Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume 4

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Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume IV, 1932 – 1936

About DIFP Volume IV
Volume IV of the DIFP series, deals with the development of Irish Foreign Policy during the period 10 March 1932 – 31 December 1936.
This volume takes as its starting point the formation of Ireland's first Fianna Fáil administration, led by Eamon de Valera - who assumed a dual role as President of the Executive Council and Minister for External Affairs. As a result of the importance attached by de Valera to the External Affairs portfolio, the department grew in both status and power, within the Irish administrative system.
Officials at the department were keen to grasp the opportunities offered, for developing policy, under their new minister. Individuals such as Joseph P. Walshe (Secretary of the DEA) and John W. Dulanty (Irish High Commissioner in London) were each given latitude in the tactical execution of policy and Walshe in particular developed a close professional and personal relationship with de Valera. From the outset, Irish diplomats played a pivotal role in the implementation of de Valera's vision of rewriting and ultimately abolishing many aspects of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty.
The period covered by this volume proved to be an eventful one in terms of Ireland's developing foreign policy. De Valera and his officials at the Department for External Affairs soon set about restructuring the framework of British-Irish relations and dismantling the 1921 Treaty. Legislation facilitating the abolition of the oath of allegiance was introduced in Dáil Eireann, land annuity payments due to Britain were withheld, the office of Governor General was downgraded, King Edward VII died, his successor abdicated and two External Relations Acts were passed by the Dáil. By the end of 1936, there had been almost five years of continuous and comprehensive redefinition of British-Irish relations.
Although British-Irish relations were the most important aspect of Irish Foreign Policy in the 1930s, Ireland's relationship with its nearest neighbour was not the sole concern of politicians and diplomats. The imposition of British retaliatory tariffs, following the retention of the annuity payments, led Irish officials to look abroad in search of alternative international markets for the country's exports. This outward looking approach was also clearly evident at the League of Nations in Geneva.
During the 1930s, Ireland enjoyed a period of unparalleled involvement on the wider international stage, through membership of the League of Nations. Ireland's position on the League Council, the Irish Presidency of the same council, de Valera's addresses to the League Assembly and Seán Lester's service as the League of Nations High Commissioner in Danzig and mediator in international disputes greatly increased the country's international profile and earned international respect. Elsewhere, diplomatic links with Europe and the USA continued to be fostered and, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, an Irish Legation opened in Madrid.
Predominance is given in this volume to documents that chart the complex reorientation of the relationship between Ireland and Britain. This reflects the primary emphasis of Irish Foreign Policy during the period. Many documents relating to Ireland's role at the League of Nations have also been included. With diplomats stationed in Berlin, Paris and Vatican City, the Department of External Affairs was kept well informed of the developments on the continent. Many documents charting the course of European events in the run up to the second world war survive and are published here.

Excerpts from DIFP volume IV

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The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.
 

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The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
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