No. 17 NAI DT S669A

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Diarmuid O'Hegarty (Dublin)

Dublin, 16 June 1926

A Chara,

The Executive Council decided on the 18th December 1923 that all Officials going to London on official business should notify the Minister for External Affairs of the nature of their business two days prior to leaving Dublin and should call on the High Commissioner before going to the British Department with which the business was to be transacted. The terms of that decision were a modification of a request made by this Department to all Departments on the 15th March of the same year to send to the Department of External Affairs for transmission to the High Commissioner copies of all correspondence signed by heads of Departments with British Departments. During the three years which have elapsed since then detailed arrangements in completion of the Treaty have involved a large amount of correspondence and very frequent visits to London, and though the rule was frequently broken, the Minister felt that it would be unreasonable to ask the Executive Council to discuss the matter again until the transition period had passed.

2. The stage has now been reached at which our relations with Great Britain may be regarded as analogous to those of any other two countries with close mutual interests, and the Minister considers it essential that the High Commissioner should henceforth be treated as the representative, for all purposes, of the Saorstát Government in London. It is therefore proposed that all communications destined for British Departments should be sent to the Department of External Affairs in the form of a memorandum for transmission to the British Government through the High Commissioner from whom they must purport to issue. Certain departments are obliged as part of their ordinary routine work to exchange accounts, returns, lists, notices, etc., with corresponding British Departments. It is not suggested that this custom should cease, but a memorandum for the information of the Minister for External Affairs and the High Commissioner should be prepared by each of the departments concerned setting out the exact nature of the exchanges. When these memoranda have been examined by the Minister and the High Commissioner, it may appear necessary to divert some of the existing routine correspondence to the channel of the High Commissioner's Office.

3. The High Commissioner now receives regularly copies of all despatches going and coming through the Governor General. In order to enable him to become cognisant of the whole extent of the relations between the two Governments, the Minister will be glad if the E.[xecutive] C.[ouncil] will order an instruction on the following lines to be issued:-

  Henceforth no communications are to be sent direct to British Government Departments by Saorstát Officials. The channel in all cases must be the High Commissioner through the Department of External Affairs. This rule does not apply to the returns, lists, accounts, answers to queries, etc., which form part of the routine work of certain departments. All Departments will however furnish Memoranda setting out the exact nature of their routine exchanges with British Departments for the information of the High Commissioner. Communications destined for British Departments should be addressed to the Department of External Affairs in the form of memoranda for the High Commissioner with whom they must purport to originate. The covering note of the High Commissioner will give to the memoranda the official or semi-official character desired by the department concerned.

Mise, le meas,
[signed] S.P. Breathnach

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