Dáil Éireann - Volume 115 - 10 May, 1949

Protest Against Partition—Motion.

[785][786] The Taoiseach: I move:—

Ar mbeith do Dháil Éireann,

Dáil Éireann,

AG ATHDHEARBHU go sola- manta ceart do-chloíte náisiún na hÉireann chun aontachta agus comh- láine na gcríocha náisiúnta,

SOLEMNLY RE-ASSERTING the indefeasible right of the Irish nation to the unity and integrity of the national territory,

AG ATHDHEIMHNIU ceart cean- nasach mhuintir na hÉireann chun cibé cineál Rialtais is rogha leo féin a bhunú agus, trína n-institiúidí daonfhlathacha, chun gach ceist a chinneadh a bhaineas le beartas náisiúnta, gan cur isteach ón taobh amuigh,

RE-AFFIRMING the sovereign right of the people of Ireland to choose its own form of Government and, through its democratic institutions, to decide all questions of national policy, free from outside interference,

Á SHEANADH aon teideal a bheith ag Parlaimint na Breataine chun reachtaíocht a bhainfeadh le comhláine críocha na hÉireann d'achtú contrártha do na cearta sin, agus

REPUDIATING the claim of the British Parliament to enact legislation affecting Ireland's territorial integrity in violation of those rights, and

Á RÁTHU rún daingean a bheith ag muintir na hÉireann leanúint den troid in aghaidh deighilt éagórach mhínádúrtha ár dtíre go dtí go dtugtar an troid sin chun dea- chríche;

PLEDGING the determination of the Irish people to continue the struggle against the unjust and unnatural partition of our country until it is brought to a successful conclusion;

CUIREANN DÁIL ÉIREANN AR TAIFEAD a bhfriotaíocht chóir fheirge i gcoinne reachtaíocht a thabhairt isteach i bParlaimint na Breataine a airbheartaíos an chríoch- dheighilt a rinneadh ar Éirinn a dhaingniú agus a bhuanú, agus

PLACES ON RECORD its indignant protest against the introduction in the British Parliament of legislation purporting to endorse and continue the existing partition of Ireland, and

GAIRMEANN DÁIL ÉIREANN ar Rialtas agus ar mhuintir na Breataine deireadh a chur lena seilbh ar na sé contaethe thoir thuaidh d'ár dtír, agus ar an gcuma sin a thabhairt go bhféadfar aontacht na hÉireann d'aiseag agus deireadh a chur le mí- aighnis na n-aoiseann idir an dá náisiún.

CALLS UPON the British Government and people to end the present occupation of our six north-eastern counties, and thereby enable the unity of Ireland to be restored and the age-long differences between the two nations brought to an end.

One hundred and sixty-nine years ago, Henry Grattan in another Irish Parliament, started his speech on the Declaration of Irish Rights as follows:—

“Sir, I have entreated an attendance on this day, that you might, in the most public manner, deny the claim of the British Parliament to make law for Ireland and with one voice lift up your hand against it.”

One hundred and sixty-nine years after that statement, I ask the representatives of a different Parliament and in different circumstances with one voice to lift up their hands against the claim of the British Parliament to make laws for any part of this country, purporting [787] to annex a part of the ancient and undivided nation of Ireland. We speak to-day—and this resolution is moved— in a different Parliament from that which Henry Grattan addressed.

We are here to-day as the representatives of a free people in a sovereign Irish Parliament, asserting the age-old right of the Irish people to the entire territory of Ireland. We speak with a unified voice on behalf of all the people of Ireland, and this motion, seconded as it will be by the Leader of the Opposition, when it is passed, as I believe it will be passed, with the united voice of this free and sovereign Parliament, will be a solemn affirmation by a united Irish people to resist the claim of an English Government to any part of our country or to legislate for any part of our country and issue as solemn a warning as we can that such action on their part is fraught with difficulties, dangers and trials. It would seem that after a lapse of 169 years of Irish history, the British people and the British Government have learned none of the lessons of that history.

At the time when Grattan objected to the claim of the British Parliament to legislate for Ireland, he was acting on behalf of an ascendancy here in Ireland and addressing a Tory ascendancy Party in England. He protested against the action of that Tory Party in the British House of Commons. Here to-day we find ourselves, the most democratic nation in the world, with the freest Parliament and the freest people, in the independent part of our country, addressing a solemn protest and giving a very severe warning to a Labour Government purporting to represent the plain people and the poor people of Great Britain. It is to a Labour Government that we address a warning and a protest against a Bill which they have introduced in the House of Commons, in which there is a Labour Prime Minister and a Labour Government, purporting to annex permanently portion of our country, to fasten and to clamp down upon our people the wrong of Partition which was initiated 29 years ago by the British Parliament. We protest [788] here to-day I believe, and I hope, with a united voice in this Parliament representing a unified Ireland against the further tightening of the ligature which was fastened round the body of Ireland by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, 29 years ago and which has been pressing upon the body of our nation since that time, preventing the free flow of its life blood, torturing the souls and the minds of the people of Ireland, preventing the full development of Ireland as a sovereign State, hindering the people from giving the deepest spiritual and material help that the Irish people would be able to give if we had a united and free Ireland taking its place amongst the nations of the world.

Because of the seriousness of the position, because of the feelings of deep resentment which are in the hearts of every section of our people, we must speak here to-day calmly and coolly, but nobody must think, least of all the British Labour Government who have shown themselves ignorant of the facts, that sobriety of language or dignity of debate hides any infirmity of purpose, or weakness of determination or slackening of our unified efforts to put an end to this wrong and to take every lawful means that lies within our power as a small nation to thwart the wishes of the so-called democratic Government of Great Britain which introduced this Bill. They have learned nothing in those 169 years; they have not realised the lesson of history, particularly the history of the last 35 years—that many of the disasters and trials and misfortunes that have overcome the British people have been the direct or indirect consequence of their treatment of the Irish people.

Whatever Government there was in this country and before there was a lawful Government in this country, people were fighting to endeavour to persuade the British people that the giving of freedom to a unified Ireland would be the greatest guarantee of the friendship of the Irish people at home and abroad. That has been the policy that we pursued since we came into power and I believe it is the policy that the last Government pursued. Apparently, the British Government, [789] whether it be Tory or Labour, will learn nothing from a friendly or peaceful Ireland, and they will give nothing except to an Ireland that has become a nuisance to itself and to Great Britain. It is a matter which makes one almost despair to think that the people of Great Britain and the Government of Great Britain will not take the trouble to learn the facts or to assess the depths of feeling that exist amongst all sections of the Irish people on this question of Partition. How can you expect the people of Great Britain to understand the facts or realise the difficulties and dangers that lie implicit in this question when the representatives of the people will not take the trouble to learn the facts and to assess the depth of the feelings, and realise the purposeful determination, of the Irish people to put an end to Partition?

I had occasion during the passage of The Republic of Ireland Bill through the Seanad to direct the attention of the House and of the people, and I had hoped the British people, to the inaccuracies of a periodical from which one would expect some responsible thought and some responsible comment. The Economist purports to be a responsible newspaper. What sort of respect can anybody have for a newspaper that printed the stuff which was printed by The Economist against which I protested and which I exposed in the course of a debate in the Seanad? When you find this comment on what is called in The Economist of the 7th May, “John Bull's Other Ireland”, what are you to think of the responsibility of that newspaper or how are you to hope that ordinary decent English people will ever learn the true facts about this country? This is its enlightened commentary:—

“Perhaps the most completely Irish aspect of the situation is that one cause of the Easter Rising of 1916 was the application of conscription to Ireland.”

