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Day 2 Debate – Dec 15th.

Treaty Debate – Dec 15th 1921

The Speaker took the Chair at 11.30 a.m.

MR. MICHAEL COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, there is just a little matter to which I would like to refer before anything else is said. It is this. My private office was raided last night and important books and documents were taken. Is there any member here who accepts responsibility for that raid?

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: As head of the Government here I must say I know nothing whatever about any such raid.

MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: And as the head of the army I also say that I know nothing whatever about it. That is the first I heard about it.

MR. AUSTIN STACK: As the head of the Home Affairs Department I say that I do not believe it necessary to answer any such question, because we would not stoop to such low tactics.

MR. P. O’KEEFFE: We are the Government of the country and we are responsible for order in this country. I do not see what we are meeting here in view of the threats from Cork. I did not get that threat. It is immaterial to me whether I did or not, and I now move the adjournment of this House until such time as the books are restored to the office, and our police find the robbers.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: Perhaps the Minister for Finance has the best means, as far as I know of finding out anything of that kind. If there is one person in this assembly who has facilities for finding out everything about that, it is the Minister for Finance. Now these facilities ought to be put immediately at the disposal of the Minister for Home Affairs, as the information will be necessary for the Minister of Home Affairs to take action in the matter.

MR. MICHAEL COLLINS: Any facilities I have are military facilities and they can be placed at the disposal of my superior, and through my superior to his superior. The Government have these facilities at their disposal always, and if the Government and this House decided that all these books should be handed over at once, they would be handed over at once; and if they decided that any Government property that I have should be handed over, it will be handed over.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: Who has done it? What is the cause? Certainly it is not an official action of any kind. The Minister for Finance knows that no one of us here would stand for any such action. It is an action taken by irresponsible individuals. If the Minister of Finance gives us the information, action will be taken.

COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ: It is a provocative act of the enemy. I myself do not agree with the Minister of Finance in this. I would be sorry anyone I knew would be guilty of touching anything belonging to him, because we all respect and admire the Minister of Finance for what he has done for Ireland.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: Hear, hear.

COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ: It is a most dastardly outrage.

MR. P. O’KEEFFE: I want to give you information I got this morning. If I am permitted, I am going to give the information to the President. He is my master, [142] and I love him and respect him, and I have given him faithful service, I think, in any case. Mrs. Clarke of No. 6 Harcourt Street, being out of the private office of the Minister for Finance for some time, her husband came to me this morning about 10.25 and said he wanted to speak to me privately. I said all right. He said, “Did you hear that Collins’s offices in so-and-so street were raided this morning?” I said I did not. I said, “It is very serious, did Mrs. Clarke touch anything in the office?” He said, “No, she came back and reported to me”. “Well”, I said, “you better report to Mr. Collins, when I see him I will do the same”. That is only word of mouth. It may be wrong, but that is the information.

MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: Did you say the Minister of Defence’s office?

MR. O’KEEFFE: No, the office of the Minister for Finance.

MR. M. COLLINS: That is how the report came to me.

MR. D. CEANNT: There seems to be great stress on this document that was sent from Cork. Every member from Cork absolutely repudiates this. We would not be a party to anything of the kind, of having raided any office. I understand there is a motion for the adjournment of this House. I say we ought to proceed with the business and I am sure the Minister of Finance will be perfectly able to find out about the raid. If he is not, I say the army and police at his disposal are no use to Ireland.

MR. M. COLLINS: I do not think the House ought to be adjourned. I received the report a short time ago. There are men investigating the matter at the present moment, and it will be reported officially shortly. As I have made the report, I think the matter may be left as it is until there is something further about it. I have a second question to ask.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA PRESIDENT DE VALERA

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: Before this thing is finished, in order to make it regular, I suggest that you leave the information that you made, with myself and the Minister of Defence and the Minister for Home Affairs to immediately take action so that official action may be taken in anything of that kind.

MR. M. COLLINS: The second question that I want to ask is a question of the President. I presume he has now got a copy on which the word “Treaty” is blacked out, to show to us as the delegation, and I suppose the members are entitled to see it too.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: Yes, I find that something was blacked out, and I took it to be the word “Treaty”. It was the blacking out that drew my attention to the fact that the word “Treaty” did not exist, because I took it the word “Treaty” was blacked out. At the same time, I want it to be made quite clear still that on the only signed copy we have, there is no word “Treaty” in it.

MR. COLLINS: With regard to the blacked out it arose in this way. The head of the document read, “Proposed Articles of Agreement”, and when we signed it they became “Articles of Agreement” and the word “Proposed” was struck out.

MR. J.J. WALSH: Do I understand that the British Cabinet definitely understood the word “Treaty” and that it was witnessed by our representatives?

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: I have the only copy Ireland has got. The only official copy of the signed document which Ireland has got is the document in which the word “Treaty” is not used in the head or in the body of the articles. The only document Ireland possesses—the only document bearing the actual signatures of the British delegation—is the document in which the word “Treaty” is not mentioned.

THE SPEAKER: We will have to decide the first thing in accordance with the Orders of the Day. We cannot get into irregular discussion about points that will arise casually. The Order of the Day will be as follows:

(1) Report of the Documents Committee;

(2) Statement, if any, by plenipotentiaries;

(3) The proposal of the President brought forward yesterday evening with regard to an alternate treaty.

Now the matter before us is the Report of the Documents Committee.

MR. KEVIN O’HIGGINS: Has an amendment to the motion to ratify the Treaty

THE SPEAKER: That will be dealt with when it arises.

