Location: Flemings Hotel. Private meeting.
The SUBSTITUTE MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT stated that the matter of determining a policy for Local Bodies had been referred by the Ministry to the Dáil. His view on the subject was that there must be war with the English Government, and that it was a question whether they should choose to have this war now when they were in a state of unpreparedness or whether they should wait for some months later when a uniform scheme would be in readiness to place before the Local Bodies to meet the altered conditions. He granted that the period of preparation would be bought at the price of an apparent sacrifice of consistency. At first sight it would seem that the straight thing to do was to break with the English Local Government Board immediately. If he were not responsible for the situation that this would create he was sure he would vote for it. It had been suggested to him that the country wanted that. The country was organised and disciplined to-day and it would be news to him to hear that big issues were to be decided at Strokestown or Clonakilty and not by the Dail. His opinion as set out in the report was arrived at after a close consideration of the question. If the Dail now decided contrary to that opinion, he could only hope that his opinion was wrong. He moved:
"That a Commission of experts he set up to enquire into the possibility of carrying on local administration without financial aid from the English Government, to report as to reforms and economies in local administration and particularly in the Poor Law system that would enable Councils to meet altered financial conditions if it is decided to break with the English Local Government Board. That this Commission report not later than the first day of September, 1920, and that pending consideration of its report no action be taken by Public Bodies except such as the Minister for Local Government may authorise."
A. MACCABE (Sligo South) seconded the motion.
T. MACSUIBHNE (Cork Mid.) said that they were playing for position. By adopting the Declaration of Allegiance to Dail Eireann the Councils had put themselves in the position of declaring war. It was only a question of when the crisis would arise. It was now for the British Local Government Board to make the next move. The question of minutes and Auditors was not a vital one.
The SECRETARY FOR FINANCE said that the forwarding of the minutes to the English Local Government Board would be a recognition of their authority. They could not give that body any public act of recognition.
The SECRETARY FOR LABOUR said that it was making a farce of the thing to send minutes to the English Government.
The DIRECTOR OF FISHERIES said that once the resolution of Allegiance to Dail Eireann had been adopted the English Government could no longer be recognised.
J.N. DOLAN (Leitrim Co.) stated that Leitrim County Council by striking an amended rate had started the clean cut and opened the fight. The present temper of the Country was that the English Government would not be allowed to carry on at all.
The MINISTER FOR DEFENCE stated that guerilla warfare appealed to him. The bringing about of the clean cut was certainly a very serious responsibility. There were, for instance, a very large number of people who would be only too glad of an opportunity not to pay rates. If word were sent out to such people by the enemy not to pay, and if rates were refused, a very serious position would be created. They could bring about chaos in the enemy camp if they take to guerilla tactics, but they would bring about chaos in their own ranks if they force the issue.
After further discussion the motion was put and carried on a division by 24 votes for to 13 against.