Dáil Éireann - Volume 2 - 08 June, 1922

IOMATHOIRI IASACHTA.

Beidh Iomathóirí ó sé tíortha istig ar Chomórtaisí Aonaigh Tailteann agus b'fhéidir fós go mbeadh a naoi nó deich. Dá mba rud é go raibh aimsir chuige, abair a dó nó trí bliadhna, ní'l aon amhras air ná go gcuirfeadh an Astraoile a h-iomlán iomathóirí chugainn, in ionad gan éinne bheith ó'n dtír sin pé mar atá anois.

“Do chur an lag-thrachtáil i gcoinne mórán mór a theacht ó Canada agus ó Talam an Éisg agus ó Bhreatan Beag.

“B'fhéidir gur chóir da luadh annso ná fuil aon pháire oireamhnach ceart do cleasa, amhlaidh is mar atá i geaithaireacha móra eile. Acht muna mbeadh gur thug an Rialtas Sealadac £10,000 i gcóir feabhasaighthe a dhéanamh ar Phaire an Chrócaigh is baolach go gcaithfí tabhairt suas d' Aonach Tailteann.

“De bhárr an conghnamh do thug an Dáil do chleasa agus caitheamh aimsire an náisiúin, beidh annso againn um Lughnasa an Féile is mó agus is tábhachtaí da raibh in aon tír eile le nár linn. Beithfear ag teagase agus ag corú fuirne LuithgCleas le dul in iomaidheacht i bPriomh-Chathaireacha na hEórpa sa tsamhradh seo chugainn. Beidh buidheann sáir-feabhasaighthe ullamh le dul go Párus i mbliain 1924 i gcóir na nGrég-Oilimpici agus go hAonac Tailteann i Nua Eabrach b'fhéidir i mbliain 1925.

“Nuair a thiocfaidh teachtairí le chéile i Lughnasa seo chugainn ós na tíortha éagsamhla déanfar réidhteacht ar ciaca leanfar d'Aonach Tailteann do chóimeád i gcóir na nGael amháin, nó é leathanú amach mar rud mór idirnáisiúntach ar nós Oilimpic na Gréige.

“Mise, Séumas Breathnach, Rialathóir.”

SEAMUS BREATHNACH: I will read this for you in English.

AONACH TAILTEANN.

August 3rd—13th (inclusive).

Emerald Chambers,

Abbey Street,

8/6/'22.

“A Chara,

“The last report on Aonach Tailteann was submitted to An Dáil about the end of March. At that time we were still discussing the possible programme and little or no headway had been made in the way of tapping the athletic resources of our people in foreign countries, and it was generally believed even in the ranks of those directly concerned that the time at our disposal was altogether inadequate to do justice to the rebirth of this ancient festival.

“In the meantime, however, very good progress has been made [484] and the Main Council composed of direct representatives from the Departments of Sport, etc., plus a few specially selected men responsible for sections incidental to the programme is satisfied that the situation is now well in hands.

“The problem of accommodating visitors is still giving much concern to the Council notwithstanding that some twenty sub-committees are endeavouring to hammer out a scheme designed to obviate the unfortunate experiences of those who visited Antwerp, Athens, and other cities on the occasion of the great Olympics.

“The Council is therefore composed of the Chairman of each of the following main Committees:—

“(1) Instrumental Music; (2) Camogie; (3) Rounders (Women); (4) Athletics and Cycling; (5) Hurling; (6) Football; (7) Handball; (8) Rounders (Men); *(9) Billiards; *(10) Arts; *(11) Motor Cycling; *(12) Rowing; (13) Boxing; (14) Tennis; (15) Golf; *(16) Chess; *(17) Yachting; *(18) Shooting— Clay Bird; *(19) Shooting—Rifle Miniature and Revolver; (20) Dancing; (21) Swimming; (22) Catering; (23) Transport; (24) Industrial; (25) Trophies; (26) Decoration; (27) Ambulance; (28) Legal; (29) Publicity; (30) Accommodation— Visitors; (31) Accommodation— Athletes; (32) Finance; (33) Social; (34) Ceremonial; (35) Massed Choirs.

