No. 147 NAI DFA 219/2A

Confidential report from Leopold H. Kerney to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Madrid, 29 March 1940

Conversation with Foreign Minister

I took the opportunity of a conversation which I had with Colonel Beigbeder, chiefly with regard to Ryan, to tell him that I was a bit disappointed that the celebration of our National holiday had been given rather scanty notice in the press, and that I could not understand the attitude of the censor in this connection.

Some of the facts known to me (but which I did not disclose to him) were that one at least of the many photographers present on the occasion had sent photographs to all the papers, but that no photograph had been reproduced by any of them; that the Marques de Valdeiglesias1 had sent a report to 'Ya' and 'A.B.C.', which was not published in the former and was very considerably cut down in the latter – the report itself, however, being much too long in my opinion; that reports were sent to 'Madrid' and 'Informaciones' by correspondents of these papers, but that the censor had prevented their publication.

The Minister explained that officials in the censorship office often acted stupidly and that the best way would always be to see him when we wanted anything published, and he would arrange everything – reports, photographs, cinema views and everything else; he would gladly take part in any ceremonies I might be organising, be present at any mass, or even go to Salamanca with me on any particular occasion, and have himself photographed 'arm in arm' with me, and I could count on his willing cooperation. He said the Italians always worked with him in this way, and that he himself made a point of arranging publicity in advance on all occasions; he was already making arrangements for photographs to be taken on the signing of the Italian treaty in a couple of days' time.

It was an opportune moment for referring to Partition; I told the Minister that I would gladly avail of his help in securing useful publicity at some later date; I gave him an outline of the position, which he listened to attentively; I explained that the Government's whole policy towards England was based on reason rather than force, and that an attitude of persuasiveness rather than hostility was the keynote of the Government's efforts to find a solution which was as much in England's interests as in ours. He told me that he would be accessible at all times whenever I wished to see him on this or other matters.

[signed] L.H. Kerney

1 Alfredo Escobar y Ramírez (1858-1953) solicitor and journalist; managing director of La Época (1887-1953).

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