No. 328 NAI DFA ES Paris 1922-1923

Sean Murphy to Joseph Walshe (Dublin)

(98/1922) (Copy)

Paris, 21 November 1922


Since my return here our propaganda has been indirect rather than direct. The whole French press was thoroughly in favour of the Free State, but owing to the fact that it was very occupied with the Turkish situation and France's diplomatic differences with England, (which for some days were very acute) it did not give much publicity to Irish affairs. The Italian crisis followed and occupied French attention for some time and then came the Conference of Lausanne. Mr Dempsey and I have mainly directed our attention to explaining the position to French people. They have been all quite sympathetic to the Free State and appreciate the difficult position of the Government. The articles which appeared in the 'Petit Parisien' by Madame Viollis did, I think, a considerable amount of harm. We had been saying to every one that though there was trouble in the South of Ireland, things in Dublin and in Ireland generally were fairly normal: that business was being carried on in the ordinary way, and save for occasional ambushes, the life of Dublin was not much disturbed. These articles described Dublin as being in a state of practically perpetual ambush, and the ordinary citizen as carrying his life in his hands. This of course got great publicity all over France, and the effect was that the French people who are always ready to believe a well painted story took it for granted that Dublin was in a state of siege. Several people asked how things were in Dublin, and when we said fairly normal they replied; 'But have you not read the special Correspondent of the 'Petit Parisien'. A large fodder contractor here who is anxious to start trade with Ireland and who had an option on an Army Contract for 1,000 tons of oats, stated on the Bourse that he could get this amount of Irish oats. He was laughed at and asked if he was not aware that there was civil war in Ireland and that no business could be done. He wired to several firms in Ireland asking if they could deliver 1,000 tons of oats and at what price. The only one from which he got a reply in time asked him how much he was prepared to give. The transaction then fell through. Up to the time of these articles the general opinion was in favour of the Government and the people welcomed the action of the Government in establishing the military Courts.

Since Miss Mac Swiney's arrest publicity has been given in the news columns to Irregular activities, and for the last two or three days photos and news items in prominent places appeared in the 'Petit Parisien' and 'Journal'. I am enclosing cuttings.

We have sent Mademoiselle Tery's letter to Radio and to the 'Victoire' which latter always publishes it. The other papers have not yet done so. We sent out a note to the Press yesterday which appears in the 'Victoire' (enclosed) putting the position. I am making enquiries as to the origin of the publicity in the 'Petit Parisien'. To my mind it is explained by the fact that Miss MacSwiney's case has suddenly gripped the French Press owing to her connection with the late Lord Mayor or that there is someone here who is supplying stuff and paying for it because it is very difficult to get into the front page in the 'Petit Parisien'. The item is, of course of no value to them as news.

The trial and proposed execution of Childers have made some stir for the last two days and a proclamation by de Valera is published in the 'Petit Parisien'. No papers have made any comments on the equity of the case. They have merely given it as a news item.

I will keep you posted as to press opinion.

Contradictions or explanations are difficult to get inserted post factum.

Sean O'Murchadha

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