“At the outset it was intended to include only those events which would draw International Competitors but after careful consideration this was found to be impracticable and as it now stands the Programme consists of (1) International; (2) National; (3) Partly national and partly international.

“Those under No. 2 are starred in the foregoing list. Physical drill was eliminated because of the lack of competitors, and motor car racing under the absence of a suitable course. The outstanding features of the different departments are summarised hereunder:

“(1) Instrumental Music included seven Band Sections and Union Pipes and Harp. (2) Camogie has been organised on a scale hitherto unknown. (3) and (8) Rounders are now being taken up as a real live game. (4) Athletics and Cycling involve about thirty-six events and are on all fours with Olympic Programme. This section alone will occupy two-and-a-half hours per day for six days. (5) Hurling v. Shinty.—In order to bring about a union of the Scottish and Irish Gaels a Hurling-Shinty match will signalise the opening of the games.”

Mr. Walsh at this stage in the report, said:

There is a marked resemblance between shinty and hurling. Shinty is the great national organisation in Scotland. We are endeavouring to co-ordinate shinty and hurling and I believe we will succeed in doing so. It will help to consolidate the two races very much.

“(7) Handball is now taken up vigorously throughout the country as a consequence of Aonach Tailteann. (10) Arts—the Arts department is providing for 47 different sections and will easily eclipse anything hitherto attempted. (11) Motor-Cycling includes three fifty-mile races. The absence of a charge for admission to the Phoenix Park deprives the Games Committee of over two thousand pounds revenue. (12) Rowing—This is a two full-day Programme of seven Championships with an average of thirty boats to each event. Such competitions were never known, hitherto, in the Rowing records of this country. (17) Yachting.—A two full-day programme is also arranged here—practically every yacht in Ireland entering. (21) Swimming—This four-day programme is fixed for the Zoo, control of which we have taken over for the necessary period. (22) Catering has been taken in hands by the Dublin City and County Caterers Association and in addition to the maximum utilisation of every available resource huge marquees are being erected in public places. In order to meet the requirements it is found necessary to buy 60,000 sets of ware at a cost of £1,500. (23) Transport facilities are very complete and special steamers are being run from Britain and America. (24) Industrial displays and pageants will cover this section. (25) Trophies—Over eleven-hundred medals will be needed for winners. Medal [485] and statuette-casting industries will be started in Dublin as a consequence of this impetus. (31) Accomodation of Athletes.—With the assistance of the military we hope to accommodate at least 1,000 competitors and for this purpose it is necessary to purchase 1,000 beds at about £3 per bed. Not one of the Residential Colleges could be got to accommodate competitors—home or foreign—though it would cost them nothing. This fact should be borne in mind when the nation's money is being spent on these anti-Irish institutions.”

We made every effort to get the foreign competitors properly housed and fed. No country can take the risk of bringing men from 'Frisco and other far off places without at least seeing to their welfare in the interval. And we were hoping to get accommodation in some of the big colleges here but, unfortunately, we have not succeeded. We found it necessary to take over one of the big barracks and furnish it. There was no other alternative.

“Foreign Representation—At least six countries will be represented in Aonach Tailteann. The number may probably reach nine or ten. Had the necessary time—say two or three years—been at our disposal there is no doubt whatever but Australasia instead of not being represented would have had a full compliment of competitors. Industrial depression has deprived us of many more men from Canada, Newfoundland, and Wales.

“It is only proper to state that our capital city lacks a stadium such as capitals generally enjoy, but as a temporary measure to meet the present situation the Provisional Government were good enough to make a grant of £10,000 towards the improvement of Croke Park— otherwise the Aonach would in all probability have been abandoned.

“The immediate result of An Dáil's assistance to the games and pastime of the nation will be the production here in August of the biggest athletic carnival held in any country in modern times.”

Mr Walsh added:

As a matter of fact the Aonach Tailteann is more than twice as large as the Greek Olympic which it includes and provides in addition for a great many matters which were not included in the Greek Olympic or in the ancient Tailteann games of this country.

The report went on to state:—

“The training and equipment of an athletic team to compete against the principal European countries in their respective capitals next summer; a highly developed combination to perform in Paris at the Greek Olympics in 1924 and representation at the Aonach Tailteann possibly in New York in 1925.

