No. 82 NAI DT S4978

Extract from a report from Diarmuid O'Hegarty to William T. Cosgrave (Dublin)

London, 26 April 1927


1. The Conference opened at 11a.m. today at the Admiralty. There were present:-

Rear Admiral Pound   -   Asst. Chief of the Naval Staff.
Mr. A. Flint, C.B.   -   Principal Assistant Secretary.
Capn. Egerton, C.M.G.   -   Director of Plans Division.
Capn. Macnamara, R.N.   -   Asst. director do.
Commander Corbett, R.N.   -   Plans Division.
Commander Harcourt, R.N.   -   Operations Division.
Major Pargiter. R.N.   -   Directorate of Opern. and Intelligence, War Office.
Squadron Leader Bottomly   -   Directorate of Intelligence, Air Ministry.
Mr. N.E. Archer   -   Dominions Office.
Major Macready.   -   Asst. Secretary, Cttee. of Imperial Defence.

Mr. D. O'Hegarty   -   Secretary, Executive Council.
Lieut. General MacMahon   -   Secretary, Dept. of Defence.
Mr. J.J. McElligott   -   Asst. Sec. Dept. of Finance.
Major General Hogan   -   Chief-of-Staff.
Col. S. O'Higgins   -   Chief Staff Officer.
Comdt. D. Bryan   -   Dept. of Defence.

2. Rear Admiral Pound opened the proceedings by stating how the Conference came about.1 They did not know what our technical difficulties might be, and he thought the best plan was for us to ask them questions regarding our difficulties which they would be glad to answer. I assented and proceeded to outline the Council's proposals as set out in the first and second paragraphs of our instructions2 and went on to say that the questions we wished to ask would be directed towards ascertaining the financial liabilities involved and the personnel requirements so that our Government might be able to judge how quickly they could proceed with the taking over of the responsibility of the forts.

3. Rear Admiral Pound then stated that his instructions precluded him from discussing this proposal which had reference to Article 7 and that he had been confined to Article 6. They regarded the two Articles as distinct. The question we raised had to do with Imperial Defence; Article 6 according to their interpretation dealt with local defence only. Local defence had reference to such matters as anti-mining and anti-submarine protection, coastal watch and intelligence etc.

4. I affected to be very surprised at this and said that as far as I was aware, our Government regarded these Articles as being very closely inter-related. The Rear Admiral said he would report our proposal to his Chiefs and ask for instructions.

5. He then asked whether apart from our proposal, our Government had given any thought to such aspects of local defence as he had mentioned. I said we had no instructions on these matters, but that we would be interested to hear their views and would report them to our Government. He said they had considered that we would probably wish to begin upon a small scale and suggested mine sweeping which could be undertaken at small cost and in which trawlers could be utilised. They had prepared estimates for us on the basis that we would take over the sweeping of the coast from Dublin to Rosslare or Dublin to Cobh. They would also be prepared at our request to assess our coastal defence problems as they had done for the other dominions. He had mentioned anti-submarine protection, but this was a highly technical business which he thought we should not like to take on in the beginning.

6. As some time would necessarily elapse before a decision could be reached as to whether our proposal could be examined, we agreed that a sub-Cttee. of ours would receive such information as they could give us on the subject of mine sweeping pointing out, at the same time, that this was a matter upon which we had no instructions.

7. It was quite clearly futile to argue at this Meeting as to whether or not our proposals were within the ambit of the Conference. I formed the impression and this was shared by my colleagues, that they had expected something like them and that their instructions were framed accordingly. I sent a code wire to External Affairs giving a general summary immediately after the conclusion of the Conference at 11.30 a.m.

8. I saw Archer at the Dominions Office at 12.30 p.m. He had not up to then been able to get into touch with Amery. We talked a little around the subject and he finally said that it appeared to be a question as to whether they could allow an expert discussion on our proposals to proceed without prejudice to their attitude on Articles 6 and 7. I pointed out that anything done at the Conference was without prejudice, but I said if it came to a question of treaty interpretation that we were, of course, incompetent to discuss it, and that this was a matter which should be reserved for discussion between principals. My object was to avoid our proposals being turned down before our side of the case was heard. Archer got into touch with Amery at lunch time and the latter is to discuss the position with other Ministers. I am awaiting the result.

9. The sub-Conference consisting of MacNamara, Corbett, Harcourt, McElligott, O'Higgins and Bryan met subsequently and obtained certain figures regarding mine sweepers etc. I gathered what was expected here was that we would be able to say we had £... to spend on coastal defence and they would advise us how to spend it. But as I said before, I think they had a shrewd idea of what we were going to say.

[matter omitted]

(Sgd) Diarmuid Ó hÉigeartaigh

1 The first meeting of the Conference contemplated by Article 6 of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty was held at the Dominions Office on 6 December 1926. After a preliminary discussion, it was decided to adjourn the Conference until the beginning of March 1927. See No. 81.

2 See No. 79.

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