No. 282 NAI DFA ES Box 30 File 199

Denis McCullough to George Gavan Duffy (Dublin)

(Confidential) (Copy)

New York, 8 May 1922

A Chara,
[Matter omitted]

Since the date of my report referred to above, I returned to New York and made my headquarters at the finance office, 411 Fifth Av. there. This office has a kind of tradition of being the centre of all Dail activities in New York and in fact in America, particularly in connection with the activities of Mr. de Valera and Mr. H. Boland, consequently every person who was engaged in any kind of work dealing with the various Bond Drives or with any other kind of Dail work, feels free to come into it and use it when necessary. The result is that there is no privacy worth speaking of in the office to permit one to do confidential work of any kind, telephone calls are overheard and private conversations cannot be carried on with any degree of confidence. Gilbert Ward, Liam Pedlar and now Stephen O'Mara use the office for their work. As the office was controlled by these people before our advent and the installing of Mr. M.G. Healy in charge and as they are all (probably the staff as well) strong partisans of Mr. de Valera, it is impossible for me to give much of my correspondence to be typed, so that I have to do most of it by hand, a very slow process which delays me considerably. This difficulty prevented me reporting more frequently, as I have no means of having these typed in triplicate, as you require them. Prof. Smiddy and myself have considered this matter fully several times, as the position is much the same in the Washington office in the matter of confidential documents, but we have decided that in present circumstances, it was inadvisable to make any radical change. However, Prof. Smiddy intends to replace the staff as and when opportunity offers, so that the old traditions may be broken and the work set up on new conditions.

I may say, further to the above, that the question as to my mission here, addressed to you in the Dail, was inspired from this side, as I have reason to know that certain of my activities have come to the knowledge of [Austin] Stack and Co. and they are concerned about them. They were informed about my being in communication with and meeting Judge Cohalan and are circulating the rumour here that I am over to purchase or secure the support of Judge Cohalan and his party for the Provisional Government. Other matters as to my communications with other people have also leaked out, which I will explain later.

Since writing my first general report, in which I mentioned my visit to Philadelphia and my meetings and consultations with Joe McGarrity and some of his officials there, I have been a good deal with Prof. Smiddy, who required me to be available, while the matter of the finance transfers, which caused us a great deal of trouble and loss of time, was pending the arrival of Mr. Stephen O'Mara. All sorts of rumours of illegal transfers and projected transfers of funds were coming in to us, and we were in pretty regular consultation as to these, and following up investigations as to their truth. I believe most of them were unfounded or malicious rumours, but in a matter of such grave importance we could afford to take no risks, so we followed up the matter closely. On Mr. Stephen O'Mara's arrival these matters were put on a more satisfactory basis as per the new trustee arrangements made with Mr. Collins. However I would like to offer you my opinion on Mr. O'Mara's attitude in the matter, for your personal information. He was graciousness personified in his personal relations with Prof. Smiddy, but when it came to obeying the instructions of the Dail Minister of Finance or giving Prof. Smiddy the information the Minister of Finance required, he was anything but helpful, and adopted a hostile attitude immediately, though Prof. Smiddy pointed out the value of giving the information required, in helping to create a good atmosphere at home, as the Minister of Finance was bound to learn all the particulars from the trustees' audit eventually, but he politely and definitely refused. In my opinion he is only a bitter party man. In the intervals I pushed the other matters I had to attend to as much as possible. I arranged an interview with Judge Cohalan and some of his friends and discussed matters fully and as frankly as possible with them. I found them inveterately opposed to de Valera and to all who took his side here; their bitterness was astonishing and I am afraid is implacable. I tried to argue away the disputes that occurred and to reason them into a better frame of mind, but I found it literally impossible and I am afraid that there is not much hope of amity from that side for the following reasons. Firstly, the Judge had his party organized like a Party machine, with himself at the head. While many, if not most of his supporters were inspired primarily by an unselfish love of Ireland, I am afraid that his inspiration was more Irish-American than purely Irish and perhaps a little selfish too, for he is a strong and I believe an able man who loves power - and control of the Irish movement gave him that. When he found that he could not work de Valera, who went over his head direct to the Irish people here, he fought him bitterly and in the fight all his cards were exposed. In the result de Valera broke his power utterly and neither he nor his friends can forgive de Valera, nor those who helped him, particularly men like Joe McGarrity and Hugh Montague, who had previously been his friends and firm supporters. And he further knows that any scheme of union now would not give him the unquestioned leadership he had previously - might indeed relegate him to a second place, an intolerable position for Judge Cohalan. He knows that a political machine once broken, requires a long time to build up and I believe he prefers to wait, for the second reason. Secondly: he realizes, as every far-seeing person here does, that the present position is going to split the A.A.R.I.R. (and perhaps the re-organized Clan na Gael also) from top to bottom, with one side in possession and the other side driven out. I know from subsequent conversations that he expects that the divisions will desolate both sides and reduce them to impotence, when he will be left in possession of the field as the only strong Irish leader here, with a party. I believe he is correct in that forecast too. His party have or should have plenty of money at their disposal, the moneys from the Victory Fund of 1919, which they held on to, so that they can afford to wait. In this connection, I would refer again to the $100,000 'loan' to the first Bond Drive, for which they are now asking to get allotments of Bond Certificates to that amount. I would strongly urge that these Certificates be not handed over, at least for the present, as their handing over would create a very bad impression here; it would be said that Michael Collins gave the Certificates as a bribe to buy over Judge Cohalan's support. In fact it is already being said about my connection with him, and it would gravely scandalize and prejudice men like Joe McGarrity who rightly point out that the money does not belong to this party, was collected for Ireland and should have all gone to Ireland, instead of only this part. They are asking for the Bond Certificates on the strength of the promise to redeem by the Provisional Government. My final opinion is that they should be withheld. I am going into this matter of Judge Cohalan at great length because he has been such a big figure in Irish matters here and may be again, that I think it necessary to furnish you with these details as a background to enable you to better understand the various currents that are flowing and the changes that are taking place in Irish circles here. I would sum up by saying that he is a strong and able man with ambitions, but his outlook is more American than Irish. His support and that of his party, I am convinced, would not be a source of any great strength to those in Ireland faced with the solution of the present great problems, because it is founded more on hate of de Valera than on love of those who are opposed to him - if de Valera was on the other side they would be the loudest against it - and because there is too large an element of selfishness in their purpose I would advise no direct affiliations with them from home for the present anyhow.