“Whether Aonach Tailteann will remain confined to the Irish race henceforth or blossom out as an international feature like the Greek Olympic is a matter which representatives of the various countries will decide when they meet to discuss such matters in August next.”

We have got representations from America to the effect that it would be advisable to depart from the idea of confining the Tailteann games to the Irish race and seeing that they predated the Greek Olympic by a thousand years we should be justified in entering upon a more varied programme. We believe that up to yesterday the Greek Olympic Committee would have excluded Germany, Russia, Scandinavia, and other countries and from their inclusion by us in a few years' time we would have been able to go forth in the international sphere as a going concern. We now find that they have included all these countries. And we will have to reconsider, therefore whether our programme henceforth will be international in the full sense or whether it will be confined to the Irish race. At the outset we didn't know how much would be required to finance the Tailteann Games. It is pretty much a leap in the dark to suggest a certain sum. I said I hoped we could get the programme through on £5,000; So far the Dáil has voted £4,000 and to-day I am asking for a further grant of £1,000 four-fifths of which is required for the equipment of our catering department and the furnishing of the barracks to which I have referred. The receipts from this programme which covers something like ten days will be very big. I should not be surprised if the nett financial results will be at any rate £7,000 or £8,000. By the action of the Dáil and the Dáil Cabinet [486] much has been done for Irish games, and I must say the most enthusiastic backer of the Tailteann Games when the matter was introduced at our meeting was Mr. de Valera. I must say you have done for Irish athletics what we believe would never materialise in our time. It is a matter of great importance to the nation that it should be well represented in these international competitions. Our people in the past, while producing the athletic stars of the world, got no compensation because of the fact that they were picked up and utilised and exploited by other nations. Now you are recognised to-day by this Greek Olympic Council and you have your own programme stretching out into the universe, and you have placed Irish athletics on a footing which will ensure their absolute success in the future. I will ask the Dáil not to look upon this programme in any sense as a political one. You have not done so so far and our Committee is composed of men of both political sides, but the question of politics has not arisen. And though it is hard on the financial resources of the Dáil I will ask you to support us by passing this unanimously.

MR. MCCARTAN: I beg to second the motion.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The motion is that the Dáil approves of the report. Are you all agreeable to that?

MR. HAYES: There is one paragraph to which I take exception, that is with regard to the colleges. The report says:

“Not one of the residential colleges could be got to accommodate competitors—home or foreign— though it would cost them nothing. This fact should be borne in mind when the nation's money is being spent on these Anti-Irish institutions.”

Now, I only received the report when I came to the Dáil meeting this evening. But I think it is unfair to state that the Dublin residential colleges are anti-Irish institutions because—for reasons which seem sufficient to them—they refuse to accommodate competitors—home or foreign. Now these colleges are performing educational work for the nation under conditions which those of us who are in touch with educational conditions in the Dáil know are very difficult, and I would be very sorry to think when the nation's money was being allocated to these colleges that any college which refused to do what the Tailteann Games Committee asked them to do should be penalised. I think it is altogether an unfair statement, and the inference that a legislative assembly of this kind should take this matter into consideration when allocating public money to the colleges is not a thing which an assembly of this kind could stand over. I do not wish to make a fuss over it, but I would like to say it is a statement that I would not care to allow to pass unchallenged.

MR. WALSH: I am rather glad to have an opportunity of drawing attention to it. I put the position of these colleges more clearly before the country and our people and I wanted the people of Ireland——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: It is hardly in order for the Minister to speak at this stage.

MR. WALSH: I assume there is nobody else to speak on the report.

MR. DE VALERA: Do not assume that at all. To put the matter in order I wish to say that I agree altogether with the remarks of the Minister for Education. I think it would be well if that paragraph were deleted from the report. I think it is only fair to the members here that a report of that kind would be circulated in advance, just as it would be well also for the future conduct of the Dáil if the programme for the day could be circulated in advance to the whole House.

Now about that paragraph in the report, it carries with it its own condemnation. It is not at all necessary to make a speech about it and I hope that Deputy Walsh will withdraw that paragraph. It would be the easiest way out of it.

