Volume 8 1945~1948

Doc No.

This volume in the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series runs from August 1945 to February 1948. It begins as the Second World War ends, with the Department of External Affairs holding its first ‘Heads of Missions’ conference to plan the direction of Irish foreign policy in the post-war years. The volume concludes in the aftermath of Fianna Fáil’s defeat in the 1948 general election, with Éamon de Valera leaving Iveagh House for the last time as Minister for External Affairs after holding the post for sixteen years.

The events covered by DIFP VIII fall into two chronological periods. From September 1945 to June 1947 Irish foreign policy was primarily concerned with the legacy of wartime neutrality, developing bilateral relationships within the emerging post-war global system and evaluating the benefits of applying for membership of the United Nations. But Ireland’s hope of joining the United Nations was dealt a blow when the Soviet Union vetoed Ireland’s application in August 1946. Though rebuffed, Dublin sought to join other multilateral organisations and to expand Ireland’s diplomatic network, and new missions were opened in Australia, Sweden and Argentina in 1946 and 1947.

The second period follows the declaration of the Truman doctrine in March 1947 when, in June, Ireland received an Anglo-French invitation to participate in the Conference on European Economic Co-operation (CEEC) to draw up Europe’s co-ordinated response to the United States proposal for what would become the European Recovery Program (the Marshall Plan). The CEEC provided Irish diplomats with a meeting place to develop relations with their European counterparts and from 1947 such multilateral diplomacy became an important feature of Ireland’s external relations. These years saw a refocussing of the concerns of Irish foreign policy as the post-war global outlook worsened and uncertainty grew over Ireland’s international trade and financial position in the new world order of the East-West divide. Throughout, Ireland’s international outlook remained pro-Western and Atlanticist, Christian, anti-Communist and militarily neutral. These trends continued through the term of the 1948 to 1951 Inter-Party Government, which will be covered in DIFP IX.

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In September 1945 Ireland’s senior diplomats met in Dublin at Iveagh House, the headquarters of the Department of External Affairs, for three days of discussions on the future direction of Irish foreign policy. The discussions were augmented by briefings from the Secretaries of the Departments of Finance, Industry and Commerce and Agriculture. This was a new departure, as External Affairs had not before undertaken such formal consultation with other departments of state on issues relating to Ireland’s foreign relations.

In his address to the heads of missions meeting, Taoiseach and Minister for External Affairs Éamon de Valera stressed the need to redouble efforts to end the partition of Ireland and secure Ireland’s national identity in an increasingly Anglo-American dominated world. De Valera accepted that the legacy of neutrality would make relations with Britain and the United States difficult in the short to medium term, but he hoped that the memory of Ireland’s wartime policy between 1939 and 1945 would in the longer-term cease to cause difficulties in London and Washington.

The conference agreed that in the coming years it would be the job of Irish diplomats to promote Ireland’s national distinctiveness and independent outlook through cultural as well as political diplomacy. However, immediate post-war foreign policy was concerned not with these idealistic plans, but with specific technical and legal problems hanging over from the Second World War. The most significant of these were explaining to the Allies that there were no significant German assets in Ireland, seeking compensation for isolated cases when German aircraft bombed Irish territory, undertaking the release of German internees in Ireland and dealing with the fate of former Axis diplomats in Dublin, in particular the repatriation of the Japanese Consul General.

Dublin was reluctant to accede to Allied demands regarding German internees or to bow to calls for the disclosure of German assets in Ireland. The Department of External Affairs explained that Ireland would base its response to such requests first and foremost on Ireland’s national interests. While Dublin would not do anything overt to annoy the Allied powers in dealing with these questions, External Affairs wished through their responses to the Allies to illustrate that Ireland was a sovereign independent state and would not automatically accede to what appeared to be unilateral demands from the victors. There were in any case very few German nationals in Ireland, and there were no German financial or other assets beyond those arising out of a small number of routine commercial transactions dormant due to the war.

Further concerns arising out of the Second World War included ensuring the removal of British minefields off the south-east Irish coast, and the position of Irish nationals who had fought in the Allied forces. Related to this second point was how to deal with Defence Forces deserters, many of whom had subsequently joined the Allied armies. While the issue was not a principal concern of the Department of External Affairs, the Department did ask overseas missions to stress that legislative action against these men was taken because they had deserted the Irish Defence Forces and not because they had fought with the Allies.