MR. M. HAYES: The Documents Committee met yesterday evening and again after the meeting last night. All the members were present and Mr. Childers, who has all the documents, was also present. Before making our decisions we consulted the President and the chairman of the delegation and Mr. Collins. We decided therefore unanimously to pick out four documents: an Irish document of the 22nd November, an Irish document of the 28th November, a British document of the 2nd December and the final Irish draft of December 4th. These are now being got ready for circulation amongst the members of the Dáil. In addition, the secretary’s notes of the cabinet meetings were placed at our disposal and we have allowed circulation to the members of the notes of meetings on the 25th November and the 3rd December, in so far as these notes have any reference to the negotiations. The committee received the assistance of the President, Mr. Childers, Mr. Griffith and Mr. Collins and it was handed the documents it required.

MR. AUSTIN STACK: There is one most important document which has not been mentioned—Mr. Barton’s notes in connection with the last two conferences with the British delegation. That document is a matter bearing on the circumstances under which his signature and that of Mr. Gavan Duffy were appended to the Articles of Agreement, the Treaty, or whatever it is called.

MR. M. HAYES: The question of Mr. Barton’s notes was not introduced. In addition to the documents I have mentioned, we also got this morning all the correspondence passing between the Cabinet and the delegation.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: Those are the ones I read yesterday; there is nothing new in them.

MR. AUSTIN STACK: If there is any objection to Mr. Barton’s notes being circulated—

MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: I have none. Of course, it is understood they are not official records.

MR. R. BARTON: The notes were mine. On one occasion Mr. Collins pointed out a position—some lines which he considered might not be exactly interpreted; it was a certain word, he said. Otherwise I have heard no remarks, commendatory or otherwise, regarding the notes

MR. AUSTIN STACK: Since there is no objection they ought to be circulated.

COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ: I hold that as the secretary’s notes of the Cabinet meetings are being circulated, these notes should also be circulated.

MR. MICHEÁL STAINES: I submit Mr. Barton’s notes are not at all on a par with the minutes of the Cabinet meetings. It is an extraordinary thing, to my mind, we had in the press some days ago a letter from one of the Ministers in which he stated this body here used words loosely. He mentioned one word “plenipotentiaries”. Now I do not agree with him that the word was used loosely and the President in his statement here yesterday made it quite clear that the word was not used loosely. The letter was published in the press, and it made us appear in the eyes of the public, not as a class of school children, but as a lot of fools. Now we come to the Cabinet. It was stated here yesterday these notes were not minutes. What are they? Are not they the official records? I ask the President were they the decisions of the Cabinet.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: I am quite ready—

MR. M. STAINES: If they were, they were the same as minutes; they are official records, and they are not on a par with Mr. Barton’s private notes.

 

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: I hate to be standing up so frequently, but when I am asked a question perhaps it is as well to get rid of the point raised. Cabinet meetings have been held for a long time under extraordinary circumstances. The secretary, who is perhaps one of the ablest men in the position has, at every Cabinet meeting almost, interpreted the decisions [144] of the Cabinet. There are often informal discussions, some agreement is arrived at, and he puts down what he considers is the substance of that. Sometimes I might question one of them. But we did not at the Cabinet meetings take down minutes of proceedings as such. They are not read at the meetings. It was not necessary. It was not necessary. It is only when divisions and difficulties arise that the necessity of these formalities is seen. There is this parallel between Mr. Barton’s note and the secretary’s notes, and that is that they are both records by one individual of some conference that has taken place. The Cabinet minutes, therefore, are simply a record by the secretary of the proceedings of the conference. For instance, we are discussing the doing of something or other and he puts down, “decided to do so and so”. On some other questions, since we had big discussions about the Treaty, I think he wrote down his impression of what most people said. I do not know whether it would be in order to get the secretary to give an explanation. I am sure Mr. Griffith will himself admit we did not check these, and he himself would not consider them a definite representation of what he said or what his attitude was.

MR. M. HAYES: This matter was very carefully discussed yesterday. The President and everyone in the House will agree these were not minutes in the sense that they were read and signed. They are being circulated by us under this heading, “Summaries of [recte Secretary’s] notes of Cabinet meetings”.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: Exactly.

MR. M. HAYES: There will be no misunderstandings or misrepresentations in the minds of any intelligent member of this House, and why, then, should this discussion be taking place?

MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: The matter that has to be decided now is: are Mr. Barton’s notes to be circulated amongst the members of the Dáil? It has been stated by the Minister of Home Affairs, and I agree with him, that these notes have a most vital bearing on the conditions under which Mr. Barton’s signature and Mr. Gavan Duffy’s signature were put to that document. The chairman of the delegation says he has no objection to the notes being circulated. Is there anyone here now who wants to conceal from this Dáil what two of us here say has a most vital bearing on the question? If no one wants to conceal anything, therefore let them be circulated.

ALD. W.T. COSGRAVE: I consider this question of the records of the Cabinet has a much more important bearing on anything we do here than Mr. Barton’s notes. All the honour, integrity and responsibility of the Cabinet is at stake. I am a member of that Cabinet and I would not countenance the records of the Cabinet proceedings as being the secretary’s impressions. It was never my opinion that that interpretation would be put on them. The Cabinet records have been referred to, accepted and never challenged, and I would certainly feel very much in an undignified position and seriously humiliated if I thought it was a mere impression of the secretary or clerk of the Cabinet, if that was the record on which the Cabinet was to depend afterwards. I feel keenly on this matter because I feel the honour, integrity and responsibility of the Cabinet is at stake, and the secretary and officials should be called before the Dáil to give their explanations (Hear, hear).

