No. 239 NAI DFA ES Box 11 File 77
Report on the Irish Race Conference in Paris submitted by Diarmuid Coffey,
Michael Hayes, Douglas Hyde and Eoin MacNeill
The Cabinet decided to send a Delegation to the Irish Race Conference in Paris, and it was decided that this Delegation should represent the Irish people, not any particular party. The Cabinet decided to nominate four persons and to ask President de Valera, the leader of the opposition, to nominate four others to go as a joint Delegation to Paris. In pursuance of this the Minister of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to Mr. de Valera, which appears in Annex 'A'1 of this report. The persons nominated by the Cabinet were:- Mr. Eoin MacNeill, Mr. Michael Hayes, Minister for Education, the Lord Mayor of Dublin and Mr. Diarmuid Coffey. To this Delegation was added Mr. Douglas Hyde, and a fifth delegate was nominated by President de Valera. The members nominated by President de Valera were:- President de Valera himself, Countess Markievicz, Miss Mary MacSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork and Mr. Harry Boland.
From the beginning there was no communication between the two sections of the Delegation. Messrs. MacNeill, Hayes, Hyde and Coffey, accompanied by Mr. Seamus Hughes, who acted as Secretary to Mr. MacNeill, left Dublin on Wednesday, January 18th, 1922. Mr. Harry Boland and Fr. Shanley travelled on the same train. They had little communication with the Delegates.
It is understood that this report is submitted by Messrs. MacNeill, Hayes, Hyde and Coffey.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin travelled separately, and at his own expense, and as he left the Congress before its completion, we wish to make it clear that he is not responsible for any of the statements contained in this report.
We had been supplied with a copy of an agenda prepared by the secretariat of the Irish Race Congress at Paris, but as this document seemed confusing, an informal discussion took place on the steamer to Holyhead, at which Mr. B. Farrington, South African Delegate, was present, and at which it was decided that a revised agenda should be submitted on our arrival in Paris. Mr. Coffey showed this proposed agenda to Mr. Harry Boland, but Mr. H. Boland declined to commit himself to any statement about it, though it was purely a business agenda.
We arrived in Paris at 6.30 on the evening of Thursday, the 19th January, and were met at the station by Mr. Joseph Walsh[e], Secretary to the Irish Envoy in Paris, and were brought to the Grand Hotel, where rooms had been engaged for us, we understand, by Mr. Hughes-Kelly. Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh, Irish Envoy in Paris, did not receive us on Thursday evening, but left the hotel accompanied by Mr. Harry Boland soon after we had entered it.
On Friday afternoon we saw Miss Hughes, the secretary who had helped Mr. Hughes-Kelly in organising the Congress, and we arranged with her that a sitting-room should be taken for the use of the Delegates. In this room we met some of the Delegates from overseas, and arranged that a meeting should be called at 3 o'clock on that day, Friday, January 21st, to consider the agenda for the Congress. Mr. Eoin MacNeill was proposed for the Chair, but Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh suggested that Mr. Art O'Brien should take the chair at the informal meeting to consider the agenda as he had been associated with the Conference from the beginning. This was agreed to.
Later in the afternoon of Friday, at a further meeting, Mr. de Valera and the Duc de Tetuan were introduced by Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh, who formally welcomed the Duke. The Duke made some remarks in Spanish, which were translated into English by Mgr. O'Doherty. Mr. Art O'Brien called upon Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh to reply as Republican Envoy in Paris. Mr. O'Ceallaigh in a few remarks in Irish stated that there was a much greater Irishman than he present, and one who could speak in the name of the people of Ireland - Mr. de Valera. Mr. de Valera then replied to the Duke in Irish in a speech to which no exception could possibly be taken, and stated that he knew he was expressing the views of the present President of the Republic, Mr. Arthur Griffith. Mr. Hayes was then called upon to reply on behalf of the Irish Government, which he did in Irish and in French.
The Agenda Committee met: Messrs. MacNeill, Hayes, de Valera and Boland representing Ireland. The following proposal was made by Mr. Eoin MacNeill:-
For Monday: Discussion on Irish language and literature.
For Tuesday: Irish art, Music and physical culture.
For Wednesday: Economics.
For Thursday: The formation of an Irish World Organisation including discus- sion on its aims and objects.
For Friday Morning: Ways and means for the furtherance of the World Organ- isation. (It had become plain that the political question would be raised inevitably in the Conference when the discussion on the aims of a World Organisation came up. On Friday afternoon Mr. Harry Boland had rather scoffed at cultural and economic discussions, stating that we may as well face the facts in Ireland. Mr. MacNeill's proposals were made with the object of getting agreement as far as possible on non-contentious matters, and postponing a political discussion.)
