No. 168 NAI DT S5337
Memorandum from Joseph P. Walshe to Diarmuid O'Hegarty (Dublin) on Department of External Affairs staff requirements, for the attention of the Executive Council
Dublin, 5 November 1928
Urgent Staff Requirements
I. Reasons for Urgent Consideration
The department has been under-staffed since the beginning. The work has been constantly increasing and a stage has been reached at which the present higher staff of three can no longer even cover it superficially. We have been obliged to leave our missions abroad largely to their own devices, and have been, consequently, in part responsible for their mistakes and for the smallness of the positive results achieved by them. In our relations with Great Britain, the Dominions and non-Commonwealth Countries we have had to confine ourselves to an effort, not always successful, to prevent bad precedents being created against us. We have almost entirely neglected the League of Nations. We have arrears of work extending well back into 1927, one section of which includes
|four arbitration treaties (including one with the United States), several extradition treaties, civil procedure treaties, and the revision of at least ten commercial treaties.|
These treaties are all of vital importance to us from the constitutional point of view, and it would take the entire time of the present higher staff for a couple of months to reduce the difficulties to some sort of order and to be in a position to suggest a treaty policy to the Minister. We are at a point where things vitally affecting our international and internal situation can happen without our knowledge.
Besides the continuing work and the arrears, we have to begin the preparation already too much delayed for
|1)||The Constitutional Conference consequent on the 1926 Imperial Conference. (It includes such fundamental questions as: a) Reservation of Dominion Legislation, b) The competence of Dominion Parliaments in regard to extra-Territorial legislation, c) The Colonial Laws Validity Act, d) Merchant Shipping in its relation to changes in constitutional status.)|
|2)||The Imperial Conference (date about January 1930).1|
|3)||Conference with a view to arriving at a convention on Cables and Wireless in accordance with Annex II of the Treaty.|
|4)||Conference on the Codification of International Law or the Disarmament Conference.|
II. Staff Required
As the vastly more important portion of our External Affairs work falls on the home Staff to which the foreign staffs are only auxiliaries, it is of the most urgent necessity to reorganise and staff the home department without further delay.
The matters dealt with being too important to permit of experiments, the process will have to be slow and must be based all the time on the sum total of the existing knowledge, experience and mental attitude of the three present officers.
|First Stage||To be added (at once) a legal adviser, one junior administrative officer, the Higher Executive Officer at present acting as Accountant.|
(within six weeks or so). Three further junior administrative officers for the Department and two for very early transfer to the new offices to be opened abroad.
The Minister wished to remain free to ask for further staff after a period of six months or so should a further addition then appear advisable.
As an illustration of the time and attention required for our type of work it may be recalled that for six months before the Imperial Conference four principal officers from the Foreign and Dominion Offices devoted their entire time to the question of the treaty-making powers of the Dominions, and the best method of successfully preventing any further evolution in that direction.
The Department of External Affairs would in the course of a year or two evolve according to the following main geographical divisions of work:
|I.||Relations||with||Great Britain and Dominions.|
|II.||"||"||the United States.|
|III.||"||"||" League of Nations.|