No. 14 NAI DFA ES Box 30 File 200

Timothy A. Smiddy to Desmond FitzGerald (Dublin)

Washington, 6 January 1923

A Chara:

I enclose some clippings of the New York papers which give substantially accurate accounts of the trouble we had at the Consulate Office. On Tuesday last a large number of the followers of de Valera endeavored to get access to the Consulate Office: Mrs. Muriel MacSwiney1 was particularly active. Lieut. Gegan blocked her entry. They were then informed by Lieut. Gegan that unless they left the building they would be arrested. All left except two pickets. The women formed themselves into a deputation to put their grievances before Mayor Hylan, who told them to seek redress through the ordinary procedure of the courts. This advice was so displeasing to them that they picketed, with eight large placards, the Town Hall. On the following day, Wednesday, the manager of the building, 119 Nassau Street, decided, and made known to some of the Irregulars, that any individuals who would attempt picketing inside the building would be arrested. Since then all is calm and quiet in the Consulate Office.

Subject to your approval I appointed Mr. Lindsay Crawford a few days before, installing him in the office of the Consulate as Acting Consul. On the day he took over his duties the trouble began - Wednesday, December 27th. I cannot speak too highly of the manner in which Mr. Crawford acquitted himself in the performance of his duties during the trying ordeal to which we were subjected. He is a man in whom absolute reliance can be placed, and I was fortunate in having secured his services at such a critical moment.

Mr. McGrath was evidently terrified by the threats of the Irregulars, as he did not come near the office after Friday, December 20th. I had counted on his remaining at the office for a week extra in order to initiate Mr. Crawford into the details of the work. As I have also dispensed with the services of an assistant mail clerk who did not report himself during the above proceedings the work of this office will be much retarded until Mr. Crawford and new staff will adjust themselves gradually to the routine and special work of the office.

I have sent Mr. J.P. Kerr, who was attached to the Finance Office in Washington, to the Consulate Office to help Mr. Crawford in routine work.

The Irregulars attempted to scare Mr. Crawford by their usual methods of intimidation. I was unable to take any action until Saturday, December 30th when I paid rent to the manager of the building personally, and got from him receipt for same. This obtained for me recognition as the occupant of the rooms of the Consulate. The attorneys for the estate in which the rooms are located, the Messrs. Gillespie, did not feel disposed to cancel and surrender to me the lease, though they verbally recognized the Free State as the tenants. Mr. Gillespie was to have seen me to discuss further details about his recognizing me as tenant but he failed, as also my lawyers failed, to get in touch with him. I have a suspicion he avoided designedly the issue at stake. In the first and only interview I had with him he emphasized the fact that I ought to get the intruders removed from the Consulate through the procedure of the courts. But from this method I was very adverse; the case might have been submitted to a magistrate or a law court and there was a possibility of a "snap" decision being given against us, especially as the lease was not in my name, or the name of the Free State: and this would be prejudicial to the more important case of the funds. Hence, our policy was to throw on the intruders the onus of making good their pretentions in the courts.

Throughout these proceedings I cannot praise too highly the interest, attention, and valuable advice given by our lawyers, especially Ex-ambassador Davis, Mr. Cannan, and Judge Colohan. Lieut. Gegan was impartial and determined in seeing that the law was adhered to.

I am enclosing copies of the pretentions that Ginnell presented at the Consulate and sent me here at Washington. I believe he is due to arrive at my offices in Washington and leave after him his "larva" as he did in New York, but he shall meet with much more drastic treatment here than he experienced in New York.

Mise, le meas,
[signed] T.A. SMIDDY

P.S. I have enclosed newspaper cuttings dealing with the above in another letter.

1 The wife of Terence MacSwiney, the former Lord Mayor of Cork who died on hunger strike in 1920.

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