Heads of Agreement between the Provisional Government and the Government of Northern Ireland.
5. A Committee to be set up in Belfast, of equal numbers, Catholic and Protestant, with an independent Chairman, preferably Catholic and Protestant alternating in successive weeks, to hear and investigate complaints as to intimidation, outrages, &c. Such Committee to have direct access to the Heads of the Government.
7. During the month immediately following the passing into law of the Bill confirming the Constitution of the Free State (being the month within which the Northern Parliament is to exercise its option) and before any address in accordance with article 12 of the Treaty is presented, there shall be a further meeting between the signatories to this agreement with a view to ascertaining:
9. In view of the special conditions consequent on the political situation in Belfast and neighbourhood, the British Government will submit to Parliament a Vote not exceeding £500,000 for the Ministry of Labour of Northern Ireland to be expended exclusively on relief work, one-third for the benefit of Roman Catholics and two-thirds for the benefit of Protestants.
The Northern signatories agree to use every effort to secure the restoration of the expelled workers, and wherever this proves impracticable at the moment owing to trade depression they will be afforded employment on the relief works referred to in this Article so far as the one-third limit will allow; Protestant ex-service men to be given first preference in respect of the two-thirds of the said fund.
I am quite certain that not only the House, but the whole country, and indeed, by the time the news reaches them, the whole British Commonwealth, will have heard with very great relief the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just given us. It is not an occasion for anything approaching discussion, but there are two points which the right hon. Gentleman read out to us which I regard, if I may say so, with great hope, first, that members of two belligerents in unhappy conflict in Ireland have united together in a common effort to maintain law and order, and the other point realises, indeed, the greatest aspiration of all—that some effort should be made for the unity of Ireland. While I very seldom speak for the House as a whole, I am sure that on this occasion I can say this, that nothing will be lacking in any Member of any party in this House to do anything that we can to maintain this happy atmosphere, and we all, I am certain, join in the fervent prayer that this may be the first step to, and a real foundation of, a lasting peace.
I trust the House will forgive me if I also offer my congratulations on the most cheering news which the right hon. Gentleman has conveyed to the House. No one rejoices more profoundly than I at the prospect of an immediate and, I trust, a permanent peace in Ireland. I can only say that if the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has read is the foundation of that future peace—and I trust, future unity of Ireland—then the best work that has ever been done for Ireland, for the Empire, and for the world, was performed to-day. May I be permitted to offer my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman, and to all his colleagues, for the inspired idea which moved him to call this conference together, and I trust, as I pay very free compliments to hon. Members on that bench, that I may also be allowed to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the superb tact and ability with which he has conducted all those Irish matters since he has been entrusted with this task. For my part, having laboured now for over 20 years to try to bring my fellow countrymen in Ulster together—the one great object of my life being to see these causes of conflict disappear, allowing us to approach the consideration of Irish affairs, especially in Ulster and Belfast, from those normal points of view which guide politics here and elsewhere—I trust that we will now be enabled to apply ourselves to the higher and nobler task of fighting for the elevation of the poor, for the promotion of all great human causes, for the creation of better conditions for our people, and for the great purpose of joining together the democracies of these islands in all that can make for the grandeur, and power, and enduring strength of the Empire.