Dáil Éireann - Volume 2 - 26 August, 1921

ELECTION OF PRESIDENT.

SEAN MAC EOIN: A Chinn Chomhairle is a lucht na Dála, is áthas liomsa agus is onóir dom a chuir roimh an Dáil go mbeidh Eamonn de Valéra mar Uachtarán againn.

Tá fhios againn a bhfuil déanta aige ar son na hÉireann. Tá iontaoibh againn as is cuirfe sé críoch leis an gcoga.

The honour has fallen on me to put before the Dáil the name of Eamonn de Valera as President of the Irish Republic. You know, and the people of Ireland know, what he has done for Irish freedom. Our hope and our belief now is that he will bring our cause to success. In no generation, for more than a century, has any Irish leader equalled such achievements. No one has shown himself more fitted to lead his people, and no one has shown himself more fitted to deal with the traditional foe. He has not been deceived by their promises nor intimidated by their threats. Eamonn de Valera first met the English as a soldier, and he beat them as a soldier; he has been meeting them now as a statesman, and he will beat them as a statesman. The honour and the interest of our nation are alike safe in his hands. With these few words, I beg to propose his name for the presidency.

RISTEARD O MAOLCATHA: A Chinn Chomhairle is a mhuinntir na Dála, is mór is áthas liom cuidiú leis an dTeachta ó Longphort chun Eamonn de Valéra d'ainmniú mar Uachtarán orainn. Ní iontaoibh liom mo chuid Gaedhilge chun é ainmniú sa spirid in ar mhaith liom é d'ainmniú. Ní iontaoibh liom í chun a chur i dtuigsint díbhse is a chur in úil do mhuinntir na hÉireann i mbaile is i gcéin an fáth go ndinimíd a ainm a chur os bhúr gcóir. Dá bhrí sin, ní foláir dom mo smaointe a mhíniú sa teangain a cuireadh orrainn ag na Gallaibh nuair a sguabadh ár dteanga féin uainn. There is no more inspiring story in the history of our country than meets us at the very threshold of our history, when the hosts of Connacht marched against Ulster, and when Cuchulain, overcome by sickness and by magic, and unable to meet them at his own gap in the north, called upon his chieftains to keep the pass while he slept. He found, in spite of his urgent entreaties, he could not get them to answer his call, and, in despair, when passing through the fields of Ulster he saw the youths at play —and his despair deepened at the thought that these youths would come to age too late to save their country. There was no generation in Irish history perhaps to which such a call had not come, because those whose business it was were neglecting to guard it, and there has been no generation in which the youths of Ireland have not answered and thrown themselves into the gap which, by right, belonged to more [78] experienced and trained hands. I think to our own generation more than others has come the greatest call that has come to any generation. The generation that is standing by Ireland to-day were only leaving their schools when the national spirit called to them that our language was threatened, and they threw themselves into the work of saving our language. In 1913 there was another spot in our national bulwarks in danger and, leaving their Irish and their regular works, they took themselves to the tents and the battlefields, and to weapons and work they were unaccustomed to, and they sustained themselves gloriously through a very difficult period and found themselves at the end of it called to the forum. They tumbled into the forum with the same boyish vigour and carelessness and enthusiasm that they had thrown into the call of the Gaelic League, and we are now fighting Ireland's fight with more diversified weapons than were ever used. At the present moment, more and more magic and more and more enthusiasm is being mobilised. We are called upon to handle more different weapons than we were ever called upon to handle up to the present, and it is with boyish delight we say, when in the midst of this fight we are asked to name who our leader will be, that our leader will be Eamonn de Valera.

About twenty years ago, in the hall of the Gaelic League headquarters, a group was discussing what was wrong with the Gaelic League those times, and someone rose at the end of the hall with the hard word of common sense. I turned round to see a young man whom I did not know, but whom I afterwards knew as Eamon de Valera. He was then known as a champion of the Irish language, and when we look back to 1916 we see a figure standing with a gesture that is still the same boyish gesture with which he stood in the hall of the Gaelic League —but then as a soldier. He rushed in for the fight in 1916, and when we go back to 1918 we see him tumbling first into the forum when other people looked askance to see what the outcome of their work in the forum would be. It is because he is a youth among youths with them, because at every stage in that fight he has epitomised what we would wish to be, and out of pride in him and the love we have for him, and out of the knowledge and appreciation that we are to-day grown to the stature to which we are grown simply by his example, that it is with something more than pleasure that I ask that this Dáil select as President of the Irish Republic a man who has been so much to us personally and a man who has been so much to our nation, Eamonn de Valera.

