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Local Elections Bill, 1966: Second Stage.

Thursday, 13 October 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 224 No. 9

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Minister for Local Government (Mr. Blaney): Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

This Bill proposes to postpone until 1967 the local elections which were due to be held this year and to extend the terms of office of existing members of local authorities accordingly. It also provides for the holding of future local elections during the month of June and at quinquennial intervals after 1967, for the holding of annual or quarterly meetings of local authorities this year and for some other consequential matters.

Important changes in the law governing local elections are in course of preparation. A Bill is being drafted to repeal certain disqualifications for membership of local authorities and to set up new legal machinery for questioning local elections by petition. It is desirable that these changes should operate in respect of the next local elections, but, while it is my intention to have the Bill introduced as soon as possible, it is unlikely to be enacted this year. Amendment of certain other aspects of the electoral law, including the extension of postal voting facilities, is also under consideration.

[1240] Pending the holding of the next local elections under the provisions of the Electoral Act, 1963, special provision was necessary in regard to the holding this year of annual or quarterly meetings by local authorities. Since 1927 local authorities have been accustomed to hold these meetings during the period between 23rd June and 1st July and this period is specified by the Bill for annual or quarterly meetings this year. Following the introduction and circulation of the Bill I advised local authorities to make arrangements accordingly and it is proposed that anything so done by the authorities in anticipation of the passing of the Bill will be validated.

The Bill also includes certain minor consequential provisions concerning appointments of school attendance committees and meetings of vocational education committees.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): For the past three weeks, we have been discussing here the Estimate for the Department of Local Government. That debate lasted a total of eight days. In the first six days we heard Deputies from every constituency criticising the Minister and the Department for the manner in which the Department had been administered during the past 12 months. That criticism was well justified. The Minister took two days to reply and, in the course of his reply, he answered to his own satisfaction apparently, but certainly not to the satisfaction of the Members of this House or of the country, every charge that had been made against him. He presented himself here as a Minister who had done a job and done it well.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I do not wish to interrupt the Deputy, but we have had eight days of this and I am just wondering if that debate is yet over.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange The Minister must not think he can bulldoze the Chair as he did Radio Telefís Éireann.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I hope to relate my remarks to the Bill.

[1241]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan And I am waiting for the Deputy to relate his remarks. That is all.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Minister presented himself to the House as a Minister who had done his job, and done it well, and as a Minister who deserves the best thanks of the House and of the country. One would have thought that the Minister would have welcomed an opportunity of being thanked by the electorate for his services to the country during the past 12 months. One would have thought that he would have welcomed an opportunity of seeking an endorsement of his policy and of his administration by the only people who are really entitled to endorse or to thank, that is, the electorate of this country. Having boasted of his achievements for two days here, is it not extraordinary that the Minister should now come in this morning and in a speech lasting only a few minutes introduce a Bill seeking to postpone the local elections? He is introducing a Bill denying the people the right to pass judgment on the local authorities elected as far back as 1960, and, in particular, denying the people the right to pass judgment on the activities of the Minister's Department for the past 12 months. The facts speak for themselves. It is obvious that the Minister is afraid to face the electorate. It is obvious that he knows in his heart, despite his protestations, that he has done a bad job, fallen down on the job and is afraid to face the electorate because he knows what the consequences would be.

From time to time the Minister protests about being misrepresented and being accused of not being frank with the country. I have rarely seen a more misleading Short Title to a Bill than the Short Title to the Bill we are discussing. It is entitled “An Act to alter the years for holding local elections and to make provision for certain other matters connected with local elections”. Anybody reading that title might think that instead of postponing the local elections, which are already two years overdue, we were bringing them forward. Politicians in the years to come reading the Title of this Bill would never get the impression that [1242] the Government were in fact postponing the overdue local elections for purely Party purposes.

A more accurate title of this Bill would be “An Act to further postpone the latest date for holding local elections now overdue and to legalise retrospectively all acts done by the local authorities since the 8th of June 1966” because that in fact is what we are doing. We are being asked to postpone for a further 12 months local elections which were due to be held in June, 1965, and we are being asked to do that retrospectively because every act done by the local authorities since the 8th June has been an illegal act done in anticipation of having it ratified by this House, and we are now asked to legalise that retrospectively.

Over 30 years ago, the Fianna Fáil Party introduced politics into local elections for the first time. Since then, local elections have been fought on a political basis and Parties have put up candidates. This Party never approved of politics being introduced into local elections but they were introduced by Fianna Fáil and the challenge had to be taken up by this Party. I say, therefore, that politics having been introduced into the elections, and as the elections are run on a political basis, the electorate should not be deprived of the opportunity, whenever it is due, of passing judgment on the councils which have been elected and on the policy of the Department which controls those councils. I say that the electorate is entitled to avail of these elections to express its opinion of the representatives who were elected five years earlier.

It is significant that in the debate on the Estimate for the Department of Local Government, the Minister on several occasions saw fit to blame local authorities in various counties for not measuring up to their requirements, for not playing the ball, as he said. When it was demonstrated that housing had not been progressing as well as it should have been in certain counties, the Minister was not slow to say that it was not the fault of his Department but the fault of the local authorities who had not used the [1243] money available to them or availed of the machinery at their disposal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I hope the Deputy will not continue to travel along that line.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Yet the Minister is introducing a Bill this morning to keep in power for a further 12 months beyond the time they should have submitted themselves to the country the very local authorities he criticises. I suggest I am entitled to draw the attention of the House and the country to that because it seems to me to be an extraordinary situation. It is equally important, I submit, that when local elections fall due between Parliamentary elections, the country should have an opportunity of availing of such elections to express its opinion on Government policy in so far as it relates to local government. If ever there was a time in the history of this State when there was more controversy about the Department of Local Government, when there was more criticism of the Minister for Local Government, this is it. Therefore I submit that it is wrong, and very wrong, that these elections should be postponed.

I think the Bill is a dangerous Bill. It contains all the ingredients of legislation and of Government thinking which should be avoided. The policy and the mentality behind this Bill is a dangerous policy and a dangerous mentality. I believe that if this attitude were to be pursued, it can truly be said that this Bill contains within it the seeds of the destruction of democracy as we know it in these islands, because it is a Bill which deprives the people of the right to pass judgment on elected representatives and to put them out of office, if they think fit.

I say that this Bill contains the seeds of the destruction of democracy as we know it and perhaps it is fortunate that we have an opportunity of discussing it now at the same time as there is sitting here a Committee to revise the Constitution. It is only a short thought, at any rate, from postponing local government elections to postponing Parliamentary elections. I am fully [1244] conscious of the fact that the Constitution provides that Parliamentary elections must be held every five years but I sincerely hope the Government's attitude at present, which appears to be reflected in this Bill, will not find its way into that committee examining the Constitution, and that the Government will not toy with the idea of removing from the Constitution the guarantee that Parliamentary elections must be held every five years.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The Constitution does not arise on this Bill. This is a Local Elections Bill.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I think I am entitled to refer to it in passing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The Deputy is doing more than referring to it in passing.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy is wrong about his reference to the Constitution. Five years is not correct.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Parliamentary elections every five years and Presidential elections every seven years.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy is inaccurate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Surely there is a difference—a very marked difference—between Parliamentary elections and local elections?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I hope that the Government have no idea of interfering with the Constitution in this respect because I want to assure them that the electorate will not stand for it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I would ask the Deputy to pass from that.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I have finished all I want to say on it. Those elections have been postponed. This is the second occasion on which a Bill has been introduced to postpone those elections which were due to take place in June, 1965. I say that they have been postponed for party political purposes. A general election was held on 7th April, 1965, [1245] in order that the people might be consulted before the true state of the economy and the true financial situation were known. When June, 1965 came the state of the country, due to maladministration by the Government, was beginning to make itself manifest. The Government then introduced a Bill to postpone the local elections for 12 months. Of course, instead of things improving they got much worse. Money became impossible to find.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The Deputy may not proceed to discuss the condition of the country on this Bill.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I do not intend to discuss it at length but I think, with respect to the Chair, that I am entitled to put what I believe are the Government's reasons for postponing the elections.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan So long as they are relevant to the Bill.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I respectfully agree. I do not intend to go into any of them in detail.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan You can refer to many things that are not relevant by alluding to them. The debate has a certain scope. The Deputy understands the scope of the Bill very well and I would ask him to keep within the scope of it. He is entitled to refer to certain matters but he is not entitled to go into the financial state of the country on this Bill.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I have no intention of doing so.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I hope not.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): None whatever. The local elections were postponed from 1965 until 1966. One would have thought that those elections would have been held in 1966 on the same day as the Presidential election. I think that was the idea at the time they were postponed but again, for party political reasons, those [1246] elections were not held on the same day as the Presidential election. Now I come to what I consider to be one of the worst features of the Bill.

It was not introduced into this House in April or May of this year or discussed in this House in April or May of this year, as well it might have been. Time and time again Parliamentary questions were put to the Minister for Local Government as to when the local government elections would be held. He avoided answering those questions and he avoided giving any information to the House. Instead of the Bill being brought before the House and discussed in the month of May or April, before the previous Act had expired, the Minister waits until the Presidential election is safely over, and until we come to the month of October several months after the local elections are due.

He brings this Bill in retrospectively and asks the House to pass it. He has taken this deliberative assembly, the Parliament of this country, for granted since the 8th June last. He has gone merrily on on the assumption that, with his majority, he would be able to steamroll this measure through retrospectively and legalise and render valid all the illegal acts he has permitted the local bodies to do since 8th June last.

I say that is unsound; it is a bad principle. It is treating Parliament with nothing but contempt. It is obvious why the Minister did not introduce this Bill in May or April of this year. He wanted to avoid having a debate and a discussion on it in this House before the Presidential election was held. The Government were determined at all times that they would not hold the local elections and the Presidential election on the same day. When the Minister for Justice was asked, in Carrick-on-Shannon, why he would not hold the Presidential election and the local government elections on the same day he answered: “The last time we did that we lost the referendum and we nearly lost the Presidential candidate.” That is putting party and politics before the country.

[1247]Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Whom is the Deputy quoting?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Minister for Justice.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Quoting from what?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): A Fianna Fáil convention in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney That surely is not a document.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I did not say it was.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney You could scarcely be quoting it, so.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I have not quoted verbatim.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy should not give the impression he was.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I did not give that impression. That was the attitude of the Minister for Justice on that occasion and that has been the attitude of the Government to this matter. So much for the dangerous precedent and unsound principle of this Bill.

I think, on those grounds, it should be rejected by the House and, having regard to the present financial and economic state of the country, I submit that I am entitled to refer to the gross extravagance and reckless waste of public money which this Bill will entail. It was intended to hold these elections on the same day as the Presidential election on 1st June last. If that had been done, this country would have been saved £70,000 additional expense. I want to say that, in the Minister's words, £70,000 would provide several swimming pools for the people which the Minister admits he cannot afford to provide with the money at his disposal. It would provide 700 derelict site grants which, for all practical purposes, have been suspended. It would provide 700 reconstruction grants of £100 each and, for all practical purposes, these grants have been suspended.

[1248] The Minister readily admits that money is scarce and that we are passing through difficult times. Yet, the Government completely disregard the additional cost to the country which this Bill entails. This Bill should be rejected by this House, and this Party will oppose it on the ground that it is fundamentaly unsound.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Why did the Deputy not refer to that on the Estimate?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): It is fundamentally unsound. The next Department of Local Government Estimate will be nearly through——

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Why did the Deputy not refer to that on the Estimate?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): They have it arranged in such a way that the next Local Government Estimate is nearly due. This Party will oppose this Bill on the grounds that it is fundamentally unsound—it is an attack on democracy and it contains the seeds of the destruction of democracy as we understand it—and is a reckless waste of public money— £70,000 of it—for political party purposes and for no other reason.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I do not propose to detain the House long on this Bill. My remarks will be brief. Subparagraph 5 of Article 16 of the Constitution says that “the same Dáil Éireann shall not continue for a longer period than seven years from the date of its first meeting: a shorter period may be fixed by law.” I understand five years has been fixed, but the Constitution says seven years.