It was a year and a half at least afterwards and, so far as I know, the application of conscription to Ireland had nothing whatever to do with the Rising of 1916. That is the foundation of the [790] comment of this enlightened newspaper.

Again we find that another newspaper which has ever been antagonistic to the cause of Irish freedom, The Tablet, in the issue of the 7th May, charges Ireland with thinking atavistically and not as builders of the 20th century world order. It suggests that its leaders are full of romantic nationalism because they seek an undivided country and that they seek it only because it is necessary for them to pretend to do so in order to get the support of the electorate for their holding of political power. That periodical purports to be the expression of Catholic opinion in Great Britain. It is an insult to Catholic opinion and to the opinion of this country that a comment of that kind can be made. The indignation of it is still further underlined and emphasised when it is revealed that some weeks ago there appeared in that periodical articles attacking Irish Ministers and publishing the vilest slanders about them. The editors refused to publish letters in reply to those articles and slanders, and they refused to allow an article to be written answering those particular articles because they said it was the policy of the newspaper, apparently, to print only what it believed in itself. That is the sort of thing that makes one despair of ever getting our point of view over to the decent people of Great Britain.

I said here last week that I believed there was a growing volume of opinion in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain favourable to the justice of our claim to end Partition. I still believe it and it is to that growing volume of decent opinion that we must direct our efforts. I believe that all our speeches, on both sides of this House, have been so framed as not to antagonise that volume of growing public opinion in favour of the ending of Partition. However, how is that public to be educated when the Government of Great Britain is completely ignorant and has failed to realise the depth of feeling which its action has aroused in this country?

The Times of to-day publishes this [791] extraordinary statement with which I propose to deal in the course of a few moments. The Times is a responsible newspaper and not, on the whole, unfriendly to this country. This is what it says:—

“The assurance to Northern Ireland was first given by Mr. Attlee in the House of Commons on October 28th, 1948, after the conversations of Commonwealth Prime Ministers at Chequers with Ministers from Éire. It was repeated in the House by the Prime Minister on November 25th, when he announced the Government's decision that a republican Éire outside the Commonwealth would not be regarded as a foreign country, or its citizens as foreigners.

On neither occasion, so far as is known, was any protest then made from Dublin about the assurance given to Northern Ireland.”

Nothing could be further from the facts than that statement. At every opportunity protests were made; on every occasion when there was ground for suspicion, when rumour was rife that something was about to be done or might be done by the British Government antagonistic to the Irish claims for the unity of Ireland, protests were made. I propose to give them in detail to the House in a few moments.

Let me analyse for Deputies what is really being done by this Bill which was introduced this day week into the British House of Commons by a British Labour Government. We have had contact with members of the Government over the last 12 or 15 months. We gave every manifestation of a desire for friendly relations with Great Britain. We built up and consolidated our friendship with the great Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I believe we still have that friendship in spite of this Bill introduced into the British House of Commons by a Labour Government. From my knowledge of the British Prime Minister and some—I specifically state some—of the British Ministers, I acquit the British Prime Minister and some of his colleagues, but not all of [792] them, of vindictiveness in the introduction of this Bill. While I acquit them of vindictiveness I charge them all with something which, in my opinion, is far more grievous than mere vindictive action based on bigotry and ignorance. They are guilty of stupidity. They are guilty of political cowardice and they are guilty of using this country as a pawn in their political Party game in order to try and snatch for themselves in the election which is in the offing some sort of advantage against their Tory opponents. They are afraid that if they gave this measure of justice to this country the fiery cross would be raised in England by the gentleman who is referred to in the newspaper interviews as the “hereditary squire of Colebrooke”, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

“The squire of Colebrooke” in an interview with the News Review of the 21st April of this year stated that,

“if Britain yields to American pressure over Partition and lets me down I will become the greatest rebel in Ireland.”

It is for that man, the greatest rebel in Ireland, for those people who organised an armed rebellion against an Act which contained an oath of allegiance to the British Crown, and which gave the merest scintilla of power to an Irish Parliament, that the British Government is using this country as a pawn in their political Party game. That is an even greater charge than vindictiveness.

This Bill was introduced this day week and the relevant portion of its Long Title contains this very significant sentence:—

“It is a Bill to declare and affirm the constitutional position and the territorial integrity of Northern Ireland.”

I want to underline the words “territorial integrity” of Northern Ireland, because, whether the British Labour Ministers or the Government knew it or not, I believe that the introduction of those two words in that Long Title to that Bill had a sinister motive. There is a very familiar ring about those two words “territorial integrity” [793] as our claim to Northern Ireland is called. The words were found in the Covenant of the League of Nations and it was because of the fact that the United States were, or thought they were when they joined the League of Nations, obliged to guarantee the territorial integrity of certain of the European countries which became States members of that league that the United States refused to join that league. That phrase “territorial integrity” occurs in Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed some short time ago by various international States. Article 4 provides:—

“that the Parties would consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties are threatened.”

Is it a mere accident that the words “territorial integrity” which, in effect, are guaranteed by the signatories of the Atlantic Pact, should find their way into the Long Title of this Bill? Is there not something sinister in the plan which used those words, in as we charge and believe it an endeavour to secure that those nations which have signed, or which will sign hereafter, this North Atlantic Pact will be forced by their signatures, directly or indirectly, to guarantee this so-called integrity of Northern Ireland? In Section 1 of the Bill, Parliament declares:—

“that Northern Ireland remains part of His Majesty's Dominions and of the United Kingdom and affirms that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of His Majesty's Dominions.”

Those are the words selected by a British Labour Party to secure that hundreds of thousands of Irish men and women who were coerced into the North by an Act of the British Parliament passed in 1920 will never be able to get out of the clutches of the “squire of Colebrooke”, and the particular representatives of the privileged class who are being brought under the protection of a Labour Government and Parliament. Parliament is asked [794] to affirm that, in no event, will Northern Ireland or any part of it cease to be unless the Northern Parliament agrees. Even the British people are prevented, if they wish to undo a wrong, or to pay a small instalment of justice, in giving back the territories of Tyrone, Fermanagh, Derry, South Armagh and South Down, where there is a clear majority of the people against being brought in, or of remaining in, under the North-Eastern Parliament. The British people, according to this Bill, cannot give that instalment of justice, because this Bill proposes to give a veto to those people by the creation, and only by the creation of this artificial entity created by the British Act of Parliament of 1920—an entity that has no economic significance except what it got from that Act of 1920. It has no historical significance. That is the purpose apparently of a Bill to affirm that, in no event will justice be done to people who were coerced into that area—who were brought into it and kept in it against their will.

It is, perhaps, relevant to ask what is the purpose behind this Bill. Every law student learns, and nearly every layman knows, that any Act of the British Parliament can be repealed by another Act of the same Parliament. There is no such thing in British constitutional law as an unconstitutional statute. Is this just hypocrisy? Is it done to keep the “squire of Colebrooke” quiet? If so, then it is dangerous hypocrisy to play with the feelings and deep resentment of the Irish people.

It is reported in the Press of this morning that Mr. Attlee addressed a meeting on the subject of democracy. Every word that he said at that meeting could be applied to the situation that exists in Ireland. Apparently, democratic principles are all right while they are being talked about, but they are all wrong when we ask to have them applied in relation to Ireland.