DONAL OG O CEALLACHAIN: A Chinn Chomhairle is a lucht na Dála, cúis áthais is bróid domhsa é a bheith orm cuidiú leis an ainmniú so. Tuigeann sibhse, a lucht na Dála, is tuigeann muinntir na hÉireann go hiomlán a bhfuil déanta ag an Uachtarán. Más fíor é, más fíor go bhfuil muinntir na hÉireann díreach tar éis coga a dhéanamh, coga agus troid nár dineadh a leithéid riamh cheana i nÉirinn, ní foláir nó tuigeann sibh an dlúth-bhaint a bhí ag an Uachtarán le cúrsaí na troda le linn an chogaidh sin; do stiúrigh sé obair an chogaidh go cliste agus go ciallmhar. O cuireadh sos lois an gcoga, bhí obair le déanamh ag an Uachtarán—obair a bhí níos deacra fós ná obair an chogaidh, obair maidir le cúrsaí ina bhfuil an namhaid sár-chliste. Go dtí anois, tá an bua againn san obair sin díreach mar a bhí an bua againn sa choga. Tá muinntir na hÉireann tagaithe go dtí an crosbhóthar agus ní beag d'éinne an bóthar atá romhainn le gabháil. B'fhéidir gur b'é an dorta fola agus an t-ár atá in ndán dúinn arís. Is mór an dorta fola agus an t-ár a dineadh ar mhuinntir na hÉireann le fada, ach b'fhéidir ná fuil deire leis fós. Ar an dtaobh eile, b'fhéidir go bhfuil Sasana ar intinn géille agus go bhfuil ceart agus cothrom le fáil ag muinntir na hÉireann. Má tá an sgeul mar sin, sí an tsíocháin atá romhainn. Má sí ní fhéadfadh cúrsaí na síochána a bheith i lámhaibh ní b'fhearr ná ní ba chliste ná i lámhaibh Eamonn de Valéra. B'fhéidir, ámhthach, ná fuil deire leis an gcoga. Bhí mórchuid dorta fola ann le déanaí, ach b'fhéidir go ndortfaí a thuille sara mbeidh deire leis an ár.

Ba bhreágh le muinntir na hÉireann an tsíocháin a bheith rómpa. Má thuiteann san amach, agus má thuigeann an namhaid nách foláir dóibh géille agus cothrom na féinne a thabhairt d'Eirinn, beidh árd-áthas orainn.

Tá lán-dóchas ag muinntir na hÉireann as Eamon de Valéra chun [79] náisiún na hÉireann do threorú i gcúrsaí na troda nó i gcúrsaí na síochána.

DR. ADA ENGLISH: Ba mhaith liom cuidiú leis an rún so a cuireadh os bhúr gcóir.

I have very great pleasure in supporting the resolution put before you by Commandant Mac Eoin. There is no necessity for me to praise Eamonn de Valera to the men and women of the Dáil or to the men and women of Ireland. He has been tested in times of the greatest stress both as a soldier and statesman. We all know how he has come out of it—and the enemy knows it. The fact that for the past forty years the enemy has refused Home Rule and now are offering most cheerfully what they called “Dominion Status,” shows what has been done by him.

As a new member of the Dáil, I should like to say how much we appreciate him and how much we are impressed by him. His desire for the fullest criticism, and his openness to any suggestions and readiness to accept them if they are any good; his courage and manifest honesty in placing before us everything which he is recommending to us, leaves us, even the dullest of us, under no delusion as to what we are asked to do. I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion.

Ceist curtha agus aontuithe.

AN TUACHTARAN: A Chinn Chomhairle is a lucht na Dála, tá mo dhóthain céille agam chun a thuisgint gurb é anois an t-am chun srian a chur lem' theangain nuair atá mo chroí, mar tá sé, lán.

I have enough of common sense to know that it is not when one's heart is full that one should talk, and I fear very much that if I were to talk now I should say things that perhaps had better be left unsaid. I hope that a time will come when I can say all the things that I would like to say at a moment like this. I do feel as a boy amongst boys. I hope that we shall win this Cause as near to Heaven as boys are.

Credit has been given to me for things that have not been done by me, but by the magnificent comrades who have worked with me. I have got credit for work which was not my work, but the work of loyal comrades like Arthur Griffith, Cathal Brugha, Michael Collins, and other heroes working with me. It is as a team that we have worked, and it is as a team that we shall work. I believe that never had a man such an easy task in working with comrades such as I have.

When I was in America I used to be amused at the talk about splits and extremists and moderates and differences of opinion. The very night that the British arrested me in Blackrock, they found something which will have taught them that there are no differences of opinion amongst us; and they know it. They found a statement which had been drawn up in order to contradict the statements which were being issued in America and elsewhere—they found a statement signed by every one of the Ministry of Dáil Éireann, both the Ministers who could be got into communication with and the Ministers who were acting at the time.

