No. 151 Reprinted from Official correspondence relating to the peace negotiations June-September 1921 (Dublin, 1921)

Eamon de Valera to David Lloyd George1

Mansion House, Dublin, 30 August 1921

30 Lughnasa, 1921

A Chara,
Táimíd-na, leis, deimhnighthe 'gur riachtanach nidh éigin do dhéanamh gan mhoill chun ionad d'fhagháil ó n-ar féidir réidhteacht ár scéil do chur chun cinn,' agus is léir dúinn gur beag toradh le baint as an argóint seo eadrainn tré nótaibh. Dá bhrigh sin ní bhacfad leis na nidhthibh neamhstaramhla do luadhais id' litir dheireannaigh.

An scéal mar atá sé eadrainn fé láthair an rud atá againn le socrughadh. Toradh an tsaoghail atá imthighthe atá i gcúrsaibh na haimsire seo; mínighid siad go cruinn beacht brígh agus fírinne an scéil. Agus seo é a bhrígh.

1. Ní admhuighid muintear na hEireann go bhfuil aon cheangal aca dá dtoil le Sacsaibh; deirid go bhfuil de cheart nádúrdha bunadhsach aca a slighe féin do cheapadh i gcomhair an tsaoghail atá rómpa; dheimhnigh a n-urmhór mór go dteastuigheann neamhspleadhchas uatha, chuireadar Saorstát ar bun, agus dheineadar deimhin dá rogha arís is arís eile.

2. Ar an dtaobh eile de'n scéal tá Sacsa ag cur di amhail is dá mbeadh Eire ceangailte dhi de bharr connartha nach ceadochadh dóibh deighilt. Tá eolas ag an saoghal ar chúrsaibh an chonnartha bréige sin acht leigid Sacsa agus Feis Sacsan ortha gur connradh dleaghthach é, agus dá bhrígh sin go bhfuil de chomhacht aca reachta do cheapadh is do chur i bhfeidhm i nEirinn; tír na hEireann do roinnt i n-aindeoin tola na nGaedhael; agus gach Gaedhael nach tugann dílse don eachtranach do mharbhadh no do chur i gcarcar.

An tairgsint a dhein bhur Riaghaltas-sa 'san litir úd an 20adh lá d'Iúl an dara coingeall so is bun léi. Dhiúltaigheamair-na do'n tairgsint sin, agus ní féidir dul siar air. Ní cuireadh bhí ann do mhuintir na hEireann chun dul isteach go saor toilteannach i bpáirtidheacht le saornáisiúnaibh Impreachta Breatan. Is eadh bhí ann cuireadh d'Eirinn chun dul isteach fé scáth agus fé choingeallachaibh d'fhágfadh í staid b'ísle 'ná staid na náisiún so. Canada, Astraoile, Deisceart Afraice is an Zealand Nuadh tá deimhniughadh aca uile ná beid fé smacht Stáit Mhóir, ní headh amháin go bhfuil san aca tré gach ceart riaghalta dá n-admhuightar is a chuireann iad ar chomhstaid le Sacsaibh agus i dtreó ná fuil aon smacht ag Feis ná ag Riaghaltas Shacsan ortha acht trí na míltibh míle slighe idir iad féin is Sacsain. Ní bheadh ceart ná mór-aistear mar chosaint ag Eirinn. Na coingeallacha bhí le déanamh, dhéanfaidís dá chuid di, agus gach ceann aca ag cur comhachta an chinn eile ar neamhnidh i n-aon Chomhairle mar a mbeidís araon, agus ceachtar aca fé smacht airm is loingis is tráchtála ag Riaghaltas Shacsan.

Na prímh-nidhthe bhaineann le n-ár stair is le n-ár suidhe ní gábhadh a bpléidhe; acht budh mhian le nbhur Riaghaltas-sa go nglacfaidhe le nbhur dtuairim féin i n-a dtaoibh. Caithfimíd-na ár dtuairim féin do bheith againn, leis. An stair a mholann aondacht do réir bhur mínighthe-sa, deighilt a chialluigheann sé dhúinne. Na tuairimidhe atá againn i dtaobh a 'chomhgaraidhe' is táimíd dá chéile táid súd féin go mór i gcoinnibh a chéile. Táimíd-na deimhnighthe gur againn féin atá an tuairim cheart chóir; agus mar shuidheamh air sin is toil linn moltóir gan leagadh aige le héinne mar bhreitheamh eadrainn. Tugann sibhse an t-eiteach do san agus bagrann sibh go gcuirfidh sibh bhur dtuairim féin i bhfeidhm le neart fóiréigin. Ar bhfreagra-na air sin, má dheineann sibh gníomh dá réir ní bheidh le déanamh againne acht cur i nbhur gcoinnibh mar is dual sínsear dúinn.

