No. 216 NAI DT S1801P

James McNeill to William T. Cosgrave (Dublin)

London, 13 May 1924

My dear President,

Cope1 called today. He had just talked with Thomas. He did not say he was a messenger but I think he was. His object was to suggest that you should take an early opportunity of replying to Craig's speech. He referred generally to the 'Ulster' campaign and the general friendliness of the press here to their side. He thought you might state publicly that you had no objection to a sincere and earnest2 conference to ascertain the wishes of the inhabitants concerned in areas contiguous to the Boundary3 on the understanding that if unhappily an agreement cannot be arrived at Sir J.C. and his Government will do all needful to facilitate the operation of Article XII, the need for which the conference is designed to obviate. It would be an assumed condition that no interference with representation on local bodies would be practised during the continuance of the conference.

To summarise[,] the objects of the conference would be:

  1. Do the work of the boundary conference, and enable Craig to recede gracefully from his speeches.4
  2. If conference fails, the favourable effect of C's speeches and press campaign would be done away with.
  3. Also in event of failure the help of the Six County Government in constituting the Commission is secured, though it is hoped that there will not be failure.
  4. The I.F.S. case will get a much better British Press.

If some such speech could be quoted in House of Commons here and all parties commend conference on these terms then Thomas will be able to hold them all easily to Article XII.

Cope thought it might be necessary to make sure of party opinion and leaders of all parties in advance, and that if you could find an opportunity to speak over here valuable publicity would be gained. He would have the reasons underlying Article XII restated, and lay stress on the arbitrary nature of the 1920 division and the importance of conforming to the wishes of the people concerned.

I don't know that there is anything new in all this. I don't know that the British Press is going to be much affected. It is as likely to say that the conference had better continue.

In talk with an old journalistic friend recently I was told that Thomas said to my friend that he (Thomas) thought only line or adjustment of boundary was to be considered.

I'm told Borden5 is a stupid man. I wonder if a Colonial is safer than an Englishman who is intelligent, straight and judicially minded.

I told Cope that the difficulty of a person who regarded himself as a trustee was to know just what definite advantage he could claim for delay when delay was on many grounds dangerous. It may be very speculative but it seems to me that the only thing real is the suggestion that it may find a way out for Craig as regards the appointment of a Commission, and that gives both time and relief here, which is much desired.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed) James McNeill.


Cope has just rung up to say that he is writing and will send letter through me tomorrow.

I can realise that the P.[rince] of W[ales]'s visit to Belfast might be inopportune if the Commission Question is acute.

1 Sir Andy Cope.

2 (Marginal note) 'He accentuated these words'.

3 (Marginal note) 'These are his words'.

4 (Marginal note) 'No other work, and is unifying work suggested'.

5 Sir R.L. Borden, Prime Minister of Canada (1911-20), Secretary of State for External Affairs (1912-20).

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