No. 55 NAI DFA Legal Adviser's Papers

Memorandum from Michael Rynne to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(Secret) (Copy)

Dublin, 20 October 1939

Re British Newspaper Stories concerning Irish Neutrality

I spoke to Colonel Archer with regard to the extract from the British newspaper 'Daily Telegraph' of the 9th October which he sent you on the 12th October. I asked if we had any official report of the incident referred to by the newspaper, and mentioned that the phrase 'Who are we neutral against?' had gone all around the United States press.

2. Colonel Archer replied that from such reports as the Department of Defence had received, no State official had behaved precisely in the manner alleged by the British newspaper, and that the 'account' was simply a combination of two stories, viz.:- (i) the story of a forced landing on the East coastal waters at an extremely early stage,1 and (ii) the story of a similar landing on Western waters more recently.2 In the first case some social contact took place, but no statement concerning Irish neutrality had been made; in the second case no conversations of a friendly character took place between our protection officers and the belligerent aviation officers.

3. Colonel Archer's idea in sending you the extract (even though he expected you would have seen it anyway) was that you might, perhaps, think it well to bring it to the notice of Sir John Maffey when a suitable occasion presented itself. Colonel Archer is of opinion that unless the British authorities are prepared to close down on the publication of such highly impolitic (and false) newspaper stories, we will be absolutely compelled to intern the next British aircraft and crew that may fall into our hands.

4. The above opinion of Colonel Archer concerning the danger to our special brand of neutrality of irresponsible newspaper-propaganda seems to correspond exactly with that which I submitted in a minute of the 16th September under the heading 'The Maintenance of Neutrality'.3

1 On 3 September 1939 two British seaplanes made a forced landing at Skerries, to the north of Dublin, and one seaplane made a forced landing at Dún Laoghaire harbour, to the south of Dublin. The landings were due to bad weather and all aircraft were later permitted to depart when conditions improved.

2 On 14 September 1939 a British flying boat made a forced landing in Ventry Harbour, Kerry. The aircraft left after a local mechanic fixed an engine fault. The landing came to de Valera's attention as he was meeting Sir John Maffey.

3 See No. 26.

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