No. 291 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P20

Memorandum by Frederick H. Boland for Frank Aiken on the German Note

Dublin, 11 September 1940

1. On the 17th August, the German Minister in Dublin presented a Note officially notifying us that the seas around England would in future be a centre of warlike operations at sea and in the air.1 The Note suggested that citizens and Irish ships should not travel in the endangered areas, and went on to say that the German Government wished to facilitate shipments of essential supplies to Ireland and that the German Minister was authorised to negotiate an arrangement with us with regard to the conditions under which this could be assured.

2. On the 30th August, the Chargé d'Affaires at Berlin was instructed to make representations to the German Foreign Office to the effect that the Irish Government were much concerned at this development.2 We were particularly disturbed concerned at the prospect of our Cross-Channel trade being disturbed. We referred to the doubt as to the legality of the proposed German measures and said that we reserved all our rights. The disturbance of Cross-Channel trade would affect us more than it would affect England because our exports to Britain are only 2½% of her imports, but are 85% of our total exports. Attacks on our trade would have bad repercussions internally and externally. We were particularly anxious about attacks on Irish-registered ships. We had very few ships and the political reactions of attacks on ships flying the Irish flag would be out of all proportion to the material interest involved. We expected that Germany would refrain from directly attacking Irish ships at sea by air or submarine. What was true about Irish ships was also true about the L.M.S. Mail Boat, which was a British-registered ship. It carried only passengers and mail, and a large number of passengers were Irish. To sink it would be a major blunder.

3. We have not yet received the German reply to these representations. In the meantime, however, the German Minister has been instructed to explain to us that Ireland was included in the danger area only as a matter of absolute military necessity, and that the German Government were anxious to minimize the effects so far as we are concerned.

1 See Nos 264 and 265.

2 See No. 283.

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