MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Dé Céadaoin, 14° Márta, 1934.
Wednesday, 14th March, 1934.
The Committee sat at 11 a.m.
THE CATHAOIRLEACH in the Chair.
STATEMENT BY THE CATHAOIRLEACH.
259. There were two points raised during the Minister’s evidence at our last meeting and I should like to deal with them now, so that what I have to say shall be printed along with the evidence which will be given to-day. When it came to Senator Mrs. Wyse Power’s turn to put questions to the Minister, she put questions to me instead; she adverted to the fact that, on one or more occasions, while the Seanad and the Dáil were sitting, the approaches to Kildare Street at St. Stephen’s Green, Molesworth Street and Nassau Street were closed to the public by the police. She presumed that this was done by the Committee for the Protection of Government Buildings and Leinster House, and she wanted to know if I was consulted about the matter. Her presumption was incorrect. This action was taken, not by that Committee, but by the police, who have ample power under the existing statute law to prevent the assembly of crowds likely to cause disturbance or inconvenience to the public. I have ascertained that on the occasions in question a passage was made through the cordon of police for the admission of Senators and Deputies and all persons having tickets of admission to the Visitors’ Gallery of either House. I was not consulted, but there is no reason why I should have been, as no question of privilege could possibly arise in those circumstances.
As a matter of interest, I might mention that in England, under a statute passed in the reign of Charles II, meetings are unlawful which consist of more than fifty persons assembled for certain purposes in any street, square or open place within one mile from Westminster Hall on any day on which either House of Parliament is meeting. There is no similar law here, but none is necessary. The police have ample powers to deal with any assembly of persons within the metropolitan police district, and there is no suggestion that they have ever used those powers in such a way as to infringe the privileges of this House.
The second point has reference to the Minister’s statement that the Commissioner of Police addressed a letter to the Ceann Comhairle saying: “That on the occasion of the 11th August Blue Shirts should not be allowed through the buildings here on that day, on the occasion of the demonstration which was to have been held on the 11th or 12th August last year.” What is alluded to here is doubtless the Griffith-Collins-O’Higgins commemoration, which was proposed to be held on Leinster Lawn on Sunday, 13th August last; but I do not see how it is relevant, for the Seanad was not sitting on that day, and what we are dealing with is an order of the Minister for Defence excluding from the Visitors’ Gallery of the Seanad two persons dressed in blue uniforms, who were in possession of tickets of admission issued by me. That is all I have to say on that matter. I think we shall now have the Superintendent of the Oireachtas.
Colonel P. Brennan, Superintendent of the Oireachtas, called and examined.
260. Cathaoirleach.—We understand, Colonel Brennan, from the evidence given before us, that there was a Committee for the Protection of Government Buildings appointed some time ago. Could you give us some sort of history of that Committee?—Yes, Sir. The name was the Safeguarding Committee for Government Buildings. That was the original name of it. The date of the setting up of the Committee originally was the 29th of September, 1926. It was set up under the authority of the Minister for Finance, by an officer of the Department of Finance, speaking for the Minister for Finance, presumably with the knowledge of the Executive Council.
Have you any knowledge of the terms of reference?—The terms of reference covered attack, trespass and fire. There was a representative from here at that time; he was Mr. Malone. The Speaker was communicated with. The Clerk of the Dáil was absent on leave and the Speaker nominated Mr. Malone to act as his representative. That went on until some time in 1929, when the Committee was reconstituted. There was nobody from this place on the new Committee, and a communication came to me, personally, from the Secretary of the Committee asking me whether I would be prepared to sit on the Committee. I said I had no objection, but I wondered whether I would have authority to represent this place. I was then informed that they simply wanted to be kept aware of what might clash, or might conflict, with the rights of Deputies and Senators; and I felt I was more or less in a position to be able to inform them on that point. I had no authority from here to sit on it, I sat on it as a kind of adviser to them on matters relating to Leinster House. That was in 1929. I cannot get the date of that because the file is not complete on that point. The new Committee was constituted on the 11th April, 1932, and the Minister for Defence wrote on that occasion to the Ceann Comhairle, asking whether he would have any objection to my remaining on the Committee and the Ceann Comhairle replied that he had not.
