No. 171 UCDA P150/2511

Handwritten notes by de Valera on the 1938 agreement

23 April 1938

On board Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire Mailboat

Everything that makes for a better understanding between people is to be welcomed - particularly in the world conditions of today.

The Agreement which has just been signed between the representatives of the Irish and British peoples will I believe be universally received in that spirit. It removes the existing, and the more dangerous potential causes of quarrel between the two countries - all except one. Unfortunately that one outstanding, the partition of our national territory, is that on which the I. people feel most keenly. I confess that it is somewhat of a heartbreak that it has not been possible to include this question also and wipe the whole slate clean. However the agreement that has been reached can hardly fail to be a step even towards the solution of partition. I am confident that the work which has been done today will not be allowed to remain marred by this omission and now that partition has been isolated as the one remaining obstacle to a final reconciliation between the two nations the efforts of all people of good will will be directed towards removing it.

I repeat what I have been saying for nearly a quarter of a century. Gt. Britain has nothing to fear - nothing to lose but everything to gain from having as her neighbour a completely free independent Ireland and that the wisest Br. Statesmanship will make that conviction the basis of its policy. It is a matter of great satisfaction to me that the Br. Gov. of Today are acting on that view so far as the present agreement. My anxiety is that they should not stop short of what is necessary to make the policy effective.

[matter omitted]1

I am aware that the friendly interest of the American nation in seeing an ending of the age-old [blank]2 has been an important factor in making this agreement possible. I may perhaps express the hope that that interest will remain active until the full solution is reached - and a completely free united Ireland.

I believe that the agreement will prove to be advantageous to both countries and I think I can confidently recommend its acceptance to ours.

Prepared on boat from Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire and said to Press on board at Dún Laoghaire.

1 The omitted matter is a repetition in rough draft form of the text reproduced in the paragraph above.

2 De Valera left out a word or words at this point.

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