No. 124 UCDA P150/1900

Art O'Brien to Michael Collins (Dublin)
(No. L.752) (Copy)

London, 12 December 1920

PROPOSALS FOR PEACE: I attach a copy of Notes of Archbishop Clune's interview with L.G after his return from Ireland. This is a copy of Notes sent to me by [the] Archbishop immediately after the interview. It is an extension of the report given in my former memo. After that interview came Ll.G's `War to the knife' pronouncement in House of Commons.1 Archbishop Clune came to see me after that telling me L.G. had sent him a message that he had to go out of town for the week end, but wanted to see [the] Archbishop immediately on his return. L.G also sent message that the passages to Australia were cancelled. I advised Archbishop to see L.G or his Private Secretary at once, take strong attitude, and one of great indignation, say that he had been tricked and fooled, and that he intended to go to Australia at once. Archbishop after some discussion said he would follow that advice. Whether he did so or not I cannot say. He sent me two messages during the afternoon, but did not come to see me. From the second message (which reached me too late to return a reply) gave me to understand that he was returning to Dublin on the request of Lloyd George and he was conveying a suggestion for the surrender of all Arms. Had I seen him I would have suggested the futility of such an errand.

The Archbishop is not equal to carrying on negotiations of this sort with a man like L.G. He seems to be still impressed with L.G's desire for Peace, and more particularly his power to obtain it.

You may probably have seen the Archbishop before this reaches you. By the bye, I should be careful in telling him where you are staying etc. He is inclined to be rather indiscreet and too confiding. He has been talking to too many people here, and some who should not have been spoken to at all. He is I believe staying with Sir John O'Connell in Dublin.

I agree with the position as you put it in your memo. It is clear that in this seeking for negotiations England wishes to manoeuvre us into a false position. If it was not clear previously it is certainly clear from L. G's pronouncement on Friday. On the other hand, that their position in Ireland is one of considerable and increasing danger to them both abroad and at home is very clear to them (or rather to the politicians amongst them) I have little doubt that the[y] consequently wish to reach a settlement of affairs in Ireland, and at an early date seems to me clear also. To that extent and for those reasons they require a Peace.

Many of the Military people are getting afraid of the result of what I may call the Black & Tan theory.2 They see visions of its disintegrating their own Army. I am told on what I would say is at all events fairly reliable authority, that even Sir Henry Wilson, who of course, with Churchill is chiefly responsible for the whole reign of terror, is getting nervous of these results. I am also told from another source that Churchill himself is peevish and annoyed and doubtful. That seems quite understandable from a Military point of view. Of course they promised that six weeks of Black and Tan terrorism would kill the demand for an independent Irish Republic. Six week's bloody spree might be curable with a few months strict discipline, but if continued very lon[g] the disease might be incurable.

Of course we have to come to the negotiation stage at some time, and we must certainly be prepared for England's trickery and treachery on every such occasion. If England tries to jockey us into a position of disadvantage we should be ready to return the compliment. I think it would be a good thing at the present moment if An Dail made a pronouncement or an offer of terms of peace, give it to the press, and send it officially to the English Government. Terms (1) withdrawal of all English Armed forces (2) Recognition of the Irish Republic (3) repayment of the amount overpaid in Taxation by Ireland since 1800 on the basis of the findings of Financial Commission appointed by the English Government (4) indemnity for all acts of destruction and violence since 1914.

A pronounce[ment] or an offer on those lines would strike the imagination of the world because at first they would seem audacious. But the discussion (press) which would ensue would show them to be generous. Lastly their presentation is simple which would bear a healthy and patent contrast to the involved wrigglings of the English Government.

I rather feel that a clear cut pronouncement of that sort from us is long overdue. The chief immediate value of sending it as an offer to the English Government is that it would cause greater consternation, would secure greater publicity, could be dragged out publicly in their House of Commons and would make the position clear to the people of England, and all would be negotiators.

