No. 158 NAI DT S3439

Diarmuid O’Hegarty to Eoin MacNeill (London)

DUBLIN, 3 November 1923

A Chara,

Your letter of the 26th ultimo to Mr. O'Higgins1 was read at to-day's meeting of the Executive Council, and I was instructed to send you a reply.


(a) Your view on the question of the adoption of resolutions by the Imperial Conference was agreed to by the Ministry.

(b) We received confidentially from Mr. Loughnane a copy of a draft address to the King, which they propose to adopt at the termination of the Conference. This document is of course very confidential, and I gather that it was not the intention to consult the Members of the Conference individually in its regard. We have suggested the following alterations to Mr. Loughnane:-

(1) That the opening sentence, which reads 'We the Prime Ministers and other representatives of the British Empire etc.' should be altered to read 'We the Prime Ministers and other representatives of the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations, etc.'

(2) That all references to the Throne should be replaced by references to the Crown, and

(3) That the phrase 'Many and serious problems which confront the Empire' should be altered to read 'many and serious problems which confront the British Commonwealth'.

While we have indicated these changes to Mr. Loughnane we have also suggested to him that in view of Parliament reopening on the 14th instant, it is possible that none of our delegates will be present when the address is moved. The President asked me to mention this matter to you so that, if you consider it desirable, you could indicate to Mr. King that we had made the suggestion of introducing the phrase 'British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations' in future reference to what is now generally known as the 'British Empire'.

(c) The Cabinet noted that you had intended to return on Tuesday, but I have subsequently been given to understand that your return may be delayed for another day or two. In connection with this matter we will be glad to know what are Mr. FitzGerald's intentions with regard to his stay. We presume that unless there is something of importance to be dealt with at the remaining meetings of the Conference - which would necessitate his remaining - he would desire to return with you.



You will have seen in the Press that certain information regarding the proposed Conference was allowed to leak out either in Belfast or in London, that the question of the Boundary Commission was raised yesterday on the adjourn- ment by Mr. Milroy,2 and that the President replied. On yesterday evening, following Sir James Craig's statement that he had accepted the invitation to the Conference without conditions, we asked the British Government to agree to the publication of the documents in this morning's papers. The Duke of Devonshire replied to the effect that in consultation with the Home Secretary he had authorised the issue of the official communique, the text of which appears in this morning's papers, and that he hoped in view of this publication that we would not insist on the publication of the full text of the correspondence for a few days. We represented that this action had rendered matters difficult here and asked whether there was any grave reason, in view of Sir James Craig's statement, for further withholding publication. We also regretted that we had not been consulted before the communique was issued by Downing Street. A reply was received at a late hour last night, in which they said there was no intention of breaking faith in the matter, that they had drafted the communique hurriedly, with a view to stopping press misrepresentations, and that they thought it would be desirable to defer publication of the full correspondence for a few days.

In view of this and of your early return, and in view also of the fact that our position was made pretty clear in the President's reply to Mr. Milroy, we thought it as well not to press for publication until you return. The British have been informed accordingly, and I send you this information so that you may be abreast of recent developments.

The Cabinet have considered very carefully the question of urging the holding of a preliminary meeting at an early date, but in view of the new 'Protection' issue and of the probable developments within the British political arena, which may be expected to manifest themselves within the next week or two, they feel that the preliminary Conference would be somewhat in the nature of a 'Marking Time' business, and might be turned to political use by either of the opposing parties in Great Britain. For this reason they think it better that we should not make any definite move in the matter until the situation clarifies itself somewhat. If there is a probability of a General Election in January, it is unlikely that the main Conference could usefully be held before then.



When Mr. FitzGerald left last week he was to consult you as to whether the present was a suitable time to move in the matter of the Registration of the Treaty with the League of Nations. We have not heard whether he has taken any action in the matter, and perhaps you will ask him to send me a note for the information of the Ministers here.

Mise, le meas,
[initialled] D O HÉ

1Not printed.

2Seán Milroy, TD for Cavan (1921-25).

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