The fundamental democratic principle on which all democracy rests is the right of the majority of the people of a State or nation to determine its own destiny. That is all this country asks for, but the people who give lip service to democratic principles apparently [795] will not put them into practice in the case of Ireland. Northern Ireland was the creation of a British Act of Parliament. It was created by the Act of 1920. It is relevant to ask, what is wrong with the Act of 1920, even according to British theory? Is there some infirmity in it, and what is the necessity for this Bill? That was an Act that could be repealed the next day. What is wrong with the Government of Ireland Act of 1920? That is the first question that would enter the mind of anybody when he heard of this Bill, which proposes to affirm that, in no event, would the constitutional position of Northern Ireland be changed except with the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.

The British Labour Government have gone very much further than the Government under the late unlamented Lloyd George did under the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. That Act specifically reserved the paramount right of the Imperial Parliament, as it was then known, to make laws for Northern Ireland. This Bill would seem, on the face of it, to try and take away that paramount right from the Imperial Parliament to pass laws for the subordinate Legislature of Northern Ireland: that, in no event, without the consent of the subordinate Parliament, would an Act that the British Parliament had passed be repealed.

It is revealing to compare the wording of this Bill and the wording of the Statute of Westminster which was, in effect, a renunciation by the Imperial Parliament of its power to legislate for the Dominions as they were then known—the British Commonwealth of Nations. Why is there the necessity to make the strong affirmation that is contained in this measure? The Act of 1920, at least, paid lip service to the desires and the designs for the unity of Ireland because it made some sort of provision, however inadequate, some provision, however infirm it was, by putting, what was called on the face of the statute the eventual establishment of a Parliament for the whole of Ireland, and bringing about harmonious action between the Parliaments of Southern and Northern Ireland, [796] and the promotion of mutual intercourse in relation to matters affecting the whole of Ireland.

We have gone a long way from the Government of Lloyd George in 1920 to the Labour Government of 1949, and instead of those pious aspirations appearing in this Bill there is the affirmation that the British Legislature itself cannot, without the consent of a subordinate Parliament, even do an instalment of justice to the nationalists in Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry, South Down and South Armagh who are coerced and must remain coerced within the jurisdiction of an alien Parliament.

I would like to deal with this suggestion that no protest was made against all these intentions of the British Government. When we first came in contact officially with the British Labour Ministers last June, when we had the trade talks which ultimately ended in the making of a trade agreement between this country and Great Britain—the talks during that time were, of course, entirely confined to matters affecting trade, industry and commerce — every opportunity was taken by the members of this Government who attended during the trade talks to bring before, and discuss informally, the question of Partition and the necessity of bringing about an end to this cause of trouble between our two countries. Our aims and our purposes were made known officially to them. They were made informally by myself at conversations off the record with the British Prime Minister. We made our position perfectly clear to several of those Ministers who visited Ireland during the course of last summer and autumn. Hospitality and courtesy, of course, bade us to respect their privacy as well as the fact that they were on holiday. Where any of them were willing, discussions did take place informally and off the record to press upon them the urgency of dealing with this problem of Partition, and the urgency for it in the interests of better relations between this country and the preservation of world peace.

The next matter of importance that perhaps I should refer to was the meeting of Commonwealth Governments [797] which was held in London on the 11th October, 1948. When that meeting was first projected, informal soundings, if I may say so, were made as to whether this country would be represented at the meetings of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers which was then projected if an invitation was issued. It was intimated that while at that time Ireland was not a member of the Commonwealth they would be prepared to be represented at the meeting, but that if they were represented that they would wish to raise the question of Partition for discussion between the Premiers attending the meetings. We were not represented at that meeting.

Then came the discussions, in October and November, between the British Government and representatives of the Irish Government at Chequers and Paris. On the occasion of the first meeting between Irish Ministers and British Ministers at Chequers, on 17th October, and also on the occasion of their meeting at Paris on 16th and 17th November, the question of Partition was raised by Irish Ministers. Some of the Commonwealth representatives who were present were disposed to agree that it would be rather good if the problem of Partition were raised and discussed, but it was ruled out of order as not being within the scope of the topics for discussion at that time.

What is to be remembered and emphasised in connection with those two conferences, the result of which was the ultimate passing of The Republic of Ireland Bill, is that at neither of these conferences was there any suggestion of any kind although the consequences which might ensue from the passage of The Republic of Ireland Bill were the subject matter of discussion, from the British side that The Republic of Ireland Act would necessitate legislation on their part in relation to Partition, nor was there any willingness to invite the Commonwealth representatives to consider the consequences of The Republic of Ireland Act in its relation to the Partition question. But, as I have said, when the question of Partition was raised by Irish Ministers, the object and ultimate achievement of British Ministers was to have it ruled out of [798] order as not being within the scope of the discussion. One would have thought that at that time, when they were discussing the consequences that might ensue from the passage of The Republic of Ireland Bill, if it was thought that the passage of the Bill would necessitate the almost formal application of the Imperial Parliament of its right to legislate for a subordinate Legislature and without the consent of that Legislature, it would be a matter which would be discussed between the Commonwealth Premiers and the British representatives; but no such discussion was allowed to take place.

On 6th and 7th January of this year, expert officials representing this country had a meeting in London with expert officials of the British Government to discuss technical matters arising out of the coming into operation of The Republic of Ireland Act. At no time during these discussions between the experts was there the slightest suggestion that the passage of The Republic of Ireland Act necessitated any such provisions as now appear in this Bill which was introduced in the House of Commons a week ago. On 6th January this year, at a time when these officials were in London, a meeting took place between Sir Basil Brooke and some British Ministers, and a communique was issued after the meeting which stated that Mr. Attlee had repeated to Sir Basil Brooke the assurance he gave in the House of Commons on October 28th and November 25th, that no change shall be made in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without Northern Ireland's free agreement. The communique went on to say that, in the light of that assurance, Ministers discussed the measures that might require legislation by the Parliament at Westminster in order to maintain the constitutional position of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

On the following day, the Irish Government addressed an official aidemémoire to the British Government, stating—I can only summarise it; these documents have not yet been published —that it was deeply concerned at the nature and implications of the communique [799] to which I have just referred and that it trusted that nothing would be done by legislation or otherwise which could in any way be construed as prolonging or strengthening the undemocratic anomaly whereby our country has been partitioned against the will of the overwhelming majority of the Irish people. The aide-mémoire recalled that, in an area approximating four of the six north-eastern counties, a majority of the people desired union with the rest of Ireland, and expressed the hope that the British Government would do nothing to encourage or sanction further denials of elementary democratic rights in the Six County area. Copies of the aide-mémoire were communicated, I may say in passing, informally to representatives of the other Commonwealth States, so that they might be fully apprised and aware of our apprehensions in the matter.

On 10th January, our representative in London, Mr. Dulanty, saw Mr. Noel Baker, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, concerning that aide-mémoire to which I have referred. Mr. Noel Baker said that at the conversations with Sir Basil Brooke there had been discussions on a number of subjects, and details were now being worked out by the officials on both sides. It was too early to say what would be the outcome of these discussions. He said that the communique seemed to him rather harmless and was studiously vague as to whether any decision had been taken to give a legislative guarantee to the Six Counties. Our representative again saw Mr. Noel Baker on 17th January, following some article which had appeared in a British Sunday newspaper. Mr. Noel Baker told our representative that Sir Basil Brooke was coming to London again and that, as he had told Mr. Dulanty before, questions were being examined by officials and, so far, finality had not been reached. On 5th February this year, Mr. Dulanty called again, but this time on the British Foreign Secretary, and gave him a copy of the Irish Government's aide-mémoire to the United States concerning Irish participation on the North Atlantic Pact. [800] On that occasion, Mr. Noel Baker was present with Mr. Bevin. The substance of the aide-mémoire which was presented to the United States Government and a copy of which was given to Mr. Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary, can be found in the reply given by the Minister for External Affairs, Mr. MacBride, in this House on 23rd February of this year, Volume 114 (3), columns 323 to 326.

