Dáil Éireann - Volume 1 - 18 October, 1922

POWERS OF THE ARMY. - ARMY EMERGENCY POWERS.

It is hereby notified that the following resolution was passed by Dáil Eireann on the 28th day of September, 1922, namely:—

(1) WHEREAS the Government has entrusted to the Army the duty of securing the public safety and restoring order throughout the country and has placed on the Army the responsibility for the establishment of the authority of the Government in all parts of the country in which that authority is challenged by force.

(2) AND WHEREAS the Army Council has represented to the Government that in order to discharge effectively the duty and responsibility so placed on them it is essential that the Army Council should have power to set up Military Courts or Committees with full powers of enquiring into charges and inflicting punishments on persons found guilty of acts calculated to interfere with or delay the effective establishment of the authority of the Government, and that the Army Council should have power to authorise the detention in places whether within or without the area of the jurisdiction of the Government of persons in Military custody and power to control the dealing in and possession of fire arms.

(3) AND WHEREAS the Government recognising the force of such representations has sanctioned the doing under [1735] the authority of the Army Council of all or any of the following matters and things.

(a) The setting up of Military Courts or Committees for the enquiring into charges against persons in respect of any of the offences hereinafter mentioned provided however, that every Military Court or Committee shall include as a member thereof at least one person nominated by the Minister of Defence and certified by the Law Officer to be a person of legal knowledge and experience.

(b) The enquiry by such Military Courts or Committees into the cases of persons charged with any of the offences following, that is to say—

(1) Taking part in or aiding or abetting any attack upon or using force against the National Forces.

(2) Looting arson destruction seizure unlawful possession or removal of or damage to any public or private property.

(3) Having possession without proper authority of any bomb or article in the nature of a bomb or any dynamite gelignite or other explosive substance or any revolver rifle gun or other firearm or lethal weapon or any ammunition for such firearm.

(4) The breach of any general order or regulation made by the Army Council

and the infliction by such Military Courts or Committees of the punishment of death or of penal servitude for any period or of imprisonment for any period or of a fine of any amount either with or without imprisonment on any person found guilty by such Court or Committee of any of the offences aforesaid. Provided that no such sentence of death be executed except under the countersignature of two members of the Army Council.

(c) The removal under authority of the Army Council of any person taken prisoner arrested or detained by the National Forces to any place or places whether within or without the area of jurisdiction of the Government and the detention or imprisonment of any such persons in any place or places within or without the area aforesaid.

[1736] (d) The regulation and control of the sale possession transfer of and dealing in revolvers rifles guns and other firearms.

(4) NOW this Dáil being of opinion that the doing by or under the Authority of the Army Council of the several matters aforesaid is a matter of military necessity doth hereby ratify and approve of the sanction given by the Government and of the doing by or under the Authority of the Army Council of all or any of the acts and matters aforesaid. Provided however that as regard such general order or regulation as aforesaid the same shall specify the maximum penalty which may be inflicted for any breach thereof and shall be laid on the table of this Dáil and shall take effect on the expiration of four days thereafter during which this Dáil shall be in session unless this Dáil shall have previously passed a resolution disallowing the same.”

Now from the ordinary wording of these Regulations I suggest, without any further argument, it is perfectly clear that there is only one reference to the general orders or regulations made by the Army Council and that paragraph 3 indicates clear authority for the infliction of any of the punishments mentioned without further ado. In the case of offences under 1, 2, and 3 and that where the last paragraph says “provided how ever that as regards any such general order or regulation as aforesaid the same shall specify the maximum penalty which may be inflicted for any breach thereof and shall be laid on the table of this Dáil and shall take effect on the expiration of four days thereafter, during which this Dáil shall be in Session unless this Dáil shall have previously passed the Resolution disallowing the same.” If that is not perfectly clear I would refer Deputy Gavan Duffy to the Orders of the Day of the 28th September and in these Orders of the Day he will find there is an amendment down under the name of the Uachtaran to add to Clause 3, section b., sub-section 4, the following words, “provided however that as regards such general orders or regulations as aforesaid the same shall be laid upon the table of the Dáil and same shall take effect on the expiration of four sitting days during which the Dáil shall be in Session unless the Dáil shall have previously passed a Resolution disallowing the same.” And that clause was transferred to the end.

