No. 60 NAI 2006/39

Handwritten letter from Joseph P. Walshe to John W. Dulanty (London)

Dublin, 21 May 1937

My Dear John,

An official letter on the constitution and its consequences would take some time to get to you as the President is very busy with his preparations for the Committee stage.

Here however are some unofficial considerations which you could certainly use in your chats with the Dominion Ministers or others whose good will you want to secure.

  1. The constitution marks a completely new stage in our relations with G. B. It is not the final stage of the long process of reconciliation. Only the unity of Ireland will bring that. But for the first time we have written down for ourselves by ourselves the fundamental law which is to govern the whole corporate existence of our people. In that fundamental law we have freely provided for the King. True he does not occupy the same formal position as in the other States of the Commonwealth, but that does not detract one iota from the essential fact that he is King of Ireland and is definitely declared so to be by Act 58 of 1936 (12th December). The law can be changed at any time if the people desire it. But the position in South Africa is juridically precisely the same. Our President, however, has special powers of holding up Bills and should the Dáil suddenly take the revolutionary step of repealing 58 of 36 the Senate and the President would undoubtedly make sure that the issue would go to the people by way of referendum. The very fact that the King's position is specifically secured by an Act of Parliament makes it infinitely more secure than if it were secured by some external agency. For the first time in our whole history we have of ourselves accepted the King's position. If the British are wise they will let things be.
  2. Co-operation now becomes possible. We have put it beyond the legal power of the British to regard us as their ***1, their thing. If they respect our absolute right to dispose of ourselves they have us as their friends for ever. I believe that it is for them a much more important turning point than it is for us. For them it is a great opportunity lost through allowing old prejudices to blind them. As far as we are concerned we are not going to be deterred by what can only be another example of England's desire to dominate over us.

The P. said on Thursday that we had a common interest in the defence of this country - that we should call upon their aid and accept it in a struggle against a foreign aggressor. Nothing so important has been said with approval since the establishment of the Saorstát. Doesn't that solve the whole defence question? Fisher's statement about the money being a big difficulty seems grotesque before the acceptance by the strongest Irish Leader of our times of such a principle. Do get them to see light on this point. Why will they be blind where we are concerned and so farseeing when they are dealing with purely foreign peoples. From the propaganda point of view alone agreement with us on this vital issue (with all the implications in America and Commonwealth) would be worth millions. Who is the enemy in their camp? Is it Harding? Or is it some politician. I must let this rough note go. The formula will reach you definitely in a few days.


1 One word illegible.

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