No. 47 NAI DFA ES Paris 1920
Paris, 10 September 1920 (Received 21 September 1920)
When I read in the papers the news of the strange action of the French Government towards G.[avan] Duffy I at once hastened back and resumed charge of the work here. I have seen MacWhite who has for some time been employed by Duffy in the office and have heard his story of the affair. In well informed circles outside I have made enquiries as to the cause of the Government's action, the forces at the back of it and also the possibilities of Duffy's being permitted to return. From all I have learned it would appear that the officials in the French Foreign Office took this strong step because of the publication by Duffy of his letter to Millerand without the latter's consent. I also gather that they were of opinion that at least one paragraph in the letter was such as in their opinion would involve them in trouble with England unless they repudiated it in some manner even before England would have had time to make a protest to them. Of course it may be taken for granted that England has been pressing on the French Govt. for a long time to suppress the Irish propaganda in France but I am given to understand the Government resisted this demand until this incident gave her a slight pretext.
Of course the time at my disposal has not been sufficient to enable my enquiries to penetrate very deep and also I am under the great disadvantage of not having seen Duffy or having heard his side of the story but all things considered it seems that the above is the most probable cause of the French Government's strong step. Even if this be true I personally cannot see what else Gavan Duffy could have done but publish the letter when it is understood that his chief work and the primary work of all of us in the Continent is to carry on propaganda.
What the prospects of Duffy's being allowed to return are it is difficult to say yet. It is certain that the press has not supported the Government's action. On the contrary it has been very much criticised all round even by such organs as 'Le Temps'. Nevertheless though the press is against the Government and even though as I have heard, the expulsion is now, in some official circles, said to have been a blunder, the consensus of opinion here seems to be that once the Government has taken the step and the matter having become public they are most unlikely to go back on their decision at least for some time.
I have been told that it is very likely that the matter will be raised in the Chambre and that the Government will most probably reply that their action was not directed against Ireland and was not even to be taken as an expression of opinion by the Government one way or the other on the Irish Question. I would suggest personally, that the best thing for us to do is to wait on and watch developments till the Chamber opens. Meanwhile, I am pursuing enquiries and will keep you informed of what measures, if any, can be taken to have the interdiction against Duffy withdrawn.
Pending the receipt of the Cabinet's instructions on the matter I think it is advisable for me to exercise prudence in the work here as I presume the Cabinet would agree as to the desirability of Ireland's continued representation in Paris. If however the Cabinet decides that a vigorous protest should be made to the French Government I await instructions. I think we may assume that vigorous action of any kind would put an end to work being carried on here.
Sean T O'Ceallaigh
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