1923 – International reaction to Free State Government executions.

The Irish government Representative in Washington, Timothy Smiddy wrote to External Affairs minister Desmond Fitzgerald about US concerns regarding the execution of Anti-Treaty Irregulars, especially the PR fallout if women were to be executed.

“A report given last week to the American papers by Mrs Despard from Paris (a cutting of which has already been sent to you), stated that, hence forth, women who were found in possession of arms were liable to the death penalty. I enclose another cutting on the same subject.

The women Irregulars here are excited over the announcement and have started activities to incite public opinion against it. Mrs Corliss – a most active Irregular – told Judge Cohalan last Friday over the phone that he would be held as one of those responsible for any execution of women unless he issued at once a statement denouncing such a policy. Naturally, he would do no such thing.

As far as I can gather from conversations with many of our real friends here executions of women – if such be contemplated – would not be good policy from the point of view of sympathy for the Free State in USA: they would very much deplore it.

In the event of such executions being rendered necessary state as explicitly as possible to the press the real reasons for them. The bare statement ‘in possession of arms’ will give to the Americans a very inadequate impression of the enormity of their deeds.”

Photo: Ballyseedy Massacre Monument, Curraghmacdonagh, Co Kerry

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