No. 70 NAI DFA ES Box 9 File 61

Erskine Childers to Robert Brennan
(Copy)

Dublin, 30 March 1921

A Chara,
Yours of yesterday.1
I write immediately to say I must question the advisability of placing the responsibility for propaganda departments in foreign countries upon the Director here. I do not see how he can exercise effective control, at any rate in places like Berlin and America and as stated in a previous letter, I was not aware that control from here was intended. The point is new to me, and I think requires talking over. I should be glad if you would put it to the President at once.

For example I do not know anything about the propaganda work done in America. There are no records about it in the office and no information was given me when I took over - as to character, extent, cost etc. I wrote of course to H.[arry] B.[oland] but not in the role of a controller; asking him to let me know the character and extent of work, how I could best help and forwarding a quantity of pamphlets etc with a view to finding out what would be most useful - In a similar sense to S. T. O'C[eallaigh] and G.[avan] D.[uffy] and A.[rt] O'B [rien] - in the sense that is of close co-operation not of direct administrative control.

Decisions have been made since I took over which seemed to me to imply that I was not to be in control. Berlin for example I was asked for my opinion as to merits of two alternate schemes, but not for my opinion as the policy of starting the branch.

I had a full letter from S. T. O'C[eallaigh] the other day as to his various activities, but I have no idea what his work costs and financial control and administrative control run together.

London again - I feel no grip on the work done there and was not aware that I was definitely to control it and give orders as regards propaganda. It is on a footing of consultation, rather, I would say. Part of A. O'B's letter in answer to mine referred to above consisted of suggestions for action here and numerous reforms. He said that it might be possible in future to print the Bulletin in London (I had not suggested this) if required but that it would depend on the financial allocation to his department etc. Now, as a test supposing this step was thought by me advisable, should the initiative be taken by me in proposing, that a grant be made for this.

If there is control there should be regular reports from all outside branches of this Dept. Is this done? From America for example I have not any. Of course I am rather in the dark it may be that the President intended when I took over, that a new system should be inaugurated - not in existence before, and that there is a misunderstanding which I did not notice before.

At any rate, as regards finance. I trust it is quite clearly understood that the rough figure of expenditure at this rate of £10,000 a year for this Department was not meant to cover the expenses of foreign branches - Paris, Berlin, America etc. - perhaps we could have a little conference on this important point.

Another point. Two emissaries are I believe to go to South Africa; one came to me; the identity of the other I know only by report. I was not asked about their suitability - I am not criticising, merely querying. The position should be clearly defined.

1Not printed.


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