No. 241 NAI DT S1801I

Memorandum by William T. Cosgrave

Dublin, 6 July 1924

I saw Mr. Justice Feetham twice - once with Dr. MacNeill, who left shortly after the introduction, and secondly after his return from Belfast.

He asked for permission to see Sir James Craig on the matter of the British Prime Minister's paragraph relating to possible agreement between Sir James and myself.

I said I had no objection and pointed out that we had made no claim, that the rights of the people - guaranteed by the Article - were the matters which concerned us.

He said he had read that - but it was a matter which required some arrangement: viz., had we considered the areas which were to be investigated, what they were, area, extent, etc., and that it was more than possible that we should be able to arrange the parts which would require investigation. We had to arrive at some time at those areas etc. and at least those ought to be known. I said there was not much use in a meeting with Sir James. We found the maximum of difference between us, and the areas not in dispute had not been considered by us. He went on to speak of Procedure and interpretation of evidence before the Commission, and said he would like us to consider those points and also the matter of presenting the Case - possibly a written Case could be presented by Counsel. I said I was willing in very difficult circumstances to facilitate him, that Mr. Blythe was now ill and I had to take over the Ministry of Finance. He told me he was about going North. Subsequently I had a telephone message from him in Belfast asking for an interview on Friday. He came at 10 o'clock with the proposals in the attached papers.1

I said we had never admitted the possibility of losing any of our territory. He said he would be glad if I waived that point pre the Conference and made it in the Conference. I pointed out that McGilligan was away, Blythe was ill, and that there was not a quorum of the Executive Council. That so far as I was concerned I saw no hope of going to a Conference next week owing to congestion of business in the Dáil, Estimates, etc., and the following week was also a difficulty in the matter of public business. That I would require to have the statements made by me and the letters written examined so as to find out whether the proposed Conference would be in conflict with the undertakings given by me or the Government (Mr. O'Hegarty examined them subsequently and they are also furnished with a comment).2

I forget exactly whether he or I referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I think I may have stated that once the Commission was set up we had no objection to conferences. He said that he believed (?) that a decision by the Judicial Committee which would clash with the stand taken by Sir James Craig's Government would make subsequent conferences as to possible agreements impossible. That such a decision would make for anything but a peaceful atmosphere, whereas there was an opportunity for finding out when there was agreement on any policy with regard to the whole matter or to certain points in the matter. He said he had his secretary, Mr. Porter, and had also at the Colonial Office [a man] named Bourdillon3 - or some name like that - who had complete knowledge or particulars of boundaries on the Continent.

These conversations lasted for about three-quarters of an hour in the first instance and an hour in the second.

Further information as to the conversations may best be got out by question and answer; the main points are, I think, covered by this memo.

Decision is required in the matter of the two documents herewith, viz. the conference with Sir James and the second, which are both in the handwriting of Mr. Porter.4

Mr. Justice Feetham also said it might be necessary for him to make a statement and that he proposed saying that he was seeing me and Sir James on the lines of the Prime Minister's letter to me.5 I said I had no objection to that.

I said I did not know if I could agree to the conference without informing the Dáil and of course affording an opportunity for a motion expressing want of confidence.

1Not printed.

2Not printed.

3F.B Bourdillon,later Secretary to the Boundary Commission.

4Not printed.

5Not printed.

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