Every one of them had signed a statement saying that never at any time during the whole period of their office, had there been any difference of opinion between me and them as regards policy and method. And it is because there has been that loyal co-operation, no jostling one above the other, but all working for the common cause in which their hearts were set—the cause of Ireland—that we have been able to achieve what we have achieved.

And it is not merely in the Ministry that that has been so, but it has been so throughout the whole country. The English, who think they are going to divide Ireland now or who place their hopes in what the Times calls “the precipitate tendency of the Irish people,” will be disappointed, as those who thought that the Cabinet of Dáil Éireann or Dáil Éireann itself, would be split, were disappointed.

This nation has been taught lessons, and it has learned from these lessons, thank God. We know who our enemies are; we know the methods of the enemy; and this nation, whatever it does, it will do as a nation and a united nation, and there will be no split in this nation.

With gratitude I turn to you, my comrades and colleagues, who have conferred upon me what I believe is the highest honour that could be conferred at this moment on any human being. Because here, at an issue of peace or [80] war, I have been chosen to be a leader. I do not say that because I have been chosen I will lead, because there has been no necessity for leadership of that kind amongst us.

We know our minds; we know that we have a straight road to travel; no bye-paths to lead us astray. We are keeping on the straight road, and it is a very easy task to lead on a straight road.

We have the courage to face whatever difficulties there are in the path before us. Though it is straight, we know that it is narrow and difficult. And it is because I appreciate that that I am proud of the honour; too proud to dare to speak and tell you how it affects me.

I am not sure that it is twelve o'clock. I thought it would be a proper digression from my thanks to the Dáil for re-electing me to read our last reply to the British Premier. We have promised that it should not be published until twelve o'clock and, as it is a couple of minutes before that time, we had better wait till the time is past.

[After an interval of two minutes, President de Valera continued]:—

Os rud é go bhfuil an t-am caithte anois, tá sé chó maith agam an freagra do léigheadh.

As the time is now expired, I will read for you the answer, which is as follows:—

24 Lughnasa, 1921.

Do Dháithí Uasal Leód Seoirse,

10, Sráid Downing,

i Lonndain.

A Chara,

An tuairim do bhí agam roimh ré agus mé ag tabhairt freagra ort an 10adh lá de Lughnasa tá deimhniughadh déanta air anois. Leagas tairsgint bhúr Riaghaltais-sa os comhair Dála Éireann, agus dheineadar a dhiúltadh d'aon ghuth.

Ba léir ó nbhúr litir an 13adh lá de Lughnasa gur mhian libh go n-admhuighmís nár mhór ceart na hÉireann do bheith ar lár ar mhaithe le cúrsaibh cosanta Sacsan do réir mar shaoil sí féin, toisc a chomhgaraighe is bhí Éire do Shacsaibh; agus nár mhór d'Éirinn géilleadh do'n smacht iasachta anois toisc a fhaid agus a dhícheallaighe is do bhítheas a d'iarraidh Éire do chur fé'n smacht soin 'san am atá imighthe.

Ní féidir liom a chreideamhaint gur mheas bhúr Riaghaltas feidhm do bhaint as neart airm gan scál a chuirfeadh ar neamhnidh macántacht na náisiún is a chuirfeadh críoch le síothcháin an domhain. Má théigheann ceart saoirse an náisiúin bhig ar cheal chomh luath is chuireann comhursa neartmhar dúil 'san tír i gcomhair airm nó pé buntáiste eile bheadh le baint as, sin deireadh le saoirse. Ní fhéadfadh náisiún beag súil do beith aici le neamhspleadhchas iomshlán feasta. D'fhéadfaidhe Tír fo Thuinn is Danmharc do chur fé smacht na Gearmáine, Flondras fé smacht na Gearmáine nó na Frainnce, an Portainéal fé smacht na Spáinne. Náisiúin dár ceangladh d'impireachtaibh le neart fóiréigin, má chaillid a neamhspleadhchas dá dheascaibh, níl aithbreith na saoirse i ndán dóibh feasta. Maidir le hÉirinn má luadhtar go bhfuil sí ag scaradh le pairtidheacht nár ghlac sí riamh leis, nó le dílse nár gheall sí riamh, níl ann acht bréag ó bhonn; mar a chéile, éagcóir ó bhonn bheith ag éileamh a neamhspleadhchas do chur fé chois ar mhaithe le cosaint Sacsan. Ní féidir linne .i. teachtaidhe an náisiúin, géilleadh do cheachtar aca.

