No. 242 NAI DFA ES Box 17 File 111

Eoin MacNeill to George Gavan Duffy


Blackrock, Co. Dublin, 9 February 1922

A Sheoirse a chroidhe,
I have not been at all well these few days, and my visit to town yesterday afternoon did not improve the case. Neuralgia and headaches make prolonged work or even conversation painful. I send you this note as you are probably the member of the Cabinet most immediately accessible, tho' the business is not in your particular Department.

1. In my opinion the Ulster developments reported may have the gravest consequences to the Treaty and to Irish liberty. I am afraid that the Chief of Staff is too much of an anti-Orangeman.1 In my opinion the Government, through the army authorities, should immediately issue to the army and publish an order (1) forbidding hostile action against any political section of Irish people (2) forbidding all action of the nature of reprisals and of taking hostages (3) ordering the immediate release of all persons taken as hostages or by way of reprisal, and (4) counselling the most friendly relations with every section of the Irish people.

Mr Phillips, Solicitor of Derry, accompanied the Derry Deputation that came to the Ministry the other day. He was a Unionist solicitor in opposition to me at the Derry election. He is now definitely anti-Partitionist. He told me, before the Deputation went away, that the business community and the farming community all over the north are anti-Partitionist, but these are his words:- 'They are afraid of the corner-boy element'. These violent operations will compel them to join the corner-boy element against us and will play the game of our enemies in a way that will surprise some people not familiar with the machinery of Ulster politics. If we keep the peace, we should win Ulster.

2. Before I went to Paris I gave Mr Collins a memo on the control of the Irish Department. Yesterday I followed it up with a fuller memo. We are not governing the Departments and they, and also the representatives of the British Treasury are laughing at us and disregarding us. We can end all that in 24 hours.

If nobody else will take responsibility, I will, if required, little as I am inclined for governmental duties.

I recognise the enormous weight of affairs on the Cabinet and especially on the President and Mr Collins. I am not finding fault. But it is imperative that we have a clear Ulster policy and see it through, and that the Government shows itself to be a Government. If we do this, we need not in the least fear Mr de Valera's contrivances.

Slán agus beannacht.
Eoin MacNeill

1 Eoin O'Duffy.

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