No. 80 NAI DFA P83

Sean Lester to William T. Cosgrave (Dublin)

DUBLIN, 10 May 1923


Mr. Mark Sullivan of the 'New York Tribune' and a well-known political writer in the American Reviews arrived in Dublin to-day. Professor Smiddy had advised us of his arrival. He came to see me and we had half an hour's conversation. Although warned by Professor Smiddy that he would probably want to talk about the League of Nations and had no strong Irish sympathies, I found him to take a very sympathetic view of the situation and appeared to have a good understanding of it. He is an Irish man and has relatives in Cork whom he visited. He was rather surprised at the normal conditions prevailing in Cork County, and mentioned that he had talked to some farmers who are sympathisers with the Irregulars, declaring the latter to consist of the 'best of the old I.R.A.' As supporting the view that the trouble is nearly over[,] these men told him that they hoped there would be no more fighting for another twenty years.

He intended staying in Dublin only until tomorrow as his principal business is in London, Paris and the Ruhr. He may however change his mind if he finds the situation very interesting and remain until Sunday. He will attend the Dáil this evening for the discussion on the Finance Bill and the debate on the de Valera document.

I asked him some questions about the situation in America and propaganda there. He says that the number of de Valera supporters in America is quite inappreciable. Americans are puzzled by de Valera's attitude. They generally understand that the Free State has the same position as Canada and they see across their borders that Canada is contented and prosperous and mentioned the Treaty signed separately by Canada a few months ago as showing how her position is still advancing. (In this connection he remarked that it was only a matter of waiting until it would not embarrass the British Government for the Canadian Government to appoint a resident Minister at Washington.)

I asked him what effect the Irregular Missionaries were having on American public opinion, and he said that as far as he could judge, and he was a working journalist in touch with all the affairs of the day, they had no influence. He pointed out that the American papers had not reported the meetings held by these people not because of any hostility but simply because they were uninteresting and had no news value. He said that the touring lecturers would go into a town and hold a meeting in some small suburban church where their audience would consist of a small group of Irregular supporters. I asked him to compare these activities with those of the old Sinn Féin delegates. He described the scenes he himself had frequently witnessed a couple of years ago and very emphatically said that a comparison was ridiculous. As to the funds they were gathering he said an American might part with a few dollars on the purely charitable plea while not supporting the political aims of the Irregulars, but that there will be no more of the old subscriptions of 50 and 100 dollars until the time came for capital investments in the Free State. In his opinion the American public which formerly helped and supported the Sinn Féin movement was now behind the Free State. He was interested in the question of whether Ireland would in the future adopt a free trade or protectionist policy, and the amount of the British war debt that would be apportioned to the Free State. I told him in this connection that neither of the subjects had been yet decided and explained to him the present fiscal system.

He did not ask any questions about the League of Nations, and mentioned once or twice that he did not think of dealing with the Irish situation but had passed through Ireland for the purpose of showing his wife and family the country. He said that once things settled down here Irish Americans, he was certain, would be only too anxious to invest capital in this country, and that he thought the tourist traffic in Ireland could easily be made a tremendous business in the future.

[copy letter unsigned]
Director of Publicity.

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