No. 195 NAI DFA Secretary's Files S94/39

Memorandum on co-operation with Northern Ireland from John Leydon to Seán Lemass (Dublin)

Dublin, 10 June 1938


In the course of a discussion yesterday with Mr. Jenkins (Board of Trade), Mr. Braddock (U.K. Trade Commissioner), and Messrs. Scott and Parr (Secretary and Assistant Secretary respectively to the Ministry of Commerce, Belfast), I referred to the question of co-operation between the Government here and the Government in Northern Ireland on matters of common concern. I mentioned in particular the question of a link between the existing electricity system here and the system in the North which would be mutually advantageous; the present position on this matter is that the Electricity Supply Board and the Electricity Board in the North have agreed, with our knowledge and approval, to have it examined generally by their Technical Advisers. Mr. Scott agreed that this was a matter which offered a prospect of useful co-operation which would be mutually beneficial to North and South and said that he personally would welcome an arrangement which would provide a link between the two systems.

I then went on to refer to the hydro electric possibilities of the River Erne; while making it clear that I was not speaking with Governmental authority, I suggested that it also was a matter on which there might usefully be cooperation between the two Governments. The catchment area is in Northern Ireland and the Falls are at Ballyshannon, so that the Power Station must be located on this side of the Border if the River is to be used for the generation of power. I suggested that as the two Governments are concerned in any question regarding a hydro electric scheme for the Erne and as both could use the power which could be generated there the scheme is one which offers the possibility of co-operation and is therefore suitable for joint examination and investigation. Mr. Scott said that he also was in favour of co-operation in connection with such a scheme and he promised to look into it immediately on his return to Belfast1.

I then mentioned the question of Unemployment Insurance on which it has not hitherto been found possible to secure anything in the nature of a reciprocal arrangement. I suggested to Mr. Scott that this also might form a basis of discussion between the Departments concerned on both sides. He promised to make this suggestion to the appropriate Minister in Belfast.

Mr. Scott enquired whether it would be possible to make any concession for bricks manufactured at two small brick factories (which he thought are located in Dungannon and Enniskillen); these factories could probably do a small trade across the Border if they got some tariff concession and they would be unlikely to do serious injury to any Irish industry. I told him that we have a large number of brick manufacturers here and that some of them are at present having a very lean time, but I said that if he would give me fuller particulars regarding his proposal I would have it examined and would let him know whether anything could be done.

1 The construction of the Erne hydro-electric scheme was approved in Dublin in 1943 and in Belfast in 1946; construction began in 1952 and the scheme was completed in 1957.

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