Location: 3 Mountjoy Square. Private meeting.
The DIRECTOR OF TRADE AND COMMERCE then read a report on the Belfast Boycott.
M.P. COLIVET (Limerick City) proposed that the Sinn Fein Organisation be asked to start a boycott on English goods.
J. O'MAHONY (Fermanagh, South) pointed out that if they wanted to boycott the industries of any country they should educate the people. There was a certain amount of barter between all nations. It was a very good time to start a boycott of English goods, as English suppliers were refusing to give credit in every district in Ireland. If they wanted to secure the home market it was absolutely essential for the Department to take up the fight and prove to the people the necessity of supporting home industries.
P. BEASLEY (Kerry, East), while agreeing that the machinery for the Belfast Boycott should be perfected before taking on the English Boycott, thought the Propaganda Department could help by circulating facts about English Trade. If the facts were rubbed in it would have an enormous effect in preparing the ground for the Decree. Most people did not realise the facts.
J. MACDONAGH (Tipperary, North) said he spent some time in Belfast and went into the question of the boycott. He sent a suggestion to the Minister for Finance about the feasibility of selecting eight or ten organisers for Ireland for four or five months. He agreed that a very effective boycott could be carried out for three or four months for £1,000 or £1,500. These organisers should be placed at strategic points, such as Clones, Dundalk, Derry, and similar places in the South, and with the Committees which were more or less in existence he was sure they would have an Organisation for going on with the English Boycott. He suggested that a sum be voted for the purpose.
SEAN MACENTEE (Monaghan, South) said it struck him most of the Members misunderstood their duty with regard to the Boycott. It was not only the people of Belfast had a duty, but everyone else. What they found hardest was to keep the people of the South and West from buying. If they could create a proper public opinion against buying there would be no doubt of success. They in Belfast were asked to form an Advisory Committee. The duties of this Committee were to advise that if the Boycott was to be carried out effectively it should be controlled and directed from Dublin, because those in Belfast were not in touch. It was not possible for the people of Belfast to supply any great information about goods going out of Belfast. They found it impossible to get anyone with Republican sympathies in any of the booking offices or dispatch offices. On the other hand, it would be easy for the people in Dublin to keep the people from buying Belfast goods. The first thing necessary was an active Propaganda. He urged an advertisement campaign. That was the only way they could succeed. The Belfast Advisory Committee were not to be blamed for the want of interest of the people of the South.
The MINISTER FOR FINANCE was not quite clear whether the Member for North Tipperary made an application to vote money. He agreed with him about Propaganda. Until they got up a real atmosphere they would not make the Boycott a success. The results depended upon a really good man being in charge. He thought the Belfast Committee were to blame for not being really alive. For some reason or another everyone would agree that sufficient vigour and force had not been put into this business. He now proposed that £1,500 be passed for the organisation of the Boycott and £1,000 for Propaganda in connection with it. This boycott would have far-reaching effects. It would make a Vienna of Belfast if it remained outside Ireland.
The PRESIDENT said that he had had an opportunity of consulting the Ministry about appointing a Minister for Labour, and they had agreed upon a Member who would be willing to act.
He then proposed that the Member for North Tipperary be appointed Substitute Minister for Labour, and suggested that as he was in touch with the Belfast Campaign, he might for the time being be able to look after it.
SEAN MACENTEE (Monaghan, South) seconded the proposal, which was unanimously agreed to.
The Report of the Director of Trade and Commerce was then put and adopted.