No. 11 NAI Gavan Duffy Papers 1125/13
Paris, 24 May 1919
Your two letters dated 19-v-19 per Mr. Lee were delivered here Wednesday night.1 I also received per the same messenger
(a) Official repudiation of signatures of British Delegates on behalf of Ireland;
(b) Specimen draft of letter to Clemenceau; and
(c) Per the other messenger case containing copies of memorandum for presentation to Peace Conference.
As regards (a): This I had handed in at the Foreign Office, Quai d'Orsay, on Thursday, 22nd inst., addressed as directed to M. Clemenceau. I had copies made and sent to the French, American and English Press Clubs, and also to the News Agencies. I am now having copies made, to be sent to all delegates to the Peace Conference, and to all prominent newspapers in Europe.
With regard to this letter, I am sorry to have to report Seoirse and other competent judges here are not satisfied with the work of your French translator, and Seoirse says more care should be taken to have important work of this kind done properly.
While on this topic I have also to call your attention to an error which appears on page 4 of the French translation of the 'Memorandum'. Towards the end of that page the word 'ports' is spelled 'forts', thus destroying the sense of the paragraph. This of course we will have corrected.
As regards (b): This will be seen to as directed. As to (c): We are awaiting copies of formal demands referred to, signed by three delegates before doing anything in this matter. We shall require at least 90 (ninety) copies of memorandum for presentation to delegates to Peace conference alone. This number will also be increased when the German and neutral nations, not now represented, send their delegates to the formal signing of the Peace. We are having copies of the French translation of the memorandum printed in pamphlet form for presentation to the Press of Europe and for sale here afterwards.
We hope to receive from you as early as possible copy of 'demand for Ireland's inclusion in League of Nations'; also 'demand for Recognition of Republic' to which you refer - your letter of 19th.
We must send at least three copies of each of these documents to Rome, and I expect our friend there will be able to have a copy or two passed on to Uncle Paul.
Before dealing with other matters I will first answer other points raised in your letter.
1. I think the press and publicity side of the work here has been and is being as well looked after as possible, at any rate I think you need have no fear of our neglecting it in future. You have no idea of the difficulty of dealing with the French papers and the delicate handling they require.
We both realise fully the necessity for keeping our question continually hot and all hands may rely on us to do our very best in that direction.
2. As regards getting into close contact with S. Africans and others mentioned, we have so far done all that we could do in that matter. We are in constant communication with Egyptians and S. Africans. There are no Indians here that we know of - except the one who is pro-British delegate to Conference, and we know there is no use touching him. We have been so far acting in an advisory capacity to the Egyptian and S. African delegations, who look to us for aid and assistance in drawing up their documents and presenting their claims etc., to the conference and the press.
We have made efforts to get into closer touch with the representatives of a number of the smaller European states, but though we have succeeded to some extent, we have not had all the success we would wish. The reasons for this it would take too much time to explain in detail here.
Now as to our American friends: As I have already told you in my letter per J.W. - which I trust you have safely received - they were charmed beyond measure with their wonderful reception and with all they saw and heard while in Ireland. Ryan, as previously explained, seemed to think enough had not been made of him, and he is still somewhat sore over this. He complained of never having had a chance to talk privately with you, and he has also stated that he was prevented from calling on Mr. John Dillon - which he was most anxious to do. He left here to-day for America, and last night gave out a statement to the press announcing his departure and the reason for it. This I presume you have already read in the Irish papers. Ryan has promised to urge on our friends in America the necessity of raising at once large funds to carry on the fight, and it has been agreed here that he should report to the Convention Committee that they must prepare at once for a most vigorous and widespread campaign against ratification of the Peace Treaty till Ireland's claim has been settled. Walsh and Dunne are making arrangements to return about June 7th. We expect they will stay on longer if later they find they are required, or can accomplish anything by staying. Walsh is particularly anxious to get back in time for the Convention of the American Federation of Labour which meets in Atlantic City about June 15th. He says he expects to be able to get this body to take up Ireland's case, and if he can do this he is practically certain he can make it most difficult for Wilson to get the Treaty or League of Nations ratified, unless he does something to help our cause. As I have already said in a recent letter, Walsh is most anxious you should do your very best to get a delegate or two from Irish Labour sent out to that convention. He says that would give tremendous help and would enable all labour friends at convention to insist on having Ireland's case raised and discussed. Walsh would like Hughes and Johnson to go if possible. Walsh has told us that he is prepared to devote himself to the work of pressing Ireland's cause in America. He has been so deeply impressed with all he saw and heard in Ireland that he is satisfied to do everything that is humanly possible for him to do to help us. Dunne is all right, too, on this end, but for many reasons - family and otherwise - we cannot expect as much from him. If Shannon is on the Continent he should communicate with us; in fact we think he ought to come to Paris to see Walsh at once. We had hoped to see Miss Louie Bennett on her way from Switzerland, but she has not turned up.
