No. 30 NAI 2003/17/181
London, 6 March 1937
Mr. Malcolm MacDonald told me last evening that he had now heard from each of the other member States of the Commonwealth on the subject of our two Constitutional Acts. He had been much disappointed at the delay in getting these replies - the last one, received that morning, had been obtained only after his sending urgent cables pressing for an immediate reply. As he had not yet been to his colleagues with these replies he was not in a position to give me any details.
He was, however, anxious to let the President know in a purely informal manner that certain of these other States were troubled about the omission thus far of the former Article 1 from the new Constitution. They were also concerned, some of them, about Section 3 sub-Section 2 (a) (here I quote from memory) and, further, about the use of the word 'organ'.
He was telling me this now before he had approached the British Cabinet in order to acquaint the President informally at the earliest possible moment of the reactions of the other member States. Mr. MacDonald proposes to continue his correspondence with the other member States in the hope of 'getting the constitutional question solved and out of the way immediately'. It would be an immense help towards this end if the President could see his way to make some kind of substitution for Article 1. Could the President have a clause - he could not pretend to give the wording - to the effect that unless some Act were passed later to the contrary An Saorstát would continue its existing membership of the Commonwealth group? In this way or some similar way it might be possible to deal with the point that we wanted a Constitution which would not need alteration in the event of certain contingencies later.
With the constitutional question out of the way he would press for the continuance of the exploratory talks about Defence, Financial Settlement and Trade Agreement. He did not wish to be too optimistic but he still thought we could advance a long way, possibly to a settlement, on these matters before the Imperial Conference began on 14 May next.
After making it clear that I had no instruction from my Government on the matter I said that unless the British bestirred themselves and reached a position vastly different from that of to-day on the questions Mr. MacDonald had mentioned there was no likelihood of the President or his colleagues attending the Conference. This remark depressed Mr. MacDonald who argued that we were present at the Ottawa Conference1 and as some advance he thought had been made between us since 1932 there was a case for the President trying to co-operate by attending the Conference. I reminded him that what are called the Annuity or Special Duties on our exports were put on whilst our Ottawa Delegation was on the high seas en route for the Conference and that in other respects the position between us to-day was different from that when my Government decided to attend the Ottawa Conference.
(Signed) J.W. DULANTY
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 ....