Tuesday, 4 January 2011

References to Prof. Timothy A. SMIDDY - The Irish Independent - 2000, 2007

Premier Mackenzie King, replying to a question in the Canadian House of Commons, announced that the appointment of the first Dominion Minister Plenipotentiary to Washington would be made in the near future. No hint was made as to who will be nominated for the post.
Some time ago, Canada successfully negotiated with the Government in London for the right to be separately represented in Washington. The agreement provided that the Canadian Minister would automatically represent the entire Commonwealth in the absence of the British Ambassador.
The Irish Free State also concluded a similar agreement and is now represented at Washington
by Prof. Timothy A. Smiddy (TiME, June 23, 1924).

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,728516,00.html#ixzz1A5ycMTHy

Struggles of the early Free State

Sunday Dec 31 2000
John A Murphy welcomes a book that testifies to government success in the 1920s Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Vol. 11,1923-1926 Edited by Ronan Fanning, Michael Kennedy, Dermot Keogh, Eunan O'Halpin Royal Irish Academy: £30SOME historians might regard the publication of a selection of source documents in book form as somewhat old fashioned in this day and age. After all, there is ready access nowadays to the rich documentary material released to scholars over the last 10 years or so under National Archives legislation. Indeed, that material has already stimulated a number of fresh studies on early independent Ireland.
But not everybody, particularly those resident outside of Dublin, can afford to spend endless days poring over documents in the National Archives of Ireland in Bishop Street, idyllic though such an existence would be. Hence the project of publishing, under the joint auspices of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Irish Academy, a multi-volume series of documents in chronological order on Irish foreign policy with the objective of deepening our understanding of the development of that policy by early governments.
Most of the material in this 600-page volume comes from the records of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and of the Taoiseach. The eminence of the editors ensures that the documents selected here are representative and significant. Moreover, the reader of this volume, unlike the solitary researcher in the archives is given every hand-holding assistance by the editors. The texts are clearly and exactly reproduced, the identity of senders and recipients of unsigned letters have been established as far as possible, and there are explanatory footnotes throughout.
An informative introduction is followed by biographical notes of the key personalities appearing in the texts. In short, everything has been done to make this second volume in the series an authoritative source and reference work for those interested in the early years of the State, particularly in its foreign policy.
The background to the first volume was the dramatic and revolutionary course of events from the First Dail's Declaration of Independence in 1919 down to the Treaty split. With the present collection, we are in more sober, not to say sombre, territory with the new Irish Free State struggling to establish itself in the face of numerous difficulties foreign and domestic. @@STYL EL,2 @@STYL RCAP MANY of the letters and documents deal with the boundary question and with what turned out to be the debacle of the Boundary Commission which resulted in the personal discomfiture of Eoin MacNeill (the distinguished "scholar-revolutionary" who was the Irish Free State's representative on the Commission) and, more importantly, in the copperfastening of partition.
W. T. Cosgrave's impotence is evident in his dignified protest. "Our representative, an honourable man, has lost faith in the other members of the Commission and has felt himself in honour bound to dissociate himself from them. I am forced to the conclusion that they have allowed themselves to be swayed in the discharge of their official duty by the threats of political influences which have been brought to bear on them. Dr MacNeill left not because we were not getting all we asked for but because justice was not being done, because the rights of our people in the North that were enshrined in Article 12 of the Treaty were being shamefully flouted and their destinies being made the play thing of hostile prejudice." All the material on this episode makes fascinating reading.
IT WOULD BE be a mistake to think of the 1923-26 period as one of unrelieved post-Civil War depression and disenchantment. Those years had their own excitement for the inexperienced politicians and diplomats who strove to shape the international identity of the new State, whether in the British Commonwealth and the League of Nations or in bilateral relations, particularly with Britain and the USA. At the same time, they were pushing out the limits of the restrictions on sovereignty imposed by the Treaty, or if you like, they were successfully exploring the potential of Commonwealth status. Timothy Smiddy, Michael MacWhite, Joseph Walshe and Sean Murphy were pioneering Irish diplomats who were alert to developing events in the international scene which might be useful for Ireland.
Admittedly, not all "bread-and-butter" politicians at home were impressed by all this. Consider the attitude of Deputy Denis J Gorey who objected, during a Dail debate in November 1923, to the establishment of the Department of External Affairs. "We are concerned with no Foreign Affairs. We have no colonies and have no interests to clash with any other nation. I think it is ridiculous to be playing with theatricals like this ... the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be known as the Ministry for finding a job for somebody."
Yet there is a sense in which a state has no legitimacy until it is recognised and welcomed by the family of nations. That is what Irish foreign policy was about in @@STYL xleg those difficult and formative.
* John A Murphy is Emeritus Professor of History at UCC.


