The conferences to which you invited us with a view to ascertaining how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire may best be reconciled with Irish National aspirations have not up to the present produced a solution. You approach the problem without genuine realisation of these National Aspirations and in dealing with practical matters use descriptions which do not fit the objects. It is clear that if such an association is to be made possible the character and strength of Irish National aspirations must be realised, and that words and phrases must not obscure realities.
The nation is sacred and eternal to the mind and heart of the people of Ireland. Any attempt to dishonour or disrupt it is resented by the individual in Ireland with a more passionate intensity than he would resist attack upon himself. This fact, whatever view people of another nationality may hold of it, is the dominating fact of Ireland, and no statesmanship can therefore leave it out of account. If Irish national aspirations are to be reconciled with the British community of nations, British statesmanship must keep the fact constantly before its mind that Ireland is no colony or dependency but an ancient and spirited nation.
Misdescription may often be honest in intention, but in the grave circumstances in which both bodies of representatives meet it is essential that every effort should be made to use no phrase which covers an unreality. The proposals made by the British Government on July 20th were officially described as Dominion StatusFull Dominion StatusFree and equal partnership with the Nations of the British Commonwealth, and so forth. In reply to our questions at the Conference we find your proposals to mean that Ireland shall not possess the essential rights and powers which all the Dominions possess. We are not to have the control and defence of our coasts as all the Dominions have, nor to be sole judges of our own fiscal policy as they are; we are to bear a financial responsibility for your Imperial debt which they do not bear. The claim of Ireland is not Dominion Status but, if it were, your proposals would not confer that status.
Let us come to the realities. We sincerely desire to live in peace and amity with your country. We are convinced that if the warfare that has subsisted for seven centuries between two neighbouring nations can be ended, we shall have conferred a blessing on our respective peoples and have advanced the concord of mankind.
This can only be effected by a peace settlement which preserves the honour and interests of both countries. Your proposals, as they
p.941stand, give no basis for such a settlement. You desire to safeguard the security of your Empire. Ireland is resolved to achieve her freedom. With goodwill and good faith on both sides these purposes can undoubtedly be attained. We therefore offer you proposals for a Treaty which will ensure their realisation.
On the one hand Ireland will consent to adhere for all purposes of agreed common concern, to the League of Sovereign States associated and known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. On the other hand, Ireland calls upon Great Britain to renounce all claims to authority over Ireland and Irish affairs.
We propose that Ireland shall be recognised as a free State, that the British Commonwealth shall guarantee Ireland's freedom and integrity, and that the League of Nations and the United States of America shall be invited to join in that guarantee. Ireland, on her part, will bind herself to enter into no compact and to take no action nor permit any action to be taken inconsistent with the obligation of preserving her freedom and integrity. That position, far from imperilling any British interests would, on the contrary, be the best security for Great Britain as well as for Ireland. The Irish people attach supreme importance to the maintenance of their territory free from any right of occupation, which would lower their political status and jeopardise their national rights.
In the event of either the United States or the League of Nations declining to join in the intended guarantee, we propose that the question of our naval defence should be discussed and adjusted between the Imperial Conference and representatives of Ireland.
In order to strengthen the ties of friendship and mutual intercourse between Ireland and the Commonwealth, we propose that, without derogating from Ireland's complete autonomy in taxation or finance, but in order to obviate any danger to amity or goodwill between the two nations while at the same time providing for the free economic development of both and the protection of their industries, a Trade Convention with Great Britain based upon reciprocal obligations shall be signed coincidently with the main Treaty, and we are also willing
One other matter remains, a matter domestic to ourselves but which British policy in Ireland has rendered an obstacle to peace and amity
p.942between the nations. Six counties of our country have been, so far as British legislation could achieve it, cut away from the remainder. No Irish representative in your legislature desired this partition; no Irish vote was cast for it. The responsibility for that unnatural and indefensible dismemberment rests with the British Government, but as the fact exists we propose to deal with it in the first instance by meeting the elected representatives of our countrymen in the area and forming an agreement with them safeguarding any lawful interests peculiar to the area. Should we fail to come to an agreement, and we are confident we shall not fail, then freedom of choice must be given to electorates within the area.
If these proposals of ours are accepted, we are prepared to have a Treaty based upon them executed immediately, and to sign it on behalf of the country we represent, which then can in the future become what your policy never permitted it to be in the past, your friend.
24th October, 1921.