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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 17 Aug 1921

Vol. S No. 2


Count Plunkett submitted the following Report on the Department of Foreign Affairs:—
On his return from America, the President, having in view the importance of strengthening and increasing our representation in foreign countries, the co-ordination of the work of our Foreign Representatives and the necessity of getting these representatives in closer touch than was hitherto possible, deemed it wise to establish a separate office for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The work of this Department had hitherto been centred in the office of the General Secretary, who had done splendid work in spite of the fact that he could only give the Department a fraction of his time. The new office was established in February of this year, and since then a good deal has been done in the matter of co-ordinating the work of our Foreign Representatives and of keeping them closely informed on the situation at home. Special envoys have been sent to Germany, Russia, South America, and South Africa; an accredited representative has been appointed in Germany; Press bureaux have been established in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Rome, and the organisation of similar bureaux in South Africa, Australia, Chile, and the Argentine is under way. In addition, the organisation in the United States has been put on a new basis.
The Foreign establishments of the Republic at present are as follows:—
Paris Representative—Mr. Seán T. O Ceallaigh, T.D.
Rome Representative.—Mr. George Gavan Duffy, T.D.
United States Representative—Mr. Harry Boland, T.D.
London Representative—Mr. Art O'Brien.
German Representative—Mr. J. Chartres.
Russian Representative—Dr. P. McCartan, T.D.
Argentine Representative—Mr. Eamon Bulfin.
Chile Representative—Mr. Frank W. Egan.
Official Press Bureaux are working in Paris, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Fribourg, and the United States, while active propaganda is also being done in Denmark, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and the South American Republics.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is kept in close touch with the Trade and Publicity Departments, so as to ensure that the best results will be obtained from the co-ordination of the work of our Foreign Representatives.
One of the first duties of the Department was the preparation of the material accompanying the "Address to the Representatives of Foreign Nations," which was adopted at the January Session of An Dáil. This document was forwarded to our Foreign Representatives with instructions to have it translated into the different languages and delivered to each elected representative in the following countries:—France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Austria, Czecho-Slovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Switzerland, Turkey, Jugo Slavia, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Japan, China, Phillipines, the British Colonies, and all the countries on the American Continent. A great deal of this work has already been done. Arrangements have been made to have the address read before the United States Senate, and it is hoped that the same may be done in other countries. Our Representatives in France, Italy, Germany, Canada, and Chile are working in this direction.
Particulars of the work being done in various countries are as follows:—
Argentine—Through our Representative in Buenos Aires (Mr. Eamon Bulfin) steps are being taken for the issue in that country of a Bulletin, the material for which would be derived from the Irish Bulletin and other sources of propaganda. We are at present awaiting from Mr. Bulfin an estimate of the probable cost of the proposed production.
Though communication from home with the Argentine is difficult and slow, Mr. Bulfin's reports afford great encouragement as to the support that might be expected there for the Republican cause. He emphasises, however, the urgent need that exists of educating the whole people of the Argentine—as distinct from the Irish there—to the true position of Ireland and her claim to recognition as an Independent Republic, and considers that a publication something similar to that proposed would effect enormous good in this direction as well as helping to secure a solid footing for a special mission from Ireland to the Argentine. In the opinion of Mr. Bulfin the President of the Argentine is favourably disposed towards the Irish Republican cause, and if the United States Government recognised the Irish Republic he (Mr. Bulfin) feels sure that the Argentine Government would do likewise. Mr. Bulfin mentions local differences and animosities resulting from a split of ten years ago as factors operating against the power of the Irish in the Argentine, but here again he believes theBulletin could be put to good use in wiping out misunderstandings and working towards complete and effective reorganisation. A number of newspapers published in the Argentine are friendly disposed towards the Irish Cause. Mr. Ginnell, T.D., who has been sent as a special envoy on a mission to the Argentine and the other South American Republics, was present by official invitation at the Te Deum to commemorate the Independence of Peru.
Chile—Mr. Frank W. Egan, our honorary Representative in Santiago reports that the elections in March to the National Congress proved favourable for the Democratic and Labour parties. At the opening in June of the two legislative bodies the Senate held a slight Conservative majority, but in the House of Representatives the Democratic, Radical, and Labour parties combined to form a majority, and will work together. Mr. Egan hopes to get forward a declaration from this assembly, and with this end in view is working with several of the new deputies. Plans are being laid for the formation of an Irish Association, and Mr. Egan hopes for great success, judging from the results of his appeal to all Irishmen to join the organisation known as the “Irish Colony of Chile.” In a report recently received from a gentleman in Santiago, genuinely sympathetic towards the Irish Cause, and a close friend of the new President, the writer states that the latter is in sympathy with the Irish Cause, and adds: “The great point is that recognition (of the Irish Republic) by Chile would inevitably bring recognition by the Argentine and possibly Brazil as well, in addition to acting as an incentive to the United States to take the step over which they appear to be hesitating.”
We are making inquiries as to the feasibility of issuing aBulletin in Chile on the same lines as that proposed for the Argentine. Meanwhile a magazine, The American World, published twice monthly in Valparaiso, strongly advocates Irish Independence.
United States—Reports from the United States continue encouraging, the Irish Cause gaining in sympathy and support there each day. Arrangements have been made to have the “Address to the Representatives of Foreign Nations” (adopted at the January Session of the Dáil) read to the Senate of the United States, and distributed to every elected representative in Canada, Newfoundland, Argentine, Bolivia, and every other country on the American Continent. The “Address” is also being translated into Japanese and Chinese, and the members of the Japanese and Chinese Diets will be in possession of it in due course. Mr. Boland continues:
"We are entering into a strenuous campaign for recognition. For the first time in the history of the Irish in America, they are alive to the situation, and are now organised intelligently, and are displaying great initiative in securing results. Whereas, up to the time the President left this country, there was but one central office for American Organisations friendly to Ireland; to-day, thanks to the efforts of our friends, we have 56 offices throughout the States. The American Association for the recognition of the Irish Republic hopes to complete its labours ere the next year dawns, and the atmosphere round Washington is fairly friendly. I think that we can guarantee that Ireland's case will be well ventilated during this Session in Congress."
Copies of "Ireland's Request for Recognition" to the number of about 5,000 were sent to all Embassies and Legations and important personages in North and South America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and Europe; also to all United States Congressmen and Senators, and all Members of the British House of Commons, all Members of Canadian Legislatures, all members of Relief Committees in New York and Washington, and important friends in all parts of the world. Arrangements have also been made to have copies distributed amongst the officers of the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic all over the United States.
Concerning the April Convention, Mr. Boland reports :
"The greatest Convention ever held in America (A.A.R.I.R.) has come and gone, and certainly the gathering was a magnificent justification for the stand taken by the President during his stay here. I could not adequately report the enthusiasm and spirit which animated the great gathering. It was certainly an inspiring sight to see the delegates numbering over 5,000, representing the 48 States of the Union, each vieing with the other in their efforts to get behind the people of Ireland in their struggle ... the time for action is now. The Senate Resolutions have been introduced. Senator La Follette has made his opening speech. The Resolutions have now been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the full force of public opinion must be directed towards securing the reporting out of these resolutions. All are agreed that it can be done, and we must needs, therefore, lend our every effort to secure the full pressure of the Association behind these resolutions. The A.A.R.I.R. have set up a legislative Committee.... We have decided that during this Session of Congress at least two members of the Committee shall be on the spot here at Washington. Each separate State will also have its Legislative Committee, and we hope to get sympathetic resolutions through many State Legislatures. Already the following State Legislatures have passed resolutions urging President Harding to recognise our Republic :—New Jersey, Montana, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Winconsin."
Mr. Stephen O'Mara, Plenipotentiary Representative of the Trustees of Dáil Eireann has proceeded to the United States where his main duty will be to make provisions for raising a new Loan of twenty million dollars.
Italy—Since May last an Irish Bulletin has been published in Rome containing Irish news and for propaganda purposes in general. The visit of Archbishop Mannix to Rome did great good to our cause at the Vatican, where it was feared that English intrigue and lying propaganda would succeed in inducing the Pope to make a statement calculated to do immense harm to the Irish Republican Cause. This danger, it would appear is now past, but is always to be guarded against as the propaganda is certain to be renewed as soon as the remarkable effect created by Archbishop Mannix's visit is thought to have worn off. In a recent Memo., Mr. Gavan Duffy, writing relative to the then pending General Election to the Parliament of Italy, stated that the Catholic Popular Party is likely to come back less strong, but the system of Proportional Representation will secure them some show in the new House. “These,” he continues, “are our best friends, but there is generally a good disposition in the other parties, save perhaps among the Masons, who compose the Liberal Party now in office, and are only lukewarm at best.” The election has since taken place, but thus far it is not possible to estimate as to the amount of support our cause is likely to receive in the new Parliament further than to mention that it bodes well to find that the Catholic Party was returned at practically the same strength as before.
Since taking up residence in Rome, Mr. Gavan Duffy has been responsible for much propaganda work. This was badly needed, as hitherto opinion there has been very friendly but ignorant.
