No. 399 NAI 2003/17/181

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe on the necessity for the immediate
meeting of parliament

Dublin, 10 December 1936


Suggestions have been made to us by the British Government as to the kind of reply the Attorney-General might be forced to give in the House of Commons if he were asked what the position of the Irish Free State would be during the interval between the passing of the British Act confirming the abdication and the passing of a similar Act in Dáil Éireann. His general line would be that it could be held on looking at the law and interpreting the Constitution, especially Article 51, that the King of the United Kingdom was the King in the Irish Free State within the meaning of the Irish Free State Constitution until the Dáil otherwise provided. Such an answer made on such authority would cause serious detriment to our position as established in the Statute of Westminster. Indeed, if it were accepted as a Constitutional convention it would destroy the effect of the renunciation in the Statute of Westminster that the British have no right to legislate for the other Members of the Commonwealth without their request and consent. We are taking the position that our Parliament alone can legislate for our people, and if we do not get our legislation through simultaneously with or before the British legislation the British would be in a strong position because they could say that it was the new King who was giving his Assent to the abdication of his predecessor, whereas it is held that the Act legalising the abdication of the present King requires his own Assent. It could be said, on the other hand, that if our legislation is postponed until some time after the British legislation has been completed, a separate Monarchy, still under Edward VIII, existed here, but it is unlikely that with our resources we could make this theory prevail over the British theory.

[initialled] J.P.W.

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