No. 131 UCDA P150/1897

Memorandum by Maurice Moore on his mission to South Africa

12 May 1921

Final report May 12, 1921.

To the Republican Government of Ireland:
I fulfilled the first part of my mission yesterday. I hope my former reports have been received through the same address as this, but I must find some better method of transmitting a full statement.

  1. Whatever personal opinions S. African politicians may have of the Irish question, no official of the party in office can advocate an Irish Republic; I have explained the reasons for this in former reports. Only the Dutch republicans, who are not now in power, can do this.
  2. I have had to consider the immediate present and not some future time when the position of parties may change.
  3. I have pointed out that the Irish people consider an Irish independent Republic not only best for Ireland, but also for England; and have tried to find out how far influential persons can be induced to go in our direction.
  4. That being the Irish position, it is not reasonable to ask them to surrender their position and pretend to approve and guarantee the success of an experiment which Englishmen desire to impose.
  5. England, as proved by the imposition of the last (partition) Act, contrary to the will of the Irish people, and even in the English Parliament without the consent of a single Irish member, maintains her right to impose her will on the Irish people.
  6. That being so, and the present Act having proved futile, she had better mend her hand and impose an Act going as far as she considers possible in the direction of an Irish Republic.
  7. Lloyd George has stated now and again (and now and again the opposite) that he will go as far as non-coercion of Ulster and the strategic unity (whatever that means) of the two countries permit.
  8. I have considered Repeal of the Union the next best thing to a Republic, because it means absolute independence of the English Parliament, of English ministers and of England; it means an independent kingdom of Ireland as opposed to a Republic. As the King is now impotent this would be quite different from Grattan's Parliament.
  9. Gen. Smuts and his party (the South African combined with the Unionist Party) has publicly repudiated the present Dominion Constitution of S. Africa, and adopted some undefined theory which he terms the 'Higher Status'. It means (as far as I can understood) independence of the English Parliament and connection with the Empire only by the link of the Crown. This seems to me the same thing as repeal of the Union in Ireland. The Prime Minister would deal directly with the King.
  10. This position is easy and reasonable for a S. African Minister to adopt without any breach of his engagement with his party or any strain on his allegiance.
  11. 1The Imperial Conference may bring up the position of Ireland for consideration for two reasons:- The Dominions being now independent of the English Parliament, and yet members of the British Empire, are directly affected by misgovernment in any part of the Empire (a) in so far as it weakens the Empire morally and physically; and (b) in so far as the loss of Irish trade (£300,000,000) affects their financial position and that of the world generally, already in a very bad way. The Dominions having to bear the responsibility of these matters have a right to interfere with the mismanagement of an English Government when it affects their credit.
  12. Thus while the United States may be asked to recognise an Irish Republic and yet be unable otherwise to interfere in Irish affairs, the Dominions are in a better logical position to interfere in the Government of Ireland than to recognise its independence. I do not say that these conclusions are absolute and meet every contingency, but they will suffice.
  13. It remains to be considered how best this interference can be brought about. It will be easily conceded that the united action of all the Dominion Premiers if it could be brought about at an Imperial Conference would be the most effectual and opportune.
  14. The character of the different Premiers and the position of parties in each Dominion must be studied in this regard, but it would not be wise for me to write any statements on this matter. Moreover, with the exception of South Africa you have as good means of forming a judgement as I have.
  15. The object will be to induce these men to join hands and work together as a united body to bring pressure on the Government. The present English Government is absolutely under the domination of 150 Tory Diehards, who believe in militarism and terrorism, no advice or persuasion is of the slightest avail; even if a promise were extracted it would be broken immediately that the conference ended. Only serious words of warning backed up by the certainty that action will be taken can have any effect. This matter requires the greatest delicacy of treatment and the sternest resolve, a combination difficult to get.
    Can this state of affairs be brought about? It would not be wise or proper for me to state any more here on this matter.
  16. It is of the greatest importance that during the Imperial Conference the proper information regarding Irish principles, opinions and desires be available in London. It will not do at all to be sending messengers back and forwards to find out what can be accepted; it is impossible to keep these messages from public comment in England, and also misconceptions arise which are bound to bring about disaster. Therefore while the decision in each case must rest with the Ministry and the Dail, yet they should be represented in London by THE BEST AND MOST RESPONSIBLE PERSONS AVAILABLE. Anything I may have said here may be misunderstood or misapplied, and moreover new circumstances may arise from moment to moment, which must be dealt with immediately and with the full knowledge and authority of the Ministry.
  17. I cannot therefore too strongly urge that not only the wisest persons be selected for this post, but those who will be most acceptable to the Dominion Premiers with whom they must communicate. In my opinion there ought to be two or three at least, each of whom may take different parts, and though I hesitate to go into particulars, yet I have some reasons for doing so. I suggest as persons who, from their antecedents, might be agreeable, the following names:- Mr. Erskine Childers, Mr. George Russell. It would be of great importance to have some member or members of the Government, according as may be found possible in the difficult circumstances now existing. The President or Vice-President, the Prime Minister or some prominent member of the Ministry, would give authority and confidence to such persons, unless it was thought unwise to implicate the Government in such a transaction.
  18. I can only end this by saying that I have reason to believe that all I have said is capable of achievement. I have not written entirely out of my own imagination, but with due deliberation, and you may take it that as far as I have written in the above report my mission has been entirely successful.
  19. I would much like to know if my 3 former reports have been received. Only one copy of the Bulletin comes here for all of us; but if there is any difficulty I can easily get it copied. We were all amused at the fakes. [P.J.] Little is just back from up country today.

Maurice Moore

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