Volume 1 1919~1922

Doc No.

No. 255 NAI DFA ES London 1922

Extract from a letter from Diarmuid Fawsitt to Michael Collins (Dublin)


London, undated but March 1922 (received 27 March 1922)

[Matter omitted]
Re Political Situation In Irish Circles In Great Britain.
I submitted your introductory letter of the 22nd instant to Mr McDonnell, and invited him to elaborate for your information the general statement on the political situation in Irish circles in Great Britain, to which he had made reference in a letter of his to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, dated the 15th instant.1 I found that Mr McDonnell was not in a position to cite any specific instances in support of his general statement 'that every endeavour is being made to disparage and misinterpret the actions of the Provisional Government'. Neither was he in a position to give me names of those 'men who were always looked upon and treated as the leaders of Irish opinion in London for the last four or five years (who) have been going out of their way to attack both M.C. and other members of the Ministry'. In support of his further statement that 'there is a movement on foot to stampede the Irish Self-Determination League in Great Britain into becoming a de Valera Organisation, irrespective of the results of the coming General Election', Mr McDonnell referred me to the Resolution adopted by the Executive Standing Committee of the I.S.D.L, and which is tabled to appear on the Agenda of the annual meeting of that body to be held in London on the 1st proximo. He also referred me in this connection to the policy adumbrated in the pages of the semi-official organ of the I.S.D.L. in Great Britain, namely the 'Exile'. This paper it appears is being subsidised by the I.S.D.L. and its policy, apparently, is Anti-Treaty.

From conversations that I had with, among others, Mr William McCarthy of Foresthill Road, I am satisfied that a well-directed propaganda [campaign] is on foot throughout Great Britain definitely hostile to acceptance of the Treaty by the Irish people. On the other hand this propaganda is being directed towards securing moral and material support from our people in Great Britain for the Anti-Treaty (Republican) party in Ireland.

Ceilidhe and other social re-unions are being systematically organised for Republican purposes. The I.S.D.L. Executive is seeking to enforce observance of a rule which lays it down that all monies subscribed or raised by any branch for Irish purposes in Ireland must be forwarded through the general Secretary of the I.S.D.L. Organisation. It was stated to me in this connection that fears are entertained that monies sent to the general Secretary for transmission to charitable and other organisations in this country, are not being sent substantially as received by that official to such funds, but are being ear-marked in whole or in part for Republican party purposes in Ireland. I was unable, however, to get any confirmatory evidence in support of this allegation.

The paper 'Republic of Ireland' is being distributed regularly at all social functions, whilst few, if any, copies of the 'Free State' have been offered for sale on such occasions.

I was given to understand that certain references were made by speakers at recent meetings under the auspices of the I.S.D.L. to the detention of political prisoners in English jails, and general statements were made on these occasions that implied inattention by the Provisional Government to effect the speedy release of these prisoners. One speaker, whose name was withheld from me, was alleged to have stated that if these persons were further punished by the English authorities M.C. would be held accountable therefor.

Re Dail Eireann Representative in Great Britain. I failed to secure any satisfactory evidence that the present Dail Representative in London is using the machinery of his office to jettison the Treaty and the Provisional Government. No open act of hostility on his part to either or both could be recalled by those with whom I conferred on the subject. No written or published statement of his criticising the Treaty or Provisional Government since February last is on record so far as my informants had knowledge. The outstanding acts of A.O'B. that might be offered in support of the charge of hostility to the Treaty brought against him are (1) The letter to the Irish in Great Britain which he wrote in December last advising them not to rejoice over the Treaty (2) his attitude towards the Treaty as disclosed, I understand, during the proceedings of the Race Congress in Paris, and (3) his introduction of the Resolution to be submitted to the coming annual meeting of the I.S.D.L.2 In connection with the latter I am advised by Mr McDonnell that no such rule as that referred to in A.O'B's Resolution was adopted or put into effect at any time by the I.S.D.L. I am informed that what actually happened at the time was that the standing Committee adopted this rule, but before it could be put into effect it should have come before the Executive Committee, and finally before the general body of members for their approval. After passing the standing Committee the draft rule was submitted to Counsel for advice as to the prudence in the circumstances, as they existed at that time, to making such object a rule of the I.S.D.L. in Great Britain. Counsel strongly advised against the adoption of the rule and according to Mr McDonnell the draft was not brought forward before the general body for final approval.

I am enclosing herewith copy of letter dated February 9th3 last given to Mr McDonnell by A.O'B with a request that its contents be communicated to each of the prisoners then in jail in England. This letter set out in detail A.O'B's activities in regard to the prisoners, and by implication the inactivity of the Provisional Government under the same head.

Unquestionably it is beyond dispute that the general attitude of officials in A.O'B's department, and also in the offices of the I.S.D.L. is inimicable to the Treaty. The result is visible in the depressing atmosphere in Irish circles generally throughout Great Britain. It is clear that if a strong lead in favour of the Treaty were given by responsible leaders in London and throughout Great Britain generally that our people in that country would take heart and boldly, if not enthusiastically, champion the Treaty and the Provisional Government.

Diarmuid Fawsitt

P.S. I am enclosing some cuttings from the 'Catholic Herald' relating to the foregoing.

1 Not located.

2 Handwritten note in margin: as (4) might be included publication in official Bulletin of 'Uphold the Republic Fund' advert'.

3 Not located.