No. 44 UCDA P4/503
London, 4 March 1923
Mr. Curtis came on Tuesday, 20th February, to discuss several matters with the High Commissioner. Two important matters were mentioned. Mr. Curtis wished to know if the recital of the duties of the High Commissioner contained in the demi-official letter dated 25th February (copy herewith)1 might be regarded as an official definition, and asked if any Press announcement would be opportune. Mr. McNeill said that until he was installed in the new offices Press notices had better be postponed. He also stated that the recital was a draft of his own, to which the Minister of External Affairs took no exception, but that his Government had had no time to consider and define the scope of the High Commissioner's duties. Mr. McNeill thought that in any case an exact definition could not easily be given as no one knew exactly what duties might be entrusted to the High Commissioner. There appeared to be some anxiety to have the duties defined. Mr. Curtis thought that the words underlined in the enclosed draft of the d.o. letter might be deleted. Mr. McNeill agrees. They may seem to imply criticism of either or both Governments and add nothing essential. Mr. Curtis wished that the Irish Free State Government should formally approve of the definition.
Mr. Curtis also referred to the question of Irish Free State representatives abroad and the passport system. He stated that the Foreign Office understood that the Irish Free State had succeeded to a system established in pre-treaty times. Till the Irish Free State Constitution was adopted it was thought undesirable to move in the matter. But, he said, the Governments of countries where Irish Free State representatives were maintained from time to time asked as to the status of the Irish Free State representatives and, especially in connection with passports, it was desirable to clarify the position. Mr. McNeill stated that he knew that the passport question was under consideration. Mr. Curtis pointed out that a good deal of confusion would arise if passports were issued in Ireland and travellers found no-one competent to deal with the return passport, and that consular work necessitated the issue of an authoritative 'Exequatur' to the consul in each country. He said that he thought it would be best if the Secretary for the Colonies raised the question now in a formal despatch and Mr. McNeill assented. Mr. Curtis had discussed the passport question with President Cosgrave.
[signed] P. MCGILLIGAN
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