261. Senator Douglas.—The Minister for Defence wrote?—The Minister for Defence wrote to the Ceann Comhairle about the 11th April, 1932—it was about that date, the date of the first meeting of the Committee. I can give you the exact date.
262. Cathaoirleach.—It would be convenient to have it?—The Secretary of the Department of Defence wrote on the 1st April, 1932, stating that the Minister would be glad—the letter was to the Ceann Comhairle—if he would nominate a representative to act on the Committee which was about to be appointed and suggesting, in view of my experience, that I should be the representative. On the 2nd April the Ceann Comhairle replied saying that I was willing to act as a member of the Committee for the Safeguarding of Government Buildings, “and I hereby nominate him as a representative.”
263. He communicated verbally with you in the meantime?—I was asked whether I would be prepared to act—I was asked by the Ceann Comhairle—and I replied that I was prepared to act. The first meeting of the Committee was held on the 11th April, 1932. As the Committee had been originally constituted by order of the Minister for Finance, I pointed out that certain things had to be done to regularise matters; that, strictly speaking, the Minister for Defence had no power to take over. Perhaps that is not the right way to say it, but, as the Committee had been originally constituted by the Minister for Finance, I felt that there should be some formal document saying that now it was being constituted by the Minister for Defence. That was done and matters were regularised. The officers of the new Committee were Lieutenant-General P. MacMahon (Chairman); Mr. T. S. C. Dagg, of the Department of Finance—he was there for the purpose of seeing we did not spend too much money in any way; Colonel S. O’Higgins, the Officer Commanding Dublin District—the name of the officer does not matter so long as the officer commanding would be there; Mr. J. E. Duff, of the Department of Justice; Mr. Allberry; representing the Board of Works; and myself. The Board of Works representative would advise in connection with any changes or alterations in buildings, walls and so forth; and Mr. Carr, of the Department of Defence, was Secretary to the Committee.
264. When did the question of excluding the Blue Shirts arise, so far as you can remember?—On the 20th July, 1933, I got an order from the Minister for Defence to refuse admission to Blue Shirts in uniform, members of the two Houses excepted. I did not consider it exactly right to be receiving an order from the Minister for Defence. We had a few words and he informed me that he had consulted the Ceann Comhairle and that the Ceann Comhairle had sanctioned the issuing of this order to me.
265. He had consulted the Ceann Comhairle?—On the 20th July. I felt that I should get an order from here rather than from anybody else. I put the order in force at once. That was on the 20th July. On the 24th July the Ceann Comhairle gave me a definite order to exclude Blue Shirts, in uniform, from Leinster House. He added that he had been advised to do so by the Departments of Justice and Defence. Members of the Oireachtas, in blue shirts, would not fall within the terms of that order.
266. Both Justice and Defence, he said, on that occasion?—Yes.
267. Senator Douglas.—Might I ask if the order made any reference to specific persons, and whether it referred to one House only or to both?—He did not say. The order was to exclude Blue Shirts, in uniform, from Leinster House —those were the terms of the order.
Cathaoirleach.—What powers have you——
268. Senator Johnson.—Could we have that order? Could you read it so that it can be taken down?—This is only a note of my own. I did not get any order in writing. I got all these orders verbally.
269. Cathaoirleach.—You had specific orders to exclude the Blue Shirts from Leinster House?—Yes.
270. On how many occasions, between July 20th and February 21st last, did you exercise these powers?—Occasionally, not often.
271. Two or three times?—More than that. I would say about a dozen times altogether. I have some on record. We did not record them all. Sometimes I might not hear about them for a week afterwards. Sometimes an usher would stop persons in blue shirts and I would hear about it only if a Deputy raised the matter.
272. What was the procedure?—The usher stopped them at the gate.
273. Not the military?—No, oh no! The military would not interfere. I have records of actual dates on which people were stopped in cases in which Deputies made representations afterwards.
274. Cathaoirleach.—Do members of the Committee desire particular instances?
Leas-Chathaoirleach.—I would like them.
Colonel Brennan.—On the 31st January two Blue Shirts were refused admittance. On the 7th February a girl in a blue blouse was turned away, and a man in a blue shirt. I do not know who the girl was, but the man happened to be a visitor calling for Deputy M. Brennan.
275. Leas-Chathaoirleach.—That was on February 7th. Are there any other instances?—On the 8th February we turned away two Blue Shirts. In addition, on the 7th February, a man was stopped coming in and his shirt was examined. It was discovered not to be a blue shirt and he was allowed in. The usher did that. On Thursday the 8th, also, the wife of a member of the Dáil was turned away with a lady companion, both of them being attired in blue blouses.
276. Cathaoirleach. — Had all those people tickets of admission to the Dáil?— No, not one of them. They were calling, probably, for the purpose of getting tickets.
277. None of them was possessed of a ticket of admission from the Ceann Comhairle, or the Chairman of the Seanad?—Not beforehand. Very often people call without tickets and a Deputy has to be got hold of, for the purpose of providing tickets.
278. Coming down to the present case, can you remember when were you made aware, and by whom, that two persons, probably wearing blue shirts, were to be admitted to Leinster House on the 21st February?—I think it was on Wednesday, the 14th February. I am not sure of that date. It is the only date I am not sure of. The Clerk of the Seanad sent for me and inquired as to the position regarding the admission of Blue Shirts and I informed him fully. I think it was the 14th—the 13th, 14th or 15th.
Cathaoirleach.—The Clerk tells me it was Wednesday, the 14th.
Colonel Brennan.—Yes. A week before the actual incident.
279. Cathaoirleach. — You practically told him what you have told us now?— Yes, that I had a verbal order from the Ceann Comhairle and the Minister for Defence that persons wearing blue shirts were not to be admitted to Leinster House, on the ground that such persons were dangerous.
280. What did you do then, having given this information to the Clerk? —On the 16th, Friday,—this is the note I made—I received a notification from the Clerk of the Seanad that the Cathaoirleach had directed that Miss Browne was to be provided with two cards of admission to the Seanad Gallery for Wednesday, 21st February. The Clerk informed me that the visitors would be wearing blue shirts. I prepared the cards of admission and handed them to the Clerk of the Seanad. Later that afternoon, happening to visit the office of the Clerk of the Dáil on business, I mentioned the matter to him. I mentioned it for the reason that the case provided an instance of conflicting orders, with the Ceann Comhairle on the one side and the Cathaoirleach on the other. The Clerk of the Dáil inquired what I was going to do. I replied that I would admit the visitors. He stated the Ceann Comhairle had received a letter bearing on the subject from the Cathaoirleach and he directed me to await instructions from him before doing anything definite. I demurred, pointing out the dangers of his interfering in matters domestic to the Seanad and he thereupon informed me that where I was concerned his orders would override all others, whether from the Cathaoirleach or the Clerk of the Seanad. I did not argue further.
281. That is the Clerk of the Dáil? —Yes, Sir.
282. Senator Johnson.—This was a verbal notification?—Yes.
283. Senator Douglas.—The Clerk of the Dáil said that his instructions would be supreme over the Clerk of the Seanad, or over Colonel Brennan; not, of course, over the two Chairmen?—We had an argument on that point.
284. Cathaoirleach.—Read the note, Colonel Brennan?
Colonel Brennan.—A junior cannot argue with a senior, sometimes, but I put the case as well as I could and he informed me that, where I was concerned, his orders would override all others, whether from the Cathaoirleach or the Clerk of the Seanad.
285. Cathaoirleach.—That the Superintendent was his servant, not the servant of the House?
Senator Colonel Moore.—That is the kernel of the whole business.
Cathaoirleach.—It is, to a large extent.
Colonel Brennan.—On Tuesday, 20th, I received a message to go to the Clerk of the Dáil’s room. I did so. He instructed me that Blue Shirts were not to be admitted to Leinster House, even though they had cards of admission to the Seanad.
286. Cathaoirleach.—The Ceann Comhairle?—The Clerk of the Dáil.
287. Senator Douglas.—Did he give that as a message from the Ceann Comhairle, or entirely on his own?—I could not say that.
