No. 456 NAI DT S3355

Letter from Diarmuid O'Hegarty to Michael McDunphy (Dublin)

London, 19 October 1930

Dear McDunphy,1

Mr. McGilligan has written to the President on the subject of the ratification of the Naval Treaty,2 and I promised to drop a note to draw attention to the opposite point of view. It will be remembered that a promise was given early in 1926 that no international commitments would be entered into without giving the Dáil an opportunity to express its opinion on the matter. The present Treaty may be said to impose no tangible obligations on us, but it remains in force for a number of years when ratified, and consequently if the Dáil should disapprove of the Government's action a new administration would be unable to disentangle itself. From this point of view, but from this point alone, it is a type of treaty in which emergency powers of ratification should not lightly be resorted to.

I am not very worried about the promise, but fear the Labour Party may feel compelled on principle to join in a vote of censure on the ground that the Dáil was being muzzled.3 They could urge, and there would be a little difficulty in meeting their point, that the Dáil could have been specially summoned. The time is now very short but if Labour agreed to support a motion for ratification at a special sitting called solely to deal with this question that course might be the wisest. In any event if it is decided to go on with ratification and to consult the heads of parties beforehand, I would suggest that the reactions of the Labour people should be tested before the other opposition party is approached. If Labour agreed in the circumstances special to the present occasion that the ratification might proceed without waiting for Dáil approval we could afford to face with greater equanimity a motion of censure from Fianna Fáil, the more so in view of the object and American origin of the Pact. What I am really disturbed about is that if they do not so agree the subsequent debate will proceed along the line of objection to ignoring the sovereign assembly rather than on the merits of the Treaty itself.4

Yours sincerely,
[signed] Diarmuid Ó hÉigeartaigh

1 Handwritten marginal annotation: 'President, M McD 21/10', 'President to see O'Connell tomorrow'.

2 See No. 455.

3 This sentence has been underlined by hand.

4 This sentence has been underlined by hand.

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