MR. CATHAL BRUGHA: Do not let us be taken off the issue of Mr. Barton’s notes.

ALD. W.T. COSGRAVE: There is a bigger issue at stake—a much bigger issue. We don’t want to conceal anything. I have no objection to all being circulated.

DR. FERRAN: What exactly are we discussing now?

DR. P. MACCARTAN: We are discussing the question of circulating Mr. Barton’s notes.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: As head of the Cabinet I want to ask the Minister for Local Government this. Would you be ready to take them on [recte as] a definite record of your opinions without looking that book over? Would you be willing to take this as a definite record of your opinions? Would you swear everything in them represented your opinions?

THE SPEAKER: You are out of order.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: I beg your pardon.

ALD. W.T. COSGRAVE: Those minutes do not record the opinions of individual members; they record decisions.

THE SPEAKER: I hope the Government will show a good example to the rest of the assembly in the matter of keeping in order.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: There is an apparent charge being insinuated here that I am running away from something, or that I do not stand by something. I spoke about the Cabinet minutes in the same way exactly as the chairman of the delegation spoke about Mr. Barton’s notes. He did not consider them; he had not gone through them and checked them to see if they were in accord with the opinions he expressed. I cannot speak for the minutes of the secretary of the Cabinet, I did not go through them; I do not know whether they are or are not correct from my point of view; neither does any member of the Cabinet. The secretary had not [recte no] purpose in making them other than what he thought had happened. I have said I did not find the secretary wrong to any substantial extent. I found only one note, and that was from the assistant secretary, and it was incomplete in as much as it did not give the detail that was necessary. I want the Dáil to understand that we did not make a practice of [recte at] Cabinet meetings of reading out the minutes of the previous meetings, getting the assent of the members to everything said and getting them signed as proof and all agreed that they were a true record. They may or may not be true as far as we are concerned; they are the secretary’s opinions—his impressions of what has happened and because he has been a most efficient secretary I have never found out what he had written was wrong. We did not have minutes, as such, signed at each meeting by the Chairman, and therefore binding as being accepted by all the members present. I have only read bits in that book, and not having read it, I cannot—

DR. FERRAN: I submit that the President is out of order.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: I am explaining a thing that is most important to have explained if you are going to have certain documents presented to you. That is the unknown value of these documents. The Minister for Local Government said these were minutes. I say they are not. They are the impressions of one present at a conference—a person who had no reason for putting the result except as it was and putting it to the best of his ability and as he thought it happened.

MR. M. COLLINS: Could not all this be left over until these papers are before the House?

THE SPEAKER: I want to facilitate all of you. These documents will be circulated and I presume the members have sufficient intelligence to arrive at their own conclusions as to their character. A further proposal was made that the committee which has been appointed to look into these documents should take in these documents of Mr. Barton’s along with the rest and examine them. That is the right way to do it (Hear, hear).

MR. SEÁN MILROY: I understand Mr. Barton is to make a statement on this particular subject.

MR. R. BARTON: From the very beginning I had intended to make a statement. I am prepared to make that statement in private or in both.

MISS MARY MACSWINEY: As a member of the committee, I may say we have no desire to keep back anything that any single member concerned requires. It was perfectly true there were a lot of papers we could not possibly have gone through. All we tried to do last night was to take the documents asked for on both sides. We did not know about Mr. Barton’s notes; if we did we would have included them. If the committee were allowed to retire for a few moments, or if you agreed to postpone the matter until after dinner, we could easily settle the matter. The Dáil is entitled to receive every paper. We have no desire to keep any papers secret from the assembly; no matter whose paper it is it ought to come before us. I think the whole question could be decided by the committee retiring for a few minutes, or having the matter postponed until after dinner.

MR. M. STAINES: The point I made was that Mr. Barton’s private notes are not at all on a par with the official records of the Cabinet.

MR. D. CEANNT: I formally propose that Mr. Barton’s notes be presented to the committee and circulated amongst the members. Mr. Barton has given no reasons for not agreeing with the plenipotentiaries. He read a very important document. We had a statement from the chairman of the delegation also admitting here that he promised on last Saturday week before he had left Dublin, that he would not sign this document until it was submitted to the Cabinet. We want to know all; we want to hold back nothing. We are deciding the fate of Ireland for good or evil. We want to know if any of the plenipotentiaries signed the document under protest. We want to know why they disagreed with it.

MR. SEÁN T. O’KELLY: That committee is still in working order, and it has not yet given back its powers to the Dáil and is within its right to get any document it likes. (Agreed).

MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: I want to say one word. I am not going to refer to what Mr. Ceannt said; it is a repetition of what was said here already. I have said Mr. Barton’s notes and any document you like can be handed in, but Mr. Barton’s notes had nothing official to do with the delegation. I did not read them. I read only a portion of them owing to the fact that all the documents sent to Dublin had been agreed upon. Everything has been submitted to the delegation except Mr. Barton’s notes. His record is not to be taken as an official one. That is the only point. I do not want to go back on the other thing about the minutes except to say that for 18 months when the President was in America—at least for 12 months— I promised [recte presided] at every Cabinet meeting held and I considered it my duty to see the secretary’s minute was read, and after the minute was made, I read it to see if it was right.

MR. R.C. BARTON: Just to make clear to you how these notes of mine were written, I will quote to you the circumstances. A letter was written to the Cabinet by Mr. Griffith, referring to the notes, on last Tuesday week. In that he says, “Mr. Barton is making at my request a long memo of events which I shall bring to you to-morrow night”. The sequence of events is not clear in my mind to-day. That is how I came to write the notes.