I had several conversations with Diarmuid Lynch and through him arranged an interview with John Devoy. I discussed matters fully and frankly with him at great length, with, I fear, very little good result, as I found him both equally bitter and implacable against all de Valera's friends and the reorganized clan. I attacked him about the quality of his articles in the Gaelic-American, pointing out that that style of journalism was at least 25 years behind the present spirit in Ireland and no matter how bitter feelings were there, no one would stand for the low personalities and name calling he indulged in and that that kind of thing would get him nowhere. That even many of his own friends, the best men on his side, though they had not spoken against it, did not approve of it. I may mention that I had interviewed several of these men and got them to bring pressure to bear on Devoy, and I had even forced Judge Cohalan in his own house to avow disapproval of the articles and to promise me to use his influence to moderate them. In the end old Devoy ungraciously admitted his fault and half promised to improve. I think the current issues of his paper show some improvement and I believe we will not have a recurrence of personalities in such a bitter form as previously. I had previously received a similar undertaking - to avoid all personalities no matter what the provocation, from the Editor of the Irish Press, Philadelphia, which, by the way, ceases publication this week. I also tried to get in touch with Ford of the Irish World, with a similar object, but have not succeeded so far. I hope to be able to do so during the coming week.

I may say that my reception by all these people was entirely friendly and I got along with them very well indeed. I hope to keep up the good relations, with a view to a final effort to soften asperities and improve relations here before I return home. It is my opinion however, that there is no great hope of anything like unity here, until things take a more definite shape at home and especially while Stack and Company are creating new lines of cleavage here.

I also twice met Lindsay Crawford, who is attached to the Judge's party and is subsidized by him in Canada. If there was any immediate hope of uniting forces here, I think Crawford would be a useful man, as I believe him to be strictly honest and patriotic and I find him entirely without bitterness against anybody, though he complains of being misunderstood and abused by de Valera and his friends in Canada. I expect this was because of his connection with Cohalan. He is an able journalist and has the right viewpoint on present problems in Ireland. I think he would be most useful at home and thought of suggesting him as an Editor of the 'Separatist' or some such paper. I would be glad if you would mention this suggestion to Dr. McCartan and P. S. O'Hegarty. He told me he had no great ties to keep him on in Canada and I think would be glad to go home as his heart is there and he would be a most useful propagandist on the Ulster question. He is arranging a series of lectures for me on the Ulster question in the principal cities in Canada and hopes to bring pressure to bear on some of the Canadian Ministers to get an expression of opinion from the Canadian Parliament against the Ulster Pogrom and British Government support of it. I hope to go there in about ten days time, returning to New York about ten days later.

