No. 222 UCDA P150/2298

Letter from Eamon de Valera to J.H. Thomas (London)

Dublin, 16 May 1934

I have received your letter of the 2nd of May and enclosure inviting the Government of Saorstát Éireann to participate in the celebrations which it is proposed to hold next year to mark the Silver Jubilee of the accession of King George to the Throne.

I need hardly say that my Government sincerely rejoices that His Majesty has been spared to rule his people for almost a quarter of a century. We would gladly share in the Jubilee celebrations if it were possible to do so without giving rise to serious misunderstanding. I take it, however, that only representatives of the peoples of the British Commonwealth of Nations are being invited to participate. Ireland has been incorporated in the Commonwealth by force; her territory has been partitioned against her will without regard to justice, and we feel that we would be false to our duty as a national Government, and lacking in frankness, if, by our presence at an occasion of Commonwealth rejoicing, we made it appear that we voluntarily accepted a position which in fact is contrary to the national aspirations of our people.

I have repeatedly indicated the kind of association with the British Commonwealth which in my opinion the Irish people could honourably accept, an association consistent with their ideals and with the interests and security of Great Britain. Until the time comes when a British Government is prepared to agree to such a solution, and to acknowledge that Ireland like other nations has a right to decide freely her own form of Government and to have equal voice in determining her relations with her neighbours, there can be no cordial and lasting friendship between the two countries. Moreover, in the present circumstances we could not very well take part in these celebrations. During the last two years your Government has been engaged in an attack on the economic life of the Irish people with the object of forcing from us a payment which in our considered judgment is not due, whilst refusing our offer to submit the dispute to the arbitration of a freely chosen tribunal. The action of the British Government in this matter has been contrary to all reasonable standards of international conduct. We have received none of the consideration which Great Britain herself expects and has hitherto received from another country in regard to her undeniable debts. While this treatment of Saorstát Éireann by the leading nation of the British Commonwealth continues, the presence of an Irish delegation at His Majesty's Jubilee celebrations would inevitably be construed as acquiescence in Great Britain's use of her economic power against our people.

I regret that I must inform you, therefore, that it will not be possible for the Government of Saorstát Éireann to send a representative.

I am,
Yours sincerely,
[copy letter unsigned]

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