MR. P. BÉASLAÍ: I want to ask one question. Did the President ever make a practice of looking through the secretary’s records? Does he suggest there is any inaccuracy?

 

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: I did not make a practice of looking through the secretary’s record. We had later a practice of circulating to each Department copies of decisions reached. That had reference to questions where executive action had to be taken on something important. But my statement in reference to those minutes is that not having looked through them, as they were not read or signed, I could not be held as assenting, or having assented at any time to these as a true record.

MR. J.J. WALSH: Is it not a fact that these records were not the records of the secretary but the combined and agreed records of the secretary and his assistant?

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: No.

THE SPEAKER: If any question in regard to them has to arise, there will be a time for it.

 

MR. SEÁN MACENTEE: Proceed with the next business.

THE SPEAKER: The next business is the statement of the plenipotentiaries. If the plenipotentiaries wish to make a statement they are now in order.

MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: We are here, I suppose, to answer any question that may be asked. I have already stated the circumstances. I have stated I signed the Treaty and I intend to stand by it. I do not know if this is the time you mean to start a discussion on the ratification. I do not know what is meant by “statement by plenipotentiaries”

THE SPEAKER: Mr. Barton sent in a request to me yesterday evening about making a statement. It was not dealt with yesterday.

MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: That would arise when we have all the documents in front of us and when the members have read them.

THE SPEAKER: We can pass on to the next item.

MR. D. O’ROURKE: I would like to ask the chairman of the delegation what would have been the result if the Treaty was not signed.

MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: It was the impression of every member of the delegation—they were replying to Ulster that night and it was a question of whether they would break off with us or not, and from their attitude we knew that probably before we got back to Dublin war would have broken out here; not war in the proper sense but somebody was going to be shot on our side, probably someone on their side and the same thing started again. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind the issue there was peace or war.

MR. KEVIN O’HIGGINS: Did Mr. Lloyd George single Mr. Barton out as the left wing of the delegation and did he say, “The man who is against peace may bear now and forever the responsibility for terrible and immediate war”?

MR. R.C. BARTON: I want first of all to say we were eight and a half hours on that Monday in conference with the English representatives and the strain of an eight and a half hours conference and the struggle of it is a pretty severe one. One, when I am asked a question like that, “Was it or was it not?”, I cannot give you an answer. But as regards particular aspects of that question, which I cannot take on oath, I can only give you my impression. It is in my notes that the answer is given, and it is there because it was my impression of that conference. It did appear to me that Mr. Lloyd George spoke to me and I had an impression that he actually mentioned my name; but I could not swear on oath that he mentioned my name, or actually addressed me when he spoke. It appeared to me that he spoke to me. What he did say was that the signature and the recommendation of every member of the delegation was necessary, or war would follow immediately and that the responsibility for that war must rest directly upon those who refused to sign the Treaty (applause).

MR. SEÁN ETCHINGHAM: I wish to refer to the question of the letter of credentials that the delegation got to present to the British Cabinet or delegation. It was not clear whether it was ever presented or not. There was a difference of opinion, and I think it is important. I am given to understand that if they represented the Irish Republic there, they could not, if they had full powers to sign an agreement or treaty, they could not do anything that would in any way break the constitution of the Government they represented. It may seem a trivial matter, but I would like an answer. Did the British Premier, as head of the British body, receive that letter? I thought he had seen it. I do not know the circumstances under which it was offered to him. I am not clear upon the point, and some others are not clear, and they have asked me to make a question. I now ask the chairman of the delegation what happened?

MR. ARTHUR GRIFFITH: We got these credentials from the President. He gave them to us stating if we were asked for credentials to present them. We were not asked for them and therefore we did not present them.

MR. M. COLLINS: It was not a question of presenting them. Mr. Lloyd George did see mine. I was asked if he accepted it. We all know he did not accept an Irish Republic if that is what is meant, and the last letter from Mr. de Valera makes that clear: “We have received your letter of invitation to a conference in London on October 11th with a view to ascertaining how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire may best be reconciled with the Irish national aspirations. Our respective positions have been stated and are understood and we agree that conference, not correspondence, is the most practical and hopeful way to an understanding. We accept the invitation and our delegates will meet you in London on the date mentioned to explore every possibility of settlement by personal discussion.”

MR. AUSTIN STACK: It was stated first of all yesterday that these credentials were presented. That was afterwards [148] altered to the word “shown”. It was subsequently stated they were seen by Mr. Lloyd George. The whole question of the power of the plenipotentiaries depends on the use of their credentials with the enemy Government. This document was either presented and accepted or presented, shown or seen, and rejected. If it was seen and rejected they were no longer plenipotentiaries. It was either presented and accepted, or presented and rejected.

MR. D. MCCARTHY: This is most unfair.

MR. A. STACK: What is unfair?

MR. D. MCCARTHY: It is most unfair, when you had agreed at the Mansion House to give up the idea of the Republic, and now you want to blame—(Cries of “Never”).

COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ: Never.

MR. KEVIN O’HIGGINS: The Cabinet had agreed—

MISS MARY MACSWINEY: The Cabinet should have told the whole Dáil. Anyone who did not answer the challenge must hold his peace to-day. That conference did not imply surrender. It must not be said that we at the Mansion House declared for a compromise. In the name of the dead I defy anyone to show that I voted for the compromise.

THE SPEAKER: Miss MacSwiney said all that yesterday.