With regard to the Ulster question, I have to say that I find it very difficult to get any publicity on this matter. I hoped to be able to arrange for some public meetings, but with the presence of the other delegations here and happenings in Ireland, I have not succeeded so far. I only wanted these meetings as a means for publicity, as I found none of the papers inclined to take any matter from me; they say that these things have no news value and will only publish some sensational events from Ireland. Events - murders by Special Constabulary, etc. in Ulster do not get enough publicity here and I believe that if these happenings were cabled to me daily, I could get them inserted in the day's news. I asked for that from the I.[ntelligence] O.[fficer] in Belfast before leaving and also sent word to Kevin O'Sheil to send me the excerpts from those documents he was handling the day I left Ireland, when you brought me up, but so far I have received no material. My own matter is too stale and consequently the Press are not willing to take it, but I believe they would publish daily reports. However I called on the big papers here and in New York - the Times and the World - and pointed out that the incidence of their reports and comments on events in Ireland, and especially Ulster, were sometimes unfair to the Nationalist and Catholic population, and I gave them what I consider the correct point of view. There has been an improvement latterly, so my visits did some good. I also called on Mr. Norman Thomas, Associate Editor of the 'Nation' and had a long conversation with him, giving him details of the position of our people in Ulster, especially of the British Governments subsidy to the Special Constabulary, of recent terrible happenings and explained the causes of the trouble as I saw them; he was most sympathetic and helpful and promised to deal with the matter, as opportunity served, in his paper which has a very big circulation of the best class. I enclose a couple of cuttings from subsequent numbers. Also some editorial comments from papers outside New York, Philadelphia and Washington, for your general information as to opinion on Irish matters here, a cutting with the last news about Jim Larkin and an interview with myself which appeared a short time ago. Mr. Norman Thomas sent me an introduction to the heads of the Federated Council of the Churches of Christ (Protestant Churches) and I called on them and had a long and satisfactory interview. I found them very courteous and anxious to learn the true facts in regard to the position in Ulster, explaining to me that of course their prejudices would naturally lean them toward their co-religionists. I explained the political basis of the present religious vendetta, putting the case as reservedly as possible and generally giving them the correct viewpoint. They talked with me for nearly two hours and finally thanked me for calling on them and expressed a hope that we might have an opportunity of meeting again, exchanging cards with me. Their names are Rev. Samuel McCrae Cavert, Rev. Dr. S. L. Gulick and Rev. Dr. W. M. Tippy, and their offices are 105 East 22nd Street, New York.
[Matter omitted]

I would like to say here that your statement in the Dail of the re-actions of events at home on opinion here was absolutely accurate and I can endorse it fully. I intend to submit to you a summary of feeling here, amongst all class of Irish-Americans and Americans, as I find it, toward Ireland and events there in my next report.

I came down here to Washington on Thursday to be available for the Convention of the A A R I R in case I could do any good. Neither Prof. Smiddy nor myself received any invitation to be present, though Austin Stack was there. I sent up my card to the Chairman, by special messenger, on the opening day, but received no acknowledgement whatever. I sent word to the Chairman, through Joe McGarrity, that I considered it a grave act of discourtesy to the Dail and to Prof. Smiddy and myself, as its official representatives, not to invite us to be present at the Convention. This is especially so as I am informed - with what truth I do not know - that they - the A A R I R - are indebted $100,000 to the Dail, money advanced to their funds to help carry on its work. You might take this matter up with the Minister of Finance and find if it has any basis in fact. The result of the Convention was to exclude from the organization all those Councils who adopted a neutral attitude or who refused to subscribe funds to Mr. de Valera's party in Ireland. As the Convention only concluded last night and things have not developed yet, I intended making a separate report on this matter and the consequences in possible further divisions and bitterness of this suicidal policy of excluding all those sections who do not agree with a certain party. I will let you have this report as soon as possible.

Professor Smiddy has gone to Yale University to meet some of the Economics faculty there. I will probably remain here for a few days at his request. I intend then to go to Philadelphia again to see the people there about the new developments and then on to New York. I will proceed on the Canadian tour immediately arrangements are completed.

I regret delay in getting reports through to you but know you will appreciate the difficulties in which I find myself here and the various matters claiming my attention.

With regards and very best wishes for success in your difficult tasks in Ireland at present.

Yours very sincerely,
Denis McCullough

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO