No. 128 UCDA P150/1900
Art O'Brien to Michael Collins (Dublin)
(No. L. 808) (Copy)
London, 25 December 1920
PEACE MOVES: A message came to me from His Grace yesterday evening and he has himself been to see me this morning. Developments since my previous memo up to the present are as follows: Not having heard anything further from Ll.G, His Grace, yesterday afternoon (between 2 and 3 p.m.) telephoned to him - Ll.G's Secretary (E. R. Davies) spoke and conveyed a message to Ll.G. He returned to say that unless His Grace could obtain the Condition of the surrender of Arms there was no good purpose to be served by a further interview with Ll.G. His Grace repeated the Condition was impossible, and after further conversation Davies said in the circumstances the negotiations should be considered terminated. His Grace asked that accordingly arrangements should be made for his passage to Australia by next boat. His Grace said goodbye to them, considered the matter finished, and began to make his preparations for departure. He telephoned Cooks, found they had instructions, but he was unable to complete on account of some detail, and Cooks were to ring him up again later.
Between 4 and 4.30 p.m. Phillip Kerr (Ll.G's Private Secretary) called upon His Grace. He opened by a general conversation about the proposals for peace, expressing great regret they had come to nothing. He then came down to three specific points. He asked His Grace if he could not re-consider the question of the surrender of Arms. His Grace reiterated it was impossible, as nobody in Ireland would agree to it, he himself would not advise such a step, nor would any Bishop in Ireland. This point was dropped and Kerr said 'Could you not induce the Members of Dail Eireann to accept the Prime Minister's invitation for them to meet.' His Grace replied 'How can they meet when you have so many of them in Prison, and when, if they did meet, the opportunity would probably be taken to arrest and even to shoot others.' The difficulties were discussed, and this point also was subsequently dropped without any definite conclusion. Then Kerr suddenly referred to the case of South Africa and said that directly Botha agreed to the recognition of both flags peace was brought about immediately - he suggested that the same thing could take place in Ireland, but that if we would not recognise the two flags their only alternative policy was to go on as they did in South Africa until they reduced us to a state of impotence.
Apparently he did not ask His Grace definitely to express an opinion on this latter point, and His Grace did not offer an opinion.
During the course of the conversation about Dail Eireann, Kerr threw
out the suggestion that the Irish Hierarchy should step in and effect a
His Grace replied to the effect that the Irish Hierarchy whilst they would be willing to meet Dail Eireann, and discuss matters with them, could not think of usurping the functions of the National Assembly in making terms with another nation.
Finally Kerr left saying he had to see Ll.G prior to a special Meeting of Cabinet that was taking place at 5 p.m. Before going he urged His Grace very strongly not to continue preparations for his departure.
By this morning's post His Grace has received a letter from Kerr referring to their conversation and stating that 'the Prime Minister is calling a special Meeting of the Cabinet for early next week, when he is also meeting some people from Ireland. He would be very glad if Your Grace could conveniently arrange to be in London on Wednesday and Thursday next'. There the matter rests.
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