No. 515 NAI DT S2485A

Letter from Diarmuid O'Hegarty to Patrick McGilligan (London)

Dublin, 28 January 1931

Dear Minister,1

The position arising out of our despatch No. 11 of the 17th January2 on the subject of the ratification of the Portuguese Treaty and the subsequent correspondence was discussed by Ministers here this morning.

You will find in the High Commissioner's office a copy of British telegram of the 21st instant, our reply of 24th instant3 and two letters addressed to the High Commissioner by Lord Stamfordham.

You will also have available in London a copy of Mr. Dulanty's letter to Lord Stamfordham.4 It is assumed that this letter follows the lines of the instructions issued on the 17th January to the High Commissioner, and asks the Private Secretary to His Majesty for an interview for the purpose of handing him the instrument of ratification and letter of advice for delivery to His Majesty.

The Dominions Office has raised the question on the basis of the Great Seal in respect of which they hold that no change should be made without discussion between the various governments.

Lord Stamfordham has raised the question of the 'presentation to His Majesty the King of the instrument of ratification as a new procedure which the King should not have been asked to follow in any particular case until His Majesty's approval had first been obtained'.

There are accordingly two main issues

  1. The use of the Great Seal
  2. Direct access to His Majesty for the purpose of advice.

The feeling here is that the second is a most dangerous subject, especially when associated with any question in dispute between the two governments. The direct refusal on the part of the King to accept advice tendered to him formally by an Irish Minister would raise a very serious issue indeed, and this is a contingency which would be most likely to arise when the advice concerned a matter in dispute between the two governments.

The Ministers considered the advisability of your seeking an audience with the King, not for the purpose of tendering formal advice, but for the purpose of ascertaining his views in respect to the proposal contained in Mr. Dulanty's letter, but they felt this was a step which might result in the expression by His Majesty of personal views on the subject under discussion which would make subsequent discussion between the governments more difficult. His Majesty would doubtless have been briefed by the Dominions Office before the interview. Consequently, the Ministers here feel that it would be inadvisable at present to seek an interview with His Majesty, and indeed before any further Ministerial action is taken they think that you should have an opportunity of considering the whole matter and expressing your views to the Cabinet on it. For this reason it would be perhaps undesirable for you to stay in London on your way through as Mr Thomas may try to utilise that opportunity to discuss this whole matter with you. It is understood that Sir Harry Batterbee intends to see Mr Walshe amongst other things on this subject.

With regard to Mr. Walshe's interview with Batterbee,5 if it takes place. The feeling here is that the matter of the Great Seal is the aspect which is more immediately important. We are genuinely fearful of the direct advice question and of its possible implications, and at the moment there is a tendency to regard our challenge on this point rather as a bargaining factor in the matter of the Seal. If Mr Walshe sees Batterbee he will probably be able to discover which shoe pinches His Majesty's Government in Great Britain the harder.

Yours sincerely,

1 Typed marginal annotation: 'This letter was approved at a meeting of ministers on 28 inst and despatched to London for Mr McGilligan'.

2 See No. 507.

3 See No. 513.

4Not located.

5See No. 523.

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