No. 31 NAI DFA Legal Adviser's Papers

Memorandum from Maurice Moynihan to General Peadar MacMahon (Dublin) copied to the Department of External Affairs

Dublin, 21 September 1939

I am directed by the Taoiseach to inform you that he proposes when the Dáil meets on Wednesday to deal in a comprehensive survey with the special problems of this country arising out of the present situation with special reference to such matters as neutrality, finance, essential commodities, etc., military preparedness, unemployment, etc., and to indicate the steps which have been taken or which are contemplated by the Government to deal with the problems which have arisen.

For this purpose he wishes to be supplied at a very early date with a statement from your Department covering the various matters with which it is or will be dealing and in particular the following:-

1. Problems that arise in preserving our neutrality as a relatively small country while powerful neighbouring States are at war.

2. The necessity for being prepared to deal with any demands from belligerents on any side, the acceptance of which would involve infringement of our neutrality.

3. Illustrations by reference to problems presented to neutral countries (a) in the war 1914-1918 and (b) in the present war.

4. The necessity for avoiding any action which by giving assistance to belligerents on either side in their war-like operations could reasonably be interpreted as a breach of neutrality.

5. The necessity for being prepared as far as practicable against the danger, however remote, of attack from any quarter.

6. The censorship of communications and Press censorship with reference to 4 above.

7. Light restrictions with reference to 4 and 5 above.

8. The necessity for certain minimum military preparations within our resources.

I am also to request that you will be good enough to enumerate in detail the special emergency measures which it has been found necessary to take in your Department by way of (a) Government orders and (b) ministerial and subsidiary orders, and to indicate in each case the reasons which have rendered such measures necessary.

Signed – M. Ó Muimhneacháin

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