No. 370 NAI DFA 26/95

Memorandum from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Geneva, 13 May 1930

Saorstát and the Council

A couple of days ago when I was at the Secretariat I accidentally met Mr Dufour-Feronce, the German Under Secretary General. (He has invited me to his house on several occasions and has shown himself in a friendly light.) He mentioned that he had heard that the other Dominions were going to support our candidature for the Council. We were interrupted but I thought it well to see him later that day and called at his office. I told him that the Government had quite definitely decided to go forward and had been inquiring in some quarters as to whether we would get support. Several Governments, including the Dominions, had indicated that they would favour the Irish candidature. I said we also hoped we would get support from other independent, non-group countries like Austria and Hungary. I raised the question of China and he said that China, despite advice, was also going forward. I said that it seemed to me, as only four candidates were reported to be in the field, that it would be a contest between the Irish Free State and China. Did he not agree that in the circumstances a vote for China would be a vote against the Saorstát? He did not disagree with this summing up and remarked that while he did not know what the attitude of his own Government would be he knew that on sentimental grounds Germany would like to see Ireland in the Council. I of course said that this was understood and appreciated in Dublin and was fully reciprocated. I was careful not to ask Mr Dufour about the views of the German Government as, firstly, we have a Minister at Berlin and I was not aware of what had been done by him, and secondly, owing to Mr Dufour's position as a League official.

Mr Dufour expressed some doubt about the question of a Dominions group. I recalled that our candidature in 1926 had been a protest against the system, and said that I did not think there was a Dominions group in the same way as, say, the Little Entente. Owing to our constitutional alliance with the Dominions my Government would of course seek their support. If Ireland got elected to the Council he would find that she would act quite independently.

Perhaps you would be good enough to tell me if there were any conditions attached to the promises of support by the Dominions, in connection e.g. with the next election, or give me instructions as to my attitude on that point. I see of course that even if there were a Dominions group it would not have the same political significance as the Little Entente owing to our diversity of interests.

I should also be glad to know if any countries other than the dominions have been approached elsewhere; and if you would approve of my calling on the French, Italian and Japanese Under Secretaries General as a matter of courtesy at least.

[signed] Seán Lester

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