, said that he presumed they all knew why they were summoned here today. They had probably read the letter which Lloyd George sent on the 7th inst., in reply to their previous communication. The Ministry had sent a reply to that and they wanted to have the approval of the Dáil to that reply today. The Ministry also wanted to put before the Dáil the names of the delegation plenipotentiaries that the Cabinet wished to send should a conference result from these communications. He thought better to start by reading the letter which the British Premier sent to them in order to have it before their minds when considering the Cabinet's reply.
He then read the letter of the 7th September from the British Premier which was as follows:
Town Hall, Inverness,
September 7th, 1921.
His Majesty's Government have considered your letter of August 30th, and have to make the following observations upon it.
The principle of government by consent of the governed is the foundation of British constitutional development, but we cannot accept as a basis of practical conference an interpretation of that principle which would commit us to any demands which you might present—even to the extent of setting up a republic and repudiating the Crown. You must be aware that conference on such a basis is impossible. So applied, the principle of government by consent of the governed would undermine the fabric of every democratic State and drive the civilised world back into tribalism.
On the other hand, we have invited you to discuss our proposals on their merits, in order that you may have no doubt as to the scope and sincerity of our intentions. It would be open to you in such a conference to raise the subject of guarantees on any points in which you may consider Irish freedom prejudiced by these proposals.
His Majesty's Government are loth to believe that you will insist upon rejecting their proposals without examining them in conference. To decline to discuss a settlement which would bestow upon the Irish people the fullest freedom of national development within the Empire can only mean that you repudiate all allegiance to the Crown and all membership of the British Commonwealth. If we were to draw this inference from your letter then further discussion between us could serve no useful purpose, and all conference would be vain. If, however, we are mistaken in this inference, as we still hope, and if your real objection to our proposals is that they offer Ireland less than the liberty which we have described, that objection can be explored at a Conference.
You will agree that this correspondence has lasted long enough. His Majesty's Government must therefore ask for a definite reply as to whether you are prepared to enter a Conference to ascertain how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire can best be reconciled with Irish national aspirations. If, as we hope, your answer is in the affirmative, I suggest that the Conference should meet at Inverness on the 20th instant.
I am, Sir,
(Signed) D. LLOYD GEORGE.
Now the Cabinet discussed of course that letter and the following reply was approved of and sent:
Baile Átha Cliath,
12 Meadhon Fóghmhair, 1921.
Dáithí Uasal Leód Seóirse,
10, Sráid Downing,
Níl aon scáth orainn a rádh leat go bhfuilimid lántoilteanach "dul i gcomhdháil chum a dhéanamh amach conus is fearr is féidir an bhaint a bheidh idir an Saor-Chumann Náisiún ar a nglaodhtar Impireacht Shasana agus cuspóir náisiúnta mhuintir na hÉireann do réidhteach." Do chuireamar i n-iúl duit i n-ár litir, 10 Lughnasa, chomh fonnmhar is táimid a leithéid de chomh-bhaint a bhreithniughadh. Dá bhrígh sin tá glaoidhte againn ar DHÁIL ÉIREANN teacht le chéile chum go gcuirimid fé n-a brághaid ainmneacha na dteachtaí atá ar aigne againn a cheapadh chum a ndeimhnighthe. Tá súil againn go mbeidh ar chumas na dteachtaí seo bheith i n-Inbhear Nois ar an lá adeirir, an 20adh lá de Mheadhon Foghmhair.
Ins an nóta deireannach so is dualgas linn a rádh arís go bhfuil an sgéal againn díreach mar a mhínigheamar sa chomhfhreagrachas so é, agus nách féidir gan é bheith amhlaidh. Tá a neamhspleadhchus féin fógraithe ag Éirinn do réir nós na náisiún agus dar léi féin gur saorstát í. Is mar lucht labhartha ar son an tsaorstáit sin amháin agus mar lucht toghtha a cosanta atá ughdarás nó cumas againn beart a dhéanamh ar son ár muintire.
Maidir le "Riaghaltas do réir toil na ndaoine a riaghaluightear" tá sé do réir nádúra go gcaithfidh san bheith mar bhun fé aon tsocrughadh a thabharfaidh an rud is mian linn chum críche, is é sin, caradas seasmhach a shnaidhmeadh idir an dá náisiún. Níor bhaineamair-ne riamh aon bhrígh eile as an dteagasg san ach an ghnáth-bhrígh, an bhrígh, cuiream i geás, do bhain muintir chomónta an tsaoghail as nuair adubhrais ar an 5adh Eanair, 1918:
"... Caithfear socrughadh na hEuróipe nua a dhéanamh ar bhun éigin réasúin agus cirt nach miste bheith i ndóchas a bhuanuighthe. Dá bhrígh sin is é ár mórthuairim nach foláir riaghaltas do réir toil na ndaoine a riaghaluightear a bheith mar bhun fé aon tsocrughadh liomatáiste a déanfar de dhruim an chogaidh seo."
Siad na focail seo an fíor-fhreagra atá ar an léirmheas do deineadh orainn id' litir dheireannach. 'Sé brígh a baineadh as an uair sin ná ceart a bheith ag náisiúin a tugadh fé smacht impireachtaí i gcoinnibh a dtola iad féin d'fhuasgailt ón gceangal a bhí ortha. B'in í an bhrígh do bhaineamair-ne as. Le fírinne is é do Riaghaltas-sa a thuigfeadh leis an dteagasg "go mbainfí an bonn ós gach aon stát a sheasuigheann ar thoil na ndaoine agus go gcasfaí an saoghal sibhialta thar n-ais chum finidheachais" nuair a iarann sé-cúis chum ár náisiún ársa a stracadh as a chéile agus a liomatáiste do roinnt.
do chara gan cháim,
(Síghnithe) EAMON DE VALERA.
Sept. 12th, 1921.
The Right Hon.
D. Lloyd George,
10, Downing Street,
We have no hesitation in declaring our willingness "to enter a Conference to ascertain how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire can best be reconciled with Irish national aspirations." Our readiness to contemplate such an association was indicated in our letter of August 10th. We have accordingly summoned Dáil Éireann that we may submit to it for ratification the names of the representatives it is our intention to propose. We hope that these representatives will find it possible to be at Inverness on the date you suggest, September 20th.
In this final note we deem it our duty to reaffirm that our position is and can only be as we have defined it throughout this correspondence. Our nation has formally declared its independence and recognises itself as a sovereign State. It is only as the representatives of that State and as its chosen guardians that we have any authority or powers to act on behalf of our people.
As regards the principle of "government by consent of the governed," in the very nature of things it must be the basis of any agreement that will achieve the purpose we have at heart, that is, the final reconciliation of our nation with yours. We have suggested no interpretation of that principle save its every-day interpretation, the sense, for example in which it was understood by the plain men and women of the world when on January 5th, 1918, you said:
"... The settlement of the new Europe must be based on such grounds of reason and justice as will give some promise of stability. Therefore it is that we feel that government with the consent of the governed must be the basis of any territorial settlement in this war."
These words are the true answer to the criticism of our position which your last letter puts forward. The principle was understood then to mean the right of nations that had been annexed to empires against their will to free themselves from the grappling hook. That is the sense in which we understand it. In reality it is your Government, when it seeks to rend our ancient nation and to partition its territory, that would give to the principle an interpretation that "would undermine the fabric of every democratic state and drive the civilised world back into tribalism."
I am, Sir,
(Signed) EAMON DE VALERA.