Cabinet Meeting Dec 3rd.
COPY OF SECRETARY’S NOTES (Colm Ó Murchadha) OF MEETINGS OF THE CABINET AND DELEGATION HELD 25TH NOVEMBER, 1921, AND 3RD DECEMBER, 1921
MEETING OF CABINET, 25TH NOVEMBER, 1921
(a) The following formula was unanimously approved:—
“That Ireland shall recognise the British Crown for the purposes of the Association as symbol and accepted head of the combination of Associated States”.
(b) Vote of annual voluntary sum to Civil List unanimously approved.
MEETING OF CABINET AND DELEGATION, 3rd DECEMBER, 1921
VIEWS OF DELEGATES
(a) Mr. Griffith in favour of Treaty. Refused to break on question of Crown and thereby hand to Ulster the position from which she had been driven.
(b) Mr. Barton of opinion that England’s last word had not been reached and that she could not declare war on question of Allegiance. The Treaty would not give Dominion Status nor any guarantee re Ulster. Would vote against acceptance.
(c) Mr. Gavan Duffy agreed with Mr. Barton that England was bluffing and that the Irish proposals, with small reservations on Defence etc., could be obtained. Would like the Treaty to be rejected by An Dáil and sent back amended. Said “No” definitely to Treaty.
(d) Mr. Duggan agreed with Mr. Griffith. Believed Treaty to be England’s last word and would not take responsibility of saying “No”.
(e) Mr. Collins was in substantial agreement with Messrs. Griffith and Duggan. The non-acceptance of Treaty would be a gamble as England could arrange a war in Ireland within a week. Sacrifices to N.E. Ulster made for sake of essential unity and justified. With pressure further concessions could be obtained on Trade and Defence. Oath [of] Allegiance would not come into force for 12 months—question was, therefore, would it be worth while taking that 12 months and seeing how it would work. Would recommend that Dáil go to country on Treaty, but would recommend non-acceptance of Oath.
(f) Mr. Childers of opinion that Par. 6 of Treaty would give Ireland no national status. Sec. 7(b) was important also as it meant that when England went to war she would bring Ireland with her.
(g) In reply to a question by Minister of Defence as to who was responsible for the splitting of the Delegation so that two Members (Messrs. Griffith and Collins) did most of the work and that the other members were not in possession of full information it was stated that the British Government was responsible for the arrangement but it had the approval of the whole Delegation.
The Minister of Defence here remarked that the British Government selected its men. On the motion of Mr. Griffith this remark was withdrawn.
MEETING OF CABINET, 3rd DECEMBER, 1921
(a) In the course of a lengthy discussion of the Treaty the President gave it as his opinion that it could not be accepted in its then form. He personally could not subscribe to the Oath of Allegiance nor could he sign any document which would give N.E. Ulster power to vote itself out of the Irish State. With modifications, however, it might be accepted honourably, and he would like to see the plenipotentiaries go back and secure peace if possible. He believed the Delegates had done their utmost and that in now remained to them to show that if document not amended that they were prepared to face the consequences—war or no war. He would deal with present document exactly as with that of 20th July—say it cannot be accepted and put up counter proposals.
(b) Mr. Griffith did not like the document but did not think it dishonourable. It would practically recognise the Republic and the first allegiance would be to Ireland. If it were rejected the people would be entitled to know what the alternative is. The country would not fight on the question of allegiance and there would be a split. He would not recommend the Government to accept but would say that the Plenipotentiaries should sign and leave it to President and Dáil to reject.
(c) The Minister for Defence was in perfect agreement with President, the only matter upon which he could disagree would be the question of recognising the King of England as Head of the Associated States.
(d) Document does not guarantee essential unity of Ireland.
MEETING OF CABINET AND DELEGATION, 3rd DECEMBER, 1921 (resumed)
(a) Mr. Griffith would not take the responsibility of breaking on the Crown. When as many concessions as possible conceded, and when accepted by Craig, he would go before the Dáil. The Dáil was the body to decide for or against war.
(b) The President took his stand upon last Irish proposals which meant external connection with the Crown. He suggested the following amendment to the Oath of Allegiance:—
“I……………………do solemnly swear true faith and allegiance to the constitution of the Irish Free State, to the Treaty of Association and to recognise the King of Great Britain as Head of the Associated States.”
(c) Delegates to carry out their original instructions with same powers.
(d) Delegation to return and say that Cabinet won’t accept Oath of Allegiance if not amended and to face the consequences, assuming that England will declare war.
(e) Decided unanimously that present Oath of Allegiance could not be subscribed to.
(f) Mr. Griffith to inform Mr. Lloyd George that the document could not be signed, to state that it is now a matter for the Dáil, and to try and put the blame on Ulster.
(g) On a majority vote it was decided that the Delegation be empowered to meet Sir James Craig if they should think necessary. The following voted for and against:—
FOR: President, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Economics and Local Government.
AGAINST: Defence and Home Affairs.
(h) It was decided that the President would not join the Delegation in London at this stage of the Negotiations.
Colm Ó Murchadha, – ar son Runaidhe na hAireachta.