No. 148 NAI DT S1983A

Diarmuid O’Hegarty to Eoin MacNeill (London)

DUBLIN, 19 October 1923

A Chara,

Further to my letter of 17th instant,1 the President has asked me to elaborate somewhat his views regarding an Ambassador at Washington.

On May 10, 1920, Mr. Bonar Law announced in the British House of Commons that it had been agreed 'that His Majesty, on the advice of His Canadian Ministers, shall appoint a Minister Plenipotentiary who will have charge of Canadian affairs and will be at all times the ordinary channel of communication with the United States Government in matters of purely Canadian concern, acting upon instructions from and reporting direct to the Canadian Government. In the absence of the Ambassador the Canadian Minister will take charge of the whole Embassy and of the representation of Imperial as well as Canadian interests. He will be accredited by His Majesty to the President with the necessary powers for the purpose. This new arrangement will not denote any departure either on the part of the British Government or of the Canadian Government from the principle of the diplomatic unity of the British Empire'.

This declaration appears to establish the constitutional right of Canada to appoint Ministers-Plenipotentiary empowered to deal with purely Canadian matters, and hence an effort on our part to establish a similar right would not have the appearance of breaking new ground. The fact that a Canadian Minister has not yet been appointed is attributed in some quarters to an objection on the part of Canada to the proposition that he would be charged with the representation of Imperial interests in the absence of the Ambassador[,] with the implication of subordinate status.

A Minister-Plenipotentiary at Washington would be of great value to us in many directions. In the first place it would add to the national dignity and be a manifestation to our people here that our status is what we claim it to be and not what the Irregulars pretend. This fact would in addition be made clear to our people in the United States and would tend to dispel the misapprehensions which have been created by Irregular propaganda and thus close down a source of revenue and moral support to the Irregulars.

Such an appointment would also, by reason of the diplomatic privileges which the holder would possess, enable us to deal more efficiently with a number of important matters of commercial interest to us and to the United States, e.g., tariffs on our products, as for example lace, cured fish, etc., financial accommodation in the event of our endeavouring to float external loans, and sundry other similar questions. In addition it would put us in a position to keep leaders of Irish opinion in the United States in close touch with our views and our policy here and thus to prevent the exploitation of the national spirit of the Irish race there by political adventurers.

This latter point is of general importance to all the partner States in the Commonwealth, as the hostile attitude to the Commonwealth which pre-Treaty events in Ireland have induced could thus be assuaged and the growth of a friendly feeling would have beneficial reactions all round.

I need hardly say that the considerations set out above are merely intended as general suggestions which would doubtless occur to you if you get any suitable opportunities for discussing the matter.

Mise, le meas,
[copy letter initialled] D O’hÉ
Rúnaí dón Ard Chomhairle

1No. 147 above.

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