No. 513 NAI DT S2485A

Letter from Seán Murphy (for Patrick McGilligan) to J.H. Thomas (London)
(D.5978) (No.17) (Confidential) (Copy)

Dublin, 24 January 1931


I have the honour to refer to your confidential telegram of the 21st January in reply to my despatch of the 17th January1 on the subject of the ratification of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the Irish Free State and Portugal.

2. It will be remembered that the Irish Free State representative on the Sub-Committee on Seals at the Imperial Conference 1930 expressed the views of this Government in the following terms:-

  'The manner in which the King's signature is confirmed is for the Government concerned to decide. If the Government concerned decides to use signets and a Great Seal, the form of the signets and of the Seal is for the Government to decide. In the Irish Free State, the seals have been established by law, and, if the Irish Government decide to use seals, the seals would be those so established.'

3. At the meeting of heads of delegations on the 10th November, I made it quite clear that the position of the Irish Free State was that stated by its representative on the sub-committee. At a subsequent meeting I stated that the manner in which the King's signature was confirmed was for the Government concerned to decide.

4. It will be remembered that conclusion (C) originally read:

  'The subject should be postponed on the understanding that the whole question should be reviewed at the next Imperial Conference'

and that it was subsequently amended on the suggestion of General Hertzog to read as follows:

  'The subject should be postponed on the understanding that the whole question should be left for further discussion between Governments should occasion arise'.

5. It was not my understanding of that conclusion that no change in the procedure could be effected until a full discussion had taken place between His Majesty's various Governments. Had I thought so, I should not have concurred in the conclusion on behalf of the Irish Free State.

6. The object of General Hertzog's amendment was clearly to permit of a change being made without awaiting the next Imperial Conference. If a question, in regard to which it was not possible to find a solution around the Conference Table, was to be discussed between the various Governments by correspondence, the likelihood of a solution being found would be remote indeed. In view of the statements made by the Irish Free State it is clear that the interpretation of Conclusion (C) expressed in your telegram under reply was not, and could not have been, contemplated by us.

7. Our understanding of conclusion (C) was that any Government desiring a change in the existing procedure would naturally raise the question with His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, in view of the fact that it was through the instrumentality of that Government that part of the procedure was carried out.

8. In my despatch No. 301 of the 22nd December2 transmitting the instrument of ratification of the London Naval Treaty I intimated that henceforth His Majesty's Government in the Irish Free State intended to adhere to the principles set out in the statement made at the Imperial Conference.

9. His Majesty's Government in the Irish Free State consider that their attitude on this question is completely in accord with the constitutional position of the Irish Free State as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and with the conclusions reached at the Heads of Delegations meetings.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient, humble Servant,
(Sgd) Seán Murphy
for Minister for External Affairs

1 See No. 507

2 See No. 499.

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