I do not go the whole way with Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan), although I go a long way with him in much of what he says. I do go with him in that it was wrong to postpone the local elections for two years. It is only a short time since the local elections were held every three years. Then it was decided that they should be held every five years. I do not blame the Minister for postponing the elections; it was a Government decision. They decided it was not politically [1249] wise to hold the elections in 1965 and then they apparently decided it was politically unwise to hold them in 1966. They now propose to postpone the elections until 1967. Having postponed them for 12 months and are now proposing to postpone them again for 12 months, it is quite on the cards that the same Minister will come into this House again and postpone them.

I think something final should be done about the matter of fixing a date for local elections. It should not be possible to have a period twice as long as was the normal period. After all, three years was the normal period. It is now proposed to have a seven year period between the last elections and the next. That is also true because of the fact that we have had all sorts of talk about the changes which should be made in local administration, particularly in the administration of the health authorities, and indirectly county councils and corporations.

The Minister said yesterday he had no function whatever in interfering with the setting up of local councils and generally proposed to make regional councils, and a lot of things like that. One Minister for Health has announced that his successor has been going around the country telling everybody that whether the local authority members like it or not, it is proposed to have regional councils looking after health which was a matter which was normally dealt with by the local authorities. The Minister for Health also said that it will be the 1970s before he will be able to introduce legislation in this House to put this into operation.

Possibly this present administration may not be responsible for what will happen in this House in 1970. I believe the local elections should have been held in 1965. Since they could not have been held in 1965, they should still be held this year. It is too bad that we should have this question under debate just to suit the Government of the day.

There is another aspect of this on [1250] which I do not agree with Deputy Fitzpatrick. He says his Party do not agree with politics in local elections. Could anybody explain to me how you could divorce politics from local elections? I am aware that no matter under what heading people go into local authorities, they will vote on what their policies have been.

Mr. Egan: Information on Nicholas Egan Zoom on Nicholas Egan It was always politics and Fine Gael were there in disguise.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I would like to make it clear, though it may not be exactly true, that the local elections are the political barometer of the day and show what way the country is thinking. That is the reason we did not have the local elections in 1965, did not have the local elections in 1966, and if the Government feel that it is not very suitable, we will not have them in 1967. I am repeating this because I want to be able to say when the time comes: “I told you so”.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Itoldyouso—it is running today.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Yes, have a couple of bob on him.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Yes.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully There are a couple of points which need to be dealt with. For instance, it is suggested that the date of the local elections will be June. Has the Minister thought over this? Has he decided that June is, in fact, the most suitable month for an election? I live in a seaside resort to which people come for their holidays. We know holidays are cheaper in June than in July or August. I know that at the last local elections and other elections people have been on holidays and therefore have not bothered to vote. Then if the Minister picks a date late in June, it will run into the haymaking, a period during which, very often, farmers will not find it convenient to vote and for some extraordinary reason, though they may complain afterwards, they do not vote if they have something else to do. I suggest the Minister should make up his mind as to whether the most suitable time of the year has been selected and we [1251] should know now what the date will be. I do not know what the Department hope to gain by having it loosely worded so that the elections can be held on any date from 1st to 30th of June.

There is something else the Minister should look at. He says he is bringing in legislation later on to deal with certain aspects of local government. There is the question at the present time of, let us call them for convenience, the constituencies. There are, in this country, areas where we have 13,000 or 14,000 voters represented by five councillors. Next door to that we have 9,000 voters represented by five councillors. We have 13,000 voters in the same county represented by seven councillors. This is something which, apparently, the local authorities, because of the particular majority in control there, do not want to have altered. The Department of Local Government must take the initiative in having fair representation and the only way they can have fair representation is by laying down the number of voters there should be to each seat, the same as the Dáil elections. I will not talk about the West of Ireland or other places over-represented like Donegal on this Bill; that will come later on.

There is something else which the Minister should be well aware of and which he must do something about, that is, the tendency in framing Bills coming into this House to put in sections which will disqualify elected representatives from voting in elections. They should be entitled to vote. The Minister should be careful about that because we have in the last Housing Bill peculiar circumstances which can result in the majority of councillors in a county council being disqualified from voting because of the fact that they, in fact, live in local authority houses. This sort of thing can make a joke of local authority representation. This is something which should be dealt with if the Minister is considering improving local electoral law.

I have nothing further to say except that the Labour Party are of the [1252] opinion that the local elections should not be postponed until next June. They should be held as soon as possible, that is, this year. There should be in the Bill a date on which the local elections will be held and every succeeding local elections will be held and there should be a proviso that in no circumstances will it be possible to postpone local elections at the whim of a Government.

Deputy Fitzpatrick said one thing which I thought correct, that is, that the cost of the local elections, if they had been held along with the Presidential election, would have been very much less. I would not go all the way and say £70,000, but it would have been very much less than if the local elections are held on their own.

Let us not have the old story of the people putting ballot papers in the wrong boxes. People do not do things like that nowadays. You will have the odd fellow who does a thing like that because he thinks it is smart but the majority of the people are more intelligent and they ensure that they put the ballot paper in the box for which it was intended.

Finally, I would appeal to the Minister again not to hold to June for the local elections and let us decide to have them regularly every five years and not at the whim of the Government in power.

Mr. O'Hara: Information on Thomas O'Hara Zoom on Thomas O'Hara It is regrettable, in my opinion, that in the year in which the Irish people had the 1916 celebrations, in which everybody joined, a Minister of a Government of this country should come into this House with a Bill of this kind.

We have been listening, on radio and on television, to what those great men achieved for this country and for the freedom of this country and we all appreciate the efforts made by those great men and women in times of trial and difficulty. I am sure those people who are now gone to their reward and many of whom sacrificed their lives for this country never visualised a situation in which a Minister of State of this Republic would come into this House with such a Bill, taking from the people [1253] the fundamental right of voting at the proper time in local elections, and all because the Fianna Fáil Party and the Fianna Fáil Minister were well aware that if they came before the people and held the elections at the proper time, they would get their answer. It is a sad thing that a Minister of State in this Parliament should try such mean tactics to deprive the people of their fundamental right of selecting and electing to urban councils and county councils and, for that matter, to Dáil Éireann, the people of their choice.

The Minister in his brief statement in introducing this Bill, tried to create the impression that it was for the good of the people generally that he was bringing this Bill to the House as, in fact, he tried last night to create the impression in winding up the debate that this country was well on the road to prosperity and has been on the road to prosperity in relation to housing, sewerage, water and other matters. If the Minister thinks he is fooling Deputies or the people outside, he is making a mistake, and when the time comes and the people are afforded an opportunity of voting in the local elections, they will give him his answer.

The people outside, as well as the Deputies, are well aware that the reason the Minister and the Government decided to postpone the elections was that they were afraid to face the people. There is no doubt in our minds about that. Deputies on this side of the House, and on the far side of the House, for that matter, know what the reason was for the postponement. The position has deteriorated rather than improved since the Government decided to postpone the elections and, as things are going, I am convinced that when the appropriate time comes, the Minister and his Party will get their answer.

I consider, too, that a seven-year period is far too long to deprive the people of the opportunity of expressing their opinion, in the ballot boxes, on their elected representatives. Yesterday the Minister was very critical of all local authorities round the country. He was very critical of the methods used in dealing with local affairs, with particular reference to housing, water and [1254] sewerage schemes, in relation to the position here in Dublin, Cork, other cities, and also in the rural areas. In fact, he must have set an all-time record for the longest speech, in having rambled over the whole of the country from the capital city right round to the rural areas, taking them county by county and urban council by urban council in an effort to belittle the efforts of local representatives who are unpaid for their work and the majority of whom it costs, in my opinion, £2 or £3 a week——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan This does not seem to be relevant to the measure before us.

Mr. O'Hara: Information on Thomas O'Hara Zoom on Thomas O'Hara I know that on this particular Bill we have to keep on the straight and narrow path, and I will try to do so, but I submit that if the Minister had such a bad opinion of these elected representatives around the country, if he thought they were irresponsible—and that is how he painted the picture—there was there for him a wonderful opportunity to hold the local elections at the appropriate time and not to retain on these bodies these irresponsible people, as he described them—if he did not use the word “irresponsible”, he suggested in the whole of his speech that there were people there who had money for disposal although we all know that that statement was not true—and permit them to administer affairs at local level. He had the opportunity, if the elections were held at the appropriate time, of dealing with that and giving to the people who are, in the final analysis, the bosses, that is, the ordinary electorate, the opportunity of saying whom they wanted to represent them in the local councils.

Instead of that, of course, we know the Minister was trying to have it both ways. When he felt there was a danger of his Party suffering defeat at the local elections, he would not take the risk of running the elections and, as Deputy James Tully put it, no doubt it was a Government decision, and not just a decision of the Minister's. But even if he were left on [1255] his own, if I know that gentleman— and I think I know him fairly well— he would have made the decision along the same lines and he would be coming into this House with this Bill and trying to get it passed by the Dáil.

I suggest there is not much we can do about it. We can protest; we can say we are opposed to these tactics; we can make it known to the public that we are in total disagreement with the Minister's tactics; but the people who really will be able to give the Minister his answer with the passage of time, and when the opportunity arises, are the ordinary people of this city and of the rural areas as well. I believe the people are only waiting for the opportunity to give the Minister and this Government their answer for what I would describe as three-card-trick tactics and I regret I cannot give them a more responsible title.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds Fianna Fáil, in my opinion, are only prolonging their own agony and the agony of the electorate of this country in postponing the local elections. The local elections were due in 1965 and were postponed until 1966. We have a Bill here today postponing them until 1967, but, as has been pointed out, the Minister for Local Government put in roughly eight hours this week and last week boasting of the achievements of his Department, both in rural Ireland and in Dublin city. If that is so, why is he afraid to submit his candidates to the electorate? He knows that what he told us here in the past few days is a completely untrue picture and that is the reason he is most anxious to postpone these elections. He is depending upon the majority he has here in the House to push through this Bill, just as the Fianna Fáil Party depended on the majority, aided and abetted by a number of Independents in the Leitrim County Council, last week to push through the co-option of a candidate of theirs.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I cannot allow this. Administration by a local authority may not be discussed on this Bill. I will not discuss it with the [1256] Deputy. I am ruling that the administration of a local authority is not relevant to this measure.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Surely the Deputy is entitled to make the case that the councils are so bad that they——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I cannot allow a discussion on the administration of a local authority on this measure.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds I am only making the point that what is happening in a local authority——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The Deputy is discussing a particular incident and I cannot allow that.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds We all know that the reason for the postponement of the elections is the want of finance. The general election came in 1965 and came before the true financial situation was known to the country; that was what brought about that election. When that election was over, the Minister and the Government knew well at that particular time that they had no intention of running the local elections in either 1966 or probably in 1967. We are not fools. We all know the Fianna Fáil Party are waiting for something to happen before they submit themselves to the electorate and God knows, they did not get much encouragement yesterday from the Minister for Agriculture.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The Minister for Agriculture does not come into this at all. The Deputy may not make a reference to another Minister; surely this is not a free-for-all?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): But the Minister for Agriculture is involved in local authorities.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan This is a Bill to extend the date within which the local elections can be held, nothing else.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds In conclusion, the natural thing for the Government to have done, in the financial situation in which we are at the moment—instead [1257] of spending £70,000, which they will be compelled to spend if they have the moral courage to face the electorate next year—was to have held the local elections on the same day as the Presidential election. We all know the reason that was not done. The point is that they will have to find £70,000 more from the Exchequer to pay for these elections, whenever they decide to hold them, and I rather doubt if they will be held next year.