MR. D. MCCARTHY: What is the position of the Cabinet to-day? They do not seem to be doing their business. They have been the schoolboys, not us. Here we have the question of the minutes not being signed. Why, you would have better than that done at a district council meeting. Is the Cabinet a majority or a minority rule?

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: If you wish to put the issue to the House you can. The position is this. If I wanted to exercise the constitutional right I have I could have asked for the resignation of the members of the Cabinet who dissented from me. I would have to go before the Dáil with a suggestion for a new Cabinet, and they could remove me if they thought my action was wrong. In order not to intensify the differences of opinion that existed I thought it unwise, when we had no other differences, to take any action. I thought it better to leave the Cabinet as it stands for the moment. If you wish to regularise the matter, so that you will have a regular Government, you may do so.

MR. DAN MCCARTHY: That is not my reason at all for asking the question.

MR. MICHAEL COLLINS: I did not say I offered to resign; I said in face of the circumstances, my resignation should be asked for by the Dáil.

THE SPEAKER: There seems to be an extraordinary notion amongst responsible members of the Government that it is necessary to answer every matter that is raised. That should not be. When they make a point that point must be kept until whoever is speaking has finished. Mr. McCarthy is still in possession unless he has done.

MR. D. MCCARTHY: I am all right.

MR. KEVIN O’HIGGINS: A point has been raised in connection with the credentials. If these credentials hold good, then the plenipotentiaries had no power to sign any proposals other than those indicating a recognition of the Irish Republic. The plenipotentiaries in London were in this extraordinary position that they had not power to sign the proposals which could be recommended to you by a united Cabinet. I do not think any member of the Cabinet questions that it was prepared to recommend to you unanimously a settlement involving the recognition of the King of England as head of the Associated States to which the Free State of Ireland—not the Republic—would be externally associated or attached, and to vote to the King of England an annual sum to his personal revenue. If Mr. Etchingham’s point is sound, then the plenipotentiaries in London were in the false and extraordinary position that they were not able to conclude proposals which would be recommended to you by the President and a united Cabinet.

MR. SEÁN MILROY: It is a waste of [149] time to be travelling over all this ground. President de Valera has stated most emphatically that they acted fully within their rights—the rights given to them by the Dáil. I think it is an extraordinary thing that a responsible member of the assembly would get up and try to impugn the bona fides of the plenipotentiaries. The plenipotentiaries should get the protection of this House from such insinuations (Hear, hear). I think we would be well advised to drop these small, petty problems, this spirit of acrimony and get on to the serious business.

MR. J.J. WALSH: As regards the original document which is causing discussion, is there one document in existance that can be shown as having passed between the representative authorities in Dublin and London which definitely includes the word Republic? Is there one document?

THE SPEAKER: We will take the next matter.

MR. M.P. COLLIVET: I have a question to ask with regard to the exact meaning of portion of the Treaty, and I wish to ask it of the plenipotentiaries. Would it be properly in order now?

THE SPEAKER: There will be the fullest opportunity given, both in public and in private session, for discussing points of the Treaty.

MR. M.P. COLLIVET: What I desired to ask had reference to paragraph 4, which deals with the oath to be taken by members of Parliament of the Irish Free State. The oath includes this, “I will be faithful to His Majesty, King George V, his heirs and successors by law, in virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain and her adherence to, and membership of the group of nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations”. Is that to mean that we promise to be faithful to King George in the dual capacity of King of Great Britain and Ireland, and as head of the group of states forming the British Commonwealth of Nations? What is the meaning?

THE SPEAKER: It is perfectly evident that that question, or any explanation that has to be given on points of that kind, will arise when this assembly begins to get to the business for which it was convoked, which it has not begun to do yet—that is the question of the ratification of the Treaty. I want to remind the members of Dáil Éireann of the object for which the Dáil is in session and that is to decide for or against the ratification of the Treaty. We have not yet got to that point, and apparently the action of a great number of the members, though they do not intend it, is preventing us from getting towards it. Now the next item on the agenda is the President’s proposal for an alternate treaty. The President will make a statement.

MR. SEÁN MILROY: May I ask President de Valera is this document given to An Dáil last evening containing these counter-proposals an agreed statement by the minority in the Cabinet who are opposing the Treaty?

THE SPEAKER: All these questions will come after the President has made his statement.

MR. JOSEPH MCBRIDE: I rise to a point of order. I was fully under the impression that the representatives who went to London were appointed with full powers from the Dáil. They went to London and made a Treaty and they—

THE SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

MR. JOSEPH MCBRIDE: At the present moment you impugn the honour of the delegates and two of them—

MR. SEÁN MACENTEE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the Standing Orders.