There was immediate objection by English Delegates and by Mr. P.C. O'Mahoney from Brazil. They advocated a political discussion for Monday on party grounds. Mr. de Valera at first supported this but later spoke to Mr. MacNeill, and both agreed to take up the World Organisation question on Wednesday.
A Committee on Credentials of Delegates was then appointed, and a Committee to discuss the aims and objects of the Organisation. The latter Committee consisted of Mr. Cleary, Australia; Mr. B. Farrington, South Africa; Mr. Castellini, America; Mr. Art O'Brien; Mr. de Valera and Mr. Hayes. Mr. Art O'Brien and Mr. Farrington were appointed to take charge of publicity. No definition of credentials was arrived at.
On Saturday Evening:
Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh entertained about fifty Delegates to dinner. He presided, and proposed the toast of the Republic, it being the anniversary of the Dail declaration of the 21st Jany. 1919. He called on President de Valera to reply. The latter made a strong party 'speech' which has already been reported in the Press. Mr. Michael MacWhite, the official representative of Dail in Switzerland, was not invited, though present in Paris. The 'Independent' reporter was present at the dinner, and took notes. Dr. O'Reilly of Australia was then called upon to reply to the toast on behalf of the Irish Overseas. He did not follow Mr. de Valera, but stated that those whom he represented in Australia 'had taken both parties in Ireland to their hearts.' (This sentence does not appear in the 'Independent' report.) Mr. O'Connor, (U.S.A.) and Mr. Bowan, (Argentine) also spoke to the toast. The toast of France was proposed by Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh; replied to by M. Goblet; the toast of Spain was proposed by Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh; replied to by the Duke. The Lord Mayor of Dublin at the conclusion, on his own initiative, proposed the health of Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh. All the members of the Irish Delegation, including Messrs. MacNeill, Hayes and Hyde, were present at the dinner. The speeches lasted from 9 p.m. till 12 on an arranged programme. During this whole time no one of the Cabinet nominees of the Delegation was asked to speak. This boycotting was the subject of comment from the Overseas Delegates.
On Sunday, January 22nd.
In the afternoon the Delegates toured Paris in motorcars. Messrs. MacNeill, Hayes and Coffey did not take part. At the Irish College, Mr. de Valera addressed the students in a strong party speech, and stated that he hoped they would come back to Ireland good Republicans.
During the days we had been in Paris it had become clear that the Irish Envoy's office in Paris was being used as Head-quarters by Messrs de Valera, Art O'Brien and Boland. Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh acted throughout in close conjunction with the opponents of the Government. Mr. MacWhite, Irish Representative at Geneva, placed himself at our disposal, and we cannot over-estimate the assistance he was to us.
On Monday, January 23rd:
Discussion as arranged: Mr. MacNeill in the chair. Papers by Messrs. Hyde, MacNeill and W.B. Yeats.
During the morning session Mr. Desmond FitzGerald arrived. Messrs. Boland and O'Brien immediately called him and stated angrily that they had been appointed by a Committee representative of the Delegates, and that they would not tolerate his (Mr. FitzGerald's) interference. Mr. Boland had no authority in this matter.
On Tuesday, January 24th:
Further papers as arranged. Mr. Cleary of Australia in the chair in the absence of the Rev. Dr. O'Reilly who was ill.
On Tuesday Evening, January 24th, at 4.30:
The Committee on the World Organisation met to discuss a scheme prepared by Mr. Art O'Brien. Typed copies were handed to the members of the Committee at 4 o'clock, (Annex 'B'.)1 Mr. O'Brien had not been asked by the Committee to prepare any such scheme. Mr. de Valera spoke at some length in the Committee on the question of machinery for the organisation. Mr. Hayes suggested that its objects should first be discussed in connection with paragraph two on page one of Mr. O'Brien's draft, and also Mr. O'Brien's partisan resolution for the Delegates of Overseas Organisations. Mr. Hayes pointed out that since the Irish people already possessed cultural and economic independence, these words should be omitted from the statement of aims. He also pointed out that a 'full' ideal was the same as a 'round' circle. Mr. O'Brien and Mr. de Valera protested at great length. Mr. Hayes stated that the plain object was to form a world organisation to back the minority party in Ireland. Mr. de Valera admitted positively that this was the object, and threatened that, if the Congress did not form such an organisation, he would go out and form one for himself. He claimed that as his party 'would be on a hard road' and would be a strength to those who supported the Treaty, they should be supplied with funds by a world organisation. After some further discussion on these points, Mr. de Valera threatened to leave the room and the Congress, but did not do so.
The following object was proposed by Mr. Clear, Australian Delegate:- 'To aid the people of Ireland in the attainment of their political, cultural and economic ideals.' Mr. Hayes agreed to let this go through to the Congress as a basis for discussion without being definitely committed to it himself. Towards the end of the meeting Mr. de Valera inserted the word 'full' before 'Political.' Mr. Hayes objected, but agreed to let the matter go to the Congress for discussion. Mr. O'Brien's proposal on page two of his draft of a resolution to be put before the Overseas Delegates was strongly objected to by Mr. Cleary and Mr. Farrington. It was decided that Mr. O'Brien's personal proposal be brought before the Congress on his own initiative, seconded by Mr. Castellini. On this understanding the Committee dissolved.
The agenda for Wednesday, January 25th. is attached. (Annex 'C'.)2
On Wednesday: Mr. de Valera in the Chair: press excluded. The agenda as appended was discussed and resolutions passed. The motion as to the objects of the organisation then came up, and Mr. MacNeill took exception to the word 'full' in the proposed aims if it was going to be construed to mean that the Organisation would be obliged to help only those who stated that they stood for the immediate attainment of Ireland's full claim. Mr. Hayes explained how and by whom the word 'full' had been inserted at the Committee meeting, and stated that, as it bore no meaning in English, it must have been inserted for some special purpose. There was considerable discussion about the word 'full' in the context. During this discussion Miss. MacSwiney clearly stated that the extreme party wished to get the exclusive support of the organisation, as the Irish Government had government resources to draw upon. Mr. de Valera had made a similar statement in Committee. Miss MacSwiney further stated: 'We don't ask the Overseas Delegates to take the strong measures that we are taking in Ireland… We want you to assist us to the full… The Free State is still born… Political ideals apply to only one section of the Irish people.' Fr. Shanley stated that the Americans would still continue to help Ireland, and would send them arms as before. Mr. de Valera did not dissociate himself from any of these statements.
The Rev. Dr. O'Reilly intervening stated that at first he had not been able to understand how the word 'full' could be political, but he had now been enlightened by the speeches of Mr. de Valera's supporters.
The objects of the Association, as eventually passed, were:- 'To aid the people of Ireland to attain to the full their national, political, cultural and economic ideals, and to help Ireland to take her rightful place among the free nations of the earth.' Mr. MacNeill agreed to this on the clear understanding that the words would not be taken to mean that the Organisation must only help the minority party in Ireland. Mr. de Valera agreed to this.
Mr. Art O'Brien's motion which read as follows:-
'That the delegates from the existing political organisations of the world regret that the delegates from the Irish Government who recently went to England found it impossible to obtain a settlement based on Ireland's full claim. They note that the Treaty is to be accepted as an instalment, and that the final aim of those in favour of the Treaty and those opposed to it, is still recognition of the independent Republic of Ireland, and they promise their kindred at home in Ireland to do all in their power to assist them in the attainment of this objective at an early date.'
then came up for discussion. Mr. O'Brien suggested that only Delegates from places outside Ireland should be heard on this. On this being put to the meeting, Mr. Coffey opposed it on the ground that as a joint delegation had been sent from Ireland under a pledge not to make party capital out of the Congress, it would be necessary to oppose the resolution. This opposition led to the withdrawal of the suggestion that the Irish Delegates should not speak.
Mr. O'Brien then proposed his motion which raised strong opposition on many sides. The previous question was moved by the Rev. Dr. Irwin and carried by 29 votes to 24. Further discussion on organisation was postponed till Friday, as arranged.
Thursday, January 26th:
Economic subjects were discussed: Mr. Art O'Brien in the chair. Miss MacSwiney and Countess Markieviez used the discussion to misrepresent the powers of the Treaty and made statements as to what the future policy of the Irish Government was to be. Mr. Coffey made a statement that the Irish Government was not committed to nationalisation of railways, or any other policy advocated by individual delegates from Ireland.
Friday, January 27th:
Mr. de Valera in the chair: press excluded. A number of the delegates who had voted in the majority on Wednesday had left Paris. Few delegates, all supporters of Mr. de Valera, nominated by telegram were admitted by the Credentials Committee. The de Valera party had, therefore, a majority. (Agenda herewith: Annex 'D'.)3
In the morning of Friday the Congress confined itself to non-contentious business. As can be seen from the agenda, two important matters remained for discussion: (1) the election of an Executive: (2) the motion standing in the name of Mr. Ryan (Australian Delegate) and others, which was practically a repetition of Mr. O'Brien's motion which had been rejected on Wednesday.
