No. 79 NAI DT S4978

Memorandum by Diarmuid O'Hegarty on Coastal Defence
(Strictly Confidential) (Copy)

Dublin, 22 April 1927


1. The proposal of the Executive Council in regard to the share of the Coastal Defence of the Irish Free State to be undertaken by them under the terms of Article 6 of the Treaty is that the first stage will be to take over and maintain the Harbour Defences at Berehaven, Queenstown and Lough Swilly which, under the Annex of the Treaty, are still being maintained by British Forces.

2. Financial and technical Military considerations must govern the period which will elapse between the conclusion of an Agreement for the handing over of the Forts and the date upon which the entire responsibility for these services can be accepted by the Irish Free State.

3. The Irish Technical Representatives are empowered to inform the British Representatives of the Government's intentions as set out in paragraphs 1. and 2., and their efforts at the Conference are to be directed towards obtaining complete information on all matters connected with the taking over and maintenance of these establishments. This will include particulars as to the present cost of care and maintenance on the British standard, the number and type of skilled personnel employed, the present condition of the armament and permanent fixtures, the probable life of same and the estimated annual cost of replacement and repair. It will also be necessary to ascertain what liabilities, if any, attach to the conditions under which land or other property is held by the British Departments. Any stipulations as to the standard of maintenance in Peace time and the difference between this standard and the War time requirements will require to be carefully examined both from the financial and the military point of view. Sub paragraphs E. and F. of Paragraph 1. of the Annex to the Treaty are to be regarded as included in the responsibilities which the Executive Council would be prepared to undertake, and the necessary information in regard to these matters should also be obtained.

4. It is possible that the British representatives on hearing the proposals of the Executive Council may suggest as a counter proposal that the Irish Government should bear the cost of the Peace maintenance of the Forts in question - that is to say, that they should remain as at present under the care of the British Care and Maintenance Parties but that the Irish Government should recoup the British Government the expenditure incurred in connection with such occupation. The Irish representatives are informed that this proposal would not be acceptable to the Irish Government. If this suggestion is made to them their attitude will be that they have no instructions on the matter, which they presume has not been considered by their Government. They will point out, however, that if such a proposal were to be considered by the Executive Council, the information required for its consideration would be similar to that required for the consideration of the Council's own proposal and they will state that they will be glad to obtain this information for presentation to their Government. They are at liberty, however, to indicate, without committing the Council, that in their personal opinion the proposal is unlikely to be acceptable.

5. It is not the intention of the Government, and they do not think it feasible, that they would undertake to provide or maintain any ships of War at the present other than such vessels as may be necessary for the protection of revenue and fisheries. Financial considerations preclude expenditure in this direction in present conditions. The Irish representatives should not open this matter of their own volition, but if it is raised they should point out the financial difficulties.

6. Generally, the position of the representatives is that their functions are entirely technical and that they are not empowered to commit the Irish Government in any matter either of detail or of principle and that, with this in mind, they may receive any information which the British representatives think fit to communicate to them either in regard to the present proposals of the Executive Council or to any counter proposals which His Majesty's Government in Great Britain may have in their minds to make.

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