No. 198 NAI DFA 26/60

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(S. 5/10/7) (Secret)

Geneva, 23 June 1933


I have received your telegram No. 43.1 As I have reported from time to time I think that the prospects of securing the two-thirds necessary for re-eligibility are slight, and although I have had a very friendly reception from many delegates I am not able to recommend the Minister to take a decision now to put forward our candidature on that basis. It would seem that an immediate decision is forced by the Australian request, and if the Minister feels that to be the case I would not press the continuance of a campaign for re-eligibility.

I trust, however, that this will not be regarded as abandoning the possibility of re-election in the following year.

I presume that the Minister has considered the question of supporting Australia. I agree that it might be difficult in view of our relationship with Australia and the other Members of the Commonwealth if we were openly to oppose. It seems to me that the Australian Government's decision is due entirely to the personal influence and the personal ambition of Mr. Bruce, High Commissioner at London. As High Commissioner, however, he will be able to give comparatively little time to the League beyond attending the Council sessions, and furthermore, on practically all important political issues it is to be feared that Australia will be nothing more than a second British voice. I do not think that will be a good thing for the League or for the Commonwealth. If Australia did succeed in being elected it would seriously affect our prospects of getting back to the Council before South Africa, New Zealand and Canada have followed her.

I should frankly be glad if Australia failed to be elected, as is possible. I do not think we should work for her as we did for Canada six years ago,2 and I also doubt very much if it would be the right thing for us to vote for her. The final decisions, especially with regard to voting, might, perhaps, be left until September, but I believe that if the Minister informs Australia that we will support her that she will use this statement in her propaganda, and Irish support would be of very considerable value to her, but would, in my opinion, reflect unfavourably on our own national interest in international affairs. If the Minister will take this view he may be able to send some kind of friendly but non-committal telegram. It would be obviously better to telegraph and not to write as one can say nothing without offence more easily in a telegram than in a letter.

I shall keep you informed of any changes in the position with regard to other candidates and would be very glad to know the Minister's decision.

[signed] Seán Lester

1 Not printed.

2 See DIFP Volume III, No. 119.

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