MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Coiste um Nós-Imeachta agus Príbhleidi.
Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
Dé Máirt, 6° Márta, 1934.
Tuesday, 6th March, 1934.
The Committee sat at 4 p.m.
THE CATHAOIRL EACH in the Chair.
Senator Miss Kathleen Browne called and examined.
1. Cathaoirleach.—According to our records, Senator Miss Browne, you wrote to the Clerk, under date the 13th February, 1934, intimating that, at the next meeting of the Seanad, you desired to introduce to the Visitors’ Gallery two visitors who would be wearing the blue shirt uniform of the League of Youth, and requesting the Clerk to place the matter before me and to ask if I would give my approval. Is that so?—That is correct.
2. The Clerk did as you requested, and, acting on instructions which I gave him, I find that he sent you the following letter on the 15th February:—
“Dear Miss Browne:—
Further to my letter of the 14th instant, I have this morning received a letter from the Cathaoirleach and he does not propose in the case you mention to depart from his usual rule of allowing visitors introduced by Senators and in possession of cards of admission to the Visitors’ Gallery. The Seanad meets next Wednesday, and I accordingly enclose two cards of admission, duly stamped. It is essential for you to insert on each card the name of the visitor, and it is, of course, understood that Senators introducing visitors are responsible for the conduct of those visitors.”
Did you receive that letter, together with the cards of admission?—Yes, I have a copy of it in my pocket.
3. What are the names of the two visitors?—Mr. Fitzgibbon and Mr. Keogh Nolan. Their names were written on the cards.
4. Had you any reason to suppose that they were armed?—None whatever. I am sure they were not.
5. Had you any reason to suppose that their conduct would differ in any way from the conduct of any other visitors?—No, sir. They were interested in the Seanad and they wished to come into it.
6. Had you any reason to suppose that they were dangerous men?—None whatever.
7. Had you any reason to suppose that their presence in the Visitors’ Gallery, or within the precincts of Leinster House, would be provocative of disorder?—None, so far as I know.
8. Did you accompany these visitors on the afternoon of the 21st February to the gate in Kildare Street?—I did not accompany them. I met them there. I went from the House and met them outside the gate and conducted them in. I was met by a military policeman and stopped.
9. Were they in possession of the tickets of admission, with their names inserted on the tickets?—They were.
10. I understand from the statement you made in the Seanad on that afternoon that these visitors were refused admission. Is that so?—Yes.
11. Who refused them admission?—A military policeman said he had orders not to admit them.
12. Was the person in question a commissioned officer of the Army?—I do not know that. He was a military man—a man in military uniform.
13. Kindly tell us shortly what happened?—I conducted the visitors in. I had reason to suppose, having had your permission and the visitors being in possession of the tickets, that I would have had no further trouble but to conduct them to the Gallery. I asked them to come in and I had brought them inside the gate when the military policeman stood in front and stopped us. I asked him on whose authority he was doing it and he told me he had orders not to admit them. I then said I would refer the matter to you again. I asked my friends to remain outside the gate. I reported the matter to you and you advised me to bring the question up on a question of procedure on that day, which I did.
14. Did the two visitors in any way resist the order, or offer violence?—No, not in the least.
15. Did they go away quietly thereafter?—They did. You advised me to ask them to go away, which I did.
16. Senator Johnson.—Just to make it quite clear, Senator, the names of the visitors were inserted by you?—They were written by themselves. I sent them the tickets. I did not write the names.
17. The Cathaoirleach did not know the names or the persons?—I am not aware that he did. He did not ask me their names or any information about them.
18. At what point were they stopped— they had not got to the building proper? —Just inside the gate.
19. The outside gate?—They had just come through the archway of the entrance when they were stopped by the military policeman.
20. Senator Wilson.—Were they men or women?—Young men, who habitually wore blue shirts. I mentioned the matter to the Cathaoirleach because I knew there had been some question about visitors in blue shirts coming in. I took care to mention to the Cathaoirleach that these men would wear blue shirts as they habitually had worn them.
21. Are they from Wexford?—No, Dublin.
22. Would you be prepared to vouch for them as to their conduct and character?—Absolutely. Two most reliable men.
23. Senator Johnson.—You did not know their names?—I have given their names.
24. You did not write their names in? —I sent the tickets to a friend who had asked me. A friend asked me to bring these two men in to show them the Seanad and I gave that friend the tickets and asked them to write the names on them. I did not write the names myself.
25. That raises a point of importance as to the vouching for the tickets?—I knew who the men were, but I had not an opportunity of seeing them beforehand to give them the tickets.
26. You knew the men personally? —Yes, of course, I knew the men and all about them.
27. Senator O’Hanlon.—The tickets were conveyed to the men through the medium of a friend?—Yes, instead of having given them to them myself.
28. You might have given them personally yourself?—Yes. It was a matter of convenience for me to pass them on to a friend.
29. Senator Johnson.—The procedure in regard to the tickets is that the Cathaoirleach gave you the tickets for two particular named persons and you sent the blank tickets to a person away from the building?—I did not send them; I gave them to a friend.
30. But not to the persons concerned? —No.
31. Senator Douglas.—You knew to whom they were to be given?—I knew, but I had not an opportunity of seeing them.
32. Senator Johnson.—What was the check that the right persons to whom the Cathaoirleach had given the tickets did receive the tickets?—The person to whom I gave the tickets and the two visitors are persons on whom I could rely.
33. Senator Douglas.—The two persons who had the tickets were the two for whom you intended them?—Oh, yes.
34. Senator Mrs. Wyse Power.—Were you aware that men in uniform had been refused admittance at the gate before? —I was aware that men wearing blue shirts had been refused admittance to the Dáil.
35. Senator O’Hanlon. —To Dáil Eireann?—To Dáil Eireann, but not to Seanad Eireann.
36. Senator Mrs. Wyse Power.—At the gate?—Yes, I had heard of it and that was why I asked the Cathaoirleach. These men ordinarily wear the blue shirt.
37. Senator O’Hanlon.—You saw a reference in the Press to the fact that visitors had been refused admission? —Yes.
38. Senator Mrs. Wyse Power.—You were aware that admission was refused at the gate?—Yes, to the Dáil, but I was aware the Cathaoirleach was supreme in the Seanad as to who would go into the Gallery there. That was why I took care to get the Cathaoirleach’s permission.
39. Senator O’Hanlon.—There is no suggestion that you were bringing these visitors as a test—it was just in the ordinary way?—I brought the visitors in the ordinary way. It was intimated to me that these gentlemen wanted to come to the Seanad.
40. Senator Colonel Moore.—It was not meant by you as a sort of challenge? —Not that I am aware of. I brought them in the ordinary way as I bring visitors in constantly; but on account of having heard of men in blue shirts having been turned away I thought it well to mention to the Cathaoirleach that they might possibly be dressed in that way when they came. I did not know they would.
41. Senator Douglas.—Your object was to avoid any unpleasantness?—Exactly. That was my object in applying to the Cathaoirleach.
42. Senator Colonel Moore.—How were the shirts worn? Were they worn as an ordinary shirt or outside?—They were worn under their coats but not their vests—just so that they could be seen— just the same as mine can be seen now.
43. Senator Johnson.—Had you any discussion with any other member of the Oireachtas?—No.
Cathaoirleach.—Any further questions? Thank you, Senator.
The witness withdrew.