
MR. F. FAHY: I do not know who is responsible. There are members of the House more intimate with the army affairs than I am. Of course the Minister of Defence is permanently responsible. Then whoever is the legal adviser, or whoever will speak for him, could give an answer to the question of what our powers are, or if it is all a matter for the people who are elected here.
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: Will the Deputy kindly repeat the first question?
MR. F. FAHY: One question was—how long in the opinion of those responsible for defences would our army hold against the British army in the case of regular warfare being waged in certain contingencies upon us?
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: That question is a bit too indefinite. I do not know what you mean by certain contingencies.
MR. F. FAHY: Regular warfare such as was waged in the war with Germany.
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: That is that she pours all her available resources into Ireland?
MR. F. FAHY: I presume so. I may be wrong. I am asking for information on the matter. At least the members have asked me to put that question. I do not know whether they themselves are too shy to put it or not.
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: At a moment's notice I would not take it on myself to answer that question definitely. I may, if you think it necessary for me to do so, later on give a more definite reply but just now what I do say is this. We are in a very much better position (militarily) than we were when the Truce started. Before the Truce started none of us that I know of had any intention of giving up. We are in an indefinitely better position from the military point of view. Now I take it, that being so, if the demand we have been making all along be not conceded when it is reaffirmed here, that nobody has any intention of giving in now seeing that we are very much better off militarily than we have ever been before. That is the reply I have to make just now. If necessary I might give a more definite one, but I may tell you a military man such as the Deputy who has asked the question, because he has done his own share in the field, must realise that an answer to a question like that could not be given with an absolute certainty of its being correct.
COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ: The last speaker used the expression, “war in an intensified form”. Does he imagine any intensified form worse than what we went through that could be possibly be forced in Ireland? Nothing could be more intensified than the warfare they waged. They wanted to beat us and it put the full forces they could command against us. What is suggested in that remark, “intensified warfare” or “war in an intensified form”, I cannot see. There is nothing in it at all.
MR. PATRICK BRENNAN: I claim to reply to the Minister of Defence.
THE SPEAKER: There will be an opportunity for general discussion, this is only an answer to a question.
MR. P. BRENNAN: But a false impression should not be allowed to spread.
THE SPEAKER: You must speak to the Whips if you wish to take part in the discussion.
MR. F. FAHY: I had another question to ask. It is this very important question. Will the army of Ireland abide faithfully by the decision of the majority of this House? Is that the opinion of the leaders of the army and the Government?
PRESIDENT DE VALERA: Speaking for my own position I say if we do not here agree that this Assembly (the Dáil) is the Government of Ireland and the army is under control of the Government the sooner we let the other people govern us the better.
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: So far as I am concerned as long as I hold the position which I hold at present I will guarantee that discipline, so far as I can maintain it, will be maintained in the army. But I may say, naturally if this Treaty is ratified I am no longer Minister of Defence and am not responsible for the army.
MR. P. O'KEEFFE: Arising out of the remark of the President I think the situation is very serious. Our plenipotentiaries came back from London and they put—
THE SPEAKER: The same rule applies in the case as in previous cases. All will be given an opportunity of making a contribution to the discussion. These are simply answers to the questions put by one Deputy. If you send in your name you will have an opportunity of speaking on this subject.
MR. P. O'KEEFFE: I want to ask a question. Majority rule or no rule, is that what we stand for here—for majority rule?
THE SPEAKER: I think the President's statement has completely covered that already.
MR. P. O'KEEFFE: Alright. In the Cabinet there were four for and two against. That's majority rule.
PRESIDENT DE VALERA: May I make an explanation about that. It is too bad that again this question should be brought in of the majority rule (Hear, hear). I stated, and let me in the same way as I spoke last night if possible once more explain the position. The plenipotentiaries got full powers if they wanted to sign on their own responsibility, but they knew perfectly well when they came back there would be a Cabinet policy. There is no question of majority rule in the Cabinet, none whatever. If the Cabinet is not able to get a united policy what it has got to do is to get a united Cabinet. Every member has a right to resign if he does not agree with the Cabinet policy. When a division occurs the constitutional way of dealing with it would be this. I would come here and tell you definitely I could not get agreement on the question of the policy. I should state therefore to the Dáil that I have not a united Cabinet, give you the result and give you the circumstances. In fact that is really what the discussions about these questions of powers, rights, etc., came to. I could go and tell you to ask these members to resign and I could nominate others and you could refuse to ratify them and, if the members thought I was at fault, I myself could be removed and someone else put in my place. There is no such thing as the majority rule in the Cabinet. Any member can exercise his individual right and refuse to assent in the provisional government, his only course is to resign from the Cabinet of the Dáil Eireann and if they wish to ask the Cabinet for my resignation, do so the general way. I do not ask for the resignation of the three plenipotentiaries whose actions were not I hold, on account of the undertaking given, in accordance with the Cabinet decision. I did not do it in order not to intensify and split. No man is going to change my views, they can change my position but not the whole of Ireland will change the opinion which I will express. Everyone has the same right. No one is going to bind me here by majority rule—that is to make me turn anyway they want to. I am ready to take the decision of this House that the majority of this House is the Government of Ireland and I am as an Irish citizen ready to obey the laws passed by that Government and obey them faithfully but I cannot do anything else and no one can bind me. The plenipotentiaries had full power to sign whether we liked it or not. But the Cabinet had a policy. We could not agree.
MR. DESMOND FITZGERALD: The plenipotentiaries were appointed and ratified by the Dáil. When the word “plenipotentiaries” was first used in a press report I drew the President's attention to it; he wanted it used for a certain reason.  I understand that when the Dáil ratified the appointment of these plenipotentiaries in the matter they were dealing with the Dáil delegated its power to the plenipotentiaries. This is a point I would like some legal man to speak on. Has the Dáil power to ratify?
