Infamous Dail ‘walk-out’ saved the Government

It was described as one of the greatest sensations of early political life in this country.

Deputy John Jinks from Sligo caused a political bombshell by abstaining in a crucial no confidence vote which would have brought down the Cosgrave Government on Tuesday August 16th 1927.
The Government hung on with the casting vote of the Ceann Comhairle but in reality it was the Sligoman’s abstention that saved the day for Cosgrave.

Jink’s, a National League Deputy, was the centre of wild speculation that he had been kidnapped to keep him from voting. Rumours swept the country and headlines such as, ‘The Mystery of Deputy Jinks, the missing deputy’ screamed from several newspapers not only in the U.K. and America.

The sensational affair began when Jinks walked out of the Dail chambers before the vote was about to be called and he couldn’t be found despite a frantic search by colleagues.

There was consternation amongst the opposition who had been confident that the Government would fall.

Jinks was later tracked to a hotel at Harcourt Street having spent the day strolling through the streets of Dublin.

He told reporters he had gone to Dublin with instruction from two thirds of his supporters to vote for the Government.

“I was neither kidnapped nor spirited away. I simply walked out of the Dail when I formed my own opinion after listening to a good many speeches.

“I cannot understand the sensation nor can I understand the meaning or object of the many reports circulated. What I did was done after careful consideration of the entire situation.

“I have nothing to regret for my action. I am glad I was the single individual who saved the situation for the Government, and perhaps, incidentally, for the country. I believe I acted for its good,” said Deputy Jinks.

The Sligo deputy arrived home on Wednesday night by the midnight mail train. A large crowd greeted his arrival. He spent the following morning receiving callers including one proclaiming him “ The Ruler of Ireland.”

Fianna Fail’s Sean Lemass concurred;
“It is for him to throw out the Free State Government when he chooses. It is a John Jinks Government,”
The Cosgrave Government clung to power until September 1927 when a General Election was called.
Alderman Jinks went forward as an independent, suffered a 40 per cent drop in his vote and was defeated.

John Jinks was also involved in controversy in his hometown in 1934 during a Mayoral election.
There was a tie between himself and Ald Nevin a situation normally dealt with now by a draw from the hat but Ald, Jinks being senior Alderman, claimed a casting vote and elected himself Mayor.
Alderman Jinks died on September 11th 1934 and is buried at the Old Cemetery.

By Paul Deering and Harry Keaney
Courtesy of The Sligo Champion
January 2005