No. 29 UCDA P150/2548

Letter from Neville Chamberlain to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)

London, 19 September 1939

My dear Prime Minister,

Sir John Maffey has reported to me the substance of his talk with you last week in Dublin1 and I am very glad indeed to have had this opportunity of establishing more direct contact with you.

Your suggestion that the United Kingdom representative in Dublin should have the name, and presumably the status, of Minister would raise most contentious issues for us here and is one which it would not be possible for me to accept. I hope therefore that you will see your way to help by accepting a solution which, in fact, represents a compromise between our respective points of view. The title 'Representative' would seem to be well suited to an appointment such as this which is essentially an emergency arrangement intended to meet a temporary but urgent situation.

At a time of crisis when so many questions of great moment to our two countries require urgent handling on a basis of most close and intimate understanding, it causes grave anxiety to me and to the War Cabinet that there should be no adequate representation of the United Kingdom in Dublin. The need for closer contact will grow more and more pressing. You may rely on us to operate it in such a manner as to cause you as little difficulty as possible and, having that assurance from me, I greatly hope that you will feel able to agree to my suggestion.

On the more general questions which are of immediate concern I think it better to leave it to Sir John Maffey to explain to you what we have in mind. The submarine menace at the present time is one of the outstanding problems engaging our thoughts and energies. So far as we can judge we have no reason to be dissatisfied with the success of our counter measures. But these measures are hampered in many ways, and the position may rapidly deteriorate unless we press on, using all available means with the utmost determination. In this sphere of activity problems may suddenly arise the solution of which would be of vital moment to this country and which would also naturally involve the interests of Éire. For that reason, I attach great importance to full mutual understanding of the special problems which the war has created for both of us, and to reaching some line of agreement as to how these difficulties can best be discussed and adjusted.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely

Neville Chamberlain

1 Not printed.

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