No. 55 NAI DE 2/269

Dáil Eireann Report on Foreign Affairs by Count George Plunkett

Dublin, January 1921

The position of Affairs on the Continent of Europe is, as regards Ireland, naturally affected very seriously by the uncertain political and industrial conditions in each country. France whose Commerce and international credit are still in danger is even in a worse condition politically. But in politics at least, the uncertainty of affairs may result in the return of wholesome conditions, and to Ireland's advantage. The defeat of successive governments following the rejection of Clemenceau is an indication that the English control of France is at an end. Recent changes in public thought in France seem to mark not only an independence in the country but an escape from the control of political adventurers who, for many a year, had directed the country's destinies and led France into injurious by-paths. The immediate advantages in this situation to Ireland are that France is not afraid to speak openly and forcibly regarding England's injustice and brutality towards Ireland and she is even anxious to establish a friendly understanding between the two peoples. Another result useful to Ireland is that France and America are coming to terms regarding the future, without any intervention of England in the bargain. Such an alliance between France and the States means not only a blow at England's prestige and trade but a strengthening of the relations between France and Ireland. It is but a short time since the French Press was used to a large extent by England to the injury of the Irish Cause, and it was up-hill work for our envoys in Paris to get a fair hearing for Ireland, except in the smaller papers. Now in popular Magazines like Le Monde Illustre the case of Ireland is given in extenso and several of the democratic papers have their Correspondents in Ireland itself who correct the English Press Propaganda. In the Magazines altogether under Catholic control men of authority continue to reason out our claims.

Mr. Sean T. O'Ceallaigh continues his work without a break. Mr. Gavan Duffy having had to leave France found the English too strong for him in Belgium which has not recovered its political Independence yet, though some Belgian papers give us a fair hearing.

Mr. Duffy will probably be sent to Rome where there is a need of continuous watchfulness through some layman to supplement the splendid support which he receives from certain ecclesiastics there. The assaults upon Irish Independence continue to be made savagely if fruitlessly in the centre of Christendom.

Our Consul in Genoa1 having secured a foothold in the Italian Press continues his correspondence with a fervour and freedom of expression which show that the Italian people are very whole-heartedly on the side of Ireland. This fact is a fair indication that the bond of the allies is very nearly at a loose end.

In Spain our Organisation is worked by a body of friends devoted to our Cause. In the Capital the good feeling for Ireland is maintained on general principles. In Catalonia however our movement is supported mainly by those who desire to secure a distinctive Government for the Catalans. Hence the press of Barcelona is strongly pro-Irish. The friendship for Ireland extends over a very large area. I have received information regarding the holding of meetings and the delivery of lectures in favour of Ireland from no less than fifteen centres in Catalonia alone. It is under consideration to extend this work in Spain.

We have appointed a representative of Ireland to see to the national interests in Switzerland.

Regarding Russia I am not yet provided with information regarding the advance of our plans.

Our relation with central powers necessarily is restricted to trade and even trade is seriously impeded by the bad condition of the exchange and by impediments imposed by England. All German articles looked upon as appertaining to key industries are rigorously excluded from trading. The press of Germany shows the state of terrorism imposed by the allies on the defeated nations and it is nearly impossible to get a clear statement of events in Ireland into the papers. We have a Correspondent in England who sends a weekly letter containing Irish news to one of the German Austrian papers but beyond that we can hardly hope to go for the present.

With regard to America in the presence of the President, I shall say very little. But I should be ignoring some of the most important events in Irish history if I did not point out a fact that his campaign in the States had an immense effect in overturning the domination of Wilson and making America repudiate the League of Nations. This action of the States has set the Independent Republics of South America going and the example of Argentina is being followed by other Governments.

The President's rescue of the Irish Voters in the States from the control of American Party Leaders and their organisation into a power at the disposal of Ireland is more than a triumph for it means that the Irish Cause is kept clear of any accidents and that however fashions may change among American parties the Irish at home and abroad form but one body and never change.

G.N. Count Plunkett

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