July 19th, 1934
FROM THE ARCHIVES:The Fianna Fáil government was accused in the 1930s of abandoning the measures designed at the foundation of the State to give former Unionists a voice in running the country through the university representation in the Dáil and the original Senate, both of which Fianna Fáil abolished.
All the promises made to the minority by Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins and Kevin O’Higgins were being swept aside by the present Government, declared Senator Andrew Jameson, in the debate on the second reading of the Constitution (Amendment No 23) Bill, in the Senate yesterday. The bill, which proposes to abolish University representation in the Dail, was rejected by 30 votes to 15.
Mr. Jameson spoke of the meetings which representatives of the minority had with British Ministers after the signing of the Treaty. They were told that the minority would have to make the best terms they could with the men who signed the Treaty.
Those men, he said, had been in favour of strong minority representation in the Senate, and on the question of University seats they held that the minority should be specially represented.
The policy of the present Government was an entire repudiation of the principle of Griffith . . . Mr. Jameson said that after the signing of the Treaty a number of what were then called Unionists were asked to go to Downing Street. They were Lord Middleton, the Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and himself.
They were told about the Treaty, which was read over to them. They were also told that British Government could do nothing for the minority, but that the representatives of the minority would have to make the best terms they could with the Irishmen who had signed the Treaty.
On that information they had acted. There were sundry meetings to begin with, at which Messrs. Griffith, Collins, O’Higgins and, he thought, Mr. Hugh Kennedy, now Chief Justice, were present. Negotiations were instituted for the establishment of the Oireachtas under which they were now being governed, and they found that the signatories of the Treaty were in favour of the Senate having in it a strong representation of the minority.
There was no question that what they had in their minds was representation of the old land owners and business people who held views that the best thing for this country was association with the British Empire. They held that the minority should have special means of expressing their views and having some influence in the government of the country.
They had also before them the question of university representation, and there was no doubt that those representing the Irish point of view held strongly that the minority should have special representation. Those promises were loyally carried out until the present Government came into power . . .
They were putting out of business not merely ex-Unionists, not merely the universities – the Government’s effort was to put the political representatives of the opposition out of business also.