THE SPEAKER: Now, Mr. MacEntee. I am in charge of this Assembly, not you. The President will now make his statement.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: Before I speak here, I will deal with a question I was asked about this document.¹ This document is a personal effort on my part to try to get something which will enable [150] us to keep, as we have kept, together. It is not an agreed document, it is a document for you yourselves to consider. It will have no value whatever unless we will be able to get on it substantial agreement. It has been said several times that the Cabinet were in agreement on certain things. Now as minorities and majorities in the Cabinet have been referred to, I want to make it clear that on October 26th the Minister for Local Government, who have [sic] spoken in favour of ratification were [sic] agreed that under no circumstances could we recommend to the Irish people to become the subjects of His Britannic Majesty, or to take an oath of allegiance, or to give any allegiance to him. This is necessary in order that the position may be understood, and it has reference to this document. That is why I introduce it. If it was only because they were presented at the last meeting of the Cabinet with a fait accompli that they have taken their present action, and if they were in agreement that a break off would have been better than an acceptance of the proposals brought over to us on the Saturday, and probably would have held by them were it not for the assurance given which settled all affairs out of the Cabinet. In order to explain the genesis of this document, we have been, from the time we started these negotiations, trying to see a way out— trying to see how a peace could be made which would be consistent with our position and which would be such that some British political [recte politician], partiularly the Prime Minister, might be able to stand by it with his own people. The two things were necessary. There are several differences between this document and that one. The main difference as you will see at once is that this document could be ratified by this Assembly—absolutely ratified—because there is nothing whatever inconsistent with it and the position of the Republic. To say the Republic was given away because the name Free State was brought forward is to say that words were changed. We are not dealing with words now. We are dealing with certain facts. I hold that Ireland as an independent State, and we as the Parliament and Government of that State, had a perfect right, if it wished, to make with the nation at war with it a treaty which would be consistent with its position and a treaty of that kind we tried to draw up. As a result of our Cabinet meeting we sent such a draft treaty with the plenipotentiaries to Britain. That was ratified by the discussions, and you saw the treaty they brought with them. This was something like what would have been the proposals I would have suggested making to the public in the case of a break. If they had broken and had come over, and Mr. Lloyd George had published his terms, I would have proposed we should publish those. I do not know if every member of the Cabinet would have agreed with them. I am taking responsibility for it myself, as my own personal opinion as the best thing to be done. Now you cannot make peace on the Treaty sent to you—you will not have peace in the country. I say at the same time Britain will not make war on you if you present this as an offer to Britain. I would say we wanted a real peace, and this nation, wishing to be at peace with a neighbouring nation, we are willing to make terms binding for ever, “in order that the same may be established for ever by mutual consent of the peoples of Great Britain and Ireland”. That is what will be said of your Treaty; it is something that is to be established for ever by mutual consent of the peoples of the two countries. And it is because I know that the Treaty now recommended would not be accepted by the Irish people as something and [recte that] could be taken by mutual agreement, that I am against it, not that I am against peace. The only way I see out would be that we would try to get a document as close to this, or something like this, as possible, which everyone of us could accept. I will talk about the difficulties in the way and the difficulties of the plenipotentiaries afterwards. This document is to a large extent made from the proposals previously made by the plenipotentiaries. The first of these is,

1. Full text printed in Appendix 17.

“That the legislative, executive and judicial authority of Ireland shall be derived solely from the people of Ireland”.

If you take this new Treaty—if you accept it—the executive authority will be solely derived from Great Britain. The Irish people’s ministers will not be the Irish people’s ministers but his Majesty’s; the army would be taking the oath of allegiance, not to the Irish State as far as I understand it, but will be taking the oath of allegiance to His Majesty. These Irish forces would be taking the oath of allegiance [151] to His Majesty who would be in charge of these forces. You will not have that in No. 1 if it were accepted. It is in fact an act of renunciation on the part of Britain and if they say the Crown is only a shadow why do they want the shadow? Why do they want the shadow, and why should not we have it? Now Number 2 states:

“That for the purposes of common concern, Ireland shall be associated with the states of the British Commonwealth etc.”

That means therefore, you have an association for the purposes of the common concern with the states of the British Commonwealth. Number 4 states:

“That the matters of ‘common concern’ shall include Defence, Peace and War, Political Treaties and all matters now treated as of common concern amongst the States of the British Commonwealth and that in these matters there shall be between Ireland and the States of the British Commonwealth ‘such concerted action founded in consultation as the several Governments may determine’.”

Therefore their material interests are safe. But I would like you to note particularly the end of No. 4—“that there shall be between Ireland and the States of the British Commonwealth such concerted action, etc.” If, for instance, Ireland were associated with the states of the British Commonwealth in the manner in which this document defines Ireland’s state, Ireland can, or her representatives can, dissent from anything being carried by a majority vote.

That is the position she would be in under the Act also. In other words Ireland can as a member, or her representative can, dissent from any decision or to anything carried by a majority vote. Ireland must consent in this case as in the other.

“That in virtue of this association of Ireland with the States of the British Commonwealth citizens of Ireland in any of these States shall not be subject to any disabilities which a citizen of one of the component States of the British Commonwealth would not be subject to, and reciprocally for Citizens of these States in Ireland”.

In other words I am substituting reciprocal citizenship for common citizenship. Common citizenship would make every Irishman a British subject. Reciprocal does not. We want to keep our nationality distinct. We want to provide that Irish citizens are Irish citizens and not British. That would save it.

The next is the question of association. At a certain time during the negotiations we agreed as a Cabinet that we would be ready to accept that, when Ireland was associated with the states of the British Commonwealth, Irishmen would be ready to accept the King of Great Britain as head of the association—not as Commonwealth, because we are not in common. That means, if for instance France, America, Spain and other countries joined together that each of these could if they choose accept the President of France as head of the association and he would be President of France, but he would not be President of America or Spain. He would not be head of these countries but he would be head of the association. Therefore under this arrangement the King of Great Britain would not be our King but he would be head of the association in which we had joined. He would, so to speak, be President of the league of nations which Ireland had joined. The next is that Ireland will defend herself. That is necessary for Irish self-respect so that Ireland was not going to be a member of the association and then sponge on anybody. We are ready as an independent state to do our part in defending our shores, and to bear any expense necessary in our own defence. Now, No. 8. It is obvious that Great Britain at present possesses our ports, and they have the Irish defences in their hands not for Irish purposes but for their own. If Ireland were associated with Britain the defences would be the common concern. As we have not forces of our own in the meantime to take over that defence and do our part in the common protection we would give then the right until we were ready to take over our own defences to defend Ireland. That is a permissive right. That is, that for five years not merely would Ireland provide for her own defence but that she would give an explicit guarantee to repel by force any foreign power or use them for any purpose hostile to the groups of associated states. In other words we would give a guarantee to Britain that we would let no [152] outside nation get possession of our ports as a means of attack upon Britain. That is the statement I made in America that was referred to as the Cuban article of statement. The only thing to which I subscribed is that we were willing to give a definite guarantee that we would not allow any power to Ireland to use the ports in Ireland as a basis of attack.