PRESIDENT DE VALERA: We definitely understood when we used the word “plenipotentiaries”. One of the Deputies of South Dublin asked me about the word and I said we understood it means they have full power to negotiate and to take responsibility for negotiating and signing. The word really meant the power of negotiating. They had their own responsibility for negotiating and signing. There is no treaty in recent times that is not brought to the main assembly for ratification or rejection. The plenipotentiaries have full power to negotiate and sign, they have not full powers to sign for the nation. I hold ratification is absolutely impossible for this Assembly. This Assembly cannot ratify a Treaty which takes away from the Irish people the sovereignty of the Irish people.
MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: I am quite in agreement with the President. Take the President's letter, page ten, “It must of course be understood that all treaties and agreements would have to be submitted for ratification to the national legislature in the first instance and subsequently to the Irish people as a whole under circumstances which would make it evident that their decision would be a free decision, that every element of military compulsion was absent”. I have never questioned the fact that the plenipotentiaries ought to come here and have their decision ratified. The Irish people are the people to decide.
MR. GAVAN DUFFY: I quite agree with what the President has said. It is perfectly obvious, if you look at the terms of the Treaty, you will see it says, “if approved”. The question was raised by the Deputy who first started discussion as to whether the Dáil had any right at all to ratify this Treaty. I think in the first place it would be unfortunate if the main issue were tracted [sic] by the technicality so ill founded. I do not think it is well founded for this reason. All this Assembly is asked to do is to pass a resolution one way or another; it is not asked to legislate. If this Treaty be accepted it provided in the terms agreed that Irish Deputies with the exception of those from Carsonia were to meet and ratify. This was a necessary preliminary because the plenipotentiaries have to report back to the people who sent them. It is for these people to say whether they did right or wrong. Then a subsequent step is the real ratification or the non-ratification.
PRESIDENT DE VALERA: The difference between two treaties is the one would be consistent with the portion [recte position] we have adopted, the national position. It would be a question of one nation entering into a treaty with another whereas that which is brought back is not such a treaty. There is where I would have broken. In fact I feel I would not be consistent with my position if I would not at the point say, “We cannot go beyond it”. The Deputy from South Dublin says you can ratify it as a legal act. You certainly cannot as a legal act ratify this as if it were an act of legislation. It would have no binding force.
MR. KEVIN O'HIGGINS: I first wish to say a few words as to my personal views. I do believe and agree that ratification of the Treaty is technically a breach of the mandate of this Dáil and is technically ultra vires. The alternative is to pass a resolution recommending to the people the acceptance of this thing as the amount most that can be assured and as the alternative seems to be war on an extensive and grand scale—war on a scale on which we are scarcely in a position to stand up against. It is better that we should next week if we agree, this Treaty ought to be accepted. It is better we should accept it. It is better we should commit a technical breach of our mandate than to commit the people. It can be said hereafter by the Republican party of Ireland that we broke our mandate and that it was not within our power to do this thing. But if we go to the country merely on a resolution saying that this ought to be accepted because it seems to be utmost that can be secured, I have personally very little doubt that the country will accept it.
COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ: What is meant by war on an intensified scale that was mentioned by Mr. Fahy? And the Assistant Minister for Local Government  has used the expression, “war on an intensified and grand scale”. What do they mean by that? To me it is an empty phrase.
MR. KEVIN O'HIGGINS: It suited us very well to call what happened in Ireland war and it suited us also to make a good deal of propaganda of such things as Balbriggan, Cork and so on. Now they have called a formal truce, held formal negotiations. Let me take it that the negotiations failed. England could limb [sic] towns of Ireland. She could send gunboats up the Liffey and the Lee and blow hell's blazes out of Cork and Dublin.
MR. JOSEPH MACDONAGH: Last night it was decided that an agenda would be drawn up and we should stick to that agenda. This cross-talk won't get us anywhere if you will have no public session on Monday.
MR. M. COLLINS: On a general point may I ask a question? Have we power to come to a decision asking or rejecting this? Have we or have the private members, in view of the virtual rejection of the Treaty which took place last night and in view of the fact that you are sending these men back to war, have they no right to speak in this Assembly?
MR. D. CEANNT: There is talk about propaganda. What did they want for propaganda? I have had the best blood of the Irish race sacrificed. These men gave up their lives for the Republic. Is it for freedom or— ?
THE SPEAKER: That is a rhetorical question.
MR. M.P. COLLIVET: You ought to confine the discussion question by question.
THE SPEAKER: Each of the questions put was enough to create discussion for half a day. The next item on the agenda now is, “Possibilities after vote on Treaty has been taken”.
MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: Are the private members prevented from expressing their views?
THE SPEAKER: No.
MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: Then this is a continuation of the private members' views.
THE SPEAKER: I do not understand
MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: Yesterday we were dealing with the private members' views. Then we adjourned. I contend you cannot do anything in front of the expression of views of private members.
THE SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda is, “Possibilities after the vote on Treaty has been taken”. That is too vague altogether and I have changed it to this in order that you may have something more definite to discuss. “The functions of Dáil Éireann after the vote on the Treaty is taken” might seem to be narrow; it might refer to practically anything you wish.
MISS MARY MACSWINEY: I agree with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I think the private members should be allowed to discuss the general situation. I ask that I should be allowed to speak before anything is gone [on] with. I have already said I think private members should have an opportunity of expressing their views. Before any change is made on the agenda I claim the right to speak on the general situation.
MR. F. FAHY: My questions were deliberately vague. Some of them were vague in order that we could get the widest possible discussion on certain points. I think no one can say that I rise as a party man. There are grave doubts in people's minds as to the consequences of the voting. As a member of the Dáil I wanted the fullest discussion so that there will be no doubt on anybody's mind as to the consequences of the voting either way
THE SPEAKER: The effect of putting vague questions is to upset the whole agenda—that is to say if the questions are allowed to have that effect. Now the next subject which the private members will discuss is, “The functions of the Dáil after the vote on the Treaty has been taken”.
