No. 113 NAI DFA 26/31

Letter from Count Gerald O'Kelly de Gallagh to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(P. 5/1) (Confidential)

Paris, 23 August 1932

I1 have the honour to refer to the forthcoming session of the Assembly of the League of Nations at the end of next month and to ask if it is the intention of the President to attend it. I believe that it is the President's turn to preside the Council.

The reason I allude to this question is that I attach very great importance to the President's presence in Geneva on this occasion. It will be at least another generation before the president of the Irish Executive Council will have an opportunity of presiding at Geneva, and particularly at the present moment and with the very general prestige which President de Valera's name carries, Ireland will have a unique opportunity of asserting her statehood and of gaining the ear of the World.

The advent of the present administration to office in Ireland while it did not command universal sympathy abroad, certainly commanded universal interest. Since then I think I am right in stating that the trend of events - particularly the use of big-stick methods by Britain - has strengthened the position of the Irish Government in the eyes of the French public - I am inclined to think in the eyes of the world public. I have had many conversations with journalists, business men, colleagues etc., and it is my conviction that, in spite of a press that is influenced by fear and by cash, public opinion is swinging round in our favour, not only on the economic issue but also on the political issue. What I mean to express is that whereas six months ago the very suggestion of an Irish Republic would have met with the coolest of cool receptions among any official circles, the proposition is now no longer considered as being beyond the pale of practical politics and a certain amount of sympathy with the idea begins to be apparent. Among the better informed of those with whom I have spoken the problem of Ulster is immediately invoked, but is not invoked in a hostile spirit - as I think would undoubtedly have been the case a year ago. To sum up, very genuine doubt may be expressed as to the opportunity of our declaring a republic, with all the internal problems which it would create for us, but the idea2 of an Irish Republic no longer shocks.

[signed] Count G. O'Kelly de Gallagh
Minister Plenipotentiary

1 Marginal annotation: 'Seen by the President SM 29.8.32'.

2 Underlined in pen.

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