No. 196 NAI DT S1801D

Memorandum of notes made by William T. Cosgrave at the London Conference on the Boundary Question (Secret)

London, 2 February 1924

We have given long and careful consideration to the proposals which have been put before us - not because of any value in themselves or of any contributory advantage towards ultimate benefit to our country - but for the sole purpose of assuring our North-Eastern friends that it is our desire and our hope and our wish to bridge differences not of our making, and difficulties for which we have no direct or indirect responsibility.

The proposals as outlined did not justify us in submitting them to any one outside of the Executive Council, and no useful purpose is served in considering them.

They are relatively and substantially inferior to the proposals of a kindred character in the Act of 1920 - which was definitely repudiated by our people. Nor do they constitute any apology for non-fulfilment or delay in carrying out the provisions of the Treaty.

We think it desirable to say that partition in the Act of 1920 must be regarded in the light of the maximum demand of the Northern Government. This proposal had never been accepted by any person on behalf of the majority of the Irish people and was responsible for breaks in former conferences.

In essence, therefore, the majority of the Irish people had on all occasions on which the 26 county and 6 county distribution had been tabled definitely and finally rejected that form of solution.

We will not consider nor put before anybody of our people any proposal less workable in substance and reality than that which has been confirmed by the two Nations.

The proposals would vitiate the Constitution we have adopted and which has been sworn to by 108 elected representatives of our Parliament - and which the 109th would also swear to maintain but that he is detained in gaol in Great Britain. It has been sworn to by every member of our Senate.

We are not asked in these proposals to share our independence with the Parliament of Northern Ireland, but to limit our independence and to give the Northern Parliament a veto on our legislation and a share in our administration of services withheld from it.

In any proposals for accommodation we are satisfied no useful purpose can be served in experimenting on unknown paths. Negotiations on the basis of ultimate union, however attractively they may be staged, are of no avail if we know definitely that one of the three parties to this Conference is in advance committed to a policy against such an end.

Negotiations on the basis of a trial period of a given number of months or years are of no avail if there be no goodwill and earnest purpose on both sides to such an instrument to safeguard minorities and to placate objections on the part of minorities.

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