No. 517 NAI DFA EA 231/4/1931

Confidential Report from Count Gerald O'Kelly de Gallagh to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)1

Paris, 7 February 1931

I had intended discussing with you on your return from Geneva the question of the British Embassy insertion in the Diplomatic List, and of our own title. The British Embassy appears under the heading of 'Grande Bretagne et Irlande'. If it is part of our policy - as it undoubtedly is - to stress our separate identity from Britain in every possible way, there is no question at all but that the use by the British Embassy of the title 'Grande Bretagne et Irlande' is very objectionable, and causes that confusion of mind as regards the relations between Britain and Ireland which it is one of the principal objects of the Irish Legation to dispel.


I believe that when I raised this question eighteen months ago2 it was suggested that the alternative title might be 'Grande Bretagne et Irlande du Nord', and that this title might be even more objectionable as advertising partition. It is my considered opinion in the light of my experience here that we have much more to gain than to lose by having the exact juridical situation as between Ireland and England represented in the British Embassy title. To begin with, everybody knows all about partition: it is the one point about which they seem to be informed; so that having allusion to it in the British Embassy title does us no injury whatever. On the other hand, a vast number of people are still quite ignorant of the degree of independence we have achieved, and the inclusion of Ireland 'en bloc' after Great Britain in the title of the British Embassy certainly suggests to the French public that the British Embassy speaks for the whole of Ireland.

I questioned myself whether, if the term 'Irlande' was suppressed from the British title, they would themselves desire to include Northern Ireland. After all, logically speaking, there is no more reason to include Northern Ireland than there is to include Jamaica or Kenya, for which the British Embassy speaks with equal authority.

I would be glad to know your views on this subject, and to learn whether you can make representations in London to have the British title altered.

In the same connection, I would suggest that the time has now come when it would be possible for us, without any inconvenience whatever, to describe the Legation and the Minister as 'd'Irlande', instead of 'de l'État Libre d'Irlande'. In practice the Legation is always referred to as the 'Légation d'Irlande', and I personally have never been announced in any official function by any other title than 'Ministre d'Irlande'. The fact that six of our counties are administratively attached to Britain does not, I submit, in the least alter our status. French Ambassadors before 1914 were considered Ambassadeurs de France in spite of the fact that Alsace and Lorraine were under German sovereignty. It should be borne in mind that as far as the continental public is concerned, Ireland is a historical nation and a unit, and it is very desirable that this tradition should be maintained. As 'Ireland' we are one of the oldest countries in Europe, whereas as the 'Irish Free State' we rank in the public minds, which is inevitably ill-informed, with the political mushroom growths of the after-war period. I would be glad to have your views on this question as soon as possible.

With reference to any action you may take concerning the British Embassy title, it would be well to bear in mind that the next issue of the Diplomatic List will be in July, and that consequently no time should be lost in making whatever representations you judge fit to make in London, if any alterations decided upon are to appear in the July issue.

[signed] Count G. O'Kelly de Gallagh

1 Document initialled in margin: 'PMcG'.

2 See Nos 277, 283, 290 and 292.

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