IMEACHTA AN CHOISTE
PROCEEDINGS OF THE COMMITTEE
Dé Céadaoin, 11 Aibreán, 1956.
Wednesday, 11th April, 1956.
1. The Ninth meeting of the Committee took place at 4.30 p.m. in Room 106.
2. The following Members were present:—
The Ceann Comhairle (Chairman), the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach, Deputies Blaney, Boland, S. Collins, Doyle, Dunne, Hilliard, Kennedy, Kyne, J. Lynch, Morrissey, McMenamin, O Briain, O’Hara, O’Malley and Palmer.
5. Complaint of Privilege—Newspaper Article.
The Committee, in accordance with the Order of the Dáil of 8th March, 1956, considered the article published in the Sporting Press of 23rd February, 1956, under the heading “Parliamentary Conduct?”.
The article was as follows:—
CARRION consuming vultures exhaust their appetites on the flesh of their victims; they leave the dried bones to the ravages of time and the weather. It seems to be the special craving only of some public men to deprive the elements of their due and to wallow in dead men’s graves, rooting for their sins. The best that can be said of such an ignoble occupation is that it always fits those engaged in it. They walk in darkness, groundlessly fearful of their own sub-normal instincts being brought home to them. They are mistaken. Leprosy of the mind is every bit as revolting as leprosy of the body, and equally consuming. It destroys without supplementary irritants. The afflicted are more pitiful than their flesh-corrupted fellow beings. Pass them quietly on the street.
But a worse tragedy cannot be passed over so lightly. A peculiar deformity of intellect on the part of some Deputies is putting our House of Parliament to shame. Every minute spent on constructive legislation invariably invites forty to sixty minutes of party politics or the release of pent up personal grievances. The wars and sacrifices that went on to the emergence of Ireland as an independent Republic after centuries of suppression aimed at a higher level of government than those altercations display. The members of Dáil Éireann were not elected to office to exploit vocabularies of invective among themselves or against the people. There is ample evidence that more attention to affairs of State, and a great deal less to buffoonery, is required before the country will be politically mature and economically sound.
As regards the Greyhound Industry Bill, it is immaterial now if the bookmakers are on strike or that the Waterford Track was licensed in favour of the late Secretary of the Irish Coursing Club instead of a member of the Government Advisory Committee. And for that matter, Clonmel had nothing to gain by agreeing to Waterford being licensed at all. It is purposeless to attempt to make it appear that wrong-doing was condoned or connived at by any member, officer or official of the Irish Coursing Club, or any of its affiliated bodies. The sowing of seeds of suspicion and veiled innuendoes are cowardly weapons for an attack on the living, or in any disturbance of the dead. That such conduct is parliamentary does not make it respectable, we prefer to let it sink to its own level of its own accord. As we have said here on another occasion, let any charges or allegations that have to be made be made in the light of day, where they can be tried in open court and not by some vicious abuse of parliamentary privilege.
If the proposed Greyhound Board is going to be purely the imbecile child of political caterwauling, let it be still-born. Take it to some quiet burial ground and let the spot blend with the soil around it to make a nameless grave. The greyhound industry has too much dignity to accept an advantage of any kind as the outcome of an unseemly brawl. It is not blind, however, to the possibility of a manoeuvre whereby people who are opposed to the Bill see their opportunity in forcing the Club to the conclusion that its passage into law runs through a sea of mud.
We have said again and again that there is much to be criticised in the proceedings that were introductory to the Bill. There are provisions in the Bill itself to which exception may be taken by one or another interested section of the industry. But in the main, it is not an unreasonable document. Considering some aspects of its origin, it is a miracle of equity. The general body of the coursing and greyhound racing fraternity want only a reasonable document. They realise that there is no such thing as a Bill that would satisfy everybody. This one is a commonsense effort. Our legislature ought to find it within their compass to deal with it objectively without recourse to the exhumation of dead men’s reputations or the sifting of mud to bespatter their living colleagues.”]
The Committee found that the article was of an irresponsible nature and did not merit further attention.
Draft Report to be prepared.
9. The Committee adjourned at 5.50 p.m.