Mr. M.E. Dockrell: Information on Maurice E. Dockrell Zoom on Maurice E. Dockrell I should like to say a few words on this Bill, the purpose of which is to postpone the local elections until June of next year. So far so good. All one can talk about in connection with this Bill, without getting into what I call pure politics which I do not propose to get into, is why the elections were not held some time last spring. The Presidential election and the 1916 celebrations and commemorations kept the country in a heightened state, and I suppose there was an idea that something as humble as the local elections would be a come-down. I think that was a mistake.

Deputy Fitzpatrick and Deputy Reynolds referred to the cost of the local elections. Apparently it is something like £70,000. That is not to be sneezed at, but I do not think it is the most important aspect. It is an important aspect but not the most important. The idea that the local elections were second-class elections came inevitably from their postponement, and from the refusal to hold them at the same time as the Presidential election. That was a mistake from the point of view that it gave rise to the idea that the local elections were not very important.

They are enormously important. A great deal of the life of the community in general is debated and decided at local government level. It is not necessarily at a lower level than the parliamentary level, but it is at a different level. It is not good for our people to have the idea that it is at a lower level. We are still a very young State. We know, of course, that we are an old country with a long history, but we are young in the administration of self-government. Most of the better [1258] legislative minds that have dealt with our problems over the past 40 odd years have recognised that a buildingup process was very necessary and very desirable in Ireland—building-up and a strengthening of our people in the arts of self-government.

One of the greatest arts of self-government is the art of local government. Especially nowadays, with the State coming more and more into the lives of the people these matters should be tested at local government level. These matters should be discussed and public opinion tested and indeed formed at the level of the councils and county councils throughout Ireland. Matters dealing with roads and behaviour on the roads, and all that type of thing, reach the consciousness of the public through that medium in a far better way that they could through discussion in Dáil Éireann, so anything that tends to denigrate the importance of local elections is not good. For that reason alone it would have been a good thing to hold what is the greatest election in this country at the same time as ones which individually are much more humble but which in their general effect are of enormous importance for the dignity of the country at large. Next June is probably as good a time as any to hold these elections. I will come back to that again.

The Minister referred in his speech to the important changes which he was going to bring into the law governing local elections. He gave some hints as to what will happen. He said:

A Bill is being drafted to repeal certain disqualifications for membership of local authorities and to set up new legal machinery for questioning local elections by petition.

I and the House would very much welcome more details as to what is intended in that measure. In view of that very desirable need to build up public opinion in that respect, the Minister and all Ministers should not lose any opportunity to inform public opinion by illuminating the scene which they propose to change by legal action and by new Bills.

It is a pity that the Minister did [1259] not give us more details about what he is going to do. I wonder has he or have the Government any notion of bringing into our elections something they have in other countries where one-third or one-quarter of the body go out of certain councils after a given period. Some members retire after a year and there are elections all the time. I am not very sure that that is a good thing. It means that every year some elections are held and there is never a general municipal election. At least that would prevent the disruption which large elections bring about.

We who are politicians and who are engaged in that avocation whether or not professionally—and by that I mean whether or not we are engaged in it wholetime—are apt to lose sight of the fact that, while we are endeavouring to carry out the wishes of the people, while we are endeavouring to govern the country at Parliamentary level and administer local councils at local government level, our electorate are not always pleased—in fact very seldom—when disturbed by an election. Municipal elections have become really minor general elections and mean a considerable disruption of the ordinary life of the community and business people and others do not particularly welcome them. Neither do they welcome general elections and, therefore, we should try to minimise the disruption brought about. From that point of view there is something to be said for the policy of electing a few persons to each council every year. I hope the Minister will consider that.

Personally, I have no firm views on that method of election. It has points for and against it but it does prevent the big disruption that an overall municipal election causes. I would be the first to say that is democracy working and it is a necessary thing but we must take into account that many people do not realise the necessity for it and can become disgruntled and fail to vote because they consider the election a disruption of their business and almost an invasion of their [1260] privacy and free time. We would be wise to take that into account in considering the general question when matters are being recast in that respect.

I have been a member of Dublin Corporation for about 25 years and before that I was for some years on Dún Laoghaire Corporation. Generally speaking, in spite of the faults and weaknesses of councils I would say the public on the whole are well served by their local representatives although they do not always realise that and councillors do not always show their true worth. Sometimes at meetings when the Press is present they talk politically and do not get down to work when, in fact, the same councillors may be very hard-working and doing a great deal of solid constructive work in committee meetings which are not open to the public.

There used to be on Dublin Corporation commercial representatives who came from a commercial register and it was felt that as business people contributing through the rates very large sums to local taxation it was only just that they should have special representation. Through the years I am constantly aware of the lack we now suffer through the absence of commercial representatives. We have some commercial representatives in Dublin Corporation and in Dún Laoghaire Borough Council and in the County Council but they are not there specifically as business representatives and that tends all the time to make these various bodies politically minded, always viewing things from a political angle more than from a business point of view.

I am not trying to make the case, for a moment, that there should be any overwhelming representation of the business community. Various reform Acts were brought in over a century ago which altered that situation and nobody wishes to go back to that but a balance is an important thing and it would be for the good of the community at large and lead to better deliberations by those bodies if there was a commercial register so that there would be a number of commercially-minded people elected to

[1261] Dublin Corporation and Dún Laoghaire Borough Council. The county is a different matter but in the case of these two bodies which deal exclusively with urban matters it would strengthen them and make them much more effective in dealing with matters which vitally affect the commercial community, if they had commercial representatives.

In saying “commercial community” I am not referring only to business people themselves. Nowadays we realise that every business is composed of all the people who work in it and you cannot affect any business adversely without affecting the lives and happiness of all the employees and their families. When I say “commercial community” I mean that in the very widest sense, including those who are employed and get their livelihood in it. I should like the Minister to consider that when he is contemplating altering the electoral machinary and going into the various matters concerning councils throughout the country. I am sure that in other cities in Ireland the changes I have advocated would make for better management of councils.

It is a pity we did not get our elections over in 1960 and thus avoid-a recurrence of what has been occurring, namely, that in the spring of 1965 we had a general election, in the spring of 1966 we had the Presidential election and in the spring of 1967, we shall have the local elections which, as I have said, present as big a disruption of life generally as does a general election. In future, therefore, every effort should be made to telescope the different elections, not only for reasons of cost but so that we shall keep before our people the very high purpose served by local elections.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter Zoom on Frank Carter I have listened from the outset to the debate and may I say that from listening to Deputy Fitzpatrick from Cavan, I formed the opinion that his was a complaining speech in the sense that he charged Fianna Fáil with trying to postpone the local elections in order to postpone judgement on policy? The Fine Gael [1262] Party cannot have it both ways. Had we decided to hold the local elections on the same date as the Presidential election, the Fine Gael Party could equally obviously say, as they said some years ago and as newspaper commentators and leader writers said, that we were doing it mainly for Party purposes, putting Party interests before the flag. How can Fine Gael have it both ways? This applies equally to the Labour Party because I can remember Labour Deputies saying in the House that we were putting our Party——

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Will the Deputy quote his source? He is making a statement he cannot stand over.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter Zoom on Frank Carter I am not.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Who said it, where and when? The Deputy should quote his source. He is bluffing.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter Zoom on Frank Carter I am trying to make a short speech.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I apologise for interrupting the Deputy.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter Zoom on Frank Carter As I have said, neither can Labour have it both ways. Deputies have said this is a manoeuvre on our part. Quite a few members of the Fianna Fáil Party would have welcomed the local elections on the same date as the Presidential election not merely from the point of view of getting the local elections over, of getting the work done. I should point out that on any council where Fine Gael have a majority, they have made full use of it. There is no denying that politics have entered at local level. We have always had politics in local matters and it would be a pity if we had not. If we had not Fianna Fáil. Fine Gael and Labour in local councils we might have some other type of Party in them. To say we can cut out politics from local elections is pure fantasy. We are not living in a Plato republic.

Whatever faults our political Parties may have, whatever motives may urge us on in politics, there is this much to be said on behalf of members of local authorities: what they do, the [1263] services they perform are done in the open, subject to comment, subject to review in the newspapers and all the rest of it. To that extent it is a good thing we should have politics at local level, that we should have open competition, thereby letting the people decide on which Party they want to hold a majority in each local authority. Deputy James Tully asked me to quote. I do not wish to resort to quotations on this short Bill which is merely to regularise the position. All of us hope we shall have the elections early in the coming year.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Deputy should not make a statement if he is not prepared to back it up.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter Zoom on Frank Carter Someone mentioned June. Some of us on this side of the House would much prefer an earlier date.

Mr. O'Leary: Let us have a vote.

Mr. P. Brennan: Information on Patrick Brennan Zoom on Patrick Brennan A lot he knows about it.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter Zoom on Frank Carter The Deputy will have an opportunity of speaking on this matter. Some of us would much prefer an earlier date from many points of view which I shall not go into now. I wish to repeat that it serves no purpose to have Deputies coming into the House blaming the Government for fixing the date for local elections, saying it is being done from Party motives. It would have suited us better if we had the local elections on the same date as the Presidential election. There was no reason why we should feel the wrath of the electorate any more than Fine Gael or Labour. Now that local government has assumed such wide scope in administration that it covers every aspect of everyday life, if I may put it that way, people will be able to judge in each locality what is being done and how the various political parties shape up to their respective responsibilities. In that respect it can be said that there is no ulterior motive in bringing in this Bill at this time to regularise the position and ensure that the local elections will be held early next year.

[1264]Mr. O'Leary: The last speaker mentioned his desire and that of his Party to have the local elections held as soon as possible. This could be easily done this morning. I understand there is a majority of Opposition Deputies in the House and if we could have the agreement of the Fianna Fáil Party, there could be a vote on this matter right away and the elections could be held within a month. That would fulfil all the expectations of the last speaker.

I am one of the Deputies here who suffer the disadvantage, since my election to Dáil Éireann, of not being a member of Dublin Corporation. The local elections which were to have been held in the year of that election were postponed for one reason or another, and it is now past the memory of most of us, and certainly past the memory of many of the citizens of Dublin, when the last local elections were held. My Party are very anxious that these local elections be held as soon as possible. There is a growing feeling that many members of Dublin Corporation are out of touch with their constituents and the problems of Dublin. My Party have only seven members out of a membership of 47. We are very anxious to change that state of affairs because Dublin Corporation is controlled by an alliance of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors, with some satellite Independents.

Mr. M.E. Dockrell: Information on Maurice E. Dockrell Zoom on Maurice E. Dockrell That is not true.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling How would he know?

Mr. O'Leary: I admit Deputy Dowling might be more in touch with the affairs of Dublin Corporation than the affairs of this House, but I am not interested in going into that.

Mr. M.E. Dockrell: Information on Maurice E. Dockrell Zoom on Maurice E. Dockrell Do not run down Dublin Corporation.

Mr. O'Leary: I am speaking about the majority of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors; I am not speaking about Labour.

Mr. M.E. Dockrell: Information on Maurice E. Dockrell Zoom on Maurice E. Dockrell The less one thinks of Dublin Corporation the harder one finds it to get elected to it.

[1265]Mr. O'Leary: I do not follow the reasoning of that. However, it is quite a long time since these councillors were elected, and in order to bring them back to a sense of reality, the sooner the elections are held the better. We ourselves hope to have as many candidates as possible for these local elections to give the citizens an opportunity of returning a majority of Labour councillors to Dublin Corporation. Many of the things that require municipal control in Dublin cannot be gone into properly until the majority of the councillors of Dublin Corporation are agreed in regard to certain changes in the administration of the city. I do not think any capital city in Europe is more badly managed than Dublin is at the moment. Councillors do not appear to be in control of the things that are happening in Dublin, and there does not appear to be the machinery to enable councillors to keep an adequate check on the activities of the officials.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin That does not arise on this Bill.

