No. 100 NAI DFA LN 4/7

Letter from Michael MacWhite to Kevin O'Higgins1 (Dublin)
(M.L. 03/0268)

Geneva, 23 June 1927

A Chara,

I beg to enclose you herewith a copy of the Verbatim Report of the first plenary session of the Conference for the Limitation of Naval Armaments and also the Provisional Minutes of the first session of the Technical Committee.2

You will notice from the Report of the Plenary Meeting that in his speech the First Lord of the Admiralty made it clear that he was speaking only on behalf of His Majesty's Government in Great Britain. If it were not for the position we had taken he would undoubtedly have included the Dominions as well, and in view of the pressure they brought to bear on me, there is no doubt but it was his intention to do so.

In addition to Mr. Harding's suggestions, Mr. Bridgeman3 came to me and said he hoped the Free State would not let him down as he, himself, went so far as to fall foul of the British Constitution and almost sacrificed his political as well as his private reputation in his endeavour to put the Free State on her feet. He referred, presumably, to the arrest and deportation of Irregulars when he was Minister for Home Affairs. I told him that in so far as any proposals likely to lead towards general disarmament were concerned he had our whole hearted support but I insisted that if it was necessary that if anything be said affecting the Saorstát, it could only be said by our own Plenipotentiaries.

At a Commonwealth meeting held on Tuesday it was agreed that one or when possible two of the Dominion delegates should sit with the British delegates at the meetings of the Executive Committee of the Conference. The Dominions to take their turn according to their seniority. Notwithstanding this arrangement, it still seems that the status of the Dominion Plenipotentiaries is not very clear. For the general public the Dominions seem to be only minor satellites moving in the orbit of the British planet.

There will probably be no further plenary meeting of the Conference before Monday 27th. In the meantime the Naval experts are meeting daily. Until they have come to some understanding there is really nothing to do for the full Conference. If, however, one of the parties should find himself in a position to bring public opinion to effectively bear upon any of the others' proposals there is no doubt but he will resort to a Plenary Session in order to achieve his purpose.

Mise, le meas,
[signed] M. MacWhite

1 Kevin O'Higgins replaced Desmond FitzGerald as Minister for External Affairs on 23 June 1927 following the 9 June 1927 general election.

2 Not printed.

3 William Bridgeman MP (1864-1935), First Lord of the Admiralty (1924-29).

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