No. 82 NAI DFA ES Box 29 File 178
WASHINGTON, 11 May 1923
I enclose two memoranda which contain almost verbally some conversations which took place last week between some of the chief organizers of the Irregulars in New York.
I respectfully request that on no account shall it be made public as its origin would be thus easily traced. Hence, I have marked it absolutely private and confidential.
Mise, le meas,[signed] T.A. SMIDDY
ABSOLUTELY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.
Speaking about the death of Laurence Ginnell, the 'Ambassador' of the Irish Republic. Miss - - - said, [']that was a very hard blow in more than one way. Of course, we all knew that Ginnell was a very sick man, but, dying as he did, has caused a lot of complications we didn't foresee, but should have. We could not very well supervise Ginnell's accounts as we could do with one of our own people, and, in consequence, there's a lot of trouble before us, getting Ginnell's financial affairs straightened out - if we ever do.
I don't mean to say that there was anything wrong on Ginnell's part, but there must be fifteen or twenty thousand Dollars that we don't know how to go about looking for. Mrs Ginnell is on the way back to the old country and we couldn't very well demand any accounting from her.
Miss - - - said, there is always something good about most things, no matter how bad they may look and taking Ginnell's body back to Ireland has given Major Kelly an opportunity to make a flying visit back to Ireland. You can bet that Kelly will make good use of his time while he's in Ireland. It will be a good thing too, for Major Kelly will get right in touch with the President (de Valera). The best of it is they (Free Staters) won't dare to interfere with Kelly, whereas any one else would be watched like a hawk.[']
The following conversation took place a few days later:
[']As was said before[,] Ginnell had a lot of Money in his possession, and a lot of incomplete transactions in the air, when he died. Some of these transactions and funds were in the name of the Republic, but most of them were in Ginnell's personal account. Now we're up in the air, and don't know where to start in at to straighten things out and our people in Philadelphia and Washington are quarrelling like dogs, so the first thing we know it will be in the newspapers and that will destroy or cripple our movement for funds.
Mrs Skeffington and Peter McSwinney decided that it would be best to let the matter drop, but unfortunately Joe McGarrity and Joe O'Doherty don't pull together on the subject.
O'Doherty wants to have all Ginnell's affairs straightened out, regardless of any scandal it might cause, while McGarrity believes that silence and diplomacy is the best policy at this time. So it means that we have another split in our ranks, right at the very top this time. Major Kelly we hope, will be able to get the President (de Valera) to advise O'Doherty the proper thing to do. One thing is certain[,] we cannot afford to have any more trouble in our ranks, or we might as well throw up the sponge. There are quite a number of Irish- Americans who resent the attitude of some of the emissaries that are coming over here.'
ABSOLUTELY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.
At a private meeting of some of the chief organizers of the Irregulars the following conversations took place:-
'Our organization was getting unwieldy, splitting up into factions, and fighting like cats and dogs, until, finally we lost so much ground over here, that it was hurting the people on the other side (Ireland) who are depending on us for their supplies. And, then in order to make our organization effective, we had to get rid of a lot of 'dead timber' without antagonizing them, if possible, and practically organize all over again, with a very small and effective central body, and we are going to take in some new material.'
[']We are going to operate along Fenian lines.[']
The conversation then turns to the reported cessation of hostilities in Ireland, and the published accounts of peace overtures by de Valera. Continuing Miss - - - said [']the fight is only starting. There have been some very bad losses to our side, but in a very short while there will be a new kind of war-fare, and some of the Free State politicians will not find their jobs so attractive, and possibly their lives so secure, as they think they are. Something is in the wind just now and if certain elements get together there will be a great surprise.'
On being asked what the surprise would be Miss - - - made the following reply: 'We have got the situation lined up nicely here. What I mean in fact, is the Irish Labor element. If we can get Jim Larkin to line up and ?take programme? from the President (de Valera) well, things will pick up once more; if not, the trouble will get to be more personal. A terrible vow had been made by the prisoners in Irish Jails, forfeiting the lives of Mulcahy and Cosgrave and all their assistants in the Free State. Well, it may be decided that the friends of those poor prisoners will take up the vow for them.'
Speaking of the Strike on the Ships Miss - - - said 'It's been a Godsend to us in one way, because we have been able to send a couple of good men over to England, and if the strike keeps on, or spreads, we will be able to do still better. Before when we had a friend aboard one of the regular ships, he soon became known, now we can drop one or two men on any ship that's having trouble, simply as strike breakers or ?scabs? as they are called, and nobody is any the wiser. Men secured at the last minute before sailing are not scrutinized as closely as if they were secured in regular times, and we can use different men occasionally, instead of using the same ones continually.'
Asked about Larkin Mrs Skeffington said 'that allowances would have to [be] made for Larkin in any future plans. As between what J.L. calls a ?bourgeois government? and what de Valera calls Jim's ?communism? there is a middle ground that I'd like to see both of them standing on. It is my idea that Ireland will best work its destiny out as a co-operative commonwealth, and I have so stated many times. I would not be a bit surprised to see the President (de Valera) and Larkin get together on the subject and when I get back to Ireland, if I am left out of jail long enough, I'll do all I can to get Jim and the President to adopt common ground, for the fight is going on just the same.'
Mrs Skeffington is going to Ireland in a couple of weeks, simply to confer with de Valera, and to give him a complete report from our central Executive Committee.
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.
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