Ní réidhteochaidh fóiréigin an scéal. Ní bhuaidhfidh sé choídhche ar a bhfuil ciallmhar ceart. Má chromann sibh ar fhóiréigin arís, agus muna dtéigheann an buaidh de thaoibh an chirt, an cheist seo ag déanamh buaidheartha dhúinn beidh sé mar chúram fós ortha so thiocfaidh i n-ár ndiaidh. Is leór de fhiadhnaise is de fhuagradh dhúinn go bhfuil teipthe ar fhóiréigin mar leigheas ar an gceist le seacht gcéad go leith bliadhan. Dá bhrigh sin, ní tuairim bhréige acht fíorghliocas agus tuigsint riaghluighthe atá dhom ghríosughadh féin is ag brostughadh mo chomhdhaltaidhe. Caithfear bagairt fhóiréigin do chur ar leath-taobh. Caithfear a chur ar leath-taobh ó thosach agus le linn réidhteachta. Caithfidh ár dteachtaidhe araon teacht le chéile gan aon bhac ortha acht na nidhthe bheidh le socrughadh; agus ní le bagairt fóiréigin; árd no íseal, acht fé riaghail treortha go mbeithfear ar aon aigne i n-a thaoibh, dhéanfaid siad pé easaontas a bheidh eadartha do leigheas feasta. Mholamair-na mar bhun-chomhairle riaghaltas le cead an phobail, agus ní mar abairt a mholamair é. Tá ceist simplidhe ann, agus pé socrughadh dhéanfar eadrainn caithfidh sé bheith ar aon leagan leis no ní bheidh buan, agus is féidir feidhm do bhaint as mar thomhas i gcomhair na mionrudaidhe is na réidhteachta uile. Toisc go n-abrann tusa gur le Sacsaibh ó dúthchas an bhun-chomhairle sin agus gurab é 'Beatha na náisiún fé chomairce Bhreatan anois é' ní fuláir nó gur furas duit glacadh leis. As an mbonn sin, agus as an mbonn san ar leithligh, tá dóchas againn gur féidir réidhteacht do dheunamh idir 'na nidhthibh a bheidh mar chomhacht treortha' ag teachtaibh Shacsan agus na nidhthibh a bheidh mar chomhacht treortha ag teachtaibh Eireann; agus ar na coingheallachaibh sin is toil linn feasta feadhmannaigh do cheapadh.

Mise,
do chara gan cháim,
Eamon de Valera

(Official Translation).

Sir,
We, too, are convinced that it is essential that some 'definite and immediate progress should be made towards a basis upon which further negotiations can usefully proceed,' and recognise the futility of a 'mere exchange' of argumentative notes. I shall refrain, therefore, from commenting on the fallacious historical references in your last communication.2

The present is the reality with which we have to deal. The conditions to-day are the resultant of the past, accurately summing it up and giving in simplest form the essential data of the problem. These data are
1. The people of Ireland, acknowledging no voluntary union with Great Britain, and claiming as a fundamental natural right to choose freely for themselves the path they shall take to realise their national destiny, have by an overwhelming majority declared for independence, set up a Republic, and more than once confirmed their choice.
2. Great Britain, on the other hand, acts as though Ireland were bound to her by a contract of union that forbade separation. The circumstances of the supposed contract are notorious, yet on the theory of its validity the British Government and Parliament claim to rule and legislate for Ireland, even to the point of partitioning Irish territory against the will of the Irish people, and killing or casting into prison every Irish citizen who refuses allegiance.

The proposals of your Government submitted in the draft of July 20th are based fundamentally on the latter premises.3 We have rejected these proposals and our rejection is irrevocable. They were not an invitation to Ireland to enter into 'a free and willing' partnership with the free nations of the British Commonwealth. They were an invitation to Ireland to enter in a guise, and under conditions which determine a status definitely inferior to that of these free States. Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand are all guaranteed against the domination of the major State, not only by the acknowledged constitutional rights which give them equality of status with Great Britain and absolute freedom from the control of the British Parliament and Government, but by the thousands of miles that separate them from Great Britain. Ireland would have the guarantees neither of distance nor of right. The conditions sought to be imposed would divide her into two artificial states, each destructive of the other's influence in any common Council, and both subject to the military, naval, and economic control of the British Government.

The main historical and geographical facts are not in dispute, but your Government insists on viewing them from your standpoint. We must be allowed to view them from ours. The history that you interpret as dictating union we read as dictating separation. Our interpretations of the fact of 'geographical propinquity' are no less diametrically opposed. We are convinced that ours is the true and just interpretation, and as a proof are willing that a neutral, impartial arbitrator should be the judge. You refuse and threaten to give effect to your view by force. Our reply must be that if you adopt that course we can only resist, as the generations before us have resisted.

Force will not solve the problem. It will never secure the ultimate victory over reason and right. If you again resort to force, and if victory be not on the side of justice, the problem that confronts us will confront our successors. The fact that for 750 years this problem has resisted a solution by force is evidence and warning sufficient. It is true wisdom, therefore, and true statesmanship, not any false idealism, that prompts me and my colleagues. Threats of force must be set aside. They must be set aside from the beginning, as well as during the actual conduct of the negotiations. The respective plenipotentiaries must meet untrammelled by any conditions save the facts themselves, and must be prepared to reconcile their subsequent differences not by appeals to force, covert or open, but by reference to some guiding principle on which there is common agreement. We have proposed the principle of government by consent of the governed, and do not mean it as a mere phrase. It is a simple expression of the test to which any proposed solution must respond if it is to prove adequate, and it can be used as a criterion for the details as well as for the whole. That you claim it as a peculiarly British principle, instituted by Britain, and 'now the very life of the British Commonwealth' should make it peculiarly acceptable to you. On this basis, and this only, we see a hope of reconciling 'the considerations which must govern the attitude' of Britain's representatives with the considerations that must govern the attitude of Ireland's representatives, and on this basis we are ready at once to appoint plenipotentaries.

I am, Sir,
Faithfully yours,
Eamon de Valera

1 Handed to David Lloyd George at Gairloch at 6.30 p.m. on 1 September 1921, by Robert Barton and Joseph McGrath.

2 David Lloyd George to Eamon de Valera, 26 August 1921.

3 No. 141 above.


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