Now, as to your coming here: We have had several talks on that subject, and we have definitely decided to recommend you not to come. We cannot see what you would gain by doing so, and we don't see that any good could accrue to the Cause by your presence. Again yesterday Walsh and I discussed it, and it is our view and I know that Seoirse shares it too, that there is now no chance of the Dail delegates being allowed to appear before the Peace Conference or any of its committees or commissions, so even if you were here we cannot see that you could do more than is being done at present. It is our view that it would not be wise or proper to bring you here to have you and the Irish Republic snubbed by the Peace Conference, and thus give further opportunities for our enemies to belittle the cause. We are all of opinion that Wilson is not likely now to take strong action in pressing our claim for a hearing. Even if he does it is felt that the English would never agree. The most that may be done now is that the American delegates to the Peace Conference may give the American Commission on Irish Independence an opportunity of stating Ireland's claims before them. It is not certain that Wilson would be willing to attend with the other delegates, even if they do consent to a meeting. My opinion is that they ought not to go there even if Wilson does not promise to attend to hear Ireland's case stated. However, Walsh has not made up his mind on that point yet. As you probably are aware the American Commission sent a strong letter to Wilson on Tuesday last asking of him personally to demand a hearing for Ireland. You have probably seen stated in the papers that he has since sent a reply through his private secretary stating that the matter was being attended to and that a reply would be sent by Mr. Lansing, Secretary of State. We expected this reply a day or two ago, but so far it hasn't turned up. We are at a loss to know what can be the cause of the delay. It is not expected that the reply will be a favorable one when it does come. All our present plans are being arranged on that basis.
As I have already said our American friends are satisfied the fight must be transferred to the United States, and they are prepared to do their share in making the issue a burning one. For that reason we are of opinion that it would be useful if you could go to the States as soon as it is definitely known that we have been turned down here, and that all hope of achieving anything through the Peace Conference has vanished.
The question of your demanding safe conduct from the British authorities directly we think it better to leave to yourselves to decide. It is possible there may be some reference to this in the reply which we are promised from Secretary of State Lansing. If so, of course you will get that information in the newspapers, as naturally we shall publish the reply as soon as it has been received.
As regards the Franco-Irish Society: This body you needn't take too seriously. As far as it exists at all it has been brought into existence by me. The Irish community here is very small in number and if possible of much less account from the point of view of influence. I think the total membership of the Society numbers six, and so far as we can discover there are no other likely members in and around Paris at present. I thought it well from a propaganda point of view that such a Society should be founded and reports of its meetings sent to the press from time to time. There is very little the members can do but that little they are willing and ready to do as occasion offers. Mr. Mac White, who is the Secretary, I have known in connection with Sinn Fein affairs for fifteen years or nearly so. Gavan Duffy too knows him very well. He is not in a position to be of much assistance to us here, but what little he can do he does gladly and we make all possible use of him.
The French press has been most timid about touching the Irish Question up to the present, but we are assured from reliable sources and in fact we see ourselves from day to day quite recently that the press and French public opinion generally is continually growing more and more anti-British, and we believe that once the Peace Treaty has been signed many opportunities will offer for pushing our propaganda here. I am glad to say that we have been already able to arrange with one or two friends to write some articles on Ireland from our point of view in some important French newspapers. M. Goblet, for instance, has promised to do a series for the 'Journal des Debate'. We will have more to say on this subject later.
We think that the period of Madame Vivanti's usefulness here is drawing to a close, and that we shall be able soon to dispense with her services, which we are glad to say have been of the highest value. We still find Victor Collins useful; in fact it would be difficult to get on without some one to do the rough work he is doing, and we propose retaining his services for the present.
Tonight we are having General Hertzog and two of his colleagues to dinner, together with our American friends. We intend to discuss the possibilities of joint action of some kind, either here before the Peace Conference breaks up, or afterwards. We shall take up this subject with the Egyptians also and with some other of the smaller and oppressed nations later, as occasion offers.
Seoirse thinks it well we should let you know that we here have no difficulty in corresponding with America. As far as we can gather there is no interference by French censors. If therefore you have any mail you want sent, and cannot send safely from Ireland or England perhaps you could send it to us from time to time to post here.
I think now I have answered all your points fully as I can and that I have given you the fullest information as to how matters stand here at the moment, together with the possibilities of the future as far as we can foresee them.
With kindest regards and very best wishes from us both,
Sean T. O'Ceallaigh
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