No. 560 NAI DFA 19/6

Confidential Report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(Secret and Confidential)

London, 25 July 1931

On the day following the Canadian Dominion Day celebrations Mr. Ferguson1 and I met, when he referred with great satisfaction to the proceedings at the Dinner the night before. I said I would like some time to say privately and entirely unofficially what my reactions were to the speeches delivered there. He said he was very interested and as he was going to Canada quite soon why not have the talk there and then. This gave me no opportunity to consult with the Department of External Affairs but I accepted his invitation and proceeded to remark that I understood Mr. Bennett in a private talk with my Minister at the last Imperial Conference had said that he regarded the Privy Council question, which the Minister was then advancing, as being one entirely between Great Britain and Ireland, and for that reason he did not wish to intervene. We, the Irish Free State, had our views about the Privy Council and the Minister had stated publicly the intention of the Government in reference thereto, and I was therefore rather surprised to find Mr. Ferguson making what seemed to me a gratuitous attack on a position which another Dominion had taken up. He seemed greatly surprised at this and said that he had referred to the Privy Council really to rebuke some disgruntled nonentities in Canada. He was afraid that he could not accept the Free State position on the Privy Council, but had he known it would have been in any way embarrassing he would never have dreamed of mentioning it. I then referred not only to the Dinner about which we were talking but to various other occasions on which he had very much beaten the Empire drum and I explained to him that apart from any question of my position as an Irishman the word 'Empire' had rather a special connotation in purely British politics. I thought that the imperialism of Chamberlain2 and Milner3 would scarcely be acceptable even to Canada though the imperialism of Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman4 in passing the South African Union Act might. It therefore seemed to me doubtful wisdom for any representative of any Dominion to attach himself so conspicuously to one particular school of British political thought. Mr. Ferguson replied that what he had said that night was meant entirely for Canada. He proceeded to give me a long account of the Americanization of Canada that went on every hour of the day; he gave me some statistics about the press, and I think he said that the United States superiority of Canada in wireless was as 47 is to 6. They were in great danger of the American influence and he had not the remotest intention of invading the sphere of British politics, still less of saying anything to annoy me as an Irishman. It was meant through and through for consumption in Canada.

Although it is merely an impression I put it on record for what it is worth. Mr. Ferguson's mind, as indicated by his talk, appears to be much absorbed with Canadian politics and it may well be that his position in London is a stage in his political life, and that what he does here is to be looked at in regard to its consequences for him when he returns to political activities at home.

[signed] John W. Dulanty
High Commissioner

[handwritten] He promised me he would go over to An Saorstát for a trip on his return from Canada.

1 G. Howard Ferguson, Canadian High Commissioner to the UK (1930-35), Delegate to the League of Nations (1935).

2 Joseph Chamberlain MP (1836-1914), Secretary of State for the Colonies (1895-1903).

3 Sir Alfred Milner (later Baron and then Viscount) (1854-1925), High Commissioner for South Africa (1897-1905), Colonial Secretary (1919-21).

4 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836-1908), Liberal MP (1868-1908), Chief-Secretary for Ireland (1884-85), leader of the Liberal Party (1899-08), British Prime Minister (1905-08).

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO