No. 266 NAI DFA ES Box 30 File 199

T.A. Smiddy to George Gavan Duffy (Dublin)


New York, 5 April 1922

A Chara:
Mr McCullough arrived from Ireland here on last Friday: he duly reported himself to me and gave me your communications replies to which I am

enclosing. He will be most helpful in carrying out the policy you have indicated, though the task is now a very difficult one. The split among the real Irish here has become quite definite and is apparently growing wider daily. It has been made articulate and is apt to lead to increasing bitterness owing to the activities of the two delegations here. It is very difficult to form a definite numerical and qualitative estimate of those for and against the Treaty. I shall venture an opinion though its grounds may not be quite adequate.
(1) The backbone of the really Irish element here, and
(2) the great mass of those with Irish sympathies do all genuinely desire unity within the ranks of the Irish at home and, if left to themselves, would prefer to stand aside and abide by the verdict of the Irish at home.

As regards the former (1) very many of them having been persuaded to make a choice have declared for Mr de Valera. Their feelings have been intensified and their activities organised by some of those to whom an Irish problem is a permanent material advantage. I daresay the fact that many of them were closely associated with Mr de Valera in the initiation of the A.A.R.I.R. and that such bitter and acrimonious attacks have been hurled at him by Judge Cohalan and the Gaelic American, has driven many of those who may not have strong convictions into the hands of the professional politicians. Naturally, there are also politicians on the Treaty side who are not ...1 by pure principles alone in their activities.

It seems certain that there is no possibility of affecting any kind of unity between the A.A.R.I.R. and the F.I.F., and the wedge seems so fully driven in between them that any attempt at present of accomplishing it seems futile. Again, it seems that many of those of the A.A.R.I.R. who are in favour of the Treaty will on no account associate themselves with the F.I.F. Hence, it seems to be highly inadvisable, as far as I can ascertain, for the delegates from the Provisional Government to be connected with the latter in any intimate manner.

I am told that resentment was also caused by the attitude of Mr. James O'Mara towards the attempts of Dr. Maloney, McGarrity and others to call off both delegations and thereby avoid the introduction of bitterness among the Irish here. If you have not already got the details of this attempt - though there is no ground for believing it would succeed - I shall ask Connolly, who has got the details, for a report on the matter. He took an active part in these attempts at an understanding.

The large percentage of those Irish who have only benevolent sympathies towards Ireland, and of those who have given monetary help, are Pro-Treaty. They are inarticulate and there is no existing organisation into which they can get absorbed.

The meeting held by Mr Austin Stack and Fr. O'Flanagan in New York last Sunday week was very large and enthusiastic. Evidently, there was among the audience no trace of hostility towards the personnel of the Provisional Government, as when Mr Collins's name was mentioned in the opening speech the cheering was so great that no further reference was made to it.

I daresay you have seen Fr. O'Flanagan's contemptible reference to those who favour the Treaty and General Beaslai's2 trenchant and appropriate reply. It is difficult to know how much was collected at that meeting. The statement that $65,000 were pledged seems gross exaggeration; while the estimate of the amount collected, - $254 - given to Mr O'Sullivan by one who stated he knows, is too low.

Mr. McCullough will report to you fully with reference to an important section of the Irish here and to the possibility of maintaining unity among them. Hence, I make no comment thereon. I have met a few strong republicans who would not go near either delegation thinking by so doing they would encourage disunion at home. I met in company with McCullough, a Mrs Walsh and her father, a Mr Manning is an old Fenian, both patients of Dr McCarthy. Mrs Walsh called twice to see Fr. O'Flanagan to tell him 'he was the last man in Ireland to use the word coward'. She did not succeed in meeting him yet.

General Beaslai's meeting in Boston was - he told me - a wonderful success. What the papers stated about the disorder was quite inaccurate. He spoke for an hour without interruption to a crowded house.

Mr James O'Mara, I regret to state, did not show the slightest disposition to help me out of a difficulty arising from my relation to the N. York Office not being properly defined. With difficulty I succeeded in seeing him on last Friday evening for a very short time. He told me my office was in Washington and not in New York; that Mr Garth Healy (whom he brought from Chicago), was head of the New York office; that he had been authorised to act as fiscal agent and to make all the necessary arrangements regarding that office; that full powers had been delegated to him by Mr Frank P. Walsh, Chairman of the American Commission on Irish Independence. A discussion on these points was interrupted by the arrival of Mr Doyle of Philadelphia.

With difficulty I again saw him on Tuesday morning at 1 a.m. when I again endeavoured to prove to him I was authorised to look after the New York Office and its Finance. I was especially anxious to convince him as he was about to sail on that day for Ireland leaving - as far as I knew - no responsible person in charge: or if he did, he kept me out of his council.

Finally, in asking him to make arrangements for the payment of Mr McCullough's and my expenses he said he knew nothing of these, and referred me to Mr Collins. When I pointed out to him that he already told me he was supreme as regards the N. York Office, he summarily, and in a most ungentlemanly fashion, left the room. Mr McCullough was a witness to this unprovoked, discourteous and un-Irish behaviour.

[Gilbert] Ward ceases to function now as head of the New York Office as Mr James O'Mara has superseded him by Healy. However, he states that as he was appointed by Mr Stephen O'Mara as his deputy to deal with Trustee affairs he will give information thereon only on authorisation from him. He wired last Tuesday, 4th April, to Stephen O'Mara for authorisation to pay the amount of the administration of the departments in N. York and in Washington. He said this was necessary as he had a wire a few days previous from Stephen O'Mara to mobilise more of the funds of the American Association. Mr James O'Mara has by now explained to you the circumstances of this wire.

On last Tuesday Ward got a wire from Mr Collins establishing my authority as regards the New York Office: he said that until he got this wire he had nothing in writing testifying to my authority. Otherwise, he was most anxious to help and facilitate me. He is a strong Pro-de Valera, though I have seen no evidence of his using his position to back up those against the Treaty. Begley is also a left Republican, yet I have found him very impartial in his opinion of those for and against the Treaty. He will leave for Ireland in about a fortnight as I can dispense with him and as he is anxious to get home.

Connolly - Consul General - is a very shrewd observer and of very sound judgement. He has been most helpful in giving me an accurate insight into American and Irish politics here, and he is most impartial. I am not quite sure whether or not he is Pro-Treaty. However, I am quite certain he does not permit his political views to interfere with his duties as Consul and as one interested in the integrity and power of the Irish race in the U.S.A.

I shall write you again early next week. Excuse handwriting as I am not sure of the secrecy of the typist in this office. I shall arrange for type-written reports in future.

Le meas,
T. A. Smiddy

1 Word unreadable.

2 Piaras Béaslaí (1881-1965), journalist and soldier, member of Dáil Éireann, close associate and biographer of Michael Collins, Major-General in the National Army during the Civil War, left politics in 1923 and devoted his energies to the Irish language movement.

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