Mr. O'Leary: It is important that these elections be held as soon as possible so that reforms can be brought about in the administration of Dublin Corporation, reforms that will give the councillors proper knowledge of what is going on and give them the necessary powers to check upon activities which would be against the interest of the citizens. The sooner the elections are held the better because the majority of the members of Dublin Corporation, that is, excluding the Labour members, who are in close contact with their constituents, are out of touch with the realities of life. This distance from reality is probably more marked among Fianna Fáil councillors because they have to back up the activities of a Minister for Local Government who has failed dismally on housing. I admit they are in that embarrassing position.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin That does not arise. The Deputy may not discuss housing on this Bill.

Mr. Jones: Information on Denis Francis Jones Zoom on Denis Francis Jones This measure before the House this morning is regrettably [1266] necessary. I regard it as regrettable because the introduction of retrospective legislation is undesirable. I wonder how much local government would be affected by the non-passage of this Bill. Looking after local government affairs seems to be a matter of administration rather than government. In section 1 (1) (a), we have the phrase —and I wonder if it is another pious expression—that “the election shall be held quinquennially thereafter”. It seems rather pointless to put that into a Bill if, for one reason or another, elections can be postponed once more.

Another point one might mention is in relation to sub-committees. Take, for instance, the section dealing with the School Attendance Act. Is there any real value in that when no provision is being made in regard to the appointment of new committees? It is just a continuing process.

The Minister speaks in his statement of a Bill being drafted to repeal certain disqualifications from membership of local authorities. He says this Bill is not likely to be enacted this year. I am sure a great many people would like to know whether this Bill will be in accordance with the electoral laws at present in force and which were recently enacted in this House. Does the Minister contemplate that in the new Bill he will make certain changes which will be at variance with existing electoral law? If he does and if he considers it desirable to do so, I cannot understand why we do not further postpone the elections until that Bill is ready. If changes are to be made, why not postpone the elections pending that Bill?

Under the last Electoral Act certain disqualifications were removed in regard to the enrolment of electors and their exercise of the franchise. Disabilities under which candidates had suffered under electoral law were removed as a result of a study made at the time by the Electoral Law Committee. The matter was discussed at length prior to the Bill being debated in the House. It is a pity the Minister did not give some indication as to what exactly is the intention in this regard. I take it that the Minister will be legislating for improvement. Is there [1267] any reason why we should hold elections next year under what would, under the new Bill to be introduced, be regarded as an antiquated system? I understand that a new system is being devised which is supposed to confer benefits on candidates for election and on the electorate, who would have the benefit of new candidates.

The Minister referred to certain other aspects of electoral law, including the extension of postal voting facilities. The extension of postal voting was canvassed on previous occasions. It was suggested that certain sections of the community were deprived of their vote by reason of the fact that their business took them away from home on the occasion of an election. This happens to a large section of people, travellers and so on. It is proposed that local elections be held next year and quinquennially thereafter. That means that if the Bill which the Minister has indicated will be introduced is introduced in 1967 and secures a passage by the following year, the voting community will not have the advantages of that Bill in the 1967 local elections and will not have them for five years thereafter. One wonders whether we should not continue to postpone the local elections or legalise the de facto postponement which is taking place. One wonders whether we should not go the whole way with the Minister's desire to introduce a Bill designed to improve the machinery of local elections and to remove certain disqualifications for membership of local authorities. Local administration has been mentioned as one of the places where the younger persons might find their feet in the matter of the exercise of the franchise and of representation and is a very valuable training ground.

The Minister has devoted a good deal of his statement to the proposed changes, including the question of the new legal machinery, and says it is desirable that these changes should operate in respect of the next local elections. He says that while it is desirable that they should operate and while it is his intention to have the Bill introduced, it is unlikely to be enacted. In other words, the Bill has [1268] reached the stage of being on the stocks; the Minister considers it desirable that it should be enacted but— and it is a very important “but”—he says it is unlikely to be enacted. In that case I want to suggest to the Minister that it was a pity that, instead of postponing the elections for this 12 months, he did not decide to introduce a Bill postponing them until the Bill he has in mind is enacted. I do not think anybody would have cribbed if the position was to be improved in so far as representation is concerned.

Subsection (3) of section 3 refers to meetings being regarded as quinquennial meetings. I cannot understand why they should be regarded as quinquennial when they are not quinquennial. It would be more honest to say that they will have the same power as if they were quinquennial. I do not think it does any good to legislate in that fashion. The provision does not express what, in fact, happens.

The question of local elections is a very important matter for local people. As I have said on many occasions here, the real question, as has been referred to by Deputy O'Leary, is what the local authority can do, whether it is a corporation or a county council. The powers of the local authority are hedged around by the County Management Act. The effective power left to the local authority is hedged around by that Act. It is really of no great concern whether local elections are held every five years or every ten years, if local representatives have not got the right, as they ought to have, to decide local issues. This omnibus Act governs all the activities of the local authority. The only thing is that you have a chairman to sign the necessary orders made by the county council, a council meeting on a certain date to pass a rate and, after that, the annual election date on which the chairman of the council or mayor of the town or lord mayor of the city is elected. In regard to the new Bill, the Minister might consider the desirability of including provisions designed to do what he has said he has been doing for some time, namely, cutting the red tape, shortening the process and taking [1269] matters down to local level where decisions can be made.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin I am afraid the Deputy is going outside the scope of this Bill, which deals specifically with altering the date of local elections. The administration and work of local authorities does not relevantly arise.

Mr. Jones: Information on Denis Francis Jones Zoom on Denis Francis Jones I agree that it does not arise but the Minister expressed a pious wish in regard to this Bill, and I am suggesting that he would incorporate that idea in the legislation to be brought before the House in the immediate future. I regret that it is necessary to bring this Bill before the House. It would be much better for the members of local authorities if we adhered rigidly to the system of holding the elections within the statutory period, without having this House imposing its will on the local authorities in regard to these matters and depriving the electorate of their rights under the electoral laws.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Certain charges have been made against the Government and the Minister in relation to the delay in holding the local elections. I am sure there are members of the Parties opposite who are very glad the local elections were postponed. Their future membership of local authorities may have been in the balance and the extra year or two was, I feel sure, of great importance to them. I am sorry the local elections were postponed. Now that they are being held in 1967, I am sorry the new Bill is not in operation so that the new councils would take up office with the knowledge that people who should have been disqualified in the past were eliminated and that other people were now in a position to be elected to local authorities. However, that is not to be. I trust the Bill will be implemented as soon as possible.

There is little advantage to the Government and the Fianna Fáil Party in postponing the elections from last year to this year or next year. Had they been held last year, there would have been quite a change on local councils.

[1270]Mr. O'Hara: Information on Thomas O'Hara Zoom on Thomas O'Hara Is the Deputy going to remind us of the 2,000 cattle?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling We had suggestions from people not members of a local authority in relation to Dublin Corporation. I am a member of the corporation. On it are responsible members of Fine Gael, Labour, Independents, Ratepayers and, of course, my own Party. Deputy O'Leary apparently feels that the only people on the corporation who are responsible are the members of the Labour Party.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully After the next election, he will be talking to you from the council chamber.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling He should examine the position in relation to his own members before talking here to people who know better. Deputy O'Leary told us what was wrong, to his mind. Of course, his mind is a one-track mind.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey Progressive.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling One-track. He told us the disadvantages of keeping councillors in office for so long. No doubt about it. He said they were growing out of touch with the people they represent. That does not apply to me or to the members of my Party. If he examines the situation in relation to his own members he might find it a problem with them but he should not try to tar others with the same brush.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully We will let the public decide that next year.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling He said the people were out of sympathy with the representatives. We have faced elections before and we will face them again. He said the corporation was monopolised by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, Deputy O'Leary does not know. He is trying now to put over the image of himself as a dynamic individual who is going to change the whole set-up, throw the manager and the public representatives out of gear and bring in a new type of leadership. We have had Labour members who did a good job and are still doing a good job.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey We thank the Deputy.

[1271]Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling We had good representatives from Fine Gael, Independents and Ratepayers. All these people are doing a good job in their spare time and they are unpaid. Taking everything into consideration, most members, irrespective of Party, are doing a wonderful job. Of course, there are a few people who lag behind and will always do so. They are probably not members of the Parties Deputy O'Leary said were so lax. He spoke about encouraging understanding and the antics in relation to housing and other matters. There is no point in dwelling on these facts. Some of the types of tactics Deputy O'Leary has engaged in——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin I think the Deputy is getting away from the Bill.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully He is usually sent in here with his little basin of mud to sling around and he must get rid of it.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey He disappoints me. I thought he had other talents.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling I have, too.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I have not noticed them recently.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling The members of the Labour Party are noisy at times and they have been noisy in relation to this Bill.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Constructive.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling They are glad it was necessary to introduce a Bill such as this so that some of them could hang on to what they have for a few months.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully You will be lucky if you can hang on to what you have after today's vote.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Whether local elections are held today, tomorrow or next year makes little difference to me. I have a clear conscience. That is more than could be said for people who spoke long and loud here.

Mr. O'Hara: Information on Thomas O'Hara Zoom on Thomas O'Hara You are unlike the rest of men.

[1272]Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne “I have a clear conscience”—famous last words.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling If there were a public examination of consciences, there are many who would not go into the House.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne We will ask your forgiveness.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling I trust that this Bill will bring into public life new imagination and foresight and that we will not be dependent on all sorts of political gimmicks and scandal mongering in order that political advantage may be gained, as indicated earlier today by one of the speakers.

Deputy Dockrell referred to the question of commercial representatives and said that this matter should be considered. The corporation had commercial representatives in the past, as had other councils. These people with commercial interests will get the opportunity of presenting themselves for election and when duly elected, will be able to speak on behalf of the people they represent. Every opportunity will be afforded to those contesting the elections. I do not believe any particular section should be given the opportunity of entering the council without having the confidence of the people. If one section is brought in in that fashion, I cannot see any reason why corporation tenants and other interests should not have representation in the same manner.

As a member of a local authority for about 12 years, I feel that quite a number of changes are necessary in relation to local politics. Mention has been made of Party politics entering into local affairs to an undue degree. It can happen that the political paupers of some of the Parties will try to introduce every item as a political item in order to ensure that the terrorising tactics that are often used will prevail. I trust that the new crop of representatives who will duly be elected will give them some ideas other than the type of mentality that has been so evident in the city in the past.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully These are the [1273] fellows the Deputy said a few moments ago are really good.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Some of them do a reasonable job. I said that there were others who would need to examine their conscience.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Let the Deputy examine his own conscience. I do not need to examine mine.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Does Deputy Dowling know the parable about the Pharisee and the Publican? He said “Behold, I am not as other men are.” I have heard people at that in this House but they are no longer here.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Some of you fellows may not be here after the next election. Do not talk too soon.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne That is very feeble.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Some local representatives are members of this House and belong to Parties other than Fianna Fáil. I am sure most of their time is spent in digging up local authority problems and they then burden this House with question after question in relation to problems——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I do not see what all this has to do with the date of the elections.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): That has been going on all the morning, since I sat down.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Since the Deputy got up.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I do not see what it has to do with the fixing of the date.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling The fixing of the date may bring in many new people with new ideas——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan We may not discuss every one of these.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling They have been discussed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan It is quite irrelevant. It should not be discussed.

[1274]Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling There are many matters that have been discussed which I should like to answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I suggest the Deputy should look at the Title of the Bill and deal only with what is in the Bill and not give bad example for others to follow.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Even though we do not take bad example easily.