A pressing question which provoked considerable disagreement between the Department of External Affairs, the Department of Justice and the Department of Industry and Commerce was the immigration of displaced persons from Europe to Ireland. The three departments were aware of the need to guard against the arrival in Ireland of individuals sought by the Allies: it was not in Ireland’s interest to harbour possible war criminals. Furthermore, the Department of Justice remained opposed to opening up immigration to Ireland generally, particularly in respect of Jews, the arrival of significant numbers of whom, it was argued, would stir up anti-Semitic feeling. In addition, Tánaiste and Minister for Industry and Commerce Seán Lemass was opposed in principle to allowing refugees into Ireland purely on humanitarian grounds; for Lemass, refugees had to have the specific skills and resources that Ireland needed for economic modernisation.

Both Industry and Commerce and Justice were ultimately forced to modify their policy in the light of the more open views of the Department of External Affairs. Following cabinet and civil service level discussions it was decided, on de Valera’s ultimate say-so, that policy towards refugees would be infused with a more liberal attitude than previously displayed, de Valera favouring the admission of at least 10,000 refugees to Ireland. Nevertheless the policy pursued resulted in practice in very limited immigration and, despite de Valera’s outlook and promptings, Ireland did not adopt a welcoming attitude to refugees in the post-war years. As before the war, immigration of all kinds, but particularly that of displaced families without resources, continued to be viewed largely in terms of the alleged burden it placed on the taxpayer, and the associated risk of public resentment, rather than of wider humanitarian and other considerations.

The end of the war brought a need to rekindle traditional bilateral relations. The most important of these were with Britain and the United States. The Labour government that came to power in Britain after the July 1945 general election was expected by External Affairs, without any solid evidence, to adopt a warmer attitude to Ireland than Churchill’s wartime coalition. It was also expected to display less commitment to Northern Ireland and even to be well disposed towards ending partition by negotiation. These latter misplaced hopes were not fulfilled. Northern Ireland’s strategic wartime role in the Allied victory had augmented Belfast’s standing in London and as a result the members of the new Attlee government, many of whom had served in Churchill’s wartime coalition, displayed no interest at all in moving to end partition or even to put pressure on the Unionist administration in Belfast to take a more accommodating approach towards the Catholic minority population in Northern Ireland.

In 1945 British-Irish relations at political and official level needed repairing. Despite the positive outlook towards Ireland of the new Secretary of State for the Dominions, Lord Addison, there remained a latent hostility towards Ireland in the Dominions Office. Talks in autumn 1945 between Addison, Dominions Office officials and the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs Joseph Walshe, and later discussions between Tánaiste and Minister for Industry and Commerce Seán Lemass, the Secretary of the Department of Industry and Commerce John Leydon and their British counterparts, attempted to improve British-Irish relations and set new agendas for the Dublin-London relationship. These talks were concerned with developing air links, resolving trade questions and settling strategic supply issues between the two states. They were the highest level British-Irish discussions to take place since 1940. Although British resentment of Irish neutrality endured, the British-Irish relationship was moving on because of economic and geopolitical necessity and the practicalities of the close connections between the two jurisdictions. The United Kingdom, faced with the massive challenges of post-war reconstruction at home and in Europe, needed Irish food and Irish labour. Ireland, equally, needed outlets for her produce and for her surplus population. At specialist level, there were also significant discussions and agreements in matters such as civil aviation and maritime affairs.

Cross-border relations with the Belfast government, however, remained frozen and contact was limited. Despite ongoing official level links and some contact over the Lough Erne hydro-electric scheme, the differing paths taken by Dublin and Belfast during the Second World War ensured that the two Irish jurisdictions were if anything further apart in 1945 than had been the case in 1939. Dublin sought to keep international anti-partition propaganda active and was also worried lest Northern Ireland be accorded Dominion status as a reward for her wartime role. Yet in practical terms, except for issues about the status of individuals of Irish birth in the new British nationality legislation unveiled in 1947 and the matter of where this might leave the Northern Ireland nationalist community as well as Irish emigrants in Britain, Northern Ireland did not receive a great deal of attention in Dublin in the immediate post-war years.

