No. 557 NAI DFA 19/2

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Michael MacWhite (Washington DC)
(19/2) (Copy)

Dublin, 20 July 1931

As the Minister is very anxious to receive constant reports on all matters of current interest from our representatives abroad, he is somewhat disappointed that no reports have been received from you on the developments leading up to President Hoover's proposal for a moratorium and on the repercussions following the publication of the proposal. Every question of economic or political interest having even the most indirect external repercussions should be the subject of a report to Headquarters, and the report should contain as far as possible the inside official view. It is quite true that the advantages of retaining any particular Mission abroad are very largely judged by the intrinsic character of such reports, and as the Saorstát's external relations become more assimilated to those of the older established states the same principle will inevitably hold good of our Missions.

The time has arrived when the Minister feels he must insist on receiving not merely very frequent reports on current matters, but also a general comprehensive annual report covering the calendar year. Indeed he wishes it to be taken as a definite instruction that the seeking out of useful information from people likely to possess it, and reporting the result is the main work of our representatives abroad. It is his intention to have these reports printed for the confidential information and guidance of Ministers and Departments.

In this connection the Minister, while having the highest appreciation of the work done by you through your visits to various parts of the States, wishes you to discontinue all such visits as from the date of the reception of this despatch. He wishes you to regard Washington as the exclusive area in which your work has to be done. No invitation should be accepted even to New York without the Minister's permission. You can quite understand that in times of increasing financial stringency, and more exacting criticism of the Department, the Minister must at all times be in complete control of the expenditure and of the movements of the members of the staff of the Department. He alone must decide whether or not there is to be any departure from the normal routine. The situation in the United States has been allowed to remain abnormal for so long owing to the peculiar circumstances existing there. In giving this formal instruction the Minister wishes to make it quite clear that you should not refrain from asking permission to leave Washington if at any time there are very special reasons for doing so.

The same immediate control has to be exercised by the Minister in regard to public lectures and lectures on the Radio, and he wishes in future to be informed of any invitations received, with full details as to the subject, etc. No invitation to lecture is to be accepted without his permission.

The Minister wishes again to emphasize that this general instruction is not intended to be an adverse commentary on your work within the sphere now restricted. It has two objects: the first to normalize the work of the Washington Legation and to bring it within the same direct control as the work of the other Legations, the second, to make the work of the Legation more definitely diplomatic. With regard to the latter object, the Minister after much hesitation has come to the conclusion that political visits to places outside Washington, with all their accompaniment of receptions, speeches and fanfare, do not appreciably advance the real interests of the Saorstát, and that even if it could be argued that such visits procured more than momentary publicity for the Saorstát, it is to be seriously questioned whether a diplomatic representative in Washington is the fit and proper person to fill the rôle.

Apart from reports on the activities of the United States Government, especially those which react on European countries and policies, there are numerous questions on which reports would be exceedingly valuable to the Saorstát. The relative importance of the British Embassy in Washington, its system of publicity, its real influence in the U.S.A., your relations with it, etc. The attitude of the different officials of the State Department towards you. Whom do you see most frequently? What efforts have you made and do you make to explain to them the position of the Saorstát in the Commonwealth, etc.? What views are held about this country in official circles? What types of men are in the State Department? How often do you come into official contact with members of the Government? Their views, their outlook, etc. What are your relations with other Missions in Washington? Every possible information about the Irish in the States. Who are outstanding figures amongst them? Are the Catholic Irish holding their own? How are the Catholic clergy considered by the Catholics of other racial origins? Are there any really outstanding men amongst the Irish clergy? There is in fact no limit to the subjects relating to the United States on which reports would not be valuable to us.

The habit of giving to intending visitors to the Saorstát letters of recommendation directed to the President and Ministers should be discontinued. It creates awkward situations. A letter to the Department merely saying who the person is, with the possible addition of the words 'about whom I have already written', will secure an interview with the Minister or President if considered appropriate. An open letter handed to the Department containing an injunction to obtain an interview is entirely out of place, just as is the request to 'give all facilities'. Americans don't know what the expression means, except that it makes them regard the Department as a Tourist Agency.

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