No. 496 NAI DT S3355

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Diarmuid O'Hegarty (Dublin)

Dublin, 20 December 1930

The Minister had learned from our representative at Washington that the State Department is very anxious that our ratification of the Naval Treaty should be put through at once. In fact, delay on our part at this stage is likely to be regarded as unfriendly by them. It was the Minister's intention on this occasion to institute a change in the procedure for sealing documents of this character. In the past Ratifications and Full Powers were sealed with the Great Seal of the United Kingdom. The Seal was released on a warrant signed by the King and sealed by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Such a procedure was recognised at the Imperial Conference to be out of harmony with the present constitutional position but no agreed alternative could be decided upon. South Africa and the Saorstát informed the Conference that in their view it was a matter for the individual Government to decide what procedure should be followed. In addition the Saorstát informed the Conference that if our Government used seals in future the seals used would be those of the Irish Free State. The use of the Great Seal of the United Kingdom on international documents has statutory authority in relation to Great Britain only.

The Great Seal of the Saorstát has not yet been used for international documents, but there seems to be no reason why such a convention should not be initiated at any time. Foreign Governments are indifferent to the method by which the identification of a particular international document is secured. It is entirely a matter for the Government concerned. In the present circumstances, especially in view of the almost impatient anxiety of the United States Government, the Minister has come to the conclusion that it would be better to defer any modification of the existing practice until the next treaty comes up for ratification. He will be very glad if a meeting of the Executive Council can be arranged at once for the purpose of obtaining the formal sanction of the Executive Council. The situation demands urgent action.

[signed] J.P. Walshe

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