British Cabinet Consideration in 1949
At a British Cabinet meeting on 22 November 1948 it was decided that a Working Party be established to " what consequential action may have to be taken by the United Kingdom Government as a result of Eire's ceasing to be a member of the Commonwealth". The Working Party was charied by the Cabinet Secretary, Norman Brook. Its report dated 1 January 1949 was presented by Prime Minister Clement Attlee to the Cabinet on 7 January 1949. The following is para 23 of the Working Party's report (which speaks for itself):Boundary of Northern Ireland - The Government of Northern Ireland ask that the question of their territorial jurisdiction should be put beyond doubt. In 1920 Northern Ireland was defined as the six Parliamentary Counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone, and the two Parliamentary Boroughs of Belfast and Londonderry, and in 1922 a Commission was appointed to delimit the boundary more precisely. The Commission activities proved abortive. The boundary in Lough Foyle and the River Foyle and in Carlingford Lough is open to dispute. Article 2 of the Eire Constitution of 1937 provided that the national territory included the whole of the territorial seas of Ireland, and Eire spokesmen have repeatedly laid claim to the territorial waters round Northern Ireland. The Government of Northern Ireland claim that the County of Londonderry
includes the whole of Lough Foyle, which lies between the Counties of Londonderry and Donegal, and the whole of the River Foyle in that stretch of it which separates the Counties of Tyrone and Donegal. We do not believe that this claim could be sustained, and to raise the boundary issue would jeopardise the access to Londonderry, since the navigable channel in Lough Foyle hugs the Donegal shore. There is a similar risk in raising the boundary question in Carlingford Lough, where the navigable channel giving access to Newry is partly on the Northern Ireland side and partly on the Eire side of the Lough. There is no substance in the Eire claim to the Northern Ireland territorial waters, but the Eire Government have never taken any steps to assert theiralleged rights in these waters, nor is it clear what steps they could take to do so. We accordingly recommend that no attempt should be made by the United Kingdom Government, whether by legislation or declaration, to define the boundary of Northern Ireland. Our main reason for this recommendation is that any such attempt might seriously prejudice our interests in retaining unrestricted access to Londonderry in peace and war.
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