No. 6 DFA ES Box 28 File 175
CHICAGO, 8 December 1922
I beg to report to you the following interviews which I had during the last few days:-
Dr Constantine E McGuire: He stated that, as the result of conversations which he had with people with different points of view on the present Irish situation, he was of opinion that the Irish Free State would act wisely as regards American opinion if it were to execute no more rebels. (1) He said that the opinion of the average type of Irish American who is a supporter of the Free State does not approve of these executions, and that some among them, if this policy is persisted in, may give their support to the Irregulars: that the idea of execution for political offences is not popular in the U.S.A. and that it is hardly ever resorted to.
(2) There is the American who has never interested himself sympathetically in Irish affairs - one might speak of him as the average American - and who either believes that the Irish Free State is adopting the only policy which is effectual for the maintance of its existence or who are indifferent in the matter.
(3) Finally, there is the active supporter of the Irregulars whom the present policy of the Irish Free State will incite to further activity to influence many Irish Americans to rally to the Irregulars. It will lead to reprisals in Ireland and, possibly here.
He is also of opinion that the association of the setting up of the Free State with executions may have a future historical significance that may perpetuate obstacles for its functioning and may act in the minds of the young as an incitement to future rebellions.
Mr Hugh O'Neill of Chicago - a leading citizen of this city, a Clans man and one who played a very prominent part in organising the Americans against the Black and Tan regime, had intimate connections with de Valera when here, also Sir Roger Casement, etc.
Mr J.A. McGarry of Chicago who has had associations similar to those of O'Neill and who was the backbone of the Irish here since his early manhood.
Mr O'Mahony, a very prominent supporter of the Irish cause here.
The opinion of these three men is that the Irish Free State is pursuing the only policy consonant with the maintenance of its very existence: their regret is that it was not pursued at an earlier date. If it had, probably Mr Collins would be alive to-day. They are particularly wrathful with de Valera whom they regard as the prime cause of the present situation. They state that he divided and broke the influence of the Irish in this country; he returned to Ireland and accomplished the same there. According to them the Irregulars have no supporters worthy of the name in this town (Chicago). Their present supporters are a few discontents of no status whatever in Chicago, and they are unable to raise any funds. There was a meeting here last week of the various Councils to consider their attitude towards the present situation in Ireland with the result that by a majority they declared in favour of the Free State. The Napper Tandy Council met also last week with a similar result.
I asked these gentlemen their opinion about a propaganda to counter the activities of the Irregulars in the U.S.A. They strongly disapproved of it. They say in the first place there is no need of it as the supporters of the Irregulars will not gain adherents to their cause; they will get no money, and any kind of active propaganda would create an impression that their power is greater than it is. It is better to ignore them. The most effective propaganda is frequent dignified statements from the Government of the Irish Free State showing that it is functioning successfully and is determined to do so, and that it is going to pursue a policy to achieve that end. The recent statements that have appeared in the papers here dealing with Ireland are effective for this end. With the successful functioning of the Government hostility on the part of the Irregulars will become innocuous or disappear.
A public statement to the effect that the Cabinet of the Irish Free State has decided to pay off its obligations to the American people would have most desirable results. It will establish the Free State Government highly in the esteem of the American people, and raise the financial credit of the country, especially, at a time when other countries are trying to have their debts to this country cancelled. It will be very effectual publicity.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Patrick J. Collins, brother of the late General Michael Collins. In many respects he is very like him and seems a very intelligent and alert man. His views are similar to those I have recited above.
Rev.Wm.F.Cahill, who is responsible for the paper published here weekly, called the 'Irish Republic', copies of which I have sent you; he was also the president of the Central Council for the A.A.R.I.R. in Illinois.
In company with Mr McGrath I interviewed him to-day in connection with the lists of subscribers to the Second Loan issued here. We received very bad accounts of him; perhaps, to some extent prejudiced. He received us genially and told us he would help us in our inquiries. Before going to him we had already ascertained that every thing was in order as regards the Second Loan. He discussed politics a little and expressed a desire to have some one mediate and bring both parties to some common understanding. He mentioned the name of the Most Revd Dr Mannix1 as a probably effective arbitrator. This is the third indication I have experienced recently of anxiety on the part of the supporters of the Irregulars to effect a settlement.
He mentioned that the Irish Americans are at present quite apathetic as regards Ireland, and that they would prefer to discuss Armenia and the Turk to discussing Ireland; also, one could not obtain a nickle at present for the Irish Cause.
One hears many conflicting views on the present situation from those who were interested in the Irish cause. Personally, I am of opinion that those who wish well to the Free State and who disapprove of the execution of rebels will not give any active support to the Irregulars, and that the ultimate success of the Free State will make them forget their resentment. One thing is certain; the supporters of the Friends of Irish Freedom are either strong supporters of the actions of the Free State or are indifferent. The average American gives his notional assent to the policy of the Free State Government, as also all the important Newspapers with few exceptions.
Mise, le meas,
[signed] T.A. SMIDDY
P.S. The announcement made by Harvey, American Ambassador in London, a cutting of which was sent to you, will be productive of much good here for the Free State.
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