No. 133 NAI DFA Unregistered Papers

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe for Seán T. O'Ceallaigh (Dublin)

Dublin, 4 October 1932

For the

Vice-President, Acting Minister for External Affairs


'The Irish Press' is sapping the foundations of the Government's authority. You cannot deride the institutions of government, whatever their form, without weakening the people's respect for all authority. All Governments are attacked by the Opposition Press for the particular things they do, but our Government by allowing 'The Irish Press' to appear to speak for it in a tone of utter irresponsibility is destroying the very idea of obedience to authority on which alone a civilised life is built up.

Not to go beyond the last two days, its news and comments about the Governor General have been characterized by a meanness and vindictiveness of which no other paper in Europe with even the remotest connection with a government could be guilty. ?The Irish Press' is turning the Government and the State into a very low-class rural council. If severe measures are not taken with it we shall very soon be treated as such by the people, and it will take years of painful work to restore the dignity and respect with which the Government and State (they are inseparable) must be surrounded.

Yesterday 'The Irish Press' spoke of 'dismissal', and went out of its way to make our inevitable relations with the King more difficult by describing him as 'Britannic' Majesty. The 'dismissal' reference might easily have got to London in time to make the Governor General so indignant that he might have become completely intractable and caused a Constitutional row of the first class resulting either in an election or an immediate Twenty-Six-County Republic or both, and we are not prepared for these eventualities.

To-day 'The Irish Press' puts 'relinquishes' in inverted commas in a ribbon heading across its first page, and in its leader (which should decently have been on some other subject) tells the public that the Governor General had been dismissed.1 It took a great deal of thought and trouble on the part of the Acting Minister for External Affairs and his officials to secure the removal of the Governor General in such a way as to maintain the dignity and magnanimity of the Government in the entire procedure. It was hardly playing the game with the Government to make it appear to go back on its implied undertaking with the King and the Governor General that it was a case of 'relinquishing'. The rest of the leader is beneath contempt. The feeling that the foe had fallen might at least have been expected to restrain the writer. It is a pity that the Editor in his appeals to the lowest instincts of the village idiot, doubtless accompanied by the desire to sell his paper, does not realize that he is selling the Government too and selling it very cheap.

I am very strongly of the opinion that in this matter of the Governor General 'The Irish Press' should be told to shut down absolutely as far as comment is concerned, and to confine itself to objective news items. As a Government we have treated the Governor General with restraint. We have won a complete victory and achieved our purpose of removing him in the proper manner with due dignity. We can now afford to ignore comments, whether coming from Mr. McNeill himself or elsewhere. That is the only course consonant with the maintenance of our authority.

The Editor can hardly have reflected that his paper is carefully scrutinized every day in the Dominions Office, and I hope he can be persuaded to be a help instead of a hindrance during the critical period in our external relations now immediately ahead of us.

1 The headline of the Irish Press on 4 October read 'Governor General ?relinquishes? office', with a sub-head reading 'Irish Press only paper to forecast big event - dramatic moves in London on eve of Thomas-de Valera talks - Mr. McNeill at Palace'.

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