No. 182  NAI DFA Paris Embassy P48/2

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Seán Murphy (Vichy)

DUBLIN, 12 February 1942

I enclose a telegraphed instruction which was sent to the Washington Legation on 9th February1 for the purpose of guiding our Representative there in his discussions with Americans, official or unofficial. The arrival of American forces in the six county area without consultation or warning of any kind caused deep disappointment and a certain degree of resentment throughout the country. The people felt that a new threat to their independence – or at least to their neutrality – had arisen, and the Taoiseach's statement (also enclosed) of the 27th January2 received unanimous and grateful approval throughout the country. The early reactions in the British and American Press were unfavourable, with the exception of a few exclusively Irish organs in the United States. Later, the Republican Press in America began to realise that the Administration had made a mistake in flouting the moral claims of the Irish people to their sovereignty over their whole territory. The result has been that the State Department has adopted a new and more friendly attitude towards us. Its attitude since the war began had been one of increasing unfriendliness, and we attribute it very largely to the anti-Irish attitude of the American Minister in Dublin. He is an old man who spends most of his time with the effete ascendancy class, and his view of the ordinary Irish people is in harmony with theirs. His reports to his Government were coloured accordingly.

This incident is now closed. We have received a very positive assurance from the American Government that they have no intention whatever of invading our territory or in any way violating our sovereignty. Moreover, they have informed us that it was not their intention when sending troops to the territory in question to imply any approval of the British position there. At the moment, therefore, we feel that our neutrality is as secure as it could be.

The British have realised that the Taoiseach's desire for friendly relations between the two countries requires as an essential condition for its fulfilment the continued neutrality of the twenty-six counties. From that side also the fear of violation of our neutrality is growing less.

There only remains Germany, and, although certain German agents, until run to earth, have been carrying on subversive activities within our territory, we nevertheless believe that invasion is moving slowly out of the realm of probability.

Mr. Dillon's3 occasional speeches in favour of participation receive no support whatever in the country. Neutrality as a policy has received the unanimous consent of the whole people, and 95 per cent of them are genuinely willing to fight against any Power that violates it. You should never lose a favourable opportunity of making this known. The more widespread the knowledge of our determination is, the less likelihood is there of an attack being made upon us.

There is no genuine hardship in the country so far through shortage. The Government are confident that we shall continue to have a plentiful supply of foodstuffs. Raw materials for our industries are short already, and we shall have to do without a lot of things or to accept poor substitutes. So long as food and fuel remain plentiful, there is no apprehension of any real suffering. The Government can, if necessary, take special financial measures to secure that even the poorest people will have the wherewith to purchase the necessities of life which are produced within the country.

[signed] J. P. WALSHE

1 See No. 181.

2 See No. 173.

3 James Dillon TD.

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