No. 79  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P70

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe
'Conscription Crisis'

DUBLIN, 26 May 1941

The High Commissioner saw the British Prime Minister today at 2.45 p.m. (1.45 our time). He read for him the Taoiseach's message and handed him the text. Churchill took it and chucked it on one side, saying 'Does Mr. de Valera want a public answer? If he does I will give it and it will resound throughout the world.' He went on to say that we had broken faith on the Treaty. He had signed the Treaty, and, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had made a settlement in connection with the Boundary that our people described to him as not only just but generous. Ireland had lost her soul. His blood boiled when he thought of John and Willie Redmond, and of Kettle one of the best minds Ireland had produced in recent times. But, when he thought of their courage and valour, his blood boiled at the attitude of the Irish today.

He said all this so furiously and vehemently that the High Commissioner could not get a word in edgeways. When he interjected that Churchill did not know what had been going on in Ireland, the latter replied that he had been fol- lowing Irish affairs for forty years. He walked round the room (in No. 10 Downing Street) and delivered himself of his harangue in the strongest language. He spoke about their sailors dying and we were giving no help.

Dulanty managed to say 'You talk about Ulster as if it were Yorkshire', and Churchill snapped at him 'It is the Ulster people who are the valiant people. If this thing is done and I am not saying whether it will or not your people can run away. You are running away now. If you had come into the war, look at the position you would have, but now you have no case.'

He was in Glasgow before the Blitz, and a fellow named Dollan had told him that, if the British went in to take the ports, all the Irish in Glasgow would support him. Dulanty broke in to say that he knew the Glasgow Irish better than Churchill, and he was quite certain they would not.

'You can tell de Valera Britain is fighting for her life. That is the whole point.' The Irish had a grand position in history. He was thinking, he said, of the courage and valour of our soldiers. There was no coercion in Ulster. When Dulanty said 'What about the Protestant Government for a Protestant people', Churchill immediately brushed him aside.

The High Commissioner describes the whole interview as exceedingly unsatisfactory. He does not believe that Churchill took the slightest notice of what he was saying to him, and he sounded to Dulanty like the old Tory voice of forty years ago.

At the end, Churchill said that the message would go to the Cabinet, as the decision was for the Cabinet, he himself being only the Chairman of that body. He repeated a second time that Mr. de Valera could have a public answer if he wanted it.

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