MR. WALSH: I refuse to withdraw that paragraph and I would make my position very clear on it. The House may turn down the Report if it likes, but when we state what we believe to be true in respect of these colleges it is our duty to stick to it. Now for the last ten or eleven years these colleges have been acting in the most anti-Irish fashion——

[487] AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The Deputy is not in order.

MR. WALSH: One moment, please, I have a right to reply.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: You must obey my ruling.

MR. WALSH: I do not withdraw the paragraph. I certainly refuse to delete it.

MR. W.T. COSGRAVE: To put the matter in order, I move that that particular paragraph about the colleges be deleted. I think if the Postmaster General got an elephant to send through the post by parcel post he would say that the Post Office is not supposed to carry elephants. Now these colleges are for educational purposes and it is not their function to turn themselves into boarding establishments. You can with very great difficulty mix up those things with one another. I think, as I was saying to the Minister of Finance, that this particular report was probably written late at night and the Director was in bad humour when he wrote it. It would be a condemnation of the Dáil if it held out a threat to some of the national institutions of this country in future. The idea ought be if they are not up to the standard of the national inspirations of the Director that he ought to develop some means in order to restore them to the nation and not to threaten them with extinction. Human nature is capable of very great improvements. You all admit that. It would be well if things could be improved, and you cannot do that by threats.

MADAME DE MARKIEVICZ: I second Alderman Cosgrave, because it is a preposterous thing to ask Universities to turn themselves into boarding houses and hotels. You must be very careful to whom you extend the hospitality of a university or college. They were not created for this and I think it was a preposterous thing to ask them to do it, and therefore I think that paragraph ought to be deleted.

MR. STACK: I wish to know whether the Minister for Local Government wishes to delete two paragraphs or only one. Is it the last sentence he means?

MR. COSGRAVE: I think the two ought to be deleted. One is a matter of information, I should say. It is clearly a matter that should be brought into the report. I have no wish to let men escape condemnation but I do not think it is their business to do what they are asked to do. You might as well ask me to do something that was entirely outside my business.

MR. STACK: I have a great deal of sympathy with the director of the Tailteann Games on account of the past attitude of some of these colleges towards Irish games. I know nothing at all about what he refers to now. But if the attitude of the colleges towards the games which he is promoting now under the auspices of Dáil Éireann is anything like what it has been to my knowledge in the past, I think he is justified in expressing the views he has expressed and in introducing something or other to mark his condemnation of their conduct.

PROFESSOR STOCKLEY: I wish to say something like what has been said by Mr. Stack. It seems to me that what the Minister for Education said is quite true, that you cannot penalise educational institutions, in the form suggested, and there was a mistake in the form in which that proposal was made. But I also felt that the Postmaster General was serious and I do not wish to say that even the Minister that followed him was not serious in his proposal against this. But I would appeal to the House to consider whether it is at least not unfortunate that nothing has been done to win the sympathy of people who in the past have acted apart from such movements. It seems to me that there is a serious feeling behind this declaration that even now nothing can be done. Nothing has been done in places, perhaps, such as those referred to to create a more reasonable attitude to a public undertaking of this sort.

MISS MCSWINEY: It is not very clear whether this £5,000 is in addition to the £4,000 or whether Deputy Walsh is ask for £1,000 or for £5,000 now.

MR. WALSH: I would like to explain how this matter arose——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I suggest that we dispose of the amendment.

[488] MR. WALSH: I think I should be allowed to speak. You can see that there are two sides to this question and you switch me off before——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: You are quite free to speak on the amendment.

MR. WALSH: Very well. This was discussed by the Aonach Tailteann Committee and it was decided, seeing that the games would be on during the summer period, when the pupils were away from the colleges, it would not be unreasonable to ask the authorities of these colleges to place the buildings, without any equipment, at the disposal of the Tailteann Committee. There were two proposals; first, that we get the equipment and pay for the cleaning up, and second that we get the colleges over with only cooking equipment. Now these proposals were put forward in writing and supported by a deputation of pretty responsible men, and not in any one instance did we get any encouragement. There is an analogy or precedent for what we proposed. Any of you who have been to Leipzig knows that every college there thinks it an honour to assist the city and if there is any public spirit in the colleges in this country a sympathetic response should have been made to us. And I say that no institutions in this country have done more to poison and destroy the nation than the colleges, and I stand for it.

MR. ETCHINGHAM: I do not quite understand the motion of the Minister for Local Government. He proposed to delete the sentence. This fact should be borne in mind. Does he propose to delete only that much?

MR. COSGRAVE: The whole of it from the words “not one of the residential colleges could be got” down to “anti-Irish institutions.”

MR. ETCHINGHAM: If Deputy Walsh would substitute some other word it might meet the case. I know in the G.A.A. in the past the difficulties we had with such colleges. They were really the home of foreign games and anti-national outlook which we were trying to change. There is no use waiting upon them. We did wait upon them time and again and asked them to take up the games, but they would not foster them. It was the common people that fostered the games. Certainly the educational authorities did nothing, but I would not be for penalising the youth of the future in Ireland. Certainly this assembly should not do so. But we should set out something there to show that the old feeling is still there, and that it is dying hard.

MR. WHELEHAN: I think it altogether unfair that a general statement should be made—“Not one of the residential colleges could be got to accomodate competitors, home or foreign, though it would cost them nothing.” There are a great many residential colleges in the country that were not asked.

MR. WALSH: This refers to the residential colleges in and around Dublin.

MR. WHELEHAN: Very well. It should be made very definite which colleges are concerned.

MR. HAYES: I object to the words because the matter at issue here is not whether residential colleges in or around Dublin do not support Irish games. I know some of them do not. They deserve condemnation for it. But the issue here is not that at all. It is a fact that they would not accommodate certain competitors, and because they would not accommodate them they are called anti-Irish. I refuse to accept that. The college, which for reasons of its own, refuses to accommodate competitors is not anti-Irish, because of that. Now, if the second part of the paragraph—“This fact should be borne in mind when the nation's money is being spent on these anti-Irish institutions,” means anything it means that when allocating educational grants to educational establishments we should penalise colleges which have refused to accommodate competitors at the Tailteann Games.

MR. WALSH: Which have refused to take any part whatever in the national games.

MR. HAYES: I am speaking on this and I submit I should not be interrupted here. I look upon it as a member of the legislative assembly which is allocating educational grants. We are asked to penalise residential colleges which are performing educational work on grounds which have nothing to do with education. [489] It is a wrong principle and I do not see how any thinking Deputy in the Dáil can agree with this. The question “for” or “against” Irish games is irrelevant. I am opposed to it for the particular reason I give, that these colleges are described as “anti-Irish,” and that we are asked to penalise them for reasons that are not educational and that are not necessarily Irish.

DR. MCCARTAN: I move that the question be now put.

MR. ROBINS: I second it.

MR. D. MCCARTHY: I suggest that Deputy Walsh should withdraw that paragraph for this reason—that we have now had an opportunity of airing our views. These colleges are certainly anti-Irish. They have boycotted our games, and when it comes to allocating money we will have to think of it; but whether in this or the new Dáil the G.A.A. will have to discuss it.

QUESTION: “That the question be now put”—put and agreed to.

MR. WALSH: I am prepared to withdraw the sentence, seeing that we have concentrated the necessary attention on these colleges, which was our object, naturally. As Mr. McCarthy says we will follow it up later on.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Will the Minister for Local Government withdraw his amendment?

MR. COSGRAVE: Certainly.

MR. FRANK FAHY: In dtaobh an chuig míle punt seo ba mhaith liom fios a fháil an iasacht nó grant é seo? An dtabharfaidh Coisde Aonach Tailteann an méid sin airgid ar áis don Dáil arís má thagann an t-airgead isteach chucha?

MR. STACK: I wish to make a suggestion, and I hope it will be accepted by the director. The paragraph in the last page of the report says “the immediate result of An Dáil's assistance to the games and pastimes of the nation will be the production here in August of the biggest athletic festival held in any country in modern times.” I suggest that we should alter that to the Dáil's “promotion of the games and pastimes,” because it was the Dáil's promotion and he is only acting under the Dáil.

MR. WALSH: I accept that. As to Mr. Fahy's question, seeing that this is a grant and seeing that the entire monies are those of the Dáil, there is no doubt that the results will revert naturally to the Dáil. I pointed out that we would make a profit of several thousand pounds from the Táilteann games. That is the Dáil money.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Then I put the adoption of the report, with the two amendments that have been made, one omitting the two sentences with reference to the colleges being anti-Irish and the other changing the word “assistance” to “promotion.” I declare the report passed. Now there is the question of the vote of £5,000.