Mr. Barry: Information on Richard Barry Zoom on Richard Barry Deputy Dowling is asking us to examine our conscience as well.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Those who have a conscience.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully He is waiting for numbers to go up.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney What was Deputy Fitzpatrick waiting for when he talked on the Second Stage of this Bill?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Estimate is the reason for the postponement, and well the Minister knows it.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney One is not entitled to discuss it on this Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Deputy Dowling, on the Bill.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey For a change.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling The Bill contains many clauses. As I said before, it extended the existence of some public representatives. While other members may be glad that this period has been extended, I am quite sure many members of local authorities would be anxious that it be extended still further. I am glad the Minister has now brought in this Bill. The elections will be held next year when, I am sure, the hopes of certain Deputies who have spoken will be cast aside by the changes that will take place—their hopes of entering public life, or entering local councils, when the elections take place.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Or even of becoming Lord Mayor.

[1275]Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling That is a possibility too.

Mr. O'Leary: Turn back, turn back, Dick Whittington.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling It is not a possibility for everybody. Maybe if Deputy O'Leary were a member of a local council, he might not indulge in some of the tripe he indulged in today.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Tripe is a very excellent dish.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling He might be more conscious of his responsibilities than he has been in the past. Responsible members of his Party disowned him and others who participated in a campaign which tended to discredit local authorities and to play up to a section of the community who were then in unfortunate circumstances. If Deputy O'Leary is lucky enough to be elected at this forthcoming election, I am sure he will learn to be more responsible. If a new Bill comes in here in a year, two years or five years, I am sure he will have a very different outlook from that which he holds at the moment.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish And that comes from an old campaigner.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling I am very happy the election will take place next year.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Believe that, and we will tell the Deputy another.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling When the time comes I shall have much more to say and probably Deputy Dunne and Deputy O'Leary and his colleagues will not be too pleased to hear it.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Deputy Dowling is terrifying. His eloquence is devastating.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Thanks a lot.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Please spare us.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Before you speak again, examine your conscience: I am referring not only to Deputy Dunne but to others over there as well.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Why is Deputy Dowling here?

[1276]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I think that can be left over until next June.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange “Father Dowling.” Deputy Dowling will outdo Deputy P.J. Burke.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Deputy Dowling, on the Bill.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne At least my colleague from County Dublin looks the part.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Once again, I should like to congratulate the Minister as he deserves to be congratulated not alone on this but on many other matters that have passed through his hands.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey Does that include the increase in rents?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling I recall that a member of the Deputy's Party sent a telegram to the Pope.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey It will be included, son, in the local elections.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I call on Deputy Cluskey as the next speaker.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey We in the Labour Party object strongly to any further delay in the holding of the local elections. Those who offered themselves to the public in 1960 to be members of local authorities did so on the basis that they would represent the people for a period of five years. It is our opinion that, at the end of the period of five years, the Fianna Fáil Party and the Minister postponed the elections that should have been held in 1965, for political purposes. We know that when the elections were due to be held in 1965, the reason given for not holding them was the general election. However, it was quite obvious to all that the reason they were not held in 1965 was the deplorable state of the country, which was so obvious in June of that year.

A tremendous change has occurred in the mumblings of Fianna Fáil spokesmen from the time of the general election campaign in 1965. The tune changed after they had been returned as the Government in this House and they postponed the local elections to [1277] this year, in the forlorn hope that things might improve to such an extent it would be possible for members of the Fianna Fáil Party to present themselves to the electorate for election to local authorities with some degree of confidence that they might, once more, be able to hoodwink the people. However, they found that was not possible in 1966 and the gimmick of the Presidential election was used to postpone the local elections again.

We feel very strongly in this matter. This is a democratic society and the people have the right to be given the opportunity of expressing their views about the stewardship of their elected representatives, and they have that right every five years.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne They used to have.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey I do not believe the people will take kindly to this. They do not approve of Fianna Fáil using their weight of numbers to steamroll this Bill through the House, a Bill designed to deprive the people once more of the right to say what they think of the Fianna Fáil administration.

Deputy Dowling spoke before I rose and he and many of his colleagues are not now in what I should describe as a very enviable position in relation to local elections. They probably feel that, if they could get away with a further postponement, the people will have forgotten many of the things best forgotten about Fianna Fáil, things for which Fianna Fáil have been directly responsible and things in relation to which the people want the right to express in the most emphatic way their particular view through the medium of the polling station.

There are many issues in local government at the moment which will have to be faced up to in a responsible manner by local representatives. Fianna Fáil councillors will have to make a stand. One of the most controversial issues on which they will have to make a stand is the revision of the differential renting system. Fianna Fáil have a majority on Dublin Corporation and they are in the unhappy position of not being able to [1278] come down on the side of justice, on the side of fairness——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I cannot allow discussion on the merits or demerits of a particular matter.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey With respect, I am trying to show why Fianna Fáil as a Party and a Government are postponing this election.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Characterising something as unjust and unfair is surely discussing it. Characterising something as meritorious or unmeritorious is surely discussing it. I cannot allow that on this particular Bill.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey I am making the point that Fianna Fáil councillors are in the unhappy position that they must accept the whip handed down by the Minister in regard to the increase in rents.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I cannot allow any qualification of a particular issue because that would be discussing the issue on this measure.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey I accept your ruling. Deputy Dowling will have an opportunity in the near future of saying whether or not he wants an increase.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Order.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey For obvious reasons, Fianna Fáil are most anxious to postpone these elections further. We in the Labour Party are most anxious that the people should be given the opportunity of exercising their democratic right and we regard this as illustrating the jeopardy into which democratic freedom is being put. This discussion follows immediately on the Taoiseach's announcement yesterday, in reply to a question with regard to Telefís Éireann, in which it was made quite clear how little regard Fianna Fáil have for democracy if another system will suit their immediate ends. We ask the Fianna Fáil Party and the Fianna Fáil Government to give the people an opportunity now of deciding. We are not afraid to face the people; we are not afraid to go before them and give an account of our stewardship.

[1279] Quite obviously, Fianna Fáil are. I should hate to worry Deputy Dowling and his colleagues but there is a very good chance that he and they will not get the little breathing space they so desperately need.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling I do not need any breathing space.

Mr. O'Leary: The Deputy needs oxygen.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Order.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey As far as the GPO is concerned——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The GPO does not come into this Bill.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey —— I did not express any opinions there that I have not expressed in this House, in Dublin Corporation and elsewhere, and I shall continue to express them, irrespective of the way in which the Minister for Local Government cracks the whip. I do not have to jump through a particular hoop as Deputy Dowling has to jump and I am afraid Deputy Dowling and his colleagues are very conscious of the fact that there is more than a chance of their being caught halfway through, if the people are allowed to exercise their democratic right and give their view now on what they think of the present Administration.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton The main proposal in this Bill is to postpone the elections for a further year beyond the point of time at which they should have been held and to deprive the people of their democratic right to pass judgment on the performance of the Government, and particularly of the Minister for Local Government, represents to me a further abuse of Government power. As other speakers have said, abuses of Government power are becoming more numerous in recent years. Certain reasons are given for the postponement and of course they are not the real reasons. We all know why the elections were postponed last year but there was some justification for a postponement then because many members of this

[1280] House are also members of local authorities, and it would hardly be fair to expect that they should stand the burden and strain of two elections in the same year. I would say there was some justification for postponing local elections in the year of a general election but it was deplorable that these elections should have been further postponed in the present year. They were postponed at a time when a considerable saving could have been effected if they had been held in conjunction with the Presidential election.

We all know how scarce money is at present, how difficult it is to get money for essential services of one sort or another, but the Government have decided to abuse their power simply because the country is going through a serious economic crisis, a crisis brought about by their mismanagement. They are afraid to face the electorate and they are postponing the day in the hope that there will be turn for the better. They are postponing it because of the hopeless position in relation to housing, because rates are at an all-time high and the capacity of the people to pay rates is less as time passes because of the increased cost of living and the hopeless prices for cattle and sheep at present.

We are being asked to agree to this Bill for some reasons which are certainly not spelled out and in anticipation of legislation to be brought forward. It seems strange to me that this Bill should be brought in at present. If we can legalise what has happened since last June by this retrospective legislation, I fail to see why we could not wait that bit longer and again legalise by retrospective legislation what has happened in the meantime, in order to give the Minister an opportunity to bring in this new legislation in relation to local authority work to which he referred in his opening speech. He said that important changes in the law governing local elections are in course of preparation. It is quite unfair to give that as a reason for postponing the elections and not to spell out the changes.

One matter referred to was the extension of the postal vote. It is well [1281] known that we on this side brought in a Bill for this purpose and it was rejected by the Government Party without good reason. We brought it in to extend the facility of the postal vote to a large section of people who are precluded from voting under the present system. Now it is proposed to introduce something of that sort but we are not told to what extent it is proposed to do it. At the same time, we are being pressed to accept this Bill. There have been two postponements and I should like to ask the Minister if the Government next year feel like it in the circumstances prevailing, will there be a further postponement and a further abuse of the power they have in law, by denying the people the right to pass judgment on them?

Mr. Barry: Information on Richard Barry Zoom on Richard Barry If the price of cattle does not increase, it is quite likely they will postpone them again.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton It is deplorable that the Government are using this measure to avoid their responsibilities and denying the people the opportunity to pass judgment on the administration.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I want to bring a personal point of view to bear on this measure. I am often provoked into thinking that proposals of this kind concerning local elections are really something of a farce. This Bill seeks to set, not in any specific way, but in a general way, a date for the next local elections. It does not give a date but mentions next June. I want to suggest that in fact this charade about local elections is unreal and it would be far more honest if the Government —and all political Parties—were to forget about local elections altogether, because the representatives on local authorities are no more than “fall guys” for the managers and the Minister. What power have they? What significance has this Bill?

Mr. P. Brennan: Information on Patrick Brennan Zoom on Patrick Brennan Deputies opposite must see something in it; they are very anxious to have the elections.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne My colleagues who are members of local authorities have their reasons for advancing their views.

[1282] I am not a member of a local authority—pro tem—although, mark you, it is quite possible I may never be, because unlike one of the previous speakers, I have no confidence when going before the electorate. My experience indicates to me that even the most assured may find themselves deflated by the will of the people.

A Deputy: It happened before.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne It did, and it happened this year on a much higher level.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney He beat the lot of you this time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan There is nothing about this in the Bill.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne If I were as long in the business as he was and did as badly as that, I would pack it in voluntarily.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy would not be around as long——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The Bill before the House.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Let me not pursue that inviting line of discussion. Just to provoke a thought in the minds of the Members, I want to talk about the need, or the lack of need, for this election next year. Are we not putting over on the people a large-scale national imposture in holding local elections at all and in fixing elections for next year? Is it not true that when the members of local authorities are in reality merely ciphers, and when the policy of the Government, as laid down by the Minister in relation to the rents of Dublin Corporation which he proposes to increase—over our dead bodies, may I say——

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney May I say, Sir, that there are no proposals from the Minister to increase anybody's rent? I just want that correction made.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey There are.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Let us be accurate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I have prevented Deputies——

[1283]Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey The Minister cannot sidestep that one.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Perhaps the Deputy will allow me to speak? I have prevented Deputies from introducing matters which are extraneous to this Bill. Deputy Dunne is travelling on that road. I want to hear what he has to say to convince me that he is discussing some matter not extraneous to the Bill.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne This Bill, with respect, a Cheann Comhairle, proposes to have local elections held next year. I am suggesting that any proposal of this kind to have local elections is a delusion——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan That is not pertinent to the measure before the House. It is really saying, in effect, that the local councils should be abolished.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne In effect, what I am saying is that the local councils are as good as abolished.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan That is not provided for in the measure and, therefore, is outside its scope.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I bow to your ruling, of course, as I am always anxious to abide by the Standing Orders of the House. At the same time, it appears to me that the discussion has been very restricted. Surely, if the Bill proposes to hold elections, and I wish to point out the actual position which local authority representatives hold as a whole, it should be considered relevant? However, if you say it is not relevant, so be it.

