No. 46 NAI 2003/17/181

Minute signed by Seán Murphy (for Joseph P. Walshe) to John W. Dulanty (London)
(Secret) (Copy)

Dublin, 24 April 1937

I send you herewith memorandum to be handed to Mr. MacDonald in reply to the memorandum which he handed to you on the 3rd April.1 The memorandum has the same informal character as Mr. MacDonald's. Copies of Mr. MacDonald's memoranda are enclosed.

[signed] SEÁN MURPHY


  1. The Government of Saorstát Éireann (to be known after the passing of the Constitution as 'Éire') have received the Note handed by Mr. MacDonald to Mr. Dulanty on the 3rd April setting forth the attitude of the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on the recent Constitutional legislation of Saorstát Éireann. The Government of Saorstát Éireann note that the Governments of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa are prepared to treat the Irish Free State legislation in question as not affecting a fundamental alteration in the position of the Irish Free State as a Member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. They note further that the United Kingdom Government, in reaching the same conclusion, have formulated three propositions. The Government of Saorstát Éireann do not wish to enter into a controversy as to the precise meaning and implications of these propositions. They would like to point out, however, that the acceptance of (ii) and (iii) as they stand would seem to imply that in certain vital aspects of their Constitutional development no further evolution of the individual States of the Commonwealth is possible.
  2. With regard to the first proposition, it would be impossible for any Government in Saorstát Éireann to express an unqualified desire to remain a Member of the British Commonwealth of Nations whilst Ireland remains a partitioned nation. On the other hand, the Government of Saorstát Éireann would regard the removal of the inequalities of the Treaty position and the acceptance of the association of Saorstát Éireann with the Commonwealth in a manner consistent with Ireland's history and aspirations as definite steps towards the desired unity and the establishment of friendly relations between Ireland and Great Britain.
  3. With regard to a departure from the provisions of the Articles of Agreement mentioned in paragraph 2 of the United Kingdom Government's Note, it need only be said that the evolution in the status of the Members of the Commonwealth which has taken place since the Articles of Agreement were signed has created an entirely new situation; these Articles of Agreement have been gradually replaced by legislation in the Irish Parliament based on declared principles of co-equality. It is on the basis of these principles also that the new Constitution about to be presented to the people has been drawn up. The Articles of Agreement postulated control of the Irish Parliament by the British Parliament. Until that situation was ended no approach to a final settlement between the peoples of the two countries could be made.
  4. The Government of Saorstát Éireann fully endorse the hope expressed by the United Kingdom Government that there may be a fuller development of co-operation in all matters of common concern between them, and they share the belief that such co-operation would be in the mutual interests of both peoples.

1 MacDonald's memorandum not printed

2 Marginal notes: 'Approved by President S.M., 23/4/37.'; 'Handed to Mr. MacDonald by Mr. Dulanty on 27 April, 1937' (by Sheila Murphy).

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