Volume 3 1926~1932

Doc No.

No. 537 NAI DFA EA 231/4/1931

Confidential Report from Count Gerald O'Kelly de Gallagh to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)1

Paris, 23 March 1931

I have the honour to inform you that on Saturday, 21st instant, I attended a Lunch - at which I was principal guest - of the Section Française des Amitiés Internationales under the Presidency of Sir Thomas Barclay, the blind international lawyer who has lived in Paris for a great number of years. In his original letter of invitation Sir Thomas had stated that the statutes of their Association excluded politics, which statement led me to believe that there would be no speeches. I gathered, however, later that speeches would be the order of the day; but owing to the constant rush in which I have been living for the past fortnight it was quite impossible for me to prepare anything. Very fortunately for me, in his introductory remarks the President made several quite misleading statements concerning the status of Ireland, and this gave me an excellent opportunity of defining certain constitutional points. Sir Thomas had referred to the British Commonwealth and the British Empire and Colonies who had now their autonomy, and who had even the right of having representatives abroad. I need not tell you that I jumped at the opportunity. The audience was a very mixed one, preponderatingly French but with quite a number of citizens of other countries interested in the work of the League of Nations. I explained that Ireland was not a colony and never had been a Colony, but was a mother country; that the term autonomy, though technically meaning the right to govern oneself, seemed to connote certain limitations in as much as one did not say of France, for instance, that she was autonomous; and that consequently Sir Thomas's remarks had conveyed an impression which I was sure he did not wish them to convey. I pointed out the severalty of the Crown, stating that there was a King of England, a King of Ireland, a King of Canada, etc. I also underlined the fundamental difference between the British Commonwealth and the British Empire, explaining how the latter was one of the constituent parts of the former.

I only spoke for a few minutes, and finished in a lighter vein, but the result was quite satisfactory.

It really was a blessing in disguise that my speech should have taken the form of a mise au point. It would have been quite impossible for me to deliver this little lecture in any other form than in that of a contradiction.

There were in all about a hundred persons present including the two Hennessy's and Monsieur Victor Bérard, President of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Senate. I was seated on Sir Thomas Barclay's right, and on my right was M. Bérard. I may add, for your information, that M. Bérard, whom I first met nearly a year ago, has shown himself very friendly to me: indeed his wife was present at the Saint Patrick's Day religious service.

[signed] Count G. O'Kelly de Gallagh

1 Handwritten marginal annotation: 'Minister', 'PMcG, 25/3'.