No. 79 NAI DFA Box 14 File 96
(No. 5) (Copy)
Dublin, 28 April 1921
Your reference to the so-called Cuban proposal proves to me that so far from understanding the 'full meaning' of it you do not understand it at all. Everything you have said about it in your letter and most of the documents containing your own proposals would be unintelligible if you did.
If you have looked up the Cuban Treaty, will you please remember that my statement had reference to Article 1 only, and that the 'Westminster Gazette' interview was but a cabled fragment of a much larger article in which there was no doubt that I referred to one part of the Treaty only.
You had better not attempt to draw up this proposed parallel. Your apparent prepossessions clearly show that you would not handle it in the way in which it should be handled if it were not to do much more harm than good. The suggestion of preparing the parallel was not mine in the first instance, I considered it of but really small moment, and paid only casual attention to it when it was mentioned.
I might have known that cut off from home as you are, and with only misrepresentations of its meaning, on the one hand by the British and on the other by certain Americans - each for its own peculiar purpose, you could not be supposed to understand this question as it should be understood before it could be appreciated or dealt with.
I have myself never considered it worth while directly to elaborate it, simply because the time for doing so had not arrived. It was given by me originally in a speech as a studied argument against England, and was not propounded as a policy, tho' I should be quite prepared to move in that direction and to stand or fall by it as such if ever I thought the time for doing so had arrived.
Again, I emphasize the matter has reference solely to the first article of the Platt Amendment, and not to any others, which apparently appear far more humiliating to me than they do to you else you would not have forwarded your suggestions which are but elaborations of certain of them.
If ever the time comes for arguing the position, I shall do it in public. No good purpose can be served by arguing it either in public or in private for the present, and we are likely to have much more immediate and dangerous controversies to deal with in the near future if I can read the signs of the times.
Your letter suggests the necessity for having a clear understanding on other matters.
Our representatives abroad, whether they be members of the DAIL or not, must regard themselves unequivocally the direct agents of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and must carry out the instructions of that Department whether they personally agree with the Policy or not. Objections or considerations having special reference to conditions in the country in which they are stationed are of course legitimate and may be urged in the correspondence with the Department, but where the Department insists it is only by resignation that the Representative can find a way out.
The Ministry is responsible to the DAIL, and therefore its policy is ultimately DAIL policy. When those of our representatives who are members of the DAIL wish to communicate with the DAIL they must do so in an independent and separate communication, either through me or the Secretary of the DAIL - not through the Foreign Affairs Department. I will see that it is duly brought forward and considered at our Sessions. This alone will prevent misunderstanding and very probable friction. Of course were our circumstances not what they are, there would be no thought of having a member of the DAIL appointed as an Ambassador abroad.
Your letter also demonstrates what a danger we run when our representatives are too long from home, particularly when through infrequency of communication they derive their information either from the general outpourings of the press, or from communications from centres other than headquarters. This leads to a further danger which is developing, that of communicating by letter to private and unofficial persons matters which will not be treated as confidential, and which in any case should not be discussed except in official communications with the heads of the State Department, or other authorised persons. The abuses in that direction would not be tolerated for an instant by any of the universally recognised governments. It must be put a stop to in our case else we shall one of these days have a sharp reminder that it is not without purpose the older Governments take care to rigidly enforce this rule.
Our communications are unfortunately still most unsatisfactory, and our Under-Secretary3 just when we were re-organising the Department had had to go on sick leave.
You are I expect being supplied regularly with the Bulletin. When the Under-Secretary comes back I feel certain that you will be supplied in addition from month to month with a confidential journal which will enable you to keep more definitely in touch with the general situation here.
The Ministry has recently been taking stock of our finances, and the absence of a detailed statement of the expenditures of your establishment has caused considerable inconvenience. You will please not neglect furnishing such statements monthly in future as required by the Minister of Finance.
Very sincerely yours,
Eamon de Valera
P.S. In a raid on the London Office despatches from you were captured unopened. I asked our Foreign Affairs Department to make inquiries from you as to their contents. I am anxiously waiting for this information.
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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