To return to the actual narrow point which the Bill makes in regard to the date of the elections, it has been stated here that it is seven years since the last occasion when the electorate had an opportunity of deciding who would populate the local authorities throughout the country. Many of us have regard for democracy. I do not for a moment suggest that all the Members of this House have very much regard for democracy. In fact, I suggest that most members of the Fianna Fáil Party [1284] at least, have nothing but contempt for democracy. They feel that if they cannot fashion it to their will, then democracy is nought. Those of us who cherish the ideal of a free choice by the people of our representatives know that those people are no more than ciphers in the local authorities by reason of the hold which the managers and the Minister have over them.

Those of us who feel that we must maintain the thin grasp we have on the remnants of democracy, relevant to the election of local authorities, regard it as a scandalous shame that seven years have elapsed since there was an opportunity for the people either to return those who are now members or to replace them with others. It is verifiable that on inquiry from most local authorities, it will be found that from one-third to one-half of the membership has been changed in that seven years by reason of members dying or resigning and being replaced by co-option. It would be interesting to know how many co-opted members there are in Dublin Corporation. I certainly know there has been a number in Dublin county and I suppose there also has been a number of co-options throughout the country.

This is the very opposite of what is meant by the exercise of the franchise in democratic elections. A great deal of the abuses arising in local authorities are the result of co-option in a large measure and these co-options have become necessary because we have not had local elections for so long. It was understandable, I suppose, that local elections were not held at the time of the last general election, although I remember local elections being held in conjunction with a general election and it was not found to be all that hard on the candidates.

I remember a previous occasion when there was a Presidential election on the same day. This was a device which, of course, worked to produce substantial Fianna Fáil representation on many county councils and other local authorities throughout the country because the machine, the home-made Tammany, which we have all come to know, was at its peak at that time. Whatever arguments may [1285] have been adduced in favour of postponing the elections to some other year, other than the year in which a general election takes place, there was certainly no valid argument whatsoever brought forward for not holding the local elections in the present year.

Mr. Barry: Information on Richard Barry Zoom on Richard Barry Everybody knows the reason they were postponed last year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Deputy Dunne should be allowed to continue his argument.

Mr. Barry: Information on Richard Barry Zoom on Richard Barry The President would leave the Park if they were held then.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham Zoom on Liam Cunningham The other argument is that they were taken together before.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne That is a long time ago. It was in 1945, when the predecessor of the present holder took office. The Deputy was probably far too young, politically, to remember it but I was old enough at that time to contest.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan This conversation cannot be allowed to continue.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne They are merely interesting reminiscences.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan This is not the place for them.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne In any event, as Deputy Barry reminded me, the reason the elections were not held this year was the fact that the energies of the nation might have been dissipated by local candidates for county councils seeking support for themselves rather than doing their national duty. This was obviously what happened but it might have worked the other way. At the same time, the fact that this step was taken is, as I have said, one more piece of evidence that the Party now temporarily occupying the Government benches are in the condition of senility in which they are.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham Zoom on Liam Cunningham The Deputy may think that. Local elections were held with the Presidential election on a former occasion.

[1286]Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne You barely got over it. Next year, you are coming to Ballyhack and I do not think you will manage to clear that obstacle with all the éclat which you have shown in other elections. It is obvious to me, whether or not you will, that the date fixed in this Bill for the elections is far too distant to be accepted by the House as a bona fide effort on the part of the Government to remedy this denial of democratic rights to the electorate which has gone on for a number of years.

Why should this Bill not specify that instead of next June we will have the elections in the early spring? I was about to say January or February but I have bitter experience of electioneering in times gone by.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham Zoom on Liam Cunningham It would be a strain on you.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne It would be an overall strain in that kind of weather. Why is it being put back until June?

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey In hope.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Am I right in suggesting to the House that it is hoped that by that time the cyclone, which is now gathering on the horizon and which will come into full force, as it were, in the course of a month or two when the new broom in the City Hall allied with the Government representatives on the corporation seek to inflict an average increase in rents upon the people of Dublin, will be forgotten? Is this not the reason for the postponement until June?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I wish interrupters would enunciate more clearly so that a reply could be given to the points made. It is obvious to me, and obvious to the people, that this is the answer. Indeed, I would not put it past the powers that be for the time being, the powers that temporarily be, to drop in here next year a month or so before the proposed elections—in April or May—with another Bill to postpone the elections still further on some pretext or other if the tide is not running right and if the storm has not by then abated. Let me say the storm will not [1287] have abated. The Night of the Big Wind will be nothing to the big wind that will sweep through the corridors of the council chambers in this country.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey It is the case of the long night at the moment.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne That reference has so many connotations that I hesitate to pursue it.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney No better man.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Most of them will be with their backs to the wall.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey We do not appreciate the electioneering at the moment.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney You are innocent.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne It is a pity that such promising young men of the holding Party on the opposite benches will suffer the awful experience of having what was thought to be prolonged careers cut off in mid-flight, as it were.

To turn to the Bill, we have no assurance in it, and we should like the Minister to give us an assurance. I challenge him to give us an assurance that this is the last postponement there will, in fact, be on the local elections. It is a matter of considerable concern to the 800 odd councillors up and down the country, if for no other reason than the relationship it has to the Upper Chamber, apart altogether from the fact that members of the local authorities, and the members to be, the various rúnaithe of the cumainn, have their eyes open for unseating the present leaders with all possible expedition. It is characteristic of the Tammany party. It is only fair that they should have assurance from the Minister for Local Government that this is the occasion when they can make their effort. Many of them have been engaged in long-distance efforts. The Bill provides in a vague way for the possibility of local elections in June.

Mr. Barry: Information on Richard Barry Zoom on Richard Barry They have been put back twice already.

[1288]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Would Deputy Barry cease interrupting? The Deputy will be afforded an opportunity to make a contribution. Deputy S. Dunne, on the Bill.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Deputy Barry might make a contribution somewhere else on this Bill. It shows up great as the Corkonian attitude.

Mr. Barry: Information on Richard Barry Zoom on Richard Barry Thank you.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling The Labour Party are delaying.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Again, the rules of order, and indeed more than the rules of order, the canons of order and the laws in relation to profanity forbid me to answer in the kind of language Deputy Dowling so deserves. As I was saying, people, even in the Minister's Party, are entitled to know whether there will definitely be local elections in June next. People who are about to enter public life have a right to be told that in six months' time D-day will be upon them. The same can be said for some who are about to make their exit from public life, who will have to put their political affairs in order and retrieve from the wreckage whatever they may need in the years that lie ahead.

I have no intention of delaying the House unduly on this matter. I merely want to express my view, which I feel strongly, that it would not be right that we should have any discussion regarding local authorities in this House without there being some advertence to the importance of these authorities. I know this matter is not covered in the Bill but we are not offered any opportunity of making reference to the situation wherein, as I have said, members of local authorities are made a whipping-boy by the public for every piece of misfeasance which can be laid at their door by the managers of the Department of Local Government. I hope that I will have another opportunity of raising that in a much broader way. In the meantime, I think that the Bill is long overdue and we should, in fact, have the local elections much earlier than the date set out.

[1289]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The Minister, to conclude.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney This is——

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera Zoom on Vivion de Valera This Bill is——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan If the Minister gives way, the Deputy may speak but he should have offered before I called on the Minister.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I will give way certainly.

Mr. O'Hara: Information on Thomas O'Hara Zoom on Thomas O'Hara The Deputy was asleep.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Deputy de Valera.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera Zoom on Vivion de Valera This Bill is simple in its terms but it shows the desirability of having local elections. For my own part I wonder what useful purpose would be served by having local elections. As the situation is at present, elected representatives of the local authorities tend more and more to be of political groups. The difficulty for the ordinary citizen who elects them is that it becomes a competition very largely for popular support with a view to parliamentary elections.

In the present situation a person who is not a member of a local authority might wonder what can our local authorities do. The clamour from local authorities, as far as I can see, is, under political pressure, for more and more money from the central authority and after that there is little enough heard of them. The point I am making is whether local elections in themselves are, under present circumstances, as important as some people try to make out. They certainly should be separate from the Parliamentary elections.

I should like to develop the point about Parliamentary elections but I shall leave it at that because I can see that I could very easily get out of order and I do not want to do that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The Deputy is confessing he is out of order.

[1290]Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera Zoom on Vivion de Valera No; I just want to make this point——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan If it is disorderly, the Deputy should not make it.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera Zoom on Vivion de Valera It is this. In 1965, there was the general election. It was desirable that the Parliamentary and local government elections should not be held together. This year there was another election and whether one regarded it from the point of view of the Opposition in 1945 or from the point of view of the present Opposition there is very good reason for not having confusion. Therefore, the only thing that could be done was introduce this Bill and for that reason I think it should be passed. It does not call for very much comment.

Mr. Mullen: Information on Michael Mullen Zoom on Michael Mullen I am at a loss to know what exactly one can say in relation to whether or not there should be local elections having regard to the rulings on this matter. The last speaker raised a very pertinent point when he asked: “What can local authorities do?” I think this comes within the ambit of this Bill because the Bill, from my reading of it, says that the local elections should be held in June of next year. That being so, one should be allowed to make a case as to whether or not there should be local elections next year and for what purpose. I submit that local elections are regarded by a number of people as miniature general elections. They are an opportunity for the people to indicate how they feel about local affairs which are very much related to national affairs.

It is a well-known fact that local authorities are stepping-stones to either this House or the Seanad. That being so, local election time is an occasion when people are afforded an opportunity to account for their stewardship and the electorate in turn are afforded an opportunity of saying whether or not they are satisfied.

I can say, as a member of Dublin Corporation, that the local elections are long overdue. They are overdue because of the fact that what the [1291] people in relation to local affairs desired in the city of Dublin certainly did not come about. There are many events taking place and there are many things which should be done not being done because of the way the local authority operates.

In the second paragraph of his speech in connection with this Bill, the Minister says:

Important changes in the law governing local elections are in course of preparation. A Bill is being drafted to repeal certain disqualifications for membership of local authorities and to set up new legal machinery for questioning local elections by petition.

In the last paragraph he says:

The Bill also includes certain minor consequential provisions concerning appointments of school attendance committees and meetings of vocational education committees.

Why go so far and then go no further? Why can we not have an indication from the Minister when he makes this point that he intends or does not intend to take steps to alter the way in which local affairs are administered?

One of my colleagues referred to, and, indeed, I think Deputy de Valera adverted to it in a certain way, the question of whether or not any useful purpose is served by having local authorities, particularly in regard to managerial functions. This is something which is related to this Bill because we should decide whether or not it is necessary to have local elections.

I agree with previous speakers that those elections have been held off and I think anybody, no matter what his political affiliations, will agree they have been held off deliberately because the time was not opportune so far as the Government were concerned to hold the elections. That does not answer the problem. As Deputy Cluskey said, we are living in a democracy, at least we are supposed to be, and surely the people should be afforded an opportunity of saying whether or not they are satisfied with the administration of local affairs.

There are many facets of local affairs which are crying out for attention. If [1292] the Minister is now saying that the local elections should take place in June of next year, as Deputy Seán Dunne said, can we have any assurance that they will, in fact, take place? Can we have an assurance that things that are not desired by the people will not be perpetrated against them in the meantime? Can we have an assurance that the people will be afforded an opportunity of saying how they feel about the manner in which their local affairs are being administered? Will the people be given an opportunity, if and when county managers carry out Ministerial instructions in connection with rents, of deciding, through the ballot box, whether or not they agree with it?

I submit that there is little point in having this Bill if we are not afforded an opportunity of making a case for and against whether or not it should be today or tomorrow. We submit it should be instantly, because people need the opportunity, and deserve the opportunity to make known how they feel about local affairs. There is no denying the fact that there is a situation in existence in Dublin which requires attention for a number of years. There has been a housing emergency in Dublin for three years now and surely that alone constitutes a need for local elections? We read in the papers every day expressions of fear on the part of tenants of local authorities who are seeking to have something to say, were they but given the opportunity. I would expect the Minister at least to make a case as to why the local elections should be further postponed. What is wrong in having the local elections next month, for example? We have our own views and, indeed, the reasons given from these benches can well be substantiated as to why the elections have already been postponed.

