No. 278  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P4

Personal code telegram from John J. Hearne to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 25)

OTTAWA, received 3 April 1943

Had conversation with British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Malcolm MacDonald's house yesterday evening. Eden was aloof and hardly courteous. He began by saying very sternly 'When are you people going to come into the war? If you do not come in soon you will be too late. Do you not think that your country should be in the war?' I said 'No'. He asked 'Do you know how many Irishmen we now have in the Fighting Forces?' I said I had heard various figures from time to time. He said that the actual number now was 300,000. 'Did they tell you' he asked 'what I said to Walshe?' I said I had not heard. 'Well' he went on 'they sent Walshe over to see me to talk if you please about post war co-operation. I like Walshe very much I even like de Valera. But I can tell you I made it clear to Walshe that there was absolutely nothing doing. This is a club and if you are in it you either keep the rules and play the game or you do not, that is all'. MacDonald was present and was somewhat embarrassed. I smiled and said 'I did not expect this barrage and feel at a disadvantage'.

MacDonald said 'It is hardly fair' and added that he agreed that if we did not come in now we would be too late. Eden said to me sharply 'You should advise your Government to get into the war '. I replied 'I am afraid you overestimate my influence and you certainly mistake my views which as you should be aware do not differ from those of my Minister.' I wished Eden safe and pleasant journey home.


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