No. 198 NAI DT S1801E

Secret memorandum and covering note from E.M. Stephens to William T. Cosgrave relating to the London Boundary Conference

Dublin, 9 February 1924

A Dhuine Uasail,

From the notes which you gave me, I have made draft criticisms of the proposals for submission to the next meeting of the Conference, and now enclose draft for consideration.

I also enclose for consideration draft counter-proposal, based on the Treaty, outline of possible further concessions, which I think should be very reluctantly made, and outline of powers with which it would be impossible to interfere without injuring our status.

I return herewith your notes, the notes of the Minister for Home Affairs and Conference Proposals.1

Mise, le meas,
[signed] E.M. STEPHENS


S E C R E T.

February 8 1924


The policy of the Government of the Irish Free State has always been directed towards the creation of a united Ireland. It could only consider a suggestion for postponing the Boundary Commission if it was clearly shown that by doing so an opportunity would be afforded for a definite step being taken towards union.

From our examination of the present proposals we cannot see that any such step is suggested, nor do we think that even coupled with such a suggestion the proposals could be accepted by the Dâil.

Their general effect would be to give the Northern Parliament an absolute veto on legislation over services in the Free State, now under the control of the Oireachtas, which it is proposed to put under the control of a body which would only legislate by double majority. The machinery proposed seems unworkable and no suggestion is put forward as to what is to take place at the expiration of the suggested period.

Taking the proposals in order, our comments are as follows:-

  1. There is no indication of any purpose for fixing a period of one year for the duration of any working arrangement which may be come to between the two Governments, and such an arrangement would only lead to further feeling of uncertainty.
  2. It is not clear to whom these services would revert at the end of the year.
  3. Joint responsibility is necessarily only temporary and is a doubtful method even for a short period.
  4. The proposal for creating a joint legislative body is in itself practicable, but the powers now proposed are too few to justify the creation of a legislature.
  5. The 'double majority' plan is wholly unacceptable.
  6. Alternative sittings in Dublin and Belfast would not be possible.
  7. The postponement of the Boundary Commission on the basis of these proposals would be impossible, as it would not be accepted by the country.

1Not printed.

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