No. 376 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P22

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

Dublin, 30 December 1940

The memorandum required from this Department by the Cabinet Committee on Emergency Problems is to refer in particular to plans for propaganda abroad in the event of war.

2. Obviously, such plans will involve arrangements for framing and distributing an official protest against the aggressor whose attack on our neutrality has brought Ireland into war.

3. Protests of the kind are essentially 'propaganda' and provided that their relatively less important diplomatic and historical aspects are not entirely ignored, they ought to be drafted and distributed in whatever manner seems most likely to ensure that none of their propaganda value is lost.

4. Protests need not be confined to a detailed summary, addressed to the aggressor state, of the events leading up to the aggression. They may also take the form of notes addressed to all the world and especially to those friendly states with which the victimised state preserves its diplomatic relations. Such notes, as a rule, merely set out the fact that the aggression has taken place and that the victimised state intends to defend its liberty while relying on all possible support and sympathy from other neutral or allied states.

5. Clearly the type of protest which is directed in the first instance to the aggressor state must be mainly a diplomatic-historical document in content and nature. It cannot therefore be drafted until all the events to which it must relate have actually taken place.

Although a protest of this kind would, of course, be eventually transmitted abroad to friendly states, it would not seem likely to play a very important part in the plans for foreign propaganda regarding which the Cabinet Committee desires our observations. At best, the detailed protest which will have to be despatched in the first instance to the aggressor of Ireland's neutrality would constitute a belated form of propaganda, of interest mainly to those educated foreigners willing and capable of studying a fairly lengthy document.

6. The second type of protest, that is, the message to the world at large, asserting this country's innocence of unneutral conduct and her determination to resist aggression, might, however, be drafted now in its main outlines.

The value of such a protest as propaganda depends largely on its immediate release to the news distributing agencies of the world. The less detail it contains the more likely it is to be read or listened to by a wide public.

7. In informing the Department of the Taoiseach in the foregoing sense, we might, if you agree, submit for the consideration of the Cabinet Committee, a draft protest (of the second kind) to fit any eventuality, with a request for approval to instruct our representatives abroad of its terms at once. I attach a draft in general terms such as were adopted in recent months by some of the countries which suffered foreign invasion.1

8. Another medium of 'protest-propaganda' appears to lie in the proclamation or official communiqué which the Government (Head of State as a rule) of an invaded country issues to its own people. These declarations generally resumé the most recent facts of the military and diplomatic situation, protest emphatically against unwarranted aggression and call upon all citizens to rally to the flag.

The wording of documents of this kind are nearly always directed to impress foreign opinion as well as that of the people at home. Queen Wilhemina's proclamation to her people on the occasion of the invasion of Holland had all the appearance of being drafted largely for foreign consumption (e.g. the 'flaming protest' reference).

9. Unless and until an invasion has taken place there would not seem to be any use trying to frame an appropriate proclamation to the Irish people. No doubt, if a proclamation were to be drafted now or later, this Department would be consulted as to its terms.

[initialled] M.R.

1 Not printed.

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