MR. G. GAVAN DUFFY: Last night we were having the private members' views. They were not restricted, the debate was  not completed. On whose authority has it been abandoned?
THE SPEAKER: The heading I have put down here places no limit. I do not see why there should be any suspicion.
MISS MARY MACSWINEY: I think it does limit them.
MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: The private members' views were unfinished. They should be permitted to proceed.
PRESIDENT DE VALERA: I am in favour of that also.
THE SPEAKER: Well, Commandant Seán McKeon is the next private member.
COMMANDANT SEÁN MCKEON: A Chinn Chomhairle, if I might mention from the start that I am going to give my views, I will also give an answer to a lot of the questions asked by some of the private members this morning. When I signified my intention yesterday evening of speaking it was not to answer these private members. But I think for the benefit of the private members and for the benefit of the Dáil generally it would do no harm for me as a private member to give my views upon the whole situation as I have seen it (Hear, hear). A day or so ago in the course of a statement the Minister of Defence said definitely that in the way that things went for the past fortnight that war was inevitable. Now that is a straight answer to any man who wants to know are we going to have war or not. You want nothing more definite than that because it was spoken in a definite fashion. Well if war is inevitable it must be inevitable because of our votes here in some way or another. I want to point out to each member what war from my point of view means and I know it (Hear, hear). The Minister for Labour has asked what do we mean by intensified warfare. Well it has been said that what happened for the last eighteen months was not war. It was a fight between a few men and the British Empire (Hear, hear). Intensified warfare as I know it will mean simply that, whether there are arms in the hands of the Irish people or not, if England goes to war again she will wipe all out as she was prepared to wipe out in the latter end of the late war. That is intensified warfare and as the Assistant Minister for Local Government, to call Kevin O'Higgins in the shortest way I can call him—I do not know what Ministers there are or how many (laughter and applause)—said it can be much worse than what we have gone through. But arising out of that I thought, when I was a soldier and fought in the field, I was fighting for a Cabinet that could do its work. I find instead here, I am sorry to say, that definite decisions that had a great bearing on me and for other men who fought along with me, if there was any minute required to prove we were fighting in a legal fashion, there was no signatory to that to prove whether we were right or not. It was disgraceful. I do not care who is responsible or not. I have enough said about that part; the more vexed I would get if I said anything more about it (laughter). I want everyone to understand me as a plain soldier who realises what it is to be at war (Hear, hear); and I want everybody to realise as far as war is concerned for me personally, well I do not think it is necessary for me to say I am prepared to go into it now just the same as I went in before. I want everyone to realise what we are going in for, because I hold we have a duty to the civil population (Hear, hear!). We are told by the Minister of Defence that the army is in a much stronger position, indefinitely stronger now than it was before the Truce—well it may. It may be stronger in some points. In point of members it is a bit stronger—in training it is a bit stronger. But what surprised me most of all was when we said there were two members of Purchases and they were not idle during the Truce. I know perfectly well I have charge of four thousand men. I do not here hesitate to say that number. But of that four thousand I have a rifle for every fifty. Now that is the position as far as I am concerned and I may add that there is about as much ammunition as would last them about fifty minutes for that one rifle. Now people talk lightly of when we are going to war. I hold they do not know a damn thing about it (Hear, hear). Now I am facing facts as I know them. When we started operations before, we took particularly good care that nobody knew anything about us, and whatever we did, and whatever has been done, was done by bluff—pure bluff. Another thing that helped us to win was that the intelligence system and the information system of the enemy were smashed  to the ground. Well why? Because the source of intelligence was with us and that was the people were with us and that meant we had the best intelligence that was available and that the enemy had none. The next thing that helped us was that in every Irish homestead that we went to there was a hearty welcome for us and if necessary their last bit was ready to be placed on their table for us. Well let us go back today to war. The enemy knows perfectly well today our position. They know perfectly well that with the frantic efforts of some of the purchasing agents to get arms that we must not have much. Furthermore they know perfectly well every individual who is now engaged and who they did not know when we started. They know now every officer and man from one end of Ireland to the other. I do not care what end it is, Cork or Belfast. The very moment that war starts the people know better than the British Government that we are unable to protect them and in that case we lose our most valuable asset and that is the help and support of the civilian population. The question has been asked, “What will happen if the Treaty be rejected?” You need have no doubt in your minds as to what will happen. First it will be a public declaration of war by us if we reject that Treaty at the present moment. I hold that when it is war I have a duty and so have several other members of the Dáil, a duty to be back immediately with their commands for to be in war we must be with our commands. Well I hold if the British government has an ounce of sense that, wherever our council chamber is, the devil out of it we will get. There is no doubt about it, I have gone far enough into it. I say it again that I am not well up and I cannot play with words and phrases and formulas (Hear, hear). But I am telling you honestly what I think (Hear, hear) and what I know to be true. When the war is declared I would like to be with my command and there I must try to get, and the only way I would get there is, I would suggest, that the Minister of Defence would arm the Dáil as we are sitting in session (Hear, hear).
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: Go maith.
COMMANDANT SEÁN MCKEON: I for one would be prepared to lead the Dáil out (Hear, hear). There must be no mistake about it, the man or men who flinches—I have done it before, I only did it once—but the man or number of men who attempt to flinch my bullet crashes through his brain on the spot (applause). I have heard a lot since I came in here about principle, and fine words—they were grand words. I heard a lot about it. I hold I fought for a certain object. I did not succeed but I did my best. It has been said I am prepared to eat my principle. I know perfectly well there is not a man in the Dáil from the President down but has eaten principles from the start (Hear, hear). There is not one who has stood definitely for the ideal that was before us. We know very well it was unattainable but we knew every stroke we struck was helping to push the enemy out, and I hold the Treaty as it stands has done that and without our fight it could not be done (Hear, hear). I hold further—the Treaty is called a bird in the hand. I hold that that bird in the hand can be turned to Ireland's interests, not to put or to have only one rifle in the hands of every fifty men but to put one rifle in every man's hand (applause). I hold it won't be to put out the enemy because they will have gone but to keep them out and, if they go to force themselves in, I am sure that sooner than force themselves in upon that rifle they would be prepared to accept Document No.2.