No. 8. “That for five years, pending the establishment of Irish coastal defence forces, or for such other period as the Governments of the two countries may later agree upon, facilities for the coastal defence of Ireland shall be given to the British Government as follows:

(a) In time of peace such harbour and other facilities as are indicated in the Annex hereto, or such other facilities as may from time to time be agreed upon between the British Government and the Government of Ireland.

(b) In time of war such harbour and other naval facilities as the British Government may reasonably require for the purposes of such defence as aforesaid.”

You note the great difference between that. In the other Treaty you will find that some of these are practically given forever. There is a question of giving them until you are ready to do your own share. The next provides:

“That within five years from the date of exchange of ratifications of this Treaty a conference between the British and Irish Governments shall be held in order to arrange for the handing over of the coastal defence of Ireland to the Irish Government unless some other arrangement for naval defence be agreed by both Governments to be desirable in the common interest of Ireland, Great Britain and the other associated States”.

10. “That in order to co-operate in furthering the principle of international limitation of armaments the Government of Ireland shall not build submarines unless by agreement with Great Britain and other States of the Commonwealth.”

They are afraid of Irish submarines and it was on that Mr. Lloyd George based his Carnarvon speech, that Irishmen with submarines would block the channels, that they would cut Empire communications of Great Britain. We would give them a guarantee that we would not build submarines unless by the common defence arrangements that would be entered into by this. There was agreement that we should do so. Then as to military defence force I thought at the time it was first mentioned we would get some other arrangement but there is a way out of that.

I am ready to stand over that, that we should not maintain a military defence force the establishments whereof would exceed in size such proportions of the military establishments maintained in Great Britain as that which the population of Ireland bears to the population of Great Britain.

The next is:

“That the Governments of Great Britain and of Ireland shall make a convention for the regulation of Civil Communication by air”.

And No. 12 is:

“That the Ports of Great Britain and of Ireland shall be freely open to the ships of each country on payment of the customary port and other dues”.

The next is:

“That Ireland shall assume liability for such share of the present public debt of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the payment of war pensions as existing at this date as may be fair and equitable having regard to any just claims on the part of Ireland by way of set off or counter claim, the amount of such sums being determined in default of agreement, by the arbitration of one or more independent persons being citizens of Ireland or of the British Commonwealth”.

The only difference between that and the other is that instead of assuming a continuous debt there is an attempt to make the settlement an actual fixed sum.

MR. COLLINS: That is not so.

MR. DE VALERA: We can only go by what we have on paper. In order that common words shall have a common [153] meaning I put it in this form—that there should be some actual sum for which Ireland would be responsible, if we were judged liable for any share—that there should be some actual sum for which we would take responsibility. Of course the counter claims are arranged for here.

The next is:

“That the Government of Ireland agrees to pay compensation on terms not less favourable than those proposed by the British Government of Ireland Act 1920 to judges, officials, members of Police Forces and other public servants who are discharged by it or who retire in consequence of the change of government effected in pursuance hereof”.

No. 15 is formed to allay any religious fears that might exist on the part of anybody that we would make laws which would be prejudicial to religion or permit favouritism.

Instead of Provisional Government, in No. 16 we have transitional Government, because there can be no Provisional Government in Ireland until this Republic is disestablished. There is a regular elected Government here and that elected Government until it is disestablished or until it temporarily transfers its powers to other people is a regular Government. This is not a Provisional one and we have passed from the stage of Provisional Government. We have a transitional Government which will secure the same thing, and will not convey the same thing, and will not convey the implication that we had no Government up to this. I put in a rather dangerous thing—members elected for constituencies in Ireland instead of Southern Ireland. This is an Irish treaty. Everybody North and South has a right to be present at any decision which has reference to the Irish nation. Everybody should be summoned to such a meeting. If they do not come that is alright. They certainly have a right to be summoned to anything which would be binding on the whole of Ireland any foreign association. There again is a fait accompli that has to be faced. One objection as to the Ulster point of view to the terms of the Treaty is that there is an explicit recognition of the right on the part of Irishmen to secede from Ireland. The difficulty is not the Ulster question. As far as we are concerned this is a fight between Ireland and England. I want to eliminate the Ulster question out of it. As far as they are concerned we will take the same things as agreed on there. Let us not start to fight with Ulster. Let us accept that, but put in a declaratory phrase which will safeguard our right. I am taking.

“That without recognising the right of any part of Ireland to be excluded from the supreme authority of the National Parliament and Government nevertheless …”

There is no need to read the rest. It is practically the same, with an odd verbal change, with the rest. As far as the Annex is concerned about specific facilities I left them the same for the same reason. Regarding the period of 5 years, I would give the whole of Ireland to Great Britain for 5 years if afterwards we were quite free. No. 2 I changed because there was no period referred to.

