No. 188 UCDA P4/427

Gearoid McGann (President's Office) to each member of the Executive Council, Hugh Kennedy and Diarmuid O'Hegarty, enclosing a memorandum (Copy) by William T. Cosgrave on the proposed Boundary Conference

Dublin, 17 January 1924

I attach hereto suggestions by the President on the line to be adopted at the proposed Boundary Conference. The President would be glad if you would read them over and favour him with your comments and any other suggestions which you might wish to make bearing on the matter.

[signed] G. Mag gCanainn


The Conference will probably suggest an economic unit - ALL IRELAND, and it is conceivable that it would be accompanied by some financial accommodation on the Treaty clause referring to Army Pensions and our liability in respect of the National Debt, that a sum would be fixed for the former and that the British would waive the latter or consideration postponed for 10 or 20 years.

In considering what propositions we would give favourable hearing to, I recommend first of all the consideration of the ultimate goal as the best method of arriving at some practical solution.

The ultimate goal is Dáil and Seanad for all Ireland. This is not a likely probability, and appears so far off as to be out of the arena of practical politics for the present.

The next and more likely probability is a Parliament for the two parts of Ireland, as at present, apart from the number of counties in each; that is, 26 and 6, or 27 and 5, or 28 and 4, etc., etc., with a link of the two Cabinets.

I am of opinion that Sir James Craig will propose the following:-

The two Parliaments to remain as they are and the two Cabinets to function as the Council of Ireland, Northern Parliament constituencies to return members to English Parliament.

It may be that I take a too sentimental view of the representatives of North-East in the British Parliament, but it is a loss of prestige to us, and I think the British would like to get rid of them. I don't know what we could give in return for this, and I don't see any grave reason why we should not withdraw opposition to the handing over of reserved Services.

If, then, the situation develops on these lines, viz., a PARLIAMENT OF 26 AND OF 6 COUNTIES WITH AN OVER INSTITUTION OF TWO CABINETS, there are many weaknesses in this latter proposal - such as 7 for and 7 against, 8 for and 6 against (the 6 not accepting the decision), and so on. Any such complexity will have Craig suggesting the British Chairman, who would enter on level terms between us and not on the basis now existing, that is, Saorstát Èireann and a subordinate legislative in North-East.

If there be a Joint Cabinet, it must be laid down that -




If this proposition, viz. two Cabinets, prevails - the next question that will arise is the economic unit.

An economic unit presupposes that the North-East will demand the same fiscal policy as Great Britain. Any such proposition, however, is a derogation of status and, of course, cannot be entertained if the North-East insists.

The next point to consider is what possible arrangement can be made which will make for ultimate union in the circumstances?

The North will not forego the Ulster Constabulary! How can they be made to forego it? Only by cutting them off from Great Britain and giving them also a Local Militia. What do we gain and lose by this? I think a Local Militia and liability for their own Constabulary is the only basis, and this implies loss of representation in the British Parliament.

If this be agreed our first line is:-

  1. Withdrawal of all penal acts against minority, we undertaking to recommend minority to go into Parliament; Reconstruct Constituencies in North-East on a par basis, that is, a fair allocation to both Unionists and Nationalists in the Franchise and consequently representative - Craig and so many, Nationalist and so many - equal number of both sides, with a British Chairman to give a casting vote; retention of P.R. for ten years; disqualify any persons not taking their seats.
  2. Retention of Customs Barrier.
  3. Rectification of Boundary so as to make it a more suitable line.
  4. Two Cabinets to meet, as outlined above on page 2.
  5. Withdrawal of claim of British to any War Debt; Liability of Ireland to War Pensions of say £1,350,000 a year -
  6. (Northern Ireland £600,000.)

    (Irish Free State £750,000.)

  7. Representation in Senate of Northern Ireland either by extending its numbers or some way to get in the proportion to which minority is entitled.

The designation of All-Ireland as 'IRISH FREE STATE - SAORSTÁT ÉIREANN' with the Northern Parliament having all its rights guaranteed.

This may mark the division more strikingly, but as that is likely in any case, we get a fairer deal for our people in the North. We cut away entirely from England. We have full control in the major part of the country and North-East is left without its reserves and may possibly look more to us than across.

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