No. 6 UCDA P150/2349

Handwritten report by John W. Dulanty on talks between Eamon de Valera and Malcolm MacDonald (London)

London, 14 January 1937

Early in the evening conversation with the President on the 14th January Mr. MacDonald referred to those confidential observations of the President's during the morning of that day (on the new Constitution) which were meant for him alone and not, as yet, for the British Cabinet. On exactly the same basis of strict confidence he wished to explain that they had been considering the question of a private talk with Lord Craigavon.

As he had already told us, his hope was that his colleagues would say that, so far as they were concerned, we had satisfied the requirements - albeit to a minimum degree only - of Commonwealth membership.

Now whether or not that decision was reached the British were very anxious to avoid as much as ever possible controversial attacks on questions between Great Britain and us by the Six County Government and its supporters. They had therefore considered making representations privately to Lord Craigavon. How far they could succeed with this gentleman they could not say. They were however convinced that it would be of no avail for them to talk to anyone else in the Northern Cabinet. Craigavon was by a long way more open to reason than were his colleagues.

They had however learnt lately that Craigavon would next week sail for New Zealand and would be away for several months. In these circumstances Mr. Baldwin had asked him to call at Downing St when passing through London. Friends of many years standing they seldom or never missed seeing each other whenever Lord Craigavon came to London and it was thought that no special significance would be attached to their coming together again.

Mr. Baldwin would first suggest avoidance of political controversy in the hope of persuading Lord Craigavon to his view and then try to get him similarly to persuade his Cabinet. That done and provided the atmosphere of the talk was favourable he was resolved to open up with Craigavon the question of a United Ireland. This part of the conversation finished with an exhortation from Mr. MacDonald that the strictest secrecy should be observed with regard to it.

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