Dáil Éireann - Volume 13 - 09 December, 1925

DEPUTATION OF NORTHERN NATIONALISTS.

Mr. EVERETT: Before we proceed with the business on the Order Paper, I desire to ask if a request has been received from a deputation from the Northern counties to be heard? If so, what is the decision in regard to that request?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I have received a communication that a deputation would wait upon the Dáil at Leinster House, representing the Nationalists of the Six Counties. In so far as this is a matter for my decision, the only precedent which I can find is this: a request was made by resolution of the Dublin Corporation for permistion to come before the Dáil and present a petition. That question was raised in the House and the Committee on Procedure and Privileges was asked by resolution of the House to take up the question. They reported on 14th February, 1924, against any machinery being set up for the receiving of petitions by the House. That report was adopted by the House on 27th February, 1924. That is the only precedent which refers to the reception by the Dáil of petitions.

[1541] The question of allowing deputations of persons not members of the Dáil has not arisen. For my part, if I am asked to be a guide on the question of procedure, it seems to me to be contrary to all Parliamentary practice to allow persons, not members of the House, to address the House. The matter, however, is one for the House.

Mr. EVERETT: Seeing that the Government have been acting as trustees and that the Northern people have not had an opportunity of having representatives in the House, could not an exception be made in this case? It is a most important matter, and I think it would be no harm to have the views of the Northern people expressed here.

Mr. ESMONDE: Would it be in order for a private member to move, without notice, that this deputation be heard?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: On a question of urgency a motion can be moved, if it is deemed by the Chair to be urgent, and if the consent of the Dáil is given. I would be prepared in this very exceptional case to agree, as far as I am concerned, but I would require the general consent of the House to have the motion moved.

Mr. ESMONDE: Would you require the consent of the House before the motion is formally made?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Yes, before the motion is made.

Captain REDMOND: By what method do you mean to determine the general sense of the House?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Is there any objection to the motion being taken?

Mr. McGILLIGAN: Certainly.

The PRESIDENT: I object.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: In that case the motion cannot be moved without notice.

Mr. BAXTER: Seeing that this is a question in a sense unique, in so far as we are deciding the destinies of people not represented here, whose [1542] views cannot be heard and who, beyond question, are entitled to be heard in this matter, would it be possible for the Dáil to adjourn for an hour so that the deputation could put their views to the members of the House in the Reading Room or elsewhere? Perhaps something could be done so that they could place their views before the Dáil. I say that the situation is unique, and, in justice to those people and to the Deputies who have to make a decision in this matter, I think an opportunity should be given to hear the views of the deputation.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: As a matter of accuracy, I think we ought to be quite clear as to whose destinies we are, or are not, deciding.

Captain REDMOND: In view of the statements made by two Ministers, at least, that deputations have been received by them from both sides of the Border on this Border question, would it be in order to accede to Deputy Baxter's request, that this deputation, which, I understand, represents a large section and a representative section of the North of Ireland—of the concerned portion of the North of Ireland— should be allowed to place their views before the members of the Dáil?

The PRESIDENT: If I am permitted, I would like to make myself perfectly clear. As I understand the situation, two questions arise, one as to whether the Dáil is to receive deputations and to hear views, and the second, whether, in view of the urgency of this question and in view of its effect upon certain people, an objection might not be waived in this particular case. As regards the first question, when the Committee on Procedure and Privileges had the matter of a petition before them they mentioned in one paragraph of their report various reasons which guided them in their decision that permission be not given to present petitions here. In so far as petitions are concerned, I presume if we followed the practice which was regarded by some people as a privilege for the Dublin Corporation, the petition would be laid on the Table.

[1543] If the objection held with regard to a petition being placed on the Table, surely there is a stronger objection to hearing a deputation in the House. An occasion may arise in future in which some of our own citizens, for whom we have a direct responsibility, may have a case if a precedent has been made in respect of those for whom we only act as trustees. Even though at the moment it might seem that there is an objection on the part of the Government to hear a deputation of that sort, that is not the objection; that is not the principal objection. The main objection is that we are sent here as representatives of the people to discharge the business of the nation, to discharge our duties as representatives. We are capable of doing it, being in touch with our own people and being in a position to form our own judgment on these matters without having any views put before us by a deputation.

If I were to go further into the merits of this case, I could say that occasion has already been taken by this deputation to put their views before an assembly of elected representatives of the nation and this is the second innings, if I may say so. I am certainly not in favour of allowing the deputation to address the Dáil.

Mr. A. BYRNE: I wish to give just a short reminder to the President. I was the Deputy who raised the question about the right of the Dublin Corporation to present a petition here under the charter which enabled them to present petitions at Westminster. The Committee that decided the matter refused to allow them to do so and the reason for refusing was, and it was stated here, that the City of Dublin was already represented, and ably represented, by twelve Deputies, and that their case could be put forward by these twelve Deputies if they had the necessary information in their possession. In this case the circumstances are entirely different. The deputation who wish to place their views before the Dáil have no representatives in this House. Under these circumstances, I think that the President ought to waive [1544] the objection to our hearing the deputation.

Mr. ESMONDE: Would I be in order in moving that the House do now adjourn for an hour to hear this deputation?

Mr. BEAMISH: As an amendment, I beg to propose——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The motion is not received. I do not think I could take a motion to adjourn now. The general question as to whether deputations will or will not be received is one which might be considered by the Committee on Procedure, so that the question might be decided for all cases. In default of a general rule or anything to guide us, a decision has now to be taken in this particular case. A decision can only be taken if there is consent for the moving of a motion. There is not consent for the moving of a motion, therefore the motion cannot now be moved, and in so far as the matter has been discussed, it has been somewhat irregular, but the circumstances are exceptional.

Mr. BAXTER: Are we to understand then that the President refuses to agree to an adjournment so that this deputation might meet us somewhere else in order to put its views before us?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I have refused to receive a motion for the adjournment now, less than forty minutes after we have started. I am refusing to receive a motion for the adjournment now.

Mr. BAXTER: If there was agreement, would you, a Chinn Chomhairle, be prepared to accept a motion?

Captain REDMOND: Later.

Mr. A. BYRNE: Would the Ceann Comhairle say at what hour he would be prepared to receive such a motion?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I do not know how often I have said that. I will not answer that kind of question.

A DEPUTY: You said “now.”

[1545] AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I cannot now say what I would do at some later time. Deputies must be clearly aware that that is an impossible question to answer. What I have said is that I will not now accept a motion to adjourn.