No. 219  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P60

Confidential report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 23) (Secret)

LONDON, 25 August 1942

1. When I saw X1 first thing this morning and, on the lines you had already indicated, made strong representations about the six young men under sentence of death in Belfast, I was surprised to hear him say that he knew nothing about the matter. I formed the impression that he didn't. If that impression be correct it is difficult to understand Mr. Attlee's statement to me on the night of Thursday last, the 20th August, that he had submitted the case to the Cabinet who decided that they were not prepared to intervene. Even if X had been out of London and absent therefore from the Cabinet meeting he would, one would have thought, have known of the case which I put to Mr. Attlee which the latter said he had submitted to the Cabinet.

2. X said that no one deplored more than he the conditions, social, political, and religious, in Belfast and at some length (rather unnecessary length) gave me accounts of his own experiences, some sombre, some amusing, of his dealings with labour in the Six Counties.

3. He asked me whom I had seen on the Belfast sentences. I told him that on the 19th August I had put the case to Mr. Attlee who the following evening had told me that his colleagues were not prepared to intervene. Repeating that he didn't know anything about the case X suggested I should see Mr. Herbert Morrison, who, as Home Secretary, was responsible for dealing with the Northern Ireland Government, and that he, X, would approach Morrison himself. The way he made this promise of approach seemed to indicate his willingness to help though he did not say so in so many words.

4. I explained that I had tried to see Mr. Morrison but found that he was out of London until next Friday the 28th August. I had, however, made a provisional appointment to see him on the evening of the day of his return to London.

5. X said 'Do what you can with Morrison but don't tell Attlee that you have seen me'. I of course agreed to comply with that request and I didn't think it politic to inquire, since he didn't tell me, what X's reasons were for not telling Attlee that I had seen him.

6. X then passed to his conversation on the 12th August (see my Secret report No. 22 of the same date).2 'When you are telling Mr. de Valera of my last conversation with you I am afraid you had better leave out my suggestion of an American Chairman for my proposal of a Conference to decide an All Ireland Constitution. That is still firmly my opinion but I am very doubtful whether I could carry it with my colleagues in view of our latest information from India'.

7. 'I have been all my life' he went on, 'an ardent supporter of complete autonomy for both Ireland and India, but I must confess to disillusionment in the case of India. To give you an example of what I mean I have worked for years on behalf of Indian seamen whose pay does not represent anything like a decent standard of living. The moment I got into the Cabinet I went to the India Office and got them and the Cabinet to agree to substantial increases in the wages of Indian Seamen. Who do you think prevented the Indians getting that increase? One of the big men behind Congress, a wealthy Indian cotton broker.3 His close intimacy with Gandhi may be seen from the fact that it was in his house Gandhi was arrested, and as sure as I sit here but for this opposition in India my plans to improve the lot of Indian Seamen would now be in operation'.

8. I asked the reason for this opposition, and I thought it relevant to mention that I had had in pre-1914 days a friendship with Gokhale4 (in my opinion the greatest Indian of them all), Surendranath Bannerjee,5 who was known as the Gladstone of India and who destroyed Curzon's partition of Bengal, Bipin Chandra Pal,6 who started the Swaraj movement, the Indian equivalent of Sinn Féin, each of whom had emphasised the clamant need for improving the lot of Indian labour. Similarly, Gandhi had told me on his last visit to England how staggered he was at the failure on the part of the British to realise that India didn't mean Bombay, Calcutta, and other big centres of industrial, or as he put it, parasitic, wealth, but meant an India Europe never heard of, namely, millions of Indian workers who were living on or below the starvation line. That, Gandhi said, was the India which filled his thoughts like a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night.

9. 'Who and what is behind the Congress people on these economic questions I cannot tell you' said X. 'But I can tell you one thing. I can tell you that Congress leaders had promised to assist both the Japanese and the Germans by providing a linking up between them in India. The plan was that the Japanese would come into India on the understanding that they and the Germans would give Congress a free hand and that they, the Japanese, would deal themselves with the Moslems. The ordinary Fifth Column activities about which people here get excited were as nothing to the schemes of the Congress leaders which we have discovered.'

10. 'As I told you in our last conversation Churchill is ready to leave India and so am I, but we want to leave the country in such a way that it will not be a prey to any marauder who comes along. That would be against our interests, Indian interests, and against the interests of world peace. We do not want Pakistan but what can we do with 90 odd million Moslems who demand it. After all they have stood by us and it is very hard to desert your friends. You needn't smile, as you are doing, and draw an analogy between the Moslems in India and the Unionists in the Six Counties. The analogy is by no means exact'. When I asked him what was the difference he said it would take far too long to go into now, he had people waiting to see him. When I picked up my hat in the waiting room I saw a deputation of Trade Unionists somewhat impatient to see X the moment I had left.

[signed] J. W. DULANTY

1 Ernest Bevin. See No. 212.

2 See No. 212.

3 G.S. Birla (1894-1983), Gandhi's financier; the Birlas are one of India's foremost business families.

4 Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915), leader of the Moderate faction of Indian National Congress, Congress President (1905).

5 Sir Surendranath Banerjee (1848-1925), senior member of the Moderate faction of Indian National Congress, Congress President (1895 and 1902).

6 Bipin Chandra Pal (1858-1932), Indian nationalist, journalist, writer. Member of the Extremist wing of Indian National Congress.


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