No. 18 NAI DFA ES Box 28 File 185
Extracts from a letter from Timothy A. Smiddy to Desmond FitzGerald (Dublin)
(Private and Confidential)
WASHINGTON, 15 January 1923
I mentioned in my letter of the 6th Jan.1 the necessity of organising an efficient Secret Service in the U.S.A. The necessity has become so urgent that I have engaged the activities of some of the most efficient Secret Service agents in New York. For tracing the connection of the Reds with the Irregulars – especially Larkin's2 affiliations – I have secured the agents who have worked on this organisation and who are still pursuing their investigations for the U.S.A. Department of Justice. I cabled you to-day for authorisation for the expenditure necessary for this work as also for discovering by whom guns and ammunition are being exported from this country to Ireland.
Naturally it is impossible to give an estimate of the cost of work of this character but in my opinion it is absolutely vital. However it can be discontinued at short notice: and it is better to utilise some of the large Secret Service organisations on this side than organise one ourselves afresh.
I shall give you the following details which I have already obtained:-
Larkin: He is an Hon. Member of the Soviet Council of Moscow. When a Captain Kirkpatrick was imprisoned in Russia and the American Government sought his release from the Soviet Government the latter agreed to do so on the condition that the American Government would release Larkin.
The American Government did not agree to this arrangement.
A Mr. Kollowski, agent of the Soviet Government was deported from here and when he returned to Russia he had charge of the prison in which Captain Kirkpatrick was: he treated Kirkpatrick inhumanly. He returned recently to the United States and was arrested and is now serving a sentence of a few years in a Federal prison. When on trial here Captain Kirkpatrick who had meanwhile been released gave evidence against him for the maltreatment to which he subjected Kirkpatrick.
It is believed by Secret Service agents in this country that Larkin was an agent of the British Government who sought his release from prison here some time ago with the object of having him go to South Africa.
This happened at the time of the strong Separatist movement led by Hertzog. This connection was affected by the agents I have employed.
Cullen: This man is, I am informed, of Irish descent born in Liverpool. He is here many years and is a violent Communist. I was told by another Secret agent that he was the most violent of the Irish Reds in New York and that the followers of Mrs Muriel MacSwiney were in close association with him. That he was a Gunman ready to act. This information was mentioned to me in connection with the intention to shoot if opportunity presented itself Geddes, Judge Coholan, and your representative after the execution of Mellows. On the same occasion it was mentioned that this attempt would be carried out if De Valera were executed.
When discussing with the Secret agents to whom I have referred above they stated that Larkin had in their opinion some connection with the Bomb explosion in Wall Street with the intention of demolishing Morgan's Bank. They also mentioned that an Irishman by the name of Cullen was the driver of the cart that took the Bomb. They have not sufficient evidence to indict him. When I mentioned that I was informed from another source that Cullen was a very dangerous individual and a most violent Irish Communist in New York they saw therein a confirmation of their opinion of that man. He is an intimate associate of Larkin and Larkin's brother, Peter Larkin. He frequents the house in which Peter Larkin resides.
Peter Larkin is another Irish Communist and was recently active in Montreal where Mrs Skeffington organised a meeting with the co-operation of the Communist Council of Montreal. Naturally this meeting was not held ostensibly under the auspices of this Council.
A man named O'Brien is another Irish Communist of the type of Cullen with whom he is intimately associated though not quite so violent.
Patrick McClellain, Irish Communist and great friend of Jim Larkin. He headed the Amnesty meeting on last May day for the Release of Political prisoners.
Tallantyre: This man is of Irish descent, born in England, spent nine years in Canada, and is now an active member of the United Communist party.
O'Flaherty: Born in Ireland, an active Communist.
Gallagher: Communist who endeavoured to organise a Bank in the West with the object of collecting money from Irish Americans. The project did not succeed.
Some of these latter have been indicted with Russian Anarchists.
At present they are on bail – in all about twenty – having given Bonds to the value of $225,000. The fact that the Anarchists have been able to find readily this money shows they have large financial resources.
The United Communist party spent in propaganda work in U.S.A. for the eleven months ending November last $1,880,000: they have 67 Communist publications with a total circulation of eight million a month.
It is quite obvious that the Russian Communists will utilise the Irregulars to endeavour to establish in Ireland a Soviet form of Government, while the Irregulars will willingly accept their aid to destroy the Free State.
The head of the Detective Service in New York is greatly concerned over the Larkin incident and is strongly of opinion that he will be made the rallying ground for a fresh assault in Ireland. He is prepared if necessary to sign an affidavit as to his affiliations on this side, in case your Government desires to take steps on his arrival there.
The publicity and propaganda incidental to his release will add considerably to his prestige and make his entry into Ireland a grave problem for the Government. Whatever action is taken by your Government with regard to Larkin should be carefully considered and based upon grounds that will clearly and definitely align public opinion on the side of the authorities. No trivial technical charges should be put forward in this case. In my judgement it is time to awaken the Irish people everywhere to the dangers that lie in the present open alliance between de Valera and those who are seeking to impose the Soviet form of Government.
No more important issue could be raised in the coming elections than this.
I shall inform you of any further details I shall obtain about the connections between the Communists and Irregulars on this side.
As regards guns and ammunition: A man named McGee seems to be mainly instrumental in shipping guns from Hoboken; there is associated with him a Mr Reynolds. I am having these men carefully watched at present.