Helena Lucy Maria Sickert Swanwick to Jane Addams, November 1920

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Maison Internationale
6 Rue du Vieux Collège
26 Lawn Crescent
Kew Gardens

Dear Miss Addams

We have seen in the papers that you are coming over to Ireland on a mission of enquiry & we have cabled to you to ask if this is true. We should be most happy if it were. I'm afraid, however, that it is only a newspaper canard. If it really is true, will you remember how welcome you would be to us here?

I want, however, to write to you about another thing. Would it be possible for you as President of the W.I.L.P.F. to put out a statement about Ireland from the international point of view, either signed by yourself alone, or by the Committee?

You will have heard that ten members of the British Section [page 2] have just been over to Ireland to see things for themselves & we are now trying to get publicity in every possible way for our report. The anarchy & terrorism ↑over there↓ defies description. We are finding our people ↑in England↓ very inert & helpless in the hands of a House of Commons worse even then the government. 

We want to try & make our countrymen share our deep feeling of shame & undoubtedly American opinion would help.

Our treatment of Ireland has resulted in our losing the confidence of every simple Irishman & it is essential that any pronouncement made by the W.I.L.P.F. should admit the right of the Irish people to choose their own form of government, because they can no longer trust our House Parliament to do so. We are in close touch with the Irish Women's international League & have agreed with them that if we put this claim for self-determination in front, we can quite well add that it should be allowed with on the understanding that Ireland would (1) safeguard the rights of its minorities & (2) give undertakings (whether by joining the League of Nations or in other ways) that Ireland should not be used as a  base for an attack on Great Britain.

We are anxious to help on peace in every way & some of our members are working with the Dominion Home Rule League & some on Lord Henry Bentinck's "Friends of Ireland" Committee. But I want to emphasize that if any section of the W.I.L.P.F. were to support any kind of compromise with the [page 3] principle of self-determination, this would be followed by the secession of the Irish Women's International League. They are willing to support any guarantees for a peaceful settlement but they will not abate the claim to Self-Determination.

I enclose a number of our News Sheet which gives the text of a resolution very carefully thrashed out at our Council after much discussion with our Irish comrades. I have ascertained that there would be no objection to adding the two provisos mentioned on p. 2. of this letter.

The situation is well-nigh heart-breaking to us & I scarcely know how we can do anything ↑else↓ until this burden of shame is thrown off.

We have had crowded meetings in the largest halls in various big towns & I have had lantern slides made of the "desolated areas" which we have seen with our own eyes.

I hope you are well & I hope we may meet, if not this year, then next. Kindest remembrance to Dr Hamilton. With warm regard

Ever yours

H. M. Swanwick.