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: I suggest that the recommendation I made when I dealt yesterday with statements made the previous day by the Assistant Minister for Local Government be adopted by the speakers who follow. Every private member should get an opportunity now of stating his views. The suggestion was this, that the statement with regard to the Cabinet giving away the Republic be proved. It is a simple matter to make a bold statement; it is not quite so simple to prove it.
COMDT. SEÁN MCKEON: With all due respect to the Minister of Defence when private members' views were to be asked neither side of the Cabinet was to reply.
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: May I continue, Mr. Speaker? We are here to settle this question.
A DEPUTY: Why does not everyone get fair play?
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: I am not against that; everybody will, I take it, get fair play. But if a statement be made and repeated by others and not proven some people may think that there is something in the statement. I suggest the man who makes a statement proves it, and especially a statement such as this that the Cabinet gave away the Republic. That was in fact a statement made by the Assistant Minister for Local Government yesterday which was repeated to a certain extent by the Deputy from Connemara.
MR. P. Ó MÁILLE: It has now been repeated by our esteemed friend from Longford. I suggest the statement and any statement that has a vital bearing on the action or attitude of the Cabinet be proved in addition to being made.
MR. J.M. DOLAN: Does he deny accuracy of the minutes of the Cabinet meetings?
THE SPEAKER: That is out of order.
MR. KEVIN O'HIGGINS: May I make a short statement?
THE SPEAKER: No, the next speaker is Mr. Seán Etchingham.
MR. SEÁN ETCHINGHAM: I was very pleased with the turn of events yesterday evening. We left in a better frame of mind. I would have said what the Minister for Local Government said when he appealed for unity. I do not think I have said anything since the session opened to disrupt unity. We want unity. I mean now to deal with some things that happened last night but I would like, in another way, to say one or two things to the member for Longford, Commdt. McKeon. I admire him as much as any person here in Ireland or outside it and I am very sorry to hear this statement. Even if that statement was practically true it was a song of surrender (cries of, It was not, and Never). I am afraid it would be taken as such by any person who holds such feelings as I do. The blacksmith of Ballinalee is to me a hero. His fame has been sung in ballads all through the country and if Ireland heard him say—at least some parts of it—that we could not continue the fight I do not believe they would think well of it. I do not hold with him. There are matters that he has mentioned as a soldier that I am not prepared to follow. Though my head is grey, on my own behalf I say at least I do not fear death I have contempt for it. A lot [recte loss] of hope and a lot [recte loss] of personal liberty I have experienced. Death is to me the simplest of all—the simplest and the easiest of all. I said here after the session when they went across to England, “Now is the time for the gunmen and the young men to speak.” We defined our policy and that was the policy of the Republic. One of the Deputies from Cork then challenged any speaker to speak and I am sorry then that Commdt. McKeon did not speak. Now I hold there is a double honour in this matter—the honour of Ireland and the personal honour. I have said to one of the Deputies from Sligo in the presence of Mr. Alex. MacCabe, Mr. O'Donnell it was, the honour of Ireland was involved. Every single man who came into the Dáil and lifted up his hand and took a pledge to the Irish Republic should be prepared to die, I for one, with Commdt. McKeon. Whether I have a revolver or rifle or not and die in the road outside or in this room, if the government forces surround it, it is the easiest thing we could do and it is [all] we can do to save our honour and the honour of our country. Do not mistake that. We cannot get away from the principle that we are here in this Dáil standing for the Irish Republic and the Irish Republic only. We cannot have different shades of that Republic. We have for instance reference to the uncomprising opportunist shade. I do not conform to that. I may be a die-hard, but it is better die hard than soft. Terence MacSwiney died hard; he was over ninety days dying. What did he die for? Did he die for this thing that is before us?
MISS M. MACSWINEY: No, he did not.
MR. SEÁN ETCHINGHAM: With his last breath he said, “I die a soldier of the Irish Republic.” Now I said yesterday evening I thoroughly agree with the Minister of Finance. I applauded him. It was a manly thing to say he was befogged with legal phraseology—that he went to get things not words. But a treaty is full of words. I think you will all agree with me that the Deputy for Kildare and Wicklow, Mr. Childers who was perfectly qualified— no one denied that—to deal with the subject, pulled that Treaty to shreds. But even  if it were greater than this in the measure that has been given to us of local government I could not accept the Treaty so long as I had to swear an oath of allegiance to the British King. I hold, and I wish to say it now, the greatest respect and the greatest friendship for the members of the delegation. I have been working for many years with Arthur Griffith. I knew Arthur Griffith would not break on the Crown. I said so. But when Arthur Griffith came to Dáil Éireann and took an oath of allegiance to the Republic, he had stood along with us—advanced with the times. I have read the notes taken by the Secretary for Economics, Mr. Barton, that night 5th and 6th—fateful night for Ireland at Downing Street. Read them, everyone of you, and what is the impression? The saddest thing of all is this. We sent them over as great men and they came back as good men as they left, I believe, but they were mes- merised with the mesmerism of the wizard of Wales. It is that that gets me. I am one of the four who objected to any men going to London. Neutral ground was the thing. I did not like the scene of the negotiations. I felt the atmosphere of the city of London had got every man not alone from Ireland but from all over the world, no matter who entered it. I do not blame them, they were only weak men. But when Mr. Lloyd George said to them that he had a train at Euston Station and the boat at Liverpool and added, “Hurry up and sign this or we will have war in two days”, they agreed. They would not have signed it in Dublin. I firmly believe they would not have signed it in Dublin. It is a tragedy.