After the luncheon interval a short scene was created by the Rev. Dr. O'Reilly
taking exception to some remarks of a political nature. Dr. O'Reilly stated that the Congress was being exploited by Mr. de Valera's followers. He was challenged to prove this, but was interrupted by Mr. de Valera when he began dealing with the dinner of the previous Saturday. Mr. O'Ceallaigh interrupted Mr. de Valera by stating that it was a private matter which should not be dealt with at the Congress.
The election of an executive committee was the next business. It was suggested by several speakers that the Committee should have powers of control and direction over the constituent bodies of the organisation. This was resisted by Mr. MacNeill, and the proposal was not pressed. Mr. Bowen (Argentine Delegate) had been asked by Mr. Boland to propose Mr. de Valera as President and President Griffith as Vice-President. Mr. Bowan saw that this suggestion was undesirable and proposed the Duke of Tetuan as President, and President Griffith and Mr. de Valera as Vice-Presidents. Mr. de Valera brushed this aside as the Committee was to be a purely business executive and the Duke of Tetuan would not be able to attend. It was then agreed that a Committee of seven should be elected which would consist of persons resident within Ireland or 24 hours' journey of Dublin. It was then proposed by Mr. MacNeill that the Executive Committee should be elected as seven persons to chose its own chairman and officers. This would have made the Committee a purely executive body and have eliminated any difficulty about precedence. Mr. de Valera's supporters resisted this and Mr. Boland formally proposed that a President, a Vice-President, an Hon-Secretary and Hon-Treasurer should be appointed with three members of committee. This resolution was carried on a purely party vote. Mr. Bowen then proposed President Griffith as President, but this proposal was withdrawn on its being pointed out by Mr. de Valera and others that President Griffith had not consented to let his name go forward. Mr. O'Connor (U.S.A. delegate) then proposed Mr. de Valera as President. Mr. de Valera stated that he would only allow his name to go forward if he were elected unanimously on the clear understanding that his election had no party significance. Mr. MacNeill accepted Mr. de Valera's statement that he would not use the position of President of the Committee for any party purpose, and supported Mr. de Valera, who was elected unanimously. Mr. de Valera proposed Mr. MacNeill as Vice-President, and he was elected unanimously. Mr. Hughes-Kelly was unanimously elected Hon. Secretary and the Rev. Dr. Irwin Hon-Treasurer. Mr. Hutchinson (Scottish Delegate) and Mr. O'Connor (American delegate) were elected unanimously as members of the Committee, though Mr. O'Connor did not come within the rule of residing not more than 24 hours' journey from Dublin. On a ballot Mr. Art O'Brien was elected by 29 votes to 21 given for Mr. P.J. Kelly. Mr. Hayes was proposed for election, but withdrew his name, and stated that, while he accepted Mr. de Valera's assurance that he would not make party use of the Organisation, the people supporting Mr. de Valera would not allow him to carry out this pledge. This concluded the election of officers and committee. Mr. de Valera then asked Mr. Ryan and the supporters of his resolution to allow it to be withdrawn. They accepted this with some protest.
The next meeting of the Congress was fixed for 1925 in Dublin. The Congress then adjourned until Saturday morning.
Saturday, January 28th:
There was a general discussion: Mr. de Valera presiding. The political aspect of the organisation was discussed, and Mr. MacNeill again insisted that all the constituent parts should be free in their interpretation of policy.
The name Fine Ghaedhail was adopted for the Organisation. As Mr. MacNeill was the only supporter of the Government on the Committee, we refer to his report for an account of the Committee meetings held on Sunday, January 29th. (Annex 'E'.)4
It should be noted that, taking advantage of the party majority on the closing day of the Congress, the supporters of Mr. de Valera succeeded in placing four active and declared opponents of the Irish Government on the Executive Committee of seven, and only one declared supporter of the Government was elected.
Copies of letters addressed by Overseas Delegates to Mr. de Valera subsequent to the Committee meeting on Sunday, are appended. (Annex 'F' and 'G'.)5
Apart from the meetings of the Congress, we entertained a number of men eminent in Celtic and allied studies to dinner on Saturday, 28th. Messrs. Meillet, Joseph Loth, Ferdinand Lot, Vendries, Goblet, Hurbert and Sommerfelt were present. We also entertained Mr. Albert Thomas and Mr. Edward Phelan, the Chief of the International Labour Branch of the League of Nations and its Secretary respectively.
On Thursday, the 30th we entertained a number of Overseas Delegates, Prof. Marstranler, and some other distinguished persons interested in Ireland.
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