Volume 3 1926~1932

Doc No.

No. 411 NAI DFA 26/95

Letter from Francis T. Cremins to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Geneva, 6 September 1930


We have discussed our prospects of election to the Council with Mr. Lester and Count O'Kelly, and find that they are regarded as being fair. You will have seen from Mr. Lester's reports that we are experiencing some of the reactions which we expected from any statement of our attitude on the question of the establishment of a Dominion Group. M. Antoniade (Romania) took it to be an attack on the Little Entente,1 and Mr. Bodenstein (South Africa) regards it as a let-down for the Dominions.2 Mr. Lester dealt successfully, I think, with M. Antoniade, but Mr. Bodenstein apparently retained his opinion that we had damaged South Africa's chances of election later by our making public a statement that we were not running as a Dominion candidate.

You will remember that the statement was considered necessary in view of the widespread and damaging propaganda in Ireland and England and on the Continent to the effect (1) that we were running as a member of the British Empire group, (2) that our presence on the Council would mean a second vote for the 'Empire' and (3) that Great Britain would do her utmost to retain by securing the election of another Dominion the second seat which she held by virtue of Canada's membership! But though, following a discussion on possible reactions, the Minister stated that he would prefer to lose the election on the clear statement of our position than to win it as a member of a 'Dominion group', it is of course essential that we should have a good and clear answer to every objection that may be raised in any quarter regarding the grounds on which we base our candidature. These objections may come from some of the existing groups, like the Little Entente, or from South Africa and perhaps other members of the Commonwealth. I will take the latter first.

We anticipate that the matter will be discussed at the first meeting of the Commonwealth delegations. We propose to explain our position as follows:-

1. That from the start we have made no secret of our intention to run on our own merits solely. Therefore, there can be no question of a let-down.

2. That in Dominions Office Despatch No. 36 of the 3rd June 1930 the British Government urged most strongly that if any member of the Commonwealth stood this year, the step would be regarded by the Members of the League generally as a definite attempt to establish a Dominion group, and that it was very undesirable to create this impression. It was, therefore, essential to make it absolutely clear that the Irish Free State was not running as a Member of the Commonwealth, and therefore that the Irish candidature was not an attempt to set up a new group.

3. That without such a statement the Irish candidature had no chance of success. This is admitted in the British despatch referred to, which states that 'it is necessary to take account of the fact that the objections which may be felt in the Assembly to the establishment of such a group may mean that it would be difficult to secure the election of a Dominion this year, etc., etc.' Moreover, it was abundantly clear that the statements in the Press that we were going forward as a Dominion were definitely injuring our candidature. (In this connection, it may interest you to know that Professor Elliott remarked last night that if we were not a Dominion, we would have no difficulty in securing election).

So far as regards the Romanian Minister and any others who may take his view, we propose to take the line that our Press statement was intended to meet deliberate misrepresentations of our position in the Press and elsewhere to the effect that we were seeking election as a Member of the British Commonwealth group, and that our election would simply mean an additional vote for Great Britain on the Council. Thus, our statement was intended to meet conditions peculiar to our own position and was in no sense a statement of our attitude on these matters generally.

The really serious factor in the campaign is the fact that five European States are now stated on authority to be definitely in the field, namely, Norway, Belgium, Portugal, Greece and ourselves. China is likely to fade out of the picture as the impression seems to be gaining that she has no chance of securing the necessary two-thirds re-eligibility vote.

(Sd) F.T. Cremins

1 See No. 408.

2 See No. 410.