No. 263 NAI DFA ES Paris 1922-1923

John Chartres to George Gavan Duffy (Dublin)


Paris, 3 April 1922


A Chara,
I may have various suggestions to make with regard to our work in Paris. But I have been here scarcely long enough to form definite opinions on many matters, and as I am to have the advantage of seeing you personally before long, when my impressions may be tested by your own exceptional knowledge of French conditions, I content myself for the moment with saying that things are running smoothly and that I have received every assistance I could expect from both the secretaries, who impress me as being thoroughly in earnest about their work.

There is, however, one topic of immediate importance upon which I feel myself free to write at once and that is publicity. I am anxious that I should not be construed as in any way criticising the excellent work done here in the past. The purposes and conditions of propaganda work have completely changed lately and my observations and suggestions necessarily relate to the changed order of things.

Publicity in any real sense I find here practically at a standstill. The bulletin seems never to have been noticed by the press for some time past and I have found no machinery for otherwise informing and moulding public opinion on the subject of Ireland. To re-establish the influence of the bulletin is one of the first necessities of the situation. At present I have no one here who knows how to read newspapers from the publicist's point of view; how to collate and contrast points; how to decide what material to keep and how to keep it; how to detect useful quotations - not always the most obvious ones - and record them for future use; or, finally, how to construct, under general directions, a bulletin which shall not consist of mere statements of news, out of date before they can be issued, or undocumented and therefore vague expressions of opinion, but shall present collated facts, past and present, in an atmosphere of often implied comment, suitable both to the national need to be served and also to the special sympathies of the audience to which they are addressed.

It is all a question of technique and training. Where everything of this kind has to be built up from the ground, I cannot, without neglecting the rest of my functions, either do this work myself or teach all the details, with endless explanations, drafts, re-drafts, and tests to inexperienced assistants. The preoccupations and interruptions here make this really impossible, if a satisfactory organisation is to be achieved within any reasonable time. It is therefore on substantial grounds - - even more substantial than I anticipated while in Berlin - that I renew and venture to press most earnestly my suggestion that Miss Power should be transferred to Paris.

I do not slight the fact that her services will be a loss to Berlin, where I had hopes of keeping her for some time longer, until I had succeeded in completing an organisation worthy of the tasks to be accomplished; but I gather from her letters that she does not desire to remain in Berlin under present or possible future conditions. If that is so it seems to me that the only difficulty in the way of her transfer disappears. She is the only person in the service whom I have had an opportunity of training. She came to the work with special experience and a natural turn which enabled her to understand and to assimilate my own special methods; she prefers to work under direction; and a few hints and general instructions to her would go farther than hours of explanation and teaching in the case of a stranger to my practice. It would be an enormous advantage if, after leaving Berlin, she could assist me to create this new and necessary organisation in Paris before returning to Ireland. I understand that she would be willing to do this; and the secretaries here, with whom I have spoken of the possibility of such a transfer, and who are anxious to perfect our work, tell me that they would gladly welcome her presence and assistance.

May I ask you to take the circumstances and this recommendation into your most favourable consideration?

I ought to add that I have touched upon only the most pressing points of our publicity work; of its wide purposes and organisation, and as to whether it should be official or semi-official, I hope to be able to speak to you viva voce before long. At present I urgently require a skilled assistant. I have tried to improve the last bulletin or two, but we are living from hand to mouth. There has not been kept in this office, as far as I have been able to discover, a single Irish cutting, a single record, a single quotation, a single index or register. There is here in my opinion a real national need which I have attempted to express and meet in this letter.

Mise, le meas mór,
John Chartres

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