No. 166  UCDA P150/2632

Draft memorandum by Eamon de Valera 'General impression of conversation with Lord Cranborne'

DUBLIN, Undated

Lord Cranborne arrived on Tuesday, Decr. 16th, 1941, and stayed with Sir John Maffey. Saw the Taoiseach at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Decr. 17th, 1941, at Iveagh House. He and Sir John Maffey with a couple of others had luncheon with Taoiseach, Tánaiste, J. P. Walshe and F. H. Boland at Iveagh House.

The talk lasted from 11 to 1 p.m. Lord C. said that he was glad to come over and see and hear things for himself. I said that I was glad that he came; that it was better that he should come. I wasn't clear what Mr. Churchill's message meant. He said that it was indeed vague (Sir John Maffey had previously told me that of course there was no question of a bargain about the North as I had seemed to infer). C. thought that it might be possible for us to come in; referred to my influence and their feeling that I had not used that influence to get the Irish people to move towards war. He referred to the difficulties with regard to supplies and also the threat of armed attack as being factors which should lead in that direction. I explained what I had tried to get their people to do (1) to give arms so that this part of Ireland would be safe from invasion which if successful would of course affect them, and, (2) make use of our resources in supplying the things which we could supply while still remaining neutral greater quantities of food, and perhaps articles such as clothing, etc., that our people did not want to profiteer but that such a price would have to be given as would keep them in production. These prices approximate to their own prices, thus our production here were not very dissimilar. He said the difficulties in regard to prices were that the Dominions would expect as high a price as we were getting and that would send all the prices up. I said that it was possible also to manufacture certain things such as engines for motor cars to be used for civilian purposes.

I said there was considerable goodwill for Britain here, but of course there was a section who on account of our history and the existence of partition still strongly opposed. I discussed the nature of partition, the fact that only one-half of the area would on a plebiscite be likely to vote itself away from this country. I referred to my suggested solution of a local parliament having the powers of the existing parliament and the same boundary with the Westminster powers transferred to an all Ireland parliament. This gave the Northern minority more than justice. They could really only demand a local parliament for the area in which they had a local majority and not the whole of the six counties and that of course in no State in the world would a political minority claim the right to cut themselves off simply on the basis that they disagreed with the majority.

I spoke about Mr. Chamberlain, Geneva, Munich, conditions of the world after the war. He pointed out the position Ireland would be in after the war being not at the Peace Conference. Had we been in they would share and share alike as regards supplies and armament. He was suggesting of course that we were to go in that once we indicated our willingness to do it we would get material so that when we went in we would already be armed. I said that we would use the arms against any attacker, that if they didn't propose to attack they were unwise in not giving us the arms. He did not think an invasion now likely, but our being in the war would be of great value to them as it would enable them to split convoys, thus dividing the submarine who would have to guard two passages, not one as at present.

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