No. 114 NAI DFA 26/39

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(S. Gen 20/63)

Geneva, 26 August 1932

Presidency of the Council

I do not know if anything has been done yet about staffing the Permanent Delegation here, and on the associated points of accommodation and allowances. I have written so often about the matter during the past three and a half years without getting any indication of the Government's views, and it has been pressed especially since Ireland obtained the honour and responsibilities of membership of the Council that I do not know whether or not it is worth while making a further appeal. I am conscious that since the new Government came into power our relations with Britain have made it extremely difficult up to the present for the Minister personally to find time to consider Geneva and the value of the League to the Irish people. If, however, the final year of our membership of the Council passes without greater efforts being made to reap the benefits I fear it will be, in the future, a matter for regret that an opportunity was lost which will not recur perhaps for twenty years.

I repeat, therefore, that at Geneva, our official point of contact with about sixty nations, where we stand on an equal footing with all, where, more than anywhere else, our influence, independence of view, and continuous, solid work can bring prestige to our country, our staff is completely inadequate and our office accommodation literally ridiculous. Less important, but symptomatic, is the fact that my residential accommodation is not as much as I had as a civil servant in Dublin.

The immediate object of this letter is to raise the question whether, should it be impossible to give further assistance to Geneva, the Government would wish to take the Presidency of the Council only formally, for the first two weeks, say, and endeavour to pass it on to the next in turn when the 69th session opens, i.e., after the election of the new members. This action, I would regard as a failure in face of our responsibilities and opportunities but perhaps no more so than if we, in one of the most difficult periods in the world's history, and at the height of a crisis in the League, endeavour to carry the Presidency of the Council until January under the present arrangements. (I said something similar when our candidature for the Council was being considered.)

I know that headquarters appreciates the difficulties under which the heavy work at Geneva has been done and is aware of the possibilities of increasing the value of that work. In the absence of consultation with the Minister, or instructions from him, I have to assume that our new Government is prepared to use the League in furtherance of our national policy.

As I have said I am aware that other vital preoccupations are burdening the Minister and that it is possible that nothing can be done for Geneva, but I am satisfied it is my duty again to put our responsibilities here before you in writing.

[signed] Seán Lester

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO