No. 221 NAI DFA ES Rome 1921-1923

George Gavan Duffy to John Hagan (Rome)

(Personal and Confidential) (Copy)

Dublin, 16 January 1922

Dear Dr. Hagan,
As you are aware I have been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs by the new Government of the Republic and I want to take the earliest opportunity of assuring you, if indeed assurance be necessary, that your magnificent and tireless work for Ireland is very deeply appreciated by this department; I hope you will be able to continue it as before for many years.

I am very anxious to keep in constant touch with you in reference to Vatican developments and shall always be glad to hear from you either through Count O'Byrne, the Envoy of the Republic in Rome, or by direct letter. I know that our Envoy can count upon your kind co-operation and advice in his somewhat anomalous position and that he, on his side, is most anxious to be of use to you in any way that he can.

The Republican Government will continue its foreign representation until the Irish people decides (if it should so decide) to accept the proposed Irish Free State, and I do not anticipate that the Provisional Government will make any attempt to appoint Diplomatic Representatives abroad. Our Envoy to Rome will accordingly continue to be neither Black nor White, or rather he will in effect be both, and no-one knows better than I do how delicate that position is liable to become. His main activity, therefore, will lie in the direction of developing 'relations' with ecclesiastics, diplomats, politicians and others whose good will may be serviceable to the definitive Irish State, whatever its form may be. In this work I hope I may count upon your kind help, for I know that nobody will be in a better position than you are to assist him in extending these connections.

As to the question of our representation at Rome after this transition period, I can only give you my personal views without attempting to bind my successor after that period. I need not tell you again how I should characterise the Vatican diplomacy of the past three years. The direction it has taken makes it all the more vital that Ireland should be directly and officially represented at the Vatican by a Minister; and since Italy is the most sincere of all countries in our favour, I consider that a Minister to the Quirinal should be appointed at the same time.

For obvious reasons this question must be deferred. It is perfectly clear that we have the theoretic right to separate diplomatic representation abroad, but I apprehend that considerable practical difficulties may be introduced by England and that one of the first big fights may come on this point. Whatever attitude England should take, however, about foreign representation generally I am clear that she will have the utmost difficulty in justifying any opposition to our being represented at the Vatican and therefore she may make a virtue of necessity and yield gracefully to our sending an Envoy to the Vatican. At all events I shall insist on this so far as I may have directly or indirectly any voice in the matter when the time comes.

The Bavarian precedent should be useful.

The question of a Papal Nuncio or Envoy in Ireland is on quite a different basis, and I should like to hear from you later on as to this. I am aware that there would be direct opposition among the Bishops and that the idea would be encouraged in certain other quarters, but personally I have not been favourably inclined to it so far.

Any communication you may send from time to time in relation to international and other developments at the Vatican and in relation to influences, lay and clerical, there will be very gratefully received by me. If you should see your way to supplying Count O'Byrne with a Vatican 'Who's Who' which he would keep up to date as changes occur, that would also be valuable to us.

You will understand that in my capacity of Minister of Foreign Affairs I have declined to join the Provisional Government, and that Government will continue to be quite distinct from the Republican Government so far as my Department is concerned, and as distinct as circumstances permit so far as those departments are concerned which are represented by a Minister who sits on both Governments.

Believe me, with kindest remembrances,
Always yours
George Gavan Duffy

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