MR. MICHAEL COLLINS: Speaking for myself I would have signed.
MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: So would I.
MR. ROBERT BARTON: I would not (Hear, hear).
MR. SEÁN ETCHINGHAM: It is not quite right to say they would not sign in Dublin. I do not wish to refer to the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs gave an undertaking that he would not sign any document until he returned to Dublin; and when he would have come back and met the President of the Republic, the Minister for Defence, Mr. Cathal Brugha, and the Minister for Home Affairs I do not think he would sign. I do not think either of them would sign. I put it to them that they would not have done so. No, that is the tragedy of it. Do not forget that, and furthermore what completed the tragedy was the interview given by my old friend the Minister for Foreign Affairs that this was the end of seven and a half centuries fight.
MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: Hear, hear.
MR. SEÁN ETCHINGHAM: And he said it meant liberty. What does it mean to the country? There are some men going to vote for the Treaty. They are not stupid, they are not politicians who say so nor are they soldiers. “If this thing went to the country”, it has been said, “the country will ratify the Treaty because the country does not know where it is.” As regards the press we can say that we here that stand against the Treaty have not even a mosquite foress [recte mosquito press]. We have not even a “Spark”, “Scissors and Paste”, “Old Ireland” or “Young Ireland” to stand for [recte against] the Treaty (Hear, hear).
COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ¹: The Connnacht man [recte Connachtman] stands against it; the west's awake at last. I say here with the greatest respect that the members of the delegation, the plenipotentiaries, I repeat what I said before, they went over there and had powers to sign but they could not sign away the liberties of the Irish people unless we have been meeting here in Dáil Éireann, the Parliament of the Irish Republic, as a fraud. From whom do we derive our powers? Do we not derive them from the people? As a Republican it is nothing new to me. Like Seán T. O'Kelly I have been many years a Republican. You all know how I was raised at the Lee by my uncle who was a '67 man and from him I got my inspiration. I believe with him and have a firm faith in the Fenian tradition. I have evidence of it that the old Fenian tradition, unwavering and uncompromising, is buried in the graves where lie the bodies of Tom Clarke, Pádraig Pearse, Seán MacDermott, John McBride, Tom MacDonagh, Plunkett  and others. Is there anyone here who would tell me that Tom Clarke lifted his hand for that thing? Is there anyone here who would tell me that any of the young men who fought and fell in 1916 would have lifted their hands for it? (Voices, Yes).
¹ This speaker's name is obviously wrongly recorded.
MR. ETCHINGHAM: Is there any man here who was a Republican would advocate the Councils Bill? I say you would have failed immediately if you said the first President of the Irish Republic would have put his hand to that.
MR. DE RÓISTE: I think the memory of the dead should be held sacred by all.
MR. ETCHINGHAM: Is there any of the men who have engraved their names on the list of the martyrology of the men of 1916, of those who fell on the scaffold or before the firing party, who would have signed that? Are there any of the men who fought and fell in battle who would have done so?
MR. GRIFFITH and MR. COLLINS: Yes.
MR. ETCHINGHAM: If there were such men who fought and fell for this wretched Treaty that makes for the dismemberment of their country and that would take the Oath of Allegiance to the English—well, where would they expect to go in the future life? A fool's paradise? I have heard an old friend of mine—I was with him a long time in business—the member for Sligo, Alec MacCabe—that he was an uncompromising Republican. He was when in the Dáil a few months ago he got up and emphasised, with more emphasis than he generally puts into his speeches, that if we take the island of Aran we might hold it as a Republic. I was in Aran and I would not think it a good military position. The member for Cork, Mr. de Róiste, talks very lightly of taking this Oath—very lightly for a member of Dáil Éireann. The member for Cork protested that his word of honour would be sufficient but he is willing to give the Oath of Allegiance to the English King.
MR. DE RÓISTE: No, absolutely no.
MR. ETCHINGHAM: Mr. Churchill tells you that it is binding on them.
MR. DE RÓISTE: I do not give a fig for Winston Churchill or Lloyd George or any English Minister.
MR. ETCHINGHAM: I am glad then. I am proud to hear that statement. I made one great convert since I have got it out that Mr. de Róiste will not vote for the Treaty.
MR. GRIFFITH: I do not want to interrupt but is it fair for a member to deliberately misconstrue the words of another member?
MR. DE RÓISTE [recte S. Etchingham]: That is not the first time my good friend, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is too hard on me. Because I said these things and take strong views I do not want to make any personal enemies in Dáil Éireann. On this matter of principle I feel strongly. I do not know whether I have misconstrued any words of the member for Cork.
THE SPEAKER: I do not know what the reference is but I would suggest that all members as far as possible would when speaking avoid personal references to any members as they inevitably lead to the result of raising the temperature.
MR. ETCHINGHAM: I do not wish to do so. I would pass it by if the Minister for Home [recte Foreign] Affairs would say in what way I have misconstrued.
THE SPEAKER: It is better to pass on.