Ní thréigfimíd-na onóir ár dtíre ná an ceart a tugadh dúinn le cosaint; agus má dheineann Sacsa adhbhar cogaidh de sin, is truagh linn é. Is léir dúinn cad é ár gcúram ar son na mbeo, agus ní lugha ár dtuigsint 'san nidh is dual dúinn agus 'san chomaoin atá orainn ag ár marbh cródha. Ní rabhamair ar lorg troda, is nílmíd ar lorg troda; acht má cuirtear an comhrac orainn caithfimíd sinn féin do chosaint agus déanfaimíd san. Agus ciaca eirgheochaidh linn nó ná eirgheochaidh, beimíd deimnighthe ná molfaidh aon dream fear ná ban de theachtaibh Éireann do'n náisiún an ceart is dual di do scaoileadh uaithe.

Is mór is mian linn deireadh do chur leis an achrann so idir Éirinn agus Sacsaibh. Má tá ceaptha ag bhúr Riaghaltas-sa a toil d'imirt orainn le neart fóréigin agus coingeallacha do leagadh amach roimh ré a bhainfeadh dínn ár staid [81] dúthchais is a dhéanfadh adhbhar magaidh de'n socrughadh so ar siubhal eadrainn, sibh-se bheidh ciontach le buaine an achrainn.

Do réir na gnáth-chomhairle úd gur toil an phobuil is bun le Riaghaltas, is féidir síothcháin do dhéanamh feasta, agus síothcháin go mbeidh ceart is onóir ann do chách is go mbeidh cneastacht is buan-mhuinnteardhas mar thoradh air. Is toil le Dáil Éireann teachtaidhe do thoghadh chun a leithéid de shíothcháin do dhéanamh; agus lán-chomhacht do thabhairt dóibh chun a chur i bhfeidhm i nbhúr dteannta-sa, má ghéilleann bhúr Riaghaltas do'n ghnáth-chomhairle seo luaidhte.

Mise,

do chara gan cháim,

(Síghnithe) Eamon de Valéra.

[Official Translation].

The Right Hon. David

Lloyd George,

10 Downing Street,

Whitehall, London.

Mansion House,

Dublin,

24th August, 1921.

Sir,

The anticipatory judgment I gave in my reply of August 10th has been confirmed. I laid the proposals of your Government before Dáil Éireann, and, by an unanimous vote, it has rejected them.

From your letter of August 13th it was clear that the principle we were asked to accept was that the “geographical propinquity” of Ireland to Britain imposed the condition of the subordination of Ireland's right to Britain's strategic interests as she conceives them, and that the very length and persistence of the efforts made in the past to compel Ireland's acquiesence in a foreign domination imposed the condition of acceptance of that domination now.

We cannot believe that your Government intend to commit itself to a principle of sheer militarism destructive of international morality and fatal to the world's peace. If a small nation's right to independence is forfeit when a more powerful neighbour covets its territory for the military or other advantages it is supposed to confer, there is an end to liberty. No longer can any small nation claim a right to a separate sovereign existence. Holland and Denmark can be made subservient to Germany, Belgium to Germany or to France, Portugal to Spain. If nations that have been forcibly annexed to empires lose thereby their title to independence, there can be for them no rebirth to freedom. In Ireland's case, to speak of her seceding from a partnership she has not accepted, or from an allegiance which she has not undertaken to render, is fundamentally false, just as the claim to subordinate her independence to British strategy is fundamentally unjust. To neither can we, as the representatives of the nation, lend countenance.

If our refusal to betray our nation's honour and the trust that has been reposed in us is to be made an issue of war by Great Britain, we deplore it. We are as conscious of our responsibilities to the living as we are mindful of principle or of our obligations to the heroic dead. We have not sought war, nor do we seek war, but if war be made upon us we must defend ourselves, and shall do so, confident that whether our defence be successful or unsuccessful no body of representative Irishmen or Irishwomen will ever propose to the nation the surrender of its birthright.

We long to end the conflict between Britain and Ireland. If your Government be determined to impose its will upon us by force and, antecedent to negotiation, to insist upon conditions that involve a surrender of our whole national position and make negotiation a mockery, the responsibility for the continuance of the conflict rests upon you.

On the basis of the broad guiding principle of government by the consent of the governed, peace can be secured—a peace that will be just and honourable to all, and fruitful of concord and enduring amity. To negotiate such a peace, Dáil Éireann [82] is ready to appoint its representatives, and, if your Government accepts the principle proposed, to invest them with plenary powers to meet and arrange with you for its application in detail.

I am, Sir,

Faithfully yours,

(Signed) Eamon de Valera.

As that reply has been delivered, and as it sums up our position—the position of the Ministry that was in existence until a few moments ago—I do not think that it is necessary to deal with it now, more particularly as we have not got a reply from the British Government. Our position is unchanged. We cannot change our position, because it is fundamentally sound and just. And the moment we get off that fundamental rock of right and justice, we have no case whatsoever. No fight can be made except on that rock, and on that rock we shall stand.