No. 195 NAI DFA Letter Books (Department of the President 1923-28)

Desmond FitzGerald to William T. Cosgrave (Dublin)

(54/14) (Copy)

Dublin, 1 February 1924

My dear President,

The American Legislature is now considering a Bill to revise their immigration arrangements. At present immigrants are allowed in to the extent of 3% of nationals resident in U.S. in 1910. The new proposal is that it should be 2% of nationals resident in U.S. in 1890 plus 2% extra of blood relatives of those already there. So far there has only been a general quota for the late United Kingdom, but the American census has details of Irish in America as distinct from English, Scotch, etc., so that it would be possible for the Americans to define a separate Irish quota. This would be a gain for Irish would-be emigrants, as I calculate that it should amount to about one-half of the whole quota for the late United Kingdom, and with 'blood relatives' possibly even more, as nearly all our people going to America have relatives there already.

Professor Smiddy has been instructed to ascertain:

  1. If it would be possible to have separate quota for Free State.
  2. Failing that, if it could be arranged that there would be separate quota for whole of Ireland.

I think No. 1 is impossible, as though the American Government have figures for Ireland they have no return showing their residents from the separate counties of Ireland.

Professor Smiddy cannot approach effectively the State Department (or even the Labour Department which is specially concerned with this matter) in his present unaccredited position.

It would be well therefore if he had special powers to deal with this. This does not mean that he should necessarily become Minister Plenipotentiary. He could have special powers to deal with this specific matter without prejudice to the question of his being accredited with full powers as Diplomatic Representative of the Free State.

In the event of our getting quota for all Ireland, it would be necessary for us to enter into an arrangement with the Northern Government to allot proportion of quota to Free State and proportion to Northern Six Counties.

What do you think of the feasibility of:-

  1. Approaching British Prime Minister on the matter of special powers for Smiddy,
  2. and Craig on the matter of quota for Ireland and division of that quota between his people and ours?

Yours sincerely,
[copy letter unsigned]

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