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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 6. June 3rd, 1948

De Valera Plays Dead Centre

De Valera Plays Dead Centre

With a freedom from dogmatism typical of the mature statesman, Mr. De Valera refused, to offer a ready made solution to the Palestine problem, when questioned by three executive members of the V.U.C. Political Science Society last Wednesday. He suggested that the parties particularly concerned had more intimate knowledge of the problem and that they, left alone, would reach a satisfactory agreement.

Because of the calls on Mr. De Valera's time, the interview took place in a passage of the Waterloo Hotel. It extended beyond the few minutes allotted, in spite of frequent exhortations for brevity from Mr. F. Aiken, former Minister of Finance in Eire who is travelling with Mr. De Valera. The interview revealed Mr. De Valera as deeply interested in university affairs.

For the present impasse, he contended that the fault was to be found among the victorious Powers who were at variance when it came to the vital duty of co-operating.

Throughout the interview, Mr. De Valera stressed the point that the first step towards world peace consisted of the co-operation of nations, in an endeavour to find common interests. When this had been done, they could then turn to solving other problems on a basis of mutual understanding.

He considered that world federation was a solution to international problems. World Government on the other hand, as popularly conceived, could today only be brought about when one Power had dominated the rest of the world, which was highly undesirable.

The reasonable way, he suggested, was for a group of nations to come together in an intelligent fashion and agree to obey certain laws, in view of the dangers threatening all. Such associations is done on behalf of the individuals inside States themselves, but he agreed that with nations the task is rather more difficult.

He hastened to add that the, coming together must be voluntary. When the worth of the organization was established other nations would be prepared to join.

Loss of sovereignty is not a valid argument against world federation. Every argument between nations involved the surrender of a certain amount of sovereignty, because they thereby gave up their right to do as they liked in certain matters. The notion of absolute sovereignty, without morality, had been responsible for most of the present trouble.

The Marshall Plan was good in that it was based on self help and mutual aid, and aimed to help those page 5 who could not help themselves. Evidence of Eire's willingness to co-operate in a plan such as this was an agreement which she had entered into with England not long ago.

In America he noted intense feeling about world affairs and for his own part he would not like to prophesy the outcome of an admittedly dangerous situation.

In Eire a Federal University controlled by a Federal Senate confers degrees and not the colleges themselves. Nevertheless the idea of "Home Rule" was, deeply rooted in each of the individual colleges.

In the field of science Irish Universities have close co-operation with Harvard, Bloemfontein, certain European and the Armagh (Northern Ireland) universities, an example, he added, with a smile, of Eire's international outlook and her willingness to co-operate with the partitioned countries.

A Post-graduate Research College had recently been established. It is divided into three parts, the first dealing with Celtic studies, the second with science, mathematics and physics, and the third with cosmic physics, astronomy, geophysics and study of cosmic rays. Such a development, he hoped, would discourage the export of the best brain in the scientific sphere.

Economics and political science hold considerable prominence in the Irish Universities, he said.

When questioned on student organizations, he stated there was plenty of vigorous student activity in the universities. "It is well that it should be so," he added.

Mr. De Valera, himself a mathematician and Chancellor of the University of Island, has kept in touch with mathematical developments in New Zealand and remarked on the excellent work of, the late Professor Somerville. He regretted that he had not had time to visit the mathematics and physics departments at Victoria College.

The impression gained from the interview was that he would have been prepared to discuss university affairs for a considerable time.

It appears very unfortunate that the proposed lecture at Victoria College could not take place because of the fullness of Mr. De Valera's itinerary, as his easy rational style of speaking seems ideally suited for a university audience.

The interview ended with Mr. De Valera signing autographs for various people in the passage while discussing the merits of the three-quarter style of Rugby in New Zealand which had impressed him in 1924 and 1935 when the All Blacks played in Dublin. Mr. De Valera played centre.