No. 154 UCDA P150/2179

Handwritten letter from John W. Dulanty to Eamon de Valera enclosing a confidential report
(No. 9) (Secret)

London, 14 March 1938

Dear Taoiseach,

I am venturing to send the enclosed Secret Report Direct to you since at this stage you might think that preferable.

The British hope to send the complete statement in our pouch tomorrow (Tuesday) evening.

I am with great respect and esteem,

Yours sincerely,
JOHN W. Dulanty

(No. 9) (Secret)

In accordance with An Taoiseach's instructions on the telephone this afternoon I went to the House of Commons and told Mr. Malcolm MacDonald informally that it was almost certain that my Government would not be able to accept the proposals of the British Government made at the close of the conversations last week.

The provisions put forward late in the negotiations about our making big concessions to the North had made the proposals completely impossible for the Government of Éire.

It might well be that our people could have accepted the other items even though nothing had been done on the question of partition, but so long as the minority in the Six Counties is treated as it is today any concession to the Six Counties would be a sheer impossibility.

The statement on partition containing as it did nothing of a positive character was altogether inadequate.

I said that An Taoiseach was anxious to have as quickly as possible a letter enclosing a formal statement of the complete proposals, which statement he could circulate to the members of his Executive Council. At present he felt that even he had only received the proposals in a fragmentary form. He would like to have such a formal document before him when he would in reply convey a definite formal decision. An Taoiseach would arrange to try and agree on the form which the public statement by both Governments should take. He did not wish to add to the difficulties of the situation but, as he had stated at the plenary meeting, he was bound to reserve to himself complete freedom of action in regard to Partition. If no final decision was reached by St. Patrick's Day he would certainly in his usual annual messages on that day have to refer to Partition and the Northern question.

Mr. MacDonald expressed his great disappointment at what I said. He would begin immediately to draw up the proposals in such a form as would enable An Taoiseach to circulate them and reach a formal decision. He repeated his regret that the trade proposals about the North and the suggested statement on Partition were unacceptable. In regard to the former, he was afraid there was no possibility of their getting the proposed Agreement, as it now stood, through the House of Commons without that provision. On the proposed statement by the British Government on Partition, he emphasised that their position was very similar to that of An Taoiseach on the question of the ports in that the less they said publicly the more they could do if and when an Agreement were ratified. It was no expression of a merely pious hope but it was their firm purpose to take definite action with the Northern people if they could secure acceptance of the Agreement. I turned once more to the question of An Taoiseach's reference to Partition on St. Patrick's Day. Mr. MacDonald rejoined that that was of course clearly understood and the President was perfectly free to refer to Partition. In view, however, of the importance of trying to keep the right kind of atmosphere he sincerely hoped that care would be taken in any speeches or articles in the newspapers to refrain from expressions which might be embarrassing.

As an example of the need for care in what was said, especially by An Taoiseach's colleagues, he told me that Sir Thomas Inskip had met Mr. Pakenham in the street on Saturday last when the latter said that as usual the Northern people had 'busted the show'. The discussions, said Mr. Pakenham, were proceeding fairly satisfactorily and it looked as though an agreement might be reached when the North came in and dictated terms which made an agreement impossible. Sir Thomas Inskip said to Mr. MacDonald that he felt very upset. He thought after the battles they had had with the North and in which he had taken part it was very hard to be told that the North had dictated the terms, and he thought that Mr. Pakenham had been speaking with someone with inside knowledge. I said that I knew that Mr. Pakenham had consulted An Taoiseach about a lecture he was intending to deliver but I felt sure that An Taoiseach had said no more about the course of the negotiations than he had said to Press men in giving them general backgrounds. Mr. MacDonald said doubtless Mr. Pakenham put his own interpretation on what was said but he wished to do no more than cite it as an example of the need for care. Sir Thomas Inskip had been friendly all through and he was naturally anxious not to lose his support, as seemed probable when Sir Thomas Inskip spoke to him.

[signed] J.W. DULANTY
High Commissioner

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO