No. 204 NAI DE 2/304/1

Memorandum by the Irish delegates on their proposal for the association of Ireland with the British Commonwealth

London, 28 November 1921

I. The legislative, executive and judicial authority of Ireland shall be derived exclusively from the Elected Representatives of the Irish people.
II. Ireland will agree to be associated with the British Commonwealth for all purposes of common concern, including defence, peace and war, and political treaties, and to recognise the British Crown as Head of the Association.
III. As a token of that recognition, the Irish legislature will vote an annual contribution to the King's personal revenue.

The proposal is that Ireland, while preserving her national independence, shall for all purposes of common concern associate herself with the British Commonwealth of Nations and recognise the British Crown as Head of the Association.

By a method such as this permanent peace can be established. It is fallacious to assert that Ireland is now offered the substantial freedom of Canada and the other British Dominions. Canada and the other Dominions lie thousands of miles away from the shores of Great Britain. Great Britain, therefore, has neither desire nor temptation to interfere in their home affairs. The Crown to them is a symbol of the external unity of equal states, not of the internal repression of subordinate states. Ireland, on the contrary lies beside the shores of Great Britain, which has been accustomed for generations to interfere, in the name of the Crown, in every detail of Ireland's life. The desire and temptation to continue interference will remain if the Crown remains, as it cannot be the symbolic Crown that the Dominions know, but will continue to possess the real power of repression and veto which Ireland knows. In moving the first reading of the Home Rule Bill in 19121 the Prime Minister of this country pointed out that the Crown meant the British Government and that the British Government would retain unimpaired its supremacy and power of veto over the proposed Irish Parliament. Such a supremacy and such a veto are incompatible with the independence and dignity of our country, incompatible with real peace between the two nations, incompatible with free association with the community of nations known as the British Commonwealth, and, therefore, cannot be accepted. We acknowledge a reasonableness in the desire of the British Government for certain Naval facilities in Ireland differing from those which they receive from Canada or the other Dominions. The propinquity of the two islands is a fact that must be recognised in arranging a just and permanent settlement and we have recognised it in this matter. Equally it must be recognised on the other side that the same propinquity imposes on us a necessity for safeguarding our independence which does not arise in the case of the Dominions. The Crown, thousands of miles away, will never menace the Dominions with its powers. The Crown, close at hand to Ireland, would form a constant menace of the kind, and the object for which both sides have striven _ the satisfactory ending of the long conflict between the two nations _ would not have been achieved.

We put forward a plan that is practicable and honourable, that will ensure Great Britain against every apprehension that her publicists have expressed, that will associate Ireland with her and the Dominions under the Crown, and that at the same time will secure the independence of Ireland from question or intrigue. It must be recognised that for Ireland freely to accept the Crown in any capacity is a momentous step on her part in view of history and the existing facts, but the desire of the people of Ireland for a friendly and lasting settlement is unquestionable and the Irish Delegation are ready to advise their countrymen to meet British sentiment in the manner here proposed.

Arthur Griffith

1 In the text this reads 1913.

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