From The Gaelic American, November 10, 1917.
The following letter from Liam Mellows contradicting Chief Flynn’s atrocious falsehood that he had made a confession implicating certain other Irishmen in a plot for a new insurrection in Ireland will speak for itself:
New York, November 5, 1917.
Editor of THE GAELIC AMERICAN:
Sir, – I enclose herewith a copy of a letter which I sent to the New York press and which, with the exception of the American, was denied publication, and even the latter did not print it in full.
I suppose if I were a Belgian, Pole, Serb, Albanian, Czech, Montenegrin, or member of any other “small and subject nation,” I would be allowed to defend myself from the foul lies and maliciously false and absurd stories published by the English-subsidized press here in connections with my arrest. Being a mere Irishman and belonging to a nation whose wrongs and sufferings at the hands of England make the war-aims of the Allies “that they are fighting for democracy and the rights of small nations” the veriest hypocrisy, I presume I am outside the rights common to all human beings – the right to defend myself.
The chief stock in trade of the American press appears to be fiction. Wonderful feats of imagination were performed in describing the scope of a “new Irish plot” that never existed. The most supreme effort was that put forward by the Herald of October 27, to the effect that the use of my Christian name deeply impressed the Turks. I never met a Turk in my life, so consequently cannot say exactly what effect my name might produce on them.
There is no need for me to deal in detail with the statement that appeared in the World, Sun, Herald, Globe and Tribune, except to characterise them as being damnable lies in the main, while the few items that bore semblance to truth were so distorted as to be unrecognisable.
Chief Flynn’s account of my activities at home in Ireland are garbled and erroneous. The statement that Flynn questioned me for several hours is false. Flynn himself never asked me one single question. The text of an alleged conversation between Secret Service men and myself is a fabrication. I made no confession of a plot nor mentioned the names of other men in connection with it. The effort to brand me as an “Informer” in the eyes of my countrymen betrays the sinister influence of England and is quite in keeping with the tactics of the Government that inspired the Pigott forgeries.
I was arrested on the night of October 22, in company with a man with whom I was only casually acquainted, having met him twice at social gatherings. He is exalted by the press to the position of plenipotentiary of a foreign Power. We were taken to the Customs House, stripped and searched. I had in my possession a “seaman’s identification certificate” which I intended to use some day in trying to go home to Ireland, seeing I could not go as a passenger under my own name. I was then interrogated by one Burke, which revealed nothing, least of all a plot. The following morning three Secret Service men, one of them was Flynn, raided the house where I lodged, behaved in a most aggressive and brutal manner to the family therein, took away some things I kept for sentimental reasons and of no earthly value to anyone else, an account of the Rising in Galway in 1916 containing facts, all of which have long been public property, and stole an Irish Republican flag, the property of the lady of the house, with which they decorated the Secret Service office.
That afternoon the aforementioned Burke had in a little heap before him several articles which I had in my possession when arrested – the seaman’s certificate, etc., but I noticed among them a small note book with a blue-coloured, white-grained cardboard cover which did not belong to me and which I never saw before. Burke asked me if these, pointing to the little heap, belonged to me. I said they did with the exception of the small notebook. He then placed the notebook a few inches away from the other papers, but when gathering these latter together again some moments later, included the notebook with them. I once more drew his attention to this, reiterating that the notebook did not belong to me. He said “all right,” but whether it was included with the other articles afterwards or not I do not know as I was then removed from the room.
I am neither afraid nor ashamed to go to jail for the crime of trying to get back to my country in the only manner left me, knowing that while legally it is the United States that convicts me it is actually the hate of England manifesting itself against me in this “land of the free.”
CALLS MITCHEL A LIAR.
Following is a copy of the letter sent to the New York press and denied publication:
New York, November 3, 1917.
In the report of a speech delivered by Mayor Mitchel at a meeting of Erasmus Hall High School, Brooklyn, on the night of October 30, published in the World, Sun, Tribune and Times of October 31, he is reported as saying in the course of an attack on Mr. John Devoy – “Devoy, who, according to the confession of Liam Mellows conspired with others to assist the present enemies of America.”
If Mitchel made that statement, he is a liar and a cur. He is a liar because I made no such “confession” and because there was no such conspiracy. He is a cur because he tries to brand me as being that most universally execrated member of society – “an informer.” He has become the tool of England (who cannot pretend to be fighting for liberty and democracy as long as she holds Ireland in slavery by armed force) by calumniating an Irishman whose only crime is that he loved his country more than his life or liberty and who was driven into exile to this country for the same cause as Mitchel’s grandfather, John Mitchel, the ’48 leader, was driven here – the cause of Irish Freedom.
I am no “Informer” and I protest in the strongest possible manner against Mitchel’s cowardly attempt to drag my name through the mire of dirty New York politics. I did not face death at the hands of a Maxwell in Ireland to fear the frown of a Flynn in New York.
Mitchel calls himself the “fighting Mayor.” If he will meet me for ten minutes in some quiet spot when I am at liberty and he is no longer Mayor, I will give him all the fight he will require for the remainder of his life.