On the other hand, Ireland continued to show considerable interest in the Commonwealth. During the war Dublin had been at pains to maintain good links with the dominions. Canada in particular had proved surprisingly understanding of Irish neutrality and had been a significant restraining force on Anglo-American policy towards Ireland, particularly in 1944. The Commonwealth framework also allowed Irish officials to participate in scientific, technical and trade-related conferences in an era where other opportunities for such did not exist. This was particularly significant after Ireland failed to gain membership of the United Nations in 1946.

Ireland had become externally associated with the Commonwealth in 1936 under the External Relations (Executive Authority) Act. By 1947 it appears that, despite Ireland’s continued interest in the structures of the Commonwealth and its desire to develop good relations with the Dominions, plans were in hand to repeal that Act and declare a republic. Attorney General Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh drafted suitable legislation, as did the Legal Advisor at External Affairs, Michael Rynne. De Valera may have been waiting to see how newly independent India managed its relationship with the Commonwealth before proceeding further, but the documents below make it clear that a change in Ireland’s relationship with the Commonwealth was at least planned by de Valera from 1947. Irish interest in India’s future international direction is a sub-theme of this volume, and it is reflected in the range of informal contacts between Irish and Indian diplomats and political figures.

Ireland’s relations with the United States, strained in 1945, were dominated until the summer of 1947 by the position of the United States Minister to Ireland David Gray. Gray, a political appointment, had been and remained highly critical of Ireland’s neutrality and was influential in the White House because of his family connections to the Roosevelts. But his views had wide currency within the Washington administration, especially in the vehemently Anglophile State Department. By 1945 he was effectively persona non-grata in Dublin, though day-to-day relations between Dublin and Washington and between External Affairs and the American Legation in Dublin continued to be amicable at the formal official level.

Ireland’s Minister to the United States, Robert Brennan, lacked the high-level contacts and the means necessary in Washington to undermine Gray’s influence on the American government. He nonetheless mounted, on Dublin’s instruction, a sustained lobbying campaign on the Truman administration seeking Gray’s recall. The Truman administration did not choose to replace Gray until July 1947 when he was replaced in Dublin by a career diplomat, George Garrett. Irish-American relations remained raw. It took the emergence of the Cold War and the appointment of John Hearne as Ambassador to Washington in 1950 for Irish-American diplomatic relations to improve significantly.

Dublin felt that one of the legacies of neutrality was that London and Washington purposely ignored Ireland’s post-war relief programme to Europe. Ireland made limited aid available to Europe through 1945 and into 1946. The initial focus was the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Italy. Aid was redirected to central Europe in 1946 and consignments of food and living materials were sent to Poland, Yugoslavia and Hungary. This brought Ireland into direct contact with the tide of Communist and Soviet influence spreading westwards across the continent. Though Ireland had no diplomatic relations with European states east of Switzerland and Italy, Dublin feared the Communist advance across Europe. In 1945 and 1946 the Department of External Affairs showed particular interest in internal developments in Eastern European countries with significant Catholic populations, in particular Poland and Yugoslavia. The fate of the Yugoslav Archbishop Stepinac at the hands of the new Belgrade government in late 1946 particularly exercised External Affairs.

The most significant change in Ireland’s foreign relations in 1946 was the appointment of Joseph P. Walshe as Ireland’s Ambassador to the Vatican. Walshe was the first Irish diplomat to hold a posting at ambassadorial level. Secretary of the Department of External Affairs since 1922, he had built External Affairs out of the ruins of the split in the Dáil Éireann diplomatic service over the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and had directed Irish foreign policy for almost a quarter of a century.

Walshe was not only personally devout, but believed that the Vatican was a crucial actor in international affairs with whom Ireland as a Catholic country had a special relationship. He had always prioritised Irish relations with the Holy See and the role of Catholicism in Irish foreign policy. In Rome he initially dealt with issues that had been on his desk in Dublin such as the nationality of the next papal nuncio to Ireland and ensuring that the Archbishopric of Armagh remained the Cardinal See in Ireland. As he developed his role as ambassador he increasingly advocated seeking Irish appointments in the Curia. His posting to the Holy See marked the fulfilment of a life’s ambition.

Walshe was succeeded at Iveagh House as Secretary of the Department of External Affairs in May 1946 by Frederick H. Boland, a career diplomat who had joined External Affairs in 1929 and who had long been marked out as Walshe’s successor. Boland was calm, technocratic and, critically for the postwar years, following a period of secondment to the Department of Industry and Commerce in the late 1930s, was highly experienced in international economics and finance. His appointment marked the beginning of the ascendancy of a generation of professionally-trained career diplomats over the ‘diplomats by accident’ of the revolutionary generation.

Boland’s background in economics and finance was soon put to good use. From summer 1947 he became the driving force in Ireland’s participation in the European Recovery Program and Ireland’s most prominent figure in multilateral European conference diplomacy. He took a leading role in the autumn 1947 British-Irish negotiations over the sterling convertibility crisis, and his international approval by his peers was seen in his participation in the CEEC Customs Union Study Group in late 1947. Initially Boland made sure to keep Walshe informed about matters in Iveagh House and sought his advice on pressing issues. Despite achieving what seemed to be his life’s ambition, Walshe appears a somewhat lonely figure at the Holy See. Despite personal cordiality, he found Vatican officials less interested in Irish ideas about reshaping international affairs than he had hoped. Boland’s relationship with de Valera as Minister for External Affairs was more formal and distant than that developed by Walshe over the course of fourteen years. As minister, de Valera remained a strong controlling influence on the overall direction of Irish foreign policy, but Boland, and later the Assistant Secretaries Leo McCauley and Con Cremin were given considerable leeway in its economic and financial dimensions.

The key senior officials at Iveagh House after Walshe’s departure were Boland, his private secretary Sheila Murphy, the legal adviser Michael Rynne, Leo McCauley and Con Cremin. Boland did not make any immediate changes to overseas postings. In London veteran High Commissioner John Dulanty remained in post, but the strains of living in a wartime capital, and the unpopularity of neutrality,had taken its toll on him personally, and his once powerful network of official contacts had decayed through the passage of time. In Washington, the former journalist Robert Brennan struggled to make any impact either in terms of political relations or of international economic affairs. In Ottawa, by contrast, High Commissioner John Hearne maintained the good relations with the Canadian government which he had developed since 1939. The long-serving Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King had a particular regard for him, and took a strong personal interest in Ireland’s position in the Commonwealth.

The legations in Paris, Madrid and Lisbon were often quiet places during the immediate post-war years, and their input into Ireland’s external relations was considerably lower than from 1939 to 1945. Seán Murphy remained in Paris, where he found matters difficult as the new French government did not look positively on his former role as Irish representative at Vichy. New offices were opened in Canberra (1946), Stockholm (1947), and Buenos Aires (1947). Ireland’s presence in Canberra was initially focussed on the Irish community in Australia and Ireland’s links with Australia as a Dominion, but the mission soon became a listening post on wider Asian issues and provided Dublin with its first insight into post-war Japan and Asia. The legation in Stockholm gave Ireland its first formal diplomatic contacts with Scandinavia and would become of particular importance, along with the mission in Berne, in developing Dublin’s understanding of the outlook of European neutrals. The chargé d’affaires in Buenos Aires was mainly concerned with the large Irish community in Argentina, the opening of the mission, along with that in Canberra, showing the beginning of a concern for the wider Irish diaspora. Ireland still had no diplomatic missions in Eastern Europe, though the appointment of a Minister to Czechoslovakia was contemplated.

Walshe at the Holy See and the vastly experienced Michael MacWhite in Rome were External Affairs’ most active commentators on the emergence of the Cold War in Europe, and particularly on the Communist threat to Italy. By contrast in Berne Frank Cremins tended to see the immediate future in terms of the recent past and his inter-war experience of the League of Nations. He remained generally pessimistic on the prospects for the success of the United Nations and indeed for the future of humanity. A sub-theme permeating this volume is the growing prospect of nuclear annihilation in a Third World War arising out of the worsening ideological conflict between East and West. In this context there were ongoing inter-departmental discussions through the later 1940s as to whether ‘the Emergency’ had in fact ended. Planning continued for the next global conflict; a Third World War was often thought to be only a matter of months away. However, in strategic terms, the foreign policy establishment shied away completely in public and in private from any reflection of the strategic consequences of neutrality in a future conflict.

