No. 137 NAI George Gavan Duffy Papers 1125/19

Robert Brennan to George Gavan Duffy

Dublin, 1 July 1921

A Chara,
[345 words dealing with communications issues omitted]

The general situation at home here has undergone somewhat of a change during the past fortnight as you will have seen from the papers. The arrest of the President1 was quite an accident though the military authorities were very keen on getting him. The moment was a very awkward one for the British Government as many factors were compelling them to put up at least an appearance of wanting to settle. Chief amongst these was the Imperial Conference, the leading spirit of which is very keen on an American alliance, which cannot be had without a settlement here. Consequently the President was released and the offer from Lloyd George forwarded to him. The object was twofold. First:- The chance that there might be a settlement on terms advantageous to England. Secondly:- The chance of throwing responsibility on us for the continuance of the war in the event of the President's refusal. The idea behind the President's counter invitation was firstly to put such responsibility on the right shoulders if the negotiations failed and secondly2 the chance of reaching an agreement which would be satisfactory to all parties. This can be reached if the parties show sufficient statesmanship to recognise the value, both from the point of view of England and ourselves of an independent Ireland whose neutrality is guaranteed by England, the British Colonies, and America. In such a scheme the security of England from an attack from Ireland would be safe-guarded and possibly the autonomy of Ulster within the Irish State. There is a chance this may be brought off. The alternative is a ten years war which neither England nor her supporters here can contemplate with any degree of equanimity.

As I write things are taking a favourable turn. It is not unlikely that Craig may be forced to give into the Local conference. The release of Griffith etc.,3 is a distinct gain whatever the motive of those responsible. I would like to emphasize the advice already given that our Representatives abroad should be very slow to make any comment on such matters. It is always easy to put off interviewers by referring them to the Government here. When one is not actually on the scene it is very hard to know what statement best suits the intentions in the mind of those responsible for the movement here.

Is mise le meas,
Riobaird O'Brennáin

1 De Valera was arrested in Blackrock, Co. Dublin on 22 June and subsequently released on the intervention of the Assistant Under-Secretary A.W. Cope.

2The word 'consequently' has been crossed out and replaced by 'secondly'.

3Griffith was released on 1 July 1921.


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