No. 205 NAI DT S1801E

T.M. Healy to J.H. Thomas (London)
(No. 95)

Dublin, 15 March 1924


I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 11th instant1 transmitting extracts from a despatch received by you from the Governor of Northern Ireland, containing a proposal that the next Meeting of the Conference on the Boundary Question should be postponed until the 24th April next, in view of the illness of the Premier of Northern Ireland.

2. My Ministers regret to learn that the condition of Sir James Craig's health continues to be a cause of uneasiness, and that he is obliged on medical advice to abstain for the present from all work and anxiety, but they trust that the measures prescribed by his medical advisers will speedily restore him to health.

3. It is now suggested that the Conference be further postponed, and in this connection the statement is made in the letter from the Secretary to the Cabinet of Northern Ireland2 'that the questions being dealt with at the Conference have been awaiting a decision for over two years and that it is not unreasonable in the circumstances to ask for a further delay of a few weeks'. My Ministers, however, desire me to point out that the provisions of Article 12 of the Treaty did not become operative until after the 6th December, 1922. My Government had its energies engaged from that date in setting up the machinery of Government and creating the various Departments of State, as well as in suppressing disorder and armed violence which showed themselves during the transition period.

4. As soon as my Ministers felt that they had set the machinery of Government on a secure and ordered basis they appointed their representative on the Boundary Commission, viz: Dr. Eoin MacNeill, T.D., Minister for Education, and the appointment was notified to your predecessor in my despatch No. 206 of the 19th July3 last. At the same time a request was made that the necessary steps should be taken by His Majesty's Government to complete the constitution of the Commission.

5. The delay which has since intervened has been agreed to by my Ministers at the request of His Majesty's Government in the hope that a settlement would be arrived at which would bring about not merely a formal unity but a cordial and harmonious reunion of the people of Ireland. With this object in view they agreed to participate in the Conference in London on the 2nd ultimo, which was summoned to consider the problems arising out of Article 12 of the Treaty.

6. These problems have been rendered more acute by events which have occurred in Northern Ireland during the period which has elapsed since Article 12 of the Treaty became operative. Administrative changes have taken place, the result of which will be, after the Northern Local Government Elections of May next, practically to disfranchise the Nationalist population in large areas adjacent to the Boundary, and further similar measures are foreshadowed in the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the Northern Parliament on the 11th instant.

7. In the circumstances my Ministers feel that the effect of further postponement would be to deprive of the benefits of the Treaty those persons whose interests Clause 12, without which the Treaty would never have been accepted, was specially designed to protect, and they ask, therefore, that His Majesty's Government will take the necessary steps to complete the constitution of the Boundary Commission without further delay.

8. My Ministers wish me to make it clear that this request is not to be regarded as closing the door to further amicable discussion between the Governments concerned. They have at all times shown themselves, and will continue to show themselves, even during the sittings of the Boundary Commission, willing to give the most careful consideration to any representation from His Majesty's Government or the Government of Northern Ireland which would appear to offer any hope of a genuine settlement on the basis of the re-union of Ireland.

9. In this spirit they considered the proposals made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies at the Conference held in London on the 2nd ultimo, and they desire me to enclose, for the information of His Majesty's Government, a copy of a statement which they had prepared for presentation to the Conference on its reassembly.4

I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient humble Servant,
[stamped] T.M. Healy

1 Not printed.

2 Wilfred Spender.

3 No. 101 above.

4 Not printed.

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