Under Boland a number of young diplomats such as Conor Cruise O’Brien, Brian Gallagher and Hugh McCann began to make their way in the department. As Secretary, Boland moved formally to bring women into the Department of External Affairs at diplomatic rank and in 1947 and 1948 the Department had its first intake of female Third Secretaries: Máire McEntee, Roisín O’Doherty and Mary Tinney.

The retirement in 1947 of Robert Brennan saw the appointment of Seán Nunan as Minister to the United States. Nunan’s promotion, the return of Leo McCauley to Dublin in 1946 and the 1947 appointment of Matthew Murphy to the new legation in Buenos Aires allowed a reshuffle of the network of four consular posts in the United States. In Europe, by contrast, personnel changes were limited as Leopold Kerney retired from Madrid in 1946, being succeeded by John Belton, and when Con Cremin returned to Dublin from Portugal, his post was filled by External Affairs veteran Count Gerald O’Kelly de Gallagh.

The Soviet veto of Ireland’s 1946 application for membership of the United Nations was a significant stumbling block in immediate post-war Irish foreign policy. The veto had been exercised ostensibly because Ireland did not have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Moscow also held, incorrectly, that Ireland had been pro-Axis during the Second World War. A more pragmatic reason was that Moscow knew that Ireland would be another pro-Western voice in the General Assembly in a period where the United Nations was dominated by the growing divide between East and West.

From his experience at the pre-war League of Nations de Valera was sceptical as to the value of the United Nations for a small state like Ireland. Two experienced diplomats who had long experience with League of Nations matters, Frank Cremins and Michael Rynne, were also uncertain about the value of the United Nations and its Charter. They felt that a small state joining the United Nations had much to lose in terms of sovereignty and, being under the effective authority of the superpowers who controlled the Security Council, freedom of action would be lost.

Yet there was clear disappointment in External Affairs when Ireland was refused admission to the General Assembly in August 1946. John Hearne was sent undercover to New York from Ottawa to investigate the background to the veto and to assess where Ireland now stood via-à-vis the United Nations. In the aftermath of the veto Ireland moved to gain membership of various UN technical organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation.

After the disappointment of failing to gain membership of the United Nations, the July 1947 Anglo-French invitation to participate in the Conference on European Economic Co-operation brought a new sense of overall direction and purpose to Irish foreign policy. The CEEC conference, which was to draw up an inventory of European needs for recovery to present to the United States government, allowed Ireland to become involved again in mainstream European multilateral relations. It also required concentration on international economic matters, which had previously been terra incognita in Iveagh House. It is notable that it was the Minister for Industry and Commerce Seán Lemass, not de Valera, who represented Ireland politically at the opening of the CEEC conference. He spoke of European economic progress, reminding his audience that Ireland was a small economy which could play only a limited role in the project of European economic recovery. Heavily protected by tariffs and reliant on agriculture, Ireland presented itself as a small state whose economy had remained underdeveloped for historical political reasons. Accordingly, Lemass argued that Ireland needed special treatment to develop its economy within a wider European context.

It was Boland who guided Ireland through its first steps in multilateral economic and financial diplomacy and involvement in the Marshall Plan. The international conferences and committees he attended during the summer of 1947 gave External Affairs a much greater insight into the challenges of European reconstruction and recovery, and in particular into the question of how to rebuild Germany as the engine of European growth. Boland began to establish informal alliances with the Swiss and the Swedes, knowing that de Valera’s preference was for Ireland to associate primarily with other European neutrals. Though given a considerable degree of latitude in his actions, Boland made sure to obtain de Valera’s consent on all major decisions. He also ensured de Valera’s attendance at the closing session of the Committee on European Economic Co-operation in Paris.