MR. ETCHINGHAM: I always like to be interrupted because it gives me chaos [sic]. I have been in prison all my life for standing for these principles. I am a Republican of the true brand, an isolated Republican, not an elastic Republican or a pretended Republican. I stand for that and ever will stand for it. I can't pass that. Another good friend of mine the member for Leitrim, made a speech in which he said we are manning the bearna baoghail. We are in the gap of danger and we know what happened. I was over in Leitrim during the elections and they were then what I thought separatists. What I want you to do is continue the atmosphere of last night. I assure you I feel the position strongly. I feel, and I think a great number of you feel, that in dealing with the Treaty  that they did not know enough about this legal phraseology. We are met here to decide the greatest issue that has ever been before the people of this country since the first man or woman ever entered it. Posterity will be our jury. I do believe it would have been much better if we carried out all these debates in public, every one of them. I have heard rumours of what has been said by the member for Longford, Comdt. McKeon. I do believe that the whole situation is that we were invincible on the 3rd or 4th of December and that we were crushed on the 5th or 6th when we woke up in the morning and when we saw that Treaty in the Press. We can retrieve it here if we are honest to our oaths. I reiterate that we cannot get away from it. We are here as Deputies to the Irish Republican Government and if we did not hold that position this Government and every act committed under it could not have the sanction it had, the sanction of the Irish people. People who acted under this sanction were called murderers by the English government but they were acts of warfare, acts committed under the will and authority of the Irish people. We were the only moral or legal Government in the country and are still to-day. Are we going to give away that position lightly? (Cries of No). But you are giving it away (No).
MR. MOYLAN: Are we here to hear the views of private members or of one private member?
MR. ETCHINGHAM: I am an humble private member. I hold the position of an “external” (laughter) and therefore I am far more free than an “internal” Minister (laughter). I have more to say at the public session. It may be my last opportunity of addressing Dáil Éireann as an Irish Republican member, but before you dissolve or give away the position everyone of you should speak and say how you are going to vote. I do know what Ireland will think of you when Ireland gets from under the dope which Lloyd George issued in Downing Street. I have seen that Professor Dicey stated that there were 15 famous battles in the world that created revolutions and the battle of the table in Downing Street was what would create the 16th. It is a tragedy that the young men who should be fighting men are the men who get up and speak for compromises. If I hit you hard you deserve it. There is no use in misinterpreting the issue. I say to everyone of you here who votes for the Treaty never again call yourselves Republicans. Now there is one thing I say in conclusion. I know we are here in private. There are men going around the town saying we will have a Republic in five years. One of those who should know better said in one year. Now, that is a falsehood. Read the history of your country and did they ever fight until repressed? If Ireland gets the Colonial or Free State will she fight? I am perfectly certain of my future existence. It will be spent in jail, in an Irish jail. I will be sent there by the Government of the Irish Free State. There will be more rebels in Ireland if you ratify that Treaty than ever before. I assure you from things I have heard that at least one or two of the men in charge will try and put down this sedition. Therefore I will be in jail. However, don't let any of you young men or old men get away with the idea that, if you sign that Treaty and give up the position, that you are standing for an ideal. You were elected here because you fought and suffered for that ideal but if you vote for that Treaty you that vote for it will have forsaken that ideal. Don't forget that. Once you wander off the straight road and go down the sideways of expediency you will find leafy bowers and sycamore trees and mossy banks and happiness and luxury—the flesh pots of Egypt—but don't forget you, that are committing yourself to this tragedy, that you are going to come out again and fight. It is like the talk of getting out the English. They are going to evacuate the country tomorrow. They are going to take out the khaki and bring in the marines. Those of you who talk of coming out again, as some of you talk, go and tell it to the marines (laughter). No I tell you here that the only true shade of Republicanism is the one who stands true to the separatist principles. I do not wish to speak of personal matters but I may say that my mother, who is 84 years old, when the soldiers came to blow up her home and my home and the home of her sister, what did she say to them? “You may level every house in it but you won't kill the country”, and I can't go back to her and say that I voted for this wretched thing. I stand for what I stood for all my life and what her brother stood for if he was not sold by men who would not come out and fight. Do not be led away. Commdt. McKeon whom I admire spoke plainly. I  will also speak plainly to the men here. Thanks be to God it is not necessary for the women, for the women in the Dáil will show they are the best men in it. I am told Ireland was always fond of kings. They were never Republican. You want a king, do you? If you want a king make a king of a gander or a puckaun but in God's name let it be an Irish gander or a puckaun. Why go to England for a gander? Let us try to come back to the old position as far as we can retrieve it; let us keep together. I do not know what I would not at the present moment say I would sacrifice of my principles for unity and the biggest thing that men could do is to sacrifice personal feeling and come in and stand together for the sake of Ireland's honour and Ireland's position before the world.
MR. PIARAS BÉASLAÍ: I am glad that at last after three days, disheartening days, we have a straightforward, plain speech from a man who takes his stand, honest and solid, on some kind of foundation we can stand on and fight. It is the first time that I have heard that it is not on Document I as against Document 2 that we are asked to stand. It is not on documents he is standing but he is standing on the old ideal and I respect him for that. Every man who takes his stand on that is a man for whom we can have nothing but the highest respect and regard, but I must confess as a man who has done his best in the work from the very start—and remember I was one of the men who founded the Irish Volunteers—I must confess that the work and labour and fight of these days have been disheartening to men who cared about Ireland, these recriminations about points that did not matter a damn to Irishmen. What do we care about personalities? What do we care whether this Minister or that agreed with this clause or that? I know what the plain men of Ireland think, the soldiers of Ireland. I have the honour to have held the position of a soldier in the army since 1913. It is pitiable to hear these quibbles about internal and external association. We were asked, “Did such a man fight for the Treaty?”, “Did he fight for external association?”, “Did he fight for Document 2 or 1?” We have no right to say how any man who is dead would have voted. It is a mere accident that Commdt. McKeon has not inscribed his name on the tomb of Irish martyrology. It is fortunate he is here to-day to speak for himself and not to be quoted by other people when he could not speak for himself. It is a mere series of accidents, and I know intimately all the facts, that the Minister of Finance