No. 269 NAI DFA ES Box 30 File 199

Denis McCullough to George Gavan Duffy (Dublin)

(No. 5 - 1922) (Confidential) (Copy)

Washington, 14 April 1922 (received 19 May 1922)

A Dhuine Uasal:
Owing to the peculiar position of affairs which I found here on my arrival, I have been unable to report earlier. I understand that Prof. Smiddy informed you of my arrival here and that I reported to him immediately. He will also have informed you of the activities of Mr. James O'Mara, which resulted in Prof. Smiddy being left 'high and dry' in the Waldorf Hotel, New York, where I connected up with him on my arrival - without having been able to get into any satisfactory touch with his work or the offices in New York or Washington. James O'Mara had seized authority in the New York office, where he was making changes and settling matters in his own way, without giving Prof. Smiddy any information as to what he (James O'Mara) was doing or proposed to do, and so preventing Prof. Smiddy from getting in touch with his work or with the activities, status or relation of the offices and their staffs. The result of this was that Prof. Smiddy had no base to work from and I found myself in the same position after I arrived. Consequently we were not in a position to start operations on the duties that had been entrusted to us. It was only on the eve of Mr. O'Mara's departure for Ireland, after waiting for him for three hours after the time of his appointment, at his Hotel, that we forced him to an interview, which proved very unsatisfactory, but from which we gathered enough information about the position in relation to the offices and staffs to enable us to get started on our work. We thus lost practically a week before we were in a position to take up our duties. Prof. Smiddy has explained Mr. James O'Mara's whole attitude and actions toward him, while he was here, so I will not comment on them, except to say that he was guilty of the grossest discourtesy and it seems to me, did everything in his power to make both Prof. Smiddy's and my position in relation to the offices and staffs and to our mission generally, difficult and to make as much trouble generally, as he possibly could, before clearing out.

After getting settled in - I procured an inner office in 411 5th Avenue, New York, - I proceeded to get in touch with various people who might be of help to me and interviewed some of them. I did not show my hand too completely to any of them, but obtained their opinions on the situation here and at home generally and left matters so that I could take them up with them again, when my work had developed more and my opinions were more definitely formed.

On Friday last - 7th inst. - I proceeded to Philadelphia to meet Mr. Joe McGarrity and his friends there, with whom I had several interviews. Their opinions, on the whole, coincided with those of others I had talked with and the provisional opinion I had formed myself, i.e. that just at present it would hardly be possible to bring about the union of forces we desired and even if it were possible, it might not be desirable - from the point of view of the ultimate good of the movement here - for various reasons. It will take a little time to give a better perspective to the feuds which have arisen in the past couple of years. The presence of the two delegations only acts as an irritant to unsettled opinion and until they are gone, very little good can be achieved.

Also the vicious attacks on personalities in the Irish-American Press - particularly the Gaelic American and the Irish World - keep bad feeling active and are mainly instrumental in keeping our friends sundered. I did something in New York to try to improve this matter and will follow up my efforts when I return there. When in Philadelphia I had a long talk with the Editor of the Irish Press (Joe McGarrity's paper) with a view to getting him to keep a correct attitude towards parties and events in Ireland. I think it will be helpful and he gave me his assurance that there would be no attacks on opponents or no personalities in his paper.
[Matter omitted]

On Monday I received a call to Washington from Prof. Smiddy, to settle with him some urgent matters that had arisen. I proceeded there immediately and have been with Prof. Smiddy since. We have seen a number of people in connection with general matters. I gave an interview to the secretary of the National Catholic Welfare Council (Mr. Doran), which will get into practically all the Catholic papers in America. I enclose you a proof copy.1 It was written out by Mr. Doran from notes taken during our conversation; it is hardly done as I would like it to be done, but it covers the ground and will open other fields of publicity to me later on. Mr. Doran is anxious that I should address a meeting here in Washington on the Belfast position and hopes to arrange it for Sunday night next, in which case I will stay over here until Monday. If it cannot be arranged I will return to New York on Friday or Saturday with Prof. Smiddy and take up things there again.

