Volume 1 1919~1922

Doc No.

No. 103 DFA ES Box 27 File 158

Memorandum from Harry Boland to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)


New York, 5 August 1921

Dear Mr President,
In conversation with the Secretary of the American Committee for Relief in Ireland, I learn that the Irish White Cross have informed the American Committee that it is not desirable at present to forward any more money, as they (the White Cross) have already a good balance on hand. Is this so?

From the Press reports of the Irish Labor Convention, it appears that there is a grave possibility of a National strike against the proposed decrease in wages, and as the result of the truce I am sure there are thousands of young men idle, and trade conditions generally must be at a very low ebb.

Our best friends here are of opinion that now is the time when the $4,500,000 in the hands of the American Committee for Relief in Ireland should be thrown into Ireland and vigorous reconstruction begun. It is proposed that the American Committee for Relief in Ireland should immediately set about this work and should publicly announce their intention of proceeding forthwith with the job.

Such action on their part would, in the opinion of our friends here, make it impossible for England to re-open her campaign of terror. The Americans would assume that final peace is to come by the present negotiations. They could immediately send out quotations for contracts on building materials etc.

As you are aware four and a half millions of dollars thrown into Ireland now in re-construction would create a very favourable impression, not alone here in America but amongst those in Ireland who are doubtful of the power of the Republic to function.

It would also give much needed employment to our people and might be the means of stabilizing labor conditions, thus obviating the danger of a National strike at this time. It would give an opportunity to the local administrations to re-build roads, bridges and factories destroyed during the war. Working in close co-operation with the White Cross, it would also have an International significance, inasmuch as this American money coming to the relief of Ireland would be a good augury of what would be likely to occur were Ireland free and independent.

Again, it would have great value here. Owing to the truce, we are practically at a standstill. A good instance of the condition of affairs here may be gauged from the fact that the Knights of Columbus in their national convention refused to do anything in the way of Resolutions, fearing that it might embarrass negotiations going on in London. This is true in all organizations outside of those immediately connected with Ireland.

This movement for the reconstruction and rebuilding of Ireland could be capitalized here in the interests of the Republic, it would show the American people that the Government of the Irish Republic is functioning; that during the period of the truce they were rebuilding and restoring their destroyed properties.

If this American work were going on in Ireland, England would find it impossible to resume her campaign of terrorism at a time when America had summoned the Nations of the world to Washington to discuss permanent peace.

We understand that Miss Jane Adams is likely to be a member of the American delegation to discuss disarmament, and you are of course aware that she is also a member of the Committee investigating conditions in Ireland.

These suggestions are made to you in the hope that they will be approved, and that you in turn will place the matter before the Executive of the White Cross. It only requires a call for such work from Ireland when this money can be thrown in behind the Irish people, and from your own experience you will know the wisdom of having the money raised for Ireland in America transferred at the earliest opportunity to Ireland. The details, of course, would have to be worked out between the Irish Relief organizations and the one on this side, but I am convinced that if you favor this scheme no difficulty will be found in having the money transferred at once to Ireland. It would really be a repetition of the American Committee for Devastated France and would be of incalculable benefit to Ireland. It would give much needed relief and employment in Ireland and would have a corresponding effect here in America, showing that at the first opportunity the Irish people proceeded to business and began restoring areas devastated during the late conflict.

I would ask you to give this letter favourable consideration and let me know by return if you agree with the plan, assuming, of course, that if you do you will immediately instruct the White Cross to this effect.

Sincerely yours,
Harry Boland