No. 193 NAI DFA 11/3B

Letter from Seán Murphy (for Joseph P. Walshe) to Seán Lester (Geneva)

Dublin, 12 May 1933

With reference to your minute of 1st inst. (S.9/4/84),1 on the subject of the 'Disarmament' Conference, I am directed by the Minster to state that it will readily be understood that prolonged consideration was required by the Minister for Defence before any sort of permanent Army and Air plans to suit the peculiar needs of this country could be worked out. The proposals of the Minister for Defence will now have to be examined by the Executive Council, and steps are being taken at once towards this end.

The reference to safeguarding your own position is not understood, as no suggestion has been made that you did not give the Conference all the atten- tion possible. It was feared that the adoption of any of the proposals to which you refer would have been, in the circumstances, a waste of staff and of money, which, in the existing conditions of financial stringency, could not have been contemplated. The fact is that the requirements of the Irish Free State itself have not even yet been finally decided upon, and, until these have been determined, it would seem that the documents of the Conference are all that are needed, together with any reports on technical or political aspects which you may consider it useful to submit. The documents have been forwarded day by day, as received, to the Minister for Defence for his information.

The Minister is satisfied that at no period of the Conference since its opening 15 months ago could the attendance of a delegation from Dublin be justified. As is well recognised, the methods of the Conference for months were deliberately dilatory, and the political questions on which the success of the Conference really depend were and are outside of the influence of our experts.

With regard to the question of the increased figures for effectives and aeroplanes, it was thought that you were well aware that, in view of the low figures to which, chiefly for reasons of economy, our Defence establishments had been allowed to fall, the Irish Free State figures might show an increase on present establishments. It was because of this possibility that, since the opening of the Conference, speeches by the Irish representative advocating the disarmament of other States were rather discouraged by the Department, although at no time was it suggested, either in conversation or otherwise, that, in our peculiar circumstances, increases on our present figures could not be justified.

In connection with this matter, you may wish to refer to your report of 15th June 1932,2 relating to discussions, in which you participated, between delegates of the different Members of the Commonwealth. Apparently, at that time, the British delegation considered that figures would never be put forward, or that, if they were put forward, every Government would put in maximum figures far above their existing armaments. This point is of little importance, except as an indication that, for a long time, delegations which were in close touch with events were of opinion that quantitative limitation would not work.

I am to enclose, for your information, copy of a preliminary memorandum3 which has been prepared regarding certain portions of the British draft Convention. It is understood that many amendments to the provisions of the draft Convention are now being put forward, and that, at the moment at any rate, the Big Powers are as far as ever from arriving at any agreement.

[stamped] Seán Murphy4

1 See above No. 188.

2 Not printed.

3 Not printed.

4 Marginal note. Initialled: 'F.T.C.'.

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