No. 152 NAI DFA Madrid Embassy 5/4

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Leopold H. Kerney (Madrid)

Dublin, 12 April 1940

It is exceedingly difficult at this end to know precisely what kind of propaganda in relation to Partition would be allowed publicity in Spain and would be likely to win over influential opinion. I can quite imagine the Spanish Government, on account of its own difficulties with certain regions, being somewhat averse from tolerating what they would (unjustly) regard as propaganda of a similar type.1 What the Taoiseach is above all anxious to do with regard to countries like Spain with numerous internal difficulties is to win over influential public opinion by a process of infiltration. An occasional article in an influential paper would, he believes, be more useful than hundreds of pamphlets and leaflets the fate of which we know from our own experience with regard to publications of other countries.2 Moreover, anything like a campaign in a foreign country other than Great Britain or America would easily be resented by the authorities as an interference in their relations with Great Britain. I am sure you now know the editors of the principal papers in Madrid and have established friendly relations with them. Could you yourself not write occasional paragraphs or columns on the unity issue,3 taking care to make them as international and as unlike the Basque parallel as possible?4 I shall be very glad to hear from you what pamphlets or books we could supply you with in order to enable you to write articles of this type. They would no doubt be better received if they were interspersed with other articles on the cultural, historical and archaeological aspects of Ireland.

We are obtaining some copies of an article by Maurice Walsh in the 'Saturday Evening Post' which got tremendous publicity in America. No pamphlet or leaflet of ours has ever been read in the United States by so many people. You will find it good material for your purpose.5

It would be very helpful to have from you at an early date a comprehensive appreciation of the possibilities of getting sympathy in Spain for the unity of Ireland, with details as to the personages most likely to be susceptible to Irish propaganda and the particular obstacles which such propaganda might be likely to meet in the minds of the ruling authorities.

Do you think that our insistence on the release of Frank Ryan has in any way lessened your influence in Government circles? I find that the Spanish Minister here6 bristles up each time I mention the matter to him. I earnestly hope your splendid efforts on behalf of Ryan will soon succeed. The sooner he is released, the sooner we can have normal and more useful relations with the Spanish Government. I think your suggestion about bartering trade concessions for Frank Ryan's release or giving the slightest hint to the Spanish Government that you have such an idea in your mind would be thoroughly bad, and you should carefully avoid giving any such impression.7 You can imagine the attitude of our Government towards any foreign representative who would offer a trade concession in similar circumstances.

I hope that you and Mrs. Kerney and the children are in good form, and that we shall see you all some time during the summer.

[signed] J.P. Walshe

How is Spain likely to react if Germany's chances of winning are increased?8

1 Marginal note by Kerney: 'All wrong'.

2 Marginal note by Kerney: 'Hundreds are not needed but information has to be given in Spanish, not English, and why not state our case in printed form?'.

3 Marginal note by Kerney: 'Yes, but why not help me by preparation of a pamphlet? Is it too much trouble?'.

4 Marginal note by Kerney: 'Does he take me for a fool?'.

5 Marginal note by Kerney: 'In English, why not something in Spanish for Spain?'.

6 Don Juan Garcia Ontiveros y Laplana.

7 Marginal note by Kerney: 'See reply on Ryan file. JPW displays his ignorance of Spanish ways and his own weak attitude.'.

8 Handwritten postscript by Walshe.

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