I think it would be a bold and effective move. Exceptional care must be taken, of course, to get into all the foreign press at the same time. Sending it by hand to the Foreign Press correspondents in London at the same time would be one way. It should also be sent to the Governments of all countries of the world.

REPORT (attached to Memo 752 12/12/20)3

Ll.G was most reasonable, gracious and anxious for Peace. H.[is] G.[race] appealed to his vanity by saying that it would be the greatest he had accomplished. Ll.G. said he could have done far more a month ago than now; the Dublin murders on Sunday, November 21st. had excited such rage and passion over here that it will require great tact and patience to allay this feeling.4 Ll.G said that if our people could lie low for a month or so then the position would be altogether different; the bitter feeling on this side would die down; the Christmas Season would have its effect, and the chance would be better of succeeding with any meeting for a final settlement and adjustment of affairs. Ll.G. indicated that D.Eir would be allowed to meet, but certain Members would not be allowed there viz: M. C.5 and D. M.6 Ll.G. suggested that M.C and D.M should leave the country for a while. H.[is] G.[race] said he did not think they would as everyone else would then feel that the leaders had saved themselves and left them in the lurch. L.G. would admit Hierarchy to meeting of the D.[ail] and representatives of the Irish Labour party. These three elements will constitute the national sentiment of Ireland outside Ulster. Regarding cessation of hostilities on their side Ll.G. wants Macroom to be exempted.7 Military say that the perpetrators of Macroom Ambush are on the hills in Cork. They are insisting on being allowed to pursue and capture them. Ll.G. does not know if this is true.


Whilst H.[is] G.[race] was there Ll.G summoned a meeting for immediately after H.[is] G.[race] had left _ to consist of B.[onar] L.[aw], H.[amar] Greenwood, Churchill, Sir. J.[ohn] Anderson., Gen. Macready and Gen. Boyd? to discuss the Irish situation. Ll.G. said `Macready is all right: B. Law is very fair and reasonable'. There he stopped. Ll.G. sent for private Sec: and said arrangements should be made for cancellation of H.[is] G[race]'s return to Australia, as H.[is] G.[race] must return to Ireland. H.[is] G.[race] consented to return to Ireland on condition that he brought back a message to D. Eir: that would be worth accepting. Ll.G. gave H.[is] G.[race] the impression that he is trying to appease the military desire for revenge on account of the killing of Officers. SURRENDER OF ARMS not mentioned by Ll.G but H.[is] G[race] referred to this and impressed on Ll.G that it would be fatal, and that if the informal agreement were kept to it would render the point unnecessary. H.[is] G.[race] compared Military and Stateman's point of view. Military point of view would never subdue spirit of the people. Stateman's more peaceable attitude would lead to some agreement. Another Meeting with H.[is] G.[race] arranged for to-morrow. The whole matter hangs on Ll.G's capacity to make others agree to his more peaceful view at the meeting tonight.

IMPORTANT POINT which interfered with H.[is] G.[race]'s mission. Fr. O'F[lanagan]'s wire and resolution of Galway C.[ounty] C.[ouncil], which were quoted as evidence that S.[inn]F'éiner]'s were showing the white feather, and anxious for peace at any price. These appeals are injuring present negotiations.

1 Handwritten note in margin: Get and attach Fri. Dec. 10th.

2 Black and Tans: the name given to demobilised soldiers recruited as members of the Royal Irish Constabulary when Irish recruiting dried up during the 1919-21 War of Independence. The name came from the force's khaki trousers and green tunics.

3 Handwritten note in margin: of interview with L.G. Dec (8?).

4 'Bloody Sunday': Michael Collins's 'Squad' shot dead fourteen men believed to be British secret service agents, British forces later killed twelve civilians during a Gaelic football match at Croke Park in Dublin and three I.R.A. prisoners at Dublin Castle..

5 M.C.: Michael Collins.

6 D.M.: Dick Mulcahy.

7 Twenty-seven IRA volunteers ambushed a seventeen strong patrol of the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary, killing sixteen.

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