Bearing in mind these valid reasons and the dissatisfaction that exists, surely an opportunity should be given to the people to determine how they feel about the members of local authorities, how they feel about lending themselves to a situation not looked upon with favour by them? Having regard to the fact that the Minister did [1293] say he was looking into this position, that he was preparing a new measure, might I ask him, also having regard to what he has said in his statement, if it is his intention to give members of local authorities more power? This is a very pertinent point because there are quite a number of people, apart from members of local authorities, who have become very much aware of the inability of members of local authorities to do something positive with regard to local affairs.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin That does not arise on this Bill.

Mr. Barry: Information on Richard Barry Zoom on Richard Barry I want to intervene briefly to say that, in my honest view, there is no justification whatever for postponing the local elections still further to June 1967. I want to make a point which I believe has not been made already here in regard to local elections, that is, that too many people here in this House have little or no regard for rural Ireland at all. The Minister for Local Government and most Deputies here will agree with me when I say that, when the last local elections were held in the month of June 1960, the poll in rural areas was an all-time low. That was so because the month of June in the country, especially for the farming community, is one of those months when people are extra busy and if one gets a fine day in the 30 days of June, one is busy saving hay and so forth. I am wondering now if it is the attitude of the Minister for Local Government and the Government to forget completely that rural Ireland exists at all and if there is any consideration for the people in the country when it comes to fixing the time and dates for local or national elections.

What I want to suggest now more than anything else is that, while I disagree completely with the postponement of the local elections for the past two years, I do not think there is any reason whatever the Minister can put forward to justify postponing them further than March of 1967. Let us look at it this way—January and February are regarded as months when the weather is rather hazardous and there might be a danger that people [1294] could not get out one way or the other but the month of March would suit most people, whether it be in Dublin or the country. I am suggesting now in all seriousness to the Minister that he have a second look at this Bill and, rather than suggest June 1967, should suggest March 1967. That would be giving the people two advantages. It would give them the chance, denied them for two years, to change their local representatives, and would also give them a chance of voicing their opinion with regard to the national parliament one way or the other. At this stage the Minister should decide to have these local elections in March 1967, rather than June 1967 and at least show the people in the country they are not forgotten completely and that their views or decisions are not altogether forgotten either.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Great play is being made with the reasons for postponing these local elections until 1967 and all sorts of motives are being attributed to Fianna Fáil, to the Government and to the Minister for Local Government in relation to this postponement. But what really puzzles me is that, when a year or so ago we were postponing them until some time, any time, within 1966, the reasons then enunciated as to the advisability of postponing them were agreed to as being good reasons by the Fine Gael speakers. In regard to that, I should say that at column 800, Volume 217, No. 5 of the Official Report, we had Deputy Clinton— who was the chief spokesman last year for the Fine Gael Opposition on local government matters—at that time opening his remarks by saying:

We on this side of the House are in general agreement with the proposals in the Bill.

He goes on again and says:

Nevertheless, I think it is quite a sensible thing to postpone the elections for another year even if many people are anxious to have an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the way local government matters have gone during the past few years.

[1295] He continued in the same column:

Members of the House who are also members of local authorities have had their fill of elections for one year.

and further down in the same column he says:

I disagree with this view in the circumstances in which we find ourselves

——that is the view that these people are dissatisfied and want to have a go at whoever was in the councils for some years past.

Deputy James Tully, in the same debate—which incidentally was a very short one—opened his remarks, at column 802, by saying:

I have no objection to the postponement of the elections.

If those two spokesmen—I take it they were acting as spokesmen for their two Parties—had those views to express about a year ago in regard to a postponement, for which there was no different reason from that which exists in relation to the proposed postponement, how come there is such play being made and so many motives being dragged out of nowhere to be attributed to Fianna Fáil for presenting this Bill to the House?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The understanding then was that the local elections would be held on the same day as the Presidential election this year; that was the understanding.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney There is no doubt about it—whether it is some little advantage the Deputy has that none of the rest of us have—but he does seem to have the queerest ideas about what was understood, that nobody else saw or understood and that nobody else stated from his Party benches was understood. Where he gets these understandings, I do not know. I am not disputing that his point of view, at this particular juncture, may appear very reasonable to him but he will pardon the rest of us if we cannot go right along with him and agree that this understanding was there.

There were only three speakers on this Bill to which I have referred: one from Fine Gael, one from Labour, and [1296] myself. Lest it might be said that there was a slip of the tongue on Deputy Tully's part, or that I quoted his first words only, at column 803 of the same volume he said:

As I said at the outset —and I have quoted the outset—— we have no objection —he said “I” the first time—— to the postponement.

Further down in the same column he said:

I expect that this will not be a very contentious Bill and that it will not hold up the House...

It is a pity that the same sentiment could not have been expressed and maintained in regard to this Bill.

Mr. Mullen: Information on Michael Mullen Zoom on Michael Mullen Another year has gone by.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Many things have happened since then.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The things that have happened since then are not really relevant except in the mind of Fine Gael because the Fine Gael attitude a year ago, to be fair to them, was consistent with the attitude of their predecessors, their Party predecessors, Cumann na nGaedheal. Between 1922 and 1931, they postponed the local elections four times.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The country was in a state of armed siege.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I do not want to bore the House, but if I am pressed I can give the reasons advanced by the Ministers who introduced those four adjourning Bills and not one of them gave it as a reason that the country was in a state of “chassis”. They gave all sorts of other reasons which were probably quite valid. I am not disputing that. They postponed them four times between 1922 and 1931.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): You postponed them during the last World War.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney That was in a period of nine years. I am being put in the dock now this year—although I was not last year—and it is suggested that [1297] I am being unreasonable, and that the Government are unreasonable, because in my nine years in local government, I am postponing them for the second time, although the Cumann na nGaedheal Government postponed them four times.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): There is no comparison and the Minister knows it. As I said, the country was in a state of armed siege.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I agree there is no comparison. Fine Gael are trying to be consistent with their past. We know they changed their name but I think they did not change their spots. I would hate to see them becoming inconsistent to the degree to which Deputy Fitzpatrick walked them this morning. Not only are they now inconsistent with their predecessors and founders but they are absolutely inconsistent with what was said by the Fine Gael spokesman who spoke on the postponing Bill a year ago. All one can say is: what happened to Fine Gael in the meantime? What happened to bring about this departure from the sentiments they expressed in similar circumstances last year which were consistent with what was done by Cumann na nGaedheal 40 years ago?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): If the Minister asked the leader of his Party, he could probably tell him why it was impossible to hold those elections.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy should not keep asking for it. He will get it.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I am well able to take it.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I admit he is a great man to take it. He needs to be because he leaves himself open. There is the inconsistency that no one has attempted to explain away. A person with an open mind and objective mind, who did not know the Fine Gael views last year or those of Cumann na nGaedheal many years ago, would take it from the contributions made here today that not only do Fine Gael hold that view this year but undoubtedly by their sincerity in expressing it here today they always held it and never departed from it——

[1298]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): These elections were never postponed in normal times.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney ——that it was something they were almost born with.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The 20s were not normal times and the 40s were not normal times, and the Minister knows that.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The record is there. Only one speaker thought it worthwhile to speak on behalf of Fine Gael last year and I have quoted him in a way that leaves no doubt that a year ago in similar circumstances Fine Gael were approving of the postponement.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): To be held on the same day as the Presidential election, to save money.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputy Fitzpatrick should cease interrupting.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The country will not accept that.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I know the Deputy will not accept it.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The country will not accept it.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney For the benefit of those who may come to read it in the papers or in the Official Report, I have put on record what the actual position is, and the inconsistency that has been displayed by Fine Gael in regard to this matter. I will go further and say that had the elections been held in June, 1965—as incidentally I should like them to have been held—there would be very few Fine Gael people on our councils today or during the next three or four years.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Why not give them a chance?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy should not have any illusions about this because his Party had no illusions a year ago when they agreed that the elections should be postponed.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Nonsense.

[1299]Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Do not be hypocritical. There is no point in the Deputy washing his hands.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Minister can talk——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputy Fitzpatrick has no licence to interrupt.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The whole attitude of Fine Gael is so patently false that the public will see through it. I should like to go back again to try to get Fine Gael not to lose any contacts they have and any consistency they may wish to display in their outlook, because when the two elections were proposed to be held in 1945—the local elections and the Presidential election —together and on the same day, which is what Deputy Fitzpatrick says he wanted this year, who were the people who were against it? Who were the people who on every possible occasion spoke vehemently against the idea that the Presidential and local candidates should be voted for on the same day on two separate ballot papers in the same polling stations? I need scarcely tell the House that it was the Fine Gael Party.

Mr. Crotty: Information on Patrick J. Crotty Zoom on Patrick J. Crotty It was not.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Fine Gael vehemently and vocally opposed it, and in great volume, and in many places are on record as having opposed it. Unless Fine Gael want to disown their leader of that day, they cannot get away from the fact they opposed it in principle— and very high-sounding those principles were.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): You supported it.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Unless they want to disown their leader of those days, which incidentally is not something Fine Gael find hard to do——

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Does the Minister disown his leader, because that is what he appears to be doing?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The fact is that the leader of Fine Gael in 1945 with the [1300] most high-sounding and apparently well-held beliefs took every possible opportunity up and down the country inside and outside the House of denouncing the Act and the iniquity that was being perpetrated on the people.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Do you disown your leader?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton Zoom on Patrick Belton If Fine Gael were wrong, Fianna Fáil must be wrong. You cannot have it both ways.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The point the Deputy seems to miss is that Fianna Fáil do occasionally learn something, but Fine Gael do not. Instead, they seem to forget what they already knew. I do not want to be pressed into going over the well-documented quotations and the flowery language in which these were delivered by the then leader of Fine Gael. Nor do I think there is any need for it because I am sure even the least of them will be able to recall to the extent that they will agree with me that his view was that in no circumstances should the Presidential and local government elections be held on the same day.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): And the views of Fianna Fáil were that they should.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The point is that those were your views then. We did not go along with you. We held the two elections on the same day then and we won the two elections in 1945. Despite the fact that we did win them and that from the political point of view, holding them on the same day would seem to have been good tactics, the fact is that we have since changed to the extent that we did not intend, and did not agree, to hold them on the same day this year.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Referendum taught you a lesson. You lost the Referendum and you nearly lost “Dev”, in the words of the Minister for Justice.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney As was very quietly stated here today, our revered President beat the lot of you and there is [1301] no point in trying to get away from that.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): You got the shock of your lives.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney He did it in spite of all your gimmicks and tea parties and the aping of the scene in another far-away country and despite all the confusion you tried to create by bringing every sort of political gimmick into the election. He beat the lot of you.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan Zoom on Richie Ryan Using taxpayers' money through Telefís Éireann.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan Zoom on Richie Ryan And by rattling the bones of men 50 years dead.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Never forget that he beat the lot of you.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): You just scraped home.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputies should conduct themselves and allow the Minister to speak.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Thanks be to the Lord, the President is back, and no thanks to Fine Gael or any of the touts and tails that hang on to them.

