No. 37 NAI DE 4/1/3
Dublin, June 1920
The work of the Department of Foreign Affairs does not lend itself easily to the presentation of a detailed report. The following is however a brief summary of the most important of its activities since last session and any further information which members may desire will be given verbally.
The work of the delegation in Paris has for the most part consisted of propaganda work amongst the French Press and People. The strongest force in France at present is the fear of Germany, and although England's actions in connection with the Treaty of Versailles and the negotiations following upon the Armistice have aroused distrust of her in the French mind, the fear of Germany is so great that France is very anxious not to break with England. Hence official France is not prepared to take the side of Ireland in her present struggle. The Paris Press is for the most part governed in its outlook by the prevailing official view-point and is accordingly very guarded in its expressions on Irish questions. In the provinces, the Press exercises enormous influence; the views of the peasantry are largely derived from their paper. Generally speaking the French Peasant knows very little about Ireland. Your delegation has been engaged by means of special articles, by the supply of items of news-interest, the correction of false reports by English propagandists, interviews with journalists and editors etc, in an endeavour to induce the French Press to adopt a friendly tone in dealing with Ireland. Their efforts have so far been attended with considerable success. A number of influential Paris and provincial papers have from time to time been induced to publish articles of a very useful and informative character and the general tendency to accept British slanders as correct is rapidly decreasing. To meet the international situation and to supplement the work of the Paris mission, arrangements have been made to supply needed information and to attack the source of English mis-representations by getting directly at the representatives of the Foreign Press in London. This activity comes however more properly under the head of Propaganda. An ambitious scheme of establishing a press bureau in Paris in connection with the French delegation was suggested by Mr. Duffy, but it has not been found practicable to undertake this - mainly owing to the difficulty of securing suitable French assistance for the purpose.
It was reported to the Dail at its last session that the President was anxious that both Mr. Sean T. O'Kelly and Mr. Gavan Duffy should remain on at Paris. It was also reported that both were anxious to get home. The Ministry had agreed to Mr. Sean T. O'Kelly's return about the end of November last, but he became very ill about this time. Shortly after his convalescence he proceeded to Rome intending to spend a short period there and then to return to Ireland. Unfortunately he was again taken very ill while in Rome and, while he has somewhat recovered, he is still in very poor health. I regret to have to report that Mr. Duffy has also been very ill of late, but he is now convalescent. I fear that the strain of the last year and a half is telling upon them, and it may be necessary for them both to take an extended holiday.
Mr. D. Hales, the Consul in Italy, has done a very large amount of propagandist work in the Italian Press. The tone of the Press of Italy is very friendly, and the papers are very willing to publish material about Ireland, but there as in France, false statements about our Cause are introduced under cover of 'news' and are contested daily by Mr. Hales. On the occasion of the beatification of Blessed Oliver Plunkett, a delegation consisting of Count O'Byrne, Professor Stockley and Art O'Brien and I as a member of the Ministry went to Rome on behalf of the Dail to represent the Government of the Republic at the beatification ceremonies. Sean T. O'Kelly and Mr. D. Hales also took part in the delegation. The effect of this official visit was very useful and was of great assistance in counteracting a very strong British campaign which was for some time being carried on in Vatican circles. Members will already have realised from the British Press that high hopes had been based upon this campaign, and that very great disappointment has been felt by the enemy at its failure. I was also received by the Pope in private audience, and His Holiness showed an acute and lively interest in the affairs of Ireland.
Other European Countries:
So far beyond an endeavour to secure a favourable press for Ireland which has been more or less successful in Switzerland, Spain and other Countries, no great progress has been made. The position in Germany has hitherto been such that it is very difficult to make much headway. A number of our most suitable pamphlets have been translated into German for the purpose of circulation in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and in the other German-speaking Countries.
The Ministry are of opinion that the time is now ripe for appointing Consuls and diplomatic agents in various European Countries with a view to preparing the way for the presentation of a formal demand for recognition, and acting on the advice of the President, they will ask you to select a number of suitable persons for such posts, and to make the necessary appropriations for the appointment of such agents in Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland. The President is very anxious that the Delegation should proceed at once to Russia, and a proposal in connection with this matter will be laid before the House.
The President as the members are aware, is still in the United States. He has made a tour of practically the entire country and has been received everywhere with great enthusiasm. In addition to his tours, and to the launching of the Bond Drive, he has busied himself in keeping the Irish Claim before the Congress of the United States. The Presidential election campaign is now in full swing and is claiming his attention. He attended the Republican Convention held in Chicago a few weeks ago, and laid before them the Irish demand.
He will also present the claim of Ireland to the Democratic Party Convention and will endeavour to secure the adoption of a plank in the platform of that party to bind them to the recognition of the Republican Government of Ireland. The result of his appearance at the Republican Convention has not yet been officially communicated to us, but it is clear that so far that party are not prepared to declare themselves definitely for recognition.
This portion of my Report would be incomplete if it did not refer to the attitude of Supreme Court Judge Daniel F. Cohalan and John Devoy towards the President and his mission. The Ministry learn that these men have never given their whole-hearted support to the President in his campaign. At the very outset, they used their utmost endeavour to prevent the launching of the Bond Drive, and they attempted to force the President into the position of accepting their dictation in all matters of policy connected with his mission. The President has definitely refused to allow his judgement or his actions to be dictated by these men, and the success of his tour and of the Bond Drive are a proof of his wisdom in this matter.1
The stand taken by the President is that the policy and action of the Irish People must be decided in Ireland.
The co-ordination of Irish opinion in the United States as well as in Canada and Australia has received attention from the President, and certain proposals in this connection will be put before you. You will also be asked to take certain steps in connection with the campaign for Recognition of the Republic in the United States.
Your representative in the Argentine Republic was, shortly after his arrival, conscripted under the Military Service Acts of that country. He has now, however, been released from service and is endeavouring to organise Irish opinion there. He is much handicapped by the want of a suitable paper to educate public opinion. He has laid before the Ministry a proposal for the establishment of a Review to be printed in Spanish for this purpose. The Ministry are in communication with the President regarding this project.
In conclusion I wish to say that the President has expressed himself as extremely satisfied with the manner in which the fight has been carried on in Ireland during his absence. The constructive side of the activities of the Dail and the ever increasing extent to which they are assuming the functions of a de facto government is one of the greatest arguments for Recognition. So far a formal demand has not been presented to any country, but the opportunity for this may occur very shortly. The numerous resolutions of local public bodies pledging their allegiance to the Dail will be of great value in support of such a demand.
The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.
The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....