No. 344  TNA DO 121/87

British Security Service transcript of an intercept of a telephone conversation between John W. Dulanty (London) and Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin) concerning the debate on the estimates for the Department of External Affairs for the year 1943 in Dáil Éireann
(Most Secret)

LONDON, 12 November 1943

  • 8.10 p.m.
  • Dulanty, London, telephoned Walshe, Dublin
  • London:
  • Joe, there was nothing at all in the Daily Press this morning.
  • Dublin:
  • I see.
  • London:
  • But in the evening papers - there's nothing at all in the 'Evening News', but on the front page of the 'Star' it says 'Airborne Saboteurs in Éire'. Front page, half way down the fourth column, so it is not, you know, in the most prominent position. I'll read it all Joe and then I'll come back to it. (Reads article). Now here, on the back page of the 'Evening Standard' I'd better run it through for you. The heading is 'Éire's Neutrality Criticised'. (Reads article). That's the whole lot. We have nothing at all in the morning papers.
  • Dublin:
  • Yes, but that's rather interesting, because they may have another stock over, but let me know tomorrow morning, because the Taoiseach will be replying to him on Tuesday.
  • London:
  • Oh, I see.
  • Dublin:
  • Of course, it's very interesting that the British papers you mention of course they are we can't expect very much from those two, they aren't papers of very high standard. But not a word do they say about the furious opposition created in the whole Dáil.
  • London:
  • No, no.
  • Dublin:
  • That not only the ordinary orthodox Labour members, like Naughton1 and Davan,2 spoke to English columnists extremely strongly about the harm this man was doing and described in person, the Communist members, that is, Larkin, young Larkin and Company all went for him with equal vigour.
  • London:
  • Did they?
  • Dublin:
  • The Farmers Party kicked up a proper row, the Leader went out of the place, he went out of the House in disgust.3
  • London:
  • Really?
  • Dublin:
  • And another man made a very good statement, I have forgotten his name at the moment, and all round the place there was a complete disagreement. Cosgrave and O'Higgins said that the opposition to Deputy O'Higgins(?) was really a little bit too violent and seemed also to suggest that he hadn't the right to express his views, do you see.
  • London:
  • Yes, I see.
  • Dublin:
  • While of course we could, we had to be neutral and all the rest of it, our Deputy didn't say we could have a friendly neutrality. It is still for the Taoiseach to answer in that sense, because it's very hard for us to say the things in which we are friendly. All this predicament.
  • London:
  • Yes, I know. Of course there is the obvious difficulty, all this about the shortage of paper; you'd have thought they could have given a few lines to the reception the speech got.
  • Dublin:
  • I would have imagined they would have said something about that. It certainly is very unfair reporting.
  • London:
  • Yes. What does Dillon mean 'the people on whom we were never ashamed to lean in the past' one knows what he means there, what does he mean when he goes on to say 'and whom we have promised to support if the occasion ever came upon them'?4
  • Dublin:
  • He qualified eventually what he meant there. He said that the Taoiseach, when he was leaving America in 1921, in a valedictory address to the American people, told them that we would always be ready to return their kindness, you see, and of course the Taoiseach is naturally but we never told them we were going to die for them in a war! Naturally, they would never die for us.
  • London:
  • No.
  • Dublin:
  • Of course, it is most extraordinary now I haven't heard Dillon talk for quite a long while and I was aghast myself, at the egotism of the man as he was talking.
  • London:
  • Really?
  • Dublin:
  • He used to put two hands together on his chest, you see, and the 'I'm not ashamed of anything in my time' attitude 'Since I came into public life I have never swerved for a single moment from definite principles. I have a family name and honour that anybody could be proud of, and I don't want any man to defend me' an awful lot of 'robert' in his thought.5
  • London:
  • Yes. I thought, Joe, that he had grown out of that.
  • Dublin:
  • He's worse than ever. Now it struck me, I would judge Dillon of course he's going on a very foolish line because if a man wants a future in politics here, I mean a man of Dillon's age, I suppose he's about 45, he ought to move Left and he certainly ought to avoid talking about the Commonwealth and that sort of thing, at this stage of things. There is another line altogether to go on, he could talk about America and so on, and getting into organisations after the war.
  • London:
  • Yes.
  • Dublin:
  • But to take this violently, idiotically pro-British line which no British Labour man would take, is stupid, it won't lead him anywhere. As a matter of fact I would say that in a lot of ways, Connolly and Larkin are much more British, in fact, than Dillon. They are in with the Communist crowd in London, and generally with that Workup crowd in a sort of International way. But really, if James thinks he is going to be another General Smuts maybe it's his idea I think you can only have one Smuts in a century and in a way, you know, the British wouldn't have bothered much about publicising Smuts, if he hadn't been useful to them.
  • London:
  • No, no.
  • Dublin:
  • Now, James last night spoke so violently against Russia, that he's no good as propaganda. Oh, he was violent against the Russians and he said 'I want to see these two Empires destroyed, nazism and bolshevism'.
  • London:
  • Yes. Well
  • Dublin:
  • You know what he does John, he puts himself on the stage of the Dáil. He goes in for histrionics in a most incredible way. His gestures are just asinine. I must say I wish James would ask me what I thought of his speech. I'd just be inclined to say 'Really, Jim, do try to speak like a normal man, not an ass. Upon my word, it is a pity they are not franker with you in the Dáil. I'd like a bit of the Newfoundland touch in the Dáil!'
  • London:
  • Yes. Well, I
  • Dublin:
  • Do you know, somebody had to deflate Dillon, but they are not doing it.
  • London:
  • Well I remember hearing him some years ago, and thinking to myself, I got the impression of immaturity.
  • Dublin:
  • And it's never going to disappear John.
  • London:
  • No.
  • Dublin:
  • And that, after all, that immaturity of outlook too, such a cheap line to talk about, although the things he says are true, but he makes himself out to be the worst person in the country, who is in favour of a kind of benevolent neutrality that the people weren't, but the Government were, he really wants to damn the Government for some reason.
  • London:
  • I know. Joe, why is Tuesday oh I see, yes, of course, today's Friday and we have to wait for the reply until
  • Dublin:
  • Tuesday, John. If there is any stuff tomorrow, you'll let me know.
  • London:
  • Yes. But Joe, about Tuesday couldn't there be some means of letting us have over here something, you know, that we could, I mean something when the T. makes his rejoinder, couldn't we get something that we could give the P.A.
  • Dublin:
  • Yes. Would they publish it?
  • London:
  • Oh I think if we got it in early enough, because it would be regarded I think, as news.
  • Dublin:
  • Yes.
  • London:
  • If you could Joe, let us have something.
  • Dublin:
  • Sure, we'll try John.

 

1 William Norton TD, not 'Naughton', (1900-63), leader of the Labour Party (1932-60).

2 William Davin TD (1890-1956), trade unionist and politician.

3 Michael Donnellan TD, leader of Clann na Talmhan (1938-44).

4 See Dáil Debates, vol. 91, cols 2024-47, 11 Nov. 1943.

5 Possibly a reference to Robert 'Bertie' Smyllie (1893-1954), editor of the Irish Times news-paper (1934-54), or simply 'rubbish'


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