No. 464 NAI DT S6009/4

Speech by William T. Cosgrave on the occasion of the visit to Dublin by General J.M. Hertzog

Dublin, 2 November 1930

It is with genuine pleasure that I rise to propose the health of our distinguished guest General The Rt. Hon. J.M. Hertzog, Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, and with his name I wish to couple that of his friend and colleague, The Honourable Mr Havenga,1 Minister of Finance.

Twenty-eight years ago General Hertzog saw his country beaten in an unequal war with the world's greatest power and stricken from the proud status of an independent State to the humiliation of a conquered Province, only to emerge again to a new freedom which today is measured in terms of friendly equality with her former conqueror.

It was but natural that the heart of Ireland which had only too often felt the bitterness of defeat should be with the gallant patriots of that heroic struggle; but the evil day of both States appears to be happily past; and we glory with our fellow Dominion in the new status which we both have won.

The name of General Hertzog is inseparably inter-woven with the chequered history of his native country. For over half a century he has devoted himself to her cause, serving her faithfully in the divergent spheres of Law, War, Education and Statesmanship, finally rising to the post of Prime Minister of South Africa, which honourable position he has now held for nearly six years.

In thus serving his country he has served the cause of liberty the world over, and we in Ireland to whom liberty is as essential as the air we breathe, honour him as a great patriot and as a great Statesman, and are proud indeed tonight to have him amongst us.

Similarity in major matters between South Africa and Ireland extends even to details. The existence of two languages constitutes a problem in both countries, both I trust on the way to a happy solution, and we have followed with special interest the development of the scheme of bi-lingual education in South Africa, in the organisation of which our illustrious guest has played such an important part.

General Hertzog comes to us fresh from his labours at the Imperial Conference and the League of Nations, those two great institutions which have contributed so much to the development of international friendship.

It is for me a matter of much regret that I have been unable to attend this year's Imperial Conference but I have the singular satisfaction of being represented both at the last Conference and at this by abler Ministers than myself in the person of the late Mr Kevin O'Higgins, late Minister for External Affairs, and his successor Mr Patrick McGilligan.

The close association of these two in the arduous labours of the last Conference resulted in a mutual friendship which lasted until the former's death, and for that reason we regard General Hertzog as a tie with our great Statesman, which makes him doubly welcome in our midst.

The fame of General Hertzog as a world-renowned Statesman will command him honour wherever he goes. We here in Ireland appreciate his greatness, but it is as our friend that we prefer to regard him as our guest tonight.

1 Nicolaas C. Havenga, South African Finance Minister and delegate to the 1930 Imperial Conference.

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