No. 609 NAI DFA 19/6

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

London, 26 November 1931

Last evening I attended a complimentary banquet given to Mr. R.B. Bennett, the Prime Minister of Canada. There was a company of about four hundred and practically - as may be seen from today's 'Times' - the whole of the British Cabinet was present.

The puck-like genius that settled the seating arrangements placed me between Lord Danesfort and Mr. Rudyard Kipling. No sooner had Grace before meals been said than Lord Danesfort plunged into a bitter attack on the Government for their action in resisting Colonel Gretton's amendment. He said that the opinion of all the eminent lawyers was against them. I asked him whom he meant by the eminent lawyers. He replied, Lord Carson, Lord Atkin, one or two other names which I did not catch, and Lord Hailsham. I told him that I heard Lord Hailsham at Professor Morgan's lecture. He interrupted me by saying rather loudly that he understood this from Lord Hailsham himself. At this point Mr. Rudyard Kipling joined the conversation, agreeing with Lord Danesfort. In rebutting their arguments I referred to a statement made by Mr. Amery. Lord Danesfort broke in vehemently calling Mr. Amery 'a bloody fool'. I concluded that further argument was useless and changed the topic of conversation. In passing I might mention that a hush of horror fell on the company near me when Mr. Kipling started smoking before the royal toast had been given.

Mr. Churchill had a long talk with me after dinner the burden of which was his firm belief that in not accepting the amendment the British Government had placed the Fianna Fáil in office in Ireland without any doubt at the next election. He was very gloomy and depressed and seemed to me insensible to argument as he, in parrot fashion, repeated this dark prophecy.

I told Mr. Amery with what satisfaction my Government would read his contribution to the Debate, particularly his second reading speech. Mr. Amery said, 'If ever I spoke from my heart in the House of Commons I did last Friday. Probably I would have made a better Debate speech if I had not spoken with so much feeling'.

Sir Arthur Shirley Benn, a Unionist Member for many years, and also for many years Chairman of the British Associated Chambers of Commerce - a son of a Cork Church of Ireland parson - told me that he spent two hours preparing a speech in support of the amendment and came into the House with several volumes of Hansard marked particularly with quotations from speeches by Mr. Asquith in which the latter had said he would never dream of giving Home Rule to Ireland unless the British had full control of the Ports. He was next on the list to follow Mr. Thomas in the Debate, but when he heard the President's letter read he told me he tore up his notes and resolved not to speak, the President's letter giving him all the satisfaction he needed. He then went on to say that he met Mr. de Valera and Mr. Aiken at the Inter-Parliamentary Congress in Berlin and made some statements about the British and the Irish to Mr. Aiken who challenged him to repeat these statements to Mr de Valera. Sir Arthur Shirley Benn instantly accepted the challenge and on being introduced to Mr. de Valera, said, 'I am as good an Irishman as you or your friend here Mr. Aiken. I contend that as we have done a great deal towards building up the British Empire we have a right to our full share in whatever it can give. If we were cheek by jowl with the United States the matter would be different, but being where we are we should develop the fullest association, political and commercial, with the British'. Mr. de Valera smiled and replied, 'You would be surprised to know how many of my followers share that opinion'. 'Then', rejoined Sir Arthur Shirley Benn, 'why don't you come out and say so publicly?'. To this Mr. de Valera made no answer.

[signed] John Dulanty

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