French Response to the Truce

The Freeman’s Journal, 16 July 1921

On 11 July 1921, a truce was signed between British and Irish forces, bringing an end to the war of Independence. Five days later, The Freeman’s Journal reported on how this news was received in France, printing the views of Irish emigrants and those of Irish descent living in Paris.

France and the Truce

Among the numerous references in the French Press to the Irish situation, one of special interest is an article in the “Excelsior” headed: “What the Irish in Paris Think of the Truce,” and embodying interviews with two notable priests whose views on the subject may be regarded as representative. It can be readily understood that, as the journal states, the conclusion of the armistice has caused a feeling of relief and aroused anxious hopes among the large number of Irish people who live in Paris, and French people of Irish origin.

The first interview is with Father Logan, the well-known Irish priest who officiates at the “English” church in the Avenue Hoche.

“I am by character a man of peace, and I wish for nothing more ardently than the cessation of the effusion of blood in my unhappy country,” said Father Logan. “It is then with a grave joy that I have learnt the news of the accord entered on between President de Valera and General Macrady for the cessation of the hostilities which have covered Ireland with ruins and massacre.

England’s Goodwill

“It is, for the moment, impossible to presage whether an agreement will or will not be arrived at by the present negotiations. With all my heart—like the immense majority of my compatriots, and I must also add, like the great majority of opinion among the English, who are tired of a struggle without issue which arouses the reprobation of the entire world—I wish for a solution that may guarantee Irish autonomy and independence, without prejudice to Great Britain’s legitimate desire for security. The thing is by no means possible. All depends on the goodwill of Britain. . . . It is on the sincerity and justice of her proposals, and at the same time her firm purpose to respect the engagements entered into, that the peace of Ireland must depend.”

The Abbe Flynn’s Views

Equally emphatic in the expression of his views was the Abbé Flynn, curé of Ménilmontant, who is of Irish parentage.

“The Anlgo-Irish armistice is, after all,” he said, “a recognition by the English Government of the freely-elected Government of the Irish Republic. Ireland has a President—Mr. de Valera—a parliament, and an army. If the negotiations entered on in London do not take count of that, if Mr. Lloyd George, the incomparable diplomatist, thinks by the subtleties of his dialectics to evade the absolute independence of Ireland; if he does not act, in a word, except in a manner to put Ireland in the wrong in the opinion of an America roused by twenty millions of Irish against the English police methods in Ireland, then all will be undone and the hopes raised by the actual truce will be utterly deceived.

“I hope,” added Abbé Flynn, “that the act of good sense constituted by the truce will have its logical sequel in the recognition of Irish liberty at the negotiations in London. Peace in Ireland can only be had at that price.”…