No. 33 NAI DFA ES Box 32 File 228

Extract from a memorandum by Patrick McCartan on mission to Russia and on draft Russo-Irish Treaty

May 1920

[Matter omitted]
The President referred to the wisdom of publicity. I know they want publicity of it and in principle are opposed to secret Treaties. There is no use in sending a mission if we are afraid to take the consequences. I know from my talks with their representatives here that they would only laugh at us and treat us as well-meaning but cowardly fools if we proposed such a course. It seems to me therefore we have to go the whole way or not start at all. There is no middle course.

As to the personnel of the Mission the understanding at present is that I shall be in charge of the Mission and that John T. Ryan of Buffalo who had to leave this country on account of his activities on our behalf be another member. The President has suggested other names. Personally I think the Mission should be small in the beginning and additions made to it in the way of experts and as occasion arises. The experts might be only temporary. The experts might not always be Sinn Feiners. For instance if we were negotiating about flax Harold Barbour would be useful. Again Russia wants ships and we might want an expert from Harland and Wolfes etc. etc.

As far as I am personally concerned I'll go only on condition that I get plenary powers and that I shall have absolute authority no matter who is sent to make final decision in case of disagreement. This may seem at first sight an extraordinary demand but it is the only satisfactory course. Franklin when sent from this country to France had no end of wrangles with his colleagues and in the end had to take the bull by the horns and act as his own judgement dictated. Casement had not full powers from home with the result that Devoy was constantly undermining him from New York and left him to an extent powerless and even suspected. It is the same in all such cases and history is constantly repeating itself. I have not so far discussed this aspect of the question with the President but will do so as soon as we reach that point.

The Treaty

As I have been working on this for the last few days I shall make a few notes on some of the clauses that may help when you are discussing it there. The notes may suggest improvements as well as explaining all that is implied in it as I read it.

  1. The word resources in Clause 1 and 2 may mean - and to my mind does mean - that we may have to lend money to their representatives here for credit or gold in Russia and that later we can under these clauses demand a loan of millions from them. They at present have difficulty in establishing credit here. The term resources was in their original draft and I did not ask for an interpretation as it seemed to me we had more to gain by it than they had so I pretended not to notice it. It does not come into operation until the treaty is signed and perhaps we will be in a better position to judge its merits then. It is the one thing in this clause [that] requires careful consideration. If I am sent I intend on the strength of it to ask for at least 50,000 rifles etc to be run into Ireland. I suggested this to their man here and he agreed it was a possibility.
  2. Under Clause 2 - 'to promote the recognition etc' - they agree to strive for the recognition of the Republic of Ireland by the States with which they have or will make peace. We will probably get recognition from all or some of the nations at peace with them. They do not for the present hope for much in this respect from Poland.
  3. Under these clauses we may be able to help them here and they may be able to help us in England. The Treaty itself is bound to affect both of us in this respect on account of the germ noticeable in all labour organisations.
  4. Same as above
  5. Clause five gives us a good grip on the Vatican and makes them less impressionable by British Agents. If the British threaten to squeeze in future we can threaten also. It is not necessary to dwell on this. I don't see how it can react against us in the North or elsewhere but that is the sole danger. The advantages more than counteract the risks.
  6. This means that we will have the use of their diplomatic pouch and vice versa.
  7. This clause makes it possible to organise a corporation for importing stuff. It should be directly or indirectly Governmental as we can under it control prices and make it a source of revenue. For instance we could control the flax of the world or at least get our teeth well into it. Lumber and wheat are the other big things under this clause.
  8. Harland and Wolfe could not accept contracts from Russia under this without our permit. There are such contracts to be given out at present but likely the Belfast Firms have a full hand. A letter from our Mission on the subject may however be good for propaganda after a little while.
  9. This may not be of any service to us but it might be possible to start things here which could be later transferred to Ireland.
  10. This is pretty plain but if I have anything to do with it I shall ask for privileges for soldiers of the Republic of Ireland to study any naval or military courses we may desire.
  11. This is entirely theirs and I'm not so sure what they have in mind. We shall go into it again.
  12. This is the germ of a real league of nations. It will appeal to the votaries of a real league here and will have a good effect on that account.
  13. Same as above.
  14. In case of a change of Government we want the people of Russia educated about Ireland and hope that any succeeding Government may adopt a similar attitude to Ireland.
  15. This is to prevent any peace with England interfering with the relations with Ireland. They would not agree not to make peace with England until England recognised the Republic of Ireland so that this is the best we could get for our protection.

In addition to this I shall discuss the question of hostages. That is if England murders any of our soldiers in or out of prison they will agree to execute a Britisher as a reprisal. They have them. We may get this but I'm not sure.

Patrick McCartan

P.S. In order to get quick action cable to Fawsitt that is 'Cavehill New York' in case of full acceptance say 'are agreeable to accept agency'. In case of reserved acceptance cable 'Agency acceptable on conditions forwarded'. In case of rejection cable 'Agency terms unacceptable'. The party to send these cables are the Irish Overseas Shipping and Trading Co. Ltd. In other words 'Outlook'. Cables have been coming from them.

P. McC.

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