No. 14 NAI DFA Letter Books, Washington, 1926

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Timothy A. Smiddy (Washington DC)
(E.A. 31/148) (Confidential) (Copy)

Dublin, 7 June 1926

A Dhuine Uasail,

I am directed by the Minister for External Affairs to refer to your letter of the 5th March1 regarding your visit to the Chicago Association of Commerce, copies of which were circulated for the information of the other members of the Executive Council.

The Minister has noted your remarks at various times regarding the constitutional status of the Saorstát. The only comment he wishes to make is that where a question is controversial, it would be well not to take too strong a line in anything you may have to say in answering questions etc. You are, of course, careful not to give in your pronouncements the impression that you speak for 'the Dominions' as that might cause some resentment in the various Dominions.

Perhaps you have stressed too much the restraining influence of the Dominions on a possible British war of aggression - a point of policy rather than of the facts. Owing to the geographical proximity of the Saorstát and Britain our position in a war might be more difficult than that of distant Dominions, a situation envisaged by the Minister in the debate in the Dáil to which you refer; and while no definite policy is laid down, it may be as well not to examine the possibilities too closely, or go much beyond the reference to Article 49.

It is doubtful if the proposal in the last sentence of page 2 of your notes regarding a common foreign policy would, even if Britain were agreeable, be found acceptable to the Dominions; or practicable. The tendency of constitutional development in some Dominions (more, e.g., in Canada and South Africa than in Australia and New Zealand) appears to be rather towards national foreign policies subject to certain broad, common interests. Development towards this ideal may have gone far before another big war. The idea of a confederation of independent nations, allied for purposes which are becoming more defined is still in process of growth, but the difficulty of obtaining a clear vision of the international position of the Dominions in the event of an immediate war is obvious. That position would, at present at any rate, depend upon many factors.

The Minister directs me to state that he regards your lectures on the Constitution and general position of the Saorstát as highly valuable and that he expects the discussions at the Imperial Conference next October will enable certain points to be more clearly stated than is at present possible. In the meantime he will of course deal with any specific enquiry.

Mise, le meas,
[copy letter unsigned]


With regard to addresses delivered on your recent tour in Canada the President has expressed the opinion that in dealing with the question of reunion with the North, a somewhat different line should be taken. He was referring particularly to your reported statement that 'it is hoped by keeping taxation low to tempt Ulster to join'. (Ottawa Citizen, 15/4/26, and also remarks at the Empire Club, Toronto.) It is desired that there should be no pleading for Ulster to join, no outlining of a Saorstát policy with reunion as its principal object, as this tends to the creation of an atmosphere in the North which would not eventually be helpful (i.e. 'the spoiled child'). The reunion will take place when it is recognised as mutually advantageous.

The Minister is aware of the special circumstances in Toronto which made reference to the North difficult to avoid.

1 Not printed

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