Looking Back: Dáil Éireann discussions from June 1919.
The following are a selection of entries from Dáil Éireann discussions held over the 17th, 18th and 19th June 1919. During this time, and following his escape from Lincoln Jail in February that year, then President of Ireland Mr. Éamon de Valera had embarked on a mission to the United States in an effort to gain international recognition of the Irish Republic and to raise much needed funds.
A letter from the President to the Dáil:
"I hereby appoint the Secretary for Home Affairs, Art O'Griobhtha, as Deputy President in my absence. The fact that he is Vice-President of the political organisation clearly indicates him for the position, and is an assurance that he will have the loyal co-operation of the whole Dáil.
"I do not know that there is any provision made for it in the constitution but I think it important, so that the number in the Cabinet may not be too small, and that it may include a sufficiency of different types of opinion, to make good the deficiency in number during my absence, by the temporary admission of one of the present extra cabinet ministers, and if this be ratified by Dáil Eireann, Earnan de Blaghd, Minister for Trade, should be thus admitted.
"I am also of the opinion that the Deputy-President should be requested by the Cabinet to accept his salary, as in effect he will be giving all his time to the work.
"For the coming meeting of the Dáil, the Ministers in charge of Trade, Local Government, etc., should have schemes—practical proposals sanctioned by the Cabinet, and ready to be put into immediate operation if sanctioned by the Dáil—fully prepared. We must endeavour to begin at once to put into operation the domestic and constructive side of the Sinn Fein programme."
Inclusion in the ministry of the director of trade and commerce:
CATHAL BRUGHA (Waterford Co.) moved and T. MAC SUIBHNE (Cork Mid) seconded:—
"That the Dáil ratify the inclusion in the Ministry of Earnan de Blaghd, Director of Trade and Commerce."
JOSEPH MACDONAGH (Tipperary N.) opposed the motion on the ground that this would mean two Ministers of Trade and Commerce. He asked if the Minister previously appointed had resigned or had been dismissed.
The ACTING-PRESIDENT replied that the Member was labouring under an extraordinary misapprehension. There was no Minister for Trade and Commerce, but the strength of the Cabinet had been reduced by Mr. de Valera's absence. There is a Minister for Industries.
J. MACDONAGH (Tipperary North) moved:
"That no Minister be appointed until 16B on the Orders of the day had been discussed."
S. MACENTEE (Monaghan S.) seconded. He asked for an explanation of the absence of the President. No Member of the Dáil had been consulted. It was neither right nor fair to them that they should be unable to say whether the President had gone away, and where he was.
The PRESIDENT-SUBSTITUTE replied that before the Dáil adjourned every Member would be informed as to the facts. The proposals before the House must be carried or rejected, and until the revolutionary proposals appearing lower down in the Orders of the day were carried they would go on.
EOIN MACNEILL (National University) said that he had no special fitness for the post he occupied. Mr. de Blaghd had done a considerable amount of work in the Department of Trade and Commerce and he should be glad that he (Mr. de Blaghd) should be appointed an active Member of the Ministry. There was great danger that while they were gaining the political Independence of Ireland they might lose it economically.
A Division was challenged on the Amendment, and on a count of five votes for, and twenty-two against, the original question was put and carried.
Motion of Thanks to the American Senate:
The ACTING-PRESIDENT moved the following resolution of thanks to the American Senate:—
"The duly elected representatives of Ireland assembled in legislative session in Dublin this 17th day of June, 1919, before taking up the business of the day, desire to record their appreciation of the action of the Congress of the United States on behalf of Ireland, and in particular of the following resolutions adopted by the Senate of the United States:—
‘That the Senate of the United States earnestly requests the American Peace Commission at Versailles to endeavour to secure for Eamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith, and George Noble Plunkett, a hearing before the Peace Conference, in order that they may present the case of Ireland.
‘And further, the Senate of the United States expresses its sympathy with the aspirations of the Irish people for a Government of their own choice.'
It is therefore resolved: That the elected Government of Ireland be and is hereby directed to convey the thanks of the Irish Nation to the Congress of the United States; to declare that the people of Ireland cherish no designs on the rights or territories of other nations, but ardently seek to live in cordial peace with, and as one of, the Free Nations of the World; and to assure the people of America that the ties of blood and friendship which subsisted between both nations in the days of their subjection to one common oppressor have endured and are indissoluble."
CATHAL BRUGHA (Waterford County) seconded the motion, which was unanimously adopted.
Press report of proceedings:
The ACTING PRESIDENT, in reply to a question from Alderman T. KELLY (St. Stephen's Green), stated that a report of the previous day's proceedings had been issued to the Press, but was refused publication by the English Government. Copies of this report had already been sent abroad. Steps will be taken to have the report printed and circulated after the conclusion of the Session.
Address by acting-president:
The ACTING-PRESIDENT, addressing the Dáil, said that he would be very glad if it were possible for the Dáil to meet in continuous Session so that all Members would bear their share of the responsibility for what is being done. The Ministry were working in perfect harmony; their decisions were always unanimous; the members were working honestly and openly with each other. They were all united on this one point, that they each and all sought to attain the establishment of a Sovereign Independent Republic in Ireland.
With regard to the visit of the American Delegation, the notice which the Ministry received of the arrival of the three Commissioners was too short to enable them to notify Members of the Dáil. The English Government held up telegrams announcing the time of their arrival. When they actually did come everything else had to be laid aside in order to arrange for their visits through the country.
No money had been received from America. It was understood, however, that America had undertaken to defray the expenses of the Irish Representatives in Paris. They were fighting the biggest Power in the world, and fighting her more successfully than be had ever hoped. England had spent millions of money in a campaign of slander against Ireland. Their efforts had caused that campaign to fail. England is now in the Dock before the world and they have the power to keep her there.
Issue of £250,000 5 per cent, Registered Certificates:
Bearing Interest from the date when fully paid, at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum, payable half-yearly on the 1st January and the 1st July, subject to the reservations contained in this Prospectus.
1. The Ministry of An Dáil Eireann is authorised by An Dáil to issue the above Certificates to the public for subscription, and the Minister of Finance will receive applications until further notice.
2. After the withdrawal of the English Military Forces, this loan becomes the first charge on the Revenues of the Irish Republic.
3. The Certificates will be issued in denominations of £1, £5, £10, £20, £50, and £100, and will bear interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum. The first dividend will consist of in terest calculated from the date upon which the final payment is made, but will not be payable until a date six months after the Irish Republic has received international recognition, and the English have evacuated Ireland. Thenceforward, payment will be made half-yearly on 1st January and 1st July.
4. The price of this issue is £100 per cent., payable as follows:—
25 per cent. on application.
25 per cent. on 1st August, 1919.
50 per cent. on 1st November, 1919.
5. Applications for Certificates, together with the amount payable on application, may be lodged on or after the 1st June, 1919, with the Minister of Finance.
6. Every applicant will be supplied at the time of payment with a receipt, in which the amount of the purchase and the amount paid upon application will be recorded. The Registered Certificates will, when prepared, be issued in exchange for this receipt.
7. Printed Forms of Application and Copies of this Prospectus may be obtained from the Minister of Finance, Dáil Eireann; the Honorary Treasurers of Sinn Féin, and the Secretary of any Sinn Féin Club in Ireland.
EAMONN DE VALERA,
MICHEAL O COILEAIN,
Minister of Finance.