No. 413 NAI DFA 26/95

Dictated account of canvassing for Irish election to League of Nations Council by Count Gerald O'Kelly de Gallagh, with a handwritten postscript by Francis T. Cremins (Geneva)

Geneva, 7 September 1930


Yesterday, Saturday afternoon, Count O'Kelly had interviews with Mr. Adatci (Japan), Mr. Guerrero and Mr. Vasconcellos (Portugal), in the order mentioned. Mr. Adatci was not aware that Australia had withdrawn her candidature and, on learning that we had Dominion support and that Britain was not hostile, promised to use his influence with the chief of the delegation on our behalf. Mr. Adatci, in the course of conversation, expressed the opinion that the Chinese candidature was no longer to be considered. After leaving Mr. Adatci, Count O'Kelly had a conversation with Mr. Guerrero, of whom he asked information concerning our prospects of election. Mr. Guerrero passed in review all the actual or probable candidates as follows:- Ireland - which would have the support of the Latin American group, of the Little Entente, probably of France, because of the latter's hostility to Norway, caused by Norway's pro-German sentiments. Norway - would receive the votes of its own group and of the Germanic countries but would be defeated by Latin America and the Little Entente and its allies. China - candidature not to be considered, it being incredible that she should secure the two-thirds re-eligibility vote.1 Belgium - had heard Belgium's name mentioned once as a candidate but didn't think there was anything in it. Portugal - it appears that Mr. Vasconellos, the Portuguese delegate, had approached Mr. Guerrero and had informed him that he had received instructions from his government to sound various delegations as to the chances of a successful Portuguese candidature and to report thereon. In the event of his report being favourable he would receive instructions to go forward as a candidate. Mr. Guerrero had advised Mr. Vasconcellos that he was very late in the field and suggested at all events that Count O'Kelly should see him, with the object either of persuading him to withdraw his candidature or of coming to an understanding with him. Mr. Guerrero is to see Mr. Titulesco (Romania) as soon as the latter arrives and would definitely obtain his support and that of the Little Entente for our candidature. I am to add that on his way to Geneva, Count O'Kelly met in the train Mr. Negulescu2 who informed him definitely that Mr. Titulesco had already stated that he would support us.

After his interview with Mr. Guerrero, Count O'Kelly called on Mr. Vasconcellos with whom he has been on excellent personal terms for six or seven years. When he broached the subject to him, Mr. Vasconellos threw up his hands and exclaimed 'Cher ami, je suis vraiment désolé et très malheureux de notre situation vis-à-vis l'un de l'autre'. He then proceeded to state that he had instructions to do all he could in favour of his country's candidature and added that if Ireland got elected this time, the seat which she secured would automatically become a Commonwealth seat and that consequently Portugal would never get elected. Count O'Kelly protested that Ireland was not going forward as a Commonwealth candidate. Vasconcellos merely replied 'Vous avez beau faire et dire tout ce que vous voudrez, mon cher O'Kelly; tout le monde sait que vous êtes le candidate du Commonwealth'. Count O'Kelly tried to explain the situation but Mr. Vasconcellos kept protesting that, by following Canada, it was inevitable that we should be considered as candidates for a Commonwealth seat. He said that had we let a year elapse and run for election, say, next year, such an impression would have had no justification. Count O'Kelly found that his arguments seemed to make little impression but obtained from Mr. Vasconcellos the cordial promise that if Portugal did not go forward herself she would support Ireland. Count O'Kelly further put forward the suggestion, quite tentatively, that, in the event of both countries running, it might conceivably be possible to come to an understanding. He left Mr. Vasconcellos with matters at this point, having however clearly indicated that in all the conversation he was not in a position to speak for the delegation, but was having a personal exchange of views with Mr. Vasconcellos.

After this interview, which finished about six o'clock, Count O'Kelly met Mr. Negulescu whom he took out to dinner. Nothing much transpired during the dinner, beyond the fact that Mr. Negelescu promised to introduce him to Mr. Titulesco who was due to arrive at midnight by the Simplon express. After dinner, on returning to the Hotel, Count O'Kelly had a telephone message from Mr. Vasconcellos, who later on came up to see him. Mr. Vasconcellos had, in the meantime, had further conversation with Mr. Guerrero, Mr. Zumeta (Venezuela), and Mr. Aguero y Bethancourt. As a result of these conversations, he now proposed that Ireland and Portugal should now both run for election with the support of the Latin American group, the little Entente, and the members of the Commonwealth. He suggested that, if we could secure the support of the Commonwealth States for his candidature, he on his side would actively forward the Irish candidature among his supporters. To this proposal, Count O'Kelly expressed great personal sympathy, but said that he would have to consult his colleagues and that, in any event, he was not in a position to speak for the Irish Delegation, the members of which had not yet arrived in Geneva3 much less for the other States of the Commonwealth. Mr. Vasconcellos was to leave Geneva on Sunday morning for the whole day, and asked that Count O'Kelly should telephone him on Sunday night to tell him the result of his consultation with his colleagues. It is Mr. Vasconcellos' intention to approach Mr. Hugh Dalton of the British Delegation on Monday morning for the purpose of sounding Britain's views on his candidature. In this connection, Count O'Kelly warned him of the inadvisability of bracketing the Irish and the Portuguese candidatures at this stage. (see postscript to this note).4

It will appear, at first sight, that there is no contre-partie offered by Vasconcellos for our advocacy of his candidature with the other states of the Commonwealth. This in fact is not the case. The contre-partie is not so much Mr. Vasconcellos' support of our candidature as the absence of his hostility thereto, which would undoubtedly be quite capable of splitting some of the South American vote.

This morning, Count O'Kelly on receipt of a telephone message, called on Mr. Guerrero, who gave him a full report of the previous night's conversation between himself Vasconcellos, Zumeta and Bethancourt. Guerrero explained that they were prepared to support actively the Portuguese candidature, as well as the Irish, which, up to date, he considered the strongest. He added that he had overcome Mr. Vasconcellos' argument that Ireland was going forward as a Dominion candidate by the statement that Ireland was not a Dominion, but was a Free State, and that, in point of fact, she had not yet got a definite promise of support from Britain. The argument that Ireland is not a Dominion is very striking coming from Mr Guerrero, and it is just as striking that Mr. Vasconcellos should have accepted it, but you will recollect that this conception of Ireland's position is entirely in keeping with that already reported to you by Count O'Kelly as being prevalent in certain French journalistic and political circles.

Before Count O'Kelly left Mr. Guerrero, the latter took the opportunity of introducing him to Mr. Bethancourt, who had just arrived. Mr. Bethancourt was full of enthusiasm, and went over the ground already covered by Mr. Guerrero, adding that on the previous night, they had done a 'pointillage' of the votes upon which they could count, and stated that there was no doubt at all that with the support of the Latin American group, the Petite Entente, and certain other states, on whom he counted, the Portuguese and Irish candidatures would secure an absolute majority. Mr. Bethancourt stated that Professor Binchy, who is due to arrive on Tuesday, had promised to introduce him to the Vice-President, whom he was very anxious to meet.

That is as far as matters have proceeded so far, but there are two points, which Count O'Kelly wishes to bring out: (a) that the election of Portugal as well as Ireland would be a distinct triumph for the principle of open seats as opposed to group seats, (b) that Mr. Guerrero, before introducing him to Mr. Bethancourt, stated that the latter would almost certainly ask for Irish support for the election of Señor Bustamente to the Permanent Court as a quid pro quo. Mr. Guerrero added confidentially that if we intended to support Dr. Bustamente we would be well advised to say so to Mr. Bethancourt but that it would be wiser to conceal the fact from his Latin American colleagues, who viewed with disfavour the re-election of Señor Bustamente as a matter of principle.5

The foregoing is Count O'Kelly's personal record of his conversations.

P.S. Later - Sunday Night - Count O'Kelly has since seen both M. Guerrero and M. Vasconcellos, both of whom declare themselves in emphatic agreement with the proposition that in no circumstances are the Irish and the Portuguese candidatures to be associated with one another, vis-à-vis anybody


1 Handwritten marginal note by Cremins: 'Greece not mentioned'.

2 Handwritten marginal note by Cremins: 'Romanian candidate for Permanent Court'.

3 Handwritten marginal note by Cremins: 'refers to Mr Lester and myself'.

4 Handwritten by Francis T. Cremins.

5 Handwritten marginal note by Cremins: 'The Cuban candidate for the Permanent Court. We had already conveyed to Bethancourt that we would support Bustamente.'

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