No. 36 NAI DFA Unregistered Papers

Memorandum by Seán Murphy on relations with the press

Dublin, 20 April 1932

The recent reports from the Paris and Berlin Legations confirm the view that the Continental Press depends entirely for news of Ireland on the large telegraph agencies and their London Correspondents. Both these sources are definitely pro-English. Irish news only appears in the Continental Press when there is something sensational to report. No French or German newspaper has a permanent correspondent in Ireland. The London Correspondents probably have arrangements with newspaper men in Dublin to supply them with copy on Irish matters. In this connection, it should not be forgotten that the Paris daily papers, for example, do not have permanent correspondents in the Scandinavian capitals. Their Berlin correspondent covers these countries. The fact that the London Correspondent covers Ireland is therefore not unusual. The big telegraph agencies such as Reuter, Havas, Stefani, etc. have offices in London, and they supply their Continental subscribers with Irish news. It is inevitable that the personnel of these agencies are in the main Anglophile. The establishment of an Irish Telegraph Agency is not practicable and even if it were it is doubtful whether it would effect much. The older and more international agencies would undoubtedly use all their efforts and influence to kill it. Therefore that solution of the difficulty is out of the question. It has been suggested that the establishment of a Press Bureau attached to the Legations in Paris and Berlin might serve the dual purpose of influencing the Press in our favour and correcting the bad presentation of Irish news. It is true that the Foreign Offices of Britain, France, Germany and Italy have press sections, and that in some at least of their Embassies and Legations they have press men attached for the purpose of giving the Press the desired point of view. In the case of these countries, their interests are so widespread and so constantly in the public eye that both the press section at the Foreign Office and such Embassies or Legations where it exists is more than justified. The establishment of a press section in Paris and Berlin would necessitate a press section at Headquarters. As I have already said, the ordinary day-to-day Irish news does not interest the Continental newspapers. It is only at times of political or other excitement that Irish affairs get into the Continental daily Press. For the comparatively few occasions when useful work could be done by this method it would be impossible to justify the maintenance of press sections at home and abroad. As far as the home Press is concerned, a press section at Headquarters might be very useful to press men. It would not, I think, in any degree affect the attitude of the various newspapers, and it would certainly have no effect on the attitude of English newspapers. I think therefore that the press section solution is not feasible.

The only way which appears to me to be feasible and at the same time effective is, to intensify the efforts, which our Legations abroad have been making since their establishment, to keep in close touch with the foreign editors of the important daily papers and supply them with information on any important matters which may arise from time to time. It will, of course, take time to get these people to understand the situation and to break down prejudices which are probably carefully fostered by their English associates. It will not be possible by this system to prevent news being published with a distinct nuance against this country. Obviously the relations between France or Germany and England for the time being will influence the attitude of editors towards this country in any question in which England is involved. But then no method we adopt can possibly provide against such eventualities. In my opinion, this method can effect a considerable change in the tone of the Continental Press. It will always be possible to get articles in reviews and monthly publications on the cultural side of Irish life, the development of the language, or industries, etc. These articles would invariably have to be paid for, but that has to be done even by countries with much more influence internationally than we have. Contact with the editors of newspapers will involve expenditure on entertainment of various sorts. But in my view the line I have just outlined is the only way we can hope to get a better Press on the Continent without the expenditure of a very considerable sum per annum.

In my opinion the foregoing remarks apply generally to the position in regard to the Press of the United States of America.

[initialled] SM1

1 Initials and previous sentence handwritten.

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