No. 250 NAI DFA ES Box 30 File 199

George Gavan Duffy to Timothy A. Smiddy (Cork)

(Strictly private and confidential) (Copy)

Dublin, 10 March 1922

A Chara,
In view of your proximate departure to the United States, I want to give you a special note on certain matters.

(1) Finance. Upon this I presume you have already received instructions, with particular reference to the assurances we have had that America will make no concessions to England unless and until this country is completely satisfied: also with reference to the possibility of getting America to take up direct with us any portion of the War Loan or British Public Debt for which we may eventually be found responsible. Some of the persons to whom Mr. Douglas is giving you an introduction may be of use in this matter, but you will realise that those people are not our own.

(2) Irish Representatives Abroad. It is important that you should thoroughly realise the position which we take up in this matter, and which is likely to be taken up under the Free State. We claim that within the terms of the Treaty that right is unquestionable upon the Canadian precedent, and in this connection I would specially refer you to the statement on page 253 and following pages, especially the foot-note on page 256, of 'The British Commonwealth of Nations' by H. Duncan Hall. I hand you a copy of that book herewith. The book should be studied generally in connection with Dominion status and the extensions that we are likely to give to that term. In this and other connections, it will be important for you to get into touch with as many diplomatic and political personages as possible.

(3) League Of Nations. You will have to deal tactfully with the question of Ireland's intentions as to joining the League of Nations. The Versailles Treaty was defeated in America largely through Irish influence, and one of the main arguments used was the British preponderance which rendered the League of Nations a bogus institution; another argument was that under Article 10 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, every country becoming a member of the League ipso facto guarantees to the other members their existing territory, and thereby incidentally guarantees the British usurpation in Ireland.

Consequently some Irish Americans are fiercely opposed to participation by Ireland in the League. In spite of some pronouncements by prominent Irishmen here, neither you nor they can say definitely what attitude the Government and Parliament of the Free State, if and when established, may adopt in the matter of joining the League, but it is legitimate to point out judiciously that the Irish people may consider that to refrain from joining would be to throw away one of their best weapons, since the League will give them an unrivalled forum if they desire to attack the iniquities of the British Imperialism in such places as India, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Moreover, now that Ireland's servitude is no longer assured under Article 10, that Article does not present the same difficulty to us as it otherwise would have, if in fact by joining the League, we stand to gain, and Americans and Irish-Americans have no grievance if we do decide to join it, for what was right in 1919 is not necessarily right today.

A very important reason which may weigh with Ireland in deciding whether to join the League is the fact that its members are bound to arbitration and it would seem that any future dispute between us and England would thereby be a subject for arbitration by an independent umpire.

(4) Unity Of Irish Americans. Perhaps the most important matter for immediate attention is the necessity for bringing together the Irish Americans who have split into groups during the past three years. This requires very great circumspection, and I shall, if possible, send out someone to you, who being closely in touch with some of the Irish American leaders may be a help.1 For the present, it would be best for you not to move actively in this direction, but rather to use all your efforts to prevent any widening of the breaches that exist. Thus, for instance, discouraging recrimination and discouraging the holding of public meetings likely to lead to more acerbity. It will be well for you to report fully on this matter from time to time, and to send your correspondence by friendly persons travelling to Ireland, rather than through the post; any confidential correspondence, if not in code, should be sent in this way.

I think you will find it generally recognised among Irish Americans that the future of this country is for Irish people to decide, and it will be well to make it clear that the present difference is not between British Imperialists and Republicans, but between Right Republicans and Left Republicans, as the great majority of the nationalists are undoubtedly republican at heart, though they may disagree about immediate methods.

I need hardly add that I do not expect any lightening results in the matter of unification, but I expect your influence as Envoy to be felt wherever an appropriate opportunity occurs.

Le meas,
George Gavan Duffy

1 Denis McCullough.

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