No. 85 NAI DT S2027

Memorandum to each member of the Executive Council
by Kevin O’Shiel (Dublin)
(Strictly Confidential)

DUBLIN, 22 May 1923


1. The resignation of Mr. Bonar Law from the Premiership has created a position which the Government would be well advised to watch closely, in particular with regard to its North-Eastern policy.

2. I am of opinion that the best course for the Government to adopt is to stay its hands in making any move towards acquainting the British of our intentions with regard to Article 12 of the Treaty until the present indefinite position of the British Government is cleared up and until we see exactly what its new personnel is likely to be.

3. The success of the Boundary Commission depends so much on there being good men in power in England at this stage - men, not necessarily favourable to us, but prepared to deal straightly and honourably with us.

It is invidious to prophesy but judging from his antecedents and his close touch and frequently avowed friendship with 'Ulster' Lord Curzon would not be a suitable person in power for our purposes. He would appear to be too much committed to Craig to make it easy for him, even if he so desired, to deal impartially in this matter.

Lord Balfour would be better as he is less rigid and narrow than Curzon and can always be relied upon to throw any side over board once he is convinced that there is danger to the Empire in adhering thereto.

(N.B. I think we will succeed in convincing him of this according as the Boundary Question develops.)

4. The best alterations for us under the circumstances would be the taking into the British Government of the Conservative signatories to the Treaty, viz., Mr. Austen Chamberlain, Lord Birkenhead and Sir Robert Horne. It appears highly probable that some, if not all, of these persons will be brought in to strengthen the British Government, as it is very much in need of new blood.

5. No harm can be done to our cause by holding our hands until things take definite shape across the water.

Were we to reveal our hands at this critical moment by despatching the preliminary letter to the British Government we might influence against us the future personnel and complexion of the British Government, whereas if we remain quiet for the moment persons well-disposed towards us may be given positions of prominence that would make them helpful to us in the reformed Administration.

Assistant Legal Adviser

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