113 High Commission in London to Evatt

Cablegram 274 LONDON, 10 September 1946, 9.30 p.m.


Your 4999 [to] Dignam [1] was telegraphed to him through the Dominion Office and the United Kingdom Representative Dublin, for reasons of cypher security.

After passing on the message the Dominion Office Representative told us informally and confidentially their concern that furnishing of letter of accreditation to Dignam by the Commonwealth Government at the request of the Eire Government might have constitutional significance affecting the United Kingdom and other Dominion Governments, and they asked us to mention this to you.

The position was, that hitherto, neither the United Kingdom Representative in Dublin, nor the Canadian High Commissioner in Dublin (so far as known to the Dominions Office) had presented an accrediting letter at the formal reception ceremony. This was the procedure which was applicable to Ministers of Foreign Countries, and was not appropriate for the British Commonwealth representative in Dublin or in other Commonwealth countries. The desire of the Eire Government was to represent themselves as a country external to the British Commonwealth and they accordingly sought every opportunity to give British Commonwealth representatives in Dublin the appearance of Foreign Ministers.

The United Kingdom Government hoped that Australia would follow British Commonwealth precedents and would not allow herself to be manoeuvered on the occasion of the appointment of the Australian High Commissioner in Dublin, into a step which would be embarrassing to other Commonwealth countries. [2]

1 See Document 110, note 2.

2 On 16 September Watt cabled Dignam to inform him that consideration was being given to what form of document should be issued, and that meanwhile 'some ceremony to welcome you could perhaps take place'. In late October Dignam presented a formal letter from Evatt to de Valera, the Irish Prime Minister, stating that 'the bearer of this letter' had been appointed 'Australian High Commissioner to Eire'; no record of the occasion has been found.

[AA:A1066, E45/11/7]