On consideration, and acting on the advice of good friends here we decided that it was not advisable for Prof. Smiddy, in his capacity of Envoy Extraordinary, to give any interviews on purely political matters to the press and that I should deal with this part of the work. In pursuance of this decision, I gave interviews to one or two press agencies here and prepared and sent out to others, two statements - copies of which will be forwarded to you as they appear - the one dealing with the Ulster situation and the other countering the tendency in American press comments on Irish affairs, to exaggerate the differences between Irishmen and the gravity of occurrences that are reported from Ireland, as well as the tendency to adopt a tone of cynical criticism or patronage in reference to events there. A good deal of this counter propaganda will be necessary, to preserve a correct attitude in the American press and the American mind towards the Ireland that evolves from the present transitional difficulties.

In this connection we have arranged that copies of all press comments bearing on the Irish situation, that might be of interest to you, as well as any references to our own activities, shall be forwarded to you. I may mention that Mr. J. Begley of the office here has been very helpful and his intimacy with conditions and facilities here has been very useful

My general impression so far, which is only provisional of course, is that a very large percentage of the Irish here are in favor of accepting and working the Treaty, while they are still determinedly Republican. Practically all Americans are strongly for Ireland's acceptance of the Treaty. However, there is a strong, though I think numerically small minority of our own people, and these the very best, though not the biggest in financial or social standing, who are strongly opposed to the acceptance of anything less than the Republic, and for this reason are behind Mr. de Valera. Nevertheless I have met no man or woman yet in America, of any section or class, who gives any approval to Civil War in Ireland, no matter who advises or makes it. Their one insistent desire is that the people at home should get together and find some way out of the present impasse and march on unitedly. The friendships formed by Mr. de Valera, with those who supported and worked with him out here, make it difficult for many of our best friends to form unbiased decisions, so that they find themselves in a position of great difficulty, with a consequent loss of energy and interest in the movement.

I am afraid that the attitude and actions of the Cohalan-Devoy group (F. O. I. F.) is more inspired by opposition to and hatred of Mr. de Valera than by straight political thinking. It cannot be depended on in any way, as it is not prompted by pure motives. I think this opinion should be of interest to the Minister of Finance1, to whom I am writing under separate cover.2 As I see things their support would be more harmful than helpful in America to either party.

Prof. Smiddy desires that I visit Chicago in the course of the next week or so to look after some matters there, and as I desire to meet some men there who are important, I have decided to try and get there at the end of next week, if my arrangements work out properly. In the meantime, I will be in New York, at the offices 411 5th Avenue, which I have made my headquarters and where communications will always find me or be forwarded to me.

Need of Publicity.
We have both agreed that an organized publicity department should be established here to counteract the repeated statements in the Press here to the effect that the 'Irish are unable to govern themselves', 'Fight like Kilkenny cats', etc. One hears these statements frequently in ordinary conversation.

You will also see by cuttings sent you yesterday a consciously false reference to the funds of the Dail being used for elections by Free-Staters. You will see that we have contradicted.

In order to refute repeated false statements detrimental to the general good status of Ireland I think it is essential to attempt something in the nature of an efficient publicity department for the next few months. We shall think out a possible, efficient and economic scheme. All that is necessary is a competent man having access to, and influence with, the more important papers. Unless we can procure such a man - and it is unlikely - we shall direct the propaganda as well as we can from this office.

I consider it essential, and I am sure you approve, that I shall not enter, openly, into publicity activities of any kind in order to keep open the avenues to all classes in this official and diplomatic centre. I exclude from this category matters of a non-controversial economic, and educational character, etc. I shall be glad to have any official reports of events in Ireland, such as the Bulletin, if such are available, also a copy of the 'Separatist.'

1 Michael Collins.

2 Not located.

Users who read this document also viewed...

  • Document No. 162 Volume 1 (Oct. 1921) Draft clause on Ulster sent to delegation in London Read more...
  • Document No. 231 Volume 1 (30 January 1922) Extract from the minutes of a meeting of the provisional government Read more...
  • Document No. 242 Volume 1 (9 February 1922) Eoin MacNeill to George Gavan Duffy Read more...
  • Document No. 233 Volume 1 (1 February 1922) Extract from the minutes of a meeting of the provisional government Read more...
  • Document No. 195 Volume 1 (13 November 1921) Extract from meeting of the Cabinet Read more...

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO