No. 136 NAI DFA Unregistered Papers

Statement by William T. Cosgrave to the 1923 Imperial Conference

LONDON, 1 October 1923

Mr. Prime Minister,1 I wish to express my very real appreciation of the welcome you have extended to us and of the pleasing references you have made to our inclusion in this conference. I also appreciate very highly the cordial welcome extended to us by Mr. King, Mr. Massey and General Smuts,2 and the great interest in Ireland shown by General Smuts in his speech. He is perhaps the best able to appreciate the difficulties through which we have passed as he also gave ready and most valuable assistance to bring about the position which leads to our presence here to-day. In your statement, Sir, you have referred to problems which, both in size and number, over-shadow our own immediate difficulties and it gives us hope that besides settling our own affairs we may give some assistance in the solution of problems affecting the whole world. We come to this Conference in good faith, with an earnest desire to render what assistance we can in the solution of the problems to be faced, and to carry out with good faith and good will our part of that undertaking which you on your side have faithfully honoured in the past, realising that it is only in the exercise of these great attributes that it is possible for us to reach the desired end. This business is new to us and it is not possible for us to express opinions upon the many great and important matters which have been mentioned in your speech. The troubles and difficulties of our present situation and the circumstances surrounding it make my immediate association with the Conference less than I would wish. You, Mr. Prime Minister, will appreciate that and I am sure His Grace the Duke of Devonshire will do so also. I would say it is a very real pleasure for me to be here and to have witnessed such a cordial and whole-hearted reception. We realise our responsibilities and we are prepared to take over and shoulder the burdens, which are common burdens. I was very much gratified with the concluding paragraphs of the Prime Minister's speech and with the statement made by General Smuts that the real objective of this conference is to further the cause of peace.

1Stanley Baldwin.

2General Jan Christian Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa (1919-24).

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