Spain—A Press Bureau has been established in Madrid, where a Bulletin is being issued under the charge of Miss O'Brien. There are strong hopes that the results will prove highly satisfactory. Mr. Gavan Duffy reported on his recent visit to Spain that “No country in Europe holds Ireland in such honour and affection, except Catalonia where our name stands higher still. I visited Salamanca, and had enthusiastic reception from students of Irish College. The College stands high in popular estimation. Better and more information is badly wanted especially to correct false wires from London. Irish Nuns in Madrid who are very influential in high circles are all with us. Dr. O'Doherty spent a week with me in Madrid, and we were extremely well received everywhere. Spain has a big influence in South America. The Dominicans, who are very powerful in Spain, are very enthusiastic for Ireland. I found people very receptive. If we made ourselves strong in Madrid, the result would be of the utmost importance in Rome, where Spain stands very high indeed. Many newspapers friendly towards Ireland— some absolutely pro-Irish. We stand very high in Spain, but there is a big field open and untilled.”
Germany—A Press Bureau has lately been established in Berlin, where the initial work regarding the issuing of a Bulletin having been carried out by a talented young Dublin lady is being continued by the newly appointed envoy. There is an active pro-Irish Society in Germany. A number of our friends in Berlin are rendering assistance in the publication of the Bulletin which, we have been informed, has met with an encouraging reception. Following his recent visit to Germany, Mr. Gavan Duffy strongly emphasised the urgency and importance of real hard work on our behalf in that country. He wrote :—“I feel that, believing in the rise of Germany as I do, I can hardly exaggerate either the importance of this or its urgency. I found the Germans exceedingly friendly, but the agencies are bad and knowledge scanty. There is a certain amount of admiration here, as every where else, for the magnificent bravery of our fight, but I think the predominant factor in sustaining interest is a lively sense of our potential value to the enemies of England. But in Germany as elsewhere, I found some scepticism as to our power of holding out or as to our persistance in no compromise against such odds—a feeling that I have had to combat and dispel everywhere.”
Switzerland—A Bulletin is being issued in Fribourg by a Committee, of which Father Staunton is in charge. Our friends in Switzerland are founding a pro-Irish organisation there. Our Paris Representative (Mr. Seán T. O Ceallaigh, T.D.) considers this plan a good one and recommends that it be aided financially. We are awaiting an estimate from him as to the proposed expenditure before taking further action.
South Africa—The Irish in South Africa are organising effectively to give what support they can to the Cause of the Republic. Two envoys recently sent to South Africa have submitted reports which, on the whole, may be regarded as encouraging. Mr. Little states that the way has been well prepared for the Irish Mission. An Irish Republican Association was started about six months ago, with a fortnightly journal, The Republic. There were ten branches of the Irish Republican Association represented at the first Annual General Meeting in Bloemfontein in February. Since then, three new branches have been formed. The Central Council sent a deputation to General Smuts prior to his departure to England. The Dutch papers are favourable to Ireland. The English papers are entirely Jingo. Mr. Little attended at Johannesburg a conference of 20 branches of the Irish Republican Association which appointed sub-committees (1) for Trade, (2) Organisation, and (3) to draft memo and arrange deputation to General Smuts. The other envoy reports that the Republican question in South Africa is not ended and will divide the people there for many years; each side is striving to strengthen its position. All cables and wireless companies southward and eastward are in English hands and publish nothing but English propaganda. The majority of the Irish are favourable, but are followers of General Smuts. They are mostly quite ignorant on the Irish question, but may be redeemed by the present movement.
Denmark—Pamphlets of a propagandist nature are being issued in Paris and distributed through Denmark where we have a number of friends interesting themselves in the Cause of the Irish Republic. In connection with our activities in Denmark, it is to be noted that Mr. Gerald O'Loughlin, who had been working there unofficially in the interests of Ireland, was recently called before the police authorities and ordered to cease propaganda work for Ireland. Mr. O'Loughlin has since been trying to organise a small committee of local people to undertake the work. Reports go to show that Denmark is almost the most pro-English country in Europe.
Canada—The Irish Self Determination League, of which Mr. Lindsay Crawford is President, is making good progress in Canada, where our friends are working hard in the way of organisation with a view to rendering effective service to the Republican Cause. Mr. Osmond Esmonde, Republican Envoy, was recently arrested in Vancouver on a charge of “Sedition” and ordered to be deported. We have been officially informed through the United States that the allegation contained in the charge was faked—that Mr. Esmonde gave no undertaking on arriving at Vancouver, and that he made no speech in public. It is also noted that the oath which Mr. Esmonde was required to take before being allowed into Australia was specially prepared, and that no other person since or before has been asked to take such an oath. This is an instance of enemy interference to prevent the true facts of our case being laid before the people of other countries. In a letter dated April 15, Mr. Harry Boland, writing from the United States, stated that he hoped to have a Canadian Member of Parliament read the “Address to the Representatives of Foreign Nations” in the Canadian Congress. The following is a copy of the letter received by Mr. Boland from the Secretary of the Canadian League for Self Determination :—
"I beg to say that the National Executive of the Self Determination League of Canada for Ireland, and Newfoundland, will do everything possible to influence this country's delegates to the Imperial Conference and with that end in view we are endeavouring to bring stronger pressure there in order to create a favourable opinion towards Ireland. We sincerely appreciate the trust placed in us by President de Valera, and would request you to extend to him our sincere thanks."
