No. 238 NAI DFA 26/75

Letter from Frederick H. Boland to Seán Murphy (Dublin)

Geneva, 17 September 1934

Dear Assistant Secretary,

Since the President's speech at the plenary session of the Assembly on the 12th inst.,1 we have settled down to the usual committee work.

So far as we can judge from the English, French, Swiss and other newspapers, the President's speech has been very well received everywhere. Neither the 'Osservatore Romano' nor the 'Avennire' appear to have made any special comment on it, but so far as we can see, the President's reference in his speech to the desirability of obtaining guarantees of religious liberty from the Soviet Government has created a most favourable impression in Catholic circles generally. The curious thing is that the speech seems to have pleased everybody, both those who are in favour of Russia's entry into the League and those who are against it; and a great many people here are loud in their praises of the tact and delicacy with which the President publicly discussed the question of Russia's entry into the League at a moment at which the private, hotel-bedroom conversations on the subject were at a peculiarly difficult and delicate stage. I think the 'Journal de Genève' was right when it said that the practical effect of the speech was to bring about a dètente in the atmosphere of strained anxiety which the secret conversations had been responsible for creating.

The President is on the Sixth and Second Committees, but the former is likely to absorb so much of his time as to make it impossible for him to attend to the latter. He proposes to take part in the discussion of the Russian question when it comes before the Sixth Committee this afternoon. He will also intervene in the discussions in the Sixth Committee on the Polish Minorities proposal, the Bolivian-Paraguay dispute, and the question of Slavery. He may have a point or two to raise on the question of the League Mandates. He was asked this morning to accept the rapporteurship on the Polish minorities proposal. I was rather in favour of his accepting it, but Frank2 and John3 were of the other way of thinking on the grounds that the job was not one for a delegate who is Head of a Government, and that the offer was probably suggested by the Chairman of the Committee, Madariaga, who hoped that the President would accept it was an atonement of Madariaga's insincerity in connection with the election of the Chairman of the Committee. There was a great deal to be said for this view which commended itself to the President. He decided accordingly not to accept the position.

Since his speech in the Assembly on Wednesday, the President has been fairly busy with interviews. Jaspar, the Belgian Foreign Minister, called to see him on Thursday and discussed principally Belgo-Irish trade. The Turkish Foreign Minister called the same day, principally to canvass the President's vote for Turkey's candidature for a seat on the Council. M. Benes4 also sought an interview with the President, with the object of sounding him as to what line of action he would take with regard to the admission of Russia if that question were referred to the Sixth Committee, as the President had insisted in his speech that it should be. The same day the President called to see M. Sandler, who is the President of the Assembly, and discussed the question with him. Sir John Simon called on the President on Friday night, just before his departure for London. In addition to these interviews, there have been the usual number of press interviews, deputations from women's organisations, and so on.

The British have promoted several meetings of Commonwealth delegates to discuss various matters before the Assembly. We didn't attend any of them, and we understand that several of them broke down owing to the adoption of a similar attitude by some of the other delegations concerned. A Commonwealth meeting was held today, however, with Mr. Bennett of Canada in the chair to discuss economic matters, and the President directed me to attend it in the capacity of an observer. The meeting was of a purely technical character, but the British are obviously concerned to secure the adoption of a common attitude by the various Commonwealth delegations in case one of the matters likely to be discussed at the Second Committee (namely, the application of the most-favoured-nation clause to multilateral preferential agreements) should give rise to discussion as to the application of the clause to preferences granted to one another by the members of the Commonwealth.

Frank gave a dinner party on Saturday night which furnished an opportunity for a long conversation between the President and Mr. Louw.5 Mr. Bennett has expressed a desire to have a long talk with the President before he leaves Geneva. We are giving a lunch on Thursday; among the people who have so far accepted invitations are Messrs. Barthou, Bennett, Hambro, Anthony Eden, as well as Sir James Parr6 and the Dutch and Austrian Foreign Ministers. Mr. Bruce, who came to the President after his speech in the Assembly to tell him that he agreed with every word of it, will not be here on the date in question, but his note declining the invitation was in peculiarly cordial terms.

Vivion7 is better and will come down here on tonight's train from Paris.

There is nothing else to report for the moment. We are very short-staffed, both in respect of Ministers and officials. I imagine that the President will be in favour of taking a somewhat larger delegation with him if he comes down here next year.

Kindest regards,
Yours sincerely,
[signed] F.H. Boland

P.S. Pardon the typing, which I am doing myself.

1 See above No. 236.

2 Francis T. Cremins.

3 John J. Hearne.

4 Edvard Beneš

5 Eric Hendrik Louw (1890-1968), South African Representative to League of Nations.

6 Sir Christopher James Parr (1869-1941), New Zealand High Commissioner to London (1926-39).

7 Vivion de Valera (1910-1982), son of Eamon de Valera.

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