No. 186 NAI DT S5685

Edward J. Phelan to William T. Cosgrave (Dublin)

Geneva, 17 January 1924

My Dear President
I venture to write to you once again on the critical situation concerning the international status of the Free State.

The developments during the last few days are so important that I think they merit your personal attention.

I understood from letters received from Dr. MacNeill and the Attorney General1 in December that the question of the British ratification of the amendment to Article 393 of the Treaty of Versailles had been taken up. You will remember that that ratification covered the Free State although the Free State had never been consulted.

That ratification is still in the possession of the League and the League has received no communication from London in connection therewith.

Hence if any representations have been made to London on the subject they have been conveniently shelved.

The League is obliged to notify the ratification to its Members, and after having been persuaded to wait nearly three months it has now decided to go ahead. Notification is now being made.

But there is another development. The League has been informed on high authority, but unofficially, that the Free State is bound by the ratification of League Treaties given by the British before Ireland became a Member of the League.

The Labour Office has been in correspondence with the League concerning the Free State and the Labour Conventions. The following is an extract from an official letter from the League to the Labour Office:-

'It appears, therefore, that as regards the abovementioned conventions, there is no occasion for any action to be taken by the Government of the Irish Free State with a view to examining and ratifying the Conventions, since they are already in force as regards the Free State, in virtue of instruments of ratification already deposited.'
The League have in preparation a list of ratifications of League Treaties. In accordance with the above doctrine the Free State will appear in it as party to a number of Treaties on which she has never been consulted. From some of them other Dominions have dissented and are not parties.

I do not need to insist how grave is the menace to our status.

You gave instructions to our delegates at the Customs and Transit Conferences to object to a certain Article which was reproduced from the Barcelona Conventions. It now seems that we were parties to the Barcelona Conventions all along. What will be the respect with which our delegates and their instructions will be treated at future Conferences if this position is admitted?

I ventured to warn you at the Assembly that attempts would be made to whittle down our status in this way and that advantage would be taken of our concentration on internal problems. It is very difficult for me to write in full detail but it is going on in many directions. For instance the relation of the Six Counties to the International Organisations is being discussed. It is yet in its initial stage but no doubt a claim for the separate representation of the Six Counties will be the next step.

I know how many and how great are the problems with which you are faced at home but I feel sure you will forgive my anxiety concerning these external problems which are of such vital importance. Day by day the affirmation of our status is being made more difficult and if these things are allowed to go unchallenged internationally it will become impossible.

I have already suggested to the Attorney General the steps I think we could take.1 There may be other and better methods but in any case it does seem to me that we should act without delay.

Once more I hope you will understand and forgive my insistence and that you will not hesitate to ask me at any time for any assistance that I may be able to render.

With kindest regards and best wishes

Yours very sincerely
[signed] E.J. Phelan

1Probably Document No 175 above/p>

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO