No. 483 NAI DFA Unregistered Papers

Extract from a speech by William T. Cosgrave at a luncheon in honour of R.B. Bennett, Prime Minister of Canada

Dublin, 17 November 1930

It gives me great personal pleasure to preside at this luncheon in honour of Mr. Bennett, the Prime Minister of Canada, and to extend to him on behalf of the Government and the people of Saorstát Éireann a very hearty welcome to our shores.

Three years ago I first met Mr. Bennett, then leader of the opposition, at Ottawa on the occasion of my official visit to Canada; since then he has become Prime Minister of that great country and I hope he will permit me to congratulate him that in this age of rush and worry neither the cares of office nor the passage of time have succeeded in making him appear one day older.

We feel honoured that Mr. Bennett has found it possible to come on this visit to us. He has just concluded six weeks of strenuous work at the Imperial Conference. He had been in office for but a few weeks when the opening of the Conference called him to London. Our experience of administration - limited though it be - is still sufficient to enable us to appreciate his anxiety to get back to his country, and we are therefore all the more grateful to him for snatching from a busy life the time for his all too short stay amongst us.

Canada, in many respects, occupies a unique position in our thoughts and esteem. When Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins were negotiating our Treaty in 1921 they looked to Canada as the great example of self-government and progress amongst the Dominions. Our Constitutional status in the Commonwealth is defined in that Treaty by reference to Canada, and it is specifically laid down in Article 2 that the position of the Irish Free State in relation to the Imperial Parliament and Government and otherwise shall be that of the Dominion of Canada and that the law, practice and constitutional usage governing the relationship of the Crown or the representative of the Crown and of the Imperial Parliament to the Dominion of Canada shall govern their relationship to the Irish Free State. Thus we began our career as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations with Canada as our guide and our example; she has given us the benefit of her counsel and encouragement on many occasions since; we have together contributed something towards the development of those free institutions which are the basis of the relationship that exists between the various members of that Commonwealth and out of which flows that good-will which enables the several autonomous communities of which it is composed to work in harmony and co-operation for the common good.

In Canada many of our race have made their home and have risen to eminence in business and in the professions. In the early days of Canada's progress we find the name of Thomas D'Arcy McGee written large on the page of her constitutional history. The name of Shaughnessy is associated with her great railway system. She has had Ministers and magnates of Irish blood and descent; many other Irishmen have toiled as pioneers from Halifax to Vancouver; their axes have rung in her forests and their shovels have helped to clear the road along which so many millions of tons of her produce passes today on its route to the markets of the world.

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