No. 374 UCDA P150/2179

Letter from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 81) (Secret)

London, 19 October 1936

  1. Sir Harry Batterbee telephoned and said, with reference to the conversations between the British officials and myself on the 14th October, Sir Horace Wilson was anxious to have a further short talk.
  2. Accordingly I saw this evening Sir Horace Wilson and Sir Harry Batterbee in the former's room at No.10 Downing Street.
  3. Sir Horace Wilson said that Sir Warren Fisher, Sir Harry Batterbee, and he had talked over between themselves the discussion which took place at our meeting on the 14th October. They all appreciated the importance of a United Ireland State on which the President had laid such insistence. They quite realised also that any settlement without a united Ireland could not be a final settlement. The hope of the British officials was to try and bring about such a settlement on the points named in Sir Warren Fisher's letter of the 14th September as would enable leading British Ministers to say that a further step had been taken on the road to a united Ireland, and to make full public declaration of their hope that the two parts of Ireland would come together at an early date.
  4. I said that I did not wish to appear unresponsive but did that amount to any more than a declaration of pious opinion on the part of certain British statesmen that Ireland would be better united than not united? Sir Horace thought it would. He thought that they might be able to influence certain of the Northern Ireland statesmen to assist in what could not fail to be a great improvement of the atmosphere. They were ready to explore the possibilities of some federal arrangements which would give at least a form of unity as a prelude to the reality. In short, they would rule out nothing which would lead to the attainment of the ideal of a united Ireland.
  5. He had since our last meeting thought over the point of asking for a draft of the new Constitution. It had occurred to him that the President might feel that this was too risky a proceeding in that by some accident the terms of the Constitution might get out before the President was ready to publish officially. He wished therefore to suggest again that Sir Grattan Bushe and Mr. Hearne might meet, when the former could ascertain the exact constitutional position of the King in the new Constitution. I said that I thought the President had considered this suggestion before very carefully and had not seen his way to accept it. Sir Horace then said even if they had a note not in the form of the Constitution, with its clauses, which defined precisely the King's position in the new Constitution it would be of immense help. He only suggested these alternatives in case his suggestion last week should prove in any way embarrassing. He said they were in an intellectual difficulty in that at present they could not know in the new Constitution whether we were to be in the Commonwealth or not. They were, he need not say, very anxious that we should remain in the Commonwealth, and he thought a form of words could probably be devised which would meet them and us.
  6. Sir Horace Wilson said he was rather surprised to find that the form of Sir Warren Fisher's letter had made so bad an impression. I then read certain parts of the letter to him and he agreed that the form was, to use his own words, 'pretty bad'. (I conjectured in conversation with the Secretary of the Department that this form had been written by one of the Service Departments, which conjecture I found today was correct.)
  7. On the question of Trade Policy, Sir Horace said that he supposed I knew fairly accurately what the position would be if we reached some form of agreement. It would mean that we should have Most Favoured Nation standing, Ottawa treatment all through, and preferences all along the line.
  8. If they could go to their House of Commons and say that a settlement had been reached - and here I beg to say that I am sure that is to be interpreted as our agreeing to continue in the Commonwealth - there would be such a measure of general satisfaction that their Government could quickly put through a settlement of the Financial question.
  9. Similarly in regard to Defence, Sir Horace Wilson confirmed what Sir Warren Fisher had said last week, namely that he was quite sure a satisfactory agreement could be reached.
  10. 'But', he concluded, 'it is really all a question of whether you are to be an Ottawa country or a foreign country'. He mentioned that he had that day been at Chequers with Mr. Baldwin who had enquired as to the progress of the talks. Sir Horace Wilson said that he thought they had made progress in that they in Whitehall were getting a clearer idea of the attitude of the Irish Free State. Mr. Baldwin urged him to do everything possible to bring the talks to a satisfactory issue.

[signed] J.W. Dulanty
High Commissioner

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