288. It was not stated?—No. I questioned (a) whether he had power to give such an order, (b) whether it was a judicious order to give, supposing he had power, and (c) whether such an order had any force so far as I, in my capacity as an officer of the Seanad, was concerned. He replied to the effect that he was the Civil Service Head of the Oireachtas Department and that his jurisdiction extended over the whole of Leinster House and over every member of what he called the joint staff. I tried to point out that I was an officer of the Seanad, as well as of the Dáil, appointed in a particular way, deriving my powers from each House in matters concerning the House in question and, in the ultimate, responsible to the House itself and not to anybody who might be styled the Civil Service Head of the Oireachtas Department. The Clerk of the Dáil disagreed and informed me that I was to take it that I was responsible to him, in the ultimate, for every official action of mine, whether performed on behalf of the Dáil or the Seanad, and, further, that he was the person in whom was vested full jurisdiction over Leinster House and precincts. I did not argue further.
289. Senator Douglas.—Is it your habit to make notes of these matters at the time?—Yes. I did that on this occasion because I was almost certain these matters would be again referred to. Here are my rough notes, made at the time, and this is the draft which I have prepared from these notes.
290. You made notes at the time?— Yes, except in the case of my first interview with the Clerk of the Seanad. I did not keep any note of that. That was on the 14th. But I have a fair recollection of what passed then.
291. Cathaoirleach.—That gets us down to the actual time of the 21st February? —On the 21st I received a notice from the Clerk of the Seanad directing me to ensure that, in view of the Cathaoirleach’s decision to admit visitors to be introduced by Miss Browne, no person whatever would be admitted to the Seanad Gallery unless in possession of an authorised admission card. In addition, at 12.30 p.m. on that day, I received verbal instructions from the Cathaoirleach to admit Miss Browne’s two Blue Shirts, with Seanad tickets, to the Seanad Gallery.
292. You got these instructions from me in this room?—Yes, Sir. On account of what happened between myself and the Clerk of the Dáil I considered it my duty to go and see him. He had given instructions, at one of those interviews, that I was not to do anything definite without seeing him. I went at 12.35 p.m. to his room. The Ceann Comhairle was present. I informed them that I had received strict orders from the Cathaoirleach to admit two Blue Shirts to the Seanad Gallery. There was some discussion then; various things were discussed. In the course of the discussion I indicated that I felt bound to admit the Blue Shirts, despite orders from anybody to the contrary. As a result of that, the Minister for Defence’s letter of the 20th July, 1933 was mentioned. In that letter he says:—
“I am accordingly about to issue instructions to the military guard that all persons so attired be not permitted to enter Leinster House or Government Buildings and I request your co-operation in the effective carrying out of the order.”
293. Was such an order issued?—That is what I am coming to. The Clerk of the Dáil said the military had orders and they would stop them, anyhow. I told him that, so far as I knew, the military had no orders to that effect. I was asked by the Clerk of the Dáil to verify that and, if the orders did not exist, to acquaint the Minister for Defence of all the facts. I subsequently ascertained that there were no such orders on the Guard Orders for Government Buildings and Leinster House.
294. Leas-Chathaoirleach.—On the Guard Orders?—Yes, on Guard Orders. The traditional military policy here is not to use soldiers in any position in which they might have to deal with members of the public. They always held that to be our job, not a military job, unless in the case of an armed attack, or something very serious.
295. Cathaoirleach.—In your opinion was this occasion the first occasion on which the military acted—as far as you know?—That is correct.
296. That was the first occasion on which military so acted?—Yes, since 1922, except occasionally to help us if an usher has to leave the gate; and also during the night, or at hours at which neither House is sitting and no usher can be detailed for duty at the gate. The military policeman has specific instructions on these matters. When it was discovered that these orders did not exist on Guard Orders, I was directed by the Clerk of the Dáil to inform the Minister for Defence of that.
297. Leas-Chathaoirleach.—You were directed by the Clerk of the Dáil?—I was directed by the Clerk of the Dáil.
298. The Ceann Comhairle was present? —Yes, the Ceann Comhairle concurred in that. As a result I telephoned to the Chief of Staff, who is the officer responsible for such things, and I informed him as follows:—(1) I have orders from the Cathaoirleach to admit two Blue Shirts to the Seanad to-day. (2) I have orders from the Clerk of the Dáil not to admit them to Leinster House. (3) I got an order from the Ceann Comhairle and the Minister for Defence last July not to admit Blue Shirts. (4) I feel bound to obey the Cathaoirleach in this matter. (5) I have been directed by the Clerk of the Dáil and the Ceann Comhairle to have the Minister for Defence informed that there is no trace on Guard Orders for Leinster House of the exclusion order against Blue Shirts, stated by the Minister in his letter to the Ceann Comhairle dated the 20th July, 1933, to be about to be issued to the military. The Ceann Comhairle and the Clerk of the Dáil desire to know whether the Minister for Defence thinks that the military should be given that order.
299. Cathaoirleach.—The Ceann Comhairle and the Clerk of the Dáil wanted to know whether the military should be given that order?—They desired to know whether the Minister for Defence thought that the military should be given that order.
300. Quite. Did you get in touch with the Minister for Defence?—I informed the Chief of Staff, under these five heads, over the telephone. I presume he got into touch with the Minister, but I do not know whether he did or not——
301. We have it from the Minister that he telephoned?—It was at 12.47 p.m. that I telephoned to the Chief of Staff. I told him of the position and asked him to convey the facts to the Minister. Five minutes later he telephoned to me to say that an order was being issued forthwith to the military guard. The Officer of the Guard, in Government Buildings, came along five minutes later to tell me that he had received these particular instructions, that no persons wearing blue shirts were to be admitted to Leinster House. I informed the Clerk of the Dáil at 1.5 p.m., the Ceann Comhairle at 2 o’clock and you, Sir, at 2.30 p.m.
302. Senator O’Rourke.—You stated that some of your ushers stopped somebody and you found it was not the official blue shirt he was wearing. Have you to put your ushers through a course of training to know what is the official blue shirt? I did not think that was necessary?—That was on the night of the 7th February. As a matter of fact, I saw the man afterwards in the House.
303. Do you consider yourself the judge of what is a blue uniform shirt?— I do not consider myself the judge, but I have to obey orders as best I can.
304. Who is to be the judge?—It is very difficult for the usher. If I give an instruction that people in blue shirts are not to be admitted he has to obey, and if anybody gets past him I hold him responsible.
305. What the man was wearing was not the official blue shirt?—The usher has to do his best. His position was that he stopped this man at first; then he reconsidered it and allowed him to go through. He did his best.
306. Senator Douglas.—That is quite understandable. I would like to get it made quite clear that when the Committee was appointed, in 1929, the Superintendent was invited by the Committee itself, and not nominated by the Cathaoirleach or the Ceann Comhairle? —Yes, in 1929 I was invited by the Committee itself as the kind of person who would be able to keep them informed about matters here. There were things continually cropping up about sentries holding up Deputies and Senators.
307. Your function would be to inform the Committee of any rules made by the Cathaoirleach or the Ceann Comhairle, so far as you were aware?—Yes. Suppose the Committee had in mind the doing of something which I might consider would clash with the Dáil or Seanad, then I would inform the Cathaoirleach, or the Ceann Comhairle. I would feel it necessary to consult them and to tell the Committee what the Cathaoirleach, or the Ceann Comhairle, thought. I had not to do that except in one case, where the Clerk of the Seanad was being deprived of a key which he had for the purpose of passing through from here to the National Library. He gave up the key and I failed to get him another. He regarded the matter as trifling and told me not to bother about it. The Committee dealt with nothing that would ordinarily clash with the usual routine of this place. It existed for the purpose of advising on attack, trespass and fire.
308. In the Committee of 1932 you were actually appointed by the Ceann Comhairle?—I was nominated by the Ceann Comhairle.
309. Did you consider your functions were the same for both Houses?—I may have been wrong, but I did.
310. I think you were right, but I merely wanted to be clear?—Perhaps now, when I look back on it, I should have asked the Minister for Defence to communicate with the Cathaoirleach. Anyhow, that Committee had nothing to do with matters such as the one now under review.
311. Leas-Chathaoirleach.—You could not blame yourself for that. It was hardly your job.
312. Senator Johnson.—About the 1929 reconstitution, the first Committee was formed in 1926 by a minute of the Minister for Finance?—Yes.
313. Can you tell us something about the reconstitution of that Committee in 1929? I am not quite clear as to how it was done and by whom?—In connection with the 1929 Committee, the only thing I can find in this file is a letter from a senior official of the Department of Finance, dated 31st August, 1928, to the Clerk of the Dáil. It says:—
“I am directed by the Minister for Finance to inform you that, following on the recommendations of the Committee set up in September, 1926, to advise on the authority to be responsible for, and the measures necessary for the safeguarding of, the Government Buildings in Merrion Street and adjoining areas, he has decided to appoint a small standing Committee to advise, in future, on such matters. In this connection, I am to convey to you on behalf of the Minister an expression of his appreciation of the services rendered by you as a member of the temporary Committee. . . . . .”