MR. COSGRAVE: In the absence of the Minister for Finance, I am moving this vote at his request. There has been already voted a sum of £4,000. The director explains that he will be able to restore this money. I think the profit he has stated that they will make shows him to be the most optimistic director we have had.

MR. WALSH: Because he knows his business.

MR. COSGRAVE: I am moving the estimate accordingly.

MR. D. MCCARTHY: I second that.

MR. DE VALERA: Are we to take it as a loan?

MR. WALSH: Yes.

MR. DE VALERA: When I suggested that these games be started Deputy Walsh suggested £2,000. Now we have gone up to £9,000, and whilst I will support this £5,000 to finish it, I think we have gone as far as our funds will allow us in supporting these games. I would like to say that it is most unwise to change these games from the Irish Race Games into being competitors with the Greek Olympic. I think we ought to keep them as definitely Irish games.

[490] MR. WALSH: Of course we will bear in mind Mr. de Valera's suggestion, but I would like to explain that the estimate submitted by me at a few hours' notice was £2,000 or £3,000 and at the time we anticipated a very limited programme. As soon as I got an opportunity, within a fortnight I re-submitted a programme and stated definitely that its promotion would cost at least £5,000. And I have not exceeded the £5,000. I have only gone to £4,000, but as I explained here, we have introduced a great many additional features. We certainly will require no more.

MR. DE VALERA: Is it in order for a Deputy who is not a Minister to second it?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Yes, certainly. It must be moved by a Minister but any Deputy can second it. Now this motion is before you.

MR. STACK: Is it £5,000 plus the £1,000 already received?

MR. COSGRAVE: £4,000 has been already voted and £1,550 has been expended. This is a vote over and above what has been expended for the special department in connection with the catering committee. Now the total vote as far as the Dáil is concerned from the beginning amounts to £9,000 of which a sum of £1,500 has been already expended.

MISS MCSWINEY: I would like to ask if the amount of money spent in giving employment in connection with these games will justify that expenditure when there is so much need and so many unemployed throughout the country. A little further down we have a request for £5,000 for Mayo, and there is starvation in the County Donegal. I know those games will give employment and will bring in some profit. It is a question of consideration whether the amount of employment given by this grant will justify this expenditure in face of the terrible want in Donegal and the west of Ireland. I know that there is a great advantage in athletic festivals of this kind, but I doubt if it should be undertaken on such a big scale on this particular year, in view of the distress in the country. If, on the other hand, that £9,000 will give adequate employment to those who have none, I would have nothing to say to it. But I would like to put before the Dáil whether the money could not be better spent and have the Games undertaken on a smaller scale for this year?

MR. WALSH: As a matter of fact, every penny has been spent in giving employment. We have already started two new industries and we are starting a third.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I suggest that the Deputy wait and then he could reply when the speakers have finished.

MR. WALSH: It is easier to do it the other way.

MADAME DE MARKIEVICZ: I would like to say a word. The more practical way of looking at it is this: It seems to me that Mr. Walsh has done very efficient work and seeing what it is and what it is going to be he has done it extremely cheap. The £4,000 has not been spent, but if we do not give this £5,000 we are simply spoiling the whole thing; every farthing invested in it so far will be lost. I look at it that as we have gone so far it would be bad finance for the Tailteann Games and bad for the country to stop the thing now. I consider that £9,000 is a very small sum for a gigantic thing like this to be done. Also I would like to point out that the money is like an investment and will be helpful. Money will be spent here. I would be strongly in favour of giving this further loan.

MR. ETCHINGHAM: I am in support of the grant, but I would be more so if the director had introduced the game of bowls. I heard this first in Lincoln prison and it was discussed by Mr. de Valera and Seán O'Mahony. They were anxious about rounders, and some men from Cork and the west wanted bowls. That is an old Irish game. I think we should unanimously grant this loan. It is perhaps too big a start but it is necessary to give it. Every one of us should aim to make the Tailteann Games a success.

Vote of £5,000 put and agreed to.