No. 181  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A43

Telegram from Joseph P. Walshe to Robert Brennan (Washington)
(No. 39)

DUBLIN, 9 February 1942

You should emphasise essential historical, moral unity of Ireland desire of overwhelming majority Irish people to abolish entity created by British law without single Irish vote. America's entry into Northern Ireland without consent of or consultation with Irish people inevitably regarded as approval, or at least recognition, of Britain's immoral and undemocratic position there, and as making the undoing of partition much more difficult. The Taoiseach has deliberately refrained from emphasising the partition issue during the war in order not to embarrass British, but he could not allow pass without protest an act which made the position worse.

Apart from stating our moral position as strongly as you can, you should emphasise that our feelings of warm friendship for the American people remain unchanged.

Anybody who knows Ireland would realise that the presence in the six counties of any foreign forces, no matter how friendly, would be a source of grave unrest and might lead to the bitterest feelings developing between Ireland and the occupying Power. Moreover, our people would not believe that such an occupation might not involve a permanent loss of our independence in whole or in part.

You should, of course, also emphasise that the Irish nation is exhausted from wars and revolution, and the people would not allow their country to be involved in a war of this magnitude unless and until their territory was actually violated. The instinct of the Irish people for the survival of their nation is at the root of this attitude, as it has been in the past at the root of their fight against the suppression of their freedom and their national institutions.

It is no harm to say in a friendly way that no small country in Europe went into the war until it was attacked, and that America herself did not break off diplomatic relations or make formal war until Germany had declared war against her. Ireland's long struggle for independence, the prolonged foreign occupation (which still exists in the six counties), her immediate proximity to the area of hostilities, and her relatively defenceless position, all make her situation, in fact as well as in the minds of the people, infinitely more complex than that of America. The latter entered the war only when the people thought it a vital interest of America to do so. The Irish people regard it as an essential condition of their existence to keep out unless attacked. America has declared that the right of small nations to exist must be protected. That principle means that such right must take precedence over the convenience, strategic or other- wise, of the great Powers. Germany's greatest crime is that she subordinated the vital interests of small nations to her own strategic designs. No good cause can excuse those Americans who condemn Ireland for upholding as a right against all comers the principle which their President made one of America's chief war aims.

You could refer to Chatfield's1 statement to illustrate that the balance of advantages to Britain is on the side of our remaining neutral. Propaganda about our ports, espionage, etc., is ill-founded, grossly insincere and devoid of all respect for the democratic rights of peoples. It can only be inspired by a desire to disrupt Irish-American relations.

The Taoiseach's pre-war, frequently repeated, pledge not to allow Irish territory to be used in any way against Great Britain has been carried out in the spirit and the letter. Because of our neutrality and because of Britain's honourable attitude towards that policy, our friendly feelings for Britain have grown constantly since the war began, and a solid basis for post-war collaboration in the interests of peace and goodwill has been laid. The keystone of the Taoiseach's policy is the establishment of ever closer bonds with America and, on the basis of justice, a complete and friendly understanding with Great Britain.

1 Alfred Ernle Chatfield (1873-1967), 1st Baron Chatfield, First Sea Lord (1933-8), Minister for Co-ordination of Defence (1939-40).

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