The first Committee was a temporary Committee and the 1929 Committee was intended to be a permanent Committee.
314. In regard to the 21st February, when did you become aware that the two expected visitors to be introduced by Miss Browne would be wearing blue shirts?— On the 14th—no, on the 16th—I received a notification from the Clerk of the Seanad that Miss Browne would be introducing two Blue Shirts to the Seanad Gallery on Wednesday, 21st, with the permission of the Cathaoirleach. On the 14th the Clerk of the Seanad had asked me whether there was any objection to Blue Shirts coming in here and I gave him all the information I had. That was two days before. I did not know on the 14th that there were Blue Shirts coming to the Seanad. I knew it on the 16th.
315. The question was not whether two visitors introduced by Miss Browne were to be admitted, but two visitors who would be wearing blue shirts?—That Senator Miss Browne would be introducing two visitors who would be wearing blue shirts.
316. She told us they might possibly be dressed in that way when they came; she did not know they would?—I do not know about that, but the Clerk of the Seanad told me that the visitors would be wearing blue shirts.
317. Do you know whether the tickets of admission were presented and retained, or were they not presented?—The tickets would be taken up at the entrance to the Gallery, and the visitors did not arrive so far.
318. Not at the gate?—No. If the tickets were collected at the gate, the visitors would be stopped in the main hall for not having tickets.
319. Leas-Chathaoirleach.—Who has control of the military guard at Leinster House? Have you any form of control or where do you come in, in respect of the military?—I have no control whatever of the military guard.
320. If a person presents himself for admission to Leinster House and you have already given orders that such a person carrying arms, or attired in a certain way, is not to be admitted, and if your ushers fail to prevent that person getting admission, where do you come in, in respect of the military guard at Leinster House?—I do not quite understand that question.
321. May I repeat it? Supposing you have orders to prevent the admission of a certain type of person, a person carrying arms?—A person suspected of carrying arms for a dangerous purpose would not be admitted. There would be no need to give me orders, if such knowledge were in my possession. The police authorities assist in this respect.
322. It is your duty to see that a person carrying arms is not admitted?— Yes, if I had any reason to suspect——
323. If your ushers fail to prevent that person and that person resists the ushers, where do you come in—where is your authority in respect of the military guard?—If any kind of scene takes place at the gate, if force is employed, it is the duty of the civil police and the military, at that post, to assist our men. That goes without saying.
324. If your man calls on them?—It is not necessary to call on them, in a case like that; I could not give an officer, or even a private, orders. He would not take them, and neither would a policeman.
325. You have no authority in respect to the military?—No. I have, over a long period of years, endeavoured to have it agreed that I could send for the officer of the guard and ask him to have certain things done, but the military have always refused to accept.
326. In that respect there is very little co-ordination?—There is co-ordination through the Safeguarding Committee. We can discuss things there and get things done which normally might not be done, except, possibly, after serious friction with the military. The District Officer is empowered to fall in with our requirements, so far as military needs permit. The officer on the spot—that is, the officer of the guard for the time being, who is responsible to the Officer Commanding Dublin District—has very definite orders, and cannot depart from them. The District Officer can have things amended, but it takes time to make contact with him.
327. It is the duty of the ushers, in the first instance, to prevent persons from being admitted who should not be admitted?—That is correct.
328. In regard to the exclusion of visitors wearing blue shirts, the ushers have always acted in the past and they have been able to prevent the admission of Blue Shirt visitors to Leinster House —there has been no difficulty about that? —None.
329. There were some references made to the question of the order which had been given in July, 1933 falling into abeyance. That order had not fallen into abeyance?—No.
330. Since July, 1933, visitors in blue shirts who had presented themselves at Leinster House were refused admission? —On various occasions.
331. It might be presumed that one of the things which certainly was not in your mind when you informed the Chief of Staff, under the five heads mentioned, was to inquire whether or not the order to you of the 20th July still held good— that was not in your mind?—No. I communicated with the Chief of Staff on the order of a superior officer, the Clerk of the Dáil. Although I was perhaps aiding, and perhaps abetting if you like, in procuring the military to cut across the Cathaoirleach’s order, still I felt that I could not disobey the order from the Clerk of the Dáil to communicate with the Minister for Defence and I did so. I told the Chief of Staff, under those five heads, that the order which was alleged to have been issued had not, in fact, been issued and that I had been asked to acquaint the Minister of that fact.
332. Senator Johnson.—It was your superior officer who made the communication through you?—I was used as a conduit pipe. I was not happy about that, because I felt that my action in obeying the Clerk of the Dáil might subsequently be held to be a violation of the Cathaoirleach’s order to me.
333. Leas-Chathaoirleach. — You said there was a conversation between the Ceann Comhairle and the Clerk of the Dáil in your presence and you had already stated that the Cathaoirleach had definitely instructed you to admit visitors wearing blue shirts, who had his authority to enter—to admit them to the Seanad Gallery. You reported that to the Clerk of the Dáil and the Ceann Comhairle?—Yes.
334. And they then told you to get in touch with the Minister for Defence?— That is correct.
335. Leas-Chathaoirleach.—What strikes me is this, I do not know whether you choose to pass comment on it or not— that any reasonable man would infer that whilst they did not wish to override the Cathaoirleach’s authority directly, they were endeavouring to do it by bringing in the Minister for Defence.
Senator Douglas.—I do not think Colonel Brennan should be asked that.
Leas-Chathaoirleach.—I have already stated that he need not answer that, or comment upon that, if he chooses.
Colonel Brennan.—I did not feel happy about it, but I felt I had no option in the matter.
336. Senator Wilson.—With regard to the evidence of the Minister for Defence in connection with the original order made over these Blue Shirts, he said:
“I consulted with the Ceann Comhairle about the matter and afterwards, with his consent, gave instructions to the military that persons dressed in uniform . . . . were to be refused admittance to Leinster House.”
This is away back in July. Now he says:
“The instruction I gave, at that particular time, was to the Superintendent of the Oireachtas, not to the military. I did not advert, at that time, to the fact that it was to the Superintendent I gave it and not to the military staff. He has the military staff here in regard to Leinster House but I did not give instructions to the staff of Leinster House. . . . . . . In regard to this portion I gave the instructions, with the Ceann Comhairle’s consent, to the Superintendent of the Oireachtas, who had control of the military staff within the precincts of the House here, for ordinary police purposes”.
That is the evidence of the Minister for Defence—that you have control of the military staff here of this House?—The Minister is misinformed. I have not.
Cathaoirleach.—I do not think we ought to press that.
Colonel Brennan.—I have no such control.
337. Senator Douglas.—It has never been conveyed to you officially?—No.
338. Senator Wilson.—I am quoting the evidence given here?
Colonel Brennan.—Anyhow, it would be altogether wrong for a civilian to have control over military. It would be an impossible situation.
Senator Wilson.—I wanted to bring that out.
339. Senator Douglas.—I want to be quite clear. I asked if Colonel Brennan had received any instructions to the effect that he had this authority and he says “No.” Did he receive any specific instructions that he had not this authority?—Often.
340. From whom?—From military officers——
341. Responsible military officers?— Yes, and from the demeanour of military officers when I would ask them to do certain things. I might ask them to order their sentries not to be holding up Senators or Deputies for purposes of identification after challenging them in the dark. They would tell me that they had their orders and would have to carry them out.
342. Senator O’Rourke.—Who was it stopped the Blue Shirts—was it your staff or the military?—You mean, Miss Browne’s Blue Shirts?
343. Yes?—The military policeman. I instructed my usher that he was not to stop these people; in fact, that he was to see they were admitted.
344. Cathaoirleach.—I should like to say in conclusion, Colonel Brennan, that you appear from your evidence to have received conflicting orders from persons whom it was your duty to obey. In the nature of things, the position of anyone so circumstanced cannot be other than difficult; but it was your duty to give us all the facts of this matter, so far as they are known to you, in reply to the questions that have been put to you. I believe that you have done so, and that you had no option other than to do so. I am sure that the Committee will agree with me in thinking that, whatever the result of our investigation your personal position can in no way be held to be involved.
Colonel Brennan.—Thank you, Sir.
The witness withdrew.