[1737] Mr. G. DUFFY: To bear out my point.

General MULCAHY: I do not know why it was, but certainly reading the wording of the resolution cannot have been to bear out your point. In the Order or Proclamation that the Army Council has issued on the matter, there is reference to the regulation made on the 2nd October, 1922. These Regulations were not of a nature that had to be laid before this Dáil in any way, and did not affect the authority under which we were working. These regulations were the general regulations as to the trial of civilians by military courts and are regulations for the guidance of our officers as to the general procedure to be adopted, and for the convening of the courts and the constitution of them, places of assembly, and general regulations concerning the routine of these courts. I recommended to the Deputy when he raised the matter here to-day that he would read the regulations as passed here in the Dáil and I recommend it to him again. And I recommend him to look at the Orders of the Day and also to see that portion of the debates recorded in the Parliamentary Proceedings of Sept. 28th, and to look at some of the remarks there, and to appreciate the implication of them.

Mr. GAVAN DUFFY: I have already done that, and I take it, that the effect of the Minister's speech is that no regulations will ever be laid on the table of this Dáil.

The PRESIDENT: That is a most mischievous observation.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The Deputy made a speech this evening and he takes the opportunity of making another speech now.

The PRESIDENT: And he will take another opportunity when I have finished. I happened to see some of the remarks that I passed, and I am not in the habit of reading my own speeches. I happened to read a particular statement that I made on these regulations, when I put them forward and I wish now to remind the Deputy that I was very much pleased with the wisdom that I showed on that occasion. The change which I refer to was the change which was imposed by this Dáil, and it had reference solely and exclusively to the regulation that would be made by the Army, outside of the three particular items that I specified in my statement. And I left the Dáil under no misapprehension whatever with regard to the implication of these three [1738] things. If the Deputy in his innocence thinks that these statements were not meant by us—that we did not mean business—that is a matter, that as he grows older he will improve on. It is unfortunate that a man of the simple mind of Deputy Gavan Duffy should have made such an extraordinary statement about the meaning of certain words. We were well advised in putting them in. We did it, as we explained, to preserve the lives of our soldiers, to preserve the freedom of Deputies coming here, and to preserve the ordered fabric of society. If any propaganda is to be used against these regulations that we have laid down, and if any ulterior motives exist, except in the minds of Deputies or people outside —that is one of the disadvantages that we have to put up with in this country, from people who have been unable to withstand the shock of war and from people who seek to evade their responsibility and that liability that a representative has got to stand up to in a case like this. We knew well what the implications of these regulations were, we know them now. We know that there is not a single member of the Ministry, that has not a reversionary disadvantage by reason of the responsibility that they put upon themselves and they did it for the security of their own troops, for the security of their own families, and of the families of the nation. It is vital, it is important, and it has this disadvantage for some of us, who have lost some dear members of our families; and this Dáil has lost two of its noblest representatives. And if every Member of this Dáil was to be wiped out and only one Deputy left, he himself would be forced to bring forward the same resolution, and the Army would have to make the same regulations against people who are guilty of crimes. And these people are guilty of the crimes that have been laid down in the regulations. They are crimes—they are crimes against the nation and the law of this country; and if you are to wipe out the whole code, and if you bring in a new code—even a Deputy Gavan Duffy code— there would be the same regulations, and you would have to stand up against them any feelings you have, or sympathy you have for these people notwithstanding.

Motion: “That the Dáil do now adjourn,” put and agreed to.

The Dáil adjourned at 9 p.m. until 3 o'clock on October 19.