No. 248 NAI DT S1801I

William T. Cosgrave to Justice Richard Feetham (London)

Dublin, 10 July 1924

Dear Mr Justice Feetham

My Ministers and myself have given careful consideration to the suggestion made by you at our recent interview, namely, that an open conference should take place between Sir James Craig and myself in your presence as to areas of consultation and methods of consultation on either side of the Boundary with a view to arriving at an agreement and to restricting the scope of the Commission to giving formal effect to any agreement so reached. Several conferences have already taken place, and my Government have shown the keenest desire to arrive at a friendly agreement, but I am compelled to say that not only has no agreement been arrived at, but no progress has been made in that direction. Great delay has already taken place in the carrying out of Article 12 of the Treaty, and this delay has already been the subject of discussion in the Dáil. My Government consider that any further conferences, such as you suggest, would only lead to further delay, and they are satisfied that neither the people nor the Dáil would approve or countenance any such delay.

We further consider that any such conferences would necessarily involve the raising and debate of various political questions, the discussion of which would certainly not assist you in the difficult judicial functions which you have to perform.

I may also point out that it is very questionable to what extent, if any, an agreement between Sir James Craig and myself or between the two Governments can control the provisions of Article 12 of the Treaty, which provides for the determination of the Boundary in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants so far as may be compatible with economic and geographical conditions. The governing factor in the minds of those who negotiated the Treaty was that in the event of the address mentioned in Article 12 being presented, the inhabitants of those disputed areas should elect whether they would remain subject to the control of the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland or would come under the jurisdiction of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State. The function of the Commission is to ascertain those wishes and determine the Boundary in accordance therewith, and it appears to us that no further delay should be allowed to take place in having the Commission set up for this purpose.

After the Commission has been constituted, my Government will carefully consider any suggestions made either by the Commission or by the Government of Northern Ireland with a view to reducing and facilitating the work of the Commission, but, pending the constitution of the Commission, they do not see their way to accept the proposal which you have made to me.

Sincerely yrs,
(signed) L.T. MacCosgair

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