Volume 6 1939~1941

Doc No.

No. 258 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P5

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Dublin, 9 August 1940

Has Britain guaranteed not to invade us?

The position is as follows:-

Acting on instructions, the High Commissioner called on Lord Caldecote on 23rd July,1 to protest against the widespread campaign in the London and Provincial newspapers directed against the policy of neutrality of the Irish Government and suggesting the time had come for the British Government to take steps to occupy our territory. Doubts and misgivings had been caused which would have to be cleared up if the good understanding between the two countries were to continue. Lord Caldecote told the High Commissioner that he had no hesitation in giving an assurance that there was no intention in the mind of the British Government to take any military or naval action in our territory, unless and until they were formally asked to do so by the Irish Government. Mr. de Valera would, however, understand that, in a war future such as that which confronted them, so full of uncertainties and wholly incalculable factors, it would not be possible for the British Government to give today a guarantee that in no circumstances would they refrain from entering Ireland without an invitation. It was however no part of their policy to go into Éire unless the Irish Government invited them.

In order to consolidate the position, if possible, the High Commissioner was instructed to show to Lord Caldecote his report of the foregoing interview, and to ask him whether he fully accepted the High Commissioner's account of the conversation. Lord Caldecote looked at the report. He said he did accept the account of the conversation, he had nothing to withdraw; but, on the other hand, he could not give his imprimatur to the draft without consulting his colleagues. What he had said represented his opinion, but he could not say it was an authoritative statement of his Government. He did not think it advisable to go to the Cabinet to get their consent to his approving the draft report. He thought the wisest course was to let matters rest as they were at the moment.

That is how the matter stands to date.

1 See Nos 239, 240 and 243.