May I just summarise very shortly what was in that aide-mémoire as I cannot give its contents in detail? It pointed out that Irish participation in the North Atlantic Pact was prevented by Partition; it outlined our arguments against Partition; showed how the undemocratic practices of the Six-County Government made it difficult for the Irish Government to maintain confidence in the possibility of solving Partition by democratic means; emphasised the desire of the Irish Government to develop better relations with Britain and urged that the solution of Partition would not merely end any undemocratic and dangerous situation, but would also make a vital contribution towards the internal strength and cohesion of the North Atlantic area, and that was a matter which should receive the active consideration of all the Governments interested in the proposed Atlantic Pact.

The aide-mémoire left no room for any reasonable doubt that, but for Partition, the Irish Government would be prepared to recommend to the Dáil, and through the Dáil to the people, to participate in the pact. Neither Mr. Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, nor Mr. Noel Baker, the Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, gave any indication at that interview that, far from responding to our expressed desire to seek a solution of Partition in connection with the Atlantic Pact, the British Government was actually contemplating legislation to confirm and continue it.

The Minister for External Affairs, Mr. MacBride, was in London at the end of February. He called upon Mr. Noel Baker and discussed with him the problem of Partition again from many angles, and again Mr. Noel Baker gave no indication of the purposes which the British Government had in mind at that [801] time, apparently. Repeatedly our representative in London made inquiries with a view to eliciting whether anything was being done or was in contemplation which would affect our vital interests in the matter of the Partition of our country.

As recently as the 26th April, when a report appeared in a Dublin newspaper that a Bill dealing with the Northern position and giving the Northern Government a guarantee was to be introduced by the British Parliament within a few days, he communicated with the Commonwealth Relations Office and inquired whether the text of the Bill could now be supplied to him. He was informed that the newspaper report was not correct and that the text of the Bill was not yet available.

On 2nd May at 4.30 in the afternoon, the afternoon of the day before the Bill was read for the first time in the British House of Commons, the representative in Dublin of the British Government called at the Department of External Affairs and left a note giving a summary of the principal provisions of the Bill, with a warning that it was confidential and its contents could not be disclosed until after the Bill had been introduced in the British House of Commons.

Deputies will recall that on that particular afternoon Ministers of this Government were in Cork at the funeral of the late Minister for Local Government. I saw this document at 1.30 on the following day and the Bill was introduced in the British House of Commons at 3 o'clock. That document was the first admission or intimation from the British Government that the Bill would contain a provision affirming and guaranteeing the position of the Six Counties. It was not until the following evening that the text of the Bill was made available in London. We did not see it until it appeared in the newspaper reports the next day.

Is it any wonder, now that we know the provisions of the Bill, that the British Ministers and officials were ashamed to show it to us, were afraid, if I may say so, that we would raise such a protest and such a storm before [802] it was brought into the House of Commons that it would never get into the House of Commons? The object was, apparently, to get it into the House of Commons so that it would be too late for the protest and too late for examination to affect their prestige.

On the 7th of this month we again served a very formal and emphatic protest on the British Government. I should have said that we got no reply —I think I did state it—to our aidemémoire on the 7th January. On the 7th May we served a very solemn and emphatic protest on the British Government, giving in detail our arguments and our points of view, registering the emphatic and solemn protest of the Irish Government and people against the re-enactment by the British Parliament of legislation purporting to confirm the unjust Partition of Ireland, and conveying to the British Government the deep resentment which this step had evoked amongst the Irish people at home and throughout the world.

During the last week, a few days before this protest was made, Mr. MacBride, the Minister for External Affairs, was in London on business connected with the Council of Europe. Having heard rumours of this proposed action of the British Parliament, and it having been intimated to him that this document was served on his Department in his absence, he called upon the British Prime Minister and had a talk with him for three hours and he also called on the Foreign Secretary, in whose presence again was Mr. Noel Baker. Those British Ministers were left with no illusion as to the attitude of the Irish Government and as to the deep resentment of the Irish people against their action, and the most solemn warnings were conveyed to those Ministers of the dangerous fires they were about to light in this country; they were told that they were about to light the embers of the dying hatred between the two peoples and if they continued in this project they themselves would have to bear the responsibility for the consequences.

How can The Times or any other newspaper, in the face of that narrative, say we did not follow every single [803] step and watch every single move and at every stage made protest and issued solemn warnings? Now we are faced with a fait accompli. The Labour Government can talk democracy everywhere in the world except in its application to Ireland, because it is afraid of the Tory campaign against it at the next general election. It introduced a Bill which, I venture to say, has no precedent on the Statute roll of the British Parliament, purporting to cripple the British Legislature itself with reference to passing legislation dealing with this subordinate Parliament of a small artificially created area, an area created by a previous Act of Parliament, confirming that in no event will that be changed unless with the consent of the Parliament of that artificially created area, which was created for the express purpose of enabling a particular majority always to be in power in that Parliament.

That area was created by an Act of the British Parliament. That fact cannot be too often repeated. We know it and the Irish people and every schoolboy and every schoolgirl in Ireland knows it, but British Ministers do not know it. I had to tell one of them last June that Partition was created by the Act of 1920. He refused to take my word for it; he said he would have to have it verified. Partition was created by an Act of the British Parliament and it is now being confirmed unnecessarily and gratuitously and in a challenging way by another Act of the British Parliament.

That area was created by a British Act for British purposes and it was created with the express design and object that in that area that was carefully carved out and delineated on the map of Ireland there should always be a Tory majority. Tyrone and Fermanagh, with its Catholic overwhelming majority against that, were brought into that Parliament, coerced into that Parliament. Leaving aside Derry City, South Armagh and the other areas where there are pockets of nationalist majorities, those two areas were coerced into this Parliament by an Act of the British Parliament. They are [804] being maintained there by the coercion of British guns and British force.

If that instalment of justice was given to us, if the democracy of which the British Prime Minister spoke so glibly yesterday were allowed to have its practical application here, in accordance with democratic principles, at least, those two areas should be given back to us and, if they were given back to us, that Northern Parliament would not last a week. It is in order to bolster up that economic artificial entity that this Bill is being brought into the British Parliament. Grattan in the speech I referred to at the opening of my remarks said at that time the claim of the British Parliament to legislate for this country was based on force and, quoting Swift, he said that force was the right of the grenadier to take the property of a naked man. That is the claim on which this Bill is rested —the right of a grenadier to take the property of a naked man. That is the right on which a British Labour Government represents its claim to legislate for Ireland.

We do not care about the claim of the British Parliament to legislate for this country. That is not the fundamental objection that we have. Our essential objection is that part of our country has been taken from us and is being annexed by this Bill which purports to annex it permanently, even against the wishes of the representatives of Great Britain in the British Parliament, until an artificially created Tory majority in an artificially created area graciously gives its consent. That is the right of the grenadier to take the property of a naked man.

We have to face that situation now. We have to deal with facts as we find them. We must deal with them in a disciplined, orderly and calm manner. By the passing of this resolution, the British Government will know, and the people of Great Britain will realise, that there exists in this country at the present time a deeper resentment at the action of the British Labour Government than has ever existed in the history of the relations between Ireland and England. But, we have now a Parliament representative of a sovereign independent nation entitled [805] to audience in the councils of the nations of the earth. We have behind us what we hardly ever had before, a united country and a united people resolutely determined to do everything that lies within their power to put an end to this wrong. We speak here to-day with a unified voice. We pass this resolution in this House unanimously, as I hope and believe it will be passed, thereby giving evidence to the British people and the British Parliament and the British Government of our utter detestation of their acts and of our firm, determined and unified resolve to take every means in our power, available to a small nation, to thwart their efforts. We have at our disposal, as a small nation, not many resources. We are not able to put this international disputation to the arbitrament of arms. Even if we were, we might still remember the advice of His Holiness the Pope, last year, in his Christmas message, to pause before resort to force was had because of the terrible consequences of war. We ruled that out.

