No. 96 NAI DT S1801C
DUBLIN, 6.00pm, 11 July 1923
In accordance with the suggestion made at the Cabinet Meeting held yesterday, a memorandum regarding the arguments advanced in connection with the proposed issue of a formal letter on the Boundary Commission to the British Government is transmitted herewith for your information.
Mise, le meas,
[copy letter unsigned]
SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL.
BOUNDARY COMMISSION - Memorandum.
1. The following memorandum is intended merely as an outline of the arguments for and against immediately forwarding an official request to the British Government to have the terms of Clause 12 of the Treaty put into operation.
2. Representations have been made to the President from various sources that the present time (within the next 12 months) is not opportune for pressing for the carrying out of this Clause. These sources have been The Governor General, certain Railway Directors, and others. The Railway people feel that advantage could be taken of the Railway situation in Ireland to secure the unity of the country. They have not made any clear case as to how this could be effected beyond the suggestion that it might be done through Railway Grouping and through pressure on Railways partly within the Six Counties. The Governor General is concerned by the fact that in the opinion of a leading personage in political and journalistic circles in England, the late Prime Minister1 of that country is not favourably disposed towards the Boundary question, and that as long as he wields his present influence, quarters that might otherwise be friendly will not be inclined to assist us openly.
3. There is general agreement that certain progress must have been made in the matter of the Boundary Commission before the coming General Election. It is anticipated that this election will take place early in September (about six or seven weeks from now). There is no difference of opinion amongst Ministers as to the necessity for having matters at a pretty advanced stage as regards the setting up of the Commission by that time, and a semi-official communication on the subject is already on the British Cabinet Agenda. The possibility of protracted delay before taking the preliminary steps cannot therefore be entertained.
4. The matter in immediate question is whether the formal official request should be issued at once or whether it should be delayed until about the first of August. The whole matter depends upon the rapidity or otherwise with which events will move once the official request has been formulated.
5. On this there exists divergent views, some being of opinion that events will progress rapidly, and that if the official letter were delayed until August 1st the situation at the time of the election would be somewhat as follows:- The British Government would have noted the request and agreed to do its part to fulfil the contract and possibly would have elected the Chairman. It would in all probability have notified the Northern Government of the intention to proceed with the Commission, but the Northern Government would probably not have replied. The possibility of the opponents of the Government being furnished with ammunition by Craig's refusal to nominate a representative would thus be obviated, and the Government would not be faced either immediately before or during the election with the necessity of formulating and disclosing its future policy in the event of Craig's refusal. On the other hand the Government should go to the country with the statement that they had taken the necessary originating steps and with their representative appointed.
6. Other members feel that there is no likelihood of rapid progress being made in the setting up of the Commission. They fear that there will be extended delays at every stage. The British Government will take no action until the formal letter has been received by them; when it has been received they will not rush a decision; the consideration at the Cabinet will be prolonged; and it may easily happen that no satisfactory progress will have been made by Election time. This, they urge, would be disastrous as their opponents would make great capital out of the assertion that the Government were taking no action in the matter.
7. Government supporters are becoming anxious at our delay. Hitherto it was understood that we could not be expected to move until we had restored normal conditions in the 26 Counties, but now that things are almost normal all over our area, this excuse no longer holds.
8. Even if things move so rapidly that the Irish and British Governments have appointed their representatives and that Craig's reply has been received they urge that this will be all to the good. Any reply from Craig will strengthen the Government's hands - if he consents to appoint his Commissioner, it will be of advantage - if he refuses, the Government will be in a position to call upon the electorate to rally to their support in their efforts to compel the terms of the Treaty to be carried out.
9. The Ministers who hold these latter views urge strongly that the official letter in the matter should issue without delay.
10.The President has placed Mr. Ormsby Gore2 in possession of his views that the Government could not go to an election until the Irish representatives and the Chairman had both been appointed. This is a further argument for immediately taking up the question formally with the British Government.
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.
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.
Read more ....