is here today, and it is the merest accident that all of us are here to-day, not to have our names as arguments against what we think the best thing to do for Ireland now. This thing has been discussed, with the exception of Mr. Etchingham, in the spirit of a discussion at the Home Rule Bill. For God's sake will we get a grip of realities? This is a Treaty now at the cannons' mouth in guerilla warfare from a power against whom we could never expect a military decision in our favour. This power is to leave the country bag and baggage, to withdraw from all her strong fortified positions and to leave the country in possession of the Irish army, the very thing we have been fighting for and now achieve for the first time in 750 years. These are the terms of a big proud nation to a nation which is not big and which, make no mistake, if not strong enough to break our spirit, could render us absolutely impotent. Are we out for destroying the country and saving our faces? There is no alternative to ratification of the Treaty but war. Document No. 2 is no alternative if we must die. Men have died to the cry of “Up the Republic” but I cannot imagine they would die for the cry of “Up External Association”. Now, just imagine a plain ordinary man in the ranks in the country going to fight for the difference between external and internal associations. He would not know what it means and I am not perfectly clear as to what it means. As I said every credit is due to Mr. Etchingham. He states he was against negotiations at all and not alone to these terms. The Dáil decided to enter into negotiations with the British government to ascertain how the negotiations of Ireland with the British Government could be reconciled with our national aspirations and I do not know what we imagined we were doing except one thing. The Minister of Defence made a very clear and definite statement yesterday and they said there was no alternative but war. Well it is very probable that the result of this will be war. Well, let us face it in a purely military spirit and what we are fighting. We are fighting to keep the Black and Tans in Ireland, we are fighting to keep them in Dublin Castle. I do not think a plain soldier would be able to grasp that point of view. There was one statemen  which the Minister of Defence made to-day which I must confess surprised me as a member of the staff serving under him. He said we were in an infinitely stronger position since the Truce. I wonder did any member of his staff say that? All I can say is that I am a bit astonished for it is contrary to what I expected that we were stronger. We are stronger in numbers. We have a lot of Truce Volunteers. We are here to represent the country and not to air our points of view, not to gain any personal advantage or any party or doctrine advantage but to serve the country to the best of our ability. The alternative is one of two things, whether we agree to the terms of the British government to save their faces or we try to save our faces on the basis of a compromise. There is no use fooling ourselves. In God's name let us realise our responsibilities in this matter. If we are going to plunge the country into bloodshed and to fight to the last gasp let us do it on bedrock principles and not on Document No. 2. This is a question of life or death to the nation. It was suggested that it is dishonourable for us to fight when we never hoped for a military decision. The military will evacuate our territory on certain conditions and he did it as he stated to save the country from useless bloodshed. We are asked to do certain things to save the faces of an unbeaten enemy. That is a solid substantial fact. The armed forces of the enemy is a thing that counts in this country and let there be no mistake about it. Now I have been astonished to hear people say they are standing on principles of Document No. 2 [which] says that Ireland shall recognise His Britannic Majesty as head of the association. That is an evasion because if you put that up as a treaty with England there is no machinery provided as to how it shall take place. That was the crux which our delegates had to fight all the time. I think it is not fair to pretend that this gets over the difficulty. What other machinery can you devise except some oath of negotiation [recte recognition]. If we are to have no oath of recognition to his Britannic Majesty say so. It is the only chance on which the country will back us. Now as Commandant McKeon said our strength in the fight was not our military strength but because the people were behind us. They were our intelligence department and the commissariat. Would the people be behind us now?
MISS MACSWINEY: Yes.
MR. BÉASLAÍ: You cannot say. I know what I am speaking of when I say the vast majority of the people would be against us. We would have to fight for an unfinished and divided country and we would not have the decency of a clear issue. As to the question of being a Republican I stand where the President stands on that. The President has declared, and he has emphasised the point, that when he took the oath to the Irish Republic he felt he wanted to make it clear that he was taking the oath only to the Irish nation. We will never unite the people of Ireland on any issue but the one of the freedom of Ireland and driving out the English power from Ireland. The particular form we were elected on for the [gap in original] was the Republic. I had occasion to analyse and find out exactly actly what a Republic was and the one thing in common with the Republicans was that they did not derive their authority from any monarch, symbolic or actual. A Republic is simply a state in which the people freely on their own rules express their will in a democratic way. There are one or two other things I wish to say. Some people are talking on the assumption— they say this Oath they are not going to take. All I can say is that nobody asked them to take it. I have no earthly desire to be a politician. Most of the people here are only politicians by accident and they do not want to be politicians whenever they have achieved their object of driving the English out of Ireland and controlling their own business—one of those brave, honest, sincere men like Mr. Etchingham who are taking their stand on principle. There is a lot of very unnecessary opposition to this Treaty and it is painful to me that people whom I love and respect should have [said] things of those who are doing their best for the country, but there is also an element of opposition which I find it difficult to reconcile with complete sincerity. One member has stated that never, never would he take the Oath of Allegiance to the King of England but he told me in 1913, when it looked probable that Mr. Redmond's Home Rule Bill would come into force with the allegiance embodied in it, that he intended to be a candidate for Parliament.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF L.G.B. You are on dangerous ground.
THE SPEAKER: I must rule against personal allusions.
MR. BÉASLAÍ: I quite agree and I regret it. I will say no more on that point but I would simply advise persons who say things like that to be perfectly sure that people have not got long memories. This is a matter of life and death to the nation. I am speaking simply and solely from one point of view. I do not want to be a member of any Government or Parliament. I want to do my part in getting the English out of Ireland and building up the finest state we can. I have the same view as others that Ireland shall be afforded complete opportunity for cultural developments. I think her civilisation will work best on independent lines but, if I have to vote between getting the enemy bag and baggage out of Ireland with some miserable thing to save their faces and on the other hand of trying to save our faces by a mere quibble between external and internal allegiance and plunging the country into bloodshed without national sanction, then I will vote for having the British out of Ireland.