“A Convention covering a period of 5 years shall be made between the British and Irish Governments …”

That is for 5 years only—the other is forever. I am presenting this to you with one desire only, that we might be a united country instead of having a great part of this country dissatisfied, I will not say the majority. I still hold as I said yesterday and it can be tested that if it comes to an election the Irish people would ratify that agreement. If it came to a plebiscite they would do it—under duress, under threat of war. You will have under it a tremendous element of dissatisfaction which will poison the new Government from the start. Mr. Griffith or the Minister of Finance would not like to be referred to as His Majesty’s Ministers. You are bound to have recriminations. I never met more loyal colleagues than all those who are with me in the Cabinet. We differ honestly in this matter. I regret more than anything that differences should have occurred on this occasion. But this is a case in which we have to be true to our principles as we conceive them. No matter how good and perfect it was—supposing it was something that could have been easily accepted, there is the difficulty and the danger of a snub. They will say you signed the Treaty and now keep it. It is the final effort to save the situation. They know there is a big division in the country. They would not make a treaty with us at all unless [154] they wanted to have peace. We say to them on these terms you can make peace, genuine lasting peace, and to these terms we will be faithful in our hearts and not with our lips. We offer these to the British people. It will be the same thing as far as association is concerned—the only thing is you want to humiliate us and we will not be humiliated.

MR. MILROY: I asked a question, and I think it is very important that an answer should precede what I have to say. I might bring to the recollection of the House that the question I addressed was— is this document an agreed statement by the minority in the Cabinet who are opposing the Treaty? He answered with his customary preciseness that it is not an agreed statement but merely a personal statement from himself. Now my interventions hitherto in discussions have been interventions to try and procure decorum and good feeling in the discussion. I intervene now for a different purpose. No private member here has yet definitely taken his side with the Treaty. I am not going to go into the Treaty here today, but I am going to let it be known where I stand. I am going to fight ratification for this Treaty as far as I possibly can, but I want to confine myself to-day to a few observations about this document. We have two documents here—the Treaty and the proposals, not of the minority of the Cabinet, but the proposals of Mr. de Valera himself (Cries of “Order” and “the President”).

MR. MILROY: I beg pardon—the proposals of President de Valera. Is Ireland going to go to war for the difference of these two documents?

VOICES: Would England?

MR. MILROY: Yes. I would venture to advise this House very seriously not to gamble on the idea that England does not mean war. I am not saying this as a bogey to intimidate members. Our plenipotentiaries did not commit themselves to what they considered a dishonourable document because they were threatened with war. They knew that the prospect of the menace of war was there if it was not signed, but they did not believe it was a dishonourable document. They believed it an honourable document. If any man here lightly jokes about England not going to war, I say that that man is trifling with serious and grave issues, that will affect not only this generation but many generations to come. England will fight I believe for the difference between these two documents. Are we going to precipitate that conflict? I tell you it is a very serious question. I tell you that war must not and will not be precipitated on account of the difference between these two documents without the will of the Irish people being felt on this matter. Are you going to put these two documents to the country? Let me tell you what you are faced with. You have here in this Treaty a definite practical thing within your grasp. You have in this something which is not a mere suggestion. President de Valera’s document is very good and would be splendid if you could have accepted it. If it were a dictated peace with England you might be able to secure it, but remember these men did not go to London to work miracles or to dictate peace to England. I was surprised yesterday by Deputies, in referring to the plenipotentiaries, saying that they did not believe anything like a settlement would come out of the conference, and one of them said he regarded it as a move to gain time. From these two Deputies we heard a great deal about national honour. We heard a great deal about the sacredness of the undertaking we had given here. Do they mean that Mr. de Valera was putting his signature to a lie when he said, “We have received your letter of invitation to a Conference in London on October 11th with a view to ascertaining how the association of Ireland with the community of Nations known as the British Empire may best be reconciled with Irish national aspirations”.

They went there I take it, not to gain time, but to secure if they could that which President de Valera said was the purpose for which they went there. They went there for the purpose stated, and they have explored every avenue. All these alternative proposals have been put, and they have brought you back, and they have brought you back John Bull’s last word. It is for this Assembly when it comes to consider it to decide whether or not that last word is something which Ireland can accept with honour. If they cannot accept it with honour the only alternative is to reject it. I want to influence your thoughts in this matter. I say that the man who [155] asks the Irish nation to go to war and to plunge the hopes of the nation into distress and chaos on the difference between those two documents—I think that man will stand condemned at the bar of history as having committed one of most gigantic blunders Irish history has known. Now apart from this question I am not at all certain that in many respects the Treaty is not superior to the proposals of President de Valera. Of course, there is the saving clause about associated action in peace or war being decided in consultation with the other states concerned; but remember that is a very dangerous clause, if there was a possibility of it going to be accepted, to suggest off hand that you are going to be involved in every war in which England embarks. It seems to be an unnecessary undertaking under the circumstances. From the point of view of independence you have no real difference here. The head of the British State is recognised as the head of the Community of Nations. Let us be serious and face facts. Do not let us go sideways into the British Empire. If we are going to go in let us go in with our heads erect and not try to get in dodging around a corner when no one is looking. If the alternative to war and disaster is honourable association with the Empire, decide it which way you will but decide it like men. Then another thing that surprised me was the statement that there is a definite explicit undertaking that the Irish nation was not to build submarines without the consent of the British Government. I do not think there is such an explicit undertaking in the Treaty. Even this document itself adopts the very words, “If before the expiration of the said month, an address is presented to His Majesty”.

PRESIDENT DE VALERA: That should be “His Britannic Majesty”. Corrections can be made in your copies. This was done late last night and I had not much time to do it. That was merely a clerical error and I would ask you to make that correction.

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