No. 2 NAI DFA ES Box 35 File 251

Letter from Count Gerald O'Kelly de Gallagh to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(Confidential) (Copy)

Brussels, 8 March 1926

A Chara,
I have seen a reference in the press recently (the occasion being a letter from the London agent of a French firm of contractors to the Kilkenny County Council) to a commercial treaty recently concluded between Saorstát Éireann and France. I have already had occasion to refer to similar allusions concern­ing the negotiation of this treaty, as well as to allusions to commercial treaties between Saorstát Éireann, Canada, and South Africa. When however I asked for information concerning the projected French treaty, some little time ago, I was advised that the negotiations had not yet reached the stage where details could be made public and since then I have received no information whatever on the subject. I am sure that you will appreciate that it is in no carping spirit that I refer to the subject again, but because I find myself con­stantly embarrassed by a lack of information on such subjects. I met casually in the tram the other day a functionary attached to the Commercial Section of the Ministère des Affaires Etrangères in Brussels and he informed me that as soon as his Department had finished with the trade agreement they were han­dling at the moment with another European power, they proposed getting on with the Irish-Belgian commercial treaty. That is all the information he gave me and I need not tell that I did not ask him any more, but changed the sub­ject with the intention of conveying the impression that I was perfectly au courant, but for obvious reasons did not wish to discuss it in a public place.

I very respectfully submit that it should be a matter of elementary routine at home that any information concerning Saorstát Éireann's relations with any other country, should be conveyed immediately to the representatives abroad. Naturally such information would not be for publication, but I know that in the case of every other country the overseas agents are kept continu­ally posted on all such matters.

I would take this occasion of most respectfully asking you to take me more into your confidence, not only in this matter, but in general in all matters of policy at home. Do not forget that the position of a representative abroad in the present circumstances is a very isolated one and that if he is not kept in the confidence of the home Government by frequent information concerning home activities, intentions and points of view, he cannot fail to get out of touch and to the extent that he is out of touch, to diminish his potential value as a Government agent.

Another very important point on which it appears to be essential that I be kept posted is that of the day to day relations between Saorstát Éireann and London. These relations will be for some time at all events a very important factor in all our foreign policy and as I am constantly being asked in private conversations questions of a delicate nature concerning these relations, you will, I am sure, appreciate as much as I do, the absolute necessity of my being kept fully informed of all developments concerning them.

Hitherto my only source of information concerning Anglo-Irish relations, or League of Nations' policy, or commercial treaties between Saorstát Éireann and other countries, or concerning the attitude of the Government on any of the thousand and one more or less important questions of home policy has been the press. I need not point out to you the undesirability of such a medium of information even were we possessed of a reliable and national press. In the actual circumstances all information leaks out to me through the distorting lenses of the Independent or the Irish Times. This I try to correct by means of some of the weekly publications – the Irish Statesman, The Leader, Irish Truth etc. – but with the best will in the world, you can see the difficulty of my perceiving the mind of the Government through such a host of varying media.

It is in the absolute conviction of the impossibility of the present system ever evolving into anything practical that I appeal to you to change it and to adopt a direct personal means of communication in the shape of frequent letters to keep me in touch with the mind of the Government at home.

Mise, do chara,
[copy letter unsigned]

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