Volume 8 1945~1948

Doc No.

No. 195 NAI DFA 301/2

Memorandum by the Department of External Affairs
'British efforts to have "Éire" substituted for "Ireland" in the records of the FAO Conference held at Copenhagen, September, 1946'

Dublin, 19 September 1946

  1. When the Irish delegation arrived in Copenhagen they found that the word 'Éire' was being used throughout the Conference documents. They immediately raised the matter with the Conference Authorities who undertook to have 'Ireland' substituted in all the records. The following morning (2nd September) the delegation confirmed that this was being done.
  2. Our application for admission to FAO was to be considered at a Plenary Session on the morning of 3rd September. Five minutes before the Session was due to begin, the Secretary General of the Conference informed our delegation that the British had notified their intention of making a formal protest against the use of the word 'Ireland'. The Irish delegation decided that, notwithstanding the proposed British protest, our application should be put forward in the name of 'Ireland'. Thereupon the British delegation, which included Mr. Moore, Minister for Agriculture in the Six Counties,1 did their best to persuade the Chairman (Mr. Kauffman, Danish Minister in Washington) to substitute 'Éire'. In view of our attitude, however, the Chairman decided that 'Ireland' should stand. We were accordingly admitted to membership as 'Ireland'. The British delegation did not make their protest. They had apparently hoped that the mere threat of a protest would induce us, or the Chairman, to change ground.
  3. The following morning the delegation was amazed to find that the word 'Éire' was used in the stencilled records of the proceedings of the previous day. They ascertained that a British official of the Secretariat was responsible for the change. On being informed of the matter, the Chairman reprimanded this official and gave explicit instructions that 'Ireland' should be submitted in the printed records.
  4. On the 5th September the British told our delegation that they proposed to have the following statement inserted as a footnote in the printed records:-

    'The United Kingdom wishes to place on record that the use of the title "Ireland" in connection with membership of the FAO denotes the territory formerly known as the Irish Free State and does not include that part of the island of Ireland which forms part of the United Kingdom'.

    The British were informed that, if this statement was inserted, the Irish delegation would ask that the following declaration should be placed under it:-

    'In connection with the foregoing statement, the Irish delegation wish to place on record Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland which read as follows:-

    Article 2. The national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas.
    Article 3. Pending the reintegration of the national territory, and without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and Government established by this Constitution to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory, the laws enacted by that Parliament shall have the like area and extent of application as the laws of Saorstát Éireann and the like extra-territorial effect.'

  5. This development was obviously most unwelcome to the British and caused them to hesitate about putting their statement in. On the 7th September they made a further proposal to our delegation, viz. 'that a statement on the lines of the Chicago Air Agreement' should be inserted in the Conference records. They undertook to let the delegation have the text of this statement which, they said, had been telegraphed to them from London. The proposal mystified our delegation as there is no statement or declaration in any of the Chicago Air Agreements bearing on this question. The International Convention and Interim Agreement were simply signed on behalf of 'Ireland'. The delegation was not surprised, therefore, that the promised text was never produced by the British. On making inquiries of the Secretary General of FAO, however, they found that the British had submitted their original statement for inclusion in the Conference records. The Irish declaration was at once handed to the Secretary General.2
  6. Again our action caused a change of front on the part of the British. During the final Plenary Session on the 13th September they asked the Chairman to arrange a meeting in his presence between the Heads of the Irish and British delegations. Dr. Ryan,3 Head of the Irish Delegation, agreed to this proposal and the meeting took place immediately after the close of the Conference. Mr. Broadley, Acting Head of the British delegation, explained that he had been instructed from London to make it clear that the term 'Ireland' in our application for membership of FAO did not include 'that part of Ireland which formed part of the United Kingdom'. The Irish declaration, he said, would make it appear that the application covered the whole of Ireland. Hence, he could not agree to it and must press for its withdrawal. Dr. Ryan insisted that our declaration must be included if the British inserted theirs. Either both statements would appear or none. Faced with these alternatives Mr. Broadley decided that the matter must again be referred to London. He suggested that it should be discussed further between the two Governments and that the Secretary General of FAO should be informed of the result before the printed records of the Conference were issued. This was agreed to by Dr. Ryan, and we are now awaiting an approach from London. Any statement to be included in the Conference records must reach the Secretary General by the 15th October.

1 Reverend Robert Moore (1886-1960), Northern Ireland Minister of Agriculture (1943-60).

2 Con Cremin raised this matter with de Valera on 7 September and minuted that 'The Taoiseach approved the view that, however embarrassing such an exchange of declarations might be to us, it was certainly far more embarrassing to the British, inasmuch as they tended to call international attention to the fact of Partition. There was no reason why we should suggest or enter into any compromise. I raised with the Taoiseach the question whether the declaration put down by our delegation should refer to Article 4 of the Constitution as well as Articles 2 and 3. The Taoiseach approved the view that the declaration were [sic] better restricted to Articles 2 and 3.' (NAI DFA 301/2, 10 Sept. 1946).

3 Dr. James Ryan (1891-1970), Fianna Fáil TD, Minister for Agriculture (1932-3, 1937-47), Minister for Health and Minister for Social Welfare (1947, 1951-4), Minister for Finance (1957-65).