Though Ireland joined the Customs Union Study Group that emerged from the CEEC deliberations, participation in the CEEC and its successor conferences did not occasion any immediate change in Irish economic policies or in official thinking on European integration. Early Irish views on European unity did not go beyond advocating the primacy of the nation state in a ‘Europe of the states’. Sharing or pooling sovereignty, as the 1950 European Coal and Steel Community would later propose, was not then considered. De Valera remained sceptical of the customs unions concept, although he had no difficulty with Ireland being party to discussions on the question of establishing a customs union.

Ireland remained tied economically and financially to Britain. The state held large sterling balances in London from which it funded its non-sterling imports by buying dollars. The impact of this on Ireland’s economy and national finances became clear in August 1947, when sterling ceased to be convertible against the dollar and Ireland, as a member of the sterling area pool, was forced to negotiate with Britain to ensure that it was able to maintain a supply of dollars to buy American imports. De Valera led a high-level delegation with Lemass, Minister for Finance Frank Aiken and Minister for Agriculture Patrick Smith and their senior officials to London in mid-September to meet Prime Minister Clement Attlee, Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Dalton, Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, President of the Board of Trade Stafford Cripps and Minister for Food John Strachey.

Dublin hoped not only to maintain adequate access to the dollar pool, but also to use the sterling crisis to improve Irish trade with Britain. Ireland could import industrial goods and raw materials from Britain, thus replacing imports from the United States with imports, and so cut back its dollar requirements to the overall benefit of the sterling area. The wider object of the negotiations was to improve Ireland’s overall access to strategic supplies which Britain controlled, in particular coal, and to improve access for Irish agricultural exports to the British market.

The economic and financial crisis of late 1947 demonstrated that the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Finance had fundamentally different views of Ireland’s place in the international economic system. External Affairs personnel attending the Havana Conference looked to develop a specific Irish attitude towards the international monetary and financial system. The Department of Finance, by contrast, maintained that Ireland’s international economic and financial position was best served by maintaining a close relationship with the Treasury in London. It was a difference of opinion that would continue in the coming decades as Ireland slowly Europeanised its foreign policy and in 1961 applied for membership of the EEC.

By February 1948 Irish foreign policy had begun to adapt to meet the challenges of the post-war international environment. In the two and a half years since August 1945 it had left the concerns of the Second World War far behind. Ireland continued to protect its international interests and forge new international agendas, of which the most important were in the area of international economic co-operation within the structures of the Marshall Plan and the developing field of European integration. While there was a new practical focus on international economic affairs, together with renewed Anglo-Irish economic dialogue, by February 1948 at the highest level policy remained unfocussed as regards international economic cooperation and its implications for Ireland. In early 1948 the metamorphosis of Irish foreign policy to meet the geopolitical and economic challenges of the post-war world was very far from complete. The Inter-Party Government of 1948 to 1951 continued the process of post-war change but it did not conclude until Ireland’s admission to the United Nations in 1955.

Records of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and other archival sources

Until the passage of the National Archives Act (1986), government departments in Ireland were under no compulsion to release their archives. The Department of the Taoiseach, however, has voluntarily released material since the mid-1970s. The records of the Department of Foreign Affairs have been released on an annual basis since 1991.

In the late 1920s the Department of External Affairs established a numerical registry system for filing its papers. Under this system a list of subject categories corresponding to the main areas of the department’s work was drawn up and each subject category was assigned a unique number code. For example the number code 26 was allocated to files and papers dealing with the League of Nations. Individual files within each number category were assigned a unique sub-number. File 26/95 deals with the Irish Free State’s candidature for the League of Nations Council in 1930. This registry and filing system, known colloquially as ‘number series’ files, was further developed in the mid-1930s. The existing two-digit prefixes had the number 1 added to them with, for example, the previous 26 series becoming the 126 series and so on. A further development took place in the late 1930s with the 1 being replaced by a 2, thus 126 became 226. The 200 series is the most important section of the general registry where the Second World War is concerned.

As the Second World War drew to a close a further 300 series was established, to be joined by a 400 series in the later 1940s. These two file series remained the core of the Department’s general registry for the next twenty years. Individual file reference numbers became increasingly complex within this system as the Department of External Affairs grew in size and scope. For example the number code 305 was initially allocated to political files, but this classification grew in size and complexity as the Registry at External Affairs grew. To take one case, file 305/57 and its sub-parts deal with the European Recovery Program, while 305/14 and its sub-parts deal mainly with Northern Ireland and partition. The 305/57 sub-series contains over 500 files and at their most complex such series can contain files such as 305/57/205/2/2, this being the second sub-part of the second part of file 305/57/2, or files such as 305/57/2 and 305/57/II where the Arabic and Roman numerals each designate a different file. The bulk of files in DIFP VIII come from the 300 and 400 series.

The most sensitive information held by the Department of External Affairs was kept in the Secretary’s Files series. This collection began in the 1920s, with files being designated S with a number following (not to be confused with the separate Department of the Taoiseach S Series files). In later years A and P series were created, as well as a PS series for the Private Secretary to the Secretary. These series were held under lock and key in the Secretary’s office and were only made available to lower-ranking officials under certain conditions. The S Series was a target for widespread destruction during the wartime invasion scares of 1940. The A Series and the P Series have provided considerable material for DIFP VIII.

Material generated in Irish missions abroad is held at the National Archives in Dublin in the Embassies Series collection. For the mid-to-late-1940s this material covers the missions in London, Washington, the Holy See, Paris, Madrid, Ottawa, Rome, Berne, Lisbon, Canberra, Stockholm and Buenos Aires. Due to weeding and routine destruction of documents the Embassies Series is often patchy. The collections for Madrid and Paris are the most complete. Unfortunately, the majority of files of the Irish Embassy in London (Irish High Commission from 1923 to 1949) were shredded in the 1950s. Similarly, very little survives from the Washington Embassy for the period covered by this volume. Where files do survive there is an understandable degree of overlap with Headquarters’ number series files and consequently relatively little from the Embassies Series is included in DIFP VIII.

The main files from the Department of the Taoiseach (known from 1922 to 1937 as the Department of the President of the Executive Council, or simply ‘the Department of the President’) are known as the ‘S-files’ series. They begin at S1 and progress numerically (S1, S2, S3 etc.) in a roughly chronological order. Under Éamon de Valera there was a tendency for the members of the Government to leave foreign policy decisions solely to him as Taoiseach and Minister for External Affairs. Accordingly the Department of the Taoiseach played less of a role in foreign policy formulation than it had up to 1932.

Editorial policy and the selection of documents

The executive editor and assistant editor are responsible for the initial wide choice of documents that make up a volume of DIFP. These documents are then assessed jointly at periodic group meetings by the executive editor, the assistant editor and the four editors, to select the most appropriate documents for publication.

The documents in this volume are presented in chronological order based on date of despatch. The text of documents has been reproduced as exactly as possible. Marginal notes and annotations have generally been reproduced in footnotes; annotations have however sometimes been reproduced in the body text when to have reproduced them as footnotes would have reduced the clarity of the document from the reader’s point of view. Where possible, the authors of marginal notes have been identified. There have been no alterations of the text of documents nor have there been any deletions without indication being given of where changes have been made. Nothing was omitted that might conceal or gloss over defects in policymaking and policy execution. All material reproduced was already open to the public at the relevant repository.

DIFP VIII contains a number of editorial changes from previous volumes. Except where illustrative of close personal relations between sender and recipient the text of documents now excludes salutations and farewells. Due to the rise in the number of missions and the size of Ireland’s diplomatic network it has not been possible to cover communications from and between all Ireland’s overseas missions. The editors have prioritised the selection within the volume to cover the main areas of Irish foreign policy.

At some points in the text the footnotes refer to documents that were ‘not printed’. Either the document referred to could not be found, or the document contained routine or repeated information found elsewhere in the documents selected and so was not printed. Where it was impossible to decipher a word or series of words, an ellipsis has been inserted or the assumed word inserted with an explanatory footnote. Spelling mistakes have been silently corrected, but capitalisation, punctuation, signatures and contemporary spelling have in the main been left as found in the originals and have been changed only where the sense is affected. Additions to the text appear in square brackets. Original abbreviations have been preserved and either spelt out between square brackets or explained in the list of abbreviations. Where a sender has signed a document, either in original or copy form, the word ‘signed’, in square brackets, has been inserted. A similar practice has been followed with initialed or stamped documents, with the word ‘initialled’ or ‘stamped’ inserted in square brackets as appropriate. In all cases without an insertion in square brackets, the signature or initials were typed on the original document and are reproduced as found. Where an unsigned copy of a letter is reproduced, the words ‘copy letter unsigned’ have been inserted in square brackets. At all times efforts have been made to confirm the identity of the senders and recipients of unsigned letters, and in cases where identity is impossible to establish a footnote has been inserted to that effect. In a number of cases in this volume documents are from specific departments to the government or cabinet and it is not possible from these documents to discover the identity or identities of authors.

