Volume 2 1922~1926

Doc No.

No. 230 NAI DT S1983

Notes of a meeting at the Colonial Office (London) on the appointment of an Irish Minister at Washington
(Confidential) (Copy)

London, 21 June 1924

Notes of Conversation at the Colonial Office on Saturday the 21st June 1924.


Mr. D. FitzGerald, T.D. (in the chair.)

Lord Arnold,

Sir C.J.B. Hurst, K.C.B., K.C.,

Sir C.T. Davis, K.C.M.G.,

Mr. L. Curtis,

Mr. E.J. Harding, C.M.G.,

Mr. Murphy,

Mr. C.W. Dixon.

It was made clear at the outset that, while the British Government had undertaken to approach the United States Government with a view to the appointment of a Free State Minister at Washington, and would use their best endeavours to obtain the concurrence of the United States Government, it was not possible to give any guarantee that the latter would accept the proposal. Mr. FitzGerald stated that this was fully understood.

As regards the status of the Free State Representative the following conclusions were reached:-

  1. While the Free State Minister would be the official channel of communication with the United States Government for dealing with matters exclusively affecting the Free State, the principles of the resolution of the Imperial Conference of 1923 as to the negotiation, signature and ratification of Treaties and in particular of that part of the Resolution which relates to the conduct of matters affecting more than one part of the Empire would apply generally to all questions with which he dealt, and the Ambassador would in the same way keep the Irish Free State Minister informed of any matters which might affect the Irish Free State. If any doubt should arise whether any particular question exclusively concerned the Free State, the point would, if possible, be settled by consultation between the Free State Minister and the British Ambassador. If the matter could not be settled by such consultation, it would be referred to the British Government and the Free State Govt.

  2. In order to meet the possibility that any particular question might in its initial stages be exclusively of concern to the Free State and might subsequently prove to be of concern to other parts of the Empire, the Free State Minister would keep in close contact with the British Ambassador.

  3. While the Free State Minister would not purport to deal with matters affecting the Empire as a whole, the assistance of the British Ambassador and the Embassy staff would always be at his disposal, if desired. The Ambassador would not, however, be in any way responsible for action taken by the Free State Minister, nor would the latter be in any way subject to the Ambassador's control.

As regards the credentials to be issued (see Draft furnished to the Free State Government in the Secretary of State's Confidential Despatch of the 24th April1) Mr. FitzGerald asked for consideration of the following points.

Take another act of Parliament. Consultation with the other Dominions   Whether in His Majesty's title in the heading to the draft credentials retention of the words 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland' was essential whilst the law remains as at present.
Ommited   Whether some formula might be found in placeOmitted of the words 'to attach him to our Embassy' in the first paragraph of the draft.
Omit counter-signature.   Whether in view of the practice as regards certainOmit counter- documents relating to the negotiation, signature and ratification of Treaties, the counter-signature of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was necessary.

Mr. FitzGerald agreed that it was desirable that a copy of the letter of instructions issued to the Free State Minister at Washington should be communicated to the British Government. Sir C.[ecil] Hurst expressed a similar opinion as regards any instructions sent to the British Ambassador.

As regards the method of raising the matter with the United States Government, Mr. FitzGerald stated that the Free State Government would prefer that a formal communication should be made to the United States Government without any preliminary informal enquiry.

It was agreed that the draft of the necessary communication to the United States Government should be prepared for consideration at a further meeting to be held on Monday the 23rd June at 5 p.m.

1Not printed.