No. 318 NAI DFA 26/102

Michael MacWhite to W.T. Cosgrave

Geneva, 4 September 1922

A Chara,
The following arguments in favour of the admission of Ireland to Membership of the League of Nations would, if presented to Mr Lloyd George, be very likely to make an impression on him.

The public recognition of Ireland's International status which would be secured by her admission to the League would be of enormous value as regards the rapid solution of our Internal difficulties. It would be the most convincing argument which the Free State Government could use to prove that the Treaty really gave Ireland full nationhood and made her the equal of the Free Nations of the world. It would constitute a proof against which the irreconcilables could advance no reply, that the Treaty was not only satisfactory but genuine, and that there was no trick or possibility of bad faith behind it. In the face of this international fact our extremists are put out of court.

Although this may seem to exaggerate the real effect which would be produced in Ireland it is I am convinced the line of argument which would impress Mr Lloyd George and which he, in his turn, could use to the House of Commons. It should be pressed on him as strongly as possible. His preoccupation will naturally be the H.[ouse] of C[ommons].

The further stage in the argument should therefore be that if the essential clauses of the Constitution have been approved by the Irish Parliament and had been twice recognised by the English Cabinet as being within the four corners of the Treaty he was bound by the spirit of his letter to President Griffith to support Ireland's admission to the League, more than ever bound if the responsible Government of the Free State urged that such admission would help in the fulfilment of the Treaty. England is bound by the Treaty as much as Ireland. She is therefore morally bound to take every step which will help to secure for the Treaty its full effect.

Technically, Mr Lloyd George's promise was to support Ireland's admission after the approval of her Constitution by the Dail and the British Parliament. But if the British Parliament cannot alter the Constitution if it does not go outside the Treaty, and if the British Cabinet has twice recognised that, as adopted, it does not, then, it would be an act on the part of England tending to put difficulties in the way of the fulfilment of the Treaty if she refuses to support Ireland's admission at the moment when it is of the most vital importance to her Government.

England is morally bound, and it is to her advantage, to get the Treaty fully operative as soon as possible. If she can help the Free State Government in its task by supplying a convincing answer to the suspicion of England's good faith which is the only argument of substance on the side of those who oppose the Treaty, the English Government has surely a good case to present to the House of Commons in favour of such action.

If definite action is not taken now Ireland's International status will remain indefinite for another twelve months, and during that period it will be impossible for the Irish Government to use one of its strongest arguments against those who oppose the Treaty.

If, on the other hand, the passing of the essential clauses of the Constitution through the Dail will not convince Mr Lloyd George of the necessity for supporting an application for the immediate admission of Ireland to Membership of the League then, the question of conditional admission may be put to him. In this case the admission to become effective as soon as the Constitution is ratified by the English and Irish Houses of Parliament. I do not see how any objection could be forthcoming to this from the English side but I am not quite clear as to how such an application would be received by the League. I have asked the Law Department for information on this subject and hope to have a reply by to-morrow.

I am to meet the S. African Delegate (Mr Walton) and also the representatives of Canada and Australia in the next few days and I shall sound them on the foregoing matters. I intend, as well, to get the views of as many League Delegates as possible .

The work of the League Assembly may be terminated by the 25th of this month, but if Mr Lloyd George puts in an appearance it may last much longer.

I shall keep you informed of fresh developments, if any, from day to day.

Is mise, le meas,
M[ichael] MacWhite


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