No. 145 NAI DFA Unregistered Papers

Statement by Eoin MacNeill to the Imperial Conference on Ireland’s position in
the League of Nations

LONDON, October 1923

I may say that the Irish Free State has arrived at nothing nearer to a definition of foreign policy than is expressed in its adhesion to the League of Nations and I was very much gratified to hear on all sides today, from Lord Robert Cecil1 and from the representatives of other States who have spoken, the view expressed that the foreign policy in which we, as a group of nations ought to be interested - I shall not say to which we ought to be committed but in which we ought to be interested [-] should be in harmony with the principles underlying the League of Nations. I sincerely trust that will always be so. If it is so there will never be any difficulty in our following a common course together and following it effectively. Speaking as the junior among you and representing a junior State among you, I have no hesitation in saying that if a test of those principles arose and if the League of Nations through its properly accredited organs required a certain duty to be done, a certain amount of pressure, in whatever form desired, to be applied, I am perfectly certain that the nation for which I sit here would not be behindhand in doing that duty. I should like to emphasise the point of view that I have expressed because, as an observer in Geneva, I did my best to estimate the feeling that was abroad, especially among the smaller nations, and I should say undoubtedly it was a feeling of dissatisfaction rather than a feeling of want of confidence, a feeling of desire that the objects of the League should be made effective[,] which is I think the next thing to the operative will that they should be made effective. On this question in general I did my best to express the view of the Irish Delegation in a statement that I made at the meeting of the Assembly on the 28th September and I shall not take up the time of this Conference in repeating that view now. I should like to join with those who have spoken already in offering a testimony, a stronger testimony than my own personal testimony, when I say that, so far as I know, and I have heard of nothing to the contrary, it was the unanimous feeling of the representatives of the nations at Geneva that Lord Robert Cecil had done as much as could be done to maintain the prestige and the effectiveness of the League of Nations.

1British delegate to the League of Nations Assembly.

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