No. 640 NAI DFA 27/18A

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(S.7/11/57) (Secret)

Geneva, 5 March 1932

I enclose a report of a meeting of Commonwealth delegates on 2nd instant. Mr. Hearne, who is going to Dublin tomorrow night, will be able to give you a much better appreciation of the atmosphere and climax than is possible by writing.

Before the meeting we had come to the conclusion that it was most undesirable that the Irish delegate should be entirely passive if the special Assembly came under discussion. I felt that my contributions might very well have been regarded as helpful, even though not always in keeping with Simon's views.

We noticed one or two remarks which might, we thought, have been intended for us. But the crowning indiscretion came as a great surprise to me. I took up the challenge without the loss of a second, but when Simon offered 'explanations' and apologies I formally accepted them, at the same time showing that my resentment was deep.

I went to Simon's room and he showed me one or two telegrams reporting on Japanese public feeling but this, I regarded, merely as a conciliatory gesture. During my private interview I several times stressed the outrageous inferences of Simon's remark and I did not quite believe him when he said he was not thinking of me but of General Brink!!

Every British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has to learn that Ireland is not a 'dummy' at the League and I am satisfied that Sir John Simon has learned his lesson.

It is to be said for him that he is new to the work, has been carrying a tremendous burden, and is, like others, suffering from fatigue and anxiety. He came to Mr. Hearne the following morning (I was unwell) and hoped I had clearly understood he had not meant to say anything in any way derogatory.

I may add that my general forecast of Assembly feeling has been fully justified by the first two days' discussion.

[signed] Seán Lester

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