No. 434 NAI DFA 26/95

Extracts from a letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(X.18/1) (Copy)

Geneva, 29 September 1930

A Chara,

The election of the Saorstát to the Council will naturally involve an intensification and an extension of the work of the Department in relation to the League. The formation of the nucleus of a League Section at headquarters has, as viewed from this post, already shown excellent results. No doubt you will consider to what extent it is possible to increase that section to meet the new situation, either by recruitment, or the transfer of officers from other sections in the Department.

As to Geneva, we will require offices immediately. In this flat one small room is exclusively for office work; it contains League and other documents, files, books, and is used by Mlle. Jacquier. My own office is, owing to the limited accommodation and the style of furnishing, often employed as a family sitting room. There is, therefore, no room for any additional staff. I recommend the immediate leasing of a suite of Offices.

[matter omitted]

The question of Staff is equally urgent, as the Government will no doubt wish to take a responsible and creditable part in the work of the Council. You will recognise that this cannot be done without considerable preparation. From my short experience here, I was able some time ago to press for the appointment of a Secretary of Legation, irrespective of the result of our candidature for the Council. I believe you accepted that proposal in principle, and I shall not repeat the arguments as to the amount of work which ordinary membership of the League involves. At present, Ireland is on the lowest scale regarding staff of all the Permanent Delegations. The election to the Council may now give the Minister the opportunity to secure a staff similar to that of other countries with comparable resources and with no more national concern in League affairs than has our country.

  Finland has the following:
    First Secretary,
    Attaché (or two),
    Three Women assistants.
  Canada has:
    Legal and Military Adviser,
    Four women assistants (one of whom does work of the Second Secretary class).

Although both these States are not now on the Council, their Governments propose to retain their full staffs. The Finnish Minister, indeed, anticipates the appointment of an additional Attaché to meet increasing work. Colonel Vanier, the Canadian Legal and Military Adviser, is an exceptional man, who has a long experience here and, apart from his duties as Adviser in relation to Disarmament questions, is invaluable to his Delegation in the ordinary politico-legal work of the League.

My recommendations regarding staff are the immediate appointment of:

  First Secretary,
  Attaché or Second Secretary,
  Woman assistant of good standard,

in addition, of course, to Mlle. Jacquier who would be almost exclusively employed on indexing, filing letters and documents and general clerical work.

In addition, it would be well to have a Defence official or officer instructed to study League disarmament problems and to be prepared to visit Geneva when the Disarmament Commission meets and, later, the Disarmament Conference. The latter, as you know, has been suggested for next year.

The appointment of a high official in the Public Health Department - indeed his second to the League Section at home - might be considered in view of the fact that the Irish Representative on the Council is Rapporteur on Health questions. The Health Section's work is of great and increasing importance and it is essential that our share in it now should not be merely as the mouthpiece of the Director of the Section. The question of Child Welfare, of which the Irish Representative is also Rapporteur, has not the same importance as the scope for international effort is not very great.

There may, and probably will, of course, be later appointments as rapporteur on other subjects and I need not say that all the other League problems must now be more closely studied and a line of policy made possible for the Minister.

I am aware of the difficulty of finding suitable Staff, but I beg that Geneva, in the special circumstances, should receive immediate and prior consideration.

There will be a Council meeting early in January. Before this Assembly closes, the Health Committee will meet and its session will last until 8th and 10th October. In view of our special interest, this Committee's work must be followed closely. On 3rd November, the Disarmament Commission opens for a very important session which may last until the middle of December. Apart from other Committees which should now be followed closely, three Conferences will take place in the spring. New staff, whether obtained for headquarters or Geneva, will require to be some time at work before they will begin to 'pull their weight' and every week saved in appointing them will be felt. I trust, therefore, that it will be possible to have something done even though the Minister is so preoccupied with the vital questions now before the Imperial Conference.

Mise, le meas,
[copy letter unsigned]

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