MR. J.J. O'KELLY (Sceilg): The reason I wish to adress you is that I have just a couple of words to say that I think had better be said at a private session of the Dáil than at a public session lest it might show our hands to a certain extent to the enemy. I sincerely hope I will say nothing that will in any way disturb the hopeful and promising atmosphere before we separated last evening. I trust everyone here will say nothing but will do everything possible to improve that position. I must say I have heard the discussion of the past three days and at times I found myself almost cursing the hour I entered political life, because of absence of that splendid spirit of comradeship that we possessed up to a few days ago. Now I would like to bring your minds back to the session of the Dáil at which the delegates were appointed and of which I have a most vivid recollection. The President proposed the delegates who were duly appointed. There was a slight difference of opinion, I remember, at the last moment. What I recollect as having happened was this—I give my recollection for what it is worth and I think it will help to clarify the position—the President proposed the five delegates in order. When their appointments were approved by the Dáil somebody got up and said how desirable it was the the President should perform his part on the delegation or accompany the delegation. My friend the Minister for the L.G.B. proposed in a long, plausible and well reasoned and good humoured speech that the President should accompany the delegation, and the Minister for Finance got up and supported that proposal, and the President got up and stated what he had said at previous Cabinet meetings, that it was better he should not go. The Cabinet of the Dáil realised that the vast difference between the maximum we could expect from England and the maximum [recte minimum] we could accept could not possibly be bridged by the delegation to London, and therefore that we could nor expect the delegation would come back with an arrangement which we could ratify and that, if we did not ratify it, it would be a serious thing if the head of the state was involved in the repudiation. I say here that the proposals handed in by the President, even though they do not appeal to me very forcibly, crystallise the situation which was anticipated by An Dáil and anticipated by the Cabinet. It merely proclaimed that when the delegates came back they would be likely to be repudiated and that they would take it as a matter of course. If I am wrong then as I stated at the outset take it for what it is worth. Now I have devoted—and I don't say it in the nature of a boast, and I do not think anyone here will think I mention it in the nature of a boast, I mention it only to see if I can restore a proper spirit of brotherhood—I have been engaged in the service of Ireland for a quarter of a century. There is nobody I know so long and have worked so long with on the same lines as the chairman of the delegation to London. God forbid that I should say anything to detract from the credit due to the chairman of the delegation for the brilliant services he has rendered to Ireland for many a long day. Associated with him also for a long period was the Minister for Finance but my work for Ireland has been more in common with the chairman of the delegation. We have been identified in working for the language or literary movements. It is not a boast to say that Mr. Griffith for a quarter [of a century] has neglected his own interests and has devoted all his energies and abilities to the Irish cause according to his lights. But his judgment just now differs  from mine sharply and fundamentally. Now I have served in this Dáil in many capacities, as chairman in the absence of Mr. S.T. O'Kelly and as Minister of Education for which I was proposed against my will. My work in the service of Ireland for a quarter of a century has been a labour of love. I need not make my meaning plainer than that. Now, we all who by our services to Ireland have in our different ways brought this cause to the position it occupies to-day cannot we in God's name find accommodation and settlement? May I not appeal to the Dáil and the members of the Cabinet to try and come together once more and see whether we could agree to face the public on Monday with a united programme and that will confound the enemies outside? There is one thing England has ever been trying to do and that is to divide country. I have been a member of the Cabinet of the Dáil. I was unanimously elected a member of the Cabinet and some of you may be surprised to hear that I had the honour of presiding at the Cabinet after Mr. Griffith's arrest and when three or four of us met in obscure places just at the time that England's actual bloodhounds went into the house of the Minister of Defence to see if they could run him to earth. Can we not between this and Monday find accommodation or agreement in in which we can go to the public session of the Dáil as a united Dáil? Mr. Etchingham said a while ago that he was one of four opposed to the idea of sending delegates to London at all. I am betraying no secret when I said that I took up that position and it will be in the recollection of those here, and particularly in the recollection of Mr. Barton after he had been released from Dartmoor or Portland where he was the guest of His Britannic Majesty to whom we are asked to take the Oath of Allegiance, and that I was strongly opposed at that time to sending any delegates to the enemy's house. There is always a tradition in Ireland that only the vanquished went into the enemy's house. They went to London and we see the result. Before they went to London we had the Irish cause on the proudest plane it occupied since Strong-bow landed in Ireland. When they went to London they stepped off that plane on to a slippery slope. They went out on the slippery slope and they are on the slippery slope and I would appeal to them before Monday to look up from that slippery slope, to look up to heaven once more and see whether they cannot come up to the plane once more on which the cause was before they went to London. I want to say further that [in] the position in which, I was placed in the Dáil it is my duty to administer the Oath of Allegiance to every member of the Dáil. I took that Oath of Allegiance and I interpret that as taken by myself and administered by comrades as a vow of life-long service and consecration of my life to the Irish Republic, not as a question of days and weeks but as a vow that consecrated my life to the service of the Irish Republic. I heard people say they took this Oath very lightly, that they regarded it as [of] very little consequence. I don't take that view. I want to say here that I am never going to perjure myself or violate that Oath of Allegiance to the Irish Republic. I should be very sorry to see any man here who realises the meaning and significance to let his name go down to posterity as a perjured man if he violates that Oath. It is a matter for his own conscience. That is how it appears to me. What I wanted most particularly to say to you is the understanding on which of [sic] our delegates went to London. I am afraid that when we meet on Monday some of us may have to say very hard things against the proposed Treaty. I ask the men who have signed their names to that Treaty not to regard hostility to the Treaty as hostility to themselves in any [way]. Personally I would appeal once more to you members if it is at all possible to let us try and come together and see whether we cannot agree to something that would enable us to face the public and bring us from the slippery slope on which we are to the plane on which we were and show to the world that we are determined to stand by the cause which has been consecrated by the blood of so many martyrs and, as a friend of mine said, the blood of the finest generation that has appeared in Irish history. I hope they will bring that cause back from the position to which it has drifted slightly and that everyone here will do his best to push that cause forward from that position and certainly never let it recede.
The House adjourned at 2 o'clock for luncheon.