I have stated here in this House that we wanted to get the unity of Ireland on a basis of friendliness with the North and with Great Britain. We offered them that and they can reject it if they like. Every instinct of our national spirit and soul, every desire and aspiration that we have urges and impels us to take our part in the maintenance of peace and in the effort that is being made to maintain peace in the western world. We have been deprived of our rights to do that, of our desire, and our keen desire, to play our part in international affairs and the maintenance of world peace.

I spoke earlier this afternoon of the retribution that has fallen on Great Britain by her misfortunes and trials and miseries, in the last 35 years particularly, as a consequence of her treatment of Ireland. We were prepared to be on friendly terms with Great Britain, to be on friendly terms with the people of the North and to give them justice and a fair deal, and more than a fair deal. We were prepared to do our part in the maintenance of world peace and in the effort [806] that is being made to keep away the rising flood of secularism and atheism that is spreading over the Continent of Europe. The retribution that followed upon the treatment of this country by Great Britain has this consequence for her and for us it has this strength, that we have built a spiritual empire out of our misfortunes and miseries of the last 100 years, that we have at least 40,000,000 of our race scattered throughout the length and breadth of the world. Those people of our far-flung spiritual empire could be a great force, united behind this small nation, for world peace. We could give our contribution in the councils of the world to taking away that distrust and suspicion that exists amongst so many people in reference to Great Britain. She has very few friends and we were prepared to be her friend. We could have done our part, if we had got justice in relation to the ending of Partition, in bringing about better relations between Great Britain and the United States and other countries on the Continent of Europe. We could have got behind us our people throughout the world. Look at what that would have meant for world peace.

Here we have an island in the middle of the Atlantic, strategically essential for the defence of Western Europe. It is no good for anybody to say that the six north-eastern counties are useful in the event of another war. I believe and assert that, strategically, those six north-eastern counties are not worth a farthing in modern defence. We were prepared, in the interests of world peace, to join the North American Pact on the basis that America had joined it. We made that perfectly clear. We have not had the opportunity. Those advantages are still open. It will not be our fault if we cannot give our contribution to the spiritual and defensive effort that is being made to re-create European civilisation. Are we to be left with the alternative? If we are, then we shall face it. We can marshal the terrific energies of our people in the North American Continent. We can direct the unified effort of our people here in Ireland and in Great Britain and we [807] can urge that terrific force behind our efforts to end Partition. We no longer need play the role of the wounded Samson pulling down the pillars of the edifice upon himself and upon his persecutors. We can hit the British Government in their prestige and in their pride and in their pocket. (Applause.)

Every effort we can make we shall make it, if they present us with that horrible alternative. That is the choice that lies before the British Labour Government and the British people or a friendly Ireland with millions of her people abroad ready to help Britain in the cause for which she alleges she stands and which we doubt. We are ready as a people to help her to forget the past. We are ready to give that spiritual contribution which as a Catholic country and as the freest democracy in the world we can give. We have not very many weapons. But I believe those forces to which I have referred are far more potent weapons in modern circumstances. No longer can Great Britain raise here head among the democratic nations of the earth and talk democracy and democratic principles if she fails to apply them to her nearest neighbour—a neighbour who holds out the hand of friendship both to the North and to Great Britain. That hypocrisy will be exposed through our representatives in the Council of the Nations. Every step she takes will be watched and exposed. Every opportunity that presents itself we shall take in order to ensure that justice shall be done to us. That is the alternative before us. I believe that will be the policy and the plan of a united people. We are completely united in this. No Party is endeavouring to get for itself, notwithstanding The Tablet, any particular Party advantage. The Irish people feel this. They feel it deeply. The sooner the British Labour Government realises and assesses the depth of that feeling and what is behind it, the better it will be for world peace.

Possibly I will be jibed at and laughed at by atheists and materialists if I make one last observation on what I believe to be the greatest weapon [808] and the strongest force within our power. Our nation is essentially a missionary nation. Our sons and daughters have gone abroad as missionary priests, brothers and sisters throughout the entire world. They are to be found in the far-flung corners of the earth. All our people throughout the world are united now in their effort to end Partition and there goes up—and this is where I risk the jibe of the materialist and the atheist— through every hour and minute of every day throughout the habitable globe, a prayer that this country will be enabled, in God's good time, to see an ending of that injustice perpetrated upon this country by the British people. (Applause.)

Mr. de Valera: I think most Deputies in the House have seen that when I first heard of this proposal and the rumour that a Bill would be introduced in the British Parliament purporting to confirm the Partition of our country I took the earliest opportunity to warn everybody concerned that the introduction of such a Bill would sow anew the seeds of enmity between the two peoples. I was amazed when I heard the rumour. I was more amazed when I found that it was based on substance. As I said then, I could not understand how something so unnecessary as to seem gratuitous and even wanton could be introduced at this time.

The Taoiseach has told us to-day that from the first moment he saw the communique he referred to, our Government has been active in bringing to the attention of the British Government the consequences that would flow from the introduction of this measure. He has told us—and I thought myself beforehand that this must be the case —that it would not be possible for a measure of this sort to be introduced without the strongest representations being made from the Government here. I felt that it was equally certain that the representatives of the British Government here could hardly have failed to apprise their own Government of the feelings that would be aroused in this country if such a measure were introduced. I can see no reason for [809] the measure. As the Taoiseach has said, it did not seem to be in any way necessary. To me it does not even seem to be effective on the supposition that at a later stage the majority of a British Parliament, with the majority of the British people, should desire to abrogate it. What then could be its purpose? It seems to me it can only have been designed by somebody who deliberately wished to give our people “a slap in the face”. Why should that have been done? How can anybody imagine people in responsible positions acting like that? Was it due to resentment because the people of this country decided through their elected representatives and by a majority that the form of government they wanted to preserve—and, in my opinion, that is all that was in it—was the republican form of government; and that they wanted that fact to be generally known and recognised. I myself had declared the position in 1945. If it was desired, as the majority of the representatives here seemed to think that it was desired, that there should be formal expression given to that fact—in my opinion an existing fact—why should that engender resentment on the part of any British Ministers?

Surely it is the right of our people to choose for themselves their own form of government, whatever that may be, and to choose, in a democratic way, also the relationships which it wishes to have with other nations. We have laid that down as fundamental during the whole of the time in which the Irish people, in the present generation anyhow, have been struggling for independence. We have laid it down, as a fundamental right, the claim of our people, to choose their own form of government and to choose whether they will have certain relationships with other people or not. The people of this country know that they are entitled to claim as the national territory the whole of Ireland and not a part of it. We have never surrendered that claim. Why should the British Parliament at this time, in the wanton way it is being done, try to assert a claim which they know will be resisted always as long [810] as this nation exists? As I have said, the whole thing seemed almost incredible to me. It seemed to me as if a malignant spirit were at work attempting to discover by what means it could best arouse old animosities. A more effective way could hardly be devised. I am amazed at it, but the fact is there.