Mr. Crotty: Information on Patrick J. Crotty Zoom on Patrick J. Crotty He is only barely there.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Let the Deputy beware: this mocking might be catching. You people tried to do it during the election and it did not work.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): He is there by 10,000 votes and numerically he is there just by a straw.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The fact is that he beat the lot of you with all the dirty tactics you used and all the gimmicks of all kinds from every direction.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Hold the local elections and see.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy says that the Bill denies the people the right to pass judgment on Ministers' policies. I suppose that could be said of Cumann na nGaedheal in 1923, 1924, 1927 and 1931. If it applies to me now, [1302] it must apply to them then. Just to show the inaccuracy of which Deputy Fitzpatrick is capable—and this surprises me—he spoke of the right in the Constitution to have general elections every five years——

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): General elections are held by law.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The fact is that they are held by law not less than once every five years but the Constitution, which the Deputy was trying to imply came into play here, says that they must be held not less than once every seven years. It was the Constitution the Deputy was supposed to be quoting.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Does the Minister propose to change the law?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputies should conduct themselves and allow the Minister to make his speech without interruption.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy should keep in mind that in using these tactics or inaccurate statements purporting to come from documents such as the Constitution, the making of even one of these blunders here in a debate is sufficient to wipe out the accuracy of anything else he may say.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Minister knows I was speaking about general elections every five years.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy was quoting his version of the Constitution, that there must be general elections not less than once every five years and he should be sufficiently upright to admit that he did not know what he was talking about. Even Deputy Tully was correcting him as he was speaking.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Minister knows that was not what I was talking about.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney There is no point in talking to a man who when he has seen he has made a blunder will not admit it. Deputy Clinton claims that [1303] his Bill of last year would have extended postal voting—as he claims, to quote his own words—“to a large section of the people”. The large section of the people according to the figures we can get would be approximately 4,000 and the electorate generally is 1,700,000. If 4,000 in relation to 1,700,000 is “a large proportion” of that figure and if this is the measure of the accuracy of Deputy Clinton in this debate, then I think we can ignore almost anything else he says.

In fairness, I may say that the postal vote, without any of this clap-trap we hear about “a large section of the people”—4,000 out of 1,700,000— has already been extended without any flourish of trumpets to 6,000 or 7,000 people by the present Minister and Government and we are not going around trying to tell the people that this is something that only we could give. According to Deputy Clinton, the 4,000 is “a large section” of 1,700,000. Then Deputy Fitzpatrick described the Bill as an instrument to destroy local democracy.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I said national democracy as we know it.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I begin to wonder if the Deputy knows anything about democracy, national or local, judging from the way in which during the past couple of days he has kept interjecting and interrupting, despite the best efforts of the Chair to keep order. If that is his view of national or local democracy, it is not my view of how democracy should work in this House. This Bill, as we know, is a simple, straightforward measure the like of which Members of the House have not had experience of in the past, the recent past or the distant past, and its description in the terms used by Deputy Fitzpatrick can only be understood when one begins to appreciate the sort of Deputy the Deputy is.

Deputy James Tully spoke about fair representation. He said there are local areas, counties, local councils, [1304] where the number of electors related to the number of elected members shows wide disparity and that this is unfair representation. The funny thing about it is that we cannot expect to have agreement in Fine Gael on this matter. That being so, how could we expect to get agreement between Fine Gael and Labour? It was particularly interesting to note that Deputy M. Dockrell has quite a different view about this. He would have us change back to what we had years ago, back to giving more votes to ratepayers in some way related to their total valuation. According to him, it should no longer be as it is now, one man, one vote. He would have us revert to the old system of not having the heads counted but the money counted so that those with the most money and the most property would have votes corresponding to that wealth and property.

Therefore, I can never see Deputy Tully and the Fine Gael spokesman achieving unity of views on what fair representation should be. It is even more strange to find not only Deputy Tully's Party members in some of our cities but the Fine Gael members in our city councils here and there throughout the country howling when I made, or indicated that I was about to make, changes in these cities to give fairer representation related to the number of heads versus the number of seats by setting up the ward system and designating the seats nearly equally in relation to the population. Where, I ask, can I turn then except to my own Party?

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds What about Deputy Corry?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Neither of the Parties has shown consistency even in the past six months. If I could not rely on them for guidance during that period, how possibly can I be expected to ask them for or to get worthwhile guidance from them in the years to come? In these circumstances, one would be better occupied looking anywhere than over there. There is no help from over there. I should like to see fair representation, as Deputy Tully says.

[1305]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Why did the Minister change his mind since 1945?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The one trouble is that the Minister has changed his mind even since 1945. That causes trouble to the Deputy. This is the usual sort of legal quibble. If I make a statement, another meaning is attributed to it. I am quite simple.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey A simple man.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Very often when I change my mind, even in the period since 1945, I do not claim I am right. I am making that statement for what it is worth, not for the interpretation Deputy Fitzpatrick and his colleagues will put on it in their own legal way.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): It could mean anything.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney That is true, when the Deputy and his colleagues get to it. Do not attribute to me the meaning you take from it.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Minister was in favour of holding the two elections in 1945.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney We did not do it in 1965.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): They did it in 1959.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney The Deputy's people in Fine Gael agreed that we should not do it in 1965. Therefore, they should not ask why we did it in 1945 and not in 1965 or 1966.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): You sprang an election to jump the gun in 1965.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney It is quite simple. There was an assertion that we are filching from the local authorities and the people their legal rights or their constitutional rights, or both. There was an assertion that the local elections were being held every three years. If we check back a bit, we shall find that when the three years were supposed to be the term between local elections, during a period of 30 years, [1306] there were exactly six elections held, which gives an average spread of about five years. Instead of having the election every three years as designated by law, the average gap between the elections was not three years but five years. If we are to become mathematical about it and relate three to five, how are we to relate five to seven? I know Deputy Fitzpatrick will work this out and be forced down on the side of the Minister for Local Government who is speaking here at the moment.

We had contributions from a few other Deputies and the one I appreciated most was Deputy O'Hara from Mayo, this morning bright and early. I am delighted he is now back in the House. He complained—I am delighted he did—because I did not speak long enough when introducing this Bill. After the past two days—I finished at 10.30 last night—I was amazed and gratified to hear Deputy O'Hara, who listened to a lot of my speech during the past couple of days and who contributed a lot to my speech by way of interruptions, complain because I did not speak sufficiently long this morning.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The Minister is making up for it now.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I said at the beginning of that two-day marathon that I intended to finish in 1½ hours if I were allowed——

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton It always takes him longer to get himself out of trouble than into it.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney If that is so, it is unlikely I will give trouble very often if I keep on talking.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey It depends on the recent count.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Perhaps.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey I know it does.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds It has not been published yet.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Though the reasons are valid for my decision that there should [1307] be a postponement — as valid as they were when they agreed with them here — they are now sorry and angry and disappointed that they are not allowed to do as they habitually have done— try to make use of national difficulties for their own petty political advantage even in local elections. According to their own professions, Fine Gael and their predecessors, Cumann na nGaedheal, never believed in and in fact, condemned roundly year in and year out, the use of Party politics in local elections. It is amazing that, in spite of those professions, Fine Gael would now avail themselves of the local elections in order to gain political advantage by distortion of our national difficulties. It is only the sort of mind displayed by Fine Gael over years that would be capable of doing that, and I am sure that if they are still around in 1970 and in 1980, we shall experience this duplicity again. However, many elections over the years, including local elections, have shown that the electorate as a whole have not been taken in by the duplicity of Fine Gael, or certainly have not been taken in consistently. Even we in Fianna Fáil really believed at one time that Fine Gael meant what they said about deploring Party politics in local affairs until we found to our cost this was not so.

As Deputy Tully said earlier today, no matter how a person goes before the electorate, no matter what way he may be described, when the life of the council to which he has been elected has run its course, whether it is the fixed course or an extended course, we always find that these people join up into Party political groups. Because of this I am firmly convinced, as is Deputy Tully in the Labour Party, that there is nothing whatever wrong with Party politics in any election, that there is every reason why Parties should declare themselves for what they are rather than go around in various cloaks before an election not belonging to the “bunch over there” sort of thing but, as soon as they get in, almost invariably having no difficulty whatsoever in finding where they belong, for the very good reason that they knew where they belonged before they started out.

[1308] This Fine Gael practice of cloaking the real purpose of some of the candidates has worked for them in the past, but it will work in fewer places in the future. This may be a fair tactic but it is not one for which I have a very great liking. I prefer to go out and fight the election on the basis of the candidates' declaring their affiliations.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton The elections are not taking place until next June.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney As far as I am concerned, I do not worry a great deal when any election takes place, and that is more than the great majority over there could say. It would not matter if these elections took place tomorrow. However, I would hate that they should take place tomorrow because the Deputies opposite would be so disillusioned and would not be able to enjoy these few months between now and the time of the elections when their false hopes will be shattered.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Do you think Senators Sheldon and Cole will stand for you?

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton This is a great political speech.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange In the Presidential election, it was Arkle by only a short head.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Despite all the tricks you could play and despite the fact that you had a start of six months in the race, you were still beaten.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Your majority was reduced to 10,000. The most illustrious man in Ireland barely scraped home.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Will the Deputy allow the Minister to conclude?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney As the Deputy well knows, when a good stable is running a good horse with the right jockey, it wins only by the amount that is required to win the race.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish He was never a front runner.

[1309]Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange He has proved to be a stayer.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): He had the welterweight of the Minister's Party around his neck.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney We must give Fine Gael credit for the fact that they made an early start. There was not a gimmick they did not try, and good luck to them. They got away with some of the gimmicks, but the gimmicks that worked for them before will not work half as well the next time.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton The Minister knows nothing about electioneering tactics himself.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney You are beaten, and [1310] you will continue to be beaten until you get to the stage where at least from one year to the next, your Party show some consistency, something which they have not shown here today by their attitude on this little Bill as against their attitude last year on a similar Bill, for similar reasons, and which is completely contrary to the edicts issued by your leader in 1945 about this whole matter. Beaten you are and beaten you will be.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Would Deputies allow me to put the question?

Question put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 53; Níl, 36.

Andrews, David.
Blaney, Neil T.
Boland, Kevin.
Booth, Lionel.
Boylan, Terence.
Brady, Philip.
Brennan, Joseph.
Brennan, Paudge.
Breslin, Cormac.
Briscoe, Ben.
Burke, Patrick J.
Calleary, Phelim A.
Carter, Frank.
Childers, Erskine.
Clohessy, Patrick.
Colley, George.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Crinion, Brendan.
Cronin, Jerry.
Cunningham, Liam.
de Valera, Vivion.
Dowling, Joe.
Egan, Nicholas.
Fahey, John.
Fanning, John.
Fitzpatrick, Thomas J. (Dublin South-Central).
Foley, Desmond.
Gallagher, James.
Geoghegan, John.
Gibbons, Hugh.
Gilbride, Eugene.
Gogan, Richard P.
Healy, Augustine A.
Hillery, Patrick J.
Hilliard, Michael.
Kenneally, William.
Kitt, Michael F.
Lemass, Seán.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Patrick.
Lynch, Celia.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
Meaney, Tom.
Millar, Anthony G.
Molloy, Robert.
Mooney, Patrick.
Moore, Seán.
Moran, Michael.
Nolan, Thomas.
Ó Ceallaigh, Seán.
O'Connor, Timothy.
Smith, Patrick.


Níl

Barry, Richard.
Belton, Luke.
Belton, Paddy.
Burke, Joan T.
Burton, Philip.
Byrne, Patrick.
Clinton, Mark A.
Cluskey, Frank.
Corish, Brendan.
Cosgrave, Liam.
Costello, Declan.
Coughlan, Stephen.
Crotty, Patrick J.[1311]L'Estrange, Gerald.
Lyons, Michael D.
McLaughlin, Joseph.
Mullen, Michael.
Murphy, William.
O'Hara, Thomas.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Donnellan, John.
Dunne, Seán.
Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
Farrelly, Denis.
Fitzpatrick, Thomas J. (Cavan).
Gilhawley, Eugene.
Governey, Desmond.
Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
Jones, Denis F.
Kyne, Thomas A.[1312]O'Higgins, Michael J.
Reynolds, Patrick J.
Ryan, Richie
Sweetman, Gerard.
Tully, James.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Geoghegan and Mrs. Lynch; Níl, Deputies L'Estrange and James Tully.

Question declared carried.

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 18th October, 1966.


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