In correspondence, English was the working language of Irish diplomats. It is evident from the archives that written communication in Irish was only used for documents of symbolic national importance, although Irish was spoken by a number of diplomats, particularly Joseph Walshe, and many officials were bilingual. In correspondence, the Irish language was more commonly used for salutations and in signatures. In many cases there was no consistent spelling of Gaelicised names and in the volume many different spellings of the same name and salutation in Irish occur. These have not been standardised and are reproduced as found.

Encrypted telegrams were sent in three forms of code. ‘Personal Code’ was person-specific, usually used only by heads of missions. ‘Dearg’ (‘Red’, in the Irish language) code was the highest level of encryption, and then came ordinary code.

The authors of the documents reproduced tended to refer to Britain as ‘England’ or made no distinction between the two geographical entities, and the editors have not thought it necessary to insert (sic) at all relevant points throughout the volume.

During the autumn of 1947 high level British-Irish talks took place on financial, trade and economic issues. The formal minutes were taken by British officials and are where relevant reproduced below. In these minutes Ireland is referred to as ‘Eire’, a British usage of the Irish language term for Ireland ‘Éire’. These minutes have been reproduced as found.


The editors wish to record, with much sadness and the deepest regret, the death of Patrick Buckley, the Executive Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy (1990-2011), on 17 May 2012. Paddy Buckley was the Academy’s representative on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy project since its first meeting in April 1997. A historian by training, whose passion for political history found expression in his major MA dissertation on electoral change in the Irish Free State, he was nominated by Garret FitzGerald to the inaugural National Archives Advisory Council. Paddy Buckley’s enthusiastic and unflinching support for the project within the Academy, especially in its early years, was a source of enduring strength to the editors. So, too, was the expertise acquired in the Taoiseach’s Department, where he had held a key appointment in the arts and cultural division in the decade before his secondment to the Academy. Again and again, the editors drew on Paddy Buckley’s shrewd and sometimes humorous counsel on how best to negotiate the corridors of power. He was the project’s best friend and he will be greatly missed.

Many people were involved in the production of Volume VIII of the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Series. The assistance of the following is particularly acknowledged by the editors:

At the Department of Foreign Affairs: David Cooney, Secretary General of the Department; Marianne Bolger, Tim Mawe, Jean McManus, and Maureen Sweeney.

At the Royal Irish Academy: Professor Luke Drury, President of the Academy; Laura Mahoney, Acting Executive Secretary of the Academy; Professor James McGuire (Managing Editor) and Dr James Quinn (Executive Editor) of the Academy’s Dictionary of Irish Biography; Ruth Hegarty, Managing Editor of Publications; Pauric Dempsey, Director of Public Affairs; Ann Marie Graham, intern with DIFP during 2012, and Dr Kate O’Malley, Assistant Editor of DIFP.

At the National Archives: Dr David Craig and Frances McGee for their generosity in providing access to the facilities and collections; Aideen Ireland, Mary Mackey, Liz McEvoy and Tom Quinlan. We would also like to thank all the Reading Room staff and in particular Mary Chaney, Brendan Martin, Ken Robinson and Paddy Sarsfield.

At the University College Dublin Archives Department (School of History and Archives): Seamus Helferty, Kate Manning and Orna Somerville.

At the Institute of Public Administration: Richard Boyle and Hannah Ryan. We would also like to thank Helen Litton, who copy-edited the volume, Julitta Clancy, who indexed the volume, Carole Lynch, who typeset the text and our typist, Maura O’Shea.

Catriona Crowe
Ronan Fanning
Michael Kennedy
Dermot Keogh
Eunan O’Halpin
23 July 2012