No. 225 TNA: PRO DO 35/398/7

Minute by Sir Edward J. Harding of a conversation
with John W. Dulanty (London)

London, 13 June 1934

I had a very informal talk with Mr. Dulanty this afternoon, the substance of which is perhaps worth recording.

Mr. Dulanty began by saying that, as the result of his last visit to the I.F.S. a few weeks ago, he had come back with the impression that some advance towards a solution of the difficulties between the Free State and ourselves might be possible in the near future, on the following lines, viz.

(a) discussion of the trade position (with the special object of seeing whether some part of the £8,000,000 worth of orders which the Free State were now placing in foreign countries might not come to the U.K.) leading on to

(b) discussion of the Annuities question (Mr. Dulanty seemed to think that the latest figures of receipts from the U.K. import duties might lead the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be disposed to be helpful in this respect) with

(c) finally an endeavour to deal with the political problems outstanding.

Almost immediately after his (Mr. Dulanty's) return, however, Mr. de Valera had made one of his more extreme political speeches, and hence Mr. Dulanty had not been able to make any move.

Mr. Dulanty went on to talk about the general political situation in the Free State.

It seemed to him clear that Mr. de Valera would successfully 'carry on' until the time came, in the ordinary course, for the next General Election. But he thought that he detected some slight change in Mr. de Valera's general attitude.

Mr. de Valera seemed to him to have now what might be described as a dual outlook. The first was that which he had always had - belief in a Republic of Ireland as his ultimate political aim.

The second was that of a man who believed that a Republic of 26 counties was not a satisfactory solution, who felt that a Republic of 32 counties was unlikely during his lifetime, and who, as a responsible political leader, was determined to do his utmost to avoid a civil war.

In this latter connection, Mr. Dulanty said that his latest information as to the relations between the I.R.A. and the Blue Shirts, e.g. in County Mayo, indicated that civil war in the comparatively near future was by no means an impossibility. (It was rumoured that the local branches of the I.R.A. who were armed, were only waiting for the local Blue Shirts to acquire sufficient arms to make it worth while, in order to fall upon them.)

Mr. Dulanty deduced from what he had said that some of Mr. de Valera's most recent utterances were based on this dual outlook, and particularly on a desire, in certain of his speeches, to do something towards placating the Left.

Mr. Dulanty said that, from this point of view, he thought that it might do good if some political leader on this side, who was detached from the immediate issues, e.g. Mr. Baldwin, could say something to the effect that the basis of the British Commonwealth was freedom, and that if the I.F.S. desired to leave it, they were free to do so.

I made no comment on this, beyond saying that I would note what he had told me and let the Secretary of State know. I thought it best, on the whole, not to remind Mr. Dulanty of the recent exchange of despatches with Mr. de Valera on this point a few months ago.

Mr. Dulanty went on to say that he supposed that he was right in thinking that the policy of the U.K. Government was one of 'drift'. They had many other preoccupations. There were no shootings or massacres. They were getting in substantially the equivalent of the Annuities. In short, they were not interested in Irish affairs.

I said that I should not put it quite in that way. I thought that the real position was that the government here, whilst anxious to effect a satisfactory settlement, felt that they had done their utmost, without success, to achieve a solution, and that the next move lay with the other side.

Mr. Dulanty said, as we were parting, that he hoped that we should 'back pedal' as much as possible, and he instanced the position of Mr. de Valera with reference to the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the King's Accession,1 as a particular case where it was best to say as little as possible.

I said that we quite realised this, and that he would have noticed that, in the proposed statement to be made in Parliament, only a bare mention was made of the Free State.

I added that we had assumed that Mr. de Valera's reply to the Prime Minister's recent letter2 was framed largely with a view to the possibility of ultimate publication. Mr. Dulanty said that this was so, though he hoped that publication would not take place. In this I agreed.

Mr. Dulanty mentioned, in this connection, that he doubted whether even Mr. Cosgrave would have been able to accept the Prime Minister's invitation.

Since our conversation took place on Alexandra Rose Day, and I noticed that Mr. Dulanty was wearing a rose, I said that I was glad to see that he personally, at any rate, remained faithful to the memory of Queen Alexandra. To this he replied that his purchase of a rose must not be taken as acceptance of the monarchical principle, but based solely on sentimental and humanitarian motives!

[initialled] E.J.H.

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