Volume 3 1926~1932

Doc No.

No. 431 NAI DFA 17/39

Letter from William J.B. Macaulay to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

New York, 23 September 1930

With reference to your minute of the 5th September (D.5911/1930),1 addressed to the Chargé d'Affaires, I have to inform you that I have to-day interviewed the British Consul General and discussed with him the whole question of my jurisdiction in this country.


I saw Sir Harry Armstrong in his two capacities: (1) as Doyen of the Consular Corps, and (2) as British Consul General. As to (1) he advised me as regards the conventions pertaining to my position vis-a-vis my colleagues here and so on.

The special work to be transferred from the British to ourselves falls briefly under three heads; we having already taken over, at least to a certain extent, the issuing of passports and deportation documents. (A) Compensation cases. These are cases where our Nationals are entitled to compensation for personal injuries under the laws of the various States, and, of the number dealt with by the British Consulate General at New York, I am informed that 50 per cent are Irish, and future cases, as well as those unsettled, are being referred here. (B) Estate cases. These are very numerous and very troublesome. I was shown at the British Consulate General a high pile of files dealing with these matters, and they propose to send these here too. (C) Distress cases, that is, cases where men abandon their wives and families, leaving them destitute and an endeavour is made to induce these people either to take out their families or to send remittances home for their support.

It is quite evident that the amount of work under (A) and (B) above is enormous, much more than I had anticipated. Sir Harry Armstrong informed me that his senior Consul did nothing else but handle these matters, and in our case, it must be remembered that in addition to the number referred here by the British Consul General at New York, we shall also have these cases referred to us by British Consuls in all parts of this country.

It is suggested in page 2 of your minute that the Legation arrange with the Embassy whereby British Consuls in other parts of the country correspond directly with me. It is not necessary to take up this question with the Embassy, in so far as my corresponding directly with these officers is concerned, but we cannot ask these British Consuls to communicate with me to the exclusion of their own authorities. My contact with them must necessarily be on an elastic basis, but it is evident already that we can expect little else but co-operation from the British Consular service in this country. By this I mean that they will be perfectly willing to help us, but that they do not see any necessity to do the work of the Saorstát Consular Service, when the latter has its own representatives here. This, of course, is quite a reasonable viewpoint in the circumstances, and it is one to which exception cannot be taken.

I am not aware of any circumstances in which I shall be asked to exercise the functions of a Commissioner for Oaths or a Notary Public, and shall be glad if you will mention such for my information and guidance.

This office has already issued 132 passports, practically all from the 1st August, 1930, and there is every indication that the number to be issued will steadily increase. The issue of a passport is not a routine matter like the grant of a visa. It requires very careful checking by a responsible officer and a great deal of Mr. Murphy's2 time is now occupied doing this.

It is at present quite impossible to deal with the Trade inquiries, and it would be very desirable to send out Mr. D'Arcy as quickly as possible, so that Mr. Murphy may be available to assist in the new work to be taken over from the British Consulate, and be competent to deputise for me during my absence on leave.

It does not appear likely that I shall be troubled with any shipping questions if we are to follow the British practice, as their Consular Officers have nothing to do with invoices or shipments of goods. They confine their activities as regards shipping to the clearing of ships under the British Flag, verifying the crew, etc.

There is, therefore, nothing in any part of the United States, so far as I can at present ascertain, which cannot be done from New York on behalf of our Nationals. The scope of the Boston office should be immediately extended to include the issue of passports. This would convenience applicants in that district and relieve the pressure of work on this office.

1 Not printed.

2 Matthew Murphy, Irish Free State Passport Officer, New York.