How the Irish-US love affair began

Saturday January 06 2007

Four Courts Press, €60 SEAN DONLON There are many reasons to welcome this major work on US foreign policy and Ireland from 1913 to 1929. Firstly, it is the product of exhaustive research on both sides of the Atlantic by an historian who has already established her credentials with Ireland and the Marshall Plan 1947-57. UNITED STATES FOREIGN
By Bernadette Whelan
Four Courts Press, €60 SEAN DONLON There are many reasons to welcome this major work on US foreign policy and Ireland from 1913 to 1929. Firstly, it is the product of exhaustive research on both sides of the Atlantic by an historian who has already established her credentials with Ireland and the Marshall Plan 1947-57.
Secondly, she now joins the distinguished ranks of historians such as Alan Ward, Larry McCaffrey, Frank Carroll and Kerby Miller who have made significant contributions to the study of various aspects of the connection between Ireland and the US. But while they are all mainly US trained and based, Dr Whelan is Irish and is currently a senior lecturer in the University of Limerick history department. Thirdly, she writes fluently and in a style which is readily accessible by non-academics.
The book focuses on the Irish policies of three US Presidents, Wilson (1913-21), Harding (1921-23) and Coolidge (1923-29) and situates their approach to Irish issues against the background of their foreign policies generally. It examines in some detail the implementation of policies by US officials in Dublin, London, Belfast and Cork and, in passing, gives an interesting insight into Ireland's first official representative in Washington, Professor Timothy Smiddy.
Once the US went to war on the British side in 1917, the tone of US policy towards Ireland was set and remained substantially unchanged for more than fifty years. Wilson personified that tone. He was personally well informed and even sympathetic to the Irish cause but this was always balanced - frequently overwhelmed - by the exigencies of US-British relations.
It was unlikely that Wilson would ever have supported the Irish cause but the situation was not helped by the fact that a significant element of Irish-America opposed his nomination for the presidency. Nor can it have been helped by a speech made by de Valera in 1918 in which he told President Wilson that if he did not support Irish independence "he is as big a hypocrite as Lloyd George".
Harding's presidency was inconsistent on Ireland but basically it regarded the Irish question as a domestic matter for the British. Harding did, however, weigh in fully behind the new Free State Government.
An important key to understanding Coolidge's attitude to Ireland was the fact that he had been a popular Governor of Massachusetts, a state which had a significant Irish born population at the time. It was during the Coolidge presidency that in 1924 Prof. Smiddy presented his credentials as the Free State's envoy in Washington, an event accurately described by Dr Whelan as "a momentous occasion in the life of the new state and the fledgling diplomatic service".
It was to be a further three years before the US made a reciprocal appointment in Dublin but in the meanwhile the US was well served by some first class political reporting by its consular officials in both parts of Ireland.
Dr Whelan has managed to find many colourful pieces. For example, many years before he became President in 1913, Woodrow Wilson visited Dublin but he was distinctly unimpressed. The boat crossing from Britain was uncomfortable. He could not find good accommodation in Dublin because of the Horse Show. And he found the streets of Dublin "significantly unattractive and plebeian".
In a letter to his wife, he lamented that he had not gone to Antwerp instead.
Seán Donlon is Chancellor of the University of Limerick. He is a former Irish Ambassador to the United States.

Ahern's key spin doctor is earning more than Cowen.

Tuesday October 09 2007

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern's key political adviser is paid almost €1,000 per year more than Minister for Finance and Tanaiste Brian Cowen.
New figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal Mr Ahern's chief spin doctor, Gerry Hickey, is paid an annual salary of €229,918, while Mr Cowen is receives €228,924, some €994 less. Mr Hickey also earns almost €20,000 more than other senior Cabinet ministers such as Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey and Seamus Brennan, who are on salaries of €210,141.
Mr Hickey has served as Mr Ahern's programme manager for the past decade and was the person who made official contact with the Green Party about the prospect of opening negotiations to form a Government.
He was also involved in negotiating deals with Independents like Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath and Mayo TD Beverley Flynn.
The next highest paid of Mr Ahern's advisers is Mandy Johnson, the former Government Press Secretary, who receives €136,034, according to figures from Government Information Services.
The remaining two special advisers are speechwriter Brian Murphy (€118,791) and Padraig Slyne (€88,261), who co-ordinates the activities of the Ministers of State. Both men performed the same roles for Mr Ahern in the last Government.
Last week, Mr Ahern revealed in the Dail that the cost of his four special advisers was €600,000 a year, but did not give a breakdown.
He said there had been a decrease of two advisers in the past year, in reference to the departure of former RTE political correspondent Una Claffey and former Government speechwriter Gerry Howlin.
He has been criticised for the number of advisers employed, with former Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins once commenting that "an Arabian sheikh would hardly have such a large retinue as the Taoiseach now has advising him at every turn".
A Government spokesman said the salaries reflected their years of experience and the work that they were assigned.
"In all cases, the salaries are specifically related to Civil Service pay scales."
However, the advisers have a separate role to civil servants, who are under strict instructions to be politically neutral in carrying out their duties.
In contrast, the special advisers are expected to warn Mr Ahern of the political and electoral implications of his decisions and potential media reaction.
Mr Ahern has said their function is to "monitor, facilitate and to help secure the achievement of Government objectives". According to University of Limerick lecturer Bernadette Connaughton the practice of appointing outside advisers began with Taoiseach Eamon de Valera, who hired Prof. Timothy A. SMIDDY, of University College Cork, for his expertise on economic issues.
But the biggest expansion in special advisers came during the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government of 1973-77. They were worried that the Civil Service would be biased against them due to years of service under Fianna Fail. There was a similar rise when Labour went into coalition with Fianna Fail in 1992.
Mr Ahern referred to this in the Dail last week when he said the number of advisers was "far less than under previous Governments".


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