Russia—Dr. McCartan, T.D., our envoy in Russia, arrived there in February. A report from him lately to hand states that he had an interview with the Foreign Minister, who seemed pretty well informed on the Irish question. After the interview Dr. McCartan was asked to make his request in writing and was promised speedy discussion and decision. He was informed, however, that no action would be taken until Russia had first concluded the Trade Treaty with England. Dr. McCartan handed in his request in writing; he states that he was assured that the Trade Treaty with England would not in any way affect the question of Russia recognising Ireland. The Russian Foreign Office had got the impression that Ireland would compromise, and that this effected their readiness to recognise.
France—Mr. Seán T. O Ceallaigh, T.D. continues to look after our interests in Paris, and has also rendered effective service in connection with Press and propaganda work in Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, and Belgium. Recent events go to show that the Irish Cause is occupying big space in the French Press and that our position there is improving from day to day. Our Representative, Mr. Seán T. O Ceallaigh, in a recent report, says :—
"The recent turn of events at home has once again quickened the interest of the French people and Press in the future of Ireland. Not a single day passes now without one, or more than one, of the principal papers in Paris publishing long special articles on the Irish situation and the possible outcome of the present conferences in London. There is no doubt whatsoever but that the sympathy of all elements of the population here is with us; there is no country in the world, where there is not a large Irish population, that would welcome with greater joy a conclusion to the Irish fight for independence satisfactory to the Irish people. The numbers of inquiries and callers here daily alone would prove this. All shades of people and all politics are represented among those who come here looking for information or merely to express their sympathy."
Australia—Mr. James Donovan, Acting State Secretary, Self Determination League for Ireland of Australia, lately forwarded copies of the Constitution of that Organisation which pledges its members “To secure organised support for the right of the people of Ireland to choose freely, without coercion or dictation from outside, their own Governmental Institutions, and their political relationship with other States and peoples.” Press extracts go to show that the League is gaining in support despite big opposition. Our Cause in Australia will be considerably strengthened following the return to that country of Archbishop Mannix who rendered such excellent service in Rome and elsewhere. A special envoy of the Republic arrived in Australia in February.
London—Our interests in London are looked after by Mr. Art O'Brien, who, of late, however, has been considerably hampered in his work owing to raids, arrests and deportations. Following a recent decision of the Ministry to allocate £4,000 per annum towards our London establishment, Mr. Art O'Brien wrote stating that that amount would enable him to go ahead without the constant anxiety he had experienced up to then in relation to finances. He had engaged a permanent manager, and was making other arrangements to enable the work of the Mission to proceed on an effective basis when the late raids interfered greatly with his activities, the newly appointed manager, Mr. C.B. Dutton, being arrested and deported to Ireland. Mr. O'Brien now states that the arrests and raids have made such a terrible mess of things that it will be a long time before he can get things straight. Mr. F. Murphy of the London office has already been arrested and deported, after the place had been raided and correspondence, etc., carried away. The Irish Self Determination League, of which Mr. O'Brien is Vice-President, are themselves issuing a review of a propagandist nature. The League has been organised on a firm basis throughout Great Britain, and has been rendering good service to the Irish Republican Cause.
World Conference of Irish Race—The Irish Republican Association of South Africa recently forwarded to the Irish Self Determination League of Great Britain a resolution urging the calling together of a Conference of the Irish race throughout the world at which delegates would be present from Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the South American countries, and Spain, Austria, and France, etc., and which would proceed to take such steps as might be deemed advisable to assist the cause of the Irish Republic. This suggestion being deemed an admirable one, is being acted upon, and it is hoped to bring off the Conference in Paris or some other centre next January. Needless to say, a good deal of organising work will be required, but the preliminary arrangements are already well in hand.—Riobard O Breandáin, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. (August 10, 1921).

I merely wish to propose formally that consideration of this Report be referred to the Private Session of the Dáil. I think the members of the Dáil and those who have listened to it must be impressed profoundly by the enormous work accomplished by this Department. They have, I think, deserved well of Ireland, for they have revealed Ireland to the world and revealed to the world what is the right conception of affairs in Ireland. The world knows to-day that Ireland is not a mere section of England, but an historic nation determined to achieve its rights no matter what the cost may be.

Aontuím leis sin.

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