North East Ulster Policy,
The Most Rev. Dr. MacRory was of opinion that Sir James Craig should be urged to come in to the Irish Free State at once. He thought the policy of Peace with Ulster should be given a fair chance. He mentioned that there was anxiety in the North regarding the removal of the Belfast Boycott which he said was the most powerful weapon against the Northern Parliament. He asked Mr. Collins to make representations to Sir James Craig that firms such as Mackey’s, Coombe and Barbour, The Sirocco Co., Musgrave Heating Works, the Rope Works, should take back their Catholic employees. This Mr. Collins noted.
Dr. MacRory mentioned that the Northern Government had given no indication of their Educational Policy, but that the salaries of teachers were being paid by them from 1st Feb. This raised the question of non-recognition of the Northern Government. Mr. Lynch undertook to inquire into the exact position as regards payment of teachers salaries.
Dr. MacRory was of opinion that there was a strong desire upon the part of Mr. Devlin3 and his followers to enter the Northern Parliament. He also said that people in the North were afraid that it would be difficult to reach a Boundary agreement under the Collins-Craig agreement.
Dr. MacRory also felt that if the policy of non-recognition was adopted, the people in the North would have to fight alone.
Mr. Collins pointed out that the Boycott was comparatively ineffective, and that if it became necessary to fight the Northern Parliament they could set up an effective tariff-barrier in its stead. They would either have to fight the North or make peace with it. A peace policy had been started and should get a fair chance.
Non-recognition of the Northern Parliament was essential otherwise they would have nothing to bargain on with Sir James Craig. He had suggested to Sir James that a meeting of all Irish representatives should be called to draft an Irish Constitution. He would put plainly to Sir James the advisability of the Northern people coming in under the Free State.
He was prepared to say that the Provisional Government would, so far as its resources permitted, finance schools in the Six Counties where the teachers and managers do not recognise the Northern Government. He would also support local bodies taking a similar course of action.
As regards the Boundary Commission Mr. Collins and Mr. Griffith pointed out that at first it was complained that an Englishman had been brought in – thereby making two votes to one in favour of the North-East – now when the Englishman was left out they were not satisfied. The Provisional Govt. regarded all the people of Ireland as their nationals and they would define what they considered the proper boundary and fight for that in the event of the North refusing to come in.
Mr. Collins indicated that steps would be taken to deal with the appointment of Commissioners by the Northern Government in cases where County Councils refused to recognise that Government.
it was decided to defer it until the result of the interview with Mr. Curtis was available.
1 Present: Collins, Hogan, Walsh, Lynch, O’Higgins and Duggan. Griffith and Duffy and Dr. McRory were in attendance.
2 Bishop of Down and Connor (1915-1927), later Primate of all Ireland (1927-1945).
3 Joseph Devlin, leader of Northern Irish Nationalist party.
4 Lionel Curtis