No. 211 TNA: PRO DO 35/398/1

Handwritten letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Sir Harry Batterbee (London)

Dublin, 11 November 1933

My dear Batterbee,

Thanks very much for your kind inquiries from Murphy. I am glad to say that I am well on the road to complete recovery and back at full work again. I was not well enough to leave my hotel when passing through London. Otherwise I would have gone and had a chat with you.

There are so many things to talk about, but especially the one thing that is of absorbing interest to both of us - the establishment at the earliest possible date of the mutual friendly relations which should exist between our two countries.

Indeed I can't help feeling a certain remorse that I have been completely inactive for so long a time in such a vital matter. I had plenty of time to think while I was in hospital in Germany, but, unfortunately, I was not able to put my ideas on paper. Perhaps we should resume our purely personal efforts to devise some sort of project of agreement which would have some chance of meeting with the approval of our respective superiors.

I feel very strongly that having now taken up the task we should not rest satisfied until we have brought about a state of things in which the normal relations between our Governments would be those of close friendship and co-operation. Success will never come from mere intention or the hope that something may turn up.

Nor can it come if both sides do not take the long view and make themselves indifferent from the beginning to petty successes and advantages of manoeuvre.

It is high time - as it is completely feasible - to end a situation which still allows people in England to talk about the 'eternal Irish problem' just as they used to do in the days of Charles II.

Will you have a little patience then while I share with you some of the reflections which passed through my mind in recent months? They are not in the least bit original, but they do touch on the foundations of the problem and suggest methods by which it could be solved.

The Treaty of '21 did not remove or attempt to remove our fundamental grievance. Its very form assumed that G.B. had the right to bestow and to withhold rights which we have always regarded as inherently ours. It left G.B. still in the minds of our people as a continuing aggressor. So long as the Treaty keeps its present form and remains the basis of our relationship the position must continue to be unstable, because the principle that England has the power of giving and withholding vis-a-vis this country will never receive the intellectual or moral adhesion of the Irish people. Therefore we must devise a new basis of relationship which assumes from the beginning a fundamental co-equality of rights.

But can we get to that point at once? Is it wise to try and settle all the vast complexity of envy and prejudice which has bedevilled our relations - with one stroke of the pen? I don't think so. I believe that we can proceed more surely towards our goal if we divide our task into stages, attack and solve our major difficulties according to the categories into which they more naturally fall. And these categories seem to me to group themselves under the general heads of Trade, Defence, and Political Relations. That is also the order in which we should study them as it seems to be the order which will best ensure the element of stability in the ultimate solution.

A Trade agreement (including financial settlt.) will prepare the way for a defence agreement which, in its turn, will make the regulation of our political relations an easier task.

I don't know what the policy of G.B. towards this country is at the moment. On the surface it seems to be a mixture of vague hopes that we shall give in from mere attrition, that some new group will take over the governing of the State. What a futile policy! Even if the hopes were realised - and there is no sign that they will be - what one single ultimate advantage would accrue to G.B.? The real solution would be further off than ever. So long as there is an external imposition of political forms there will always be slumbering revolt. It is just as unnatural for one country to impose political forms on another country as a condition of good relations, as it is for one individual to impose his religious forms on another individual for the same end.

We seem to be drifting into bitterness and all sorts of concomitant evils when the determined efforts of a few men could turn the tide in the opposite direction in a few days. No doubt all the people of English and Irish origin in the Commonwealth outside these islands must think that both our Govts. have taken leave of their senses to allow such a disastrous state of things to continue.

Forgive the length of this first dose of reflections, we must continue to meet soon and make a beginning of the good work. Meanwhile all good wishes. Remember me to Harding.

Yours very sincerely,
J.P. Walshe

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