No. 69 UCDA P80/557

Handwritten letter from Edward J. Phelan to Desmond FitzGerald (Dublin)1

Geneva, 21 March 1927

Dear Desmond

I have just got the official roneoed minutes of the last meeting of the Council (C/44th session/P.V.4(i)).

They contain the following:

'Sir Austen Chamberlain made the following statement: ... I sit here as the representative of Great Britain and the Dominions, and the Dominions sit in the Assembly in their own name'. The underlining is mine. As this was prefaced by the statement: 'I make this statement at the express desire of all the Governments represented at the Imperial Conference', it seems to me that either he or I or you must have gone mad. I cannot believe that he was authorised to make any such statement by yourself or Kevin. It denies our right to sit on the Council, it renders our candidature last year ridiculous, and it reduces us to a position of inferiority in the League.

I should add that this official version of his statement does not agree with the press report. Unfortunately I was not able to be present when he made his statement, but it looks as though he stiffened it up in the minutes (or that one of his satellites did in the hope that it would pass unperceived).

Anyway it's the limit. I hope you'll send an energetic protest and get the minutes altered before they are printed, and have an erratum added to the effect that the roneoed edition contained an error of importance. Otherwise we shall here mistake their effect.

Cheerio! I see from the press that you are busy in the election preliminaries. However, you have a strong case and I've no doubt it will carry the Government to victory. But this affair of the Council minutes is staggering. It seems to me to destroy all the gains of the Imperial Conference if it is allowed to stand.

Excuse this hasty note.

With all best wishes,
Yours ever,
E.J. Phelan

1 Edward Phelan also wrote on this theme to Ernest Blythe (see UCDA P24/462) and to Kevin O'Higgins (not located).

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