Volume 8 1945~1948

Doc No.

No. 70 NAI DFA Secretary's Files A2

Memorandum from Joseph P. Walshe to Éamon de Valera (Dublin)

Dublin, 15 January 1946

For some time we have been urging upon the British Government the necessity of removing the minefield extending between the Tuskar1 and the Fastnet Rocks2. Sir John Maffey now informs us that British Admiralty want to start this work in the near future (end of January) and that they request the Government's permission to allow the minesweepers to be stationed at Cobh during the several months necessary to complete the operation. They say that the operation would be considerably retarded if the sweepers had to make the lengthy passages to and from British Ports. Facilities for berthing alongside would be required as well [as] the normal peacetime facilities for the supply of fresh vegetables and water.

There is no international objection to the course suggested. Ex-belligerents are obliged to sweep the minefields they have laid during war. Moreover the whole task of clearing mines in the European waters is being controlled and coordinated by an International Central Mine Clearance Board under the presidency of a British Naval Officer and consisting of representatives of France, USSR, Great Britain and the United States. Under this General Board an East Atlantic Clearance Board has been set up including besides the countries mentioned, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Holland and Norway. Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden are being invited to send observers and the British who hold the Presidency of this Board also, have invited us today through Sir John Maffey.

It is suggested that we accept this invitation and instruct Mr. Belton3 to attend the meetings unless and until it should become clear that a technical officer from the Department of Defence or Department of Industry and Commerce would be a more appropriate appointment.

If you approve in principle I shall ask the Departments of Industry and Commerce and Defence to have the necessary arrangements made about Cobh.

1 Tuskar Rock, eleven kilometres off the coast of Co. Wexford.

2 Fastnet Rock, the most southerly point of Ireland, thirteen kilometres off the coast of Co. Cork.

3 John Belton, Department of External Affairs.