No. 205  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P12/14/1

Confidential report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 20) (Secret)

LONDON, 28 May 1942

As explained over the telephone, Dr. Evatt1 gladly accepted An Taoiseach's invitation to lunch. To his regret he is unable to reach Dublin as originally intended on Thursday of this week. At the moment it looked as though it might have to be Sunday – an arrangement unwelcome to him because, much as he wished to meet An Taoiseach, he felt a Sunday engagement should if possible be avoided. He was evidently dissatisfied at the delay, and will let me know immediately what is finally arranged.

In response to his inquiry I outlined our position in the world war. On Partition I told him how clearly An Taoiseach in the 1938 talks had informed the British Government that unless they made a beginning of the end of Partition the other 'concessions' of the Ports and Financial Settlement etc. would fail to make any fundamental change in the relations between the two countries – relations which for his part he had always wanted to be those of good neighbours.

Dr. Evatt said to his mind the Partition of Ireland was 'just bloody'.

What help had the British Labour Party given he asked. Whilst the leaders and the mass of the party were in theory friendly towards our aims this theoretical support, I said, had not thus far been translated into any practical effect. 'My feeling' Dr. Evatt said 'is that the Labour Party here is too feeble. There is no fight in them'.

He was sharply critical of the British Government. Churchill and Eden he thought were 'little Englanders'. 'They don't give a damn about the Dominions. They never consulted us for example about Russia. I told Eden only today that it was no use his trying to "kid” Australia any longer. They want us to agree to an exchange arrangement of Japanese prisoners which is good for them (the British) but simply ludicrous for Australia. We are not only flatly refusing to touch their proposal but have started to make our own arrangements with the Japanese directly.'

Clearly he doesn't like Eden as a man. On the other hand although he differs from Churchill on politics as a man he finds him attractive and sees no one at present to replace him. This he said was his view of Churchill after many meetings but more particularly as the result of two days which uninterruptedly they spent together. Churchill, he said, likes to think that the bulk of our people are against the Axis. He is fond of telling that story of the alleged talk between two of our farmers when one complained that he didn't know against which side the Irish were neutral.

'Twenty per cent of our people are your people' he said 'and I would like to help Mr. de Valera whom I regard as one of the big men of our time. I don't see what I can do here in Britain but there might be an opportunity to be helpful in America. I shall be closely associated with the President and although he probably knows the Irish viewpoint I'd be glad to reinforce it if Mr. de Valera so wishes. And also I would like him to give me a message to our Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin.'2 I said I would so inform An Taoiseach.

Dr. Evatt could hardly have been more direct in speech than he was in this conversation. He gave the impression of a robust worker – as distinct from the Cambridge-produced Mr. Casey3 – who preferred the havoc of battle to mealy-mouthed talks which led nowhere.

[signed] J. W. DULANTY

1 Herbert V. Evatt (1884-1965), Australian jurist and politician, Australian Minister for External Affairs (1941-9).

2 John Curtin (1885-1945), Australian Labor Party politician, Prime Minister of Australia (1941-5).

3 Robert G. Casey (1890-1976), diplomat and politician, Australian Ambassador to the United States (1940-2), Minister Resident in the Middle East (1942-4).

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