No. 90 UCDA P80/385

S. Ó hOgáin to Desmond FitzGerald (Dublin)

DUBLIN, 11 June 1923

A Chara,

I regret my inability to return Professor Smiddy's papers earlier, but to-day was the first opportunity I got of reading them at my leisure.

I have attached a list of reports of which I would be obliged to have copies or extracts for permanent reference.

These reports are undoubtedly valuable in so far as they reveal the revival of Fenianism amongst a section in New York who are apparently thinking in terms of a personal vendetta against the chief opponents of Irregularism. It is not easy to appraise the exact value of the reports from this point of view. For instance the agent's admission to work an extremely exclusive circle was too easy, and obviously many of the statements made in his presence from time to time are exaggerations. At the same time this does not affect the importance of his reports. Making all allowances it looks as if a secret organisation was being set up, and as if members were thinking along the lines of continued physical action.

So long as we hold the irregular leaders as prisoners I believe we have hostages against anything in the nature of assassination, but in proportion to the completeness of their defeat the irregulars will have recourse to secret organisation. Necessity will compel them to this course, and apart from your reports I have reason to think that they are remodelling their broken organisation on a secret basis.

One assertion which lends credence to the genuineness of the reports is the intention to restrict the numbers of the organisation. The Irregulars have probably learned enough by experience to know that secrets cannot be confided to a great number, and if they organise on a small secret scale I can see very serious difficulty in penetrating their organisation at home.

Now your agent seems to offer a possible means of penetration at least in America, and it would be to my mind a vital mistake not to work him for all he is worth. If we have an agent within the secret irregular organisation in America we will have made a great stride.

It will be possible through him not only to keep in touch with their programme but also to work up connections in Ireland. An agent in important irregular circles in America is at a point d'appui because the irregulars are bound to use America extensively for finance and owing to the freedom with which they may organise there. Besides at home our people are much more reticent and guarded in their statements, while in America our people are talkative. For instance the British S.[ecret] S.[ervice] made much greater headway against our organisation in America than in Ireland only a few years ago.

I am strongly of opinion that the connection established by Professor Smiddy should be tried out fully, and that further Professor Smiddy should have powers to extend his activities where prospects are good.

This raises the question of control. I am not authorised to make any official proposals, but I would suggest that the regularising of all this work in America and elsewhere might with advantage be along the lines of Police Attachés to our Consulates. At the recent International Police Congress in New York such a proposal received general approval. In our case besides dealing with questions of extradition passports etc., such Police Attachés would be in a position to control Intelligence activities and could keep in direct communication with Intelligence Headquarters at home.

Such suggestions are needless to say purely informal. My authority does not extend to such matters, but Intelligence work has convinced me of the necessity of some definition on such points.

Mise, le meas,

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