I have been hoping, though I must say with not a great deal of feeling that my hope will ever be realised, that even at this last moment this thing would not be done. I can say that at no time did the Fianna Fáil Government—we were in office for a long time including a very critical period in the world's history—fail to do what apparently the present Government has been doing, namely, on every single occasion on which we met British Ministers, to point out to them that the basis of good relations between our two countries was the unity of our country. The Taoiseach found that some of these Ministers did not know the facts. I can say I had the same experience in my time, that some of them did not know the facts. That is not surprising in one way, when you remember that from the time Mr. Lloyd George brought the Partition Bill before the British House of Commons, it has been the constant aim of British propaganda to misrepresent the situation and those who were not brought directly into contact with the problem had not the ordinary way of learning the facts. One would imagine, I will admit, that a Minister of State should know them but I can assure the House that my experience has been the same as the Taoiseach's experience—that I did meet in my time British Ministers who clearly did not know the facts or else wanted to pretend to me they did not know the facts.

What is proposed in this Bill that is being introduced into the British House of Commons? It proposes, in so far as it can, to perpetuate the present division of our country. The Taoiseach has already pointed out, and every Deputy here, of course, knows it, that these six counties were cut off arbitrarily from the rest of the country; that they were cut off despite the expressed will of the vast majority [811] of the Irish people; that the area cut off did not correspond to any local majority that was in favour of the cutting off; that the only portion of the country where there is a local majority in favour of the cutting off is in the area around Belfast—an area that does not amount to one-half of the total area of the six countries that have been cut off.

The Taoiseach has reminded the House that the majority of the people in County Tyrone do not want to be cut off, that the majority of the people in County Fermanagh do not want to be cut off, that the majority of the people in the City of Derry do not want to be cut off, that the majority in the old constituencies of South Armagh, South Down and East Down do not want to be cut off. On what principle we ask, can it be justified that an area including these people should be cut off and put under the heel of the ascendancy concentrated in the neighbourhood of Belfast?

The suggestion, of course, at the time of the cutting off was that there was a majority in that area whose political outlook was not that of the majority of the Irish people. That general statement concealed a falsehood. It is true that if you take the area as a whole you will find in that area a majority who are against unity with the rest of the country, due to the concentration around Belfast. The Taoiseach has already indicated here that if you take a block of four of these counties, there is a majority who want to be with us. If they can cut off six of the 32 Counties on such a principle as has been indicated, why should we not be allowed, under the same principle, to cut off four out of the six? They pretend it is to prevent coercion, but they are coercing, and everybody knows it. They are coercing into the present Six County arrangement, the majority of the people in the City of Derry, in the Counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh, in South Down, South Armagh and in what used to be East Down. What do they mean then when they say that the people of Ulster must not be coerced? We deny, of course, that a local majority, in any part of our country, [812] against the will of the majority of the people as a whole, have any right to cut themselves off, because if that were permitted, it would mean an end to democracy which can only exist by the application of majority rule. We must have some natural unit for the application of self-determination. The natural unit for the application of self-determination is the nation. The demand was not for self-determination for a county or for a parish; it was self-determination for the nation. We demand the application of that principle to ourselves.

This resolution asserts our national right to the whole of our territory and it pledges the nation to do everything in its power to see that that right is asserted. It is true, as the Taoiseach has said, that we are a small nation and that we have not the means physically to make our will effective. We have to resolve to resort to other means. We have now the leadership for the nation in this House. We have represented in this House all sections of our people as far as the Twenty-Six Counties are concerned and we have to take upon ourselves the leadership for the nation as a whole. We have here, therefore, the national directing centre for the nation, and the efforts that have to be made to assert our rights, if they are to be disciplined and effective, will have to be exercised through the leadership of this House. We ask the people to work with their elected representatives to see that our claim is understood throughout the world. Propaganda for nearly 30 years has been directed to misrepresent the situation. The first thing that is necessary is to bring the facts to fair-minded people to enable them to judge. That was the purpose, for instance, for which I went to Britain. I went to Britain because I wanted to point out, first of all, that this division of our country was perpetrated by Britain—that Britain was responsible, that it was maintained by British power and by British influence.

I had hoped that there were sufficient fair-minded people in Britain who, when the facts were known to them, [813] would be able to influence their Government to do justice to Ireland. If this thing is to be ended peacefully it should be ended by British action to start with. Britain has done this thing and Britain ought to undo it. They have the power to do it. If they really want to, they can tell this minority in our country, that is not a fifth of the population of this country and not a fiftieth of the population of Britain, “We are not going to support you in your claim for privilege. We are not going to permit this small minority of the two peoples to continue to set the two peoples by the ears and to stir up and continue the old antagonisms between them.” My belief was that if you had properly informed public opinion in Britain and a Parliament and a Government that responded to the feelings of the fair-minded people in Britain we would have reached the stage when this would be done. I tried in my time to secure from a British Prime Minister speaking for the British Government and the British people a declaration to the effect that they wanted this Partition of our country to end; that they desired it to end; that they would use all their good offices to bring it to an end, and that they would use their influence to bring it to an end. If they were sincere a declaration of that sort would not be too much to expect. We have never got that. Instead we have got the contrary assertion now. We have got the suggestion through this Bill that it is a British interest to keep our country cut in two; that Britain does not want us united; that Britain wants still to help this minority to maintain their position of ascendancy and privilege against the expressed will of the majority of the Irish people. I hoped for the ending of Partition in the interests of good relations between the two peoples. I can honestly say that I have worked for that whilst at every stage maintaining the rights of our people. I felt that the rights of our people were more than consistent, that they were the source of good relations between the two peoples. I felt that in an independent Ireland an Irishman would have an interest in seeing a strong Britain. I knew that these [814] good relations could not be established so long as Britain tried to interfere in our affairs and, as a basis for good relations, I worked constantly over the whole period of time during which I was Minister for External Affairs— I can say I worked even at an earlier period—to try to get this fundamental point of difference ended and to get the whole question of Partition settled. It is we, through all these times, who have been trying to make suggestions for the settlement of Partition but we were met at every stage and every step with “not an inch.”

The British have the responsibility for ending this. Now they want to pretend that they have not the responsibility and to pass it off and to hand over to us a task which they themselves have practically made impossible. They have put in this position of dominance in the Six Counties a group to whom they have assured a majority, practically a perpetual majority. That majority was designed to be a lasting majority. Political opinion has changed in other countries. There has been no change of political opinion there, and every time—as you see by looking back on the history— this question of the Partition of our country loomed up as a question to be considered between the Irish and British Governments you had immediately an election call to pretend that the people in the Six Counties were democratically supported in their attitude. They told us that it is only by the will of this Northern Ireland Parliament that we can ever hope to get our unity—through the will of a Parliament that is specially designed to deny it. We are told that no part of that territory can be taken from them except by the will of that Parliament —a Parliament that is empowered to gerrymander, as they have done in many cases, to any extent they wish. We do not admit that the majority in that area have a right to cut themselves off from the country. The Taoiseach has said what every one of us feels in this matter. I believe that every Party and every individual in this part of Ireland will agree that what the Taoiseach has said about our feelings represents our feelings.

[815] By this resolution we assert the right of our nation to its unity and independence. By it we promise that we will do everything we can do to maintain that right. If I were in office at this time, and I suppose the present Government have done it also, I would have tried at a time like this to get people who understand the situation and get them to use their good offices to stop, even at the eleventh hour, this Bill. I was in Australia. I spoke there to members of the Australian Legislature and of the Australian Government. I was similarly in New Zealand. I found, in all the places, an understanding of the Irish national position and a desire that this partition of our country should be ended. Before this position gets still more embittered I would ask that the statesmen in those countries would intervene and try to get the British Government to see sense. As I have already said, a minority that is only one-fifth of the population of this country and one-fiftieth of the population of the other country ought not be permitted to put these two peoples perpetually at each other's throats. It is quite wrong that that should be done. There are solutions that could be offered. We offered a solution in the past and we were prepared to go to our people on it. I do not believe that it would have got universal support but it would have got majority support and it would have laid the foundation for good relations, which could develop to meet the wishes of our people at any time. Surely there ought to be enough statesmanship at present to get a solution. A solution has been possible with other countries and why should a solution not be possible with ours?

There can be no solution, however, so long as those who are in a privileged position can say: “We will not touch you unless you are prepared to agree with us”. They have only to say “no”. Bring them into a conference, it has been suggested—I have heard it suggested even in this House when I was in charge of External Affairs— that the representatives of the Government of Ireland, of the British Government and of the Six Counties [816] should get together and sit down at a table and try to work out a solution. Surely everybody knows what would be the result of that. As long as one member of the conference is going to say “No, I will not accept that”, the result would obviously be that there could be no agreement, and the end of such a conference would obviously be worse than the beginning. You cannot do it like that. The British Government has the responsibility and has the power—this Bill is showing it. The British Government has responsibility at the present moment to exercise that statesmanship which should bring about the ending of this intolerable situation. My appeal, as one who has been trying for these good relations while in office, my appeal now, as a member of the Opposition, is that the statemen of the British Commonwealth, the statesmen abroad, who are desirous of seeing good relations established between Ireland and Britain, the Irish people and the British people throughout the world, should intervene in this critical situation and try to prevent this position from developing. I believe that it can be done. I believe that goodwill can do it. I believe that there is goodwill. Here on both sides of this House goodwill has been shown in the past. Goodwill has been shown, I know, by us. I believe that it has been shown in the past by members on the Opposition Benches and why should not this goodwill show itself in exercise—by responsible people sitting down together and trying to work out a solution.

I, for one, would promise, as far as I personally am concerned—I cannot promise for anybody else—that the days that may be left to me in my life will be devoted to the duties of cementing good relations, on the basis of Irish rights being respected, as I have devoted my life up to the present time to securing Irish rights. I believe, too, that what I can say of myself is something that can be said for every member of our Party, for every person in public life in this country and for every Irishman abroad. We are at the crossroads, in my opinion, at a point where Britain, if she is wise enough, can take [817] the hand of friendship which is offered or spurn that hand of friendship again. If she spurns it, she will do something for which nobody but the enemies of England will be glad. We will not be glad because it means a good deal of suffering, perhaps, ahead for us. If we were free we would not want to see Britain's downfall, as I said somewhere else, but by doing this, by continuing to hold a portion of our country against the will of our people, Britain is giving us an interest in her downfall. Why does she do that? Is it statesmanship on the part of her Ministers to do it? Why does she do something that will only please the people who want to see Britain's downfall? If I were one of those who believed in certain continental theories and ideologies, I would welcome this Bill because I would see one State that was going to be weakened by the fact that the Irish people were dissatisfied and inimical to it.

The people who will be pleased with this are neither the friends of Ireland nor the friends of Britain, and those who wish well to both Ireland and Britain would want to see the end of this source of antagonism and bitterness. Instead of this Bill they would want to see the opportunity taken to bring about arrangements whereby a solution of Partition would be got. Perhaps if that line were taken, out of what is at the moment an evil and a danger good may come. I pray that it may and I pray that the animosities between the two peoples which were dying down may not be revived.

Captain Cowan: I move the amendment which is on the Order Paper in my name:—

To delete the last three clauses and substitute the following:—

DENYING the right of British armed forces to occupy any part of Ireland,

SOLEMNLY DECLARES THAT the national territory is integrate, that the jurisdiction of the Oireachtas embraces the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas and that the laws enacted by the Oireachtas shall henceforth apply to the whole of Ireland; and

[818] RELYING on the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in Dublin on Easter Monday, 1916, on the Declaration of Independence made at the first meeting of the First Dáil Éireann in the Mansion House, Dublin, on January 21st, 1919, on the Constitution of Ireland enacted by the People of Ireland on 1st July, 1937, and on the sovereign rights of the People of Ireland.

WE, THE MAJORITY OF THE ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE IRISH PEOPLE, PLEDGE ourselves in the name of the Irish People to make this declaration effective, by every means at our command.

In moving that amendment, I am not going to speak about the historical position of Ireland or of the relations between Ireland and Britain over the centuries nor am I going to spend my time dealing with the sovereign rights of the Irish people. That has been done for us by our great thinkers and teachers, Tone, Lalor, Mitchel, Parnell, Pearse and Connolly and they have done that much better than I could attempt to do. When the Articles of Agreement or the Treaty was signed between this country and Great Britain, I hoped that constitutional development after 700 years of bitter struggle would have brought friendship between the two peoples. There is no doubt whatsoever about it that our statesmen in the last 25 years— O'Higgins, Deputy McGilligan, Deputy de Valera and the present Taoiseach, Deputy Costello—have done their share in the development and improvement of the constitutional relationships between the two bodies. Every person of goodwill was anxious that the constitutional development should continue and that there should be friendship between the peoples of the two countries. There are many reasons why we should be friends. We have many things in common and many identities of interest. Unfortunately, as Deputy de Valera has said, although we held out the hand of friendship on every occasion, we have discovered that the British Government attitude towards us has not been similar to our attitude to them.

[819] I regret particularly that this latest affront—because affront it is—to the Irish people should have come from the British Government in the way it did. It has and it is inexplicable to me why, in the present stage of world history, while things are as they are, this deliberate affront should have been offered by the British Government to the Government of Ireland and to the Irish people.

When these people in their Bill talk about the territorial integrity of Northern Ireland, they are talking in ignorance. Notwithstanding the good work that has been done by Deputy de Valera in the last 12 months on his visits to Great Britain, we find a most astonishing ignorance in Britain as to the position here in Ireland. Only a week ago, I happened to be in London and bought an evening paper by accident as I was passing along. It happened to be the Evening News of Monday, 7th May, 1949. The leading article was headed: “Ulster's Choice” and it finished off with these two paragraphs:—

“What Mr. MacBride and Mr. de Valera, therefore, seek to impose is partition, a partition of the United Kingdom. They demand that six counties, as large a part of Britain as Kent or Sussex or Greater London, should be governed and incorporated against the wishes of their inhabitants in a foreign country.

Take away all the confused thinking about this issue and there it is plainly. To such a demand, however phrased, any and every British Government can only have one answer—a clear `No'.”

I know nothing about the standing of the Evening News in London. It was being sold extensively in the streets, but if that is the ignorance of the editor of a British journal can we blame the ordinary man in the street in England for being ignorant on these matters that have caused trouble between the two countries for centuries?

Britain brought in this Act of theirs as an affront to the people of this country. It seems to me that Britain, [820] in recent years at any rate, has been made squirm before certain powers and, because of that, it may be that they are trying to display the mailed fist or the powerful arm against this small country. Only recently their battleships were blasted out of the Yangtse. They had no answer to that, in the way they have dealt with or attempt to deal with this country. Only in recent years did they attempt to deal with the small nation of Israel in a particular way, and the people of that small country answered back in the only effective way that it appears to me that one can speak to the British Government. Britain should remember our history over 700 years. We have never shirked the issue and when the issue was put to us we always faced it. I can see that in the declarations made by the Taoiseach and by Deputy de Valera here this evening, and I can feel from my contact with the people of this country that the people are not going to shirk the issue now.

I have moved this amendment because I believe that, in dealing with Britain, when Britain becomes provocative, as she is provocative to us now, it is necessary to answer back and go further than simple protest. While I agree with everything that has been said here this evening by the Taoiseach and by Deputy de Valera, and while I agree with the protests that are enshrined in the motion, I feel that it is necessary that the step we take this evening should indicate some positive action on our part, some positive answer to the step, which is a positive step, being taken by Britain to-morrow in their Parliament. It is for that reason I put down this amendment.

The first clause of this amendment is a declaration that the national territory of this country is integrate. In Article 3 of our Constitution, it is provided:—

“Pending the reintegration of the national territory, and without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and Government established by this Constitution to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory, the laws enacted by that Parliament shall have the like area and extent of [821] application as the laws of Saorstát Éireann and the like extra-territorial effect.”

It is my opinion that, under that Article of the Constitution, this House can to-day declare, in the words of that Article, the reintegration of the national territory. I believe that if Britain is going to pass into law in her Parliament an Act which purports to deal with six of our northern counties, we are entitled to get in before them and to say that we reintegrate the country and that those six northern counties are now ours and within the ambit of our Constitution.

I think that that is the answer that this House should give to this claim of the British Government to legislate in such an offensive way in regard to our six northern counties.

Somebody may say to me: “What good is it to declare that your national territory is integrate? What good is it to do that when you cannot enforce the laws and when you cannot make the laws apply in Belfast or in Porta-down?” My answer is this. When the Republic was proclaimed in Dublin in Easter Week 1916, the men who proclaimed the Republic on that day proclaimed it as a sovereign independent state and they pledged their lives and the lives of their comrades in arms to the cause of its freedom, its welfare and its exaltation amongst the nations. They did that and it required a struggle from that time almost up to-day to make the republican position in 26 of our 32 counties secure. When our elected representatives met in the Mansion House in 1919 they issued the following declaration:—

“Whereas the Irish people is by right a free people; and whereas for 700 years the Irish people have never ceased to repudiate foreign usurpation; and whereas English rule in this country is and always has been based upon force and fraud and maintained by military occupation against the declared will of the people; and whereas the Irish Republic was proclaimed on Easter Monday, 1916; and whereas the Irish electorate has in the general election of December, 1918, seized the first occasion to declare by an overwhelming majority [822] its firm allegiance to the Irish Republic; now therefore we the elected representatives of the Irish people in national Parliament assembled do in the name of the Irish people ratify the establishment of the Irish Republic and pledge ourselves and our people to make this declaration effective by every means at our command.”

In 1916, when there was a British Government in occupation of the whole of this country, in 1919, with a British Government with a large armed force in occupation of the whole of this country, that proclamation was made and that declaration was made on behalf of the Irish people and those who pledged themselves to the declarations contained in the proclamation did their part to achieve the Republic of Ireland. I say that it is our duty now, when there are fewer obstacles in our way than were against the men of 1916 and against the men of 1919, as a Parliament to make that declaration and not only to make that declaration but to do everything in our power to make it effective.

I think that there is very little objection to the adoption of such a declaration. I think that there are few patriots in this country or few citizens of this country who would object to such a declaration and that we owe it to our past generations, as well as to ourselves, to make such a declaration here to-day. We will have difficulties in making that declaration effective. But the difficulties which face us are not as great as the difficulties which faced some of the men who are sitting on the benches in this House to-day 30 or 35 years ago. If we could face the future and face the situation with the courage and the confidence that they had, I would have no doubt whatever about the result. What would the answer of Pádraig Pearse be in such a situation if he were here to-day? Would his answer be simply a declaration of protest or would it be a decision to take effective action to counter what was being done against us by a foreign Power? I have no doubt whatsoever of what the answer would be. I have no doubt whatsoever of the answer of those leaders of the [823] people who followed him right down along from 1916 to-day.

We have talked and protested in this country for quite a long time. Prior to 1916, there were at least 40 years of resolutions, 40 years of protest and 40 years of condemnation of things that the British Government were doing at that time. But it required the determination of a small body of men and the determined action of that small body of men to achieve the position we have to-day. We have an obstacle in the Six Counties. We have people in the Six Counties who are not anxious to united with us and become part of a united Ireland. That is not a new problem. That problem has been there for over 30 years. Dealing with it in Bessbrook in January, 1917, Deputy de Valera used these words:—

“The Unionists of the North must make up their minds as to whether they will be a British garrison here or be Irishmen. If they are content to be a British garrison, we have only one thing to do and that is not to try and conciliate them. We have seen the result of conciliation in Ulster's attitude towards the convention. The Unionists are a rock on the road. We must make up our minds not to peddle with the rock, we must, if necessary, blast it out of our path.”

These were the words of Deputy de Valera 32 years ago and the position in regard to these Unionists has not changed in those 32 years. I was a boy of a little over 13 years when I read that declaration of Deputy de Valera's first. In my boyish mind then I believed in that statement as being a correct statement. I believed it since and I believe it now.

This House must make sure that we are not diverted from the tremendous difficulties which confront us by talk and resolutions and protests. The Government and the Leader of the Opposition have given a fillip to people in regard to this matter. The people expect some action from them. If we are going to let this insult to our country pass over with this dignified protest which has been made by the [824] Taoiseach and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition, we are going to deceive the people. The people require leadership. I want to see that leadership being given by this House. I want to see that leadership being given by the Government. It is necessary that any movement to bring about the ending of Partition must be done in a disciplined manner under the control of the Government. The Government must give the lead and they will do so if they take some effective action rather than make a wordy protest in regard to this insult to us. The Bill introduced into the British Parliament is so insulting to us that we should throw it right back in their teeth. We can only make Britain realise that we are serious about this by doing something. The first thing I think we could do and should do is to pass this amendment proposed by me to the motion of the Taoiseach so that we would integrate the national territory and our Ministers travelling all over the world can say that within our Constitution those six northern counties are ours, within the powers conferred on us by our Constitution and within our laws of Parliament. They will be able to speak for the whole of Ireland. They will be able to speak in the councils of the world on behalf of the whole of Ireland and this effort of the British Government to declare the national integrity of those six northern counties as part of Britain will have been defeated.

I will go further and make this suggestion to the Government; it is done by other countries. When a sovereign State is insulted by another country there is an immediate withdrawal of representatives. I would suggest to the Government that it is their duty, if this Bill is further proceeded with in Britain and passed into law in the British Parliament, to withdraw our representative in London and to request the British representative in Dublin to return to his own country. These are effective steps that can be taken and that will show that we are serious about this. We are serious. I want no one to get away with the idea that we are not serious. The reason why I put down my amendment is to [825] show that there can be no doubt whatsoever about the seriousness of our stand in regard to this.

There are other ways in which this matter may be dealt with which can safely be left to the Government and to the committee which has been organised by the Government and on which are representatives of the Opposition Party.

I ask this House to-day to incorporate this amendment of mine in the motion so that the first step will have been taken for the integration of the national territory. We owe that to our leaders of the past who made tremendous sacrifices to bring about the position as it is to-day; we owe that to posterity and we owe it to our people in the present generation. Growing up in this country is a young generation which I want to be led in a disciplined manner on the right road of progress. We can lead them on that road if we give them an example here of determination and of action. In those words I recommend this amendment to this House.

Amendment lapsed, there being no seconder.

Motion put and agreed to.

Mr. de Valera: There has been a precedent for the circulation of a resolution of this kind to the Governments with whom we have friendly relations, and with whom we have diplomatic representation. Would the Government and the House consider it desirable to follow the precedent in this case?

The Taoiseach: I agree with the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition, with the possible amendment that it should be sent to the Parliaments of those countries.

Mr. de Valera: I agree.

An Ceann Comhairle: I take it that it is the direction of the House to do so.